Member Spotlight: Ryan “Not Tube” Campbell

1. Tell us about your most recent project (written or published). What inspired it?

koa coverMy most recent book is my novella, Koa of the Drowned Kingdom, published through FurPlanet. It’s about a young fruit bat with torn wings who lives with a family of otters and dreams of rejoining the flighted world of the bats he left behind. The original idea for the book, like most of my books, came from a song on the radio. I don’t remember what it was anymore–something about an upside-down world, I think. That set off the fireworks in my head and I started imagining who would live there (bats, obviously), and what that world would be like. That night I couldn’t go to sleep. The story kept twisting and building itself in my head. By the time I finally dropped off, I’d composed nearly the entire thing, including every major plot point and all the major characters. From there it was just an issue of writing it down. I really tried to focus on a tight, well-edited plot, in which every piece is necessary at least twice. Pull one thread and it should fall apart from both ends. I find writing those kinds of plots very satisfying.

2. What’s your writing process like? Are you a “pantser,” an outliner, or something in between?

It’s funny–I used to be a pantser, but I’ve found lately that that doesn’t work out well when I’m trying to get motivated to write. I have to know before I sit down what I’m going to be working on for the day, and it also helps if I have big major plot events that I’m looking forward to writing–that I’m writing toward. And now that I’m writing bigger, more complicated novels, I pretty much have to have an outline. That’s not to say that ideas aren’t occurring to me all the time during the process, or that I don’t change things or add things as I go! The outline gets modified a lot. The characters speak to me and require me to motivate them in different ways before they’ll agree to move through the obstacle course I’ve set up for them. But I have to know: if I change this plot element, how does that impact the story later? How will this compromise someone’s character arc? And the stories tend to be just a bit too big for me to do that well without an outline.

3. What’s your favorite kind of story to write?

Fantasy all the way. I love working with magic because to me it’s the closest to writing from pure imagination. Anything you can think of you can get away with, as long as you set limitations around it, rules, and then work within those rules consistently. It’d be fun to write scifi, but I kind of feel like I’m not smart enough. To write scifi you have to know how the whole world works, and I’m more an inner mind kind of guy. I’d rather make stuff up than take it apart to see how it works.

4. Which character from your work do you most identify with, and why?

To some degree I identify with all my characters. If we’re talking about The Fire Bearers, then I identify with Clay’s sense of wonder and also his self-doubt. I can be defensive and officious like Doto at times as well. And maybe most of all, I identify with Laughing Dog and his independence, his tendency toward selfishness, and his rejection of his people’s beliefs.forest gods cover

5. Which authors or books have most influenced your work?

Okay, I love love LOVE Robin Hobb and snap up everything she’s written. I love the way she writes characters who push back against their destinies and against the identities the world tries to foist on them. I resonate strongly with the way her characters hurt themselves because they feel like they have to. I’m a huge fan of Terry Pratchett as well. I love the way he blended wisdom and humor, the way he found love and compassion for people in their foibles, in their weaknesses. I think he’s one of the greatest humanist writers I’ve ever read. Going farther back, Ray Bradbury and Tolkien were my biggest influences in my youth. They took me to faraway places when, frankly, I kind of needed to leave the place I grew up.

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Member Spotlight: Lawrence M. Schoen

1. Tell us about your most recent project (written or published). What inspired it?

barsk coverThat would be Barsk: The Elephants Graveyard, which was released by Tor Books on December 29th. The elevator pitch for the book was “Dune meets The Sixth Sense, with Elephants.” It’s a story about prophecy, intolerance, loyalty, conspiracy, and friendship. I invented some new subatomic particles for the book, which I combined with theory of how memory works, to create a galaxy in which a rare drug makes it possible to speak with the dead. All of the characters are anthropomorphic — uplifted animals to use the SF term, or as I prefer to call them “raised mammals.”

The origins of the book go back almost 30 years, to when I was a professor at New College in Florida, and legendary furry author and editor Watts Martin was the roommate of one of my students. Watts invited me to participate in an RPG based on Steve Gallacci’s Erma Felna: EDF, and despite the preeminence of felines in the story, I got it into my head that I wanted to RP an elephant character and started riffing on what their world was like. We never did play that game, but I began writing a novel and Watts even published the first two chapters in the pages of Mythagoras.

2. What’s your writing process like? Are you a “pantser,” an outliner, or something in between?

Like a lot of authors I started out as a pantser, but nowadays I’m a born-again outliner. Back in 2010 I participated in Walter Jon Williams’s master class, the Taos Toolbox. Walter teaches a technique called “novel breaking” in which you basically tear a book apart and rebuild it, scene by scene. When you’re done, you not only know how each scene advances the plot, informs characterization, serves the story (or possibly combinations of two of these, or even all three), but you can see how the scenes interconnect and support one another and serve the narrative engine driving the novel. I like to think of it as creating the completely articulated skeleton of a novel. Everything is there, and it all hangs together, and all you have left to do is add the flesh (words) to it.

When I have a completed set of novel “bones” like this, I can sit down and pick up any scene and I know exactly what’s going to happen there, who’s going to do it, and what it’s going to tell me. It’s a very nicely defined task. How I choose to arrange the words to make all of that happen is the fun part!

3. What’s your favorite kind of story to write?

One that teaches me how to do something I didn’t know how to do.

This may mean I’m stretching my range by trying something new — like writing in a subgenre I’ve never tried before — or perhaps pushing myself to get better at an area where I’m weak — like taking on the task of creating more complex plot and pacing.

I don’t think you ever finish learning how to be a writer. I’m always striving to be a little bit better. Some stories allow me to grow more than others, but when I can see clear improvement in my own style and process, that’s incredibly satisfying to me.

4. Which character from your work do you most identify with, and why?

The main protagonist of Barsk is a Lox, an uplifted African elephant (Loxodonta africana) named Jorl. He’s an academic, an historian who really just wants to stay home and do his research and write books and articles. He doesn’t get to.

There’s a long tradition of reluctant heroes who really have no interest in going off and having adventures or shaping the future or defeating evil. They enjoy their routines and they don’t want to be bothered and don’t tend to think of themselves as possessing the kind of agency necessary to do things.

There’s an awful lot of me in Jorl (and likely vice versa).Lawrence M Schoen 2

5. Which authors or books have most influenced your work?

My earliest influences were authors like Burroughs and Heinlein and Le Guin and Zelazny. They’re among the first authors I discovered and devoured. Nowadays I look elsewhere for influence and inspiration. Writers like China Mieville, and Daniel Abraham, and Karl Schroeder. They dazzle me with their abilities to tell stories, to present rich and compelling ideas, to engage the reader’s interest and emotions.

6. What’s the last book you read that you really loved?

That would probably be Charles E. Gannon’s Raising Caine, which is the third book in an ongoing series. The first two were very enjoyable (and both received Nebula Award nominations), but in this third one we’re starting to see all the pieces coming together and it’s deliciously compelling. I know Chuck, and every time I run into him at a convention I demand to know where he is with book four; I’m hungry to learn what happens next! You’d think that as a friend he’d hook me up as a beta-reader or something.

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Member Spotlight: Bill Kieffer

1. Tell us about your most recent project (written or published). What inspired it?

The Goat: Building a Perfect Victim is both one of my most recent and my one of my oldest works. I lost the original files during the decade of hiding. Phil Geusz, always a supportive creature, reminded me that there was a copy in the archive of TSA Talk, an email-based group of writers.

I had an online friendship with a Fur I’ll call My Goat as I haven’t gotten his permission to talk about him in relation to this novella. It was quite intimate and heartbreaking as he’d found his true self in Furry Fandom… and there just wasn’t a way to get that in real life. I’d been sorta slumming in Furry before I met him. He was like a stubborn classical Greek Hero. Eventually, he had to give up Furry to build his life back. I was one of the things he had to give up, too.  And I had to let him go. In real life, I could never be the master he needed (besides the
fact that I was in a committed RL relationship). As I started to let him go, I tried to imagine what type of master would make him happy.  Frank was a very wrong answer; but I felt some sympathy for him.

2. What’s your writing process like? Are you a “pantser,” an outliner, or something in between?

I’m a “pantser,” except when I do a mystery or crime story.  I outline mysteries and crimes so I don’t cheat, trying to be witty. Otherwise, I let my characters pull me along. Last fall, I tried writing two pieces for Munchkin’s Fragments of Life’s Heart… both contained a lot more death than I had planned. Seriously, I write the worst love stories.

3. What’s your favorite kind of story to write?

I like writing TF (transformation) stories.  I like exploring form and function. I like writing Metamor Keep stories, even if most of the Keepers think I’m trying to break the MK universe when I do so.

4. Which character from your work do you most identify with, and why?

Greyflank, from the Tales of the Blind Pig, is a Mary Sue, so he doesn’t count. Wheeler and Clay, from my Metamor Keep stories, are two halves of my soul. Wheeler, the seasoned fighter and former sex slave, represents the part of me that knows what he wants and is looking for. Clay is younger and sheltered, his whole world shattered about him, forced to be the stronger partner. He represents that part of me that only suspects what he wants and how he is to fit that into his life.

5. Which authors or books have most influenced your work?

Piers Anthony. Stephen King. Phil Geusz, Charles Matthias. Alan Dean Foster. Richard Matheson. Alan Moore. I don’t think I write like any of them; but I know I stole some good moves from each of them. From Anthony, I learned sex and attraction needs no moral compass. Actions will tell. From King, I learned the threat of a bludgeoning was more frightening than the bludgeoning itself.  From Geusz and Matthias, I learned how to build serial characters that readers will care for. From Foster, I learned a well-written character can stomp out any plot hole. From Matheson, I learned a living character can explode the slightest story concept into living art. From Moore, I learned to build on the past, twisting it as we go. I also may have picked up a great deal of wordiness from Moore, too.

6. What’s the last book you read that you really loved?

Mindtouch by M.C.A. Hogarth was the last novel to floor me. It put asexual relations in perspective for me and changed my outlook.

7. Besides writing, how do you like to spend your free time?

I like food. I cook, I eat, I stalk the aisles of Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. I’m a tubby pony.

8. Advice for other writers?

Write.  Write about people. Don’t write, except for kicks, to please anyone. Be pleased when you do. Don’t feel rejection when you are rejected. 9/10 of this stuff is timing. And you’ll never ever see the clock.

Yes, even if you’re writing about badgers and foxes building a better tomorrow, write about people. Hide a statement in your piece. Make Easter eggs for your readers. Give them something they can claim as their own.

9. Where can readers find your work?

The Goat: Building a Perfect Victim is a naughty m/m novella that will be available this summer or fall from Red Ferret Press. This takes place in my “2×4” universe where a few of my stories take place. If I can remember how to build a website, those other stories will be on Xepher.net in a few months. “Brooklyn Blackie and The Unappetizing Menu” appears in Inhuman Acts from FurPlanet. This takes place in a universe I call Aesop’s Planet.  Except for Captain Carrot fan fiction, this is the only published work in that universe. My Metamor Keep stories can mostly be found at the Metamor Keep Story Archives, although my Ursa Major Award nominated short story “The Good Sport” was recently reprinted in An Anthropomorphic Century, also from FurPlanet.

10. What’s your favorite thing about the furry fandom?

I like how it transforms people. I like how it transformed me. It helped me to accept that I’m bisexual. I like that being a horse gave me a framework to hang my anxieties on. I like, most especially, the acceptance that I receive. It’s not universal, but it’s enough.

Check out Bill Kieffer’s member bio here!

Member Spotlight: Jakebe Jackalope

1. Tell us about your most recent project (written or published). What inspired it?

Right now I’m working on a serial story for Patreon, told in weekly installments, then bundled up once a month or so and posted to various websites. I’m really excited about the opportunity and challenges presented in telling a story in these episodic bursts; I think it really allows you to experiment with the plotting and structure in ways that maximize the impact of how things roll out.

This first serial is something I’ve been developing for a while, called “The Cult of Maximus”. Two mismatched police officers — a large, gentle wolf and a small but aggressive rabbit — are investigating the disappearance of various homeless people within their jurisdiction of Fog City. The discovery of what’s been happening to them pulls them both into a sprawling conspiracy that has designs on guiding the kaleidoscope of sapient species to the next stage of evolution. Now, this pair has to find a way to discover just how deep this cult goes and how to stop them while being in over their heads every step of the way.

I hope that the serial will give me the ability to arc out a deep exploration of these characters and how their experience with this mystic, impossible problem changes them — both inside and out. Of course, those changes manifest in ways that affect the people around them, and this serial will explore that as well. I’m really fascinated by how personal changes become community changes, and how those become bigger socio-political changes given enough time and momentum. We don’t exist in a vacuum, and I’m really jazzed about the opportunity to show that step by step.

All of this will be taking place in the context of a story with an erotic nature, which is also exciting and really tricky. I’m going into this with the idea that erotic stories can discuss serious and interesting topics; they can be arousing, thrilling and thoughtful at the same time.

2. What’s your writing process like? Are you a “pantser,” an outliner, or something in between?

Definitely “something in-between”. I’ve found that it really helps me to pull through a story if I have signposts that can lead me to the next big thing, so I really love having an outline that allows me to see the rough shape of a story. However, the story almost never turns out to match the shape of the outline I’ve given it.

When a story “grows legs”, it’s a sign that you’ve really tapped into something but it can also throw all of your plans out of the window. Characters end up doing things you’d never expect, pulling new characters from the ether that you never planned for; or a character will resist a certain plot point because there’s something about their personality that makes a necessary action impossible for them to take, so you have to back up and get to know this person in your head a little better.

So while the outline is definitely a big help for determining the joints of the story where things pivot, you might find that you need to reconstruct it on the fly fairly often.

3. What’s your favorite kind of story to write?

I think I really love telling stories about outsiders. People who resist type a little, perhaps, or feel that they don’t belong for one reason or another. I love digging into a character to figure out how they work, what makes them feel disconnected from their environment, and then writing the story that moves them a little closer to the world they inhabit.

Most of the stuff that I end up showing is erotic in nature, just because I’m a big fan of macro/micro stories as well. There’s something about the way physical transformation necessitates a shift in your mentality that I love exploring too; when you gain or lose physical power, it changes the way you see yourself and your place in the world. It’s more than simply lording power over someone else, it’s also dealing with this real, physical difference that separates you from your world and what that does to your psyche.

4. Which character from your work do you most identify with, and why?

This might just be because it’s what I’m working on now, but Officer Tom from “The Cult of Maximus” is someone I’m having a lot of sympathy for right now. He’s this sort-of average guy who holds strong beliefs without necessarily voicing them, who feels in over his head with his job most of the time, who is trying to balance the demands of this difficult profession with his home life. And just when he feels like he’s getting his feet under him, something else comes along to pull the rug out from under him! It happens all the time in life, and I think that’s what makes it such a fun story to write. Continue reading

Member Spotlight: Kris Schnee

1. Tell us about your most recent project (written or published). What inspired it?

Thousand Tales coverThousand Tales: How We Won the Game is a SF novel about saving what’s important. In the 2030s a game-obsessed AI invents brain uploading technology, making it possible to (arguably) live forever as a digital ghost in her game world. The heroes are the people who befriend or oppose the AI, all with good reasons.

I was troubled that “science fiction” bookstore sections seem to consist of fantasy, far-future space opera, and game/TV tie-ins. I really wanted to write something (1) set in a near future, (2) with plausible technology, (3) that didn’t terrify or depress me.

I’d been interested in artificial intelligence and game design for years, even dabbling in AI programming. I also studied animal intelligence, including college work with the world’s most over-educated parrots. These things didn’t come together as a good story until years later, when to my embarrassment I got pulled into the fandom for a certain cartoon. Among the fanfiction for that world, was a setting called “Friendship Is Optimal”, only tangentially related to the show. “Optimal” involves a runaway AI who’s superficially nice but who deliberately crashes civilization to upload everyone to her cute video-game world. That shared setting got me and other writers arguing creatively about the setting’s implications. I wanted to write about a nicer AI, in a better-developed future, with a different focus.

So, I used the basic premise of “Optimal”, my own take on AI, some world-building about the near future, and even a loose recycling of my first novel as fuel for National Novel Writing Month in 2014. The book sparked enough discussion that I still haven’t run out of stories I want to tell in that setting, so I’ll be releasing a 20K-word novella (“2040: Reconnection“) probably in December, and a longer work early next year.

2. What’s your writing process like? Are you a “pantser,” an outliner, or something in between?

I like to plan, and don’t feel comfortable unless I can shoot an arrow ahead and say “there’s my destination”. Planning doesn’t mean knowing every scene before I start, but knowing something about the characters, setting, and the conflict that needs resolving. Despite planning, I get surprised by details or even plot twists that I didn’t consciously expect. I love it when that happens.

3. What’s your favorite kind of story to write?

Most of what I write is furry, and a lot involves transformations of some kind. I’d been reading something recently contrasting “grimdark” fiction where any victory is personal and costly in a frightening world, versus its opposite of “noblebright”: stories where heroes and villains can make a real difference, and the setting provokes wonder more often than fear. I’d much rather write the second kind.

4. Which character from your work do you most identify with, and why?

On a bad day: Peter the Dragonlord from “Ivan and the Black Riders” (ROAR #6). He’s introverted and thoughtful, has cool magic powers, and is determined to do great things… but your freedom means nothing to him. On a good day: Garrett Fox from Everyone’s Island. He’s an engineer at heart, learning to deal with more and more responsibility even if he’s not sure where he’s heading.Everyones Island

5. Which authors or books have most influenced your work?

Years of reading and participating in the TSA-Talk mailing list and Anthrochat IRC have been great sources of stories and discussion, so I point to writers Phil Geusz, Michael Bard (RIP), and Jon Sleeper from there. Outside the fandom, there’s L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time, Heinlein’s Citizen of the Galaxy and Tunnel In the Sky, Asimov’s “Foundation” series, Bradbury’s short story “The Toynbee Convector”, and too many worldbuilding-heavy tabletop RPG books such as Bard and Victoria Bloom’s memorable World Tree.

6. What’s the last book you read that you really loved?

Weir’s The Martian, for being hard science fiction set in the near future with an upbeat tone. Besides that, Vinge’s A Deepness In the Sky.

7. Besides writing, how do you like to spend your free time?

Reading nonfiction, sometimes. (The history of an ordinary thing like cargo containers can be surprisingly interesting because it cuts across a lot of other topics.) I’m also an avid board/tabletop/PC gamer who plays or runs games like Pathfinder. I program games for fun as well.

8. Advice for other writers?

Striking RootSeek out critique and be profusely grateful toward anyone who offers reasonably polite explanations of what you’re doing wrong. It’s okay to read comments on your work and go sulk, but then you should come back and write something better. Critique groups (like Critique Circle) can be helpful, especially if you make it clear you can handle serious criticism. Besides that? Save old scraps of ideas, because they might spark something years later. Challenge yourself with projects like NaNoWriMo. Try completely rewriting a scene without looking at the original, to knock new ideas loose. Try taking apart stories you like by writing down exactly what’s cool about them, and adapt those elements into something original.

9. Where can readers find your work?

http://kschnee.deviantart.com/ and http://www.furaffinity.net/user/krissnow for galleries. Amazon for my novels.

10. What’s your favorite thing about the furry fandom?

At a furry convention, I asked some idle question about why there’s no such thing as vintage cola, like wine. The room launched into a detailed discussion of things like pressure storage vessels and chemistry. The fandom has people with varied backgrounds and a lot of knowledge about obscure subjects, who’re ready to think creatively about anything!

 

Check out Kris Schnee’s member bio here!

Member Spotlight: Kandrel

1. Tell us about your most recent project (written or published). What inspired it?

Let me get to that in a moment.  This’ll make sense when I get down to it, trust me.

Up to this point, just about every story I’ve written has been in one of two categories.  In one, I was writing for submission.  Just about every anthology has at least a broad theme, so just to start with I’m working under thematic limitations.  Even in situations where the theme either coincided with my own interests or was broad enough that I could do my own take with it, there were always word limitations, or content limitations–things I had to include, or things that I wasn’t allowed to include.  Not that I’m saying they’re restrictive, mind you.  If you’ve read a few of the anthologies out there, I think you’ll find that the stories included are usually quite diverse.  It’s just that while going in, I’ve always got this image in mind that’s pretty tightly boxed.  The story must be about this long, and it must contain these themes, and here are the lines in the dirt across which I must not put a toe.  Anthologies are great for keeping the writing juices flowing.  There are even a few stories I’ve written that wouldn’t exist if it hadn’t been for these themes.

In the other category, I’m writing just for my own enjoyment–quick pieces to post online, or longer challenges I came up with for myself to hopefully make myself a more adept writer.  These are usually don’t conform to any particular limits, and in the past I’ve explored some rather more extreme topics in them.  I’d like to think that these pieces are what I use to really grow as an author, but I’m not fooling myself.  They lack focus.  They wander through the plot.  When I read back through them, they’re little morsels of golden prose, linked by an otherwise mediocre framework.  It’s the type of work that any competent editor would take a big red pen to–and on the few occasions that one’s gone into print, that’s exactly what happened.

So back to your question.  Over the last year, I’ve spent a lot of time working on my first full-length novel.  Unlike the anthology submissions, it’s really unbound by any particular limit–except that it needed to be long enough to be a novel.  And unlike the ones I’ve written for my own enjoyment, I’ve taken the time to give it a good polish.  At the time of answering your question here, it’s done and sitting in a slush pile.

2. What’s your writing process like? Are you a “pantser,” an outliner, or something in between?

I think I’m about as far as you can get from being a pantser.  In fact, I’d like to state for the record that I “pants” as little as possible.  I prefer my stories with no pants at all!  Before I torture this metaphor too much further, I’m actually telling the truth.  My process for story writing is to think up the world, plot, and characters, and then tell myself their story over and over and over in my head until I feel it’s ready to come out.  The process of writing for me only really starts once the story is done.

That said, the process of writing is a bit of a battle for me.  It’s a combat between ‘the way it sounded in my head’ and ‘the way it reads best on paper’.  I know what needs to happen, so the hours I spend at the keyboard are primarily spent looking for the most clear, concise, and beautiful way to tell the story that’s running through my head.  If there’s any “pants” to be had in my process, it’s the struggle to fit the whole scene in my head into as few words as I can manage in print.

pile cover3. What’s your favorite kind of story to write?

Absolutely sci-fi.  I grew up with (and still love) fantasy, but I’ve slowly grown out of the world of magic and wizards.  I think at this point I’m too much of a desk chair scientist to be happy with an answer of “It works that way because it’s magic.”

4. Which character from your work do you most identify with, and why?

Oooh, are you tempting me to reveal my dirty secrets of self-insertion?

Well, I do have a few characters I’ve written that I can identify with.  As many of my friends were quick to point out, the fox in the story “On the Bright Beach” is quite clearly my own attempt at wish fulfillment (You can find that one on my SoFurry).  Okay, fine.  I admit it.  I wrote the story as if I were there personally.  But really, it was meant to be just a fun romp, and I didn’t see any harm in it.

But that doesn’t really answer the question well.  It’s a bit of a cop-out to answer ‘With whom do I most identify’ with ‘Myself.’  I think if I had to pick a character in another story that I tried to put the most ‘me’ into without settling for self insertion, that would be Taj from “Seducing the Sky.” (This one’s in Hot Dish from Sofawolf Press.)  I don’t think I really have the credentials to claim to be what he is–a trained symbiote-pilot from a super-advanced predatory alien species–but the personality I drew from experience.  I really like the concept of a warrior-philosopher.  Even though my analytical side calls it complete bunk, the idea of a soldier that follows the mantra of Sun Tzu’s Art of War intrigues me. Continue reading

Member Spotlight: John Van Stry

1. Tell us about your most recent project (written or published). What inspired it?

The ‘Portals of Infinity’ series is my most recent project. It’s about a guy who discovers these portals that link all of these different realities together and his adventures as he deals with different realities, gods, goddesses, and champions. Book six just came out in October.

I can’t point to any one thing that inspired it, as it was actually inspired by a lot of different things. Mainly I was looking for a story that could be serialized and this was what I came up with after a lot of thought. I’ve been rather surprised by how well it has been received.

2. What’s your writing process like? Are you a “pantser,” an outliner, or something in between?

I guess something in between; when I start a story I usually have the beginning, the end, and a scene or two written down. But somewhere around the second or third chapter, once I have a feeling for the story, I’ll sit down and write a full outline. However, I do update the outline if necessary. Only the original plot points I started with don’t change.

3. What’s your favorite kind of story to write?

I actually prefer to write first person singular (and yes, that probably wasn’t what you meant when you asked that, right?) I guess I prefer stories with action and adventure, but it’s really hard for me to narrow it down, because many of my stories rarely have a single ‘kind’ to them, I tend to mix it up. I write SciFi or Fantasy predominately, but I’ve written Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, and even a few odder things.

4. Which character from your work do you most identify with, and why?

This is actually a tough question, partially because I’ve got a lot of stuff out there now, as I have a few pen names. I guess I identify a little with Raj, from my book Children of Steel, because we’re both pilots, and we’re both martial artists (though I don’t teach or fight anymore), but I also identify a bit with Mark from The Hammer Commission as that story did come from a dream I had many years ago.

5. Which authors or books have most influenced your work?

That’s a very long list. Roger Zelazny definitely influenced my writing style; Robert Heinlein influenced my love of science fiction and the idea of capable heroes. But also Tolkien, Asimov, Roger Sterling, Lackey, Webber, Dickson, Capote, Zahn, Norman (Lisanne, not the Gor guy), McCaffrey, Correia, and the list goes on. I used to read a lot and I had a lot of authors who I really liked.

6. What’s the last book you read that you really loved?

I guess the last one I read that I really loved was Off Leash by Daniel Potter. It was a ‘Rollicking good yarn’ (sorry, but how often do you get to use the word ‘rollicking’ these days? Couldn’t pass it up). I write full time now, so I don’t get to read as much as I used to, but I came across this book via the board here after talking to Daniel, and I really had a great time reading it.

7. Besides writing, how do you like to spend your free time?

Right now? Fallout 4. Though I do wrench on my motorcycles and ride them whenever I can. I also play bass guitar, pretty much every day. I keep a couple set up next to my writing desk with a practice amp for when I take breaks.

8. Advice for other writers?

STORY! Always put the story first. People want to read a good story; they don’t want to be preached at. This isn’t to say you can’t have a viewpoint, or a ‘message’ you want to convey, but the story must always come first. If you don’t have a good story, you won’t sell any copies. The next piece of advice? GET PAID. As Larry Correia says, make that the first line in your business plan.

Another thing I would say is don’t overprice your work. No one is going to pay bookstore prices for an unknown ebook author, especially a self-published or micro-press one. 5.99 is too much, you should all be looking at 2.99 to start. Yes, you make more money on a 5.99 book, but 70 percent of 1 or 2 sales is a lot less at 5.99 than 70 percent of a thousand sales at 2.99.

Last of all, SciFi is not a big market; it’s actually a tiny market. Fantasy is bigger, but Romance is the biggest. If you like writing Romance, then you should write in that market, as you’ll find success a lot easier than in the other markets, and you can charge higher prices for your work. Furry is a very tiny, microscopic market, so it’s no wonder that the only authors doing well in it are writing Romance. There is also a huge prejudice against anything remotely furry in mainstream fiction, except for Paranormal Romance, which if it isn’t vampires, it’s pretty furry.

9. Where can readers find your work?

Amazon. I went exclusive with Amazon last year, because being in the Kindle Unlimited program was a good financial decision for me. I may start going ‘wide’ in 2016, depending on what Amazon does with that program going forward, but right now Amazon is THE place to buy and sell books. The other booksellers out there on line don’t understand the business, and are failing at it.

10. What’s your favorite thing about the furry fandom?

The friendships mainly. Back when I first got started in the fandom and was more active I made a lot of friends with a lot of the other creative folks. I still know quite a few writers and artists and talk to them occasionally. These days I’m not very active in the fandom anymore, I show up at a con or two, maybe log into a muck for a few minutes to check my mail, and that’s about it.