The Outstanding Mr. Robbins

montage of covers of M.R. Robbins zombie series

So who doesn’t like zombies, right? I always jump at the chance to read some new zombie fiction, so for over a year (feels like it anyway), since I chatted with Mike at the 50booksto20k Vegas convention I pined for his’s new series. I pine no more, It’s finally here! And Mike has agreed to an interview.

When, how did your writer career start?

Back when I was in High School I decided that’s what I wanted to do. I was into Poe and Lovecraft and my first attempts at writing were to try to sound like them. Didn’t work. Fast-forward almost 40 years later and I started doing it seriously, learning and working on my craft. The result was my first book, The Tilt. Took 3 years, but it’s a book I’m proud of.

Why zombies?

The best monsters are those that were once human. But unlike vampires and werewolves, zombies can’t hide among us. I also tend toward fast-paced, action stories and nothing will get things started faster than a zombie horde threatening a small band of survivors.

How is your zombie , tale different from the rest?

The location of the first book is the tundra of Northwest Alaska. The way the zombie plague starts is pretty unique. There’s a mass grave of 19th-century sailors that becomes uncovered as climate change melts the tundra and the sailors rise.

Favorite zombie movie?

The original Dawn of the Dead. It was the first movie in the franchise that was in color, and while I wouldn’t want to see Night of the Living Dead in anything but black and white, the color added another dimension.

You live in Alaska did you find that it helped your creative process or was it a struggle? I’m imagining a writer in a tiny home almost swallowed by a landscape of snow. And of course, surrounded by caribous and wendigos.

It helps my writing that the winter’s so dark and cold. I’m not much of a winter sports person, so I spend more time writing during that time of year. Of course, the opposite is true in the summer. I want to be outside and the sun’s up almost all night during the lightest time of the year. I have to force myself to sit inside and write.

What will your next project be about?

I’ve got three books done in the Zombie Uprising series. I have two more planned right now, but that could expand. I can’t control my characters and they often go off in a direction I hadn’t expected that requires another book or two. I plan on going back and finishing The Tilt series. And I have one new series that I’m letting ferment in my subconscious. I don’t want to get specific and jinx it, but I find it a fascinating premise.

One piece of advice for newbie writers?

Decide what type of story you want to write, then find out what the readers want out of it. Without considering the readers, you’re likely to be writing for yourself. While that’s perfectly OK, I really like the reader feedback. I urge my readers to email me and let me know what they’re thinking. That way I can keep producing books that we both like.

 

Cover of book The Awakening The Gauntlet book cover The Citadel book cover

If you’d like announcements of FREE offers, new releases, and exclusive content, please sign up at http://uprising.marobbins.com. You can also find him at www.marobbins.com or get all the links and info from his amazon author page

The talented Ira Heinichen

I first became aware of Ira’s work when I saw the book with the fantastic cover by Tom Edwards. Let’s face it’s the cover that sells the book and this one was very, very cool. It was for the first book of the Starstuff trilogy! The book is ready for you to read, right now (On kindle unlimited even!) I wondered at the time who the writer was, never thinking I’d meet him, and then had the pleasure to meet Ira and the missus at the Vegas convention. Believe me, again, he’s a charming and kind person and you’d love to meet him too. He took the time to answer a few questions for NPH so…hear what he has to share and enjoy!

part of the cover of book Startstuff

What’s your newest book that’s coming out?

I’m currently working on the second book in my scifi Starstuff Trilogy, called “Escape from Red Tower.” Very excited!

What made you decide to jump in, write your first book and go public?

You know, I can actually trace my desire to be a published author back to middle school. I was a huge Star Trek nerd, and I was huge into Star Trek books…so I started writing one of my own. I never finished it because I learned there were these little things called “submission guidelines” and I was breaking two or three of them with my story idea (of course!)…but that was just one stop on a long journey as a storyteller as I grew up.

Most recently I was writing screenplays, trying to break into writing for television and I had an idea for a novel. It was something I’d always wanted to come back to after halting the process all those years ago and never finishing…and I loved it. LOVED. IT. Writing prose, for me, is so much more satisfying than writing for the screen, they’re very different mediums, and it was around that time I started learning about self-publishing and all the possibilities and successes. I mean, people were making very healthy livings selling their own books, and that was something that really, really appealed to me.

So…I made the plunge. So happy I did.

What’s the hardest thing about your publishing journey so far?
Believe it or not, it’s been setting my regular writing routine. When I was writing my first book, I had very small goals for myself; three pages a day. I did that for just over 3 months, and I had my novel’s first draft written. Granted, it took me just over twice that long to revise and re-write it, but those small little bites each day were very easy for me to stick to, and the idea of writing a book a year was imminently doable.

Now that I know more about writing and publishing, I know just how FAST some of these self-pubb’d authors are, churning out a book a month, some of them more. I’m definitely one of those people that’s like “well, sh*t, if they can do it, I can do it,” and I tried to replicate that kind of output.

I failed.

I can’t write that fast yet. I may never be able to write that fast. I really like to work and re-work my stories; even though I write what the industry would consider being “genre fiction,” which has the reputation of being rather pulpy and not that sophisticated, I do have a passion for good well-executed storytelling, and I try as much as my skills will allow me to write such stories myself. And that takes time.

So, my current struggle as I write my second-ever book is really figuring out what exactly my writing process is on a daily basis, and how long all the aspects of that process take me. Once I feel comfortable with all that, I feel like I can really aim to go faster…but I’m not there yet.

What would you tell to someone who’s just starting?

First of all: DO IT. Write that book. If you *want* to write a book, you should *write* it. It’s an incredible process of self-expression and discovery.

My next piece of advice is for anybody who writes a book and wants to be a professional at it: figure out your process. Don’t put the cart before the horse and learn all there is to know about marketing and publishing or plan out a years’ worth of releases when you’ve only got one or two books out. Keep your headspace where it needs to be: on the writing. The writing is the most important thing. Everything comes from the writing. Everything.

What other creative outlets do you practice?

Other than write, I do a podcast called “Two Guys One Trek” – it’s a journey through the original Star Trek series from the 1960s with my long-time comedy partner, who’s never seen it — you only get to watch something for the first time once, and we do it live on microphones!

You can check it out at www.twoguysonetrek.com

Where can we find out more about and your projects?

You can find me, my books, and my daily blog on my website, www.iraheinichen.com.

Thank you so much!

Author A. M. Rycroft has a new book out!

Shadowboxer cover

Shadowboxer: The Gathering Dark Pt. 1 (Cathell Book 4) , the newest book in the Cathell series from A.M. Rycroft is out and ready to be read. It’s always great to promote indie authors and artists so I welcomed the chance to write about her work and toss a few questions her way.

Shadowboxer
joy thief Into the darkness The Taming

You have just published a new book, what can you tell me about it?

Shadowboxer is the fourth book in the Cathell series overall, and the first book in a tight story arc called “The Gathering Dark”. It follows Thystle Moran from books 1 and 2. She receives a summons from the young cleric who helped her and her friends kill the mad god known as The Harbinger (book 1, Into the Darkness). Colin tells her that he’s seen men digging around The Harbinger’s tomb, and he needs her help to stop them.

It looks like it’s part of a series could a new reader just jump in and enjoy the read?

Absolutely. When I write a new book in the series, I work hard to make sure that if a reader starts at book 3, they’ll be able to understand what’s going on right away. And I know some readers have picked up book 3, loved it, and went back to read the rest of the series. Book 4 isn’t any different. It loosely picks up where The Joy Thief left off, in that it starts to answer some of the questions raised in book 3, but readers definitely don’t need to have read book 3 to understand what’s going on or who the players are.

What would you like to tell the reader about the Cathell series?

The Cathell series is a dark sword and sorcery series that features strong female characters of all ages and professions — they don’t all carry swords or fight — and an overall diverse cast. I don’t really like how “white” some fantasy is, so I’ve done what I can to bring in many different types of people into the cast, from all types of backgrounds, races, etc. The mythology is of my own making as well. I borrow some aspects of the typical European fantasies, but I’m equal opportunity as to the cultures — and sometimes, time periods — that I borrow from. Nothing follows our known history.

Is this the last book in the Cathell series?

Not a chance. I’m just getting started. There are at least three books in “The Gathering Dark”, plus a few more planned for after this arc. I’m also writing some novellas and short stories that center around some of the side characters, like the ship captain Reegan McCullum and Vincent, the owner of the Fallen Rose Inn, where Thystle has a permanent room. But I’m also working on another series called The Fall of Kingdoms. The first part of the first book, Corruption of Honor, was released in novella form in December.

What got you started writing?

I started writing when I was very young, but I never considered a career as an author until after I quit art school. I had this crazy dream about the character who would become Aeryn Ravane in the first book in my series. I couldn’t shake the dream, so I decided to write it down, and it became a book. The writing bug bit me pretty hard and that point and the rest is history.

For the writers reading this, what motivates you and how do you recharge after a long writing session?

The characters in my head motivate me. There are times when I don’t really feel like writing because I’m tired or not feeling well, but then one of my characters will kind of poke me and say, “Well, what about this scene? Would you like to write that?” And, of course, I say, “Heck, yeah.”
If I’ve had a particularly long writing or revisions session, I like to wind down by watching sports — hockey and football, mostly — or playing a video game. If it’s late at night, I’ll read, even if it’s just on Facebook. I’m on there way too often for my own good.

I love horror, what is the best part about being part of the Horror Writer Association?

The support of the other authors and publishers who are members. You wouldn’t think horror and dark fantasy writers would be such a tight-knit group, but they actually are. It’s probably because we tend to be thought of a little like the red-headed stepchildren of the writing world. Yes, we’re often weird, but we’re also quite nice people when you get to know us.

In the context of being a creative artist, what makes your heart sing?

When a project really starts to come together. It doesn’t matter if I’m writing or working on a graphic arts piece. I’m not really happy when the piece is fighting me, but when it really takes shape and I can see how great it will be when it’s done, I’m over the moon.

Lots of writers have pets who sit with them while they write. How about you? Any special writing companions?

Not anymore. My furry best friend, a big orange tabby, passed away a couple years ago. He was my writing companion for about 14 years. I still expect to see him parked by the radiator in my office sometimes. But we do have plans to adopt another cat or two soon, so who knows, you may see pictures of my new writing buddy on Facebook soon.

A.M. Rycroft website: www.writinginadarkroom.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/amrycroftwriter/
Twitter: twitter.com/amrycroftwriter
And Her Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/A.-M.-Rycroft/e/B00YPW642W/