Autodidact: self-taught

Sep
28
2015

Interview with Louie Stowell

by V. L. Craven
Louie Stowall

Louie Stowell

In July I reviewed Louie Stowell’s delightfully dark School for Supervillains , which is about a young girl’s first days at the school her parents sent her to in order for her to become the best evil maniac possible.

She (Ms Stowall, not the evil maniac) recently agreed to answer some questions about writing and Fiction Express–the publisher of The School for Supervillains.

Fiction Express is a fun concept. Briefly explain it for my readers.

It’s essentially an online publisher. Schools subscribe, and each term they get a selection of stories (I believe it’s three now) at different levels. Chapters are published once a week, with cliffhangers at the end. The kids at subscribing schools vote online for the resolutions they want to each cliffhanger. Then the writer scuttles off and writes the next chapter, which is posted a couple of days later. More on the scuttling in a minute…

How did you get involved with it?

I think it began with a conversation on twitter. It sounded like such an interesting way of working and, as someone who grew up with Choose Your Own Adventure, having a chance to play in that sandbox was really exciting. I tend to think of stories as having many potential paths, so it naturally fits with how my mind works.

What was it like writing a chapter a week?

Madness. Utter madness. It’s not so much a chapter a week as a chapter in a day, as there’s not much time between the votes being counted and the next chapter being posted. Plus factoring in editing time (my editor at Fiction Express, Laura, is an utter badass when it comes to turning things around quickly. And she does it all year long, while I’ll do maybe one story for them a year!). However the adrenalin carries you through, and there’s a real joy to that kind of pace.

Was the concept of a school for evil little kids something you’d had before Fiction Express?

Yes. I originally had it in mind as just a short story, a what-if about a kid who came from evil parents, but they aspired to be good. So that conflict was there from the outset, the idea of parental expectations vs a kid’s desire. In the context of supervillainy, obviously.

Caligula? [One of the kids in the book.] Really? Was that put in for the adults?

That was for me. I grew up reading Judge Dredd, and Judge Cal (based on the real Caligula) was one of my favourite characters. And it made sense within the world – supervillains seem highly likely to pick names for their kids based on historical villains. Though Mandrake got her name from a root that screams when you pull it up, because supervillains also love the suffering of others.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on a teen novel about a boy who works for a secret government organisation, killing zombies. As I type this, I’m waiting for feedback from my agent, so I have no nails left…. 🙂

Do you have a website I could link to? I’ll add a link to your Twitter, of course.

I don’t update my blogs very often, but here you go anyway! One is my webcomic, the other is a general blog where I talk about publishing, politics, comics and other things that float through my brain…

Blog: Stowell’s Cosmology

Webcomic:  Gods Next Door  This is about gods from various pantheons living in suburbia.

Twitter: @louiestowell

Feb
16
2015

An Interview with E.O. Higgins

by V. L. Craven
Author E.O. Higgins (image from courier.co.uk)

Author E.O. Higgins (image from courier.co.uk)

Last week I reviewed the enormously entertaining Conversations with Spirits wherein Sir Arthur Conan Doyle hires a not-very-personable, but highly intelligent logician to help him prove an up-and-coming medium is the real deal.

This week the author, E.O. Higgins, has agreed to answer some questions about Conan Doyle, spirits and his protagonist.

You’re clearly very well versed in the world of Sherlock Holmes–how many times have you read the stories and novels?

Oh, I don’t know – lots.

I’ve always been weirdly obsessed with the Victorian period – and when I was about seven this developed into a fascination with Jack the Ripper. This isn’t making me sound good, I know…

One Friday night, I stayed up late to watch the film A Study in Terror – in which John Neville’s Sherlock is pitted against the serial killer. From that point in, I guess I must have switched sides. (Which is for the best, when you think about it.)

I still dip into the books from time to time. Last weekend, for example, I was staying at a hotel on the Kent coast – and naturally it rained constantly – so I decided the best thing to do was to draw a chair to fireside in the hotel bar and read a few Holmes adventures.

I’m also blessed with an awful memory – so no matter how many times I read them, I can never remember the endings.

There is nothing wrong with a healthy interest in serial killers. Plenty of perfectly decent, mostly well-adjusted people are interested in Jack the Ripper. :ahem:

Anyway, do you have a favourite Holmes story?

I’m very keen on ‘The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place.’

It’s spookier than the other Sherlock Holmes stories – containing, as it does, burnt human remains and nefarious late-night goings-on in a crypt…

Always my idea of a good time out, yes.

What sort of research did you do in order to write about Conan Doyle’s personality?

I read Conan Doyle’s novels and autobiographies. I also pored over his collected letters – which were extremely helpful in getting a better idea of where his mind was on certain topics – spiritualism and the ‘Cottingley fairies’ being the obvious examples.

Also, a few film and audio interviews with Conan Doyle survive – and these were really useful in getting to understand his general demeanour and in recreating the rhythm of his conversation.

When it comes to adaptations of his work do you have a favourite or are you a purist and stick to the written versions?

I’m really not a purist.

I love the Basil Rathbone version of The Hound of the Baskervilles, and I grew up watching – and loving – the Jeremy Brett Granada series. The new BBC series is obviously excellent too.

I recently caught an episode of the (not brilliant) American series Elementary – and was a bit confused by the addition of a glamorous female Watson. I’m not entirely sure what was wrong with the format this prompted this change – but, in fairness, she was still less annoying than Nigel Bruce.

Conversations with Spirits

Where do you stand on the ghoulies and ghosties and three-leggedy beasties front? Yay or nay?

Well, I haven’t seen any yet – and I’ve been looking.

I recently did a talk in front of members of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Centre – a spiritualist organisation based in Edinburgh – and spoke, in rather blunt terms, about the ‘psychics’ I had encountered whilst researching the novel, which provoked some fairly angry responses from the crowd.

So I have now learnt to temper my remarks about such things – and never refer to mediums as ‘shysters’ again.

Is Conversations with Spirits the beginning of a series?

It wasn’t supposed to be.

When I finished writing it, I started writing something entirely different – just because I felt I needed the change.

However, speaking to my editor at Unbound last year, she made it clear that they would be keen on another book with the same characters.

So, yes, it seems Trelawney will return.

Which, considering his physical condition in the first one, is a bit of a miracle really…

Perhaps Trelawney has a guardian angel. (Kidding.)

Conversations with Spirits was nominated for The Guardian/Edinburgh Book Festival ‘First Book Award’. That’s a pretty big deal. How did you receive that news and what was that like?

In around June last year, my publishers told me that I had been asked to attend the Edinburgh International Book Festival to do a talk with Canadian author Steven Galloway on the theme of ‘fiction that blurs reality with illusion’.

About a month before this, I was called up by a journalist for an interview and, as a kind of casual aside at the end of the call, she added: “Oh. I see you’re a contender for the Edinburgh First Book Award this year. How do you feel about that?”

Having heard nothing of this, I cleverly covered by hyperventilating down the phone.

It’s a great honour to be nominated for anything, really – and when you’ve endured decades of misery – and penury – trying desperately to ‘learn your craft’ (sorry) and get people to read your work, it’s actually quite a relief to know that you’re not completely terrible.

What’s next for you–are you working on anything right now?

I got married at the end of last year and my wife is expecting our first child in June, so besides buying baby things and being regularly crippled by panic, I am slowly piecing together the next Trelawney Hart book.

Since the protagonist doesn’t readily lend himself to taking on ‘cases’* it’s involved a bit of thinking about. Oh, and in the next novel the focus has shifted away from spiritualism and onto black magic.

*Unless I set him up as the world’s first ‘consulting arsehole’?

I’d love to see those business cards. And black magic is always a welcome topic around these parts.

I look forward to reading the next book. And congratulations on the impending bundle of human!

Jan
26
2015

Author Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen

by V. L. Craven
Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen

Author Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of reading The Rabbit Back Literature Society –a darkly magical ode to books and writing that will be a stand out of 2015.

Through the magic of social media, I connected with Finnish author Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen, who graciously agreed to an interview.

The members of the Rabbit Back Literature Society write in different genres but the leader of the group is a world-famous children’s author. What books did you like most as a child? What books most influenced you as a writer?

Sometimes I think I spent my whole childhood reading books, just like young Ella in my novel. I have forgotten most of the books but I could never forget how much I enjoyed the Narnia chronicles, especially the first one. Later I felt a little bit betrayed when I realized that Aslan is actually Jesus, but in the end, that didn’t really matter so much – if anything, works of C.S. Lewis made me see how all religions are but stories, new versions of old mythological narratives like Heracles.

That moment when Lucy isn’t anymore in the wardrobe but in Narnia affected me greatly and made me thirst for more of that kind of reading experiences. At that time there wasn’t that much fantasy available in Finnish (unlike these days) and it was hard to find that kind of sense of wonder but every now and then I found something.

Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea trilogy is another one that has haunted me since my childhood – it’s beautifully dark and scary and I loved its atmosphere. Later I naturally read Lord of the Rings and every horror book I could find – but back then horror stories were not published in Finnish almost at all. Only Stoker’s Dracula and Shelley’s Frankenstein and Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby and classics like that.

Laura White chose the initial members of the Society when they were quite young–how old were you when you began writing? What were your early writings about?

I have always made up stories, for example I told my own fairytales to my kid brother when I was about 10 years old. And I used to write silly stories at school. I also remember trying to write a couple of goofy short stories with my mother’s old typewriter which was really hard to use, it took more strength than I had in my tiny fingers. (I still have very small hands, they’re more like cat’s paws than hands of a man…)

I think I was about 15 years old when I made my first attempt to write a horror story. There were vampires and zombies in it and it really sucked ass. I tried again when I was 24. I wrote a horror story, “The Disciples”, participated in a certain writing contest and won a 2nd prize in it – and so it began…

Rabbit Back alternate cover

The Game was fascinating–the idea of being able to ask absolutely anything and know you’re going to receive the unvarnished truth is both liberating and terrifying. What would have to be at risk for you to play The Game with someone?

Considering that the members of the society had to avoid each other because of the game, well, I hope that if I should ever play that game (while someone I love being under a death threat), it wasn’t with anyone I would have to face afterwards. Self deception – to a certain extent – is something we all need in order to be happy, and losing one’s illusions may lead to misery…

The Game did remind me of an extreme form of therapy sessions, which can often be emotionally exhausting and make a person need a nap. Like Ella needing to rest for days afterwards.

Do we get to know all of the rules of The Game and the variations/maneouvres? I admit, I wanted a copy of the book with all the variations in.

It might be interesting to write the rulebook and put it on the market! On the other hand, the Game would destroy friendships, marriages and lives. So, it really would be interesting… (evil laughter). I don’t think the Game is fully revealed in the novel, but I guess it wouldn’t stop anyone to try it anyhow. Actually I was told by some young Finnish dude that he and his friends had once played it – or tried, at least.

It would need to come with a vial of yellow [something they use to loosen their tongues when playing The Game] .

Where did you get the idea for such a …terrifying game, anyway?

I may have invented it after reading Ibsen’s Wild Duck. In that play, Gregers Werle wants truth at any cost, he wants to force people to abandon their comforting self deception and face the naked truth about themselves and their life, with horrible consequences. And as a writer I’m interested to harvest other people’s deepest emotional experiences in order to better understand life and to write about it – and of course as a writer I have to be ready to harvest my own deepest thoughts, too, and sometimes see behind those beautiful lies we all tell ourselves so we could feel good about ourselves.

It is definitely a useful tool for writers. But so…sadistic…and masochistic, as well.

Rabbit Back Literature Society

Mythological mapping [where people find out what mythological creatures live in their gardens] is an interesting concept. Is it something you invented for the novel or something that actually occurs in Finland?

I invented it, but a couple of years later I found out that some Finnish woman actually had launched a business similar to that.

Some of your shorter works have been translated into English [see the end of this interview for links] . Are there plans for your other novels to be translated into English?

I certainly hope so. So far my agent has been selling The Rabbit Back everywhere (so far it has been sold to UK, US, France, Germany, Lithuania, Czech, Spain and Italy) but I guess it’s about the time for my other novels to spread outside the borders of Finland. There are two novels waiting, The Cinematic Life: a novel and Souls Walk in the Rain, and although they both are somewhat different from The Rabbit Back, they all are about combining realist approach with fantasy elements, so if The Rabbit Back finds readers enough, there shouldn’t be a problem with selling other two novels. But you never know.

Are you going to be doing signings in the States or the U.K.?

So far I haven’t been invited in UK or US. I’m going to Milan, though, in order to sign books and stuff like that in next May.

What is next up for you–Are you working on anything at the moment?

Yes, I have done some groundwork with my fourth novel and one of these days I’ll begin writing it. But it takes time to write when you have a day job – and teaching doesn’t leave too much extra energy to do things after work.

Do you talk about your works in progress or do you keep them to yourself?

Sometimes I may talk about my writing with some, selected people, at some point of the writing process. It’s like letting off steam from boiler when the pressure is getting too high to keep it all just to myself. But before this happens, I have already spend numerous nights alone with my manuscript.

These things won’t be rushed. They percolate at their own rate, I find. I look forward to your future works and thank you for taking the time to chat with me.

It has been a pleasure, Victoria – thank you!

Jaaskelainen’s fiction in English (free to read):

Novella: Where the Trains Turn
Short Story: ‘Those Were the Days’ (downloadable as PDF)
Short Story: ‘Letter to Lethe’

Feb
17
2014

An Interview with Gary Glass

by V. L. Craven
Gary Glass

Gary Glass author of The Nirvana Plague

 

Last Friday I reviewed the excellent Nirvana Plague by Gary Glass and I’ve recently had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his novel.

The novel takes place in 2027 and technology has progressed, as it does. How did you decide which way technology would go? For example, one character’s phone looks like a pen, whereas right now, the trend is for phones to be able to do to more and more, etc. Did you do any research or read any futurists?

Mostly I just imagined how I’d like things to go. For example, I’m sick of tapping with my fingers, but if part of my phone was shaped like a stylus then I could use it to write on a screen or a projected surface. Or again, sharing screens or information between systems: it ought to be easy, so I decided it would be.

Setting is really important–how did you settle on Chicago rather than, say, Boston or New York (or other East Coast cities, which was important to the plot)?

It was pretty cold-blooded actually. I wanted a big city that I was fairly familiar with. I grew up in Terre Haute, Indiana, and I’d been to Chicago many times. At the time I wrote the book I was living in northern Virginia but I couldn’t use DC because I wanted DC to be the place the protagonist goes away to because that’s where the NIH is. So, Chicago.

The book is psychiatry and psychology-heavy. I’m not a professional, but I’ve read a goodly amount about psychology/iatry, and a lot of it read believably. Do you have a background in those fields and if not, what sort of research did you do?

My wife has a masters in psychology, and it’s a field I’ve always been interested in. We’re the sort of people who own a copy of the DSM-IV! Also, many years ago I trained and worked as an RN, and did a psych rotation, which was one of my favorites. And, of course, I have had a life-long interest in spirituality and consciousness transformation.

The one thing that I felt I elided over for the purposes of plot is that psychological illness is very real and commonly has structural or chemical etiology, particularly when we’re talking about schizophrenia and psychosis. It’s not the sort of thing you can just get over with a change of heart, however profound. On the other hand, I wanted to talk about something that concerns me: the social and cultural aspects of mental illness. As Theodore Roszak said, it isn’t healthy to be well-adjusted to a sick-making society. To dramatize the latter point, I didn’t do justice to the former.

I liked the way you demonstrated that by showing the society that saw the ‘sick’ people as being angels. As being more enlightened. In our society we do tend to dismiss those who talk about oneness as being hippies or naive, but in other cultures it’s the height of awareness. What planted the seed of making Enlightenment a sort of, well, plague?

It has been said the most radical thing you can do in our culture is embrace joy. Political power feeds on fear. Suppose they gave a war and no one came? There’s a scene in Lost Horizon where Conway, who is about to become the new British Foreign Secretary, says he plans to disband the army: “Then when the enemy approaches we’ll say, ‘Come in, gentlemen – what can we do for you?’ So then the poor enemy soldiers will stop and think … to themselves – ‘Something’s wrong here. We’ve been duped. This is not according to form. These people seem to be quite friendly, and why should we shoot them?’” – If people were to embrace peace, love, and understanding as a regular way of life, wouldn’t it just knock the old world order on its ass? Wouldn’t it hit them like a plague? – You say want a revolution? You better change your mind instead!

Another thing you seem to have a great deal of understanding of (from a civilian point of view, at least) were the operations of the military and government operations in war zones and under a bio-threat. Do you have military experience? What percentage was research versus writer’s license?

I don’t really know anything about the military aside from what I see in the movies. Also an online acquaintance from Readerville and BookBalloon ( David Abrams , author of Fobbit) was kind enough to answer some technical questions for me (so I named a hospital in his honor). The rest was Google and imagination. Oh, and a Marine Corps field manual I picked up in a yard sale somewhere!

Your cover art is spectacular for a self-published book–or for any book, really–who did it and how did you find them?

Another online friend from Readerville and BookBalloon is a notorious graphic artist, so I approached him about doing a cover. He couldn’t take it on but he recommended another friend of his, the talented Mr. Jeremy Lehman , who put up with my endless niggling and dithering over the art. Jeremy has done two covers for me now, and they’ve both been completely unlike anything I had imagined, and they’ve both been terrific.

And finally–Do you have anything else in the works?

I’m currently working on a private detective tale, set in contemporary Boston, that takes a turn toward the surreal. Our hero, Christian McBride, is drawn into a dangerous game of cat and mouse between two apparently identical twins. I’m calling it “The Brothers Brown and Gray.”

Thank you so much for your time–I look forward to The Brothers Brown and Gray!

Thanks for reading it and telling your readers about it!

Dec
06
2013

Interview with Christian Baloga

by V. L. Craven
Baloga signing at Barnes and Noble

Baloga signing at Barnes and Noble

Recently, I reviewed Wake the Wicked: Thirteen Twisted Tales by Christian Baloga and really enjoyed it. Today I’ve had the opportunity to chat with Christian about the stories.

Hi, Chris. First, I really enjoyed Wake the Wicked. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read it.

I’m so happy you enjoyed it! Thank you for your early interest in Wake the Wicked and your substantive, sincere, and thought-provoking review. It’s everything an author could wish for!

How long have you been writing and when did you realize you were interested in writing professionally?

I started crafting my own short story books and comic books sometime during early elementary school. I wrote, illustrated, and manufactured them out of inkjet paper, glue, magazine cut-outs, and staples.

I can remember the exact moment I realized I’d one day become a published author. It was after reading the last page from the book “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” by Alvin Schwartz. I was in third grade. My best friend at the time had just finished reading it. He saw my interest in the illustrations and passed it on to me. It’s wonderful how a simple gesture of kindness such as that could shape a person’s future. I’m so grateful.

Scary Stories Cover

You mention your interest in the illustrations–they’re changing those illustrations for the updated editions of the books. The publishers think they’re too frightening for children. What are your thoughts on that? Personally, when you look at things like Struwwelpeter or the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales, what kids see and hear today are pretty tame.

I was devastated to hear about the removal of Stephen Gammell’s illustrations. This is a prime example of why I chose not to publish traditionally. I couldn’t imagine being forced to alter my creative visions to please a few prudes.

Most of your stories involve animals and nature in some way–do you find animals and nature personally frightening?

I’ve spent my whole life surrounded by nature and animals and feel a deep connection to both. On a subconscious level, I imagine the involvment of these subjects stem from the old adage “Write what you know.”

What does scare you?

Seeing or hearing others suffer.

You switch pretty easily between male and female narrators–how do you decide the gender of your protagonist?

Apart from the characters based on real people, the decision of gender is completely intuitive. For each narrative, I let the characters channel through me. They come as they are.

Some of the stories (like the one about the twins) are reminiscent of J-horror. Are you a fan?

I’m thrilled that you noticed the nuances of J-horror in the book! Yes, I’m a fan. It’s my weakness.

Junji Ito

Junji Ito

Who are some of your favourite J-horror authors or works and why? What would you recommend to people new to the genre?

Two of my favorite J-horror authors, Junji Ito and Junko Mizuno, both write and illustrate their own books and appeal to me in very different ways. I was drawn to Junji Ito’s work for its tenebrous eccentricity. The way he tells a story is downright haunting and unlike anything I’ve experienced before.

I was drawn to Junko Mizuno’s work for its unapologetic blend of psychedelic cuteness, gore, and eroticism. Her new versions of old fairy tales are hard to put down.

Above all, what I love most about these authors is their unmistakable courage to tell stories without compromising their artistic visions.

In addition to the authors above, for people who are new to the genre, I’d suggest watching “Demon City Shinjuku” and “Vampire Hunter D.” They’re both classics!

Wake the Wicked was self-published but it’s not obvious from looking at the paperback, which is unusual. What process did you take to have that done? The cover, especially is very high quality, which is often an indicator of a self-published book. Tell me about the cover art, as well.

I graduated with a bachelor’s degree specializing in graphic design. The skills I gained during college, in the workforce, and on my own were key to helping me design the cover.

I wanted the cover art to reflect the stories within. Instead of trying to jumble all thirteen tales into one cover, I focused on one story, “Ripped to Ribbons,” and one character, the vagrant. I borrowed my reluctant friend, applied special effects makeup and tortured him, I mean, photographed him for the cover jacket. He’s a great sport. I’m thankful.

Do you listen to music when you write?

Yes. I listen to instrumental movie soundtracks to help enhance my emotions when writing. In particular, Halloween soundtracks that foster fear, dread, and panic are my favorite to write to, as you can imagine.

What are you reading now or have read recently that you loved?

Right now I’m reading “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley. I recently finished “Tales of Edgar Allan Poe.” Although I’ve read the stories in this collection before, this particular book incorporated illustrations I hadn’t seen. It’s amazing how these same stories can be enhanced or altered by adding visual elements.

Are there any other stories or novels in the works?

Yes, a novel is in development.

Any hints on what your novel is about?

Things are bound to change since I’m still outlining, but it’s a lighthearted-horror comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Horror-comedy is some of my favourite. I look forward to reading it. Thank you for taking the time to chat with me!

My pleasure. I hope we can do this again!

 

Chris’ official website is here . You can also follow him on Twitter and check out his Facebook page Dancing with Death .

Sep
02
2013

An Interview with Author Alex Giannini

by V. L. Craven
Alex, as illustrated by Abigail Larson

Alex, as illustrated by Abigail Larson

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed Sarah Faire and the House at the End of the World  (TL;DR I loved it) written by Alex Giannini and illustrated by Abigail Larson. Then at the weekend I had the opportunity to ask the author a few questions.

First, I really enjoyed, Sarah Faire and the House at the End of the World. And I would have loved it as a child, as well.

Thank you so much for the kind words, and I’m so glad you liked the book!

How long have you been writing? Do you typically write for children?

Out of college, I worked on the other side of the desk, as an editor, but I’ve always wanted to write, and I’ve always written on the side. These days, my day job has me writing (a lot) for a website, but my passion lies in telling stories–particularly creepy ones–with my own characters.

While I’ve been writing for a while, Sarah is my first published book, and it’s the exact kind of thing I’d like to keep on doing.

I enjoy writing for kids, and I find myself writing odd things that are geared towards a younger audience. Sarah, especially, is the kind of thing I would have liked as a child, and it’s very cool to think there are kids out there reading something I wrote. My favorite moment with the book so far is watching and listening to a mom read the book in a coffee shop to her two daughters–twice! That was a humbling experience for me.

Sarah Faire

That must have been really fun. Sarah is a great character–is she written for anyone or based on anyone you know?

Well, she’s named after my Grandma Sarah, who was a pretty cool lady. Very independent, right up until she was 93 years old, which always amazed me.

Sarah is brave and loyal and determined, and she’s adamant about doing the right thing. Which is pretty cool.

What are your favourite children’s books? 

Hmm…I have so many. I especially love Coraline, though, because it never speaks down to the reader. Kids are smart, and Coraline is smart, and can be enjoyed by any age group.

What inspires you as a writer?

I’m inspired by lots of things, and I have a lot of creative friends who help in that regard. But at the end of the day, the thing I enjoy most is writing, and that inspires me to keep writing. Because, maybe, there will be a day when I don’t have to go to a desk job. And, really, there is nothing more inspiring than that.

Writing as an inspiration to continue writing–I really like that!

You had Amber at Southern Gothica make a doll of Thomas (isn’t she fabulous?) are there any plans for pairing more dolls with the book when it’s released?

Amber is the best. Her Thomas leaped off the page–he is Abigail Larson’s art come to life! I do have some plans, actually, but I’m focusing on really getting the book out there for the moment. I bring Thomas to store signings and conventions, and people love him, so there’s definitely something there.

I’d ideally ask Amber to shrink him down a bit, and offer a Book and a Bear box set. Which would be kinda awesome, I think.

Thomas by Southern Gothica on Etsy

Thomas by Southern Gothica on Etsy

Abigail Larson’s illustrations are a perfect compliment to your story. What was the process of pairing up with her–tell me about that.

I cannot express how lucky I am to have come across Abigail’s art online. I sent her an email, mentioning how much I loved her work and that I had this thing that I’d written and liked quite a bit. I asked her if she was interested in maybe taking a look, and if she’d consider illustrating it. She was so nice to even say she’d read the script, but cautioned that she had a lot of work and maybe she’d be able to do the cover.

When she got back to me, she told me she wanted to illustrate the entire book, because she really liked the script. That was a really great day for me!

Abigail is incredibly talented, and she deserves so much credit. The book is what it is because of her.

How involved were you in the design of the characters and the house?

Beyond making a couple of notes in the script (“Sarah is wearing a pumpkin dress”; “Thomas is a stuffed bear”)…it was all Abigail! She told me she developed a connection to the characters I’d written, and I think it’s pretty obvious in the finished product.

I think our sensibilities mesh pretty well, and sometimes it seemed like she pulled things right out of my head, but there were so many instances and pages that are just so far beyond what I imagined while writing them.

She really is amazing.

What’s in the works? Do you have more plans for Sarah Faire?

Ideally, there will be a couple more books. I like things that come in threes, and I’d love to get to work on the next part of the story.

For the moment, however, I really want to focus on getting Sarah Faire and the House at the End of the World out there and in front of as many people as I can. I’m scheduled to appear at a few shows and a couple of in-store signings this fall, which I am very excited about.

Do you have a released date?

The book is currently available. It retails for $15 US and I have been hand-selling it at shows and to bookshops and comic book stores (I’m actually appearing at a comic convention tomorrow morning), and people can order directly from me: a.giannini(at)sbcglobal(dot) net.   The website is still in the works, but hopefully will be done soon.

The comic convention is exciting! Good luck with that. Any other appearances scheduled?

Two October signings are tbd, but one will be at the Barnes & Noble in Norwalk, CT, which should be interesting.

Excellent. Let me know about other appearances and I’ll pass the info on to my readers.  Thank you so much for chatting with me, Alex. Good luck!

Thank you so much, Victoria, for taking the time to talk about our book!

Jun
24
2013

An Interview with G. W. Dahlquist

by V. L. Craven

Several years ago I reviewed G.W. Dahlquist’s first novel,  The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters . It was released in the UK in instalments and is now being re-released in ebook instalments by  Penguin UK . The first two chapters are £.98 with £.49 per chapter afterwards. The publisher has also kindly provided a free paperback copy that will go to a lucky reader. (See below for details)

In anticipation of the new release, I had the opportunity to ask the author a few questions:

Glass Books Volume One

The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters was more of an experience than just a book–much like the glass books themselves. Aside from covering several genres well, it could have been a graphic novel–for adults–or a pretty spectacular video game. (The cosplay outfits would be incredible!) Have there been any offers to turn it into a graphic novel or comic or video game?

When The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters was published in the US, Random House made a phone-based game to coincide with the release, but something very small. It was a time when publishers were really trying all kinds of tangential strategies to attract readers, but elements of the book were just grafted onto existing, generic mechanics. Not to knock the people who made it – they didn’t have resources to do much more – but even people who liked the book wouldn’t have been interested. Over the years there’s been occasional talk of a game, or a graphic novel, or the books being adapted for a television series, but none of it especially serious. Of course, I agree with you that it would be incredibly cool, and think the structure of the books is perfectly suited for television.

Glass Books and the two follow up books are set in a Steampunk 19th century; have you always been interested in the Victorian era or was it that those characters simply had more stories to tell? What other eras are you interested in?

I’m interested in history in general – right now I’m reading Michael Grant’s Lives of the Caesars – pretty much any time. I’ve written plays about the Byzantine empire and about 17th century Spain, both of which did require a lot of research. The setting of Glass Books came from two impulses: first, that 19th century Europe’s grappling with the morality of imperialism raised a lot of echoes for me with present-day America, and second, that the mid-19th century is when literature explodes with all these different genre stories. So often books – if they dip into genre – are one kind of story, romance, mystery, adventure, erotic, historical. It seems obvious that in life all of these things overlap, and the 19th century setting gave me a nice access point to take the material in these different directions more or less at the same time. All of that said, of course, the trappings of the time were alluring as well. Who wouldn’t want to write about steam-powered alchemy? But history often shows a rougher overlap, from one face of a society to another, the juxtaposition of Celeste Temple’s fortune coming from a slave-worked sugar plantation with her determination to fight for justice for herself and her friends, for example. Those sorts of disconnects are all around us now, too, but people in a given moment are pretty schooled to look the other way.

Glass Book by AngelusNoir

Glass Books by Angelus Noir on Deviant Art

The world that the three books are set in is so massive–how much preparation did you do beforehand?

To tell the truth, very little, which probably sounds glib. I’ve always read a lot, I’ve traveled a bit, and the books’ world is made of elements that I feel like I’ve had in my head for decades – which probably sounds glib, as well. But it becomes a different thing when you’re not describing London or Amsterdam or Budapest, but your own city that’s never, over the course of three novels, even given a proper name. There are certainly parts of the books that follow from specific locations – the journey to the Vandaariff tomb in The Chemickal Marriage is based on Highgate Cemetary in London, for example – but it’s important to me that the books are seen as modern fictions, not any attempt to recapture a specific place or time. And many parts of the book, large and small, have contemporary influences – the blue glass comes from my experience with computers, as the prevalence of Dutch names comes from living in New York. I did work to make things as period-accurate and consistent as possible (during the editorial passes for The Glass Books , my editor flagged the mention of available mango on Miss Temple’s island, and I did some digging to find that, yes, the Portuguese brought the mango to Brazil in the 1500’s and was satisfied the fruit could have made it north to her non-Antigua in the next 300 years), but the spirit of what was going on was always more important. Mostly I established the basic geography of the place, social and physical, and then fleshed things out as I went, with a lot of revision. This was also enhanced by the process of writing three books set in the same world. Each new book provided opportunities to revisit places and ideas that I might have only had time to treat briefly the first time, but from a different angle – in the way the class divisions one sees in The Glass Books are explored through the ‘decapitated cabal’ in The Dark Volume , and refracted by the civil unrest running through The Chemickal Marriage.

Which is all only to say that there are writers who cover walls with charts and post-its and index cards, who draw maps and time-lines and family trees. I am not one of those writers.

Glass Books Trilogy

Have you seen Black Mirror ? It’s a drama from the U.K. (but airs worldwide) about the way technology is separating us from our humanity when it’s meant to be bringing people closer to one another. In the third episode of the first series, the characters all have implants that allow them to relive any moment of their lives and share any moment with other people, if they wish. It’s similar to the glass books in that memories can be rehashed for good or ill, allowing people to wallow in one emotion or moment rather than moving forward in life. I was wondering what your thoughts were on that episode (if you saw it) in relation to the glass books; or, if you didn’t, your thoughts, on how technology has changed how we relate to one another i.e. people used to have friends, now they have Facebook ‘friends’, that sort of thing.

I haven’t seen Black Mirror , only because I’ve been distracted with other things, but I’ve been aware of the praise the show’s received and am eager to watch it this summer. So, not actually speaking of Black Mirror at all, I do think science fiction (at least on television or in a movie), tends to move quickly when it talks about technological jumps like this, without always taking the time to work through how everyday life would be changed (there’s a great interview with William Gibson where he shakes his head about how in Neuromancer he got cyberspace right, but didn’t think of cell phones). In our own present, I think there’s much more change happening in terms of attention spans and social vocabulary, the distraction of an eternal present, than in the tech itself, and that these social factors will have longer-term impacts than we can currently see. The circumstance of six people sitting around a table together, completely ignoring one another, all of them engaged with data streams from somewhere else in the world – an utterly common sight, these days – would be unimaginable to anyone from 100 years ago, and probably terrifying. What else is invisible to us now, relative to that century ago? We’re in a world where most 12 year old boys have seen more naked women than Casanova did in his entire lifetime. How that sort of raw data-flood changes concepts of beauty, of desire, of tolerance, of fairness is exactly the sort of shift that’s hard to grasp about the future. I say this being personally outside most of this experience. I’m not on Facebook, don’t use Twitter, don’t have a smartphone, mainly because I just don’t feel like I have time, and don’t want the time I do have to be chopped into even smaller increments of distraction.

So, yeah, actually I find the present shock (to quote Douglas Rushkoff) of social media pretty pernicious, not that it’s going anywhere.

Hungarian Version of Glass Books

What are you working on right now?

I’ve just finished a follow-up novel to my YA book The Different Girl , which was published this year by Dutton/Penguin. The new book is called Second Skin , and while it’s not a direct sequel, it takes place in the same world and so fills in a number of questions left unanswered in the earlier book. Second Skin is about an illiterate girl from a scavenger community in an environmentally compromised part of the world who, in the wake of a shipwreck, finds a priceless prototype of new technology. The owners of the prototype come to collect their property, only to find the prototype has imprinted on the girl’s DNA, and so they carry her away along with it, to a high-tech world of wealth and privilege, as alien as the moon.

What immersive book/series would you recommend to someone interested in such a thing?

Since I mentioned him above, I’d certainly recommend William Gibson’s first three books, whose plots are inter-laced: Neuromancer, Count Zero , and Mona Lisa Overdrive . Especially in the case of Neuromancer , it’s impossible to overstate their influence on popular culture. I’d also recommend the first series of Amber books by Roger Zelazny, five volumes starting with Nine Princes in Amber . He did a second series later in his life, which are perfectly readable, but mainly for fans. The first series, though, is a wonderfully inventive fantasy adventure. Lastly, since he’s just passed away, I want to recommend the Culture novels of Iain M. Banks. These are really the best science fiction being written today, in my opinion – thoughtful, political, funny, thrilling, and crazily sharp. The books can be read in any order, though I’d suggest one of the earlier entries – The Player of Games or Consider Phlebus – to start.

Croatian translation of Glass Books

Is music part of your writing routine?

I write in cafes for the most part, and always listen to music – loud! – with headphones. I tend to listen to the same thing a lot when I’m working on a particular project, like a soundtrack. When I was finishing Second Skin I played the entire Beatles catalogue in sequence, day after day. While picking up a new project this last week I’ve been listening to the first four terrific records by the LA punk band X. It varies, but there’s always something in my ears.

Aaand, some fun ones:

Coffee or tea?

At home it’s tea, but when I’m working, it’s always coffee, usually a double-shot americano with half-and-half.

Cats or dogs?

I grew up with both, and definitely enjoy being around dogs when I can be, but I live in New York and having a dog here is difficult, so I’ve pretty much become a cat person. Right now I have two cats, brother and sister, adopted from an animal shelter 11 years ago and going strong.

Gryffindor or Slytherin?

I hate to say it, but probably Ravenclaw.

Do you still fence or have you taken up less (or more) dangerous activities?

I still fence, though not as much as I’d like, as the guys I fence with have shifting work schedules and family commitments that eat into the weekend. Which may be as well, since the bruises seem to heal slower each year!

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions!

My pleasure – thank you for asking them!

 

Contest details: Send an email to autodidact.attic@gmail.com with the subject: Glass Books and only your name in the body of the text. Entries must be received by midnight EST July 1, 2013. A name will be chosen using a randomiser. The winner will be announced  July 1.

Jun
10
2013

An Interview with Michael Hibbard

by V. L. Craven

  Waking Dream Series

If you’re beginning to despair over the vampire romances clogging the shelves of your local book shop and would like nothing more than to read something a bit more challenging; a series to lose yourself in, say, then hold onto your knickers, because there’s a new dark fantasy series set to kick off in September called the Waking Dream.

The author, Michael Hibbard, will explain more in the interview but, but in brief, there is a cycle similar to Buddhism enlightenment between Sleepers and Dreamers and Immortals. Most people are Sleepers. Dreamers are Sleepers who awaken and realise they can affect reality (Matrix-style), and Immortals are Dreamers who realise they are Immortal. There’s also time travel and jumping in and out of bodies and  all sorts of other fantastic (in both senses of the word) things happening. There’s philosophy and religion and intellectual things, as well. All part of your brain will be engaged, is what I’m saying.

Hibbard kindly agreed to answer a few questions.

Michael Hibbard in New Orleans

The Author St Louis Cemetery #1 — Resting place of Marie Laveau

When is the first book in the series coming out and where are you in that process?

The first book will be released on September 22, 2013.  I’ve chosen this date because it is the first day of Autumn and Devlin is an Autumn tale.  Right now, the cover has been completed, the copy edits have been submitted to the publisher by my editor, and we are on target to have the book out on time.  My collection of short stories Immortal Memories will be released on Halloween of 2013.  Both books have illustrations that I’ve done over the years — some of which you can see on the Waking Dream Website and on my Instagram account .

It’s a nine-part series–how plotted out are each book?

Every single book has been carefully designed to fit into a great whole.  The entire plot has been outlined, and many of the books have already been started.  The entire series is broken down into three trilogies — The Transformation Trilogy, The Shadow Years Trilogy and the final Trilogy is named, but it would be a spoiler for me to divulge its name at this time.

Waking Dream by Michael Hibbard Book Cover

The universe your books inhabit is…the size of a universe. How long have you been creating it, so to speak. The dynamics of it–how it fits together?

The Waking Dream is my interpretation of the universe, more than just a literary interpretation, but a literal interpretation.  The ideas for the Waking Dream began back in 1995 when I was running a free-form role-playing channel on IRC (Internet Relay Chat).  The focus was to create an interactive story with a framework that anyone could interact with.  I set the storyline and others just interacted with what I set forth.  At one point I had over 80 players engaged in the world itself.  At the time, I was a freelance web designer, which afforded me a great deal of time for me to role-play, sometimes for 10 to 12 hours at a time. Waking Dream was intended to become a game, because when you come to understand the nature of the Waking Dream, you realize that life really is nothing more than a game.

I have spent over 15 years documenting the dynamics, studying world religions, philosophy, quantum mechanics and cosmology to make my world as “real” as possible.  I want people to believe that they have the power to change their world through their own Weirdness — their own individuality.   The Weirdness comes from the term Quantum Weirdness which I have philosophically pondered my entire life.   Weirdness is the product of a primordial force which has been talked about in so many religions, philosophies and science.  I liken it to the Tao, Dark Energy, the Holy Spirit, the Force, the Field and the Akashic Record.  It is the source of all magick that has been diluted by the over-population of our planet.

The Symbol of Gabryal, the Lord of Shadow

The Symbol of Gabryal, the Lord of Shadow

There are groups of people, Sleepers, Dreamers, Immortals, etc. Give us a brief description of each one.

This has been the most arduous aspect of selling the concept of the Waking Dream.  It can be offensive to some, and enlightening to others.

Dreamers are those of us who have the ability to affect the Waking Dream, and have the ability to use their Weirdness — their own form of magick.  And Weirdness can be exhibited in many different ways — telepathy, empathy, second sight, fortune-telling, alchemy, wicca, witchcraft.  It is up to the individual to find their Weirdness.  A Dreamer is an immortal spirit that begins its existence in my form of the afterlife — or what I call the InBetweenLife.  They first begin as a consciousness that coalesces like a star does.  Once they become self aware, they choose a Sleeper to inhabit and assume their identity once they’ve made the connection.  They can assume the identity of any sleeper at any stage in life.  But once they have assumed this identity, they forget all of their previous lives, and begin the journey towards Awakening.  A Dreamer must Awaken to begin using their Weirdness once more — I like to think of it as learning how to drive the vehicle they’ve just purchased. Only 1-2 % of Earth’s population are Dreamers.  And there are Dreamers all across the universe, but once a Dreamer chooses a planet, they are bound to the planet until it is uninhabitable.  This is an important aspect of the series, because one of the Prime Immortals is determined to leave the planet, and thinks that they have found a way to do so.

Immortals are Dreamers who have reached the most sublime level of existence which is akin to enlightenment.  Once they have realized they are an eternal being, they remember all of their lives and can draw from their past lives experiences.  This allows them to command the Weirdness much more effectively.  There are Celestial immortals of which there are 6 who were have been immortal since they first formed in the Spaces Between — the Governors of the Dream so to speak.  The series focuses on the 5 Prime Immortals who are bound to Earth — along with the other lesser immortals who are not nearly as old or powerful as the 5, or the Celestials.  The Waking Dream will start over when all Dreamers have recognized their Immortality.  Immortals can inhabit Dreamers (with their permission) or any Sleeper at will.

Sleepers are the rest of the population.  The analogy is that the Dreamers and Immortals are the architects of the Dream and the Sleepers are the ones who do the bidding of the Dreamers and Immortals, unable to use their Weirdness — though they are entirely made of Weirdness.  They are those who have no will to change the world.  They simply live in the world.  This is not to discount them as living beings, because all living beings are sacred under the Creator, however, they do not have an active role in the Waking Dream — other than their over-population has become the genesis for the Transformation of the Dream.  Each Sleeper requires Weirdness to exist, and there is only so much Weirdness available to our world.  This is how I’ve accounted for Magick leaving our planet.  But, one of the Immortals wishes to change all that.

And is it our universe or a parallel universe or a completely different universe?

I like to think this is our universe.  If you look around, really look, some of the things I have posited in the novels and in the Libellus Somnium (The Little Book of Dreams) are simple truths.  We have simply forgotten that life is to be enjoyed and luxuriated in — we shouldn’t have the strife that we do.  In short, I want this to be our universe.

The Original Crier at Twilight (Tristan) by Michael Hibbard

The Original Crier at Twilight (Tristan)

Justin (The Crier’s) blog is a fantastic introduction to this expansive world you’ve created. Often, no matter how well an author knows their characters, once they start writing them, they learn more about them–has keeping Justin’s blog changed what you’ve known about him and the universe he inhabits?

I have to chuckle when I think about this question, because I’ve learned more about myself than I have about the universe by writing Justin.  Justin has multiple personality disorder — as all Dreamers have a mental illness of some variety that allows them to suspend their disbelief.  We have been herded into a belief system, whether it be religious or philosophical.  What I have found by writing the Way of the Weird — Justin’s Blog — is that we all have many aspects of ourselves that we should explore to better understand our goals and dreams in the universe.

The Crier’s Blog has allowed me to slowly allow people to accept some of the ideas I am presenting, and force them to think, rather than just tell them some fantasy tale.  The fact that we can think, create and exist is in of itself Weirdness.  We fight against gravity and build amazing things.  But we’ve forgotten that we are all One — we all come from the Spaces Between, the realm of the Weird, and we will return there again and again.  Justin has become my prophet to overcome fear because it is only when we can overcome fear that we can truly begin to live.  It does not matter if we die tomorrow, as long as we enjoyed today.

And yes, Justin’s Blog has allowed me to refine the aspects of the Waking Dream, and expand on it via his postings of the Libellus Somnium.  The Book of Seers was an entirely new plot line that came out of the blog itself.

Eye of One Stump on Hibbard's property

The iconography is interesting, almost Egyptian–did you design those and what do they each represent?

I and my son designed the iconography for all of the Waking Dream.  The Eye of One, the most prominent aspect of the series, is a primitive variation of the All Seeing Eye which has its beginnings in Egypt. One is the first Immortal and he is the one that the Dreamers of Devlin pay homage to.  The other icons are all very Egyptian, because they were one of the most enlightened race on the planet before their demise.  One of the oldest immortals in the series is Shemhazai, who realized his Immortality at the time of Akhenaten and Nefertiti — who first introduced the concept of one God to the peoples of Egypt.

I wanted the icons to be simple, yet powerful in their meaning.  I could tell you what each one means, but that would be a spoiler.  They will be explained as the series progresses. Each of the Immortals has an icon because they have their own followers who wear the icons as signs of reverence.

All of the icons, and illustrations are mine, other than the new cover designs by the publisher.

You’ve obviously done a great deal of research and reading over a long period of time, will you be posting any sort of bibliography for people interested in learning more?

Yes, I plan to set up a page on Way of the Weird that will detail all of the books I’ve used to create this philosophy.  There are so many that books are stacked all over my office — my sanctuary.  But here are some key books that I’ve used to formulate the Waking Dream Universe:

— The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury — Science Fiction
— God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert — Science Fiction
— Illusions by Richard Bach — Literature
— The Little Prince by Antoine de St. Exupery — Literature
— Meditations by Marcus Aurelius — Philosophy
— All the Works of Poe and Lovecraft — Literature
— The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald — Literature
— The Sound and the Fury by Faulkner — Southern Gothic
— The Metaphysics by Aristotle — Philosophy
— The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene — Science
— All of the Books by Michio Kaku the physicist — Science
— The Theory of Relativity by Einstein — Science
— All the works of Nicola Tesla — Science
— This is it by Alan Watts — Zen
— Various Works of Robert Monroe — Metaphysics
— The Bible — Religion
— The Kaballah — Religion
— The Torah — Religion
— Of Good and Evil — Nietzsche

This is just to name the most influential.  I could go on because over fifteen years I have collected a massive library.

Blood Doll by Michael Hibbard

There’s a bit of Existentialism and Satanism (of the Laveyan variety) in the universe of the books. Of being self-aware in a herd of those content to like what the media tells them to. And in Satanism, forgetfulness of past orthodoxies is one of the Satanic sins. You clearly pay a great deal of attention to past belief systems. Were Lavey or the Existentialists on your list of reading?

I have read Lavey, and I respect his philosophical perspective, but I wholly reject the concept of heaven and hell.  That is not to say that there isn’t good and evil — my dexter and sinister and of course, the Beast.  And the Waking Dream is dripping with existentialism.  Kierkegaard and Nietzsche were my biggest influences from an existentialist perspective.  But, there is also a great deal of stoicism in my writings.

I was fortunate enough to attend a Jesuit College in Pennsylvania, which is where I lived longer than here in Virginia.  I was also fortunate enough to have an exorcist as a teacher and friend.  We cannot forget the things that have gone before us.  I have looked back as far in time as I can from a philosophical and religious perspective and all I see are patterns.  Patterns that have persisted up until today.  It is time for something new, something unlike the world has ever seen before.  At some point religion, philosophy and science must converge, or we as a civilization will collapse.  We can see evidence of this with every news story.  I want people to see that they can live and be happy, its just a matter of accepting that the mere fact you exist is wonderful in and of itself with no further interpretation required.

Lavey also completely rejects the idea of heaven and hell. He didn’t believe in God or Satan, knowing them to be sides of the same coin.

In the universe of the Waking Dream, is there any sort of punishment for wrong-doing? Is the average Sleeper told they’ll be reincarnated as a dung beetle or are they kept in line by threats of everlasting torment in some hell dimension, etc? 

The concept of religion was created by the second Tier of Immortals, the Magician and the High Priestess.  This was created to keep the Sleepers in lives.  Sleepers are empty vessels until they are filled by a Dreamer.The Immortals have a different way of dealing with wrong doing.  To keep power in check, and keep an Immortal from running amok, the Ritual of Banishment was created and given to the earth-bound Immortals.  Any Immortal on a higher or equal tier of Immortality can perform the ritual, if they see it as necessary.  Once banished, the Immortal’s essence is scattered in the Spaces Between and it takes a century to reform and thus return to the Waking Dream.  This is a huge part of the plot of the first book.  And it is hinted at in the So Long But Never Good-Bye story. As for Dreamers, causality handles all infractions against the Logos of the Weird — The five principles that guide the Dreamers in their quest to understand themselves and to attain Immortality.  The five principles are: Coexistence, Uncertainty, Causality, Self and Respect.  And this is enforced by the Beast — the Eater of Sins — who exacts justice through the eye for an eye vehicle.

I also enjoy learning about world religions for the patterns, as you say. Humans seem wired to believe and do the same things ad infinitum –and because they don’t study world religions they think they’re the first ones to come up with whatever belief system.

When you say that you want people to see that they can live and be happy if they just accept their existence is wonderful are you saying that thinking too much is what makes people unhappy? (Not that I’m disagreeing–too much navel-gazing just means you know far too much about your own belly button lint.) But if so, how is that different from other ‘feel-good’ movements from, say, the 60s? And how does that mesh with the proscription of ultimate self-awareness of Existentialism?

No, I’m not saying thinking too much makes people unhappy.  I’m saying that people have focused on the wrong things.  It’s much different than the feel-good movements.  It’s about self exploration, understanding harmony in your life, and being self-aware as well as outwardly aware of those around you.  It’s more of a stoic perspective than existential.  If we can simply learn to enjoy the simplicity of existence and stop worrying about how much money we have, or things we have, or our status, titles, ad nauseum .

At the end of your existence, whether its in the Waking Dream or our current world, the only thing you can ever take with you, no matter how you try, are the thoughts and experiences that define you.  I am not writing my books to be rich or to buy things.  I am writing my books to get people to see that they must learn to shed their pettiness and that we are on a terrible path.  The only way we as a civilization will survive is if we can work as one world and remove the imaginary lines that separate countries, cities and neighborhoods.

At the end of the Dream, we are all One.

The Eye of One

Michael, thank you so much for your time. Good luck with the edits and I look forward to reading Devlin!

If you’d like more info, Waking Dream Online  is about the series and  The Way of the Weird  is a blog kept by one of the characters, Justin the Crier at Twilight. The  about page  of that site introduces the concept behind the books and is the best place ta begin to get an idea of the scope of the universe.

Aside from the sites directly related to the Waking Dream series, Hibbard has an author website called  Mind Grunge  and a  Twitter account .

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