Madeline Davis – Harpist, Scholar, U.S. Fantasy Writer
Madeline and I met in the Fantasy Sci Fi Writer’s Alliance and enjoy helping each other with story feedback. Her insights and editing tips have been invaluable. I love Madeline’s imaginative stories infused with the elements of her classical education and feel privileged to share in her writing journey.
Madeline is a harpist and an avid student, currently working towards her undergraduate degree in the Classics, as that field allows her ample exploration in her favorite subjects–literature, philosophy, theology, history, and languages–all at the same time.
She also enjoys poring over ancient texts and researching in her chosen subjects to incorporate the results into her fantasy genre stories. She hopes to give others a share of the delight she has derived from so many fine tales. And I’m delighted she is joining me for a Q&A, so she can pass that on to you.
Isa Ottoni – Teacher, Fantasy Writer, Enjoys Life in Portugal
I also met Isa through the Fantasy Sci Fi Writer’s Alliance, and like Madeline, Isa is extremely generous with her feedback and support for all of us there. For me, she has been an inspiration and invaluable to my writing journey.
Isa started her career writing science and teaching English as a Second Language, before falling in love with crafting her own fantastical universes. Her comic fantasy tale Braza is featured in Funemployment Press’s Quarterly Summer of Year One. She lives with her husband and their dog in a flat that overlooks the ocean, and spends her days writing, reading, and wondering about the what-ifs of life. I can’t wait for her visit, so we can all experience her joy and generosity.
Click below for the digital Summer Edition of the Funemployment Quarterly, and a collection of short stories, including Isa’s Braza. There is also a print version available. Funemployment Press is featured on my Indie Publishers Page.
Sevannah Storm – Artist, Sci-Fi Fantasy Romance Author, NaNoWriMo Buddy, Hales from South Africa
I met Sevannah on NaNoWriMo in 2021, and wow is she a writing machine. Her progress is always motivating. And she has a fantastic collection of books on Amazon for you to check out. I’m including a link to the first book in the Gifting Series below.
Sevannah was born and raised in Africa and is a slave to her internal muse, Reginald. She writes action-packed romances with happily-ever-after and is a firm believer in relatable characters who are strong, capable yet bowled over by love.
Her home is a land south of Wakanda, where animals roam free. Born in Zimbabwe, she grew up in South Africa. The crisp blue skies with cotton-candy sunsets expand her heart and soul, encapsulating a sense of freedom. Check out her website and newsletter. I can’t wait to chat with her about her writing life and insights.
Or is it the Dirty Sci-Fi Buddha, aka Kent Wayne? Hmmm. I’ll let you decide after you meet him. Read on!
Click on images to link to Mr. Wayne’s books and blogs.
You might guess my first question today, Kent. What seeds that imagination when you write your “Yet another weird ad for my novels” blog? They sure caught my attention.
Believe it or not, no one’s asked me that before. Oftentimes, it’s a throwaway joke I hear on a comedy podcast. It takes root in my mind, grows into a premise, then I change the context so I can make a miniature story out of it. Other times, I’m struck by a “What If,” then when I sit down to write, I tease out the possibilities within that premise.
You’ve created foes, heroes, and the most zany and naughty superpowers from just about every likely and unlikely personality in our universe, with Kent Wayne extracting himself by the skin of his… well, you know… every time, as long as he has that precious second to activate his eReader. I read them because I can’t wait to see who might show up next in your action-packed appendage battles! What’s the story behind the stories?
One of my writing principles is to amp things up as much as I can (by “as much as I can,” I mean constrain events with logic while reaching for maximal absurdity or the emotionally evocative), and then smooth things over as I edit. That definitely applies to my ads, where I write about prehensile genitalia or Martha Stewart shoving a mithril lance into Smaug’s nether-hole.
As a kid, I read Calvin and Hobbes over and over. I especially loved the arcs where he imagined he was a noir detective, articulate dinosaur, or Spaceman Spiff. Barry Ween was another big influence.
I love the idea of extraordinary circumstances arising in the ordinary world, then reveling in the adventure and fun as madness ensues.
D. Awesome. Thanks for sharing your techniques! I have to say I would like to emulate that effect. There’s nothing better than an enjoyable read over breakfast that has my brows shooting up and laughter coming out of my nose with my coffee.
Click on the Dirty Sci-Fi Buddha to visit Kent and follow his posts. And click here for his volume of Musings on Amazon
Do the blogs spring out of nowhere, or do you have an arsenal of notes to pull from when you’re ready to give us another one?
When I have an idea, I’ll write a cliffs notes version of the basic gist, usually no more than a sentence long (ex: defile jock’s jacket, jock gets mad, defeat jock and hook up with his mom). I also do this with books–if I’m afraid I’m going to forget what I want to write, I’ll write a cliffs notes version in brackets at my furthest point in the manuscript.
In the past, I have at times sat down with no idea or clue and just started writing on a blank page. In some of the older blogs, you’ll see me start with “What to write, what to write, what to wriiiiiiiitteee…” and then I let my fingers go and come up with something on the spot.
I know the ads/blogs are popular. Do they work to sell your books? Would you say they’re an extension of your published stories, or are they in a world all by themselves? And are they as fun to write as they are to read?
Not at all, LOL! I’ve given up trying to sell books; it’s made me miserable in the past. I just try and have fun with writing. The primary reward for me is the fulfillment and engagement I get from crafting a story–it’s the one activity that always seems to flow without any effort for me.
The blogs are my overtures toward advertising. But I hate advertising, so I decided why not exercise my writing muscles when I publish an ad?
D. Great points. I only started writing fiction a couple of years ago. I did it because it was fun. The first year stayed fun, the second year, I went down the marketing rabbit hole, and I keep trying to climb back out. This is encouraging. Thank you!
Tell us about your other books on Amazon.
My other books are Echo, a four-book science fiction series that follows a warrior who’s pushed it as far as he can in a militarized dystopia, then embarks on a quest for personal transcendence. In addition to the robo-suits and high-tech pew-pew, I throw in a lot of psychic stuff and existential philosophy, although they don’t come into play until volumes 3 and 4.
Kor’Thank: Barbarian Valley Girl was my way of trying something new and branching into humor. It’s kind of like a long-form version of my ads, but it’s got heart and character development in it since it’s a full-length book.
I write books I want to read (or I would have wanted to read when I was younger), so after I covered the robo-badass stuff and the zany high school fun, I wrote a YA fantasy called A Door into Evermoor. Now that Dungeons and Dragons is cool and you can admit to playing it without being encircled and laughed at by trend-worshipping mouth-breathers, I’ll freely admit I played D&D as a kid.
D. Haha. One of the best reasons I’ve heard for writing a story!
What inspired you to write fiction?
I kind of stumbled onto it via a happy accident. I tried writing in my twenties, but I was like most writers where I couldn’t get past a premise or a couple of chapters. For some reason, I was able to do it in my thirties. I suspect it was because I had some life experience, but mostly because I was starting to understand the psychology behind a narrative–how a character’s personality should develop through a story, and how corresponding events should complement that development.
D. Another great nugget of inspiration. Thanks!
Which authors have inspired you most?
Stephen King, specifically his Dark Tower series, specifically the second volume, The Drawing of Three. The part where a gunslinger-knight from another dimension lies dying on an alien beach, then gets his first taste of Pepsi, is burned into my mind as the most viscerally impactful scene I’ve ever read.
Also, Robin Hobb and the first two volumes of the Farseer series, Assassin’s Apprentice and Royal Assassin.
Can you tell us about your works in progress, any ones you’re particularly fond of at the moment, and when we might expect to see them in print?
Right now, I’ve finished drafting the second volume of the Unbound Realm, which is called Weapons of Old. I’m deep in the edits, trying to work out the logic holes, spice up the descriptions, and kicking myself for not remembering to set up this or that for the next volume.
After that, I plan on writing volume 3, then tackling an extradimensional detective noir. The release dates depend on when I can do a smooth read-through without catching major problems. That typically means I can read through the entire book in less than a week without anything big jumping out at me.
D. I really appreciate getting some insight on your creative process. It’s helpful to glimpse how writers tackle the sheer volume of work that’s always in play.
Which of your characters is your favorite, and why?
I’m always biased towards whoever I’m writing about, so Jon from the Unbound Realm is my favorite at that moment.
What has been your biggest highlight of the last year?
My biggest highlight is finishing the first volume of my YA fantasy series. I’ve spent most of my life as an emotionally stunted, tough-guy meathead, so it’s nice to see that I can tap into the wonder and adventure I wished for as a kid. I never expressed it back then, so it’s nice to see it flow onto the page.
D. I think you just tapped into one of the many unexpected benefits of being a writer and thank you again for sharing your experiences.
What are you most excited about over the next year?
I’m excited to publish the second volume of the Unbound Realm, write and publish volume 3, then move on to my astral detective noir.
D. All the best on those endeavors. I love anything with noir, and that last project sounds super intriguing. Keep us posted!
Any parting advice for those who dream about becoming a writer, or starting up a blog?
Fun is the priority. There are better ways to make money. If writing doesn’t bring you joy, then the pain and inconvenience better be worth it in some other way–maybe fulfillment or pride or internal validation–but that’s not my approach. I think that’s similar to someone who stays in a miserable job so they can retire in their old age and enjoy a few years of not having to do a miserable job.
I used to idolize hard-chargers, folks who preached constant sacrifice and austerity, but now my role model is Keanu Reeves. From my perspective, that guy is a horrible actor, he’s kind of weird, and comes off as not the brightest, but it seems like he prioritizes enjoyment and stays true to his heart (he turned down Speed 2 and the buttload of money that came with it, looks for roles he likes, and cuts his salary to boost production he believes in). Success is nice, but if you’re outwardly successful and inwardly miserable, what’s the point? Whatever is outwardly happening to me, regardless of whether it meets someone else’s definition of miserable or happy, I’d like to honor my inner compass. I don’t want writing to become a horrible office job with loads of obligations and constant low-key anxiety. I’d like to be the Keanu Reeves of writing, if that makes any sense.
I’d also recommend learning how symbolism works through imagery and action (in cinema, smoking a cigarette almost always means the smoker is going to be self-destructive, and taking a shower almost always references some form of rebirth because the character is naked and drenched like they would be in a womb). Those are just artsy tools, however. I think understanding the hero’s journey–which Joseph Campbell does a great job of breaking down–is probably of utmost importance. The audience doesn’t want to see a guy just putter through life and never experience meaningful change; we see too much of that in our day to day. The advantage of a well-told story is you get to see the highlights of a character’s life.
D. That is the best ending advice I’ve had to date. If I didn’t have only twenty months left to retire and get my pension, I’d be out of that office so fast, my hair pins would be spinning! 😄 At the very least, I’m feeling a lot better about slow book sales and can focus again on the joy of writing them. Thanks so much for visiting with us on my Spotlight blog today. This has been a lot of fun. All the best to you, Kent.
Wow, Anna! You are in the middle of an exciting expansion in your career, a new book out and a new editing business. From where I sit, you’re on fire. How does it feel and how’s it going?
A. That’s so kind of you! I’m loving full-time work as an editor. I wish I’d made the leap to start my business years ago, but then I wouldn’t have the experience I do now. It’s been a rollercoaster, especially with my book launch alongside Moss Editorial, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I literally feel on fire some days, but don’t we all?
D. I must say I can feel the burn, and I hope it’s catchy. I’m totally thrilled for you.
For those of us who might be considering offering services outside of being authors, do you have any advice about getting started? How did it all happen for you? And tell us about what you’re offering and where we can find it.
A. I’d encourage anyone who has a dream to work with words to keep exploring options. I studied English at uni, then trained as a journalist, so words have always been at the heart of my learning. However, there are other routes into editing and plenty of introductory courses which enable people to dip their toes into a subject without committing to years of study. Don’t be put off by not having the ‘right’ qualifications, some people have a natural aptitude for things. If you think you can do something, give it a go!
My services cover everything from developmental editing, right through to proofreading. Most indie authors need support in one or more stages and that’s what I aim to do. It all starts with a free discovery call to work out what they need and then I explain my process. Choosing the right editor is an important step. There’s more info on my website: www.annakmoss.co.uk
D. That’s great advice! All the varied routes to being an author is a popular theme I’ve enjoyed hearing from so many writers, and it’s great to know where to go for guidance. I’m here to tell our readers how welcoming you are, too, Anna.
You recently published your first book, The Worthy. Can you tell us about the story and how it came about? When might we expect Book Two? I love sharing previews. Can you tell us a little about what’s next in the series?
A. The core idea for The Worthy – the creature which infects people with its emotions – only came about during the plotting stage, but one of the MCs, Prince Barsten, has been with me for years. I’m heavily influenced by the likes of Abercrombie and McClellan, and their ability to weave desperately difficult characters into their stories. And Barsten is a difficult character. He’s an absolute arsehole, if I’m honest, but enormously fun to write. Readers will find his arc an interesting one and we’ll see plenty more emotional development from him in the sequel. We’ll also see the vengeful wrath of Jintin, the country that Barsten and his lords plundered in the opening chapters. And did Ailith survive the battle of Simmon’s Godshouse?
D. This totally has me excited to crack it open! It’s loaded on my Kindle. Now I just need to dig in on those cool fall evenings coming up. And you offer signed copies on your website. Awesome!
Also, readers… besides the links to Anna’s website sprinkled throughout our conversation, you can click on her book cover to go right to Amazon for a copy.
How did you get started writing fantasy? Is it your preferred group of genres? Do you have a niche there, or do you like exploring or have plans to explore other kinds of writing?
A. Since reading Pratchett and Tolkien as a kid, I’ve been obsessed with fantasy. As I approach my fortieth year and my cynicism has grown, my love of dark fantasy has grown with it. I relish the complexity and political intrigue, coupled with grim settings and fetid viscerality of everyday existence. Give me a character that is part good, part bad, over a shining beacon of virtue, any day of the week. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy classic fantasy anymore, but it doesn’t make me burn like darker tales. And, if I ever need light relief, I’m a total sucker for cosy mysteries.
D. Writing darker, more complex characters is a goal for me. I do tend to enjoy writing the shining beacons, but it is harder to achieve that dramatic arc in a story if they start good and end better (I’m partial to the Hobbit-like arcs apparently). Haha. So, I will be consulting you about that, and it’s another good reason to dig into The Worthy!
You create characters that span the LGBTQ+ human experience. Characters drive my writing even more than the story, and I’ve found your posts on writing diverse characters with sensitivity extremely helpful. Can you share more for us here as well as the editing services we can find for help in this area?
A. I’m so glad you’ve found them helpful! I firmly believe that everyone, regardless of sexuality, should write more LGBTQIA+ characters. We need representation to feel accepted and worthy. I didn’t see anyone like me in books or TV when I was a kid. If I had done, I feel certain my journey to self-acceptance would’ve been radically different. I hope future generations will find their journey easier. If other authors are ever in need of advice on writing LGBTQIA+ characters, I provide sensitivity reads on a chapter or whole manuscript basis. I’m always open to informal chats too!
D. I admit when I started writing late in life a couple years ago, writing diverse characters wasn’t something I gave a lot of thought to, nor what it meant to represent more than the types of relationships I thought of as traditional. But without even trying, really fun romances of all kinds have blossomed through writing my series, and I can’t wait to get them and the amazing individuals into their own stories. Thank you for offering that assistance and sharing your experience.
FSF Writers Alliance
As one of the founding members of our Sci Fi Writers Alliance, tell us what inspired putting together the alliance and what you find most beneficial about being involved in writing communities. Can you recommend other such resources you’ve found helpful?
A. I absolutely love the Alliance! What a bunch of cracking people. Eric (E.B.Hunter) and I were talking about engagement groups for authors and the next thing I know, he’s created the whole Alliance idea. It was totally awesome! He’s such an inspiring guy. There are another couple of discord groups I can recommend: Indie Authors Unite and Richie Billing’s Community of Writers.
D. You’ve all been inspiring! It’s great to be part of such a global community, too.
Readers… To learn more about the Alliance and Richie Billing, click here. And you can meet Eric here. We did a Q&A in September.
WIPS AND TIPS
Can you tell us about your works in progress, any you’re particularly fond of at the moment, and when we might expect to see them in print?
A. I’m currently working on a short story called The Siege of Drenhaven. It’s a siege mentioned in The Worthy which has stuck with me for the last couple of years. I just had to write about it! That’ll be out in the next month or so, provided I have some time outside of editing. The sequel to The Worthy is also in the works, although that’s in the plotting stage.
Which of your characters in all your writing is your favorite, and why?
A. Probably Princess Ailith. If she was a real person, and I was single, I’d totally ask her out. She’s a fiercely clever, brave woman, and her dialogue is really fun to write. She says all the witty things I wish I could, but can never think of quickly enough in real life.
D. Okay, so now you’ve given me three reasons to dig into The Worthy!
What has been your biggest highlight of the last year?
A. Releasing The Worthy! It’s so surreal to have characters and settings that have only existed in your head, discussed by other people. The feedback and reviews I’ve had have been beyond my wildest dreams. I feel tremendously honoured to be part of the bookstagram community and hope my writing will continue to develop and improve. I can’t wait to share more with my readers!
D. Congratulations again! And that reminds me to let our readers know they can find you on Instagram.
What are you most excited about over the next year?
A. Other than moving back to the Westcountry (England) and becoming a fully fledged, cider-drinking artiste, I’m really looking forward to working with more authors. Chatting with other people about their books is my absolute favourite thing to do. I’m so inspired by their creativity and passion. I know it sounds tremendously corny, but art energises art. Editing books is another wonderful way to find doors into other worlds, just like reading. The chance to talk to the creators of those worlds is a real privilege.
D. Oh, that does sound lovely! Should I admit here that I’m a bonafide Anglophile? To live in a village and hang out at the pub is a dream. Thankfully, I got to travel for a month in the UK but that was ages ago. Sigh. Maybe, I’ll get another shot someday. For now, I will enjoy the online community of artists and your inspiration, which is why I’m so happy to share our conversation today, Anna. Thank you for the encouragement!
Any parting advice for those who dream about becoming a writer or a career in the writing industry?
A. If you ever feel stuck or uninspired, ask for help. There are so many authors out there in exactly the same position as you. They aren’t your competition, they’re your cheerleaders. I’m always open to informal chats too, so reach out if you need some advice about editing or becoming an author.
D. Fantastic and good to know! This has been a lot of fun, Anna. Thank you so much for chatting with us.
I’m so grateful to be able to chat with Lucky on a regular basis. Our conversations have been one of the highlights of my writing journey this summer. I’m so new at the craft, and though he’s from a younger generation, he’s never short on wise counsel and encouragement. So, here is some of that for you.
I’m also pleased to share Lucky’s character sketches from some of his works in progress.
I love the sweeping expanse of your fantasy worlds and epic stories. Can you talk a little about how long you’ve been writing and what inspired you to write fantasy? What fantasy genre best describes your stories?
Thanks for the compliment, nice words are always welcome here and thank you for setting up this Q&A. Where would the Alliance be without you?
It’s hard to imagine that I’ve been writing for eight years now. It still feels like yesterday… Reading built my desire to write. I enjoyed Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, Glen Cook’s The Black Company, Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen and of course the fantasy bible: The Lord of the Rings. Apart from Butcher’s work, you’ll discover all the authors I mentioned above built vast worlds and their storytelling was top notch, too. So, one day, while reading A storm of Swords by R. R. Martin, I was like, “I think I need to write a book.” My mind grasped that idea and nursed it for weeks. I tried writing some stories but discovered I was writing what I’d read from other Authors and there was no originality… Oscar’s Wilde’s famous quote: “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinion, their lives a mimicry, their passion a quotation,” came to mind and I began to focus on new ideas. It wasn’t easy at first, but I managed to bring my ideas to life. Indeed, while I was influenced and inspired to write by the authors I mentioned above, my real inspiration came from being different. Writing something original. And though it can be argued that the two are intertwined, I believe the latter helped me hone my skills through the years.
To answer your last question here, I’d like to point out that I love dark stories. Every time I tried to make my stories into sunshine and rainbows, I failed with the plot. Over the years, I tried to perfect the art of dark fantasies, and of course my stories are always high fantasies, too.
Who is your favorite author(s)? What was it about his/her writing or characters that inspired you most?
Favorite author has to be R.R Martin. His ability to tell a story from ten to fifteen points of view is second to none in my opinion. Plus, like I said earlier, I love huge detailed worlds… and worlds don’t get bigger than Esteros, and Westeros.
D. You got that right. Well. I think you’re on track for developing worlds in that magnitude!
The New Defeat is such an awesome title. Can you tell us a little about it and where the idea came from?
The New Defeat… hmmm. December 2019, I wasn’t feeling too well, and was down for about two weeks. While sick, to lull myself to sleep when movies and music failed, I formed up stories. One story stood out which later became the title mentioned above. It was meant to be about a peculiar race, called the Zoryks. Their existence was one of survival as they’d lost their traits or superpowers. They were preyed upon because of this weakness and envied by most around them. Our protagonist had the great destiny to save his world while many only saw his poor mental health. The new defeat was supposed to reflect the sadness of being weak and misunderstood. I for one enjoyed building the world of the be defeat called the Paraworld. A continent made up of six races namely the Zoryks, Lerans, Yubs, Wingyads, Kraskors, and Solbies. Each race had its peculiar trait, and some traits were funny. For example, Zoryks became drunk from drinking honey, and had diseases like the sad sickness, the falling fingers… Other races like the Yuban (Yubs) were naturally bald, head to foot, while Wingyads had the ability to fly. There’s a lot of political intrigue too, and the villains had reasonable personalities. Book two should be out soon.
D. That’s a great story. Our readers can click on your book cover at the end to link to The New Defeat on Amazon.
I’ve had a chance to preview some of your current works in progress and I’m excited to see them in print. Can you tell us about some of your favorites?
I’m excited about a few stories, like Thirty: Rise of the Dead which is the book of Thirty: XXX released last year. However, I’m more excited about When a Kingdom Bleeds Lords Weep. I’ve been working on this for 8 years. I’m after perfection with this story though I know it’s impossible to write a perfect book. I poured my heart into this up to a point where in 2018 I went through books one and two (over 200k words at the time) and burnt both manuscripts. Everybody says, “You’re allowed to have shitty first drafts,” but I was having none of that. I started the project again, and I think its release is coming soon.
D. I was hoping you would share this story. When you first told me that, it impressed the heck out of me. You literally burned your manuscript to force yourself to start from the beginning again. It’s the kind of thing many of us might have wanted to do ourselves at one point but lacked the courage. Lucky is giving us a sneak peek at his cover for When Kingdom Bleeds!
The New Defeat is just one of your published books. Where can we find others? Can you point us to your short stories?
Thanks Darci, for this opportunity to point a finger toward my short stories. I have a few available here.
Which of your characters in all your writing is your favorite, and why?
That’s an exciting question, Darci. I’d like to go with Julian Mars-Stalker on this one. He’s the first son of a popular lord in the Province of Samolin. Samolin is a province in the Kingdom of Markia, and they belong to the Sanem Continent. The Continent where When a Kingdom Bleeds is set. His father had high hopes for him, whereas Julian desired the simple things in life. What I really loved about Julian was his ability to rise to every scenario thrown at him. I also liked the way he talked. Sometimes he came off rude, and at other times he was like an angel. My favorite quote from him is: “When the young do their business which the old call folly, the old should stick to their wisdom and preserve their warnings for those without lust.”
D. I love that line. What an elegant way to tell someone to stick to their own business!
You are also so creative in illustrating your worlds with AI digital art. Is that something you do to relax and want a break from writing, or is it a passion of its own? What other creative outlets do you like to explore?
Thanks for the compliment again, Darci. I think writing as a form of art should be expressed in other forms too. I love the idea of creating and I’m not good at drawing nor experienced in making state of the art videos. A.I art can come a long way to make it seem like you know what you’re doing when creating, and that’s why I use it as a tool. But if I had the experience or enough dollars to hire professionals, I’d stick to my writing.
D. What I love about your images is the drama they convey. I’m drawn to the dark portentous things going on and want to know what will happen next.
One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about meeting you and other writers in our Fantasy Sci Fi Writers Alliance is that we are from all over the globe. So many different experiences! How did you first come across the group, and what perks have you discovered from being involved with a writing community?
It was all down to Eric B. Hunter’s effort. He invited me and helped me through with the basics. He’s such a nice guy, and I like the community which grew afterward in the name of Fantasy Sci Fi Writers Alliance. I think the Alliance has been fun. You get to meet nice people from everywhere and it’s been a very supportive community.
D. Yeah. This is a good place to note that the original group has been around for a while, before Eric and Anna got the brilliant idea to brand us as the Fantasy Sci Fi Writers Alliance. And with that branding and all the current events inspired by it, the group is growing fast. If you want to learn more, click on my Alliance page.
● What has been your biggest highlight of the last year?
D. I’m with you there, my friend. These past few years have been tough. Here’s to celebrating still being around!
What are you most excited about over the next year?
I really can’t say because life changes in a heartbeat. I’ll keep things simple and hope I become a better writer.
D. That’s a good way to go. And all the best to you.
● What are your plans for future publications?
I’m working toward releasing Thirty: Rise of the Dead, The New Defeat two, When a Kingdom Bleeds Lords Weep and The Château between now and next year. A publishing deal? Maybe… Ha, laughs an indie author.
D. I know you’re close on many of those. Even one publication down will be a huge accomplishment. You’re always reminding me that it will happen in time and that’s good advice. I know it will happen for you, too!
● Any parting advice to those who dream about writing?
I’d go with R. R Martin’s advice, which has helped me through the years. “Write every day, even if it is only a page or two. The more you write, the better you’ll get. But don’t write in my universe, or Tolkien’s, or the Marvel universe, or the Star Trek universe, or any other borrowed background. Every writer needs to learn to create his own characters, worlds, and settings.”
D. And that does sum up the challenge for a fantasy writer. This has been great, Lucky. Thank you so much for the conversation. All the best!
I can’t wait to share my conversation with Lucky! Join us this Sunday and meet a writer hugely influenced by George R. R. Martin. And you will see it coming through in our chat and his writing. Lucky is one of those people who are generous with their time in helping others on their creative journeys, so it’s a real pleasure featuring his work this month. I also enjoy his A.I. artwork so much, I asked to use it in my promo. Enjoy!
Joey is one of the chillest people I know – And his photos blow me away…
I was thrilled to catch him on a break from climbing mountains to get this interview, so I could learn more about the artist side of the guy who’s marrying my niece next year. Here’s our conversation.
As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Which means your photographs already say so much about you, Joey. It also means that this is a great opportunity to learn more. Can you first share a bit about how you came to love photography and your background?
I grew up in Northern California in a family that loved to get outdoors. Whether it was fishing, camping, or just barbecuing, we spent a lot of our time outside with others. This instilled a love for nature and being able to share that space with the people in my life. Photography was something my grandfather was a natural at, but it came to me before I even knew he had a passion for it when he was a young adult. I didn’t really start to shoot consistently and develop my own style until I was a sophomore in college. From there it inspired me to pursue more remote places. Documenting and sharing my experiences with my friends and family then became my routine.
D – I for one appreciate that you share such amazing things with us through your lens, and how special is that to discover your grandfather enjoyed the same thing.
Obviously, you have a love for the adventurous life and the outdoors. But besides that, what inspired you to make it your preferred genre?
I realized that every time I’d reach the city limit, breathing in the fresh mountain air and finding a sense of solitude, I would feel a sense of good energy rush over me. Simply put, at this stage in my life, I got happier when I could escape the chaos within the city.
Engaging in the kind of epic art you do, it must be hard to focus on the business end of things. I know for me, I could hide away and write all day long. But it doesn’t pay the bills. What are the top three tips you can share to help creators balance their passion in art with other aspects of life?
Honestly, I’m still not very good at selling myself regarding my art. However, I have always worked hard with various jobs I’ve held to allow me to continue doing what makes me happy. I’d say it should be a big priority to take the time to reflect on why you do the things you do. Spend time creating the space to really think about the why. Once you can find a strong reason, it is easier to make the choices that set you up for success.
It has been a lot of fun watching you and Ana taking all those steps and finding your niche while you’re young.
The kind of photographs you take require being in the right place at the right time. What are your tips and preferred techniques for getting those great shots?
Do what others are not willing to do. It’s not my phrase, but it’s something I’ve seen ring true more times than not. More specifically, if you put yourself in good positions to get those perfect conditions by hiking through the night or waking up before the sun, you’ll be provided with more opportunities to get a great photo.
D – I love that you have a passion for film cameras. Can you tell us about your favorite equipment? How much do you haul around trying to get those shots? Does Leo help out? Sorry, but I had to get a mention in for your awesome German Shepherd, whom I’ve known since he was a pup.
I’ve always focused more on the action of taking the photos and not on the gear I use to get there. That being said I use a Leica M6 primarily for 35mm film and a Pentax 67 for 120mm film (medium format film). Leo doesn’t help much, it’s a surprise I don’t charge him rent at this point haha.
You’re originally from California, and explored the beauty of that state and the surrounding ones extensively with your camera. What compelled you to make your home in the Pacific Northwest? Are there other parts of the country… or the world you’d like to explore?
I needed a change from where I was living. My fiancé(Ana) and I were living in Sacramento California, but we were constantly traveling north to Oregon and Washington. We both decided it would be fun to simply pick up and move. Not a whole lot more thought went into it at that time. Just a spontaneous choice that left us very happy.
As far as other parts of the world, I’d love to see as much as I can in my life. Scotland and Ireland are higher on the list because of mine and Ana’s family history there.
D. I’ve experienced that kind of spontaneous move myself, and often it’s the best kind. Still, I’ve never been to Washington State, and that’s another reason I enjoy your photos. But I will come for a visit and a tour one of these days haha.I sincerely hope you get to travel abroad with my niece someday… And though I’ve said it in person, congratulations on your upcoming marriage!
What has been your biggest highlight of the last year?
Attempting to climb Mt. Tahoma (Rainier) and learning a lot about the mental toughness it takes to document the experience while being fairly uncomfortable.
D – I love that. Can you share a little more about what you took away from the experience?
Yeah, it was one of those experiences that shows you how much you don’t know, the more you know haha. Basically being physically fit is only a small percentage of climbs like Rainier. The rest is about maintaining a positive outlook when setting up camp in the snow, the sun is going down, and your beginning to get weary of how cold you’ve gotten. Thankfully I have amazing friends with more experience and who were able to show me little tricks to make life smoother out there.
What are you most excited about in the next year?
I plan to race my first Ultra marathon this year, along with a few others soon after. I’ve developed a love for all forms of movement in the mountains. Running and climbing are simply amazing, and they’ve taken over my life haha.
D – It shows in your photographs. Wow! All the best in those endeavors.
Where do you want to be as a photographer in five years?
I’ve come to learn that I’m happy just having a camera around and not taking it too seriously. I decided not to worry whether or not I make a living with photography, but rather just to enjoy it for what it is. A passion.
D – I am truly happy that you get to follow your passion freely. Again, it shows in your work.
Do you offer your art commercially? If so, where can we find it?
I have a print shop where I occasionally add new photos too. I’d like to open a new selection this year and use the funds to donate for ALS research. My lifelong friend’s mother has bulbar ALS and has been showing immense strength in her fight against it. That shop will be available through my website at joeymaclennanphoto.com
D – That is another wonderful reason to follow Joey and watch for those photos. Where can we find you besides your website?
Instagram is basically my only other online presence. That is @joeymaclennan
Any parting advice to those who dream about pursuing a creative and/or an adventurous life?
Get outside, care about the environment, and don’t be afraid to fail in pursuit of things that make you feel alive.
D – Great advice! Thank so much for dropping by, Joey.
Thanks for talking with me!
Click on any photo to link to Joey’s website and don’t forget to follow him on Instagram for those inspiring posts!