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Monday, July 13, 2009

A Little Mayhem with A.F. Stewart, author of Chrinicles of the Undead

Thank you for taking the time to interview with us! A. F. Stewart’s newest release is Chronicles of the Undead. Her full-length horror novella became available in paperback and e-book in January of 2009!

Author Website: http://afallon.bravehost.com/
Book websites:
Chronicles of the Undead- http://www.squidoo.com/undeadchronicles
Inside Realms- http://www.squidoo.com/fantasycollection
The Elite of the Blood- http://www.squidoo.com/eliteblood

Author’s Blog: http://afstewartblog.blogspot.com/
Lulu Storefront: http://stores.lulu.com/MaeveErin

When/how did you know you wanted to write?

I have written poetry and short stories since I learned to write, and that eventually evolved into writing books. I’ve always had ideas rattling around in my brain clamoring to get out.

Do you use a pseudonym? More than one? Why?

I use my initials instead of my given names, for two reasons. Here in Canada, there is another writer (of cookbooks) with my given name, Anita Stewart and I wanted to avoid any confusion. I also wanted to avoid any possible preconceptions about a woman who writes in the fantasy genre; I write darker fantasy stories and generally stay away from the paranormal romance genre.

What I didn’t anticipate was that people would automatically assume I was a man. I guess it’s a case of be careful what you wish for.

What advice do you give to those who are just starting out or trying to become published?

Always look to improve your writing skills, have patience and don’t take rejections personally. You should also do your research before you decide what publishing route is best for you. There are many options these days: The big traditional houses, the small press publishers, e-book publishing and self-publishing. They all have their pros and cons.

Where do your story ideas come from? Do you use people you know as characters sometimes or even sometimes a certain event from real life happenings?

Ideas just pop into my head. Something strikes me as odd or I ask myself “What if something was this way?” My vampire book started with the thought: “What if you weren’t horrified that your neighbors were vampires?”

I may subconsciously use people I know in my books, but I don’t do it intentionally. If anything, I put parts of my own personality into my characters. I sometimes use real life as starting points for events in my stories and I often put historic events in my writing.

How long does it usually take for you to research a book? Write the book?

It usually takes as long or longer to research the book as it does to write it, since I do a great deal of historical research for my books. I take several months to do preliminary research and sketch out a loose book outline before I start on the first draft. That first draft can take another few months to write (or longer if my muse is being persnickety); I also research as I write to get added details correct. The final edits are the easiest to finish because I know where the book is going at that point and what isn’t working. It is also the point where I do any final research on changes or new plot points to ensure accuracy.

Some authors start out with a plot in mind, others with characters whom they’ll follow to reveal the theme. What works best for you and why?

I usually start out with a plot idea that evolves into a first sentence or paragraph. From there I figure out the main character and the ending; the tough part is writing what goes in-between. I need to know where the story starts and where it ends, in order to write the journey.

When and where can we purchase your books?

I currently have four published books and they can all be purchased at Lulu.com, in both print and ebook form. Inside Realm, my fantasy short story collection, is available on Amazon.com and Chronicles of the Undead is available at Amazon worldwide, as well as Barnes and Noble.com.

What are you reading right now?

The fantasy books, Rise of the Ancients- Annuna by JC De La Torre and The Long-Timers by Matt Lupo, a great crime/mystery, The Wonderful Demise of Benjamin Arnold Guppy by Gina Collia-Suzuki, and an excellent book, Nora’s Soul by Margay Leah Justice.

(Okay, I am officially blushing now. Thanks, A.F.!)

I also have a very long list of to-read books.

Are there any authors (living or dead) that you would name as influences?

Ray Bradbury, he is the first author who showed me that writing could be both entertaining and have an emotional impact on a writer, and Neil Gaiman who led me down the path to the dark side.

What kinds of books do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?

I like all kinds of books: mysteries, fantasy, sci-fi, non-fiction; I’ve even been known to read a historical romance or two. My favourite author is a toss-up between Guy Gavriel Kay and Neil Gaiman.

What do you do to unwind in your free time?

I read of course, and I like to watch DVD’s (I’m partial to action movies). I also dabble in drawing and oil painting.

If you had a book club, what would it be reading — and why?

Good old-fashioned genres like sci-fi, fantasy and mystery. The last book club I belonged to favoured chick-lit books and that is just not what I generally read.

Give us three "Good to Know" facts about you.

1- I’m a total geek. I own numerous movie collectibles, collect sword replicas, can quote Star Wars, and can tell you why the Terminator movie plotline is actually a time paradox. 2-I have some artistic talent in drawing and painting, but I am extremely untalented when it comes to crafts such as sewing, crocheting, embroidery, etc.; I can however knit simple things like baby blankets given a year or two. 3- I can write any poem in thirty minutes or less, if inspired, in fifteen minutes or less.

Many writers have had success writing in different genres. Do you think it is difficult to switch over to another genre?

I think it is a matter of being comfortable with the genre. I have no problem writing fantasy, sci-fi, poetry or certain types of non-fiction and I’ve dabbled a bit writing mysteries. However, when I try my hand at romance I always feel awkward and I can’t see myself writing an old-fashioned western.

Do you write more than one kind of book? Do you have a preference? Is one type of book easier to write than another?

My preference is to write fantasy books, although my latest, Chronicles of the Undead crosses over into horror. I have written a volume of free-verse poetry and a small non-fiction book about action movies. I find poetry the easiest to write, probably because it takes the least effort for me to write; poetry has always been second nature for me.

Why did you choose your genre?

It was more that it chose me. As I said, I tried my hand at writing in a few other genres, but it’s always the fantasy stories that keep coming to the forefront of my brain. I probably read too many fairy tales as a child.

What's your next project?

I was working on my non-fiction book, the Incomplete Guide to Action Movies, but I hit a few snags and I decided I needed more time to write a better book. My next book will be my second book of poetry, Shadows of Poetry. I’m also writing a vampire novel, The Elite of the Blood, online.

Thank you so much for joining us today, A.F.! ~ The Moonlighters

1 Moonbeams (comments):

Rogue Mutt said...

Great interview!