Posts Tagged ‘5MinuteInterview’

#5MinuteInterview with Brian Cortijo from When the Hero Comes Home

September 15, 2011

He’s Brian Cortijo, @briancortijo and I like him a lot. He was our judge for 5MinuteFiction this week, and he’s also one of the authors featured in When the Hero Comes Home, the new anthology from Dragon Moon Press. I like it a lot.

Now, let’s meet Brian. He’s agreed to one of my long, tortuous, 5MinuteInterviews (without any spaces between the words, even.)

So, because we only have five minutes, let’s not muck about:

1. Your short in When the Hero comes Home, “One and Twenty Summers” sticks with me even now, months after reading it. What do you think, as the author, was the one thing that really made that one work?

To respond to that question, I’ve actually got to hearken back to a lesson I’ve learned as a reader: the story doesn’t begin and end with what’s on the page. As an author, I think one of the most difficult things to do is to avoid the temptation to tell all of the story. We’re coming in on a moment, a snapshot of the lives of our characters–sometimes the most important, but not always–and that there are two things that we don’t always need to know about: the after, and the before.

2. So I’m impatient for the next Brian Cortijo effort. What else is coming from you?

Well, I’ve recently been asked to participate in a follow-up anthology to When the Hero Comes Home, and I’m tinkering with a short story or two of my own that I may start shopping around in the beginning of next year.

There’s also my game writing, for D&D and Pathfinder. I’m in the middle of a rather large series of articles for Dungeon and Dragon Magazines (the online, monthly installments of D&D support), of which I’m rather proud, to be honest. Not quite fiction writing, but honestly, some of it’s pretty darned close.

3. When the day comes that you’re a fabulously successful and wealty author, and you look back and say “this is where it started for me,” what is “this” going to be?

Hmm. That’s a toughie, because it assumes there’s a single moment. There could be the first time I played D&D. Or the time I decided to pipe up and say something on an RPG author’s message boards. Or the day that author (Sean K Reynolds) offered to forward some of my stuff along to Ed Greenwood for him to look at. Or when I read the email I got back from Ed saying that he’d love to see fiction from me, even though I’d never written any of it.

As an author, I’ve been blessed with a number of supportive people as readers, editors, and developers, and my current fiction work grows out of that. But the fiction work comes from my RPG roots, which all goes back to finding the old red box in a friend’s basement.

4. What’s the question you wish I’d asked that I didn’t? And what’s the answer?

“Will you please write more so I can give you all my money?” It’s a lovely question, and the answer is always “sure!”

More seriously, the question that I wish you’d asked is “What is your favorite part of writing? Your least favorite?”

I love creating living things: characters, settings, creatures. The idea that I’m making something whole cloth that someone else will look at, and get the feeling that there is something larger to that thing–a before and an after and a before-before–is a splendid one for me.

What I like least is the part I call ‘choreography.’ While I appreciate that a story has to hit certain beats, sometimes it’s painful to force your characters or lovingly crafted details to contort to meet those beats. As a writer, I’d love the opportunity to let the story live its own life without my guidance. Of course, that’s not usually the case, so then the dance begins.

So don’t forget to check out Brian Cortijo, @briancortijo one of the authors featured in When the Hero Comes Home, the new anthology from Dragon Moon Press.

#5MinuteInterview: Jerry Gentry & SYN:FIN

September 5, 2011

I love this 5MinuteInterview thing! I like reading interviews, and yet I don’t, because they can be so long and boring. So I figured, hey, let’s remove the long and just enjoy the interesting bits.

And this one’s an interesting bit alright. (Byte?) Jerry Gentry, @JerryLGentry  is the author of the newly released techno-thriller, SYN:FIN. And he’s our 5MinuteInterviewee. I admit, I had a total geekgasm reading this interview. The book’s better. But all that’s coming Thursday when I review SYN:FIN. Right now we’re just going to get to know Jerry.

I believe your genre is techno thriller. (Correct me if I’m wrong.) What got you started in this genre?

That is right.  At least my first published book, SYN:FIN, is a technothriller.  You write what you know and in TRW I am a technologist.  I also grew up reading scifi – Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, Herbert.  My actual first book was a futuristic scifi work.  I spent years working through the backstory and getting it written.  I put it aside to start working on SYN:FIN and when I went back to it I saw nothing but major re-write.  It’ll happen, but not this year.  All of the books I have written or have outlined waiting in queue all revolve around technology.  I’ve been working in IT for more than 30 years, mostly in network IT.  I’ve done everything from pulling telecom cable to managing a global network operations team of over 200 people.  The thing I love about network technology is that it seems to reinvent itself every few years.  But it does it by recasting existing technology.  Most of the high speed networks we marvel at today are all derived from the transmission principles of RF (Radio Frequency) technology.  Don’t get me wrong, the gigabit networks based on optical fiber are truly impressive.  We are finally getting to the point where the speeds of processing and network are reaching parity.  Batteries still screw everything up!  I’m also amazed at the miniaturization impact.  Just about everything we have is getting built with a communications device.  It was really that thought ( I got it from a presentation from a vendor about 5 years ago) the got me thinking about the premise of SYN:FIN.  As much as I love technology, it is a backdrop in the books.  It is an impetus and a means for me to get some interaction going and add the taste if intrigue.  I really hate tech based books that blow the technology part.  It is very distracting and frustrating.  I also hate books that aren’t written with respect for the reader’s abilities.  BTW, my first draft of SYN:FIN really sucked!  Have I digressed enough from your question?  It’s my ADD!  Or maybe it’s that I am just a man with short attention span.

Where do you learn all this stuff?

Well, I’ve been well trained over the years.  The good thing is that I have seen the progression and can see future options that make sense.  I mean, it’s been a long time since I did command line entries on a Cisco Router, but I can still read a protocol decode (you can see an image I captured on the cover).  When I started managing and moving into more strategic roles, I focused on the impact of technology on business functionality.  It really is a short step from what is being thought of today to what will be available tomorrow.  In my current role as an IT consultant, I am more focused on how technology impacts the design of an IT organization and processes.  The thing I draw on is the way people interact while dealing with technology impact.  I’ve been able to work with a lot of IT people at many levels and I think it adds credence to my characters.  They are graced with bits and pieces of people I’ve observed, but they are still their own people. When I imagine two smart women, who have totally different backgrounds but are good at what they do, driving in a car together I can just hear in my mind how they will talk.  It is like when I kick off the writing I transition to seeing a movie unfold in my mind and I’m doing what I can to capture the scenes in words.  The characters are all very real, they aren’t caricatures of real people.  They always surprise me and let me know when I’m not being honest with them.  Don’t worry.  I don’t hear voices, but I do watch the movie!

What’s your favorite piece of tech that you own or use at work?

Well, all of the technology just serves to interrupt me from social networking and playing my guitar.  I work at home these days.  It’s one of the benefits of being in consulting with a small firm (16 people).  We do have a staff call every week and the entire company is on a multi-image video conference.  It’s funny to see all 16 of us at the same time in T-shirts and various states of disrepair.  I’m going to wear a suit next week so I can be the new revolutionary!  I love my MacBook Pro and do enjoy my iPhone and its ability to do so many things.  When I think about it, though, the one tech device I use the hell out of is my Kindle 2.  I commuted to New York City 3-4 days a week for about 10 years.  The Kindle was with me every day for the 1.25 hour train ride.  The true test of a technology is how easily it disappears into your life.  The metaphor of a book is so fundamental.  It, like a bicycle, is just hard to improve on.  Amazon realized that and didn’t try to eliminate the book, just eliminate the things of a book that could be bothersome, like weight and wanting reding options depending on your mood.

What’s the least tech-y thing you like to do?

I run and bicycle, although technology is fundamental to those sports.  I like them because they are pretty simple once you get past the shoes and the bike.  You pretty much have just you to count on.  I mean a flat tire is still a flat tire and a tune up is all about wrenches and oil.  As far as writing goes, I do a lot of my first draft and thought catching using a manual typewriter or a fountain pen into a Moleskine notebook. I tell you, I just have to type out about two sentences and things just start to flow.  I love the tactile feel.  The way the keys push back at you and how the typebar slams against the platten.

Have you noticed how each answer has gotten progressively shorter?  There’s that attention span thing again!
Did you get all that? Jerry’s visiting again tomorrow when he judges 5MinuteFiction for us, and then I’m reviewing SYN:FIN on Thursday. So don’t miss all the fun! There will be books to win.

#5MinuteInterview – Steve Umstead & Gabriel’s Return

September 1, 2011

I’m very pleased to introduce today the lovely Steve Umstead. He’s celebrating the release of Gabriel’s Return, book two of the Evan Gabriel series, and we’re going to celebrate with him! Stay tuned to the end of this post for details on how you can WIN your copy. There’s a fun 5MinuteInterview in here but, first, why you should care.

Here’s the scoop:

Gabriel’s Return

On the far-off icebound planet of Poliahu, North American Federation Navy Commander Evan Gabriel suffered the loss of several team members in order to free a native species and save his brother. Now he is being called away on a new mission by a friend in trouble, and by a name from his distant past. He and his surviving team must again travel across the galaxy to the planet where he lost his naval command, and his original team, so many years ago: Eden.

Evan Gabriel must face three distinct threats on Eden: the well-armed terrorist group that has been raiding Eden City, the dangerous planet itself, and his own haunting memories of his past.

Now, as I said, this is a sequel. I haven’t had the pleasure of reading it yet, time constraints and all that, but I’m looking forward to it, because I did read the first book, Gabriel’s Redemption, and Mr. Umstead is a fine writer indeed.

Here’s the skinny on Gabriel’s Redemption.

Can a disgraced Special Forces soldier find redemption, and will redemption cost him more than just his own life?

North American Federation Navy Commander Evan Gabriel was dishonorably discharged after losing his covert team on a far off world called Eden. Now, he’s being offered an opportunity to command a new team, on a new world, with a new mission, but the true motives behind the mission are unclear.

From the decaying Caribbean to politically-charged South America, from the slums of Mars to a tiny colony on a planet six hundred light years from Earth, Gabriel’s Redemption follows the disgraced Commander Gabriel as he leads a Special Forces team to an ice-bound world. Their given mission: to eradicate a drug cartel that is producing a highly-addictive stimulant brutally extracted from the bodies of the native inhabitants. Upon arriving, Gabriel and his team find the mission isn’t exactly what it appeared to be, and that they weren’t the only force dispatched to the planet.

Now that we’ve got the business out of the way, and you’ve got Amazon or B&N or whatever your preferred poision open in another tab, let’s learn a little bit about this author with a little thing I like to call the 5MinuteInterview.

So, Steve:

1: Your current trilogy is a sci-fi/adventure and I’ve seen it also billed as a military sci-fi. Why did you write in this genre?

I write in that genre, something I’ve come to refer to as “near future science fiction,” as it’s by far my favorite type to read. I certainly enjoy the far-flung adventures, thousands of years from now, with near-magical technologies and so on, but I feel like I relate better to a more realistic type of scifi. From a VERY young age I was into science fiction (and who my age wasn’t affected to the core by Star Wars?), but as I got older I tended to gravitate towards the technothrillers (Tom Clancy, back when he actually wrote his own books). When I ventured back into science fiction, that stuck with me. I love tech that can be easily extrapolated from today, or locations that aren’t entirely out of the realm of possibility. I think that gives a wide range of readers a chance to get into the story and the technology without being overwhelmed. And while I’ve never had the honor of serving our country in the military, there is no higher calling, and I love telling stories from a military perspective – to show the human behind the uniform.

2: Gabriel’s Redemption and Gabriel’s Return are the first two books in a trilogy. Do you plan to write more in this universe or are you moving on after this?

Well, I guess you’re assuming I have a Book 3 coming, right? 🙂  Actually just started the outline, and perhaps when this posts, will have already started Chapter One of the final installment. My wife asked me the same question – when you finish the trilogy, will you end the story? I did tell her I don’t plan to kill Commander Evan Gabriel, but I don’t know if I’ll go any further with it. There is a backstory, the failed mission that made the main character who he is today (in the time frame of the trilogy), that I do think I’ll go back to with possibly a novella, sort of the beginning of Evan Gabriel. But before that, I’ve got a story just dying to get onto ‘paper’ that I’ve been thinking about recently, and might make for a good NaNoWriMo challenge this year. Still scifi, but not military…time travel. Oh dear…

3: I met you at Readercon. In real life you looked just like your picture and were just as nice as you are online. So one creepy offline experience avoided. (On my side, at least.) With all the online promotion and social networking you do, have you had any odd/scary/traumatizing experiences?

That’s so kind of you to say! Like a mutual friend said, it would have been fun to pick you up in a car with plastic sheeting and an axe in the trunk, but I digress… I do find myself very much wrapped up in social media sometimes, and I’ve done my absolute best to avoid controversial subjects. I knew well before writing (I own an online business and started up the social media program for it last summer) that I would never send any type of religious or political messages…even innocuous ones. I don’t think that’s the platform for it… But as for odd experiences, I did have a ‘run in’ with a woman who vigorously objected to my reposting of an article she had linked to. She saw it as me promoting her as the author, and she was throwing around phrases like “heinously unprofessional” and “grounds for a lawsuit,” and had even taken to contacting friends of mine online to complain. (I had unfollowed her on Twitter in the middle of it – not vindictively, but as a method of ensuring her tweets would never get retweeted, thereby avoiding problems.) After a few days of explaining the system, she was fine with it, very apologetic, and ended up being a great online friend of mine

4: Does Gabriel have a favorite weapon?

Hmm, good question. In the two books he’s used several types, and worn completely two different types of combat armor. His personal weapon is a 7mm Heckart mag pistol, one with a very worn grip, that he’s had for many years. However I think his most important, and most used, weapon would be himself. He’s been fitted with an enhanced musculature for strength and speed (think Wolverine, just not nearly as silly), and he’s got black market upgraded neuretics (brain implants) that give him a huge tactical and strategic advantage on the battlefield. So he doesn’t often need an actual weapon. I think readers will see his brains and brawn really put to the test in the final book, as he’s got some personal scores to settle…so he won’t be handling them from long range.

Thanks so much, some excellent questions – and a great pleasure to meet you in person as well!
Back to your host: Awww, ain’t he sweet? Don’t neglect to check out his books, Gabriel’s Redemption and the newly-released sequel, Gabriel’s Return. In fact, let’s help you out with that. One random commenter on this thread will WIN a copy of  If there’s a nice turn-out, I’ll give away a copy of BOTH books to a second commenter. So, whatcha’ got to say to me or Steve? This your type of read? Willing to give it a try if it’s not?

Gabriel’s Return is available as an ebook for Kindle and Nook, and is also available on Goodreads.

More information about Steve can be found on his blog here:

Don’t Forget the Hero

August 18, 2011

You met Steve Bornstein@steve_bornstein earlier this week when he was guest judge for 5MinuteFiction. Well we’re coming back ’round to him because I want to talk about When the Hero Comes Home again. Have you read it yet? You really should. (Want to win one? Stay tuned to the end of the post and find out how you can.)

Here’s a review I wrote about it.

But while that’s a very thoughtful and interesting review, ;), let’s do something more fun and have a 5MinuteInterview with Steve!

1.) How’d you come to be a part of When the Hero Comes Home, and if someone asks you to do this again, will you jump on the chance or run screaming?

Gabrielle Harbowy and I met several years ago on an old text-based roleplaying game and we became writing partners from there. After she and Ed Greenwood conceived When The Hero Comes Home, I was invited to submit a story about a dragon, I think mainly because they were looking for a story with an unusual POV. I’d never considered myself publishable before, but I hammered out “Full Circle” and both she and Ed loved it, and the rest is history. 🙂 I would absolutely jump on the chance if asked again. The reception I’ve gotten from the writing community has been nothing short of fantastic and it’s really gotten me motivated to get my stuff out there and read.

2) Give me one sentence you want to see appear in your interview. It can be the answer to any question I haven’t asked, or just something you want to see on the screen.

When I write, I use two basic rules: Conflict is the essence of plot, and characters grow and develop by overcoming adversity. Everything else springs from that. [OK, that’s two sentences. :)]

3) What’s next for you?

Definitely more short story writing! I love worldbuilding and I’ve had a couple of projects I’ve been fiddling with for a few years now, and I’m starting to explore them more in the wake of the Hero project. I’ve got a lot of stories to tell and I’m pretty optimistic about what the future holds for it all.

4) What is the dragon’s name?

The dragon is nameless on purpose. In the world where the story takes place, dragons outlive their names.

Thanks again, Steve, for being great to work with and for the interview. Best of luck to you!

Now, for the winning of books. Well all you have to do is post a comment below. Since it’s Steve’s interview, it would be really great if it were a comment or question directed at him. Make sure there’s some way I can contact you if you win. A link to your site or twitter handle would be fine.

Friday afternoon I’ll choose one comment at random and that person will win a free Kindle copy of When the Hero Comes Home! So, what do you have to say?