Hay-on-Wye Winter Festival 2013

Hello, hello!

Today is the last day of March and looking back, we can only say what a fantastic month it has been! For those of our readers who wonder why the last 30 days were dedicated entirely to interviews with our favorite published authors, we would like to explain that World Book Day in the United Kingdom and Ireland takes place each year in March, almost a month and a half earlier than the rest of the world (usually around April 23rd). We do not know the reason why for this change, but the book-loving celebration is a huge one. This year, World Book Day occurred on Thursday 6th of March and we thought that it would be a great idea to go with the flow and try to introduce you to some seriously talented writers: Helen Stringer – a genius behind Belladonna Johnson Adventures young adult book series, Nathan P Butler – Star Wars fandom guru and Jana Oliver – a multi award winning creator of Demon Trapper’s Daughter saga.

Hey Festival Winter Weekend

Hey Festival Winter Weekend

If you have missed the interviews before, please use the links below to read them:

Interview with Helen Stringer: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/the-reading-hour-helen-stringer/
Interview with Nathan P Butler: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/the-reading-hour-15-uneasy-questions-for-nathan-p-butler/
Interview with Jana Oliver:  https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/the-reading-hour-15-uneasy-questions-for-jana-oliver/

We have stated many times on our blogs that books are very important to us. The printed word had a huge impact on our childhood and we try to promote reading in any way that we can. Good book is a malady for sadness, boredom, ill health and depression. Scientific tests confirm this very obvious truth – the more you read, the more you discover, the happier you are! England takes International Book Day (and sometimes Book nights) very seriously. In 2014 publishing houses prepared many hot premieres especially for March while local libraries organized big open days and meetings with writers. The government, harshly criticized earlier for closing down libraries and cutting art-related projects, subsides special Book Day program that gives each elementary school pupils a token worth exactly one pound. Pupils can exchange the tokens for books in traditional stores or receive one pound off while shopping for books and eBooks online. Charity organizations like Oxfam Books or Healthy Planet help university students by handing out exam preparatory books for free and even the local communities have something to say – one stop libraries (usually located in old converted red phone booths or inside private sheds) are growing quicker than the green mold on rooftops after the glorious British rain 🙂

Winter Weekend  box Office

Winter Weekend box Office

Keeping to the book related theme, today we want to take you to a small town located exactly at the Welsh-English boarder. The town is called Hay-on-Wye and is known for the internationally acclaimed Book Festival annually organized in the late spring/early summer. Last year we had a pleasure to participate in winter book-loving celebration entitled Hay Festival Winter Weekend. The smaller version of the summertime festival took place from 29th of November to 1st of December 2013 and drew huge crowds. Every car park in 5 miles radius has been packed tight and people were literally fighting over few remaining free spaces. And when we say literally, we mean it – two gentlemen came to blows after one of them parked his huge Chelsea tractor in the only remaining space in the city center. We were forced to park our car in front of a local hotel, but luckily the owners didn’t mind. If anybody from the organizing body is reading these words – please make sure that you are providing more parking spaces next time! We do not wish to scare the children by walking about the town with panda eyes and bloodied noses!

Be quiet! Event in progress!

Be quiet! Event in progress!

Now,  complaints are over and we can concentrate on what we love the most – reviewing the events! Hay-on-Wye is known as the used book capitol of the United Kingdom. According to our friend who has been living there for several years, there are exactly 24 second hand book stores that can provide you with everything you can dream of: steamy novellas, erotic fiction from 1950’s, pulp magazines from 1930’s, unique comic books, junk books that nobody wants to read and masterpieces in all language versions and editions. Each genre has its own place: if you love poetry, The Poetry Bookstore (http://www.poetrybookshop.com) is a place to go, avid gardeners have to shop at C Arden Bookseller (http://www.ardenbooks.co.uk), parents must take their kids to The Children’s Bookshop (https://childrensbookshop.com), fantasy and science fiction fans should go to Addyman Books (http://www.hay-on-wyebooks.com/) and the legions of Benedict Cumberbatch fans must stop at Murder and Mayhem to buy Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels. To be perfectly honest with you dear readers, Mal and Rita love this small store dedicated to crime and detective fiction. The store is very easy to be located – you just cannot walk past the body line drawn near the entrance and simply miss it. Once inside, you have to climb delightfully old wooden staircase that cracks and moves with your ever step. The biggest detective legends are watching you from the walls (and the ceiling!) and upstairs a true heaven awaits those who long for blood, jealously, murder, suspense and other cardinal sins. Did we mention a big black cat painted near the doorway? If that sounds like a cool place to go, you will know where to find us next year!

Murder and Mayhem entrance

Murder and Mayhem entrance

As I lay dying

As I lay dying

Kitty, kitty, kitty...bad luck!

Kitty, kitty, kitty…bad luck!

Hay-on-Wye Festival started in 1988 as a small literature event organized by Norman and Peter Florence. According to rumors, the father-son duo came up with the idea for literary festival in Hay while eating a family dinner and later used their winnings in poker to make their dream come true.  Truth or not,  the idea proved to be an excellent one. From the very beginning Hay-On-Wye festival had an unique atmosphere that could only be compared to summer music extravaganza. In 2001 Bill Clinton even compared it to Woodstock for book lovers and writers.

The first edition of the Festival of Literature and Arts gathered only a handful of  writers (with famous playwright Arthur Miller as the leading star) and the audience was limited to local townsfolk, passerby’s and tourists.  Norman Florence,  theater manager by pprofession, served not only as a spokesman, leading organizer, but also a s a driver, handy person, rigger and journalist. He had to use all his charm to convince Arthur Miller to arrive to the UK and give a small talk. Before attending the festival, the neurotic genius didn’t even know what Hay-on-Wye was. He thought it was some kind of sandwich – true story, we swear!

With each passing year, the festival grew larger and larger. 26 years later, Hay-on-Wye Festival is  known far and wide. Nearly 100.000 people visit this small Welsh town each year for ten days of meetings, talks, stand up comedy, film screening, concerts, art exhibitions and God knows what else.  Tickets are selling out faster than fresh buns and internationally acclaimed stars and writers submit their own applications to be considered for future events. Peter and Norman Florence  received Medal of British Empire for their contribution to English culture and the festival itself has been nominated for numerous awards, including the prestigious Queen’s Awards for Enterprise. To go or not to go in summer, that it the question! To help you decide we can only say that Carrie Fisher, Stephen Fry and Steven Moffat are confirmed to speak to the audience this year…Hey wait! Don’t rush off now! The festival starts on 22nd of May and will last until the 1st of June 2014.

You can visit the official website at:  https://www.hayfestival.com
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hayfestival
or Twitter: https://twitter.com/hayfestival

Hay on Wye author meeting at The Swan Hotel. Please visit their website at: http://www.swanathay.co.uk/index.html

Hay on Wye author meeting at The Swan Hotel. Please visit their website at: http://www.swanathay.co.uk/index.html

Meeting with readers at The Swan

Meeting with readers at The Swan

audience waiting for meeting with Jasper Fforde at The Swan

audience waiting for meeting with Jasper Fforde at The Swan

The main reason why we arrived at the Winter Weekend was not because of arts and crafts event taking place in the high town, or  the street band playing carols near the Hay Castle ruins, but sorely to meet an excellent writer Jaspen Fforde. We have been big fans of Jasper’s talent for years and since meeting him nearly two years ago in Hereford, we were longing to learn more about his best selling Dragon Slayer saga.  You don’t need to convince fantasy fans twice when one of their favorite authors is going to do a rare reading from his latest novels. Tickets were booked months in advance and when the moment arrived, off we went.

The meeting took place on Saturday, 30th of  November 2013, exactly at 5.55pm in beautiful Victorian Dining Room at the Swan Hotel. The Swan is a family run business that looks like a building taken right out of  Mr Fforde’s book: it has a cozy restaurant and pub with huge fireplace, a narrow corridors leading to beautiful reception area and an impressive meeting rooms – a perfect place for any Wizarding agency to do business with non-magical citizens (we wouldn’t be surprised if the Potters or Weasleys decided to spend their holidays there either!). Jasper, a resident of Hay-on-Wye, arrived on foot carrying a big suitcase of books, notes and even a dictionary! When asked why he needed an old  Oxford English dictionary the size of a large brick, he gave us a stern look, winked and told us to mind our business! Those writers, so full of secrets!

Talking to Jasper is a pure pleasure. He is exceptionally funny, intelligent and kind to his readers. He answered all questions (the room was packed full and he had to answer a lot!), read few passages from an unpublished book entitled then “The Return of Shandar” and even revealed that he was approached by BBC to pen the anniversary episode for Doctor Who! He sadly had to let this opportunity pass because of  conflicted schedules, but  you have to admit, it is a big honor nonetheless.  Fans of  Jasper’s book “Shades of Grey” will be delighted to know that he is currently writing a sequel that should be released sometime next year.

Jasper during the meeting

Jasper during the meeting

Jasper Fforde books ready to be signed

Jasper Fforde books ready to be signed

Jasper signing books during the meet and greet with fans

Jasper signing books during the meet and greet with fans

***UPDATE April 15th 2014***

The book three in The Last DragonSlayer saga has been released on 10th of April 2014 and we already own a copy.  The title has been changed since the December meeting to “The Eye of Zoltar” and the whole series has now been extended to 4 books! Fourth book is probably going to be entitled “The Great Troll War” and is scheduled for  Summer release 2015.

You can order your copy of The Eye of Zoltar here:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Eye-Zoltar-Last-Dragonslayer-Book/dp/1444707272
Waterstone’s: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/jasper+fforde/the+eye+of+zoltar/9022819/
WHSmith: http://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/the-eye-of-zoltar-the-last-dragonslayer-book-3/product/9781444707274

or visit Jasper official website at: http://www.jasperfforde.com/

British cover of The Eye of Zoltar

British cover of The Eye of Zoltar

The Eye of  Zoltar received rave reviews from readers and critics and almost all 5 star ratings on Goodreads! (it’s not easy to please this particular internet community!) We shall not spoil you what happens next to our brave Jennifer, but she is now tasked with finding a rare artifact to save the lives of the dragons. Will she succeed? Grab a book and find out!
American fans will have  to wait till October 1st 2014 for the official American edition. We feel sorry for you guys!

Have a great day and don’t forget  that on 23rd of April the world will be celebrating  International Book Day. Please visit your local library and support them. In times of crisis the reading community should stick together and spread the word about good books that are being released.

Long live the written word!
XXX
Rita and Mal Dabrowicz

 

Advertisements

The Reading Hour – 15 (un)easy questions for Jana Oliver

Greetings dear readers!

Welcome to the third edition of The Reading Hour! Yet again at the beginning, we wish to thank all viewers and readers. You are truly incredible! We seem to have more and more visitors each time we post and this is a fantastic thing. There are hundreds and hundreds of wonderful books in the world and we need to encourage more people to start reading. A good book could be a perfect medicine for wars, anger or hate. After all, it’s harder to concentrate on the negative feeling if you are in the middle of  fascinating book and you just can’t stop reading!  So book readers of the world unite and let’s spread some love for the written word, shall we?

If you have missed previous edition, please click on the links below:

Interview with Helen Stringer:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/the-reading-hour-helen-stringer/

Interview with Nathan P Butler:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/the-reading-hour-15-uneasy-questions-for-nathan-p-butler/

Our guest for today is incredible Jana Oliver, a woman of extraordinary imagination and skills. We have been reading her books for years and when she agreed to be interviewed for our blog, it felt like winning a lottery. We are sure many of our regular visitors are familiar with her books, but if you hear her name for the first time, please pay attention. Jana is one of the most popular writers in YA (young adult) category and you will be hearing a lot about her in the future!

The Demon Trappers series logo

The Demon Trappers series logo

Official bio:

Jana Oliver is an American author. Her books cross many genres, including romance/fantasy and historical mystery. An Iowa native, she currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Her Time Rovers Series is published by Dragon Moon Press, a Canadian speculative fiction publisher, and in e-book form by Nevermore Press. The series has been nominated for fifteen awards and has won twelve, including ForeWord Magazine’s Editor’s Choice Book of the Year, the first time a science fiction novel has received that honor.

Her young adult series (The Demon Trappers) is published in the US by St. Martin’s Press (THE DEMON TRAPPER’S DAUGHTER, SOUL THIEF and FORGIVEN). The series has also been published in the UK, Germany, France, Poland, Russia, Turkey and Brazil.
Jana’s happiest when she’s researching outlandish urban legends, wandering around old cemeteries and dreaming up new stories. Her latest book, Briar Rose, a dark and twisty re-telling of Sleeping Beauty, is now available in the UK and Australia.

Vanadian Avenue had a real pleasure to exchange several emails with Jana in early January 2014 . Mrs Oliver is not only funny and easy to talk to, but also very kind. We hope that you are going to enjoy reading this interview, we definitely had so much fun asking the questions!

—————————————

The Reading Hour – 15 (un)easy questions for Jana Oliver

A beautiful picture of Jana Oliver

A beautiful picture of Jana Oliver

Vanadian Avenue: At the beginning, can we ask for a short introduction for our readers. Who is Jana Oliver and how long have you been writing?

Jana Oliver: I am a multi-published author of young adult and adult fiction. I’ve been writing for sixteen years.

Vanadian Avenue: What motivates you to write? Do you have any method for avoiding writer’s blocks and retaining creativity?

Jana Oliver:I’m motivated to write because I have all these “voices” in my head and they need me to tell their stories.

I don’t usually have writer’s block because my deadlines don’t allow me that option. I do have moments where I’m not sure where the story is headed and that’s when I clean my cupboards or spend some time playing with my cat. That “downtime” often allows my brain to rethink the next scene and find the way forward.

Vanadian Avenue: What in your opinion constitutes a good book? What’s Jana’s recipe for success? Time Rovers trilogy (“Sojourn”, “Virtual Evil” and “Madman’s Dance”) has been nominated 15 times and won 12 awards. Have you ever imagined that this series would become so popular?

Jana Oliver: A good book is one that pulls the reader into a different world full of intriguing characters who need to do something to make things right. Be that a murder mystery where the bad guy has to be found before he kills again, or a fantasy novel where good and evil are at war. At the heart of the story are those characters. If you don’t feel for them, you won’t join them on their journey. That’s what makes a story you can’t put down. That’s what I aim for with every single book.

Frankly I’ve been surprised at how well my books have been received. I thought folks might like to read them, but WOW!

First book in the Demon Trappers saga entitled  Forsaken. You can buy a copy here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Demon-Trappers-Jana-Oliver/dp/0330519476

First book in the Demon Trappers saga entitled Forsaken. You can buy a copy here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Demon-Trappers-Jana-Oliver/dp/0330519476

The Demon Trappers Part Deux: Forbidden. You can purchase a copy at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Demon-Trappers-Jana-Oliver/dp/0330519484/

The Demon Trappers Part Deux: Forbidden. You can purchase a copy at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Demon-Trappers-Jana-Oliver/dp/0330519484/

Vanadian Avenue: Many authors admit that while they are usually very happy with the final versions of their books, there is always something they would like to correct. If you could change anything in any of your books, what would that be?

Jana Oliver: Not really. That doesn’t mean I don’t wish I could have written a scene better, but the stories themselves I’m good with.

Vanadian Avenue: Denver Beck and Riley Blackthorne, the main characters from The Demon Trappers series are our definitive favorites. Which one of the characters you have created is your favorite one?

Jana Oliver: I’m very fond of Grand Master Angus Stewart. He’s just such a neat guy. He’s wise, but not in a pompous way. And he’s seriously bad-ass in battle. Gotta love a dude like that.

Vanadian Avenue: Can you tell us more about “Briar Rose”? We heard it is a based on the popular Sleeping Beauty fairytale (but with a twist!)

Jana Oliver: “Briar Rose” is a twisty and dark version of Sleeping Beauty set in the South. It has vengeful Civil War ghosts, a nasty curse, clockwork wolves and a spunky heroine. I had a grand time writing that story.

Vanadian Avenue: Do you plan to write a sequel or is Briar Rose a stand-alone novel?

Jana Oliver: No sequel, it’s a standalone. That’s part of the reason it was so fun to write – I didn’t have to fret about what might be happening three books down the line.

Vanadian Avenue: Demon Trappers Series was set in Atlanta and Briar Rose is set in southeastern Georgia near Savannah. Do you find it easier to write about places you know from personal experience?

Jana Oliver: I like to visit the places where I set my books to get a feel for the area. I trudged around Atlanta to get it know it better (even though I live just outside the city). I did the same for the setting for “Briar Rose” and for my Time Rovers Books which were set in the East End of London. That personal knowledge helps make the writing easier.

Vanadian Avenue: We have to ask about the covers. They have always been visually stunning and beautifully designed. Who is responsible for them? Also, Elizabeth May, the girl featured on the covers for The Demon Trapper series, has just released her debut novel – “The Falconer”! Aren’t you afraid that the girl featured on the Briar Rose cover is going to become a writer as well? 🙂

Jana Oliver:  LOL. That would be kinda cool – my cover models go on to become successful authors. I agree, the covers have been stunning and I credit my UK publishing house (Macmillan Children’s Books) for that. My editor (Ms. Rachel) has a great eye for a striking cover and their graphic artists are really talented. The result is a really pretty book.

The Demon Trappers series part three entitled Forgiven. You can purchase a copy here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Demon-Trappers-Jana-Oliver/dp/0330519492/

The Demon Trappers series part three entitled Forgiven. You can purchase a copy here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Demon-Trappers-Jana-Oliver/dp/0330519492/

The last book in the series is called Foretold. Order your copy at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Demon-Trappers-Jana-Oliver/dp/1447216067/

The last book in the series is called Foretold. Order your copy at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Demon-Trappers-Jana-Oliver/dp/1447216067/

Elizabeth  May, the face of Riley Anora Blackthorne. More information about Elizabeth's book Falconer can be found at: www.elizabethmaywrites.com

Elizabeth May, the face of Riley Anora Blackthorne. More information about Elizabeth’s book Falconer can be found at: http://www.elizabethmaywrites.com

Vanadian Avenue:  It came as a bit of surprise for your readers, but recently you have published another book – “Tangled Souls”. You mentioned in a recent interview that it took you nearly 10 years to finish it.

Jana Oliver: “Tangled Souls” is an adult paranormal romance I wrote way back when. Over the years I’d fuss with it, then set it aside as other (paid) projects gained precedence. I finally decided to get it done and out there. I’m working on the companion book to it (the sister’s story, yet untitled) at the moment. It’s been in the works since 1998. Hopefully it’ll be published sometime this year.

Vanadian Avenue: Fantasy and paranormal elements play a big role in your books. However, your characters have to deal with everyday difficulties more often than with supernatural beings. Lack of prospects, family tragedies, economical crisis, unemployment – your vision of America is dark and scarily realistic!

Jana Oliver: One of the ways to have believable characters is to give them real problems. Even superheroes need personal issues, so my folks have financial concerns, dating dilemmas, big decisions to make. Sometimes they make the right decisions, sometimes not. Either way, they have to live with the consequences. I’m not fond of characters who seem to be able to handle everything thrown at them. That’s not the way it works. I want characters who screw up every now and then. Then I can relate to them. Big time.

Vanadian Avenue: Tell us about your future projects. What can we expect from you in 2014?

Jana Oliver: Besides that companion book I spoke of earlier, I’m looking forward to writing another YA novel or two. My editor and I are discussing that at present so I’m hoping to have some good news on that front very soon.

Vanadian Avenue: Famous last words – anything you’d like to tell your readers?

Jana Oliver: You guys rock. Thank you for reading my stories!

Vanadian Avenue: Thank you so much for answering our questions!

Jana Oliver: My pleasure. Thank you.

Front cover of Grave Matters - Demon Series novella. You can purchase it here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Grave-Matters-Demon-Trappers-Novella/dp/0970449089

Front cover of Grave Matters – Demon Series novella. You can purchase it here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Grave-Matters-Demon-Trappers-Novella/dp/0970449089

Great book with a great cover - Briar Rose can be ordered here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Briar-Rose-Jana-Oliver/dp/1447241096/

Great book with a great cover – Briar Rose can be ordered here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Briar-Rose-Jana-Oliver/dp/1447241096/

Useful links about Jana:

Official site: http://www.janaoliver.com
Official site for Demon Trapper series:
http://www.demontrappers.co.uk
http://www.demontrappers.com
Official site for Time Rovers series: http://www.timerovers.com
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jana_Oliver

Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JanaOliver
Jana’s personal profile: https://www.facebook.com/jana.oliver.754
Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/crazyauthorgirl

GoodReads:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4105961.Jana_Oliver
Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jana-G.-Oliver/e/B001K7LIR6

Jana Oliver is represented by Meredith Bernstein. Please contact her at:
Meredith Bernstein Literary Agency
2095 Broadway, Suite 505
New York, NY 10023

St. Martin’s Press (Publisher): http://us.macmillan.com/author/janaoliver

Malicia and Rita would like to thank Jana and her assistant, Chris Jasper for their help and assistance. You are truly wonderful! Thank you very, very much.

If you have any questions regarding Jana’s interview, her plans or books, please drop us a line at rdabrowicz@yahoo.com
We will try to answer all fan mail or pass any information to the author.

Have a lovely day!
XXX
Rita and Mal

The Reading Hour – 15 (un)easy questions for Nathan P Butler

Good day book lovers!

Welcome again to The Reading Hour. We need to thank all of you who visited our blog and read theinterview with incredible Helen Stringer! We have received a lot of attention from s-f and Young Adults readers on both sides of the Atlantic and we are incredibly proud. If anybody tells you that dystopian or s-f literature is no longer popular, don’t believe  a single word they say. We know better and have excellent blog stats to prove that.

If you have missed our talk with Helen, please click on the link below:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/the-reading-hour-helen-stringer/

Today, our guest is Nathan P Butler, a popular s-f writer and a living legend in Star Wars fandom!

Official bio:

Nathan P. Butler is a high school teacher by profession. He graduated from University of Evansville in southern Indiana with a BS in Secondary Education in 2002 and soon began teaching in the Atlanta Metro area. In 2009, he completed graduate work through Walden University and earned a MS in Education with a specialization in Integrating Technology in the Classroom. He is also certified by the College Board to teach their Advanced Placement World History course. However, Butler is best known as the writer of the Star Wars story Equals and Opposites (2004) in Dark Horse Comics’ Star Wars Tales, which has been reprinted in collected form and also released with two action figures, based on the story, through Hasbro. He has also made other contributions to the Star Wars mythos, most notably including the development of in-universe dates for several historical maps in Star Wars: The Essential Atlas by Daniel Wallace and Jason Fry. In 2009, Butler joined Grail Quest Books to write two Earther faction novellas (Healers and Hunters and On Red Soil) for the WARS: The Battle of Phobos series, based on the Decipher, Inc. science fiction property. In 2006 and 2009, Butler self-published the original versions of his novella Echoes and the Greater Good novel. Beginning in 2011, new editions were developed for both, and they are now seeing professional release through Grail Quest Books. Originally from Evansville, Indiana, he now lives in the Atlanta area with his wife and a fellow sci-fi fan, Jodi and two cats. When not writing, he teaches Advanced Placement World History and regular World History at Creekside High School in Fairburn, Georgia.

We have interviewed Nathan especially for our blog in October 2013. Enjoy!

——————————————————————————————————————–

The Reading Hour – 15 (un)easy questions for Nathan P Butler

Nathan P Butler looking very professional

Nathan P Butler looking very professional

Vanadian Avenue: Your name is known far and wide in the Galaxy Far Away but please introduce yourself to our readers.

Nathan P Butler:  I’m Nathan P. Butler. By profession, I’m a high school Social Studies teacher in the Atlanta area and a freelance science fiction writer, having published works through Dark Horse Comics and Grail Quest Books. I am also an avid Star Wars fan, having produced the Star Wars Timeline Project (now the Star Wars Timeline Gold) since 1997, having hosted (and currently hosting) Star Wars podcasts since 2002, and now moving into several new YouTube video series on the subject. I also run the Star Wars fan audio “hub” site StarWarsFanworks.com.

Vanadian Avenue: A question everybody wants to ask: How would someone become a Star Wars writer? What do you have to do for LucasArts to approach you with an offer to write a SW book?

Nathan P Butler:  I am probably not the best person to answer this because, frankly, my experience was a fluke. I had been working on my Star Wars timeline document online for about seven years and had been a Star Wars podcaster for two years or so when I had the chance to write for Star Wars Tales in 2004. It was one of the few times in the history of Star Wars publishing that a publication was given leeway to go with writers who were untested and not necessarily previously published. Jeremy Barlow, the Associate Editor of the Star Wars line for Dark Horse Comics at the time, had seen my timeline and either heard or heard of my podcast and fan-made Star Wars audio dramas and felt that I was a good fit to write a short tale for that anthology series. Probably the one part of my experience that is similar to most writers is that you have to be “invited to the party.” You cannot actively submit works or seek the opportunity to write for Star Wars; they have to come to you. That would also include my later chances to impact the saga, such as being asked to assist Jason Fry and Daniel Wallace on some material for the Star Wars Essential Atlas and the like. I was simply very lucky or blessed to be in the right place at the right time.

Star Wars Tales, Volume 6 (released on January 25th 2006), featuring Nathan's "Equals and Opposites," which pits Kyle Katarn and Jan Ors (in their first comic appearance) against the Yuuzhan Vong. This trade paperback includes issues 21 - 24 of the original series.

Star Wars Tales, Volume 6 released on January 25th 2006, featuring Nathan’s “Equals and Opposites,” which pits Kyle Katarn and Jan Ors (in their first comic appearance) against the Yuuzhan Vong. This trade paperback includes issues 21 – 24 of the original series.

Star Wars Tales Volume 6 promotional poster drawn by Tsueno Sanada.

Star Wars Tales Volume 6 promotional poster drawn by Tsueno Sanada.

Vanadian Avenue: How long did it take you to write “Equals & Opposites”? Was it hard to come up with a storyline?

Nathan P Butler: The story pitch was made in March 2004, and the final approved script with all Dark Horse and Lucasfilm edits and such worked in was ready about two months later. Granted, I believe that Jeremy had a bit more leeway with me, given my inexperience at the time, so I had more opportunities for feedback and a dialogue with Jeremy than I would imagine a more seasoned writer would have had. He definitely was there to make sure it was a smooth process. As for coming up with the story, there were actually a couple of different pitches that emerged. One that focused on the Yuuzhan Vong War and briefly included Kyle Katarn and Jan Ors eventually became, through discussions with Jeremy and feedback from Lucasfilm, a story that was more personal for Kyle and Jan. The real heart of the story for me, though, was based on some feedback that was received. I was not allowed to make Kyle and Jan a married couple in the story, which was a bit of a surprise, given how many longtime Star Wars partnerships become married couples. That quickly became the focus of the banter and character development for the pair in the story, with the Vong encounter surrounding it as its context, though not its core.

Vanadian Avenue: Having a Star Wars character named after yourself is a dream come true for every fan. What was your reaction when you learnt that Jeremy Barlow created Krono Relt to honor you?

Nathan P Butler:  I was quite excited, as one might expect. I actually had no idea that was the case until Jeremy told me and explained the name’s origins: “Krono” from ChronoRadio (my first podcast) and “Relt” from the last four letters of my surname spelled backward. I was even more stoked when, as a sort of congratulations for finishing the writing process, he sent me a signed copy of that issue (Empire #13), which was his own first Star Wars comic writing experience, I believe.

Vanadian Avenue: With such enormous universe, Star Wars has many plot (black) holes and non canon endings. Every writer has their own way to cover up mistakes in the storyline. What are your tricks to unified Star Wars history?

Nathan P Butler: That depends on what perspective we’re coming from. If the issue is how to consider it all to be one unified history without errors, then I’d have to say that I simply don’t consider it to be such a thing. There are certainly plenty of contradictions, intentional and unintentional, especially as Lucas re-entered the saga, circa 1999 – 2005 and 2008 – 2013. As for how to keep it all straight for my Star Wars Timeline Gold, I think the key is intellectual honesty. Take at face value what we are told is the case, work in the retcons as they are explained or released, ask questions when necessary, and just roll with the punches. If a contradiction exists, note it and move on. One thing that I feel strongly about is that fans should not just make up stuff as we go along to fit things together. That isn’t “canon” it’s “fanon” and it has no bearing on the official Star Wars universe.

Vanadian Avenue: Let’s play favorites: who is your favorite character in Star Wars and why? You can choose one character from the movies and one from the books.

Nathan P Butler: My personal favorite is Cade Skywalker, the protagonist of the first Star Wars: Legacy comic series by John Ostrander and Jan Duursema. Cade is a descendant of Luke Skywalker, who is an adult in an era over 130 years after Return of the Jedi. With a new Sith Order having again wiped out most of the Jedi Order and solidified an Empire over much of the galaxy, Cade is a Skywalker on the run from his past when we meet him. He is a bounty hunter, raised in part by Jedi but later by pirates, and he is a drug addict, using “deathsticks” to try to shut out the Force. His story is one about reclaiming one’s identity, truly choosing between Light and Dark when both seem viable options at times, and one of finding selflessness in a character who had fallen into selfishness. One of his most repeated lines, “We take what is given,” is a mantra that I think all of us could benefit from acknowledging in our everyday lives.

Nathan's original novel entitled "Greater Good"

Nathan’s original novel entitled “Greater Good”

Back of Greater Good novel. You can purchase a copy at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Greater-Good-Nathan-P-Butler/dp/0983548811

Back of Greater Good novel. You can purchase a copy at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Greater-Good-Nathan-P-Butler/dp/0983548811

Vanadian Avenue: Is there a Star Wars character you would never write about? The fan base is not particularly kind to Jar Jar Binks. Name one character you would love to have crossed – out of the Extended Universe once and for all.

Nathan P Butler: There are certainly plenty of characters that we’ve grown to dislike over the years. I would love to see Jar Jar toned down in the films, though he works as the “fool” character for The Clone Wars and in how he is manipulated in Attack of the Clones. If I had to choose one character, it would probably have to be Waru the “anti-Force being” from The Crystal Star. If I could choose a performance, it’d be B.J. Hughes voice acting as Jar Jar Binks before Ahmed Best returned to the role. If I could choose a group of characters, I’d love to see the characterizations of the Ewoks from the second season of that cartoon series entirely wiped from existence in favor of their personalities in the first season – before their souls were removed, so to speak.

Vanadian Avenue: Your expert knowledge about chronology and events within Star Wars Extended Universe is legendary. You have served as an advisor for many other writers and even developed in-universe digital calendar for “Star Wars: The Essential Atlas” written by Daniel Wallace and Jason Fry. Can you could give us some examples of the worst crimes against the canon chronology ever committed that you managed to find?

Nathan P Butler: In recent memory, the Coruscant Nights books come to mind. Repeatedly in that series, the author(s) managed to foul up the dates of Michael Reaves’ previous novel, Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter, and the dates of the prequels in relation to that novel. The entire climax of the third novel, Patterns of Force, relies on the idea that a substance carried around since the Clone Wars has basically spoiled in the decade(s) since the conflict. But . . . it hasn’t been decades, or even years. It has been a matter of months instead. The co-author of the latter books in that line has also continued to claim in interviews that a character that was gravely injured in a Coruscant Nights book did, in fact, die, despite that character showing up later in Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor, very much alive. Usually, though, the biggest continuity headaches come from Lucas himself. He played his cards close to the chest before creating the Prequel Trilogy, so things like Jedi not being able to marry, Greedo’s Prequel-era appearances, and such were things that contradicted previous Expanded Universe materials that had been created before knowing about these ideas from Lucas. The biggest issue of this kind came with the recent The Clone Wars cartoon series. Lucas let Dark Horse, Del Rey, LucasArts, and others fill in the era of the Clone Wars in a very intricate, often week-to-week, storyline, only to come back three years later and say, “Oh, I’m going to create a new TV show that takes place in this era, so move aside!” The continuity chaos created by The Clone Wars has created some irreconcilable issues in that era, and, at present, there are apparently no plans to try to fully integrate the 2002 – 2007 and 2008+ versions of that era into one coherent timeline. Granted, Lucas has every right to re-enter and expand upon his own saga, and it is the peril of any licensed work author to know that their stories could be wiped out at any time if the power behind it all were to exert itself again, but however we look at it, it is the biggest continuity train wreck the saga has ever seen.

Front cover of Wars: The Battle of Phobos (Vol.1) - Preludes

Front cover of Wars: The Battle of Phobos (Vol.1) – Preludes

Back cover of Wars: The Battle of Phobos (Vol.1) - Preludes . You can purchase a copy at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wars-Battle-Phobos-Vol-1-Preludes/dp/0983548803

Back cover of Wars: The Battle of Phobos (Vol.1) – Preludes . You can purchase a copy at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wars-Battle-Phobos-Vol-1-Preludes/dp/0983548803

Vanadian Avenue: Star Wars is not just another complete universe – it’s a pop cultural phenomenon. We suppose there is a pressure on writers regarding new story lines. If you have ever experienced it either from publishers or the fans, would you like to speak about it?

Nathan P Butler: Personally, I did not feel it much, other than knowing that fans had been wanting the Yuuzhan Vong and Kyle Katarn in comics for a while, and I’d be the one bringing them into that arena with the story. In a lot of ways, though, I’d imagine that writing a Star Wars story is both a blessing and a curse for a novelist or someone embarking on a full comic series. On the one hand, your name becomes instantly known, and you sell quite a lot of copies based on the Star Wars name alone. On the other hand, your work will be fodder for snarky reviewers out in the fandom community like me, which is not always a pretty sight.

Vanadian Avenue: You are the driving force and the main writer behind Star Wars Timeline Gold. Can you tell us more about this project?

Nathan P Butler: The SWT-G is a massive Star Wars chronology document (or set of documents, as it is now four PDF files) that chronicles the saga in the most comprehensive format currently available anywhere. It began as a small document for my own use, started to be released online in late 1997, and has grown by leaps and bounds since. The last edition (August 2013) came in at 2,459 pages between the four documents. If you’re looking for Star Wars chronological information or a comprehensive history of that universe, it’s where to look.

Vanadian Avenue: Outside of your work for Star Wars, you have also released an original novel entitled “Greater Good” and WARS: The Battle of Phobos novella through Grail Quest Books. Where can we buy them?

Nathan P Butler: Greater Good, my sci-fi thriller of time travel and telepaths/telekinetic can be found in paperback through Amazon and Barnes and Noble, though the best place (if you want to support Grail Quest Books and me directly) is to order through MiddleEarthShop.com. Greater Good is also in ebook format for Kindle and Nook. WARS: The Battle of Phobos is a nine-novella series that is still ongoing, for which I wrote two novellas: Healers and Hunters, then On Red Soil. Both are available as an ebook for Nook and Kindle, and they are each one of three collected novellas in the paperback WARS: The Battle of Phobos, Vol. 1: Preludes and Vol. 2: Stretti, respectively. These are also available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble, though more supportive if picked up through MiddleEarthShop.com.

Vanadian Avenue: Audio dramas seem to be another hobby of yours. You have produced many Star Wars related dramas as well as original ones since 2002. What’s so fascinating about them?

Nathan P Butler: I personally enjoy the freedom that the medium provides. While you are limited by being in an audio-only medium, you are also not limited by things like special effects budgets or the kind of considerations necessary in trying to produce film projects. With good voice actors and a nice library of music and sound effects, you can create an engaging audio drama with team members all over the world. In fact, it was the desire to produce an unpredictable, high-end fan film script that led to the production of my first (and the first in online Star Wars fandom) audio drama, Star Wars: Second Strike.

Front cover of WARS: The Battle of Phobos (Vol.2) - Stretti

Front cover of WARS: The Battle of Phobos (Vol.2) – Stretti

Back cover of WARS: The Battle of Phobos (Vol.2) - Stretti You can purchase a copy at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/WARS-Battle-Phobos-Vol-2-Stretti/dp/0615798543

Back cover of WARS: The Battle of Phobos (Vol.2) – Stretti You can purchase a copy at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/WARS-Battle-Phobos-Vol-2-Stretti/dp/0615798543

Vanadian Avenue: What exactly is www.starwarsfanworks.com? How varied and well organized is the audiodrama community on the internet?

Nathan P Butler: It started as a sort of go-to directory and feature site for the Star Wars fan audio community when it was just getting off the ground in 2003. Today, it acts as a directory page to help people find Star Wars podcasts, past and present, small and large, along with audio dramas and audio parodies (that is, parody stories, not musical parodies). Originally, the community based around Star Wars fan audio was fairly cohesive, but as podcasting has become a much bigger part of our culture, it has expanded and integrated into that broader podcasting community to the extent that it isn’t often a cohesive whole so much as just a lot of networking between people interested in the same general subjects and franchises.

Vanadian Avenue: Nathan, you are also a teacher and author of educational podcasts for students in Economics, United States History and World History. Does your experience as a writer and producer come handy in the class room?

Nathan P Butler: I’m not sure that the writing and producing has very often, but the podcasting has come in handy. I have created podcast study guides for World History, Economics, and United States History, based on the Georgia Performance Standards that are now used across the state. I also find that podcasting has helped me as a communicator, which I’d like to think makes me more engaging and clear in classroom lessons.

Vanadian Avenue: Any plans for the future? What can we expect from you in the next months to come?

Nathan P Butler:  Writing-wise, I am not really in a position to do much at the moment, as I’m teaching three different kinds of classes every day, recently married, and juggling a lot of work and financial responsibilities at the moment. What remain on my plate right now is the fandom projects, which are stress relief to me. So, fans that are following my YouTube channel will see more of my From the Star Wars Library video series and its spinoff, From the Star Wars Home Video Library. New editions of the Star Wars Timeline Gold will continue to be released each year. More often than either of those, fans can keep up with my podcasting. I continue to host Star Wars Beyond the Films at StarWarsReport.com with Mark Hurliman with new episodes each week, and we are awaiting an upcoming release of our The Clone Wars film retrospective review on Republic Forces Radio Network to announce the future of that team in relation to the potential of covering Star Wars: Rebels in the future. Big announcements are coming in that regard, but nothing I can reveal prior to that episode’s release. It’s all good things, I’m inclined to say, but I’m biased on the subject, of course.

Vanadian Avenue: We are much obliged! Thank you for your time.

Nathan P Butler:  My pleasure. Thank you.

Cover of Healers and Hunters (WARS: The Battle of Phobos - Earthers, Part 1 of 3) You can purchase a copy at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Healers-Hunters-WARS-Battle-Earthers-ebook/dp/B004MPRAJ8

Cover of Healers and Hunters (WARS: The Battle of Phobos – Earthers, Part 1 of 3) You can purchase a copy at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Healers-Hunters-WARS-Battle-Earthers-ebook/dp/B004MPRAJ8

Cover of On Red Soil (WARS: The Battle of Phobos - Earthers, Part 2 of 3) You can purchase a copy  at:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/On-Red-Soil-WARS-Earthers-ebook/dp/B0078JDDF0

Cover of On Red Soil (WARS: The Battle of Phobos – Earthers, Part 2 of 3) You can purchase a copy at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/On-Red-Soil-WARS-Earthers-ebook/dp/B0078JDDF0

Useful links about Nathan:

Official site: http://www.nathanpbutler.com/
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nathanpbutlerauthor
Star Wars Fan Works: http://www.starwarsfanworks.com/
Official Twitter:  https://twitter.com/swfanworks

Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2885637.Nathan_P_Butler

Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Greater-Good-Nathan-P-Butler/dp/0983548811/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395250670&sr=8-1&keywords=greater+good+nathan+p.+butler

Grail Quest Books (Publisher):
http://grailquestbooks.mymiddleearth.com/2011/06/01/wars-the-battle-of-phobos-volume-1-preludes/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WARSUniverse

Wookiepedia bio: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Nathan_Butler

ATTENTION PLEASE!
Dear Readers.  If you are  Star Wars fans and have enjoyed Nathan contribution to the Extended Universe and  SW Fandom, would you kindly consider helping him out in really difficult times? Nathan’s beloved wife, Jodi is very ill and they need financial assistance. Living in Europe, we have access to free  state health care and we consider it not a benefit but our constitutional right. However, things are different in America. The statistics say that nearly 50 million of people have no medical insurance of any kind and are forced to pay horrendous amounts of money for scans or tests.  This is what happened to Jodi.  Vanadian Avenue crew, Nathan and Jodi will be forever grateful for your kindness. Every little helps, guys – if you are not able to donate, please order a book or just pass the word around. A big thank you for your assistance. Jodi’s medical fund link can be found here:

http://www.gofundme.com/6cz5l4

Have a lovely day and please return shortly as The Reading Hour will be back sooner than you think!
XXX
Rita and Mal

****** 24.03.2014******

We have something über – cool to announce! Our friends at Malta Comic Con featured interview with Nathan on their website and linked back to us. This story is now featured promptly on Comic Con website in the news section. You can check the screenshots below:

Malta Comic Con website as seen on March 24, 2014

Malta Comic Con website as seen on March 24, 2014

 

Malta Comic Con website feature  as seen on March 24, 2014

Malta Comic Con website feature as seen on March 24, 2014

 

 

or follow the direct URL here:

http://maltacomic-con.com/post/640/an-interview-with-star-wars-writer-nathan-p-butler

You can also follow Malta Comic Con on their Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Malta-Comic-Con/193667083985578

We don’t have to tell you how excited and happy we are! Thank you guys and comics lovers of the world unite!

Mal+Rita

 

The Reading Hour – Helen Stringer

Welcome again everybody!

Have you noticed that Vanadian Avenue is changing rapidly? Our blog is maturing and we are not afraid to introduce more and more new topic to our readers. Last month, we have created a new section dedicated to our travel and playfully named it ” One castle  a day”.  Today, we would like to invite  you  to take a look at yet another column: The Reading Hour.

The Reading Hour  will be dedicated to books and writing. As we have mentioned many times on our blog, Mal and Rita have been writing professionally for years, having our articles published in magazines, on CD’s and online. What we have failed to tell you, is that we also have been creating our own stories, writing novels and novellas since the first grade. Sadly, we have never found an agent and  never published anything in traditional form, but who knows, things might change next year! There are some works in progress, one fantasy themed, one dystopian and maybe, just maybe, if we are lucky enough, you may find something written by us in Barnes and Noble 🙂

Since we are addicted to books and have several published writers as close friends, we thought that interviewing them would be a perfect start for The Reading Hour.  Helen Stringer, a popular YA author, became  our first victim and  she was forced to answer 14 very strange questions we gave her.

We have written about Helen nearly two years ago when she visited UK during her book tour promoting “The Midnight Gate”. Helen has been extremely busy in the last 24 months: she has released another book entitled “Paradigm”, got involved in the making of the supernatural drama “The Gloaming” and currently works on her third book in Belladonna Johnson Adventures series.

You can find  the review from her book tour  here: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/a-day-with-helen-stringer

Now ladies and gents, have fun reading!

———————————————————————————————

The Reading Hour: 14 (un) easy questions for Helen Stringer

Helen Stringer and  the American cover of the "Spellbinder" novel (aka The Last Ghost in the UK)

Helen Stringer and the American cover of the “Spellbinder” novel (aka The Last Ghost in the UK)

Vanadian Avenue:  Do you remember your first short story or book you have ever written? What was it about and how old were you?

Helen Stringer: I can’t remember the first ones. I was always telling stories to my sister. She’s only 15 months younger than me and we shared a room. I also had a vast collection of Barbie dolls whose sole function was to act out my stories (they were usually hair-raising adventures that involved a high body count). I do remember telling my sister that there was an evil genie that lived in the toilet, and if you didn’t get out fast enough after you flushed, it would jump out and pull you down. Scared the living daylights out of her.

Vanadian Avenue: Paranormal, s-f, fantasy, ghost stories, young adult – your books are not easy to qualify. This is your chance to tell us what literary label is the correct one.

Helen Stringer: It really depends on the book. Spellbinder, Midnight Gate and The Blood Binding were middle-grade fantasy (the US term “middle-grade” refers to readers from about 10-13). Paradigm is science fiction aimed at the teen market, which would make it YA, although lots of adults seem to enjoy it too.

Vanadian Avenue:  Imagine your home library is on fire and you only have time to save three books. Which books would you choose and why?

Helen Stringer: What a dreadful thought! I would definitely save Pride and Prejudice. I never tire of reading it, it’s just so well-written and such a great observation of human behaviour. When books continue to enchant generations of readers hundreds of years after they were originally written, it’s generally because there is something universal in the characters. I’d also save Macbeth for the same reason. It’s my favourite Shakespeare play, by far. The final one would probably be Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep. A lot of people think his books are just pulp detective tales, but there is so much more to them than that.

Vanadian Avenue: You made your official debut with “The Last Ghost” (also known as “The Spellbinder”), the first book in Belladonna Johnson Adventures series. Belladonna is not your typical heroine: she not only talks to ghosts but also lives with them…

British cover of  The Last Ghost

British cover of The Last Ghost

British cover of The Midnight Gate

British cover of The Midnight Gate

Helen Stringer: Yes. I wanted to do something different with the ghost story – create a character for whom they were not only real, but comforting. Belladonna’s parents died in a car crash a year before the action of the first book begins. But what could have been a tragedy is just a re-adjustment for Belladonna because her parents are still there, at home, looking after her. The only difference is that they can’t leave the house (ghosts have to choose a place to haunt), which forces Belladonna to be more independent. She’s also shy and somewhat introverted, never quite sure who is alive and who is a ghost. The kind of girl who keeps her head down and tries not to attract attention. When the ghosts all disappear and she realizes that she is the Spellbinder, she discovers a strength in herself that she didn’t realize was there. Of course, the fact that she is forced to work with Steve Evans, her opposite in almost every way, helps her find the confidence that she needs to defeat Dr. Ashe.

Vanadian Avenue:  Both “The Last ghost” and “The Midnight Gate” received wonderful reviews. Is there going to be a book three in the series? Will Belladonna ever find an arch enemy, somebody like Draco Malfoy to Harry Potter?

Helen Stringer: There is going to be a third book. It’s tentatively titled “The Lost Lands,” but that will probably change.  I’m three chapters in, so there’s a way to go yet! Belladonna does have an archenemy, but she doesn’t know it yet. (It’s not Sophie Warren, though.)

Vanadian Avenue: Your books are often mentioned alongside Jana Oliver (“Demon Trappers” saga), Holy Black (“Spiderwick Chronicles”), Tony Diterlizzi (“Wondla” saga), Frederic S Durbin (“Dragonfly”) and Jasper Fforde (The Dragonslayer series), as prime examples of literature that mixes magic with modern times. Did you expect this form of fantasy story telling to gather so much following and fanbase?

Helen Stringer: Fantasy stories have been a staple of children’s literature for well over 100 years, but we do seem to be in the middle of a “golden age.” I read lots of them when I was young. My favourite author back then was Alan Garner. His stories were darker and had more of an air of menace than many others. Most of them were set in and around Manchester as well, so he was writing about a world I recognized. I try to do the same with the Spellbinder books, which are also set in the north west of England.

Vanadian Avenue:  Let us mention two other great writers – Y S Lee (“The Agency” series) and Trenton Lee Steward (“Mysterious Benedict Society”) who base their novels around strong female characters. Belladonna, Elsie, Alma, Carolyn – your female characters are equally smart and self-reliant despite being young or adult, good or bad. How important is it for you to have strong female characters in a book?

Helen Stringer: It’s very important. When I was growing up, there were very few strong female characters in children’s fiction. The girls in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe series spent an awful lot of time crying and being nurturing. Alan Garner’s heroines had a bit more spunk, but it’s only relatively recently that really strong female characters appeared, who drove the story, rather than followed it. When I was young, my heroine was Elizabeth I – a woman who was fearsome indeed!

Vanadian Avenue: We have to admit that your newest book came as a huge surprise to your fans. “Paradigm” is completely different from everything else you have written so far – it is much more complex, darker and self published!

Helen Stringer: I wanted to go somewhere else for a while. Away from children and more towards the adults they might become. I’m also very interested in things like climate change, fracking, oil exploration, and all the other things that are affecting our planet. In most dystopian worlds, the collapse is the result of a single event, but I’ve always thought that our self-destruction would be slow and many-faceted. The result of negligence more than anything else. It is self-published, not because of any of those things, but because the traditional publishing industry is locked into the idea that “boys over the age of 12 don’t read” (that’s in quotation marks because that is exactly the way one agent put it to me in an email). As a result, they don’t want male protagonists in books aimed at older kids. It was even suggested that I turn Sam into Samantha! I was gobsmacked, really – an industry that is already struggling just giving up on an entire gender! Apart from the fact that if Sam became Samantha, then Alma would have to become a guy, and we’d have that same-old-same-old relationship dynamic that we’ve seen a thousand times before.

Paradigm cover

Paradigm cover

Stack of books - do you have a copy yet?

Stack of books – do you have a copy yet?

Vanadian Avenue: Tell us more about Sam – you gave him very unique talents and a classic car! Was writing about a male leading character any different or harder than before?

Helen Stringer: Not really. I was in rock bands when I was younger and then went to film school, both things that are dominated by guys. So I’ve not only been around them, I’ve also been a genuine friend (as opposed to interacting only in a sexual/attraction situation). I’ve seen how they behave together, how they often conceal their real thoughts and feelings, and what lengths they’ll go to in an effort to maintain an outward bravado while dying inside, particularly when they’re younger.

Vanadian Avenue: Is it true that you filmed a live action book trailer for “Paradigm” with entire filming crew and actors in California? Is so, where can we see it?

Helen Stringer: Yes. I want the trailer to be more like a movie trailer, so we spent three days in LA shooting entire scenes from the book, then an additional day back up in the Bay Area shooting the fabulous ’68 Pontiac GTO. It belongs to a guy who restored it from the ground up and the result is just gorgeous. I haven’t finished editing the trailer yet, but I’ll let know as soon as it is available.

Paradigm trailer clapperboard - picture by Katie Ferguson

Paradigm trailer clapperboard – picture by Katie Ferguson

Paradigm trailer being shot in the California desert - we love the red GTO!

Paradigm trailer being shot in the California desert – we love the red GTO!

Greg Albanetti as Sam and camera. Helen's favourite picture taken by wonderful photographer Katie Ferguson

Greg Albanetti as Sam and camera. Helen’s favourite picture taken by wonderful photographer Katie Ferguson

Vanadian Avenue: “Paradigm” is an excellent stand alone publication but it could also be the beginning of a new series for young adults. Are we going to see Sam again? Do you plan on creating a sequel?

Helen Stringer: It was supposed to be stand-alone, but a lot of people have been telling me they want to know what happens to Sam next. I’m thinking of taking him to the East Coast…which will be largely underwater and raining almost constantly.

Vanadian Avenue: Your next project is entitled “The Gloaming” but it is not a book. Can you tell us more?

Helen Stringer: The Gloaming is another ghost story, but the audience is adults not children, and I’ve decided to produce it as a six-episode web series, instead of as a book. The reason for that is that the more I thought about the story, the more I saw it playing out in my head like a movie. The story is about a man who has been in a coma for over 30 years. He’s in a long term care hospital, but no one ever visits. The only other person in the room is his ghost, Alex, who looks the same age he was when he had the accident. Alex can’t move on until the man in the bed dies. But he doesn’t die. He is suddenly occupied by something that has broken through the dimensional barrier and wakes up. A side effect of this is that the young ghost becomes corporeal again – so now there are two of him, an old version and a young version, only the old version isn’t really him. Alex runs and discovers that even though he’s alive again, he can still see all the ghosts. Now he has to learn to live in a world that’s changed almost beyond recognition from the one he knew, as well as discover what has taken his old body.

Vanadian Avenue: For Kickstarter campaign, you managed to gather an impressive group of collaborators including actress Tinkabell Lovelace, Josef Richardson (FX specialist) and writer David Jackson. Can you explain our readers how the campaign works and what the final product will be like?

Helen Stringer: The first thing we had to do was break down the script and create a realistic budget for the series. Then we had to shoot a video of me explaining what we’re trying to achieve, and anything else that would help people understand the story. That included the lead actor, Greg Albanetti, reading the opening chapter of The Gloaming that I wrote when I was still considering writing it as a book, and a mock-up of the title sequence. Once we’d done that we had to come up with rewards for people who pledge money.

The way that Kickstarter works is that when people are interested in being a part of a project, they pledge money toward the total budget. The money is not charged – it’s held by Amazon Bank until the full amount is raised. If we fail to raise the full amount by November 17th, the production doesn’t get any money and nobody’s card is charged. This system was designed to give the backers confidence that projects they back will actually get produced. Then there are the rewards! There are all kinds of thank you gifts for people who pledge $5 or more, including bookmarks, autographed scripts and books, a personalized ghoulish screensaver, visits to the set while we’re shooting, and even a dinner and séance at LA’s legendary Magic Castle. We were recently able to add an extra reward for everyone who pledges $25 or more: a limited edition Gloaming poster created by Marvel and DC illustrator, Bob Wakelin.

Logo used For Gloaming Kickstarter Campaign. The project is now being rewritten and  being prepared for re-launch

Logo used For Gloaming Kickstarter Campaign. The project is now being rewritten and  prepared for re-launch

The Gloaming series photo-shoot: Tinkabell Lovelace (as Veronica)  and Greg Albanetti (as Alex). Picture by Eric Staniford

The Gloaming series photo-shoot: Tinkabell Lovelace (as Veronica) and Greg Albanetti (as Alex). Picture by Eric Staniford

Vanadian Avenue: Is there anything you’d like to tell to your readers and fans? Any other plans for the future?

Helen Stringer: I think I should let all the fans of the Spellbinder books that Belladonna and Steve will be having another adventure soon – I’ve started the third book in the series: “The Lost Lands.” This one was inspired by British legends about mysterious islands that appear and disappear off the coast, and we’ll discover more about Belladonna’s Aunt, the Wild Hunt, Steve’s real mother, and what effect that little piece of Darkness will have on Belladonna.

Vanadian Avenue: Thank you so much for answering our questions and good luck!

Helen Stringer: Thank you!

Useful links about Helen:

HELEN:

Official site: http://www.helenstringer.net/Official Blog: http://helenstringer.net/blog/
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/hcstringer
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Helen-Stringer/21494907202081
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoQSE7pU1jrLmn93L1L8Smg
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hcstringer

WRITING:
MacMillan (publisher): http://us.macmillan.com/spellbinder-1/HelenStringer
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1463193.Helen_
Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Helen-Stringer/e/B001JSFBY2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

PARADIGM:
Official website:
http://helenstringer.net/paradigm/trailer.html
Article about Paradigm:
  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/02/prweb11540909.htm

If you have any questions about Helen her projects or books, please drop us a line and we will arrange her to contact you.Helen is known for taking a great care of her fans  so don’t be afraid and contact us at rdabrowicz at yahoo dot com.
No spam, you have been warned 🙂

As a good friend of ours said “Helen’s writing is the best thing since the invention of the wheel and French sliced bread”
Who can argue with such a recommendation?

xxxx
See you soon,
Rita and Mal