Month: December 2017

An Interview With Writer M.T. Bass

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M.T. Bass is the author of Murder by Munchausen; here is a link to his website:

 

http://www.mtbass.net/

 

Q: What is Murder by Munchausen about?

 

A: Technology run amuck—but what’s new about that, right? Well, in the near future, artificial intelligence and robotics have converged. Siri, Alexa and Cortana are not just voices in pods that sit on the coffee table eavesdropping on your life and fetching stuff from the Internet. They have extremely human like bodies – in fact, they are called synthetic humanoids, synthoids for short – and act as “Personal Services Assistants” to free us from dirty jobs and menial chores out in “meatspace.” Of course, mankind being mankind, there are those among us who hijack that technology for ill intent and profit, turning synthoids into contract killers. The police unit that tracks down the hackers and repos the murderous ‘bots is the Artificial Crimes Unit.

 

Q: What inspired you to write the book?

 

A: It’s never just one thing with me. Zombie stories being done to death – so to speak – gave me pause to ponder what other incarnate form evil could take. At the same time, guys like Elon Musk and Bill Gates are warning us that artificial intelligence will be the end of life as we know it. Suddenly, I had a vision in my head of the police take down of an android assassin which opens the book. And from there the story started writing itself. The first two installments of the opening trilogy are done.  Murder by Munchausen came out in April of this year and number two, The Darknet, will be released February 2, 2018.  I’m working on the “compelling conclusion” now.

 

Q: There have been a lot of novels based on Jack the Ripper; what makes your book different?

 

A: I’m not trying to retell the story of Jack the Ripper so much as I am using it to tell my story. Spoiler alert – Jack might not be the only serial killer involved in the series.

 

Q: What makes Jake worth reading about?

 

A: Jake is a good cop, but not a do-gooder. His willingness to bend the rules to save his partner Maddie’s career got him reassigned—in his mind, exiled—to the Artificial Crimes Unit. So he’s not a techno-wiz, but just a regular guy stuck in a strange new world and trying to make the best of it.

 

Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your writing?

 

A: I’m a self-employed sales rep for electro-mechanical component manufacturers who sell into the aerospace, medical and industrial automation markets.  It doesn’t so much influence my writing as it feeds the beast by getting me out from behind my desk and into the real world with lots of impressions of people, places and (yawn) corporate drama. At one point, I managed twenty-five states and five Canadian provinces.  I got a lot of writing done sitting in a United Airlines aluminum tube at thirty-five thousand feet on my way from here to there and back again.

 

 

Q: What is the biggest difference between your books and those of Philip K. Dick?

 

A: I might be admitting blasphemy, but I’ve not read Philip K. Dick. I may have seen the original  Blade Runner when it came out, but it’s a far faded memory. Once I got into writing the Munchausen series, I didn’t want to bring similar stories into my head.  There’s probably more Elmore Leonard or Michael Connelly in the books than the usual Sci-Fi suspects.

 

Q: What kind of formal training have you had?

 

A: I was an English major and a Philosophy major at Ohio Wesleyan University. My focus of study in the English Department was creative writing under novelist and poet Robert Flanagan (http://www.robertflanagan.com).  My senior thesis for my Philosophy major was on the metaphysical aspects of language – like why Eskimos have so many more words for snow than anybody else.  After I got out of school, I just wrote and wrote and wrote and kept writing to this day.

 

With regards to self-publishing, though, my first job out of college was supervising the Text Editing Center at the phone company where we prepared all of the internal manuals and technical documentation for publication.  It was a lot of typesetting and formatting, which has definitely come in handy in pushing my books out into the world.

 

Q: What have you done to promote your book?

 

A: The second installment of the opening trilogy for the series, The Darknet, is being released February 2, 2018.  I’ve discounted the eBook fifty percent for pre-orders and I’ve priced Murder by Munchausen at $.99 for readers.  I’m promoting those deals in as many places as I can.  If the Bookbubbas smile kindly on me, the first book will be free for a limited time in January.

 

Q: What is the worst advice anyone has given you about writing?

 

A: “Write what people want to read.” Every time I tried that, it was crap and I hated what I wrote. So, how could I expect a reader to like it?

 

Q: If you could program an android to kill someone, who would it be and why?

 

A: “I hereby invoke and refuse to waive all of the following rights and privileges afforded to me by the United States Constitution. I invoke and refuse to waive my 5th Amendment right to Remain Silent. I invoke and refuse to waive my 6th Amendment right to an attorney of my choice. I invoke and refuse to waive my 4th Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. If I am not presently under arrest, or under investigatory detention, please allow me to leave.”

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

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An Interview With Writer Alexander M Zoltai

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Alexander M Zoltai is the author of the novel, Notes From an Alien; here is a link to his website:

 

https://nfaa.wordpress.com/

 

Q: What is Notes From an Alien about?

A: Notes is the history of an alien family and the role they play in their worlds’ struggles to attain lasting peace and tranquility. It’s also about the final stages of a 500 year war between two planets that are in sharp contrast with each other; one a drippingly greedy Corporate world; one a completely superstitious Religious world. It’s also about a third planet that is, in its structure and function an Alien Being. So, there’s the ending of war, the beginning of peace, and the interaction of a number of different aliens. Ultimately, Notes is about what people can stand, how long they can stand it, and what they’d really rather have…

Q: What inspired you to write the book?

A: Well, I actually tried to write it four different times over an eleven year period—each time was a different way to deal with the major themes of corporate greed, religious fanaticism, justice, and peace. The first three attempts died of swift stillbirths; number four turned into the novel. My deeper desires for writing the book were all tied up in how people relate to each other—the power-grabbing types, the overly-passive types, the rational types, and the mad-as-a-hatter types—how they interact and what might be necessary for them to achieve some form of unity…

Q: What makes Sena a character worth writing about?

A: Well, her ancestors—who appear in the story well ahead of her—are part of what makes Sena a worthy character. The other thing is she’s my “co-author”. She wrote the Prologue for the novel and she gives folks the option to believe she’s real, or not… Within the confines of the book’s reality she’s the character who reaches out—in “electro-mental” ways—with us folks on Earth. The connection to Earth is my way of letting readers know, for sure, that what’s happened in their worlds clearly applies in our world…

Q: What made you interested in interviewing authors?

A: My blog’s primarily about writing; but, also about reading and publishing. I began the interviews because some of my early readers left such interesting comments on posts that I thought they deserved a spotlight post, so other readers could get to know them and their way of working. After the first five or so, I began to range wider—folks I’d met on Twitter, people I’d blogged about, friends I’d made in the Virtual World I visit every evening… I have, as of right now, 84 interviews—people with many books to their credit, many not yet published, many struggling with how to best publish, a few who seem to have figured it all out—the whole enterprise is totally fascinating…

Q: Who was your most memorable interview subject?

A: That has to be Jane Watson. There are two interviews now and I’m hoping to have a third, soon. The best way to indicate why I think her interviews are memorable is to quote just a few of her comments — On why she writes: “To find out, to access an inner world, to explore the possibilities of an image (because I think am a very visual writer), to process my experience.” — On her source of inspiration: “I find inspiration everywhere. Someone once said that a writer’s own life experience is like the piece of grit in an oyster, which the writer’s art and skill then transforms into a completely different and wonderful pearl.” — On what blocks many writers: “It’s my experience that many writers have a wonderful story that they could tell but they go out of their way NOT to tell that story. I believe this is because we are often fearful of recognising our own true authentic self that the story contains; i.e., we are fearful of accessing our own Inner Worlds.”

Q: Who are some of your writing influences and how is this evidenced in your writing?

A: My main “writing influence” comes from C. J. Cherry, Hugo award winner of over 60 Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels. This is “evidenced” in my writing by the way the experience of reading her has bolstered my commitment to write—not “like” her; but with the same devoted attention to character, theme, and plot she exhibits. Also, reading her helped set my mind free of the many misconceptions about writing that the Internet “Experts” poison minds with—she showed me how to write from “vistas” that aren’t derived from what other people are doing. Then, there are John C. Gardner, Robert Heinlein, and Ursula K. Le Guin. They “influence” me by the integrity and passion they exhibit in their work; which, I hope, is noticeable in my own work…

Q: What is the most successful thing you have done to promote your book?

A: Stopping the production of the print version through FastPencil (which stopped the book’s appearance on Amazon {except for a very few copies that are selling for exorbitant prices—prices set by God-knows-who…}) and publishing it on Smashwords for free; which is in concert with making it freely available on my blog and on Wattpad. Then, tweeting about it, in amongst all my other tweets that are about interesting Writerly things…

Q: What kind of formal training have you had?

A: I assume the “training” is about writing? If so, my training (which is “formal” to me but probably not others) is a life-time of reading everything I could get my hands on; plus, years of actually sitting down at the computer and writing, every day…

Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your writing?

A: My day job is writing; and, it influences my writing because writing, if pursued faithfully and regularly, will always positively influence one’s writing; but, I live on a small military pension…

Q: If you had a close encounter with an alien, what questions would you ask him or her?

A: Well, I feel like I’ve had a “close encounter” with an alien in my novel; but, that’s another story… A “real” alien? Hmmm… Assuming we could communicate, I would have to ask them for any advice they could share about writing. Then, I’d want to know their opinions on what could help Earth attain lasting peace and tranquillity. Then, ask if I could have a ride in their spaceship…

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

An Interview With Actor Mark Valeriano

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Mark Valeriano is an actor who appears in the web series #CaptchaLA; here is a link to his reel:

 

 

 

 

Q: What made you interested in acting? 

A: I had the most incredible, life changing experience when I was in school at FAU in Boca Raton FL. I had no idea what I was doing with my life, I was just going to school for a communication degree and then I found this opportunity to be a feature extra on Craigslist. When I showed up to the location they put me in basketball attire to play ball with Lil Romeo on the Miami heat court along with the rest of the cast of the reboot of Charlie’s angels. Which ended up getting cancelled, but when I was on set meeting all of them and watching this “whole thing” happening, it clicked in my brain. “This is what I am going to do the rest of my life.” And from that day until this very moment I have been working on this career non stop day after day and I absolutely love it.

 

Q: What is #CaptchaLA about? 

A: #CaptchaLA is an Instagram series that is currently in the states of being picked up so we can finish the rest of the first season. But we shot ten episodes all going to be a minute long for viewers on Instagram. Which I believe is a brilliant idea. When I got brought on to play “Mark” I was so stoked. The audition was different than many others but I loved the concept and loved my character. It follows two sets of friends living in LA and how they end up coming together. I don’t want to release too much now as we have so much planned for the future! Kareem Cox (Director) in my opinion has struck gold with this idea.

 

Q: What role do you play? 

A: So I play, ironically, “Mark” which was a perfect fit. I honestly like when my character name is my own name. I play the goof who thinks he’s too cool for school. He thinks he has a ton of game and in some ways I think he does. At least the confidence is there. But it isn’t always received well. But that doesn’t bother him. If one thing or move doesn’t work there’s ten more where that came from. Kind of douche but in a way that you still root for. Or at least I do. Definitely a character I connect with when I’m in my zone.

Q: What common characteristics do you share with the character? 

A: The common characteristics I share with my character are almost a mirror image. I am pretty much a comic relief character, always messing around thinking I’m cooler than I actually am but do have confidence in myself. It’s so fun because I get to goof around on set which is “in character” the whole time. And Kareem allows us to improv which I wish I could do all day long!

 

Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your acting?

A: My day job is cashier/food prep for a vegan cafe called Fala Bar. We have two locations at the moment and I bounce in between both: one on Abbot Kinney the other on Melrose. Both locations are so dope and have different customers, but it is the regulars that I love. So many characters so much life and when you meet around food everyone is in a great mood! Our food I will say hands down is amazing. Nearly everything is made in house and I do believe we make it with love. If you get a chance please stop in. Look out for me and I’ll make sure to give you that neighborhood discount! My job influences my acting in that I am constantly interacting with people. All day long. And how their experience is relies on me being able to adapt to whatever they are feeling. It allows me to examine and explore different types of people every shift. I am constantly learning new things from our customers and from the people I work with, which I believe is important just in life. Always being open to learning and growing as a person.

 

Q: Are vegans better or worse tippers than meat eaters?

A:  I can say, AT THE MOMENT, that from my experience meat eaters tip better0_o I use to work at a different cafe, which went out of business, but tips were boomin there. Here not so much. Just being honest. But the free food offer makes up for it for sure;_)

 

Q: Of all the characters you have played with whom do you have the least in common?

A: Of every character I have ever played I am not sure I can say any have really been of least in commonality. I believe every character that I’ve played has slightly been similar to myself. I am still very young but have experienced so much in my life and that allows me to explore those things and feelings over and over again and relive them in a new light. Which is amazing. I believe the reason I book the roles that I do is because I can make them all very personal and can feel what they are going through. Which allows me to tell their story with real honesty. And I love as well. I have come to terms with the fact that any experience you have good or “bad” is ultimately great and very necessary to our growth not only as an actor but as a human being.

 

Q: What is your strangest Los Angeles story?

A:  Strangest LA story… Wow, this is tough. I have been out here for two and a half years now and it feels like a lifetime. So many first times, so many new things but the strangest would have to be a dream I had at my old apartment. I was sleeping on my stomach when I felt someone grab my shoulder and pull me over out of bed and when I opened my eyes to see the person it was Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I physically felt the grab and pull and he was standing in the middle of my room, and then I woke up. I didn’t really know how to react besides getting up to turn the light off then falling back asleep. Then I woke up just opening my eyes and noticed a dark shadow in the corner of my room. I tried not to look at it as I could feel it’s presence and thought if I locked eyes it would consume me. Out of my periferials I saw it move to the bottom of my bed in which I began to pray hard until I fell back asleep. Only to later waking up standing in the middle of my room arms out to the sides and my head looking straight up at the ceiling. I was so scared and freaked out for two days I felt so out of it. I didn’t even know who to tell until I finally talked with a best friend from home that really brought me out of my funk. I have very intense dreams every night but this was by far the most intense and physical as well.

 

Q: If you could change one thing about the film industry, what would it be?

 A: If I could change one thing about the film industry it would have to be that we should focus more on character driven movies for the theatre. It feels as if there has been this shift or change to mainly focus on the effects or the so out of the ordinary or fantasy instead of grounding these characters. Because I believe every single person goes through so much in their life and to not touch on many of these things or to leave out so much emotion it just seems too simple. Every one is so complex I guess I just think we should explore that more, instead of some of the storylines or plots that we see hit the theater every Friday. That seems very generalized but movies like “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” or “A Guide to Knowing Your Saints” or even “127 Hours” are just real people going through real life situations. And I love to watch and try to connect with that.

 

Q: What makes for a compelling web series?

 

 

A: To me, what makes a compelling web series is one that has strong characters. You need to dig deep with each character because again, watching someone that is real do nearly anything can be entertainment. If we follow a character that knows exactly who they are then it allows us to go on a journey with them or almost as them. Great actors I believe can pull this off. And that’s why we watch them. For me at the moment, “Peaky Blinders” does this impeccably. You get to know who these characters are from the immediate beginning and we want to see what they go through without taking a break…#bingewatchtilltheend

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.