Thursday, December 23, 2021

Vegas, Baby!

Took a trip to Las Vegas to play in poker tournaments which I'd qualified for. Our crew went and had a terrific time. Here we are at breakfast. 

L to R: Jody, PJ, Joe, Effin' Dave, Ed, Shaun. John

Da boys

John in his element

   A Team event- The Dream Team: Andrew, Me, Effin' Dave, Chris

Andrew going strong

We got out some- here we are on Fremont street

The nightly Fountains

Inside the Bellagio, going to our awesome brunch

And we even got out to Hoover Dam, an incredible sight.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Interview With Author Alison Silvey

Happy holidays, all! Hope you're doing well. 

Today's treat is a chat with author Alison Silvey, who's got some delicious scary tales. 

(I made her pose for all these pics, so don't blame her!)

She also published under the pen name Kameryn James. 

In time for Christmas, here's a fun little book:

Q. So how did this novel come to be? Was it envisioned from the start as a bigger canvas, or did it expand organically out of an idea? Please tell us a bit about the origin. 

A. A Dreary, Rotten Underworld Christmas was born from my own stress and loss surrounding this holiday and the chaos people put themselves through to pull off this one day of the year. It was also greatly influenced by the beating many of us took during the year 2020, and the changes we made to emotionally survive.  

Q. Did you start with the germ of an idea and start writing to see where it went, or did you map a good deal out in your head (or even outline) before crafting? 

A. I hand wrote scenes in a journal as they came to me. It flowed more naturally and effective that way. I knew exactly where I wanted each of the three children – Monique (Mo), Jacoby, and Ivan - to end up, yet needed to smooth out transitions both in journals and on the computer screen. This novella is one of only two writing projects I truly let ideas and feelings flow.

Q. What do you feel is the main theme(s)? 

A. You better be good, for goodness sake! But, a bit more seriously, this is a children’s cautionary tale derived from the old Krampus folklore. But Dreary, Rotten Christmas is more than consequences of disregarding traditions or beliefs. It has modern elements of social media addicts and video game junkies, along with the trials of maturing and seeing beyond yourself.

Q. Why do you feel this is important, and what would you want a reader to take away from reading this book? 

A. Dreary has the classic elements of getting that Christmas gift your mind desires above all else, but sometimes with a price. It encourages responsibility and doing what we have to before what we want to do. I would like readers to take away the realization that we often put so much unnecessary strain on ourselves. We may not be perfect, but most of us do the best we can for our families and friends, even after Christmas.

Q. What makes a good book or engaging story? 

A. For me as a reader and watcher of streaming shows, it is the characters. Some must be relatable. But when writing contemporary magic, urban fantasy, or a retelling of a folk tale, we need those colorful and edgy characters. When writing horror under my pen name, a powerful and unforgettable antagonist is a must. I have also grown to appreciate side characters, as they provide comic relief, story twists, and help the protagonist(s) grow. In this rotten Christmas, I allowed the side characters to hijack the folk tale for a bit.

Q. Are there writers with similar themes to yours? Who are your influences (can be writers, or even artists, musicians, or others) and what is it about their work that attracts you? 

A. I adore that Neil Gaiman is not afraid to create strange worlds filled with oddball or seductive characters. When writing about horrible children wreaking havoc on holiday traditions, Barbara Robinson’s The Best Christmas Pageant Ever was a masterpiece from my own childhood reading.

Q. Is storytelling mostly entertainment, or does it serve other functions? Do you have particular goals other than telling a good story? 

A. Although my novellas have been primarily for entertainment purposes, readers will find aspects that have been inspired by my work in the mental health field or my own life experiences. In a Dreary, Rotten Underworld Christmas, I suppose I wanted certain readers to know they are not alone.

Q. Any other goals you've set for yourself, professionally or personally? 

A. Honestly, I would love to one day give up my day job and only write.

Q. Some writers write fast and claim not to rewrite much. Do you do this, or painstakingly revise? When you send the book off to the publisher, are you happy with it, or just tired of it? 

A. I have a Forever Work in Progress, which I am comparing the two versions of the novel, where I deleted hardly anything from either version. A few months ago, I sent a children’s book off to a publisher that was on the 5th revision, I think. I hit what Steve Pressfield called “the wall” in Do the Work. I told the story and now need a publisher’s view on how to perfect it. With Dreary I revised it like my other works, by attacking the printed draft with a red pen. I relied heavily on a style sheet to track corrections and changes. I consulted other writers and people about the intensity of some character names, such as Hack Frost, Splinter Green, and Splatter Mint. I needed to convey a band of unruly, dark elf like children, yet slightly struggled with some of the names. Mother Gwynelda, the towering caretaker of the children Krampus brings to the Underworld, had a few name changes and revisions to her speeches, mannerisms, and actions.

Q. If a writer came to you for advice, how would you help? 

A. A world of advice on writing exists in classes, workshops and online. There is a plethora of tools we can use now, such as writing apps. From my own experience, I would say try out what some people may advise. Yet, realize that what works for them may not work for you. I learned I am not organized enough to use notecards to outline stories. I minimally use bullet journaling to quickly jot ideas and changes. It will take time to find what best creative forms and tools suit you. Then, when you grow as an author, your routines may change.

Q. Stories can be told by using a different medium. Can you see your book as a film, audio, etc.? How would that alter the telling? 

A. I can absolutely see A Dreary, Rotten Underworld Christmas as a movie filled with pointy-eared children with green, blue, or peppermint striped hair. I don’t know how it would alter the telling. Maybe more emphasis on the Underworld setting.

Q. What's the next step in your writing world? 

A. Try to finish one of my works in progress, turn a short story into a picture book, or just let another new story completely take over all other projects.

Q. Tell us a fun fact about yourself. 

A. I have ten nieces and nephews-seven from my older siblings, and three from my husband’s side. At least fifteen babies can claim me as a great Aunty (though I just prefer Aunty). But I have no aunts, uncles, or cousins of my own.