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Interview with Director Jessica Leski

It is a great pleasure to welcome Jessica Leski, Director of I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story.

Jessica welcome to EverydayFangirl.com and thanks so much for taking the time to discuss this awesome Fangirl documentary project with us!

Patty: What does the title of this documentary signify?

Jessica: The title is a direct quote from one of the main characters in the film, Elif, a One Direction fan from Long Island, New York. It comes at a fascinating moment where she is at a backyard pizza party with friends and she starts spiraling into a 1D fantasy, imagining Niall Horan casually turning up to the party. She suddenly stops and catches herself and wails to her friends “This is not good! I used to be normal!” I loved this moment as she was both allowing herself to sink deep into her fandom fantasies, but was also aware and present enough to question her behaviour. Each of the characters in the film is struggling with what being a fan means to them and how to reconcile it with their ideas of growing up and being a woman in the world. That was something I found very interesting – the judgement and consequential shame that can come with loving a boyband and how to own it and celebrate it, rather than hide it away.

The film will hopefully lead audience members to question what is normal behaviour, and consider that they may have judged fans too quickly and too harshly.

Patty: What prompted you to create a documentary on this topic and who or what inspired you to?

Jessica: The fact that I had never liked a boyband before. When I was in high school in the late 1990s, arguably the golden era of boybands, I was actually dismissive of the entire phenomenon. The boys, their music and their fans didn’t interest me at all. But then in 2012, I was driving and heard the One Direction song “One Thing” on the radio. I remember scoffing at how simple the song was – they repeated the chorus so many times! But by the end of the song, it was stuck in my head. As soon as I got to my desk I looked up the video clip on Youtube. And I was hooked. That video clip in particular was such a magnificent introduction to boybands for me – the co-ordinated outfits, the hairstyles, the goofing around, the attempts at dancing. It was so innocent and wholesome and joyful. This led to an internet spiral into the world of One Direction. I had never been a fan of something since the internet had become such a huge part of my life. And so I was floored by how much access I could have to material – photos, articles, videos. This felt so different from being a fan when I was a teenager, carefully cutting photos out of magazines to stick into a scrapbook. It very quickly followed that I discovered how truly amazing fans of this era are. I was astounded by how talented, creative and hilarious these 1D fans were. I’d never seen fan art before, or read fan fiction or seen a twitter hashtag take off. It made me think that I may have misjudged the Backstreet Boys and Nsync fans I’d known when I was a teenager. And I started to think that I’d like to see a film that gave boyband fans a voice, away from judgment and ridicule. I didn’t feel like I’d ever seen them treated that way.

Patty: What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a creator and how does your work reflect some of these attributes?

Jessica: Ha ha, this is a great question! I think you have to be a little bit insane to be a filmmaker, or probably to be any creative person trying to make a living as an artist. Finding that balance between sanity and insanity is challenging for sure. I think what is key for me is deeply loving the projects I work on. You are stuck with them for so long and you have to constantly defend them and hype them up. It really helps if the love you feel is real, to put it mildly. You have to believe in yourself and your ideas, even if those around you are implying or even outright stating that you shouldn’t.

I also think that finding collaborators who share a common vision and drive is so important. This can be very hard to find, but so worthwhile for those moments when you feel that you’re a part of a cohesive and inspiring team. Documentary teams are very small and intimate so it’s essential to find people who have different but complimentary skills to your own.

Patty: What kind of research did you have to do for this documentary and how is this different from others you may have worked on before?

Jessica: Researching for this film was so much fun! Sometimes too fun – and the lines between work and play were easily blurred. I lost track of how many times I tried to convince Rita, the producer, that scrolling through tumblr and instagram were not just important, but absolutely critical activities. But arguably they were; we found some of our key interview subjects online!

Beyond delving into boyband history starting from The Beatles to today, I also researched a lot about the history and evolution of pop music, our physiological reactions to music and the teenage brain. We interviewed a wide range of people in the first year of making the film – musicians, psychologists, neurologists – even former boyband members! The film evolved a lot over the years we were filming, which was a very different experience for me. It was often challenging, wanting things to move along faster, but also a blessing to have had such a large amount of time to research, explore and grow with the characters.

screen shot 2019-08-12 at 2.04.08 pm

Patty: How did you decide which Boy Bands to cover and which Fangirls to interview?

Jessica: In my very early plans and ideas for the film I wanted to cover as many boybands and as many different kinds of fans as possible. However I realized what was at the heart of this project was a desire to demystify the boyband fan, to allow audiences access to a kind of person who routinely gets judged in a negative light or simply dismissed. I decided to focus instead on a key group of fans that were smart, honest and open and had had a wide range of experiences. All that mattered to me was that their bands were different and that they were from different generations.

It’s been very rewarding to have audience members communicate how much they connect with the stories in the film, whether their particular boyband was focused on or not. Even more rewarding is when fans of entirely different things can see themselves in these women – we’ve had horror movie fans, heavy metal music fans and fantasy novel fans all feel a deep sense of connection with these stories.

Patty: Love how diverse the documentary is and that it spans multiple eras. Was this a conscious decision during the process or was this something that developed organically?

Jessica: Yes this was something that was very important to me. Because I came to boyband fandom later in life, I had a distinct feeling of having missed out on what had come before. I had so many questions for fans of different generations. I wanted to explore how being a fan may have shifted and evolved over the last 50 years and also if being a young woman had changed. I think the findings were really surprising.

Patty: How long did this project take and when/where will this be released?

Jessica: We started filming this project in 2013 and followed the key characters for a number of years. The film had its world premiere at Hot Docs in Toronto in 2018 and has spent the last year traveling to film festivals all around the world. It will be released onto various US digital streaming platforms from September 17th 2019 (Amazon, InDemand, DirecTV, AT & T, FlixFling, Vudu, FANDANGO, Sling/Dish).

Patty: What are you a fan of and for how long? Are Boy Bands your passion too or is it something else entirely?

Jessica: I’d say I’m a fan of boyband fans even more than the actual boybands themselves. But a large part of my heart will always belong to One Direction, as they were the catalyst for this journey and the reason I got to meet so many incredible people and work with such a wonderful team. I’m holding out for the reunion tour… I’m thinking maybe 2030? 😉

Patty: What makes you laugh?

Jessica: I am still feeling all the good feelings from watching the first season of Pen15 earlier this year. I ADORED it. I also love watching Broad City re-runs. Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer are absolute geniuses.

Patty: How would you describe yourself and your creative process?

Jessica: I’m both focused and easily distracted. So many things in the world fascinate me. I feel like documentary filmmaking gives me permission to sit back and observe, and that’s one of my favourite states to be in. I like to give my creative process a lot of flexibility. I find if I get too fixed on one idea or one way of doing things it closes the door to opportunities, and a great thrill about making documentaries is all the unexpected things that can happen along the way.

Patty: Anything else you would like to share?

Jessica: As mentioned previously, the film will be released on digital platforms (Amazon, iTunes, DirecTV, AT&T, FlixFing, InDemand, Vudu, FANDANGO, Sling/Dish) on Sept. 17th. Find out more about this release through the following links:

I Used To Be Normal Madman Films Page/
Rotton Tomatoes

Interview with Author Kayelle Allen

It is a great pleasure to welcome Kayelle Allen author of Antonello Brothers series.

Welcome Kayelle to The Adventures of the Everyday Fangirl and thanks so much for taking the time out your busy schedule to help us get to know more about you and your stories better!

What does the title of this novel, series or set of stories signify?

Bro is a prequel to the Antonello Brothers series. The brothers were separated when Senth was born, and until Senth was eighteen, he didn’t know his older brother existed. Khyff had spent his life hating his younger brother, because his mother abandoned Khyff to save Senth, and he never saw her again. When he finds out Senth is alive, he is single-minded in his decision to find out what happened to his mother–and kill Senth. Since this book is a prequel to the two sci fi romances where the boys find their forever loves, you know Senth doesn’t die. But why not? What happened that brought these two together? And who was instrumental in orchestrating it? There are secrets everywhere and that’s the real story behind Bro.

Do the names of the characters in your novel have some sort of significance or importance to you? If so, give a few examples…

Once I have the name of the character, I have their backstory and history. It’s weird. For me, the name ties up everything. I once had an editor suggest I change the name of a character because she felt it didn’t sound “sci fi” enough. I’m sure that works for some people, but not for me. Once I know that character’s name, that’s it. In the case of the editor, what she didn’t know was that the character had already been in three published books. Fat chance of changing it then!

What prompted you to write in this genre and who or what inspired you to?

I’ve been a sci fi fan since I was a child. My parents always had those types of books around and I was an avid reader. We watched things on TV like Twilight Zone and the Outer Limits. I grew up with Star Trek and all the other classic sci fi shows. I watched westerns as a kid too, but that’s not even close to my favorite genre. I also love suspense and Regency romance.

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer and do your characters reflect some of these attributes?

You think there are sane writers? That’s so cute. None exist in the crowd I hang out with. Most of my author friends could buy that poster that says, “Writing is cheaper than therapy.” My characters deal with all sorts of issues. Let’s see… Pietas, my immortal king, won’t lie. Ever. He’s a pathological truth-teller. Luc Saint-Cyr, who’s in every book in the Antonello Brothers series, thinks of himself as a monster, yet he’s one of the kindest people you’d ever meet. That said, if you mess with his adopted son, Senth, he will have no mercy. Senth is half-human and half-feline humanoid Kin, and he’s grown up being bullied. He handles it with humor and by pranking people. He’s a blast to write. I really don’t think any of my characters are what you’d call “normal” people. Real people are far more interesting. Which would you rather read about? A guy who always does the right thing because that’s what’s good to do, or one who does the right thing because deep down, he fears if he doesn’t, he’ll revert to being a monster? A person with layers and issues is always going to offer the best bet for a great story.

What kind of research did you have to do for the novel, series or set of stories that was different from others?

I subscribe to magazines, which contain more current info than books, including Astronomy, National Geographic, and Discover. I watch a lot of sci fi and futuristic movies. I read fiction books for fun, but also to study the styles of other authors. My biggest research lately has been in the writing field. I discovered a program called Save the Cat! which revolutionized how I plot books. I have a new Antonello Brothers book in progress now, using that system. It’s so much easier to see where the story is going using it. I probably bought more writing craft books this year than I did fiction, and I buy a lot!

What makes you laugh?

Wry and ironic humor. I’m not a fan of sitcoms. Most of the humor is forced. Stories written trying to be funny. To me, laughter comes out of a twist of ironic fate. I love Jackie Chan movies because the funny parts are where he is reacting to being smacked or hitting something too hard, or figuring out how to grab the nearest anything to defend himself. He’s the clown prince of martial arts, and his body language is what tells the story and makes it funny. He doesn’t rely on dirty words to get across what he’s trying to say. It’s not a violent attack — it’s ingenious defense. I think that’s what makes his movies funny. They’re fast-paced studies in irony. I laugh my head off watching them. Same thing with the original Pink Panther movies.

What makes you cry?

Injustice and bigotry. I wish people would leave others alone and let them live their lives. Go do you and leave everybody else alone. You don’t like their lifestyle? Don’t live it.

What are you a fan of and is this reflected in your writing?

I love art and I use it to inspire myself as I write. Visit my website and you’ll find oodles of images of Pietas, portrayed by a Russian cosplayer named Nik Nitsvetov who cosplayed my character for me last year. Nik is currently creating the uniform and weapons for Pietas and later this summer, he’ll portray him again. You can find out when and where to see it by reserving your spot here. https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/r4x1j4 Once you sign up, you’ll have an option to join an additional group or only hear about the cosplay.

Is there anything else you want to add about the story, series that has not already been mentioned?

I’m writing A Stolen Heart, which is set when Senth is three years old. It’s why and how he came to be adopted by Luc. The cover shows him as a cute little boy with curly hair and big blue eyes, which have the slashed pupils of a cat. I can’t wait to release this book. I’m about to write the finale.

What is the best way for readers to interact with you?

I answer email and respond to comments on social media. All my contact info is listed on my website. I call it my homeworld, because everything I do originates there. https://kayelleallen.com

You can also find me through the following:

Reader Groups https://kayelleallen.com/reader-groups/

Twitter http://twitter.com/kayelleallen

Pinterest http://pinterest.com/kayelleallen/

Instagram https://instagram.com/kayelleallen/

Facebook http://facebook.com/kayelleallen.author

Amazon Author page http://amazon.com/author/kayelleallen

Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kayelle-allen

Booksprout https://booksprout.co/author/914/kayelle-allen

Where can we find more info about your books?

The Antonello Brothers series is available on Amazon, in Kindle Unlimited. The links below will take you to the Amazon for your region of the world.

Bro https://books2read.com/u/bwqyAy

At the Mercy of Her Pleasure https://books2read.com/u/m2o9P1

For Women Only https://books2read.com/u/38go96

Interview With Author Vivien Jackson

It is a great pleasure to welcome Vivien Jackson author of More Than Stardust.

Welcome Vivien to The Adventures of the Everyday Fangirl and thanks so much for taking the time out your busy schedule to help us get to know more about you and your stories better!

What does the title of this novel, series or set of stories signify?

The series was titled by my publisher, who chose to just go with the title of the first book, Wanted and Wired. It’s … essentially descriptive? I’m self-publishing this third and final book in the series, though, so I got to call all the shots, which was kind of harrowing but also unexpectedly fun. I chose the title More Than Stardust as a reference both to the famous Carl Sagan quote and the classic science fiction book More Than Human, by Theodore Sturgeon. Like the creature in Sturgeon’s novel, my heroine Chloe is post-biological and sort of the next step in humanity.

Do the names of the characters in your novel have some sort of significance or importance to you? If so, give a few examples…

Chloe has no last name because she’s a self-aware nanorobotic artificial intelligence, first of her kind, with no lineage or family. So I chose to omit her dude’s last name as well. He’s just Garrett, no last name, to put them on a level playing field.

What prompted you to write in this genre and who or what inspired you to?

I have read and loved science fiction all my life, but when I started thinking about writing for publication, the romance community was so warm and supportive. They made me want to learn how to write romance, so I educated myself. My books ride the line between science fiction and romance, and as a result they sometimes read wrong for folks who really dig one of those genres and really, uh, don’t the other.

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer and do your characters reflect some of these attributes?

Ha! The phrase “sane as a writer” does not compute. I embrace the insanity.

What kind of research did you have to do for the novel, series or set of stories that was different from others?

Research for the series overall wasn’t even work; it was just reading in areas that I read anyhow—books and articles by futurists and scientists, chiefly. For More Than Stardust, I got to research Antarctica, too, which was something I hadn’t done before and was so much fun I want to go there now.

What makes you laugh?

So many things. My pets, my family, Deadpool, these crazy wrens who’ve built a nest on my porch and freak out every time I open the back door.

What makes you cry?

So many things…

What are you a fan of and is this reflected in your writing?

For oh, maybe twenty years, I have been a devoted, fan-fiction-writing, cosplaying fan in several fandoms – Tolkien, X-Files, Farscape, Terminator, Firefly, Star Wars – and if you look close in all my books, you’ll see lots of in-jokes and references.

Is there anything else you want to add about the story, series that has not already been mentioned?

Ha! I could talk about it all day, but that would be boring. I guess…the first book in the series is the one that gets all the attention, but I think More Than Stardust is my favorite. I love Chloe so much and really tried to give her a worthy story.

What is the best way for readers to interact with you?

I’m just me, no assistant, so when you find me on social media, I’m … me. On Twitter that’s @Vivien_Jackson, and if you hang out on Facebook, I have a private reader group where I post a lot of inside information and excerpts and silliness: Viv’s Vortex of Readers and Space Vodka (https://www.facebook.com/groups/2193046674256564/)

My books can be found through the following links:

Wanted and Wired

Perfect Gravity

More Than Stardust (releases 7/9/19, but pre-orderable now):

More about Vivien

Bio: Vivien Jackson writes fantastical, futuristic, kissing books. Her debut science fiction romance, Wanted and Wired, was selected as an Amazon Best Book of 2017 in the romance category and a Romance Writers of America RITA finalist. It also won an SFR Galaxy Award. A devoted fangirl and inveterate gamer, Viv lives in Austin, Texas. Hang out with her on Twitter @Vivien_Jackson or on the web at VivienJackson.com.

Interview with Author Veronica Scott About CAMRON

The Adventures of The Everyday Fangirl welcomes back author Veronica Scott to talk about her newest release in the Badari Warriors series, CAMRON.

What does the title of this novel, series or set of stories signify? Do the names of the characters in your novel have some sort of significance or importance to you?

I’m pretty basic on my book titles for the current series, the Badari Warriors. Each book has the name of the hero, which in this case is Camron. The Badari were genetically engineered by alien scientists, using bits and pieces of DNA from various species but the dominant set of humanoid DNA gives the Badari a form of ancestral memory (and some other attributes like their own language), so they know they’re men and not merely lab experiments. This frustrates the alien scientists, who use a numerical designation for each man, but the Badari rely on their self-knowledge as a strong core of resistance. This is the eighth generation of the experiment, so Camron is ‘820’ to the aliens and regarded by them as an animal, but nothing can impair his deep seated dignity and sense of self-worth.
If I was giving the novel a more descriptive title, I’d probably call it ‘something something hunted’, because Camron and the human heroine Gemma are turned loose on the planet’s surface with a three hour head start and then the top alien security officer plans to hunt them like big game, as a trophy for his private exhibit on the home world. Of course nothing is fair about this hunt, but once again the aliens underestimate both Camron and the human, as they’ve done to their regret in earlier books with other pairs. There are a number of old movies featuring this hunt trope, which I’ve enjoyed, and I always wanted to write a book featuring this aspect of danger…so now, with CAMRON, I have.

What prompted you to write in this genre and who or what inspired you to?

I love science fiction because literally anything is possible and a story can be set anywhere I want to place it. And of course, there must be romance! When it comes to this specific subgenre of the genetically engineered hero or heroine, I’m inspired by Lora Leigh and her Breeds series, and Laurann Dohner and her New Species series. Christine Feehan’s Ghostwalker series also has major elements of this type of situation. I love all three series, but the authors can only write so fast and I always want more to read, so that was certainly a factor in writing my own variation. Of course being me, I wanted to put my soldiers in the far future, on an alien planet and make it adjacent to my already existing Sectors scifi romance universe. There are a lot of intriguing aspects of the basic situation as I’ve laid out the worldbuilding, which includes hundreds of human colonists kidnapped by the aliens for more experiments; an ancient alien Artificial Intelligence hiding on the planet; the Badari goddess or Great Mother, who adds that mystical or fantastical element I like to use sparingly in my SFR; several strains of Badari…just endless factors that allow me to have fun storytelling and which hopefully the readers enjoy. In the last book, KIERCE, the hero was an actual shifter, due to manipulation of his special DNA by the aliens, versus only having some of the feline, wolflike or reptilian traits as the others do.

What kind of research did you have to do for the novel, series or set of stories that was different from others?

I tend to research things as they come up in the course of a story. I’m more into the action, adventure and romance than setting forth a lot of “could be future science” discussion. They have blasters, they use blasters, no one ever explains how they work. (I deliberately use the term blasters because it’s a retro scifi term and I always wanted blasters in my books!) It helps that my alien scientists have their own science and technology and I feel no compunction whatsoever to explain any of it. Believe it or not, I’ve researched things ranging from strip poker variations to bad reactions to blood transfusions to facts about tigers for this series.

What makes you laugh?

I’m not a big laugher. I’m more of a chuckle here and there. For me probably it’s a clever turn of phrase, light sarcasm or a humorous moment unexpectedly. At one point in CAMRON, the heroine Gemma tells him, “I feel like a naked elf having a spa day…” and I’ve had readers tell me they enjoy her sense of humor throughout the book.
Some of Sandra Boynton’s comics make me smile. Robin Williams was a once in a lifetime funny man. Georgette Heyer’s Regency novel “Cotillion” makes me laugh out loud in places. In classic scifi, Eric Frank Russell and Christopher Anvil could bring on the grins and chuckles at times. My toddler grandson can always make me laugh with the way he looks at the world and processes things!

What makes you cry?

There’s a really emotional scene in the third Badari book, TIMTUR, where someone dies during the night (not the hero or heroine!) and I cried buckets of tears while I was writing it. Really took me by surprise because I’ve never cried before or since over my own writing. Death or a long term parting is a trigger for me in a book or a movie I’m reading or consuming, probably because I’m a widow. That’s one reason I stick firmly to romance because there’s always an HEA. SPOILER: When the Master Harper Robinton died in Anne McCaffrey’s excellent Dragonriders of Pern series, I cried my eyes out. She wrote it well, there was no other outcome possible for him at that point…but I HATED it anyway. I’ll never be writing a scene like that for any of my major characters. Nope. Not happening.

Is there anything else you want to add about the story, series that has not already been mentioned?

This is the eighth book in the Badari Warriors world (and the seventh book in the numbered series) and each novel has a satisfying Happy for Now ending for the hero and heroine, not a cliffhanger. Some overarching issues do remain unresolved in each book since this is an ongoing series but romance always wins the day in my novels!
BADARI WARRIORS Timeline:
AYDARR
MATEER
TIMTUR
JADRIAN
DARIK
GABE
KIERCE
CAMRON
And Books 1-3 are available as a boxed set

Here is the blurb for CAMRON: Dr. Gemma Madarian is far from her home in the human Sectors, kidnapped along with hundreds of other humans to be used for horrifying experiments conducted on a remote planet by alien scientists.
She and another prisoner, Camron of the Badari, are the only survivors of a deadly crash landing. She’s paired up with the genetically engineered soldier by their mutual enemies and sent fleeing through rough country, hunted for pleasure by an enemy officer and his ferocious trackers.
The enemy wants a triumphant kill. Gemma and Camron want to survive.
Camron never dreamt of having a mate but Gemma shatters his preconceptions and makes him desperate to do everything in his power to save her life and claim her for his.
There’s no help or refuge to be had in the desert where they’re fleeing for their lives.
Or is there?
Will Camron and Gemma live to fight another day and explore the growing attraction between them, or will ancient secrets and bitter rivalries end their bid for freedom?

What is the best way for readers to interact with you?

I’m on Facebook and Twitter almost all the time! Too much, no doubt…
You can also stay up to date on all my releases by signing up for my Newsletter or visiting my Blog.
Thanks for having me as your guest!

Thanks Veronica for the interview!

About Veronica Scott
USA Today Best Selling Author, as well as the “SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happy Ever After blog, Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.

Seven time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances! She recently was honored to read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “The City On the Edge of Forever.”

You can learn more about Veronica Scott by checking out her Blog, her Amazon Author Page, and by following her on Twitter or Facebook.

Interview with Author AK Shelley

It is a great pleasure to welcome AK Shelley author Star Knight Errant: Thrust.

Welcome AK to The Adventures of the Everyday Fangirl and thanks so much for taking the time out your busy schedule to help us get to know more about you and your new story better!

What prompted you to write in this genre and who or what inspired you to?

This story was the cumulation of several separate threads in my life. For years, I’d wanted to write a romance to fulfil my membership requirements for Romance Writers of America, but I had few inspirational ideas that fit the form of a traditional romance, especially when it came to an HEA (happily ever after).

I’m a huge fan of speculative genres—science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal stories. I’ve been writing fantasy for years under a different pen name (Angela Shelley) and had always intended to write scifi one day. Then with the climate of the past couple years, in which science is not held in high regard by many people, it just seemed an important thing to elevate. It’s where I wanted to put my energy.

And, this particular story came to me in a dream, of all things. I dreamt the first scene almost exactly as it’s written—with the blue, axe-wielding Devants, non-responsive AI, the superhero, and all. When I woke, I had a bit of a eureka moment. Finally, the romance I could write!

So I wrote it for all of my friends at RWA who’d encouraged me over the years—Louisa Bacio, Kathleen Harrington, Dax Varley, Tara Lain, and many, many others (too many to list). And then I entered the story in two contests, mostly because I’d also promised these people I’d enter something as soon as I could (last year, they expanded rules for many unpublished writers’ contests to include those who’ve published but not in that particular genre—prior to that change I was over-qualified to enter). When the story won both contests, I was amazed. As a result of those contests, I sold the story to an editor at The Wild Rose Press. I’m very grateful people enjoy this crazy dream story as much as I do.

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer and do your characters reflect some of these attributes?

Remaining sane as a writer—that phrase makes me laugh! Like writers, as opposed to any other profession, have a particular challenge to remain sane. I have heard talk of a high number of writers fighting depression or anxiety. However, these problems are prevalent in our society overall, and I don’t believe writers have any special affinity toward these particular difficulties. I have noticed some writers tend to have especially big egos, though. Many tend to reify themselves as author, or best-selling author, or award-winning author. Then when they don’t find the success or accolades they believe are deserving of that label, they become upset. They forget that are not the label. So being aware of the pitfalls of ego is helpful for a sanity-check.

The key for success in any career, I think, is to hold the primary reason that convinced you to enter the field like a flame in your heart. The highest motivations are those centered around helping others, and they will give you energy to complete your task even when you don’t succeed. Of course, if your reason for writing is primarily selfish—to become famous or wealthy—then that won’t be much help when you encounter obstacles, which we all do, from time to time.

And then, beyond that, it can help to remember everything in this life is impermanent. Everything about this life comes together and falls apart. Life is just like that. Writing isn’t outside of that. You can’t cling to it. You need to come to a space where you are at peace with what you do and who you are. Sometimes that will include writing. Sometimes not.

Writing can be a powerful tool for spiritual development. But like all tools, it is neutral in nature. You need to wield it in a positive direction for it to have a positive result.

What kind of research did you have to do for the novel, series or set of stories that was different from others?

In my previous stories, mostly fantasy, I researched mythological creatures, climate change, and magical systems. So they were completely different from this one. Here, my research has been about what we know of Mars, the solar system, and the Andromeda Galaxy. Speed of light, space travel, stuff like that. And since I’ve been a fan of scifi for a long time—I’ve even done a little science journalism, much of what I write stands on the information I’ve gathered in the past. There is also a bit of a magical element hidden in the romance, and that research was based on some non-western traditions of spiritual development and healing through intimacy.

What else do you want to share about Star Knight Errant?

I am happy to share this teaser trailer and blurb for Star Knight Errant!

When newly-divorced Martian Air Science Engineer Cass Hedley takes a dare to use her new Home Artificial Intelligence system for a night of fun, there’s only one man she can imagine spending time with: her school-girl crush, the legendary comic book hero Star Knight Errant. She imagines strong hands, hard abs, and bubble baths, but her black market AI has another idea: an illegal fight club that will only end in the companion’s—or her own—death.
When Evander Mór transports to an unknown desert planet, he’s not surprised. Transport clones disappear often enough to not cause alarm. Back home on Exeter, his origin will see his cloning data didn’t arrive at Station Alpha and he’ll send another. Meanwhile, he’ll figure out what backwater he’s found himself on and enjoy the company of this gorgeous, sassy scientist. And apparently destroy a house AI bent on murder. But when things get hotter than a supernova between him and Cass, he discovers he’s only got 18 hours to stop the AI, convince her he’s more than fiction, and find a way to cross the gulf between galaxies to bring her home with him.
Star Knight Errant: Thrust, is expected August 26, 2019 through The Wild Rose Press.

What is the best way for readers to interact with you?

Readers can interact and find out more about me and my stores through the following ways…

http://akshelley.com

https://twitter.com/AKShelley_

https://www.facebook.com/AKAShelley

https://www.instagram.com/akaskelley/

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/883424453

https://www.amazon.com/author/akshelley

https://www.thewildrosepress.com/

 

Interview with AW Cross about Clara, Dreaming

It is a great pleasure to welcome back A.W. Cross author of Novel/Series: Clara, Dreaming: A Science Fiction Romance Sandman Retelling (Foxwept Array Book 2).

Welcome back A.W. to The Adventures of the Everyday Fangirl and thanks so much for taking the time out your busy schedule to help us get to know more about your latest release!

What does the title of this novel, series or set of stories signify?

Clara, Dreaming is the second book in my current Foxwept Array series, which are SFR fairy tale retellings. Clara is the heroine of this particular story. In it, she must save Nate, the man she’s loved since childhood from the clutches of the Sandman, an unethical virtual reality scientist who is manipulating Nate’s dreams.

What prompted you to write in this genre and who or what inspired you to?

My son and I love reading fairy tales together, and scifi romance is one of my favorite genres. For me, it was a natural fit! I was inspired to write this particular book after a week of extremely peculiar dreams I had as a result of the medication I take for my chronic illness (Crohn’s disease). I spent a day in bed wondering, what does it all mean? Which of course, led me down the rabbit hole of what dreams mean in general. Are they messages from the future? The past? A sinister government tool? Or just a result of too much cheese? I’ve always been a very vivid dreamer!

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer and do your characters reflect some of these attributes?

I actually do see some of myself in Clara, or at least, the person and writer I want to be. She’s very cool-headed and pragmatic, responding to things with logic and rationality rather than emotion. I find the days that I’m able to do this as a writer are the best, as I don’t get frazzled by deadlines or by spending forty minutes trying to find just the right word (which I’ll then delete thirty seconds later). That being said, when she needs to use her emotions to accomplish something, Clara does it in spades!

What kind of research did you have to do for the novel, series or set of stories that was different from others?

For Clara, Dreaming, I researched the concept of tactile virtual reality in terms of emotional and physical therapy. Although it’s only in its infancy at the moment, this is something I can see being a huge component of therapy in the future, especially for those with severe chronic illnesses or significantly debilitating conditions. It would also provide greater options for emotional therapies by taking patients out of an office or hospital setting.

I also researched haptic (tactile feedback) technology, imagining how it could be used if it were an implant sending signals to our nervous systems—both to help, and to hurt.

What are you a fan of and is this reflected in your writing?

I’m a huge fan of strong imagery and symbolism, so I always try to make that come through in my writing, especially in more surreal elements such as dream sequences. I’ve lately also rediscovered my passion for formal language (the language in which most fairy tales are written). In fact, I ended up having to rewrite large parts of Clara because that formality seeped through into my own writing, to the point where it read like historical fiction rather than SFR. On the plus side, those original scenes will make fun exclusive content for my newsletter!

What is the best way for readers to interact with you?

Facebook and Twitter! I always love to hear from people 😀

A.W. Cross is made of 100% star stuff. She write social science fiction romance and lives in the gorgeous wilds of Canada with her family and a deep nostalgia for the 80s.

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Interview with Author: Karen Janowsky

It is a great pleasure to welcome Karen Janowsky author The Persistence of Memory Book 1: Deja Vu.

Welcome Karen to The Adventures of the Everyday Fangirl and thanks so much for taking the time out your busy schedule to help us get to know more about you and your new series better!

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What does the title of this novel, series or set of stories signify?

The Persistence of Memory is actually a painting by the surrealist artist, Salvador Dali. It features a dreamscape with clocks melting. The interpretation is that time as we understand it is meaningless.

In this story, time is at the heart of the conflict. The characters are both from different time periods, and time has gone by at different rates for them. Somehow though, they keep finding each other—love and connection are more important than the passage of time.

Do the names of the characters in your novel have some sort of significance or importance to you? If so, give a few examples…

Daniel is named for the Biblical figure who was thrown into a den of lions as punishment for his faith. His faith, however was what allowed him to survive. Daniel in this story is also a survivor, even though his faith has been utterly shaken.
Inanna is another name the Sumerian goddess Ishtar goes by. In this story, I’ve made her into a separate but related character to the goddess.

What prompted you to write in this genre and who or what inspired you to?

Superheroes and mythology have fascinated me since childhood. In fact one is really a modern version of the other. Heroes in these stories are all-too-human, but the stakes in their decisions and actions are much higher than for everyday people.

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer and do your characters reflect some of these attributes?

I’ll let you know once the characters have moved their residence from inside my head! They’ve been living there, driving the writing for over two years.

What kind of research did you have to do for the novel, series or set of stories that was different from others?  

A lot of research went into this story: Sumerian civilization, mythology, and language, life in the 1930’s, the Second World War, Yiddish and Hebrew as languages, how to fight in various situations, and what certain intimate positions looked and felt like.

What makes you laugh?

I’ve got a pretty dry sense of humor, and I tend to like British comedians, like Eddie Izzard and (although he lives in the U.S. now) Craig Ferguson.

What makes you cry?

I’m a big sucker for happy endings. Loss makes me cry.

What are you a fan of and is this reflected in your writing?

I’m a huge superhero fan, and a Doctor Who fan. So both the superhero genre and time travel loom large in the story. I also love and research fairy tales, and several of my published poems and short stories are retellings of them.

Is there anything else you want to add about the story, series that has not already been mentioned?

Book 1 starts off a slow burn romance. Daniel and Nina have a lot to work through and resolve before they can really be together. But it does happen, and by Books 2 and 3, the romance borders on erotica as they explore their relationship and sexuality.

What is the best way for readers to interact with you?

You can find out more about The Persistence of Memory Book 1: Deja Vu by visiting Goodreads or Amazon. I WILL have a Facebook fan page and author web page soon; my publisher is still developing them. Until then, they can reach me at author@karenjanowsky.com.

LEGO Star Wars Animation Panel Highlights and Interview with Moderator Steve Dunk

LEGO Star Wars Animation Panel Highlights

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Lucasfilm’s Leland Chee and LEGO’s Jason Cosler.

One of my must see panels at Star Wars Celebration Chicago was the LEGO Star Wars Animation Panel with Bill Motz and Both Roth. This panel, moderated by Steve Dunk, dived into the creative process and what it took to create both the LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures and All-Stars animation series. The panelists included the creators of these series, Bill Motz and Bob Roth, Lucasfilm’s Leland Chee and LEGO’s Jason Cosler.

Whiteboards at Lucasfilm were used to capture production notes

All shared stories of how these shows came together and included slides of story boards, whiteboard notes and drawings, character concept art and discussion of the creative and production process. There were a few videos shared including two unaired clips and a really funny video from Wil Film, who was the animation studio for both The Freemaker Adventures and All-Stars.

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Droidography as told by Roger

The biggest surprise of the panel was when Matthew Woods, who voiced Roger in both animated series came in near the end, just when they were discussing if Droidography was Canon or not. Matt not only talked about his role as Roger, but also his role as voice director for these series.

Alan Tudyk and Kelly Marie Tran reprise their roles in LEGO form

Overall, I was very happy I made it to this panel. As an added bonus, I was able to catch up with Moderator Steve Dunk after the panel was over and ask him about what it took to put this amazing panel together.

Interview with Steve Dunk

Steve Dunk introduces the panelists

Patty: What first gave you the idea to have this panel?

Steve: I had been watching/covering The Freemaker Adventures since it started. As a huge fan of the show naturally I reached out to Bill and Bob and we started a relationship, first just interviewing them and then into a friendship. So, when I heard All-Stars would be their last bit of Star Wars, and Celebration was coming up, it made sense that they should get a proper sending off.

Patty: How do you decide what to discuss in the panel in the time slot you had?

Steve: You start by writing down all the things you love about the shows and any unanswered questions you might have. Then you realize you’ve got hours of material that need to be cut down to one! So, you just start prioritizing, making cuts, and deciding what’s most important.
Getting behind the scenes content, video, and which guests are on your panel very much determines your schedule because that takes up a good chunk of the time. Each one needs to be paid attention to otherwise they’re just sitting up there for no reason.

Patty: How did this panel differ from other panels you have been involved with before?

Patty: It was more important to me because it was also very personal. I love these characters so much and I hold Bill and Bob in such high regard that letting them down wasn’t an option. You always have a stake in what your doing, but this was different.
Basically, I worked harder at this then anything I’d done in the past.

Patty: How difficult was to schedule the guests for the panel, especially Matthew Woods?

Steve: Aside from Bill and Bob, who were in from the start, Jason Cosler and Leland Chee were surprisingly easy. It helped that they were both already attending Celebration but when I reached out to them, they were ecstatic to be a part of celebrating Bill and Bob. At one-point Michael Kramer was going to be a guest but he had to drop out due to his schedule.
Matthew Wood was trickier. He was of course already attending but was very busy all weekend, particularly that day. This was something we worked on for weeks and even still that day we were ironing out the details. I owe him a lot because he basically ran to our panel, stayed to the end, and then had to run off to something else. It was crazy and somehow the timing worked out perfectly.

Patty: What kind of research did you have to do for this panel?

Steve: This was the easy part actually! Like I said, this show means a lot to me and of course I run the Freemaker Facts, so no research was necessary. Really, it was just preparing for the day itself and getting to Fan Stage for rehearsals which took place on Thursday.

Character concept art for LEGO Star Wars All-Stars by Kilian Plunkett

Patty: How difficult was it to get the behind the scenes photos and character artwork shown during the panel?

Steve: Not necessarily difficult as it was just a matter of getting Lucasfilm and LEGO to approve it. Bob helped with that part, making sure those requests went to the right people more quickly. Same as the unaired video clips, we put in the request and waited for the approval. It helped that I had a bit of a relationship going there, where they were familiar with me.

Patty: Did the fan community help you with planning for this panel?

Steve: Not the planning part, but the inspiration. I love the Freemaker fans and I heard from many who were excited about it, even ones that couldn’t be there. I had them in mind for some of the content, knowing they would enjoy it as much as I would.

Patty: Is there anything else you would like to share about the panel not already mentioned?

Steve: Sure. At one point I was going to assemble a video of cast members, in/out of character, saying hello to Bill and Bob. I just ran out of time and it’s too bad because it would have been amazing to see that.
Just a huge thanks to Wil Film, LEGO, Lucasfilm, and the fans that showed up. I had such a great time meeting everyone.

Interview with Author: Carol Van Natta

It is a great pleasure to welcome Carol Van Natta author of the Central Galactic Concordance space opera series.

Welcome Carol to The Adventures of the Everyday Fangirl and thanks so much for taking the time out your busy schedule to help us get to know more about you and your series better!

What does the title of this novel, series or set of stories signify?

The title of my space opera romance series is the Central Galactic Concordance. The series is set millennia in the future, when humans have faster-than-light travel and have spread out among the stars. Future us has the galaxy to ourselves, so we mine resources at will and pick “goldilocks” planets to terraform and colonize. The series—and the box set—is named after the current government that manages 500+ planets.

The big damn story arc of the series concerns a revolution that will end 200 years of peace. Minders—people with mental talents such as telepathy and telekinesis—were once a minority, and helped save civilization during the catastrophic fall of the previous empire. Now that there are more of them, they are no longer content to be regulated and controlled. As you might imagine, this doesn’t go over well with the government agency tasked with the mission to keep the galactic peace.

I’ll be the first to admit that “Central Galactic Concordance” doesn’t roll trippingly off the tongue. However, I wanted the series name broad enough that I could tell other stories in the universe that dealt with interesting characters and smaller issues, too. I like to think I’ve made up for the series title by having more evocative story titles: Overload Flux, Minder Rising, Pico’s Crush, the three books in the box set, plus Jumper’s Hope (Book 4), and the upcoming Spark Transform.

Do the names of the characters in your novel have some sort of significance or importance to you? If so, give a few examples…

Sometimes, both story titles and character names come easily and quickly, and sometimes they change half a dozen times before I find the perfect name.

In Overload Flux (book 1 of the series), the main female character is an ex-assassin trying to learn ordinary social skills. I wanted her name to sound both old-fashioned and a bit awkward, so it took me a few tries to settle on Mairwen Morganthur. The main male character’s name, Luka Foxe, came more easily. His first name is Polish and his last name English, but his ancestry is a mix of Nordic and several others.

In Minder Rising (book 2), Lièrén Sòng is the hero, estranged from his old, rich family because of his job as a covert agent. The lingua franca of the galaxy used to be Mandarin, before the present government changed it to Standard English, so Lièrén’s name reflects that history. The title of Pico’s Crush (book 3) came before I even had the outline finished. Pico is the daughter of the main male character, and his military nickname was Crush. There are a couple of other meanings for the title, too, which readers will discover for themselves.

In the galactic civilization, people are highly multicultural and interracial, so family names don’t necessarily help in guessing the person’s actual ethnicity or what their primary language is. Furthermore, if you have the money, it’s safe and easy to get a full body makeover to change height, skin color, bone structure, and physiognomy. I usually name ALL my characters. I then have to remove the names of the bit-players during the edit process so readers don’t think they’re stuck in a Russian novel.

What prompted you to write in this genre and who or what inspired you to?

My muse’s home base is science fiction. One summer when I was young, my parents gave me science fiction books (starting with Andre Norton) to stop me from whining about having nothing to read. I burned through every SF&F paperback in the house and never looked back. Romance came a little later, when I was in high school, and writing Star Trek fan fiction with my friends.

Fast forward to a few years ago, when my muse marched in with the plot for this big, sprawling space-opera plot about evolution and revolution. I wanted the relationships to be romances, because in trying times, hope and justice are needed more than ever.

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer and do your characters reflect some of these attributes?

Whoever told you I am sane has taken one giant step away from their good senses. 😉

Seriously, the advice I give to new writers is to first, finish the manuscript, and second, protect your muse by separating the business side from the art side.

Starting manuscripts is easy; finishing them is hard. Want proof? Ask for a show of hands on how many people have started a novel, then watch how many hands drop when you ask how many have finished it. Figuring out how to finish the first novel, then repeat that with the second, third, twelfth, and fortieth novel is the secret sauce for a successful career. By separating the business side, you can relegate the trolls, naysayers, and basic mistakes as the price of doing business, not personal attacks on the stories you love to tell.

My characters reflect attributes of me, my family, friends, the cashier with the annoying voice, the energetic plumber, the coworker who permanently smells of cigarette smoke, the parent who lets their kids decorate them like a holiday tree… I am a secret observer and a shameless thief of attitudes, mannerisms, style, nervous tics, and relationships that sooner or later end up in my books. My primary physician suspects I’m a hypochondriac because I ask him about odd diseases and conditions. My chiropractor gleefully helps me figure out what happens to people in a fight, and if they could limp away afterward.

What kind of research did you have to do for the novel, series or set of stories that was different from others?

Research, otherwise known as creative avoidance when I’m supposed to be writing, is one of the most entertaining parts of writing. For the space opera series, I’ve haunted the physics and materials science groups, pondered islands of stability, learned how long a parsec is (93 million miles/ 150 million kilometers—the Milky Way galaxy is about 30 kiloparsecs across), and watched hundreds of YouTube videos on everything from 3-D printing with molten glass to astronauts in zero gravity. I happily invent technology (such as new metal alloys for faster-than-light ships) and weapons (beamers, force blades, spider mechs) galore, but I like them to at least be plausible and consistent.

What makes you laugh?

Pretty much anything, actually, because I love to laugh. Good improv comedy. Tripping over my own feet. My silly cats.

What makes you cry?

The same things that make most people cry—sad movies, brave rovers left alone on a far planet, romances with all the feels, the last of the Thin Mints Girl Scouts cookies.

What are you a fan of, and is this reflected in your writing?

I am a fan of science, humor, book series, found families, romance, fantasy, good people, magic, justice, cats and other pets, whimsy, perseverance to do what’s right, and happily ever afters. And yes, they’re all reflected in my writing, because life is too short to write about things I’m not a fan of, like entitled jerks and eggplant.

What is the best way for readers to interact with you?

I love meeting new people and finding out what they like to read. Come say hello Facebook (https://facebook.com/CarolVanNattaAuthor), or sign up for my monthly newsletter at https://bit.ly/CVN-news. My website has book news, a blog, and extras for readers: https://author.carolvannatta.com. You can also learn more about the series at Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3980825.Carol_Van_Natta.

Interview with Author: AW Cross

It is a great pleasure to welcome A.W. Cross author of Pine, Alive (Foxwept Array Book 1).

Welcome A.W. to The Adventures of the Everyday Fangirl and thanks so much for taking the time out your busy schedule to help us get to know more about you and your stories better!

What does the title of this novel, series or set of stories signify?

The title of the book, Pine, Alive, refers to both the source inspiration and the “theme” of the book. It’s an SFR retelling of Collodi’s Pinocchio, and the name Pinocchio means “pine nut.” So the name references the source without being too on-the-nose. The character, Pine, is a sentient android in a time and place where her sentience isn’t yet equated to being truly alive by the world in which she lives, which is one of the themes explored in the book.

Do the names of the characters in your novel have some sort of significance or importance to you? If so, give a few examples…

I do! I always try to use names that have a meaning relevant to the story or are a nod to something or someone. In Pine, Alive, for example, all the characters names reference their counterpart in the original Pinocchio in some way. For example, James’s last name, Cruicéad, means cricket in French (I’m Canadian), and that is the role he plays in the book.

What prompted you to write in this genre and who or what inspired you to?

I’ve always loved both SFR and fairy tales. I was reading Pinocchio to my son one night during the week when I was planning what my new series would be about. In the middle of the story, inspiration struck!

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer and do your characters reflect some of these attributes?

I think for me, the most important attribute for remaining sane is being strict about making time for self care. I have Crohn’s disease, so managing stress (of which there’s a lot when you’re an author) is incredibly important to my well-being. Unfortunately, I’m not always successful!

What kind of research did you have to do for the novel, series or set of stories that was different from others?

For this particular series, I’m reading a lot of fairy tales and researching their origins, themes, interpretations, and how they’ve changed with those different interpretations. I like to start as close to the original story as I can, then incorporate some of the various changes that have been made to them over the years. And, since there are also science fiction aspects to this series, I have to research scientific concepts such as artificial intelligence, dream therapy, ocular influence, genetic mutation…things like that. I used to be a scientist, so I enjoy this part of the research almost as much as the fairy tales, though I have to try to keep it brief—there’s a rabbit hole of great research out there!

What makes you laugh?

I love memes! I find they’re always a great pick-me-up. And pretty much anything that comes out of my four-year-old’s mouth. Right now he’s going through a phase where he’s telling everyone, “ya basic!”

What makes you cry?

Sooo much. Usually the news and whenever people are awful to each other. I also have my heart constantly broken by movies, TV, and books. I cry A LOT, lol.

What are you a fan of and is this reflected in your writing?

I always add little easter eggs of things I like in my writing—but of course I can’t tell you what those are, or it would ruin the hunt!

What is the best way for readers to interact with you?

Facebook, Twitter or Instagram! I love interacting whenever I have a chance 😀
You can also find more about me and my stories through the following: Website, Goodreads, BookBub or Amazon

 

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