Award-winning author
Unusual times, remarkable places

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

28 February 2012

Interview with steampunk novelist and game designer Heather Albano

Heather Albano was my roommate at the Clarion Science Fiction And Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, so I’m pleased to welcome her to my blog to talk about her new steampunk time-travel novel, Timepiece, her writing life.

Welcome, Heather! I’m glad you could visit my blog. Why did you choose to self-publish Timepiece, and what do you think the advantages and disadvantages are?

It was a business decision, really, made with the MBA part of my brain. I spent ten years in the business world, most recently in the marketing side of consumer electronics, so I know something about disruptive technologies. In the same way the rise of the smartphone offered a new distribution mechanism for gaming applications (leading to great things for small companies like Choice of Games), the rise of e-readers has offered a new distribution mechanism for writers of traditional forms of fiction.

It’s unclear at this moment whether electronic self-publishing is the shape of the future or whether it is a fad that will fade away in a few years’ time. But either way, the time to try it is right now. If it turns out to be a true disruptive technology, changing the structure of the industry from the foundation up, those who get in on the game early stand to reap the greatest profits. If instead it’s a fad that goes out of fashion in a few years, those who try it while it is still fashionable stand to reap the greatest profits.

So, the advantages? There are two. In the short term, electronic self-publishing let me move quickly, releasing a product likely to be popular (a steampunk novel) via a distribution mechanism people were excited and curious about, before the popularity of the genre or the distribution mechanism waned. As far as the long term goes—like blogging and podcasting, electronic self-publishing provides an additional platform that people early in their creative careers can use to differentiate themselves. Although only a few people hit the jackpot doing this, others quietly make respectable amounts of money in what we might call the “small business” model, and still others employ a “loss leader” strategy. In a loss leader strategy, the podcast, blog, downloadable app, or self-published e-book doesn’t make its author rich, but its download rates and/or follower numbers give the author additional street cred when she shops her subsequent project to the representatives of the traditional industry.

The disadvantages? You’re doing everything yourself, rather than deriving any benefit from industry editorial and marketing expertise, and the disadvantage to that is obvious. For this reason, there’s a good chance electronic self-publishing will prove to work best as a complement to, rather than replacement of, the traditional model. 

Did your background in game design help or hurt you when you started your first novel? 

It’s funny to hear the question phrased that way—I tend to describe myself as a writer first and a game designer second, and I’ve answered gaming-focused interview questions explaining how my traditional-fiction background affects my game design ability.

The answer is the same however the question is worded, though: I think both are helped by having the perspective of the other. Who was it that said plots are composed of the decisions made by characters? When I write interactive fiction, I am thinking about the choices my protagonist (piloted by a player) should be able to make. When I write non-interactive fiction, I am thinking about the choice my protagonist (piloted by me) is making at the moment. 

What drew you to steampunk? Did any one or two particular steampunk stories or books make you a fan?

I was initially drawn not to steampunk as such, but to what I think is more properly called “gaslight”—stories set in the Victorian era without a speculative fiction element. I started reading Sherlock Holmes when I was twelve or so, and that led me to sample popular fiction from the Regency to the First World War and to take relevant history and literature classes whenever they presented themselves. My junior year at Wesleyan, I took an absolutely mind-blowing seminar on the Victorian gothic novel, and then I wrote my senior thesis on female monsters in Victorian fiction.  

Which is to say, I was always going to write gaslight. It wasn’t always going to have giant robots in it—my interest in speculative fiction came later—but the Victorian era has been “my thing” since I was a teenager.

What was your favorite part of writing Timepiece?

Finding the places where I could legitimately anchor it to recorded history or previously established myth. In Mary Shelley’s novel, for instance, Viktor Frankenstein does indeed set up a laboratory on British soil in about 1790. I pretty much jumped up and down when I realized how neatly he would fit into my timeline.

What genres do you read most?  Who are your favorite authors? 

I’m omnivorous. Historical fiction, secondary-world fantasy, well-crafted mysteries… almost anything. I gravitate toward Dorothy Sayers or Jane Austen for comfort reading, and I think Lois McMasters Bujold is shortly to also become a comfort read default—I’ve just gotten into her Vorkosigan series and love it.  

What writers have had the greatest influence on you?

I’ll list the ones I admire the hell out of. For time-travel plots, Tim Powers and Connie Willis. For historical fiction, Edward Rutherfurd. For adapting and retelling cultural mythology, Mary Stewart, Alan Moore, Bill Willingham, Nicholas Meyer, and Stephen Moffat. For worldbuilding, Susannah Clarke. For creating complex characters that inspire a genuine emotional reaction in the reader, Ellen Kushner, Lois McMasters Bujold, and Dorothy Sayers.  

How important have your writing friends been in your development as a writer?

Oh, immensely. Sharing works-in-progress with the Clarion 09ers and now with the Cambridge Science Fiction Workshop has been incredibly valuable. For one thing, these groups are comprised of voracious and thoughtful readers, so getting their reaction to my WIPs gives me an idea of whether I am getting anywhere close to the response I am aiming for. For another, these groups are comprised of talented and skilled writers, who often have better ideas than I do for how to fix problems in my stuff. And for a third, there is something psychologically helpful in seeing the lousy first drafts written by people whose published work blows me away. It serves as a reminder that the creative process takes time and is messy, for everyone. No one nails it on the first try.

Are there certain themes or topics you’re drawn to in your writing?

I am interested in the adaptation and retelling of previously established stories—what I was calling cultural mythology earlier. I like to identify the hallmarks of a genre and then do something different with the typical elements. I find myself often writing about minor characters from old stories or old styles of storytelling, or deliberately twisting a well-known type of character arc. Female vampires using Regency social constraints to trap male prey, secondary-world high fantasy with a male protagonist in a nurturing role, that sort of thing.  

What is your writing regimen? Would you recommend it to aspiring authors?

When I come up with one, I’ll be sure to let you know. (I find “disabling the wifi” a useful tool for getting things done, but I’m not sure that by itself is enough to qualify as a “regimen.”)

Do you have any other advice for my readers who are working on their first novels?

Finish it. Just finish it. Edit it later; write it now; you can’t edit words that aren’t there. 

What promotion method has been the most successful for you?

I’m getting good results from taking Timepiece postcards to science fiction conventions. I also see a boost in downloads after game-design speaking engagements. Using the games to interest people in the book and vice versa has worked pretty well, since there’s a good deal of market overlap.

When will your next book come out, and what will it be about?

Timekeeper, which continues the time-traveling adventures of Elizabeth and William (and the stories of Maxwell and Trevelyan and Katarina), will be available for download in summer 2012. “Choice of Zombies,” my latest Choice of Games game, will release before that, sometime in the next couple of months. 

Thank you, Heather, and best wishes with you new projects!

You can learn more about Heather Albano, Timepiece, and Heather’s other projects by visiting her Website at Her book is available online at, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

22 February 2012

Interview with first-time novelist Grady Hendrix

Today I’m interviewing another of my Clarion classmates who self-published a novel this year, Grady Hendrix. His novel, the irreverent Satan Loves You, is a humorous fantasy about what happens when Satan burns out after millennia of running the bureaucracy in Hell.

If you are planning to nominate for the Hugo Awards, Grady is in his second year of eligibility for the John W. Campbell Award for best new science fiction or fantasy writer. You can view his  Campbell profile at 

I really goofed by sending a generic interview to Grady because he is not one to toot his own horn. He dutifully answered my questions about Satan Loves You and said almost nothing about his career as a freelance writer or his two forthcoming books with major publishers. I have added a little information on those books; within the interview, I’ve bracketed my insertions.

Welcome to my blog, Grady! I’m glad to have you visit. Why did you choose to self-publish Satan Loves You?

Reasons of personal sanity, to be honest. I have a couple of projects coming out later this year—a YA fantasy novel I wrote with a friend [The White Glove War: A Magnolia League Novel, with bestselling novelist Katie Crouch], a cookbook that I’m writing with my wife [Dirt Candy: A Cookbook: Flavor-Forward Food from the Upstart New York City Vegetarian Restaurant, with restauratrice Amanda Cohen]—and in the middle of all the deadlines, and the conferences, and the editorial meetings, and the collaborating, I wanted something that was my very own precious, that I could be in control of from start to finish.

What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of self-publication?

As far as I can tell, there are no disadvantages to self-publishing. If you want to make a lot of money, I can see that there might be drawbacks, but if you just want to write books, I don’t see a downside. I don’t have a marketing department selling my book for me, but then again a lot of writers with publishing deals don’t have that either. So rather than spending my time navigating the interpersonal and business relationships of having a book at a major publisher, I spend my time hawking Satan Loves You directly to readers. It’s six of one, half-dozen of the other.

Why did you choose such a plain cover design? Would you let me design you a new cover?

I wanted something that was simple and that stood out when you looked at it in the context of a Kindle or an iPad, something that used a lot of negative space and was iconic. What I’ve discovered is that people want a cover that looks more “booky.” Right now, I’m getting ready to do a print-on-demand version of Satan Loves You and a few other pushes in March, and a new cover is on my to-do list.

Why are you drawn to write about topics that are potentially offensive or controversial?

It’s not the fact that they’re potentially offensive or controversial that draws me to them, but I try not to second guess my interests. It’s hard enough to find a story worth telling without questioning whether it’s going to scare the horses or not. John Waters once said that good taste was the enemy of art. I’m not making art, but I think good taste is kind of a drag anyways.

What was your favorite part of writing Satan Loves You?

Having finished writing it.

What genres do you read most?  Who are your favorite authors?

I read anything that moves and my favorites change from month to month. Right now I’m really in love with Skippy Dies by Paul Murray, which is about a dead kid at a boarding school; John Dies at the End by David Wong, about an extradimensional drug addiction; and Rotters by Daniel Kraus, about bettering bonding through grave robbing.

advance reading copy, The White Glove War
What writers have had the greatest influence on you?

Charles Dickens. I haven’t even read that many of his books, but the man was a workaholic. He never quit. Every day I wake up and I say, “WWCDD?” and then I take a long walk through the slums, have an affair on my wife, father a lot of children, edit a magazine, and go on a reading tour of America and die.

How important have your writing friends been in your development as a writer?

Going to Clarion in 2009 was the second-best thing I’ve ever done as a human being and there’s nothing I send out that doesn’t have the fingerprints of my fellow Clarionites all over it. I am totally and completely dependent on their editing skills. I trust their opinions in the same absolute way that I trust my doctor’s.

Are there certain themes or topics you’re drawn to in your writing?

Right now I’m obsessed with where technology comes from. I feel as if a lot of speculative fiction is focused on consuming technology but not on making it. People write about spaceships and dirigibles, but were those built in a union shop? Did the people who crafted those Steampunk goggles make a living wage? Did that beautiful capital city require slaves to build it?

What is your writing regimen? Would you recommend it to aspiring authors?

Dirt Candy, the restaurant (New York City)
I don’t have a day job, and my wife owns a restaur- ant, so I’m basically on my own in the house from 9 am until 1 am, five days a week. It’s either write, or engage in endless self-loathing for not writing.

Do you have any other advice for my readers who are working on their first novels?

Get to the end. Even if it sucks, you have to limp over the finish line. Rewrites will make everything better.

What promotion method has been the most successful for you?

Nice people who read Satan Loves You and feel as if it’s a personal cause they need to advance. And I found them by cold emailing pretty much every single blog I could find and asking if they’d like a free copy.

When will your next book come out, and what will it be about?

Right now I’m working on a story called “Only Space Jesus Can Save Us Now,” and it’s either going to be a short novella or a long short story. It’s at 38,000 words and I have to see whether I can cut it down to 12,000. This is a very painful process and it makes my brain bleed. [The White Glove War: A Magnolia League Novel and Dirt Candy: A Cookbook: Flavor-Forward Food from the Upstart New York City Vegetarian Restaurant are expected to be published in 2012.]

You can learn more about Grady Hendrix and his book Satan Loves You by visiting his blog-cum-Website at Satan Loves You is available online at and Barnes & Noble.

The White Glove War and Dirt Candy: A Cookbook are available for preorder at here and here, respectively.

17 February 2012

Interview with fantasy short story author Nicole M. Taylor

I’m delighted to welcome today Nicole M. Taylor, who was one of my classmates at the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop and who has been publishing interesting short stories since.

If you are planning to nominate for the Hugo Awards, Nicole is in her first year of eligibility for the John W. Campbell Award for best new science fiction or fantasy writer. You can view her Campbell profile at

My apologies to Nicole and my readers that my hectic schedule forced me to send her a generic interview instead of the usual customized interview. If my questions and her answers seem a little odd, that’s why. 

What is your favorite part of writing?

My favorite part is something that I’ve experienced with nearly everything I’ve done, from short stories to this interview to novels I’ve started. It’s that feeling of locking into place when you realize what a story needs, where a scene goes, what a character’s deal is. It’s as if somebody threw open the windows, and it always thrills me. No matter how rigorously I outline something, there are always places where I get stuck or insights I don’t have until later, and it’s sort of like playing detective in your own brain.

What genres do you read most?  Who are your favorite authors?

Weirdly enough, I suppose, I really don’t read in the genre I write. Which I do not think is recommended. I believe it is actually anti-recommended. I overwhelmingly read nonfiction; after that, probably horror and sci-fi. I’m also big on fables and fairy tales.

What writers have had the greatest influence on you?

Ray Bradbury, Margaret Atwood, L.M. Montgomery. They all came along at different critical points in my life and changed not just who I was, but who I was even trying to be.

How important have your writing friends been in your development as a writer?

I think the single best thing about making friends with other writers is that it really demystifies the process. You see these people that you admire so much, and you realize that they’re just people, that they struggle with many of the same things that you do. And, for me, seeing that everyone else had similar neuroses and stumbling blocks opened up the walls of possibility. Other people overcame these things to be successful; why not give it a try?

Are there certain themes or topics you’re drawn to in your writing?

I tend to notice these things only later, having amassed a body of work and realizing that it features an awful lot of X or Y, but, in general, I often write about women. I often write about poor, rural women, in particular. I write a lot about nasty magic that requires bodily fluids and, usually, some manner of killing. For a while, I was writing about people with scars a lot. There are a lot of mixed-heritage (both in the standard human way and sometimes with reptoid aliens. Not kidding) people in my recent stories and a lot of people on the autism spectrum. I’m not sure exactly why I’m really interested in that right now, but it’s something I’m clearly working through in my writing subroutines.

What is your writing regimen? Would you recommend it to aspiring authors?

Yikes! Regimen...that’s a...strong word. In an ideal world, I’d write an hour a day in the morning either immediately after I woke up or shortly after. In practice, I only manage this two or three days a week. I do try to get at least some writing done every day. Right now, I’m working on a novel, and it’s been a while since I’ve worked on just one project for such a long time, so I’m trying to train myself not to skip off and do other things. Other than that, I tend to chew a lot of gum (I mean like a pack an hour) and drink a lot of water and sometimes sort of get up and pace around.

I don’t know that I’d recommend any of that.

The biggest thing I’d suggest is just to make writing important to yourself. If you don’t see it as real and valuable as the other stuff in your life, then the other stuff is always going to take precedence.

Do you have any other advice for my readers who are working on their first novels?

I presume this question is more for people who their first novels? I’m about midway through the second draft of mine and my goal is to get it in agent-subbing shape by the summer. I have far more to learn than to teach when it comes to this, but here’s what I’ve gleaned:
1. Scrivener is pretty cool; try it out.
2. For me, a strong, detailed outline is essential.
3. Don’t give it to people until you know what it’s about, where it’s going, what the shape is. Wait until you’ve got a thing to fix before asking others to fix your nebulous not-a-thing, because that’ll cloud your vision, I think.  

What promotion method has been the most successful for you?

I really haven’t done a whole lot of promotion for any of my stories and they’ve all been kind of low-key, press wise. “A Spoonful of Salt” got the most attention, but that was probably due to the more high-profile market it appeared in than anything I personally did.

When will your next work come out, and what will it be about?

I have a few stories coming out soon.

“The Undertaker’s Son” will be in an upcoming issue of Shimmer Magazine. It’s an excerpt from the novel I’m working on, featuring a boy who grows up in a funeral home among the ghosts. Literally.

“The Mad Scientist’s Beautiful Daughter,” a Clarion story, actually, will be in the next issue of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. It’s about a quiet and orderly girl, her beloved father, heroes, villains, and cyborgs.

I’m also really excited to announce that Beneath Ceaseless Skies has accepted another of my stories, a kind of novella called “Hold a Candle to the Devil.” It’s also taken from The Witches Knot and it’s about a struggling young Madam in the mid-1800s attempting to deal with a violent John. With magic. Mean magic.

The novel I’m working on, The Witches Knot, is about witches, but more broadly, it’s about how different people might approach magic, how they might shape it as it shapes them. It’s a family saga with kitten murder and circuses and unwed teenage mothers.

Thanks so much, Nicole, for letting us see underneath your sweet, Midwestern-girl-next-door exterior to the fiendish personality who delights in writing about human-reptiloid sex and kitten murder. (Now I kind of wish I had sent you the usual customized interview.) Congratulations on your many pending stories and best wishes for finding a great home for The Witches Knot.

You can learn more about Nicole M. Taylor and The Witches Knot by visiting her Website at and her blog at Her stories are available online at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, The Puritan, Bound Off, and Brain Harvest and in Dark Highlands Anthology Vol. 2. Here are links to these stories:

14 February 2012

Interview with aspiring sf writer Robin Walton

When I moved to California four years ago, I joined a sf/f critique group associated with the Orange County Science Fiction Club and hosted by Robin Walton, today’s guest. I have had the pleasure of watching his stories improve over the years and of celebrating his first story sale in 2011.

If you are planning to nominate for the Nebula or Hugo Awards, that story, “Unlimited Delta,” is eligible in the short story category. It was published in January 2011 in 10Flash Quarterly, and you can read it for free at

It is particularly fitting that this interview debuts on Valentine’s Day, because although Robin’s story is Christmas-themed, the message of love and sacrifice fits perfectly with the sentiment of today’s holiday.

Thank you, Robin, for visiting my blog today, and welcome!

Why do you think "Unlimited Delta" was your first short story to sell?

It’s the first story I ever submitted. I guess it was the right theme for the anthology.

How has your long interest in astronauts and space travel influenced your writing?

When I was twelve and the astronauts landed on the moon, I decided I wanted to be an astronaut. But alas, my (very) poor vision meant it was very unlikely. Fast forward two score years, and I am living astronautness through my characters.

What was your favorite part of writing Unlimited Delta?

The two little girl characters were based upon my friend’s daughter and her friend. The Santa Claus theme was based upon actual conversations the girls had. The rest was easy!

What genres do you read most?  Who are your favorite authors?

I read everything except romance, but mostly science fiction and YA. David Gerrold was such an inspiration that another one of my stories that got published in 2011 was dedicated to him! I also like Orson Scott Card, the Kollin brothers, and Robert Sawyer.

What writers have had the greatest influence on you?

Robert Heinlein (which is pretty obvious from my writing), Ben Bova, John Scalzi, Larry Niven, and Isaac Asimov.

How important have your writing friends been in your development as a writer?

100%. I would have never sold any short stories without the help, support, and critiques of my writer’s group, particularly Jude-Marie “Kelly” Green, my main muse.

Are there certain themes or topics you’re drawn to in your writing?

Robin Walton's self-published YA novel
I like mostly happy endings. I wrote the kind of stories I like to read.

What is your writing regimen? Would you recommend it to aspiring authors?

I have poor habits and don’t recommend them to anyone.

Do you have any other advice for my readers who are working on their first novels?

Read, write, repeat.

What promotion method has been the most successful for you?

I have an extensive email database form my many years traveling the world courtesy of Hewlett-Packard. These people have been very supportive of my published works.

Thanks, Robin, for your time, and good luck with your writing.

Robin Walton, who also writes as Robin Graves, lives in southern California with his dog, Ragnar.  Robin is an avid tri-athlete, bridge player, patent holder, and reader. 

10 February 2012

Interview with debut science fiction novelist Eric Griffith

Eric Griffith’s first novel, Beta Test (Hadley Rille Books), debuted in December 2011. In this humorous apocalyptic story, geeks try to save Earth from being shut down.

If you are planning to nominate for the Nebula or Hugo Awards, Beta Test is eligible in the novel category.

Welcome, Eric, to my blog today. I’m glad you could be here.

What was your favorite part of writing Beta Test?

The best part of writing this book was letting the funny flow. Other stuff I've written tended to be a little more serious or dramatic. While I'm never one to go entirely grim, Beta Test was planned as a comedy from the start, even if it was set against the backdrop of a Rapture-like event and the eventual end of the universe. Because that's how I roll.

What genres do you read most?  Who are your favorite authors?

Most of my reading for fun tends to be crime thrillers. I absolutely am addicted to every new book by Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Karin Slaughter, and John Sandford. I desperately miss the late Ed McBain's yearly 87th Precinct novel. I tried to write a couple of crime novels like theirs, however, and had to give it up. Keeping track of things in the "real world" is too hard. It's more fun to write scifi/fantasy in which I set the rules. "Laws of physics" be damned.

What writers have had the greatest influence on you?

The work of Lee, Kirby, Ditko, Stern, Byrne, Claremont, Wolfman, Perez, and untold thousands of others in comics set the stage for me to love tales of adventure. Writers like Neil Gaiman, Steve Gould, Christopher Moore, Nick Hornby, they all make it look so easy, so when I tried to sit and evoke what they do, I found out just how hard it is—and how great they are.

But going back, Kurt Vonnegut first showed me that a scifi novel about a guy unstuck in time could have so much to say about humanity, even if the author said it wasn't really scifi.

How important have your writing friends been in your development as a writer?

Nothing has driven me more. At the 2007 class of the Viable Paradise scifi-fantasy writing workshop that's run by editors and writers from TOR, I was introduced to a group that changed my life. My "tribe," if you will. We've become each other's critiquers, cheerleaders, backers, travel companions, and dear friends. If anyone is serious about writing and doesn't have the funds or time to try something like Odyssey or Clarion, Viable Paradise is indeed a paradise. Spend a week on Martha's Vineyard, learn a lot, and meet the writers who will help change your life. Without them, I would not be where I am today. Hell, Beta Test was the novel I had critiqued there, so it's doubly true!

Why did you choose a small press to publish your books, and what do you think the advantages and disadvantages are?

Well, I'd certainly have been happy to be published by a giant publisher... I think. My experience working with Hadley Rille Books has been nothing short of amazing, however. I'm not treated like some kind of content producer who should thereafter keep his mouth shut and just pray. With HRB, I've got a direct line to the publisher, whom I consider a friend. He's genuinely a nice guy who's not out to do anything short of put out books he likes and that others will like. Period.

Even the experience of the cover, which I thought would be one of those things where I had to keep my mouth shut, turned out to be such a back-and-forth that we went with my ideas for it (executed, I should add, by a talented group of my friends.) I think it's got the perfect kind of 1950s B-movie horror-comedy vibe that Beta Test needs. And no, that's not me on the cover! My ego only extends to my name being on it. 

Are there certain themes or topics you’re drawn to in your writing?

I've noticed that all of my protagonists come from broken homes of some sort—either one parent is missing or dead, or there's been a divorce, or there was abuse. Which is interesting (to me, at least), because my parents are still together after 43 years and are my biggest supporters. I dedicated Beta Test to them. Perhaps I don't really understand how other families deal with such things, and I tackle it in my writing... or it's just dramatic background, given the parents of my protagonists don't really play too much of a part.

The exception might be Beta Test, because the lead character, Sam, sets out to find out what happens to all the people missing from a mass-vanishing on Earth. One of those vanished is his mother.

What is your writing regimen? Would you recommend it to aspiring authors?

I'm not sure I'd call it a regimen. I spend all day long at my desk at home working for my day job (I'm a features editor for Then, before my girlfriend gets home from work late, I try to cram in two or three hours of writing time. Which should be plenty, to be honest, but I can't do it at home because 1) I have a visceral need to get the hell OUT and 2) I can't do writing for me at the same desk I use for work. I have a mental block about it.

I tend to pack up my tiny netbook laptop and go to a café, typically Barnes & Noble, but lately I'm branching out to the local shops that have free Wi-Fi. Of course I need that so I can crank up a Pandora station full of movie soundtracks—the best music for writing. After copious checks of Facebook, Twitter, and Google Reader... then I open up a document. And sometimes, I do all that and then realize I have to head home.

Would I recommend this to aspiring authors? Only the talented ones that I don't want to compete with.

Did your day job writing about technology inform your writing of Beta Test?

The job inspired the title and the idea many, many years ago (you can read about the gestation of that here: Ultimately, Beta Test is more fantasy than any kind of hard scifi tale. The most realistic thing in the book is probably just how much the main characters have to deal with traffic and waiting at airports. The talking dinosaurs, not so much.

Do you have any other advice for my readers who are working on their first novels?

The best advice of all is just finish it. Don't overthink it; don't edit as you go. There's a reason National NovelWriter's Month (NaNoWriMo) is your friend—it's all about teaching a writer to finish. If it's any good, it's worth going back to, and then you can fix anything wrong with the first draft. But the first one is the absolute hardest. Just FINISH it already.

What promotion method has been the most successful for you?

Local bookstores have been great to me—and given me a chance to meet the people behind the scenes. (The big national chain? Well, not so much, but local authors who aren't big names aren't exactly what they're all about.)

And never, ever neglect the online aspect. The opportunity to do blog interviews like this and mention that I have ebooks versions of the book, priced CHEAP, can't be stressed enough. Obscurity is the ultimate enemy of a new author, and anything that gets the book out there is worth trying.

When will your next book come out, and what will it be about?

Good question! No one's bought any of my other books yet. However, considering the successes some people see with self-publishing, there's no reason not to seriously considering putting some work I thought was consigned only to a drawer out there for people to see in the future. I still believe in it, and who knows, it could be a hit. I know my mom will buy a copy for her Kindle.
Thank you, Eric, and best wishes with your writing!

You can learn more about Eric Griffith and Beta Test by visiting his Website at  and his blog at Also please follow him at His book is available online at (and for Kindle), Barnes & Noble (for the Nook), Powells, BetterWorldBooks, direct from Hadley Rille Books, and locally at Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca, NY, and Downtown Books and Coffee in Auburn, NY.