Thursday, October 16, 2014

Meet Chris Jane! A Spotty Blog Interview


Chris Jane is a mystery meat stew wrapped in enigmatic bacon covered in conundrum chocolate.... Wait. What was I talking about?

Clearly, I need to eat something.

Let's try this again.


Chris Jane is a writer whose debut novel, The Year of Dan Palace, is at turns funny, smart, painful and most of all, honest as it follows one man's choices in the face of the possibility that the world will end. I don't know Chris well, but the writing is more than solid. This is a writer that doesn't pull punches, that shows us sides of character it might be easier to turn away from. Of course, if Chris did that, we'd have a very different sort of story. This is good stuff.

The book is out on November 22, but it is available for pre-order on Kindle, now.

It is an honor and a privilege to present to you...

The Interview

Q) Where did you draw inspiration for the story of The Year of Dan Palace?

A) It was probably a combination of a fear of dying and a fear of not appropriately living, and added to that a desire to take a real, hard look at what a person might do with the end of the world as a possibility. Not only that, but how that person's actions might impact others.

I also wanted to have fun with the writing. While The Year of Dan Palace isn't, at its heart, a "fun" book (there is a serious theme or two), there is certainly fun stuff in it. It isn't oppressively heavy or "Oh, woe," and the characters themselves are pretty entertaining. They were certainly entertaining to write.

Q) Winnipeg or Winnebago?
A) Tough question. When Dan leaves home, he buys a Pace Arrow made by Fleetwood, a Winnebago competitor. Therefore, I cannot in good conscience choose Winnebago.

I did just learn on a "what to do in Winnipeg" search that a tourist attraction called "Lower Fort Scary" is just half an hour away in Selkirk, which I think makes the choice that much easier.

Q) In the Year of Dan Palace, you address how one person deals with End of the World anxieties which in turn causes the protagonist to second guess everything about the life he has. When 2012 rolled around did you or anyone you know experience anxiety over the much-discussed Mayan doomsday?
A) No. But we did have the standard "What would you do if?" conversation, at which point we listed the things we would do if we were going to die, none of which any of us ended up doing - even though we are all obviously, unquestionably, inevitably dying. Someday. Even so, most of us don't believe it, even if we know it's going to happen. One of the challenges Dan has is holding tight to that belief.

Q) Quinoa or purple rice?
A) I recently had quinoa for the first time. It was a little like tasty wet sand pasta-rice pellets. Pretty good!

I haven't had purple rice. What I'd like to try is risotto at a very high-end restaurant. Any time I catch Hell's Kitchen, Gordon Ramsey is going on about risotto. It's safe to assume it's the best food on the planet when done correctly.

Q) Is this your first novel? If so, when did you begin writing fiction?
A) I've been writing fiction since my pre-teens but didn't get serious about it until my early twenties. I was one of those readers, particularly in middle and high school, who always had to have a book. If I forgot one, my day would be ruined. What was I supposed to do while I was waiting, walking, or sitting in class without a good novel?
All of that reading somehow led to wanting to write. (I say "somehow" because I could just as easily have become a lifelong, passionate reader.)

This is not the first novel I've written. The very first, when I was 19, was a series of interconnected stories: X driving a car hits the brakes to avoid hitting Y. Their eyes meet, and the story lurches forward into the life and story of Y. And so on. I like to pretend it was an original idea at the time.

Q) When it comes to salsa, do you prefer black bean chipotle or mango peach?
A) They're both a little chunky, aren't they? Restaurant style is my daily addiction, with Tostitos lime chips.

Q) What advice would you offer to anyone setting out to write fiction?
A) Don't get hung up on perfection while writing the first draft, because you'll probably never finish (as far as novels are concerned). Write through, get to the end, get to know your story and characters, and then go back and make it better.

If short stories (and this is true for longer fiction, too), be honest, and don't be afraid to be honest. There's little you've felt that someone else hasn't felt at one time or another. Your task is to present that feeling in your unique way.

Q) Artists tend to have pretty interesting job histories. What's the strangest paid gig you ever had?
A) I willingly and knowingly improved the writing of a once-successful charlatan spiritual leader whose books' sole goal was to milk money from people wanting a better life. I'd try to find subtle ways to slip digs into the material.

Q) What's next for Chris Jane in terms of projects?
A) I have two in mind, one of which I hope to write with a partner. One tackles a social issue, and the other is a revenge plot. In real life, I'm probably more of a passive-aggressive revenge seeker - the kind who fantasizes about saying "No" when the wrong-doer needs a favor - so I think I'll enjoy writing a character who is a more active revenge participant.

Q) Binge-watching or binge-drinking?
A) Binge-watching on my smart days. Binge-drinking on my less smart days, and to a lesser degree than in my twenties. I think I can handle about three glasses of whatever is put in front of me. I am a middle-age cliche.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Meet Che Gilson! A Spotty Blog Interview


Che Gilson is an author and a graphic artist who recently released a novel called Carmine Rojas: Dogfight with Black Opal Books. When you take a look at her bio, you'll see a ton of credits for work in comics as well as fiction. I interviewed her over the summer about Carmine Rojas, an action-packed story about an werewolf in an illegal pit-fighting ring, a werewolf who is as tough as,,, well... a werewolf, with a big heart. The story of Carmine, in this first book, is told in "rounds" which I think is a particularly clever way of indicating a change in the narrative.

I was privileged enough to interview her on the air at WRKC over the summer, but had yet to figure out how to create a video of that discussion. I am doubly blessed to get to interview her for a second time on Ye Olde Spotty Blog.

Without further preamble...

The Interview

Q) What inspired Carmine Rojas: Dogfight?

A) I was writing another book called Tea Times Three, and it's a sweet book about a town, and tea, and witches, and food, and there is only mild swearing and nothing explodes. After working on Tea Times Three for something like three years I needed a break. I needed to write a book with action, violence, swearing and explosions! That's how Carmine came to be. I don't remember exactly HOW I created her or her world. She might have been one of those characters that just spring instantly to life. I don't remember writing Carmine to be very hard. I spent a lot of time editing it though with great suggestions from Suzanne McLeod.

Q) If you could be a shapeshifter, what kind of shapeshifter would you be?

A) I'd like to turn into something that could fly. So maybe an owl or an eagle.

Q) You are also a graphic artist. Do you think that your sense of the visual influences your writing? If so, how?

A) Maybe. I tend to visualize my books as movies and then try to describe what's happening. I like to describe things like clothing and weather. I don't know if it's a help or a hindrance though.

Q) Cows or crows?

A) CROWS! I love crows! I watched a documentary about them and they actually call on other crows for help, then other crows come and help the one in trouble, they're amazing! I'm also a fan of all things avian :)

Q) When did you first know that you wanted to be a fiction writer?

A) I came to writing from a slightly different direction than other authors. I always made up stories, as a kid, but I would draw them out, not as a comic, but as a series of illustrations. Then I discovered graphic novels (ElfQuest) in third grade and that became my calling. I wanted to write and draw comic books.

The comics didn't work out as I planned and I decided that I would have a better chance of getting my stories to the world if I wrote them as prose. So, while I was always writing SOMETHING, stories, comic book scripts, and bad attempts at novels, I wasn't 100% dedicated to writing prose until I had to drop out of art school because of damage to my arm. I wrote three (terrible) children's books, then got sucked back into comics off and on for years before I FINALLY quit trying and just started prose.

Q) Harmonica or Harmonium?

A) Hang on while I Google harmonium.... Harmonium! For sure!

Q) I get the sense from Carmine Rojas: Dogfight, that we'll be seeing more of her in the future. What's next for her?

A) Next up is her mid-life crisis! LOL! I'm about halfway done with her next adventure. I'm worried it's a bit too much of a departure, there's only one fight scene so far (but lots of swearing!). It ends with a massive fight scene, so maybe that will make up for it. I'll have to do better in the third one...

Q) Courier or Times New Roman?

A) Both actually. I like to uses Times for the manuscript, then to edit I change the font to courier, then switch it back when I've got the major edits done. Switching fonts helps me see the book differently and catch mistakes I wouldn't normally see.

Q) Is there a particular form of writing that you haven't tried yet that you'd like to?

A) Epistolic- does that count? I'm actually trying out a novel written in e-mails right now. I don't know how it's going...

Q) When your creative batteries are drained, what do you do to recharge?

A) I watch TV and work on art usually. I haven't had a lot of time art lately. Art is actually what I THOUGHT I'd be doing with my life. It's still really important to me and I love to draw! I also just take time off writing. I'll stop for a week or two at times. Though I feel terribly guilty that I'm not the sort of author who can turn out 5000 words a day.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Spotty Blog Interview: Meet Trevor Strong!


Trevor Strong is a Canadian musician, writer, and educator. His career began in 1991 with The Arrogant Worms. Since then he's done about a bajillion other things. He writes his own music, for which there is now a way for fans to support his output directly.  He's given a talk for Tedx on the role of humor in education. If you go to his website you'll see a variety of educational programs from songwriting classes to business for creatives.

He's written several books. Recently, I read Edgar Gets Going, a novel about a bass player who has fallen from the glory of a successful 80s hair band and finds himself struggling to remain in the creative life. He ends up working as a musician in a children's act, and the story gets more complex from there. It's a story that is hilarious, but it is hilarious with a lot of heart. I've said this on other places on the interwebs, and I'll say it again, everyone who has worked in entertainment should read this book.


Q) You've had a career in music since the 1990s with the Arrogant Worms. How did changes wrought on the music industry by the advent of internet distribution impact your career? What's different for you?

A) Wow! A business question right off the bat! You know, we've been pretty good at riding the whole thing out. We've had both good things and bad things happen to us because of the internet. The good thing is that fans put up our songs on Youtube and lots of people saw them there. Since we're self-(mis)managed we don't really do any marketing, so having another way that people can discover us is great. The bad thing is we got no money from this and people stopped buying albums, so we made less money. Now, things are changing again and it's now possible to get money from streaming (not always easy, though) so I think we might make up for a bit of that. I personally like the control the internet gives creative people, I just wish the money stuff would get sorted out.

Q) Union suits or union representatives?

A) Not sure exactly what that means. I very seldom wear suits. Or representatives.

Q) As a writer, musician and an educator, is there anything else that you'd like to try that you haven't yet?

A) I think I might have enough going on already... I'd just like someone to do all the paperwork so I could do more of it. Although I'd love to have super-powers or be forced to become Santa Clause one year to save Christmas.

Q) Hockey or Hawking?

A) I am a bad Canadian. I'm not really into hockey. Don't get it. First off, I hate the cold, and then I really don't understand the whole punching each other in the face part. I would certainly rather have a hawk and a cool glove. Or Stephen Hawking, for that matter. 

Q) Humor seems to be an important component for you in writing, education and music. Has this always been the case or was it something that developed over time? How important is it for you in the day to day? Also, have you ever been in the position where someone demands you to "Be funny! Right now!" and you haven't been able to? If so, how do you cope with that?

A) Humo(u)r is generally my first reaction to almost anything, although I can usually tell when that is perhaps not appropriate. The problem is that most of my humour is reactive. I don't tell jokes, I can't remember them. So, when people ask me to be funny I can't. I have nothing to be funny about. Although I might be making a sarcastic comment in my mind. I usually just smile and look busy when that happens.

Q) Pants or pantaloons?

A) Pants is a funny word but pantaloons is funnier. It is like the love-child of pants and balloons. Pantaloons! 

Q) How does the creative process differ for you between songwriting, creative writing and collaboration? (Aside from the obvious differences due to audio/visual versus textual mediums.)

A) That's a big question!
Well, the first two books I wrote were basically short story/gag books. So they were sort of like songs without the music part, because they were in short, self-contained units. Still it took a long time. Now, writing a novel, is a whole different story. I had a really hard time making the novel long enough because, since I'm used to writing stories in about twenty lines, I tend to leave things like description completely out. With a song, there's always a chance that you can start and finish it in one sitting. That doesn't happen with a novel... unless you can sit for a very long time. After writing the novel I understood why so many novelists seem to go a little cooky.

In most of my collaborations different people do different things (like the song videos I'm making) and I really like that because everyone gets to do what they're best at and getting out of my own mind is a good thing every now and then.

Q) How was your love of banana bread born?

A) I don't have a love of banana bread, per se, I more love what banana bread can do for me. I have kids, so there are always bananas in the house. Of course, bananas seem to age quite suddenly--but here is the wonder of banana bread: it is better when you use over-ripe bananas. So nothing wasted! Also I can make it in about 5 minutes and then use it in school lunches all week. Anything that helps with school lunches is miraculous. I have a feeling that when I go to hell I will be forced to make school lunches for all eternity.

Q) Recently, you've joined Patreon, which is a way for people who love what you do to support that directly and be part of the process of creation. What prompted you to try this? Would you recommend it for other creators? What has that experience been like for you?

A) Thank you for bringing this up! Yes, Patreon is a great platform and it gives the creator and supporter a much more direct relationship. I think it depends on the creator whether this would work for them--it seems to lend itself better to creations that are made in smaller chunks, like songs. And for supporters, they get the knowledge that their money is going directly to help the creator be able to carve out some time to create. It is a wonderful feeling that anyone reading this can enjoy simply by supporting me. 

Q) In terms of writing, what's the next project?

A) I've just finished a kids book which I'm going to start sending off soon. Believe it or not, I've been working on a financial planning book (with a financial planner, of course) and I also want to write a book about humour, and then I'd like to write another silly book too. I just need to find more time. Or become a vampire or something. You're not a vampire, are you?

Q) Can I have some banana bread?

A) No, I told you, it's for the kids' lunches.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Spotty Blog Interview: Ian T Healy COMES BACK!

So, back in February, I interviewed superhero fiction author and publisher Ian Healy here on the Spotty Blog. AND HE ACTUALLY AGREED TO COME BACK OMG!

This time, he's got a new book from the Just Cause Universe coming out, with a cover reveal party on facebook on 9/30/14 to help promote it. You can find his books on Amazon, or go directly to Local Hero Press.

When I was publishing my book Haunted, Ian was kind enough to answer a bunch of questions for me about stuff that was making me feel anxious. He didn't even make me pay for therapy! That makes him a swell guy.

And he writes good, too.

The Interview

Q) The Just Cause Universe follows a team of super-heroes through a series of adventures in which [redacted because spoilers]. What was different for you in writing Champion?

A) This was the first time I'd come back to my original cast of characters since The Archmage, book 2 in the series. Day of the Destroyer, book 3, dealt with Mustang Sally's parents and was the secret origin of her biggest enemy. Deep Six, book 4, broadened the world by focusing on the prison for parahuman offenders. Jackrabbit, book 5, was a straight-up one shot with a character that was lots of fun. Champion is a continuation of Mustang Sally's story and really brings to a close her coming-of-age storyline. The next book in the series, Castles, deals with a major change in her life.

Champion is also a murder mystery, which is something I've always wanted to write.

Q) In superhero worlds, costumes are important for defining characters and their powers. If you were a superhero, what would be the most significant aspect of your on-duty costume? 

A) Being able to use the bathroom when you need to without having to take the entire thing off.

 Q) How do you design/select your cover art?

A) I hire artists based upon a variety of criteria (there are guidelines posted on, and work closely with the artist to develop an exciting, eye-catching cover. I'm thrilled to be working with Ontario artist Irshad Karim. His Champion cover is spectacular and he will be doing the Castles cover as well.

Q) You've written across a variety of sub-genres. What is the most challenging for you? What keeps you coming back to the world of super-hero fiction?

A) Superhero fiction is  my first love, and you never really let your first love go. I've written a lot of other genres, and the two hardest for me by far are horror and mainstream (without any kind of science fiction or fantasy elements). The bulk of work that I have trunked, meaning I will most likely never finish/never release it, is in those two genres.

Q) What is the main focus of Champion?

A) "What defines a hero?"

Q) Bandanas or bananas?

A) Bandanas. They're awesome for holding my waves of curls back.

Q) When it comes to the business side of self-publishing, what is the most important thing you think anyone thinking of doing this should know?

A) Don't do it unless you are prepared to do ALL the work and spend ALL the money.

Q) If you had to choose between a cape or a set of gauntlets, which would you choose?

A) Depends on whether or not the cape allows me to fly or the gauntlets allow me to fire lasers. If they're just stylistic, I'd go with the cape because it would be hard to type wearing gauntlets. And honestly, I'd rather fly than shoot lasers. How often do you really need a laser outside of your commute?

Q) How do you maintain the tension in superhero narratives? 

A) Rubber bands. LOL. The same way you maintain tension in any narrative. Throw worse and worse things at your hero until she can't possibly succeed, and then see how she powers her way through it anyway.

Q) What's your favorite flavor of rock'n'roll?

A) Progressive rock. I learned to play bass listening to Rush.

CHAMPION releases on November 25th. Link to preorder it can be found here:

For more information, follow Ian on Twitter as @ianthealy or on Facebook as Author Ian Thomas Healy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

WRKC The Not-So-Hectic Eclectic Playlist 9/10/14

Today was the last show until summer of 2015! I thought I was going to be able to do it throughout the year, but alas, scheduling conflicts between the day job and fiction projects have swung their sharp-toothed faces upon me... It's all about numbers, there. Word counts and paychecks and limits on time... but the beat goes on as Sonny and Cher once sang... And I'll be back next summer!

The happy news is that Jean Roman and Dr. Ham joined me today, and many of the interviews I have done this summer are saved for posterity on Youtube.

Also, it was great show... XOXO to everyone who listened, called in, poked me online, or otherwise supported the show.

The Playlist

Hour the First

The Temples - Shelter Song
Morphine - Honey White
Drive-by Truckers - Made Up English Oceans
Cakelike - Lucky One
Peggy Sue - Long Division Blues
tUneYaRdS - The Real Thing
Wand - Broken Candle
No - Leave the Door Wide Open
Jane's Addiction - Been Caught Stealin'
Letters To Cleo - Here and Now
Jim Jones Review - The Princess and the Frog
Jesca Hoop - Pack Animal
Iggy Pop - Lust for Life
The Matthew Show - Poison Pickin' Time
Ani DiFranco - Shameless
Portishead - Roads
The Kills - What New York Used to Be

Hour the Second

Eleni Mandell - Put My Baby to Bed
Jill Sobule - The Jig Is Up
Ty Segall - Susie Thumb
Jean Roman Live Performance and Interview
Pavement - Shady Lane
Twin Peaks - I Found a New Way
Eilen Jewell - Queen of the Minor Key
The Orwelles - The Righteous One
The Hold Steady - The Only Thing
Spoon - Do You?
Spider Bags - Chem Trails
Bob Mould - I Don't Know You Anymore
Violent Femmes - Hey Nonny Nonny
The Breeders - Cannonball
Chuck Ragan - Something May Catch Fire
Southern Culture on the Skids - Camel Walk
Trevor Strong - The Introverted Army
T. Rex - 20th Century Boy

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

WRKC The Not-So-Hectic Eclectic Playlist 9/3/14

Today's show was jam-packed with awesomesauce. This was the first web interview with a live performance that I've conducted on the show and I could not have asked for better guests. The Strayers were awesome.

Comedian Emrys Smith visited me in the studio for the second hour and there was much giggling. And butt-whispering. There may or may not be an audio file of this somewhere, which may or may not be released for the consumption of the general public.

Lest we forget, the rock and roll was very present, as always.

The Playlist

Hour the First

Edwyn Collins - Girl like You
B-52s - Dance This Mess Around
Angry Johnny and the Killbillies - Disposable Boy
The Strayers: Interview and Performance
Robyn Hitchcock - Ferries
Letters to Cleo - Here and Now
The Jim Jones Review - The Princess and the Frog
Elastica - Stutter
The Muffs - Weird Boy Next Door
Spider Bags - Chem Trails
A3 - Woke Up This Morning
St. Paul and the Broken Bones - Half the City
Sunny Day Real Estate - Pillars

Hour the Second

Sleater-Kinney - You're No Rock N Roll Fun
Chad VanGaalen - Monster
tUneYaRds - The Real Thing
Spacehog - In the Meantime
Ty Segall - Susie Thumb
Jesca Hoop - Pack Animal
Illinois - Nosebleed
Chuck Ragan - Something May Catch Fire
Lenny Kravitz - Are You Gonna Go My Way?
The Gaslight Anthem - She Loves You
Mary's Danish - Don't Crash the Car Tonight
The Darcys - The River

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WRKC The Not-So-Eclectic Playlist 8/27/14

Well, today was my first show with classes in full swing. It was kind of fun to be around all that energy. Welcome back, officially, kids...

(I'm mumblesomething years old, I can address people as kids now, with feeling.)

Bonus for today's show, I got to start about 40 minutes early, which is a thing that is cool. I have yet to make it through all the cool stuff I want to play. And of course, they keep making cool new stuff... so, you know, there's that.

Dr. Ham joined me in the last hour, wherein it was discovered that Fred the Dishwashing Monkey and I have something in common. We hate conflict. High-fives, Fred.

But as I am fond of saying on the air, enough babble.

The Playlist

Bonus :45

Folk Implosion - Natural One
Tuneyards - Water Fountain
Cold Specks - Bodies at Bay
Chuck Ragan - Something May Catch Fire
Local H - Bound for the Floor
Jesca Hoop - Born To
Eilen Jewel - Queen of the Minor Key
Jim Jones Revue - Collision Boogie
Pavement - Cut Your Hair
Ty Segall - Feel
Violent Femmes - American Music
Bob Mould - I Don't Know You Anymore

Hour the First
Morphine - Honey White
Drive-by Truckers - Made-up English Oceans
Nada Surf - Popular
EMA - Satellites
Ramones - Blitzkrieg Bop
Cibo Matto - 10th Floor Ghost Girl
Poe - Hello
Hospitality - I Miss Your Bones
Liam Finn - 4 Track Stomper
Beta Band - Dry the Rain
The Vines - Ladybugs
Luscious Jackson - Love is Here
The Horrible Crowes - Teenage Dream
Lykke Li - Gunshot
Joan Jett and Paul Westerberg - Let's Do It

Hour the Second

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Wail
Dawn Kinnard - Father Couldn't Break It To You
Audra Mae and the Almighty Sound - Jebediah Moonshine's Friday Night Shack Party
Murder By Death - Lost River
Lo Fidelity All-Stars - Battle Flag
The Hold Steady - The Only Thing
Anthony Damato - Hard to Say
The Kills - What New York Used To Be
The Orwells - The Righteous One
Chuck E. Weiss - Devil With The Blue Suede Shoes
The Basic Blues Band - Kind-hearted Woman Blues
Twin Peaks - Found a New Way
Southern Culture on the Skids - Camel Walk
Matthew Sweet - Dinosaur Act
Tacocat - Crimson Wave
Marah - Sing! O Muse of the Mountain
The Royalty - Every Little Bit