UnCommon Minds Q&A: Jessica West

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The UnCommon Minds anthology was published today. This “Collection of AIs, Dreamwalkers, and other Psychic Mysteries” features 20 stories by some fantastic writers. And me. I’ve been posting interviews with the authors all week but today I’m talking to the project’s editor, Jessica West.   What attracted you to the UnCommon Minds project? Magical realism plays really well with speculative fiction, my favorite, so I just knew I’d love whatever stories the authors came up with. I grew up reading brief works, first Goosebumps and then Clive Barker’s Books of Blood. I still read mostly short works because I love getting to know new characters and finding out what happens, and I’m not always a patient reader. Most of the time, I want to know now. Collections like these are perfect. I get to blaze a trail through twenty or so stories with each collection. It’s heaven. On top of that, I love meeting new people and reading new authors. The UnCommon projects were just too tempting in every way. What did you enjoy most about the experience of putting the anthology together? For me, it’s the authors themselves. Editing offers you a chance to see someone at play and work simultaneously. … Read More

UnCommon Minds Q&A: Tonya Liburd

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My new story, Sitala, is being released in the UnCommon Minds anthology TOMORROW! To celebrate, I’m interviewing some of the authors about their stories. Today, I’m talking to Tonya Liburd about Through Dreams She Moves   What attracted you to the UnCommon Minds project? I had worked with some of the editors in the Mosaics: Independent Women anthology, and was willing to work with these exciting people yet again. What are you most proud of about the story? The crafting of it word by word. Characterization, etc., I was happy with, but I was most invested in the crafting of the words. Are there any authors that influenced your story or your writing in general? Over at Lackington’s, Vajra Chandrasekera’s On Being Undone by a Light Breeze inspired me to want to write this in 2nd person, but what I ended up doing was a combination of 2nd and 1st person that a writer friend said they couldn’t pull off “in a million years”. Any plans to revisit the world of your story? Yes! In fact this isn’t the first story based in this world; I have The Ace of Knives, published in 2015 in the anthology Postscripts to Darkness, and Shoe Man published last … Read More

UnCommon Minds Q&A: Shebat Legion

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My new story, Sitala, is being released in the UnCommon Minds anthology on 21st January. To celebrate, I’m interviewing some of the authors about their stories. Today, I’m talking to  Shebat Legion about Whatever Lola Wants.   What attracted you to the UnCommon Minds project? I am intrigued by concept and joined the Uncommon project in the second volume, UnCommonOrigins. The acceptance of my story, The Apple also led to a meeting of minds with brilliant authors whose voices set the bar for excellence. What was the inspiration for the uncommon mind in your story? For the story, Whatever Lola Wants, there were two main inspirations. I channelled Edgar Allan Poe, his darkness and meter. Also, I was inspired by how horrifying it can be when a story appears in my mind and I am compelled to write it. It is an unknown source, this so-called Muse. It is controlling and without mercy. It allows for no excuses made, nor does it respect circumstance. A muse is a force and the writer is its slave. What are you most proud of about the story? There are stories that write themselves. There are other stories that fight you; a monster on a hook. I … Read More

UnCommon Minds Q&A: Tausha Johnson

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My new story, Sitala, is being released in the UnCommon Minds anthology on 21st January. To celebrate, I’m interviewing some of the authors about their stories. Today, I’m talking to Tausha Johnson about 11.11   What attracted you to the UnCommon Minds project? Last August I was in at a writers’ workshop in Transylvania, and I happened to meet two amazingly gifted writers whose work appeared in UnCommon Bodies. They brought the book with them to Transylvania and shared it with me and the other writers. I was highly impressed with quality of writing and the design. I thought it was very cool. I didn’t immediately make the connection when I saw the call for UnCommon Minds, but when it hit me this was part of the same series, I knew I wanted to submit and, fingers crossed, be a part of the project. I had the story 11.11 about a psychic medium, so I thought it definitely fit the theme. What was the inspiration for the uncommon mind in your story? A number of factors inspired the uncommon mind in my story 11.11. Believe it or not, the title came first. A few years ago I was visiting family in the … Read More

UnCommon Minds Q&A: Patrick S. Baker

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My new story, Sitala, is being released in the UnCommon Minds anthology on 21st January. To celebrate, I’m interviewing some of the authors about their stories. Today, I’m talking to Patrick S. Baker about Chief Canis and the Helpful Locals   What attracted you to the UnCommon Minds project? I saw the open call on a Facebook group I belong and thought my story would be a good fit. And so it seemed to be. What was the inspiration for the uncommon mind in your story? I watched a TV show about military working dogs; guard dogs, bomb sniffers, etc. and saw the connection between the dogs and their handlers. So I just took that connection to a deeper, more science fiction/fantasy level. Also I’m a US Army veteran and like to write stories that feature veterans and the military. What are you most proud of about the story? How the connection between Canis and Buffy and between the team members came out. I think I gave the story a bit of “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me, Shall be my brother;” Even if the “brother” is a dog. What’s … Read More

UnCommon Minds Q&A: Zen DiPietro

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My new story, Sitala, is being released in the UnCommon Minds anthology on 21st January. To celebrate, I’m interviewing some of the authors about their stories. Today, I’m talking to Zen DiPietro about Subliminal. What was the inspiration for the uncommon mind in your story? I wanted to portray someone who’s had everything about him stripped away, but still knows who he is at his core. Someone who manages to overcome his obstacles to fight for himself. It’s a metaphor for the struggle that we all face in life–the need to persevere and survive, and to use what we’ve learned to make us better. The story is a prologue to Translucid, the first full-length novel in this series. This unseen early event leads to everything else that happens, unbeknownst to the main characters. Because life is like that–a neverending cascade of events that flows from the past to the future. I wanted to show this early event, to highlight one such moment in time that touched off a series of events. What are you most proud of about the story? The structure of the story. There’s a repetitive element and I’d never written anything that unfolded that way. It was risky, and … Read More

UnCommon Minds Q&A: Ashleigh Gauch

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My new story, Sitala, is being released in the UnCommon Minds anthology on 21st January. To celebrate, I’m interviewing some of the authors about their stories. Today, I’m talking to Ashleigh Gauch about In Loving Memory. What attracted you to the UnCommon Minds project? I loved UnCommon Bodies and Origins! Although In Loving Memory was already underway when I found out about the project, reading the open call gave me the courage to turn it into an empathy story rather than sticking to the typical “machines and technology will kill us all” stereotype that dominates the genre right now. What was the inspiration for the uncommon mind in your story? I’d been playing around with the idea of an AI built entirely on human memories and emotions for some time, but Kyrkos herself was actually based on a series of interviews I did with autistic friends. When I learned how they coped with difficulties regarding reading other people and understanding tone, I used the information to help showcase how Kyrkos learned the things Lana didn’t directly teach her. I passed my story over to them before submitting it, and even though the character wasn’t an autistic human, they loved the representation and … Read More

Looking Forward, 2017

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After posting my belated end of year wrap up, I figured I’d better also look forward to what’s ahead in 2017… I talked about setting goals on New Year’s Day and mentioned my big personal goal – running a marathon in under four hours. That goal has actually been in the back of my mind for a few years but 2017 is the year I’m really going to focus on my speed and fitness (and weight) and try to hit that. My wife and I recently worked out which races we’re going to take part in this year and it’s a fairly long list, but a lot of them will be used as training runs for my main goal of that sub-four hour marathon. Time will tell whether it will pan out but I’m looking forward to trying. I’ll probably make the odd post here about my progress for those who are interested in how a moderately unfit, middle aged guy prepares for a marathon. I also mentioned my eight book publishing schedule. That’s pretty aggressive, even though I have a couple of the books complete and two more in draft form. I’ve laid out the schedule for the first half of the year and this is what it … Read More

Farewell, 2016

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Continuing my tradition of posting end of year wrap ups late… 2016 was a mixed year for me, personally. We lost a lot of great people including some of my idols (I’m listening to David Bowie’s new EP right now) and people close to me. The internet seems to be getting more and more toxic by the day, and the less said about Brexit and the US election the better. But there was plenty of ups to offset the downs. I moved into a new apartment that doesn’t turn into an oven in the summer, and a new role on a very exciting project in my day job. It means I’ll be busier than I’ve been recently, but the work will be much more fulfilling. My writing went very well, too. I hit 282,441 words over the whole year which is a new record (I wrote 275,872 words in 2014 and 255,470 in 2015). There was plenty of editing in there as well so I’m happy with that. I’ve got ambitious plans for this year, so I’m hoping to break 300,000 words. We’ll see. I worked on several new projects during that time including the second and third Leah King books, The … Read More

Batman. Star Wars. Cheese.

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A while ago, Preston Leigh from The Leighgendarium was kind enough to invite me on to his 30-Minute Author Interviews podcast. We recorded the episode a couple of weeks ago and I had a lot of fun. So much that we ended up chatting for close to an hour about everything from video games to Batman to my hatred of cheese. You can find the interview on The Leighgendarium and while you’re there, check out the other interviews. Preston is a big supporter of indie authors and his interviews are always interesting. Oh, and we’re also running a competition on that page – you could win copies of all my ebooks. Sign up for my newsletter and get four free ebooks. CLICK HERE to get started. [Batman. Star Wars. Cheese. by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 21st December 2016]