Author Brian S. Converse, one of the authors to feature in the latest Inklings Press anthology, Tales From The Universe, stops by the blog to chat about his work.
Hi Brian, good to have you here - your story Small World is featured in the new sci-fi anthology from Inklings Press, is this your first published piece or have you been published before?
I have had both short stories and poems published before, but for small press houses or on-line where it was a limited run. Probably nothing is available anymore, since I took a brief hiatus (actually about eight years) until I recently starting writing again.Can I say that when I read your story I felt like I was reading something that was channeling the spirit of something akin to Firefly? Where did the inspiration for the story come from?I actually woke up from a dream with the first line - and then spent a while trying to figure out what it meant! (I don't think I had seen Firefly when I first wrote the story.) It was interesting to me tosee the protagonist basically talking to himself while sending a message for help. He's trying to come to terms with everything that had changed in his life, as well as determining his next steps.Was it a story written for this anthology or one you had written previously?I had written it a few years ago, actually, and wasn't satisfied with the first draft so it was sitting in a computer file until I saw your call for submissions. I felt the story could fit in well with your theme, so I digitally brushed off the dust and revised it.I suspect the answer to this is probably forever - but how long has writing been a passion of yours? And when did you first start taking steps towards publication of your work?
I fooled around a little with writing in high school, but didn't truly start writing (poems at the time) until I was in the US Army, soon after. Lots of down time to think between furious bouts of action. I didn't think about publication at the time, and it took a few years for me to consider writing as more than just a hobby. It wasn't until I was in college that I considered publishing. I then took a bit of time off while relocating from California to Colorado and raising kids. I started getting back into the writing groove last year.
Where is it you draw your inspiration from for your stories?
Sometimes dreams, sometimes watching people. Sometimes an idea will strike out of the blue and I wonder what it means, so I use writing to explore it further to discover why my brain suddenly popped it out.
Can't blame you there! Magnificent movie. Tell us, which writers inspire you? Different writers inspire me in different ways. Shakespeare was my first inspiration for his word choice (and sometimes making up a word that he felt was needed!) Love reading Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and Guy Gavriel Kay. Gosh! Guy Gavriel Kay! There's a name to bring back memories! Is writing a full-time job for you - if not, what's the job that you fit your writing around? Do you ever find it tricky making the time to write?Who is your favourite sci-fi character (in books, films, TV, whichever)?I've always had a soft spot for Flash Gordon. Loved the 80s movie when I was a kid, too.
I've been a proposal writer in the architectural/engineering/construction industry for the past fifteen years. Always find it tricky to fit in my own writing. My kids have become used to seeing me carrying around a pad of paper and pen. They know when I have a moment, I'll jot down ideas or write a paragraph or two.
What are you working on next for readers to look forward to?I have a science fiction trilogy out to a few publishers who requested it, and I just started plotting out a fantasy trilogy that I’m very excited about. An occasional short story or poem may slip in at any time as well.
Tell us a little about the sci-fi trilogy - what's the hook?
I had a dream about a group of people who woke up in a round, white room. I woke up wondering how they got there, and it turned into a science fiction trilogy. My main character, James, is a burned-out police detective who discovers that being kidnapped by aliens is not the worst thing that could happen to you, even if you're subsequently caught in the middle of an inter-galactic war.
What's your favourite thing about being a writer? Imagination is a wonderful thing.What's the best advice you've received with regard to writing? And what's the tip you would personally give to others? I don't remember who gave it to me, but someone once told me to be myself. Don't try to be (or write) like any other writer. Find your own voice. For others, I would give the same advice as well as to not give up. Take each rejection as a badge of honor showing that you tried. It's a tough business, and everyone gets rejected more than accepted.
Away from writing - tell us a cool fact about yourself that people might not know.
One little-known fact about myself. And it has to be cool? That might be asking too much.
I once worked in injection molding, making covers for airbags that would fit into the steering wheels of Hondas. I may or may not have ruined more than I made.
Ha! We shall drive with care! Last question - though really it's two in one - what's the best book you've read in the past year, and what are your reading currently?
Again, not a lot of time for reading with a newborn son, but I was able to storm through Stephen King's Dark Tower series. I'm currently reading (depending on age) Order of the Phoenix and Goodnight Moon to my kids before bed.
Many thanks, Brian - good to chat to you!