Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Interview with Joe McGee…

August 17, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Fortuitous – definition: happening or produced by chance; accidental; lucky; fortunate

Please welcome Joe McGee – his fortuitous meeting with his current mentor steered him into his current genre.

Joe McGee

a) What do you enjoy most about writing? I enjoy exploring new worlds, meeting these wonderful characters that become living extensions of my imagination. I enjoy the process and the discovery along the way. Many times I am just as surprised in my writing, with the way the story unfolds, as the reader may be. In essence, I enjoy the very act of creating…of giving life to people and places and entire worlds….

b) What age did you start writing stories/poems? I distinctly remember writing stories for other people to read, at the age of 12. I would write short stories in my spiral bound notebook and read them to kids at recess. Whole groups of kids would gather in the brick alcove where the doors were and listen to me read my weird tales or fantasy adventures. In 6th grade, I was among the few children chosen from my school to attend “Young Author’s Day,” a series of workshops aimed at aspiring creative writers throughout the school district.

c) Has your genre changed or stayed the same? I wrote adult fantasy, horror and sci-fi, for the longest time (when I got older, of course), while learning my craft. I had some small pub success, my biggest achievement coming as a 2nd place winner in the Writer’s Digest Annual Short Story Genre competition. However, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I discovered where my natural voice was, and where I belonged, and that was in writing for children and young adults. And now I am writing picture books, middle-grade, and young adult novels!

d) What genre are you currently reading? I read all over the place; all across the board. Since I am writing in three spectrums, I try and read in all three spectrums: picture books, middle-grade and YA. However, I do still indulge in some adult and fantasy novels, especially as my circle of professional writer friends expands. I am a firm believer in supporting my fellow authors through the purchase and reading of their work. Lately, I have been reading a tremendous amount of Roald Dahl, as he has been the subject of my critical thesis at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

e) Do you read for pleasure or research or both? Both. Absolutely. I read for pleasure, in my general interest and genre, because that encourages me and inspires me to write good stories. However, I also read to learn and grow as a writer. Having recently completed a M.A. in writing, and being close to completing my M.F.A. in writing for children and young adults, I have been trained to read with a critical eye. I cannot help but dissect and examine as I read, recognizing those things that work, and those that don’t. I also read what I have to for research. The Writer’s Digest piece that I won with was a dystopian about immortality, death and tattooing; heavy on the tattoos. I did extensive tattoo research (reading, physical exploration, and interviews) and I firmly believe that that research made the piece as strong as it was. So, research, yeah…absolute necessity. If you write fantasy, sure..you could write about the soldiers thundering about on horses, but go out and ride a horse. Feel a horse’s mane, the muscle tone. Smell a horse. Feed it, put its gear on…that’s research and that becomes evident in your work.

f) Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?  Wow..that’s tough. I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by a lot of great writers/people in the last couple of years. However, I’d have to say that Lisa Jahn-Clough, a successful children’s writer and creative writing professor, has been of tremendous support to me as a friend, a mentor, and an encourager. She helped me discover that I belonged in the field of writing for children and young adults, and that I had what it took to be successful. She is the reason that I am at VCFA, and ultimately realizing my dream of being published.

g) Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?  I think my favorite character is in the YA book that I am currently working on, because in many ways, he is me…and his struggles are mine. I am touching on emotional themes that I thought I’d buried and some that are current struggles. His name is Sebastian; Sebastian Finn…but I really love all of my characters. In a way, they are all pieces of me. That’s how it works, right?

h) Where is your favorite writing space?  Coffee shops…although I say this having no good local coffee shop to write in. I write on my MacBook Pro, so I can write anywhere. But I prefer some ambient light and a bit of civilization. That being said, I write in my basement office a lot right now (complete opposite of what I say I prefer), and I built myself a treadmill desk so that I can work for hours AND exercise. My dream spot is a loft office above a detached garage, preferably in Vermont, but I’m not picky…

Joe treadmill

Take a peek at Joe’s treadmill desk!

i) Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants writer? I am a hybrid. And this is another thing I have been experimenting with this last year. Here’s what I do now: I write the beginning, the first twenty pages or so….then I write the end. The climax, the denouement, bam. Then I plot a few major scenes as they pertain to quartiles/acts/writer’s journey…whichever method you most associate with (they are all very close)…and then I pants it. It’s like laying out the map, knowing where you start, where you end, and where the filling stations are in between. Then you drive through the fog and see what you see.

j) What inspires your ideas/stories?  I live by “What if?” So…I’m usually inspired by a cheeky idea or some twist on what I see/hear/read….sometimes it’s a concept, sometimes it’s a character. But whatever it is, I take it, twist it, warp it, stretch it, and see just how much fun I can have in distorting the hell out of it.

k) Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one? Right now, my writing group is my fellow classmates at VCFA (Go Allies!) and my advisor, none other than THE Amy King (A.S. King). I’ve recently worked with Tom Birdseye and Sharon Darrow.

l) Do you have a book published? If so, what is it called & where can readers purchase it? We (my agent, Linda Epstein, Jennifer DeChiara Agency, and I JUST recently sold my first picture book. However, we are in the midst of signing the official contracts and such, so I am not supposed to give out any more info (i.e. publisher, etc) until I sign…(next week?) and it goes up on PW…so, SHHHHHHH….. 😉 Spoilers…

m) If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why? One? Come on, really? I’m giving you two and you can’t stop me: Stephen King and Roald Dahl. King’s mind fascinates me, as well as his ability to churn out stories (not to mention his twisted mind); Dahl is an amazing storyteller and since I’ve been reading a lot about his life, he seems like he’d be a hell of a cool person to hang out with over dinner and drinks.

n)Where can readers find you and your blog? You can follow my blog at http://mcgeejp.com/  and follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mcgeejp    Here is Joe’s blog header – it’s really cool.  Forging Worlds One Word At A Time.

joe blog

o) Do you have plans or ideas for your next book?  I do! We have three more picture books ready for sub: one about a young witch (Autumn Grimm) who discovers that having a pet is no easy job (especially when that pet is a giant spider), a book about a clockwork city in which the winding key is lost, and one in which the protagonist discovers that he is not alone in the book and is fearful of what lurks within. I am revising a middle-grade novel about an outcast with a dark legacy who must save his town from a 19th century madman and his army of ghouls, and I am at work on a YA novel about a young Ink Binder with the ability to resurrect the dead through arcane tattooing. 

Interview with Mandi M. Lynch…

February 6, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Please say hello to Mandi, a prolific writer of short stories, who has a multitude of work linked all over the place! Hence today’s word – Nexus – definition 1) connection, link; a causal link 2) a connected group or series 3) center, focus.

Mandi M Lynch

a.Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why? I did a steampunk story where the main character worked for the King and was part of the Underground (a secret movement against him). There was just something about her and her high-button boots that made me really like her. b.Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one? Generally, I write some type of fantasy or science fiction, but I’ve been known to write just about everything. c.What do you enjoy most about writing? Being able to deal with my problems, on my own time, with my preferred outcome. Somebody makes you mad? Write them into a story and kill them. Having body issues? Write about a character with the same issue and see where that character’s life takes them. In love with somebody? Write a love story. You get the idea. d.Have you got a favorite place to write? Wherever I’m productive at the moment. It goes in waves. For a while, it was curled up in bed with my laptop, but now I can’t seem to be productive anywhere that isn’t somewhat formally set up – desk, dinner table, etc. e.Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer? A little of both. I tend to write timelines – A happens, X happens, birthdays, major events, etc. I want to know the order of the important stuff, but let the journey take us there however it wants to. f.What inspires your stories? Everything. My mood, something I saw on television, dreams, photographs, offhanded comments, other people (my favorite project ever involves getting strangers to send me story prompts on postcards), whatever. Sometimes I just hit the keys of my laptop until fhjasdaqkw actually turns into real words and something happens. g.What are you currently reading? Um… I run a book review blog, so my TBR/currently reading pile is usually about ten books high. Right now I’m in the middle of Eric Wilson’s novella Amelia’s Last Secret, AJ Scudiere’s latest novel, Phoenix, Janine K Spendlove’s 2nd book in her Seasons trillogy (War of the Seasons: The Half Blood), and books about both Tolkien and Roald Dahl’s war time service. h.Do you have any odd habits or childhood stories? I have a lump on my ass from when I fell on a Lego house at the age of 11. You mean like that, or something different? Honestly, my childhood was pretty boring by Kid Standards. I learned to read at the age of four and never took my nose out of books. i.Do you have any pets? I have three cats – DC, Brynn and Alix – and two fish – Cheech and Chong, who I am proud to say have been in my house and haven’t been eaten yet. Not sure how long that will last with an open tank and three felines, but we’ll see. Alix is helping me do this interview, actually, by way of climbing up my leg, purring, and stepping on my toes. I think he’s walked half a mile around me already. Apparently, I don’t love him enough and he’s starved for attention. j.Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one? menu-nanowrimo I was ML for my local region of NaNoWriMo for five years, and one of the things that I did was have a weekly write-in that went year-round. Two years after somebody else took over, it’s still going strong, and we’re up to eight core people – seven of my best friends and myself – and a few others that come and go. I call it therapy, and can’t imagine life without it. Sometimes we even get writing done. k.What age did you start writing stories/poems? Er. Somewhere I have little books that I made in elementary school (or earlier… I may have been four when I did the first one), fiddled with it in high school, but didn’t really get serious about it until I was in my 20s. l.Do you have a book published? If so what is it called & where can readers purchase it? I generally write short stories, so there are several places that I can push you towards. First of all, check Amazon (of course I’m on Amazon) for Clockwork Spells and Magical Bells – the story I have in there is one of my favorites (the prompt was magic vs machine with a steampunk twist). Clockwork You can also look for anything done through Ink Monkey Mag – we’re about to release issue 5 of the magazine as well as a couple new anthologies (Blink! and 1000 Words) but You Don’t Say is already out, and it’s pretty unique because the stories in there are all in 2nd person, which you don’t see very often. (All will be out by Easter, so stick ‘em in those Easter Baskets right next to the Cadbury Eggs) retro-monkey-shock[1] You can also find me in several of Pill Hill Press’s anthologies – they do story a day fiction and horror fiction anthos and I’m also in their ePocalypse and Roboterotica anthos. If you want a freebie or two, google my name and I’ll pop up on sites like Underground New York, Daily Love, and Weird Year. m.If you could meet one favorite author who would it be and why? I’m going to cop out here and name two. One is Roald Dahl. My favorite book ever written is Matilda, and I had read it so often at one point that I could get to chapter three or four before I couldn’t recite any further. Unfortunately, he’s dead, so unless y’all have a TARDIS I can borrow, I won’t be meeting him any time soon. The other is Neil Gaiman. He’s incredible. Everything he does is successful, and my favorite episode of television ever – The Doctor’s Wife – was all his doing (Doctor Who episode 6.4). There is nothing that’s not awesome about him. n.If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be? I’m a Sagittarius, so I’m pretty flighty, but I also need to be grounded, so I’d be pretty comfortable staying here in Nashville if I could travel somewhere once a year (and I don’t mean to a con or back home). The Isle of Man; Nunavut, Canada; Egypt; and Italy (They’re hosting the next world’s fair!) are on my list. I’d also like to do a tour of world religious sites. o.What’s your favorite movie of all time? …A couple years ago I would have said Wizard of Oz or Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (the first one, not that crap that they did a few years ago), but there are so many movies coming out now, that I don’t think I could say. My tastes are pretty varied, so I’ve loved everything from Avengers and Thor to Amelie and Hugo. I’m a fan of 70s/80s comedies, too, so it’s not uncommon to catch me watching Uncle Buck; Planes, Trains, and Automobiles; Smokey and the Bandit; Stroker Ace… Hmmm. Maybe I should give a list of movies I don’t like? p.Where can readers find you and your blog? Blog?! I’m supposed to have a blog? Um. I have a book review blog that I run with four of my friends, and you can find that at http://bookinthebag.blogspot.com – you can find book reviews, author interviews and occationally random bonus content. Aside from that, you can find me and Ink Monkey Mag both on facebook. Book in a Bag q.Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? I am about to hit a deadline on a utopian story for an antho, so I’ll be working on that this week and rushing to get it out. I also have a couple projects that need edits/rewrites/whatever – one is a mid-grades novel (think early chapter book) about a kid named Ashley who has to get a message that King Saliman (may he lie peaceful beneath the stone) has died to his son, who is all the way across the kingdom, and the other is a novelette/novella about a woman trying to figure out who she is after her mother dies. r.Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager? Um. My grandmother was, but she died a few years ago (cancer is stupid – why can’t cancer get cancer and die), so it’s hard to say. I’d probably have to go with my group of aforementioned friends. It’s cool to be sitting at a table, announce some random bit of progress (chapter four, I killed a dude, 1667 words…) and have a table full of people cheer.

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