An Interview with Author R.J. Meldrum

Lee: To start things off, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself and your work as a writer.

R.J.: Well, first I’d like to thank you for interviewing me. I really appreciate the opportunity to talk about my work and my inspirations. I’m Scottish by birth and lived in various parts of the UK until 2010, when my wife and I moved to Ontario, Canada so I could take up an academic position at a university in Toronto. I’ve been writing since my early twenties, but after failing to get anything published, I took an extended hiatus until just a few years ago when I rediscovered my old work. After re-reading my stories, I decided to give writing another go and started again. I got confident enough to submit a few stories at the start of 2016. A few acceptances gave me even more confidence, and I continued to write and submit. Four years later, I’ve had over 100 stories published by about a dozen publishers and magazines.

 

Lee: Tell us about your latest book, The Plague

R.J.: The Plague is a novella published this summer by Demain Press, as part of their Short Sharp Shocks series. It’s a vampire story, set in an isolated village in early twentieth century Russia. The local doctor and priest notice that some of the children are exhibiting signs of a vampire attack. The doctor and priest resolve to rid the village of this curse, but they know they will have to destroy both the vampire and all the infected children in order to destroy the curse.

 

Lee: What was your inspiration behind the The Plague?

R.J.: The tale is set in what I called a ‘dry winter’ – a period of unseasonal warmth in late November that happens every few decades. It was the concept of the dry winter that was the inspiration for the story. The idea of a period of unseasonal warmth and humidity bringing disease to an isolated village set me thinking what if a vampire also returned with the dry winter to prey on the villagers – after that, it was just a matter of writing the story.

 

Lee: Do you have any favorite characters from the book? Which character has been the most fun to write?

R.J.: I’m a scientist, so I tend to be drawn to any scientist or medical characters in my stories. My only recurring character in my work has been Dr. John Lansing and he has appeared in multiple different medical or scientific roles in my stories. Smirnov is the doctor in my story and I think he’s my favorite, although Zankov the priest is a close second. They were both fun to write, trying to balance between their duty to the village and the knowledge that they will have to commit an unspeakable act to do save the villagers.

 

Lee: What made you decide to become a writer? Was it something you always wanted to do?

R.J.: I’ve always wanted to be a writer, back from when I was a kid. I was brought up to love and appreciate books and it was always a dream of mine to get something published. After 4 years of getting published I now have the confidence to call myself a writer and that is really satisfying. I’m not sure I ever decided to become a writer, not in the sense that I woke up one morning and said “Today, I’m going to become a writer”. It was a series of steps; first writing a few stories, then getting the confidence to submit, the strength to deal with rejections and then dawning realization after a few years and a few publications, that I’d actually become one!

 

Lee: What book or story would you say inspired you the most?

R.J.: I’ve always been drawn to darker fiction. My favorite fiction genres are science fiction and what could loosely be called horror. I grew up in the late seventies and early eighties, so the go-to authors were Stephen King and James Herbert. My first ‘horror’ book purchase was Salem’s Lot, and it drew me into the world of dark fiction. In terms of inspiration, I don’t think I have a specific book or story. I’ve always read widely, both fiction and non-fiction and draw inspiration from a huge number of sources.

 

Lee: What is it about writing that makes you want to do it? Do you have a favorite part of the process, such as brainstorming or editing? Or is it something else entirely?

R.J.: I love the feeling of having an idea for a story, then seeing it develop on the page. I love creating characters, scenarios, dialogue. I love the idea of the reader being immersed in a world I created. I don’t have a favorite part or a part I hate – I love writing, editing and creating a polished, final product.

 

Lee: What do you like to read? Who are some of your favorite authors?

R.J.: I read all sorts, from dark fiction to historical non-fiction. My favorite authors are people like Robert Aikman, M.R. James, Edith Wharton, August Derleth and Basil Copper. As you can probably tell from that list I like to read vintage horror, including Victorian and Edwardian stories. I do read modern horror too, Ramsey Campbell and Brian Keene are two examples, but I prefer vintage tales of Gothic horror.

 

Lee: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

R.J.: My wife and I live on a hobby farm in Ontario and when I’m not writing and working, we’re looking after that. We have some rescue pigs and a kennel of sled dogs. In the winter, we’re usually out training the dogs for various events and races.

Lee: Do you have a specific method you follow when writing? What are some things you need on-hand?

R.J.: The only method I’m consciously aware of it to try to have the full story laid out in my mind before I start writing. Obviously, things will change during the initial version, and then again with subsequent versions and during editing, but I like to have the overview of the beginning, middle and end in my mind before I start.

 

Lee: What has been the toughest challenge you’ve faced as a writer?

R.J.: My biggest personal challenge is that sometimes I lose momentum on a story and it doesn’t get finished. I have a few stories like that in my ‘in progress’ folder, some of which have been sitting there for over a year. The challenge for me is to reopen those files and get them finished.

 

Lee: What advice would you give to a new writer?

R.J.: Firstly, if you want to be a writer, you have to write and keep writing on a regular basis. You also have to learn to accept rejection and criticism without taking it personally. You have to spend a ton of time looking for places to publish your work. You have to learn your craft, make sure your characters are believable, and your dialogue flows. Make sure your stories make sense to the reader. Make sure you aren’t assuming the reader will understand what you are trying to say, the story has to be clear. And lastly, get a mentor if you can and a support group if you can’t. I have a few people I can rely on to edit and proof my work and we swap leads on open calls and generally support each other – it’s a great asset and it’s a great comfort to have people you can ask for support and advice.

 

Find R.J. Meldrum’s ‘The Plague‘ on Amazon HERE

 

About R.J. Meldrum

Richard J. Meldrum is an author and academic. He specializes in fiction that explores the world through a dark lens. His subject matter ranges from ghosts to serial killers and everything in-between. He has had over a hundred short stories and drabbles published in a variety of anthologies, e-zines and websites. He has had short stories published by Culture Cult Press, Horrified Press, Infernal Clock, Trembling with Fear, Black hare press, Smoking Pen Press, Darkhouse Books, and James Ward Kirk Fiction. His short stories have also been published in The Sirens Call e-zine, the Horror Zine and Drabblez magazine. His novella “The Plague” was recently published by Demain Press. He is a contributor to Pen of the Damned and an Affiliate Member of the Horror Writers Association.

You can find R.J. Meldrum on Facebook and Twitter

REPOST: Ela Lourenco, Author of Dragon Born: Book Three, Awakening, Speaks About Awakening Reluctant Readers | @ElaLourenco #fantasy #YA #DragonBorn

The Sirens Song

The Awakening of Reluctant Readers?

Ela Lourenco

The idea for the Dragon Born series was actually not mine but my daughter’s. Being dyslexic yet a lover of fantasy tales she decided that I should put my time to good use and write books especially for her! Her love of dragons and all things magical were the starting point for the series. The main characters are in fact based on my two daughters and nieces – and I found that they evolved and matured as the books in the series progressed… you could say they grew up together.

I know some writers plan their stories in great detail while others just let them flow spontaneously – I fall somewhere in between. Once I actually start writing it is all spontaneous and freestyle but then there are the months of planning that go on in the background before the first chapter is…

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‘Appealing to Young Adults’ by Ela Lourenco, #author of Awakening – Book Three in the Dragon Born series. @ElaLourenco #fantasy #YA #DragonBorn

Glor's World

Appealing to Young Adults

by Ela Lourenco

What does ‘young adult’ mean? Some argue it’s the twelve to eighteen age group, others argue it is fourteen plus… It isn’t very well defined. In this day and age of internet access, social media etc., it has become ever harder to determine who is old enough for what. So how does one tailor a book for an indeterminate age group with varying levels of maturity and a whole host of different interests?

My daughter read the first few chapters as my ‘tester’, her only criticism being ‘is this all you’ve written?’ and ‘when will you finish the book so I can read it already?’ She then proceeded to stand over my shoulder (literally) so I would ‘crack’ on with it!

Encouraged by her obvious enjoyment of my story I realised something – I remembered that excitement and frantic frenzy born of sinking…

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Interview with Ela Lourenco, author of Awakening

Sirens Call Publications recently released Awakening, the third book in the Dragon Born series. The Dragon Born books are set in a fantasy world, great for both YA and adult readers!

 

Lee: To start, tell us about your latest book, Awakening: Dragon Born Book Three:

Ela: Awakening is the middle book in the Dragon Born series – in many ways it is my favourite of the collection as everything is coming together towards a crossroads and the suspense is rising.

 

Lee: What was your inspiration behind the Dragon Born series?

Ela: My daughter Larissa! She is dyslexic and although she loves stories she found reading very tiring so she asked me to write her books about Dragons and magic that was fast-paced enough for her to really get stuck in.

 

Lee: Do you have any favorite characters from the book? Which character has been the most fun to write?

Ela: Ooh, my favourite characters are Lara, Asena, Sofia and Leyla… they are completely based on my two daughters and nieces! I loved turning their very real personalities into characters for my books — quirks and all!

 

Lee: What made you decide to become a writer? Was it something you always wanted to do?

Ela: I have been writing poetry and stories since I can remember. My mother infected me with her own love of books from birth, I just want to create stories so that others can feel the same wonder I did reading as a child.

 

Lee: What book or story would you say inspired you the most as a writer?

Ela: There are way too many for me to pick just one! I devoured Ursula Leguin’s books, I love dark fairytales like Baba Yaga and folktales, Asimov, Shakespeare… I am an equal genres offender!

 

Lee: What three things, if any, do you need to have on hand to write?

Ela: Coffee, notebook and biro.

 

Lee: Awakening is the third book in the series. When you first had the idea for Dragon Born, did you have it planned out as a series? Or did it develop naturally?

Ela: I always knew the story would not fit into one book – I do have a love of series when I am reading myself. I just feel that it gives the author time to really develop the characters and plots.

 

Lee: What do you like to read? Who are some of your favorite authors?

Ela: I love everything from Shakespeare, Tolstoy to YA fantasy and horror. I love all genres! I really can’t pick! Although I will admit to having devoured every Tess Gerritsen book ever written – I do enjoy crime novels enormously!

 

Lee: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

Ela: Reading! And running creative writing workshops for children and young adults. I love watching their imaginations take over and the wonder they feel when they create their own stories — they inspire me tremendously.

 

Lee: What advice would you give to a writer working on their first novel?

Ela: I don’t think there is a right or wrong way of doing this, but what you must do is enjoy the process. I believe that if you write something you enjoy yourself it will translate. Don’t pick a genre or story because it seems to be what you think the market wants. Forget the market, leave everything aside and just focus on what you want to write about!

 

Get Awakening: Dragon Born Book Three on Amazon and Kindle!

DB3ebookcover

The Royal tournament, the Karnac, is fully underway. But there is deception and betrayal at every turn. Unseen dark forces are at play, both within the school grounds and out with. Even the Gods are unable to help when a new threat looms over them all.

The very existence of Azmantium depends on Lara fully becoming the Child of Fire and casting aside the Shadows lurking in every corner of her beloved planet.

Can she overcome the challenges that await? Will the Shadows cover the world in darkness? Only Lara and her friends can change the fate of Azmantium.

 

About Ela Lourenco:

bio picture cameron pr_bw

Ela Lourenco is a lover of all things fantasy, magic and mystery and loves nothing better than cooking up new tales – that is when she isn’t nose deep in a book herself! Nomadic by nature, she has now settled down in Scotland with her hubby, two daughters and two cats.

Ela also runs creative writing workshops for children and is passionate about helping those with learning difficulties to get ‘back to enjoying stories’.

An Essay on Transcending Dimensions by Ela Lourenco, Author of Dragon Born: Book Three, Awakening | #YA #Fantasy

The latest release from Sirens Call Publications​, ‘Awakening’ by Ela Lourenco is the third book in her Dragon Born series. Check out this awesome essay from Ela on Transcending Dimensions.

The Sirens Song

Transcending Dimensions

Ela Lourenco

The third book in the Dragon Born series, Awakening, is the continuation of Lara’s destiny. She is older yet still evolving – learning to harness the duality of her nature and to truly become one with her dragon side. Constant trials and hardships are thrown at her as she seeks to fulfil the prophecy of the Child of Fire. Her planet, Azmantium, is one of magic and mystical beings, yet her story is all too real.

Awakening is a fast-paced fantasy adventure mystery tale filled with supernatural beings, magical weapons that speak, set in a world so unlike our own… and yet many of the themes I have interwoven into Lara’s story transcend time and space. Friendship, betrayal, perseverance – we can all relate to these. The ever-present fight between the darkness and the light, the duality of our own natures – struggles we all…

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With Eyes Like Fangs

The latest in horror fiction by Charles Gramlich!

Pen of the Damned - where angst and horror flow freely...

In the holy forest, they hunt their prey by the scent of weakness that bleeds from its pores. With icicle eyes, prism eyes, eyes like cicatrixes, they find the cavern where the weakness lies. Scaled hands and furred ones work spasmodically on weapons. Claws click on steel while in the wet mouths fangs ache with hatred. In a darkling mist, they gather for the kill.

***

In the cavern, the prey stirs awake and lifts her head. A sudden light burns inside her. Through her skin, she sees, and weakness she sheds like a husk. Her mind centers on the forces arrayed against her outside. Her mouth begins a smile; the smile widens until the lips split at the corners and black blood runs.

“Let it begin,” she murmurs.

***

The hunters in the woods see the light flare within the cavern. They stir, restless in rage. And when the…

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RELEASE: Dark Passages: Moments of Transition and Dissonance by Shawn D. Standfast | #DarkFiction #Horror #Poetry @Sirens_Call @BooksR4Life

New release from Sirens Call Publications! Dark Passages by Shawn D. Standfast!

Spreading the Writer's Word

Dark Passages
Moments of Transition and Dissonance

Shawn D. Standfast

DarkPassages_KindleCover.jpgDark Passages is a collection of poetry caught in shadow, interweaving the remnants of memory, thought, dream, and desire.

Sample Poem:

Fire, Brimstone and Candlelight

Lost in a flow of phrases and emotions
Forever moving in motion to their rhythm
Sleet and hail burn a path through the night
With mindless movements shaping it all

Moonlight thunders past, chasing shadows
The smell of ozone and sulphur fills the air
Ghostly visions begin in euphoric delight
As fragments of misplaced moments converge

In a reflection of the storm’s fading glory
Silence shrouds once pulsating thoughts
Stillness reshapes hopes and dreams
As memories sleep in flickering candlelight

Dark Passages: Moments of Transition and Dissonance is
currently available from:

Amazon: US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy
Japan | Mexico | Brazil | India | 

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