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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Author Interview with Stephen Zimmer (Kindle up for grabs!)

Stephen Zimmer is an author & film maker who has been a friend of Amberkatze's Book Blog for a while now. So it is always nice to have the author come over for a nice coffee and to catch up ;)

So to make the week a little bit more enjoyable here on Amberkatze's Book Blog I am sharing my latest interview with the author. I hope you all enjoy it and will even check out his books. Pay special attention to the anthology Stephen is working on! There maybe some authors you recognise involved.

Oh and Stephen has a bit of a Contest going on till the 9th of September. There is a KINDLE up for grabs!!! And an Amazon goft certificate among other things! So go enter! It doesn't cost anything! ;)


Amber - Hello Stephen! Welcome back to Amberkatze's Book Blog. It is great to have you here on the blog again. Maybe you can start things off by telling us a little about what you have been up to since the last time you visited?

Stephen – It’s so great to be back! It has definitely been very, very busy since my last stop here. My main two series have progressed. I’m up to three titles in each series now, with The Seventh Throne released for the Rising Dawn Saga in August of last year, and Spirit of Fire released for the Fires in Eden series in June of this year. I also have some short story collections on eBook established now that are affiliated with both series, the Annals of the Rising Dawn and the Chronicles of Ave. Both of these are going to grow a lot in the near future. I recently got word that my third Harvey and Solomon steampunk short story was picked up for Dreams of Steam III, from Kerlak Publications. It is a very special piece entitled “Gift of Light”, and has a deeply personal element to it. Finally, I am about to release some short stories in the horror genre that are part of a themed collection. So the writing has definitely been going well.

On the filmmaker side of the spectrum, I just agreed to direct a new science fiction short film, based on another author’s short story. We will be shooting it this coming December, and I am really excited about getting a new film project.

Amber - I know you are working on an anthology. What is the title and theme?

Stephen – I was able to instigate a new anthology project brought to me by James R. Tuck, the author of the Deacon Chalk stories for Kensington. James was looking to do a dark, gritty, hard-hitting sword and sorcery anthology, of the kind that fans of Robert E. Howard would feel at home with.

I love sword and sorcery, and we’ve got a great sword and sorcery author at Seventh Star Press already in the person of Steven Shrewsbury, whose Gorias La Gaul novels and short stories are simply fantastic. It definitely was a great fit for SSP, and we were able to get things worked out for the anthology which is titled Thunder on the Battlefield.

It will involve sword and sorcery tales in ancient world or even post-apocalyptic settings, and James is encouraging a diversity in cultural settings. So you might see something set in places similar to the steppes of Russia, the mountains of Japan, or the grasslands of sub-saharan Africa, for example. I am really looking forward to this one.

Amber - Are you editing the book or/and contributing a story?

Stephen – James R. Tuck is the sole editor on the project, and he has full say over what stories are included. 100% editorial control, as do the editors of our other anthologies. As for me, I am honored to say that James has asked me to send in a story, and as I am also a sword and sorcery fan, am excited about doing one for this anthology. I have a particular character I would like to debut that I think would be a great fit. Readers will really like this fiery Norse gal… hint, hint! LOL

Amber - Which authors are involved so far?

Stephen – I honestly don’t know about most of the authors James is thinking of. All of that is up to James. He has mentioned a few possibilities in conversation, and I believe he has asked Steven Shrewsbury to submit a story, which I know will be a perfect fit. But at this time I really don’t know in terms of confirmed authors.

Amber - How did the authors for the anthology come together?

Stephen – James has open submissions going until January 31, 2013, so there are some slots available for writers interested in being considered. He also has several slots that are allocated by invitation, and I can’t wait to see who James ends up getting in that regard.

Amber - I always imagine the authors involved in an anthology getting together and having a cool nice out together and exchanging ideas for the book. I guess in reality it is all emails? No meeting up?

Stephen – It would be wonderful to get everyone together for something like this. That would be ideal for sure! But this one will probably end up involving authors from all over, perhaps international in nature, so it is a bit of an impossibility to gather everyone together.

Amber - Are there any other authors you would really like to work with?

Stephen – In terms of who I think could deliver a capable story for this anthology, the list would be sizeable. It would probably end up being a ten volume anthology, LOL. Seriously, though, I do think Steven Shrewsbury is star-caliber in this particular genre, and he would be one of my first hopes, which is why I’m thrilled James invited him.

Amber - How do you start a story? Do you plan everything out before hand or just start and see where things take you?

Stephen – I’m a bit of a hybrid in that I have a firm vision of where I want the story to go, the destination, and the core path of getting there. I always leave myself flexible for subplots and new characters to emerge, but I really believe you have to have an idea about your destination when you are setting out on a new project. There really needs to be a frame to build onto.

Amber - What about locations? Is it easy finding a place to base your work in?

Stephen –This part is not difficult for me, as my work reflects a very diverse range of settings. Ave, in the Fires in Eden series, has lands based on cultures all across our world, as well as some completely invented cultures and places. So I have a lot to draw upon. I am as comfortable writing in a medieval Japan setting as I am doing a story set in something like the Byzantine Empire. I have a real passion for medieval history and have studied numerous medieval periods across the globe. Lots of options to work with whenever I’m developing new threads or stories.

Amber - Names are sometimes unusual, normal or special. How do you pick names for your characters?

Stephen – Some are historical, some are invented. It is kind of a mix of things. I’ll sometimes take something from another language, as I did with the Unguhur of the Fires in Eden series which is derived from the German word for Monster. Similarly, the Trogens of the same series are derived from the Swedish word for loyal. Then you see names like Aethelstan or Aelfric when you go into Saxany, names that are more historically based. Then there are times when I just come up with something that has a strong, appropriate sound, as with An-Ki characters like Godral or Sargor in the Rising Dawn Saga. It is a real mix of things, as far as the naming goes. I just go with what feels right for the particular context.

Amber - What paranormal/fantasy creatures are you dying to fit into a story but you haven't managed to fit in yet?

Stephen – Eastern dragons come to mind immediately, though that is coming very, very soon. There are some other creatures from ancient China and Japan that really appeal to me, such as the Nian in the former, and the Nue from the latter. Both are really fascinating mythical creatures that readers are definitely going to encounter at some point in my tales.

Amber - Is there a paranormal creature you just don't like, and would never use in your books?

Stephen – I haven’t come across any that I would never use! Nor do I have any particular antipathy towards a particular paranormal creature. There are some that I think have been done so much that the edge and mystique about them has been worn thin, to the point that they’ve lost the power that they once had, such as vampires and werewolves. They’ve both become very watered down, far more romantic these days than monstrous, as they were in folklore and legend.

Amber - What has been taking up your free time lately? Read any good books? Watching anything worth recommending?

Stephen – When it comes to the movies, I have to say Prometheus was my favorite summer movie, yet another brilliant sci-fi epic from Ridley Scott. It has depth and an intellectual aspect, to alongside great visuals and action. It is a real rarity in this age of superhero popcorn flicks which to me are far better suited for cartoons than live action! LOL

I was pleasantly surprised by the remake of Total Recall. I really don’t like the idea of remakes, but I can’t deny that this one caught me by surprise, especially as it contains themes that resonate with some of the themes in my own writing! It had a real passion towards the idea of freedom and individual liberty. When I learned that Kurt Wimmer penned the screenplay for the Total Recall remake, it all came together, as he was the screenwriter for Equilibrium, another brilliant pro-liberty and anti-authoritarian film starring Sean Bean, Christian Bale, and others that is one of the true dystopian gems in the movie world.

As far as books go, I read a really great YA fantasy novel for blurb consideration, which I happily gave, entitled Deception Peak, by a talented writer and artist named Dianne Gardner. I am about to finally dive into The Hunger Games trilogy, as I’ve wanted to read that series since enjoying the first movie. It also carries themes that resonate with me and I want to find out if the books live up to the hype! LOL

Amber - What's your favorite paranormal movie of all time?

Stephen – Strictly paranormal speaking, I would have to say The Exorcist. It is a movie that has stood the test of time and still unsettles viewers. I don’t know if Rise of the Lycans, the third Underworld movie qualifies as strictly paranormal, but in terms of an action-driven paranormal movie I loved it! Of course, anything that shows werewolves triumph in the cause of freedom stirs my blood! LOL

Amber - If you could meet any famous person, alive or dead, who would you be? and why?

Stephen – Jesus, as the questions I am most concerned about in life hinge upon the things I would ask him about, things that have always unsettled me and bothered me about the way the world is set up. I’m a big picture sort of person and tend to worry about those things the most.

Amber - Thank you for being a guest again! See you soon! ;)

Stephen - Thank you for having me as a guest since the very beginning when The Exodus Gate was first published. Your site will always have a special place in my world! :)


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M.C.V. EGAN said...

I was amazed by how diverse Stephen is...and here i thought I knew him! BRAVO on all the great projects, busy is putting it mildly!
M.C.V. Egan

sgzimmer said...

Thank you for stopping by and checking it out! Amber has had me visit ever since the beginning and it was great to be back here! I'll try to keep moving some fun projects forward! LOL

Unknown said...

OMG I thought I knew him too LOL *GRIN* the one question that threw me off, the third movie of Underworld (though I LOVE I would not put it up there) though I TOTALLY agree with the Excersism. NOW the first Underworld movie? I want the guy,with the razor blade bullwhip out front with my zombie strippers doing perimeter patrols and mutant zombie extermination and daily nooner shows for me.. because that vampire is YUMMEH! Oh wait this is about Stephen! GREAT interview!

sgzimmer said...

@Kriss Hehehe I have many surprises, LOL. And the Underworld 3 movie WOULD be on top of your list if Lycan blood ran in your veins like it does mine! It is the Werewolf version of Spartacus! LOL

Sharon Stogner said...

I loved Rise of the Lycans and Total Recall too for the same reasons :)Prometheus was epic, but it was missing something for me...John Carter was fabulous for all ages I don't understand why it didn't do better in theaters...
I loved the Hunger Games...I will be interested in hearing your thoughts on the trilogy.

Unknown said...

So nice to meet you Stephen. Your books all look great and I love that you direct too. That always interests me, so much goes into it :). Great interview!