Calvin Daniels

Interview with Canadian Pulp Fiction, Manga, and Sci-Fi Fantasy writer Calvin Daniels.

TB: I’d like to welcome you, Calvin, to Author’s Dialogue. You’ve had a long and interesting writing career; could you tell us when and why you started writing?

CD: I actually got my break winning a sports trivia contest in hometown paper, which led me to offer to do a sports column for them. I wrote a sample three-parter, which they ran as one column. I ended up doing a 1,000 words a week on sports for the next decade.

Shortly after starting the column, they asked me to fill in when they were short-staffed, and just sort of stayed on. I’ve moved to Yorkton since, but that was about 24-years ago.

TB: What have been your best and worst experiences as a writer?

CD: Worst hmmmm, answering questions about myself maybe. Seriously the bad are rare, although in a weekly newspaper the mundane drag after nearly a quarter of a century.

Best—that list is much longer.

Holding my first book, and each of the six since.

Twenty-five Saskatchewan Weekly Newspaper Association awards of excellence. Wish they came with a bonus.

Interviewing icons such as Tommy Hunter, Todd McFarlane (famous for Spawn comic), Mr. Dressup, several National Hockey League Hall of Famers, the last four Premiers of the province, and dozens of just ordinary people with great stories.

TB: How have those experiences prepared you for being an author?

CD: The newspaper work at least creates some discipline. But, to do fiction it’s more imagination, and love of Sci-Fi, reading, observing life that aids the process.

TB: Please tell us about your latest work.

CD: That’s a tough question in as much as latest work is a bit hard to identify. Unit 13 – The Horrors of Altenschatten is last in print effort. It sort of recalls comics of my youth, although this is a novel co-written with Tyrell Tinnin of Wichita.

The story has elements of Sgt Rock & the Howling Commandoes, and Weird War comics. It follows a secret unit in WWI behind enemy lines. The unit has some ‘unique’ powers among them, and the Germans are doing ghastly experiments which must be stopped.

At the same time The Starling, Crake & Crane Casefiles, Ghost Wind #2 and Black Wolf #3 are all in progress as well.

TB: What were your inspirations for writing it?

CD: A love of pulp fiction, old action comics, and Sci-Fi-fantasy in general.

TB: Are you a “blank-pager,” or do you utilize an outline?

CD: What is an outline? That would be way too much preparation, and too confining once started.

That is especially true for a co-write project. We use a sort of follow-the-leader process. I start the books ad then we do a chapter each in turn (generally). It really keeps it fresh because you never know exactly what twist the other writer might include.

There are characters which are ‘protected’ of course, but other than that we just let it flow.

TB: To what degree are your fictional characters based in reality?

CD: Well if you included an author’s twisted view of reality, then it all is. I will assume you mean a bit more mass view of a reality, so let’s see. Granton City is roughly Chicago in the 1920s. If we reference a baseball player or historic event we do check to make sure it fits the period.

That said, there is magic, weird tech, limited superpowers, so it’s definitely not true to life either.

TB: Briefly share your thoughts on traditional publishing vs. indie.

CD: Having done both, both have merits. It’s great having a publicist set up signings, and great having them distributing—it’s hard for indies to get in many bookstores.

That said pulps are a small niche. In talking to one publisher it would have been a year to publish, if they accepted the book. We have four books out in that  time. Remember pulps came out in vast numbers in the past. They were quick reads. We want to mimic that.

TB: Is there a different genre you would like to try writing?

CD: I am involved in an alternate reality western story for another publisher that is proceeding very slowly, with delays on the other end. That is one I really want to see complete.

Steampunk, a cousin to pulps in my mind, is another one I want to delve into one day.

I also have a really dark and twisted fantasy I would like to see in print, just need a co-writer to push it forward—hint, hint anyone!

TB: Can you tell us a bit about your next project?

CD: Let’s see. Ghost Wind #2 – The Runaway Princess is in the edit phase. The hero is thrust into the role of protector for a princess wishing to escape her pre-ordained role in the balance of power, and is on the run from it. Again very manga-influenced pulp from myself and co-writer Mitchel Rose.

The Starling #1 from Anthony Garcia and myself is nearing the halfway point. It is the first solo adventure for The Starling who debuted in Black Wolf and is a member of Unit 13. Now a covert assassin  The Starling must survive the web of lies and intrigue of 1920s Burma to carry out her mission.

Sean Kasper and I are at work on Crake & Crane Casefiles. Crake is the hardtack Sergeant from Unit 13 now in Granton City after WWI. He teams with the local coroner (Crane) to become a sort of ‘Odd Couple’ detective duo, on the search for a missing rich girl. The most ‘real life’ of the titles.

And Black Wolf #3 with Kevin Lee is just started. It will include a crossover cameo with another writer’s pulp character (a secret for now), introduce a new Granton City Press heroine, (or is she?), and will tie in with the background of reoccurring support character Pogs and Paully.

TB: Describe your ideal conditions or surroundings for writing.

CD: Anywhere, although 5th Avenue Cup & Saucer in Yorkton has become a favored haunt. My coffee table with baroque music playing works too.

TB: Do your dreams influence your writing?

CD: More the other way around. I often go to sleep with visions of Granton City Press characters dancing in my head. Beats sugarplums I suppose.

TB: I am aware that you have co-authored a number of pieces, can you give us a summary of the works?

CD: All the Granton City Press books are co-authored. My first three books, all hockey-themed were solo efforts.

TB: What advice can you share with writers who are just starting out?

CD: Write regularly. Make it important in your life. We make time for kid’s sports, and jobs, and gym. Make time to write.

If you sit down three days a week and write 750 words, that’s more 100,000 words in a year.

Don’t worry if you write out of order. Stuck on chapter five, write a love scene you can insert later. Write a car chase, do a character flashback. Just write.

TB: What are your quirks and do they influence your writing?

CD: Twenty-two finger rings, more tattoos than I can count, neither seem to influence writing, although I suppose it speaks to the fact most creative people are rather quirky.

TB: Please share with us, a little-known fact about you which others might find interesting/entertaining.

CD: Well you now know I have tattoos.

I love board games, in particular abstract strategy ones which rely on thinking and not luck. Dice hate me. So chess, Arimaa, Hive, Terrace etc.

I also craft, for own use, a lot of board games, either the ones people created and never got to the print stage, or games you can’t find.

Oh, and I grew up on a pig farm. If I won the lottery I’d be very tempted to have a small farm again, although the older I get the less likely that is.

TB: Calvin, thank you so much for joining me today.

CD: Thank you!

About the author, Calvin Daniels

Calvin Daniels has been a journalist for more than two decades, the last 20-years with Yorkton This Week where he is Assistant Editor. During his time at YTW he has earned 25 Saskatchewan Weekly Newspaper Association Awards, as well as numerous honorable mentions. During his career he has also freelanced extensively, to more than 150 publications in eight countries.

Daniels also published three books before embarking on efforts through Granton City Press; a fiction work Skating the Edge from Thistledown Press, and two non-fiction works from Heritage Publishing: Guts & Go: Great Saskatchewan Hockey Stories, and Guts & Go Overtime: More Great Saskatchewan Hockey Stories.

Drago is his fifth co-authored effort in the world of pulp fiction, and he promises more will follow.

Daniels resides in Yorkton, Sask. Canada.

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Carole Sutton

Interview with Australian Crime Fiction writer Carole Sutton, author of ‘Ferryman,’ ‘And the Devil Laughed,’ and ‘Blood Opal.’

TB: I am pleased to be joined by Australian Crime Fiction writer Carole Sutton. Welcome, Carole. You’ve had Carole Suttoninteresting journeys throughout your life; besides growing up in Britain and moving to Australia, can you please share with us the beginning of your writing career? When and why did you decide to start writing?

CS: Thank you for the welcome, Terre, it’s good to be here. To answer your question: Back in the 60s, when my children were toddlers, I scribbled out bedtime stories to read to them.  Later, I transferred these inky, handwritten pages into marginally more legible typed sheets.  It was around this time I made my first efforts in writing a novel.  I cringe now every time I think of it. At that time I had no concept about editing and assumed that when you arrived at The End that was it, finished. Boy, have I learned a lot since then! Needless to say, I binned my first attempt. My next major decision to try writing again was when I retired from working in the family business. I took a creative writing course at our local TAFE College in 1995.

TB: Now, as a professional writer, do you have a core philosophy as to why you write; and if so, can you please describe it?

CS: It started as a ruse to empty my head of useless thoughts and to curb a riotous imagination. For instance, family not arriving home on time would have me imagining the police car turning up at the house, officers walking to the door about to give the death knock. I’d think about what they’d say, what I’d do, how would I react, how to tell the kids and so on. Once I started writing, all those useless thoughts were re-directed into positive musings of character building, scene setting and plots for stories to come.

TB: What life experiences have best prepared you for being a writer?

CS: That’s a hard one. The fact that I am happy in my own company might qualify. Writing tends to be a lonely occupation. Training my first German shepherd dog gave me the necessary grounding of dog behaviour for my first published book, Gus, Sore Feet – No Collar. Without my hands-on experiences in sailing, I would never have been able to write Ferryman.   So, I think all my life’s experiences creep in there somewhere and have a bearing on my writing.

TB: Does that include your childhood experience of the Exeter Blitz, of 1942?

CS: The memory itself is a very vivid one. I have never attempted to write about it, though. I was four years old at the time. I can still hear the wail of the siren. The aunties pulled me and my cousin (also four), out of bed. They dressed us in our pixie suits (called siren suits in those days) and rushed us downstairs to the basement, where we sheltered in an old empty wine cellar. The family huddled together, cousins, aunties and my uncle who was blind (from WW1). He was now a physiotherapist and had his treatment rooms attached to the back of the house. With one terrifying crash the house suffered a direct hit which set the treatment rooms on fire. We all had to run to the garage to get the car. It was full of glass, all its windows shattered. I know we went to stay with a friend, but I don’t remember any more about that night. I think it’s the lack of cogent memory that stops me writing about it.

TB: How devastating for you. Thank you for sharing those memories.
Being schooled in a convent, were you encouraged to explore your creativity, or did it grow from challenging conservative views?

CS: The only encouragement I had in school to do with writing came from a lay teacher who taught English. She liked my compositions—they were usually about ponies—and mine were the most often read out to the class. She talked about setting up a school magazine and said I should write stories to go in it. However, it never came to fruition and nobody ever mentioned it again.

TB: Please tell us about your latest work and what genre it falls into.

CS: My latest book, Blood Opal, published by New Generation Publishing came out in 2010 and is another crime fiction set in Devon and Cornwall. Again boats and sailing feature as my characters’ background.

TB: What were your inspirations for writing it?

CS: The subject matter, I think. I love black opals and I love Australia, where this particular opal originated.  Cornwall, where we lived for twenty years whilst bringing up the family, has so many memories for me.  I enjoy writing about boats and sailing, country pubs, murder, mystery,  Pug—a sassy young woman—and her dog.  When I put them all together I came up with Blood Opal.  For me the Cornish coast remains a great inspiration. It’s so dramatic, awe inspiring, and the years I spent with my family sailing those waters will remain with me forever.

Cornwall. A calm sea on a windless day in Portscatho—a favourite place of ours.

TB: Cornish history is charged with myths and legends, including those of King Arthur; is, or was, your writing influenced by this folklore?

CS: No, not at all. I was never one for fairies, goblins and dragons, or the King Arthur stories. Strangely, I have become more interested in them lately whilst critiquing an author friend’s work. But I could never write it myself, I’m much too down to earth.

TB: Can you describe your writing process?

CS: A bit disorganized, I’m afraid. I don’t start writing until I have a plot in mind and know how it starts and roughly how it’s going to end, though that tends to change as I progress.  I set the plot up with a prologue to start with. If nothing else, that anchors me and gives me a flying start. I make a few notes on each chapter as I come to them on what I want to cover in that chapter so I can monitor how the story is moving forward.  I am not a blank screen person – I can’t sit there and wait for the writing to appear. If the muse isn’t working I go off and do something boring, like housework, or ironing—tidying my office doesn’t seem to work!

TB: To what degree are your fictional characters based in reality?

CS: None of my characters are based on any real person, but they do have to be realistic, and recognizably human, as I don’t write fantasy. The good characters have to have some flaws that make them human.  And even the bad guy might have loved his mother or something else in his lifetime, so he can’t be all bad. I’m blessed (or cursed) with the devil’s advocate mind. It has caused me much trouble in discussions in the past, but now I find it helpful in giving depth to my characters because I can see both sides of just about any argument.

TB: Can you tell us about your any upcoming projects?

CS: My current WIP is my fourth crime fiction novel. This is one I started several years ago before I got sidetracked into what is now known as And the Devil Laughed, (my second book).  Recently I decided this old one was too good a story to leave in the cupboard forever, so I pulled it out. After some serious re-vamping, I’m off and running with it again. Titled Flash Harry, it is set in Australia and Bangkok, Thailand. The story is centered on a young woman’s hunt for her missing father. When she discovers what he did for a living, the hunt turns full circle, as she becomes the one pursued.

TB: Would you like to experiment with a different genre?

CS: Not really. I prefer to stay on familiar ground—crime fiction is my preferred genre. I have tried other ones, for instance my first book Gus, published by Rawlhouse Publishing Pty. Ltd, was a tale about a dog being abandoned in the Australian bush. Not intentionally written for children, my traditional publisher described it as being suitable for ages 8 to 108! It was passed by the Dept. of Education and ended up on a library list for schools. I also have short stories published in various anthologies—one you can see on my website on the Fur page titled Not a Bad Bag of Bones. Written in the POV of my German shepherd, it is almost biographical. I have also written articles on wildlife around our garden and these were published by the glossy magazine, BirdKeeper, again, see samples and pictures on my web site under the Fin Fur and Feather pages.

TB: You mentioned to me that you’ve fostered a number of animals. How did that come about?

CS: I did occasional short-term fostering for the local dog’s home. Perhaps, more unusual would be the baby emu I fostered. Its parents and siblings had been killed in a dog attack. This one little chick, five days old, escaped from the carnage into a neighbouring property. I waded into the swampy ground, caught it, took it home and hand-reared it to adulthood. Lucky we called him. He followed me around the grounds like a dog, enjoyed his hugs and had races with my husband driving the ride-on mower. Lucky’s story can be seen on my website under Six Tiny Toes.

On a smaller scale, we rescued a one-day-old wild duckling that had lost its parents. We found it late one afternoon wandering around a country crossroad, cold and distressed. We took it home and brought it up until it was ready to be returned to the wild. My shepherd loved Duck and watched over her like a babysitter.

TB: Describe your ideal surroundings or conditions for writing.

CS: Strange though it might seem, to create murder and mayhem, I need peace and quiet, no outstanding jobs to do.  No computer troubles to trip me up, no music, no telephone, no interruptions asking, What’s for dinner tonight? Or, Where are we going to walk the dogs today? Rarely do I get that level of quiet—but that’s life. I’m not one of those that can shut the door against husband to say, I’m working, though I do understand why people do it!

TB: Has living in Australia had any noticeable effect on your writing, compared to living in England?

CS: A vast improvement I would say, but this is due to time and personal experiences more than a change of country.  Once retired, circumstances made it possible for me to take my writing seriously, attend workshops and learn how to do the job.

TB: Have you ever written from the deck of your sailboat?

CS: Mainly technical stuff like filling in a log books and recording strengths of wind and tide, distance covered, places by-passed or visited and weather patterns etc. I still have the charts I used for some of our voyages with my pencil lines and workings out on them. The very first voyage I undertook with my husband-to-be was back in 1959, when we hired a 4 ton yacht called Daphne for a fortnight. I still have the diary I wrote in place of a log book, all very amateurish I must admit, but that was before I attended night school to learn navigation.

TB: Have you ever co-authored a piece?

CS: Not unless you count working in a writing group as co-authoring!  After my creative writing course, I widened my experience and joined a business writing workshop. We started out with eighteen members under the auspices of a literary agent. At the end of that course, some of us asked our mentor if she could keep the sessions going, as a private arrangement, for those of us writing novels. She agreed, and WWW was born (Wednesday Writers’ Workshop).

TB: Can you tell us a little more about your writing group?

CS: Yes, we used to meet our mentor at her local pub every Wednesday. We’d sit around a long table in the dining room, (not used for meals on Wednesdays). A drink from the bar to oil the proceedings, then we’d read out a chapter from our novels while others listened and commented on it. Our new venue did have its amusing moments. Sometimes a few of the pub’s patrons sat too near to our table and could overhear the reader. That was okay by us, but could cause raised eyebrows if the material had hot scenes.  It reduced the blushing reader to a whisper. Over the years the number attending gradually dwindled, until now, fourteen years later, our mentor has moved away and we are down to three members. We three are all now published authors. The other two have traditional publishers, while I went ahead with the indie option. We meet fortnightly in a member’s house to read our chapters aloud and discuss our ideas and generally edit each others work.  It works well for us.

TB: Briefly share your thoughts on traditional publishing vs. indie.

CS: I went through the usual mill of rejections by the bucket-load which was very disheartening, especially as my first two novels had been short-listed in two prestigious competitions. At the time, I was heavily involved with YouWriteOn and sent samples of my first two books in for reviewing by my peers. Both samples gained enough kudos to qualify for professional critiques. But still the rejections came. Then YWO declared they would publish their members works themselves in POD form. I decided I’d had enough from the traditional publishers. At seventy years of age, I didn’t want to hang around many more years waiting for the miracle to happen.  The result was Ferryman, published 2008, The Devil Laughed, 2009, and Blood Opal, 2010. As an indie writer, I don’t make much money from my books, and would never make a living out of it, but when I see the hoops my fellow writers have to go through with the traditional publishers, I am reasonably content with my lot.

TB: What advice can you share with first-time writers?

CS: Do learn the rules. There are plenty of small handy grammar books around if you are not sure of them.  Write, write and write – try not to do it alone. If you can, join a face-to-face writing group. If you have none near enough for you to attend, use the Internet. Places like YouWriteOn where you get your samples critiqued by your peers in return for you doing theirs. Another excellent one is the Internet Writing Workshop. This one is divided into groups, everything from poetry to novels—just join the one or more of your choice and a whole new world of writing assistance will open up for you. There are many others, but these are the two that I am familiar with:

The Internet Writing Workshop & YouWriteOn

TB: Carole, thank you for sharing your professional and personal experiences. I wish you clear sailing in all your future endeavors.

CS: Thank you Terre Britton for the opportunity to meet you all, I wish you well in your writing efforts.

Thank you!

About the Author, Carole Sutton

Although born in London in 1938, Carole was brought up by her Aunty May in Devon. Her earliest memory is the sound of bombs dropping during the Exeter blitz and the house on fire.  After the war she remained with her aunt and enjoyed an idyllic childhood with a pony and other animals around her. Convent educated, she was a natural when it came to writing compositions.

In 1960 she married Bill and they raised their family of three children in Cornwall. They built their own boats. Carole went to night school to learn navigation and they enjoyed years of sailing the English Channel and the French coast before moving to Australia in 1981. There they set up a small retail business to employ the family. When, ten years later they retired, Carole at last had to time to learn and practice the craft of writing.

Although she has short stories and wildlife articles to her name, Carole’s real passion is writing crime fiction. With her love of Cornwall unabated, she combines the two interests and sets her crime locations around boats and rivers.

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Amazon Book Links:

FerrymanAnd the Devil Laughed | Blood Opal | Free Chapters


Book Trailer by Victoria Tweed


Dale E. Page

Interview with American Cowboy Poet Dale E. Page.

TB: Welcome, Dale. When I first met you and read your poems, I became instantly fascinated with you and your work. I also learned, through an insightful article by Tom Mayo, that the romance of Cowboy Poetry has often been unfairly hounded by disparaging attitudes by the uninformed. Could you please tell our reading audience, What is, and isn’t, Cowboy Poetry?

DEP: For me, cowboy poetry is the portraying of the American cowboy who raises cattle and uses horses to do it. Despite modern inventions and technology, it still takes a horse to do a lot of the work with cattle. We might have the luxury of trailering our horses to the job site if it’s too far, but in the end, it’s the horse that works the cattle. There’s plenty around a ranch that gets done without a horse, but without a horse, there’s no cowboy. Cowboy poetry has its roots in Celtic music and the folk tales brought to America by mostly British ancestors. While there are those who dispute whether poetry has to have rhyme or meter, the overwhelming number of cowboy poetry has both. Cowboy poetry ISN’T a celebration of drunkenness, infidelity, or criminal behavior. The best poetry is a celebration of a lifestyle which makes some men and women forego an easier life on order to watch the world from a horse’s back.

TB: To set the mood for our readers, we have an audio clip of you reading one of your poems. Could you please tell us the title and give a quick background of the piece?

DEP: This poem was inspired by an event in which I took part. We were riding Benson Canyon in southern New Mexico when a child’s horse began a bucking fit. Thankfully, the child was saved from potentially serious injury or death. I patterned the hero of the poem after a boy from my high school class, who was picked on for his small size. Years later, he saved a life by his quick thinking and fast reflexes. I call this poem In Memory of Shorty O’Hare.


In Memory of Shorty O’Hare


TB: Please describe your ideal surroundings or conditions for writing—including the poem we just heard. And, considering your subject matter, does your environment influence your writing?

DEP: Solitude and silence are the factors which make it easiest for me to write. I’ve done some of my best verses under a clear night sky at high altitudes. I really need to tune out the world and get into the story. After many years in New Mexico, we no longer live in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Living in the Midwest makes it even more difficult for me to tune out the present and go back in time. Autumn trips to the Rockies for horseback trips and cowboy poetry gatherings really rejuvenate my creative spirit.

TB: When and why did you decide to start writing?

DEP: I remember writing my first “theme” in seventh grade English class. I was hooked immediately on the idea of inventing characters and making the story come out the way I wanted.

TB: You have a very colorful background. You’ve worked as a horseshoer, a dude wrangler, and a bull rider; you’ve ended up on the movie set of The Cheyenne Social Club; you’ve been published in numerous journals during your career as a USAF pilot; you’ve been named Best Overall Performer at the Oklahoma State University’s Cowboy Poetry and Songs event; and, in 2010 you took home a silver buckle at the 13th annual National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo in the Poet Serious division. Now, as a professional writer, do you have a core philosophy as to why you write; and if so, can you please describe it?

DEP: My poetry is aimed at creating an appropriate atmosphere in which to convey ideas or pass on my account of a particular incident. I generally use my own life experiences for the narrative poems. But many times I’ve taken stories told to me and turned them into poems. The biggest compliment anyone can give me is telling me that he “saw” the scenes in my poem or could “feel” what the characters were experiencing. I want the reader to know my character and the story. I want him to see what I saw and take something with him.

TB: What life experiences have best prepared you for being a poet?

DEP: I’ve owned horses off and on for over 40 years. My first summer out of high school, I worked as a horse wrangler. I started riding bulls that fall in college. For the next three summers, I guided horseback rides into the Santa Fe National Forest. In the 1980’s, I packed myself horseback into the Pecos and Gila Wilderness Areas in New Mexico. Most of my background in poems comes from these kinds of personal experiences.

TB: Not surprisingly, the ‘horse’ is a major symbol throughout your poems. Jenny’s Colt, is a particularly powerful piece. Can you describe your personal connection to horses compared to how it’s used throughout literature as a symbol of power, nobility, or freedom?

DEP: The domestication of the horse was an enormous step in the advent of mankind. From Genghis Khan’s cavalry to the Comanches of North America, horses made some men more powerful than others. In the case of the cowboy, the horse makes it possible for men to control half-wild cattle. They more than earn their keep. They can carry us at least twice as far as we could walk in a day, into country where few people will walk.

My maternal grandfather used horses on his farm in Oklahoma. He had upgraded to machinery before I was born, but my mother remembered the horses they used for pulling implements and putting up hay. The difference in what my grandfather did was that he used the horse for a tool, and not much more. I’m sure Grandpa’s horses were well treated, but they weren’t given the same close care and comforts as my wife and I gave ours. For the cowboy, there was no life without horses. Though machinery has replaced the draft horse in day-to-day farm work, the American cowboy still uses a horse. There are places where machinery just can’t go.

There is a bond between a horseman and his horse which no animal, not even a dog, can match. When I walked away from my last horse, I admit to shedding a few tears. It was like a piece of me was being taken. My old Doc Bar gelding was more than just a ride. He took me as much as 17 miles on mountain trails in one day and never balked. Not once in the years I owned him did he once hurt me or try to. Outside our own species, there’s no other animal that’s as beautiful as a horse.

TB: Do you have any information or opinion on Horse Whisperers?

DEP: I have witnessed folks who seem to be able to think like a horse. They know what he’s going to do in a certain situation and they know what he’s thinking. Most of it has to do with the horse’s being a prey animal. They usually exercise the “fight or flight” principle when something happens to them. The best horse trainers are able to get a horse to see the trainer as a leader and a source of security. These kind of folks don’t fight a horse. They show him how much better it is to do things the man’s way.

TB: Please tell us about your latest work and what genre it falls into.

DEP: I cut a CD of original cowboy poetry in 2009. By the way, don’t confuse “cowboy poetry” with country music. Generally speaking, cowboy poetry focuses on horses instead of pickup trucks, and is more likely to speak of mountain meadows instead of smoky bar rooms. The poems are built around men and women whose lives revolve around the business of cattle and horses.

TB: This becomes evident from reading your work and is described well through the aforementioned epiphanies of Tom Mayo, who also mentions Cowgirl Poetry. In your opinion, are there any defining characteristics between Cowgirl and Cowboy Poetry?

DEP: I think it’s a case of viewpoint and not of gender. On a family ranch, it’s quite possible that a woman does the work of a hired hand. She’s also a wife and maybe a mother. So she not only does what her husband does, she’s also tasked with making a home for her family. Her poems might reflect the way a woman looks at the world. It’s the same world, but her view is different and her priorities are probably different.

TB: As an aside, I’m curious . . . what kind of music do you listen to?

DEP: My iTunes library is mostly golden oldies from the 50’s and 60’s, or cowboy music. The CD’s I find myself reaching for are likely those of Don Edwards, Dave Stamey, Bill Barwick, Juni Fisher, Susie Knight, or Almeda Terry. They paint pictures of times when men and women lived harder lives, but more easily knew the difference between right and wrong.

TB: What is your best work?

DEP: One of the poems on the CD, Once We Were Kings.

TB: What were your inspirations for writing it?

DEP: It was inspired by returning to a place where I worked over 40 years ago. As I stood there in the corral at the horse barn, I compared my life now to what it had been since that 18-year-old boy bunked in a corner of that barn. This poem, which was a runner-up in the Lariat Laureate contest of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, has been the most requested for me to recite. It celebrates a past to which I can never return, but wouldn’t have missed for anything. I’ve shared this watershed event at several campfires and recited it as a eulogy for an old saddlemaker friend.


Once We Were Kings


TB: Can you describe your writing process?

DEP: I believe having something of worth to say is the most important part of writing. When I get an idea for a poem, I write it down. After I have time to ruminate on the idea, I might write the first verse. It usually steers the poem in a particular direction. I outline the poem to keep me on track, and nearly always know how it’s going to end before I write it. With the outline in one column of my page, I write the verse beside the outlined idea. I have the meter of the poem written down and every verse adheres to that meter. If my words don’t fit the meter, I substitute another word or change the structure of the sentence until it fits. After the last verse, I let the poem age a little. When I come back to it, I edit, edit, edit. I have never written a poem which has not been changed in some way during the editing. I’m married to my editor, and no one else sees the work until we agree it’s done.

TB: I must commend you on your success, because as I read your poems I feel and hear the rhythm and the beat.
This musical quality also ties into the language. One of the first things you and I discussed was terminology unique to the Cowboy genre. Although the strong imagery and sensory impact of Cowboy poetry makes it comfortably accessible, I did end up hunting down an online cowboy dictionary for the odd clarification of new terms. Two of my favorite terms are coosie and waddy. Could you please explain these, and any other terms, and give some background into the Spanish influence?

DEP: A significant number of cowboys of the southwest have been of Mexican descent. It’s only reasonable that their language would be adopted to some degree. From the Spanish la riata, we have “the lariat.” From el vaquero, we have “the buckaroo.” You’ll find “coosie” in “Once We Were Kings.” That’s a transliteration of cocinero, “the cook.” From caballada, the cavalcade, a cowboy says “cavvy” when he refers to a group of horses.

Like wadding in a muzzleloader rifle, a “waddy” was someone who “filled in” when roundup time found a ranch short on help. Neighboring ranches would send their representative to help out, knowing they’d get some “waddy” in return when they needed help. The word “cowpoke” came about because someone had to prod the half-wild cattle into box cars after a cattle drive to the railhead. That word is pretty much interchangeable with “cowboy” now.

TB: Can you tell us about your any upcoming projects?

DEP: I’m considering revising the book I self-published in 2005. I’ll cull about half of it and add better work I’ve done since. My CD has some good work, including Once We Were Kings, but I’ve written several poems since then which I’d like to record.

TB: Would you like to experiment with a different genre?

DEP: I wrote a novel years ago, but only copied it for friends and family. I prefer the more immediate gratification of writing poetry. I have dozens of ideas and first verses written already, so I have the seeds of poems which will last for years. I’ll just stick with poetry.

TB: Do you consider yourself an artist?

DEP: I am when I’m at my best. The satisfaction of creating a plot, choosing the right words, and making those words rhyme and fit a distinctive meter must be like a painter who knows when a painting is done.

TB: Do you have any writing idiosyncrasies?

DEP: I am obsessed with perfect meter and consider it lazy not to make the words fit it. I avoid slant rhymes as not good enough.

TB: Briefly share your thoughts on traditional publishing vs. indie.

DEP: It’s tough to get back your printing costs when you self-publish, but you’ve got to get the material out there somehow. There is so much competition to be accepted by a publisher, but it will drive you to perfect your craft. I have found being a part of to be extremely helpful to me. My poems are juried before they are posted, and I know I have to do my best work if they’re going to be accepted. This has been much more successful in getting my work noticed than my book and it’s made me a much better poet.

TB: What advice can you share with first-time writers?

DEP: Read, read, read. I’d advise the classics. You’ll be less likely to plagiarize, even subconsciously. Learn your craft. In the case of poetry, study the classics for meter and rhyming patterns. Don’t wait for “inspiration.” Sit down and write. And then edit the heck out of it. If you don’t have something to say, no one will care about it. If you don’t say it correctly and clearly, people probably won’t read it or remember it. Find someone who will tell you the truth and let him read your work. Don’t be defensive about honest criticism. Rewrite it and make it better.

TB: Dale, thank you so much for helping debunk some of the misconceptions around Cowboy Poetry, for sharing some very personal experiences and injecting life into this interview with your audio tracks. My guess is that all our readers will take away a greater interest and respect for Cowboy Poetry. And, to our readers, we will leave you with a final reading of Dale’s poem, Jack’s Cabin, and a brief description of the inspiration for this poem. Thanks again for being with us today.

DEP: Thank you!

This poem marked a pivotal place in my writing, being the first one of mine to be accepted by The Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. It was written in an elk camp in 2005, beside a fire during a light snow. I was in northern New Mexico, within 10 miles of the location of a cabin in Miranda Park. The first time I saw that park, I vowed I’d trade my retirement fund for it. A small cabin sat at the upper end of the meadow, rimmed with aspen trees, at the base of Baldy Peak. I reckoned it was one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen. As I sat in camp remembering the cabin at Miranda, I wondered if it would be so beautiful with no one to share it. Jack’s Cabin is the answer to that question.


Jack’s Cabin


About Dale E. Page

Dale E. Page was born and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. While attending Oklahoma State University, he worked as a horseshoer, dude wrangler, bull rider, and on the movie set of “The Cheyenne Social Club.” He combined his formal training in English with his horseback experiences in the wilderness areas of New Mexico and began writing cowboy poetry in 1975.

In 2008, he was named Best Performer at the Oklahoma State University library‘s Cowboy Poetry and Songs event. That same year, he was a runner-up in the National Lariat Laureate contest of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. He won First Place in serious poetry, Rising Star Division, at the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo in 2010.

Page’s A Fork in the Trail, a book of collected poems, was published in 2005. His CD, “The Trail to Miranda Park,” was released in 2009.  He has performed at trail rides, campfires, charity events, private parties, church classes, cowboy church services, Friends of the Library, public school classes, and the Indiana State Museum.

Web Site: Contains information to purchase books and CD’s.


Thanks to Eddy Arnold for the use of his track Cattle Call.

Craig Chicoine

Interview with C.A. Chicoine, author of the Gray Locke series.

TB: I am pleased to be joined today by the accomplished American writer Craig Chicoine—author of the Gray Locke series. Welcome, Craig. Please tell us about the Gray Locke series.

CAC: The Gray Locke series is a modern day hero’s journey, the intellectual and spiritual sort. Ten books are planned, each representing a turning point in Gray’s life. The reader will be able to watch the characters develop and grow over several stories, before coming to the final book in the series, where Gray will perform his heroic deed, completing the hero-cycle.

The series begins with the lead character, Grayson Locke, at the age of ten. In the first book, The Mystery of the Weeping Rocks, the reader learns firsthand about Gray’s wild imagination as he goes about investigating what weeping rocks are during his summer vacation at his grandparent’s house. This is a chapter book ideal for children 7-11 years old. It’s more or less an introduction to the character. However, there is something of great significance that occurs in this story that is expanded upon and further developed in the following books.

The second book, The Witch of Clover Hill, takes place the following autumn at his house. This book is ideal for children 9-12 years old. In this story, much more is revealed about the character and his extraordinary set of circumstances.

The next book, Giants of the Vale, takes place back at his grandparent’s. Gray is thirteen years old in this story. I am currently working on this story, as well as the next one. Obviously, I’ll not be covering every year of his life over ten books. But I hope to select the points in his life that best illustrate what influenced him to make the choices and decisions he’d later make in the final story.

TB: What were your inspirations for writing these books?

CAC: The inspiration for writing this was to express myself and my ideas. This originally started out as a music project back in late 2007. The idea was to collaborate with musicians from around the globe and write songs based on a storyline, the story being about a broken-hearted man with a one-way ticket to the moon.

This all required some research, of course, coordinating a collaborative network. So, after figuring out the logistics, I then focused on the storyline. And that storyline was developing into something big–certainly bigger than I had anticipated.

TB: Why did you want to collaborate rather than create it yourself?

CAC: Because I’m not a musician. I can hear the music and do my best to one-finger it on the keyboard or pluck it out on a guitar, but that simply won’t do. I need musicians.

I had an awesome experience collaborating on another music project as the lyricist around the same time this project was developing. With the right chemistry and resources, a group can accomplish much more than you would on your own. And the feedback is helpful too. Besides, collaborating is about networking too.

However, the songs just weren’t working out. I was working on two songs, but I just couldn’t put any lyrics to them that I was satisfied with. So, by November 2008, I decided to change gears and ditch the music collaboration aspect of it.

TB: How did that segue affect the narrative?

CAC: I was still very much interested in the story. I knew that there was something more there that needed to be explored. So I decided to write the story and present it in a blog.

So, around November 2008, I created the blog and called the story Lonely Satellite. Around that same time I was also going through a very stressful period where I worked. And what better way to deal with something that’s out of your control than to write about it? So, I put our hero out in space, in a manned satellite, and had him write about why he was there.

TB: So, the story of Lonely Satellite was revealed to the public in real writing-time, so to speak—chapter by chapter, with no editing of the piece as a whole?

CAC: Yes. The blog is off-line now, because I want to rewrite it, and also because I didn’t want to give away Gray’s heroic deed before the series was written.

But, yes, the story developed one entry at a time over a period of roughly eight months. I wrote an introduction to give an overview of the lead character, from his aspirations as a child to his present day situation. Then I began writing the story in first-person, as if Gray were writing in a journal. And Gray would write about the events that led him to where he was and what he was about to do. And, honestly, I had no clue where the story was going at first. Each entry was as much a mystery and surprise to me as it was to the reader.

So, I began the blog in late November 2008 and wrote through to January 2009. Then there was a break in writing it. But then I picked it back up in April and wrote straight through to July (2009), when the bulk of the story was actually written.

The blog contained a list of characters, glossary and links of interest that pertain to the story in some way. And the blog also contained one instrumental piece I wrote and a few videos. The videos were supposed to be video transmissions either from Earth or from the satellite, and were role-played by me and two friends. Oh, and there were some other things in there too, such as an excerpt from the satellite’s log, a hidden phrase puzzle and a newspaper clipping. It was great fun.


After I finished the story, for the last blog entry, (which would be on the top of the page), I wrote, What the critics will be writing! “Gray ‘un-Lockes’ the truth behind the New World Order’s latest tactics!” – Chime Magazine; “Come, read it!” – Rolling Asteroids Magazine; “Propulsive and ambitious!” – PlayDroid Magazine; “Echoes of Carl Sagan and Joseph Campbell . . .  educational . . .  insightful . . .  the new Hero for the 21st Century . . .  ” – New New York Times; “Seductive . . .  be prepared to have your mind controlled . . .  “The Celestine Prophecy” meets “Contact.” – USA Tomorrow; “Science fiction at its best . . .  a vividly imagined world of the not too distant future . . .  populated with a believable cast of characters . . .  Hollywood bound.” – Entertainment Secondly.

TB: I love it! What an innovative marketing convention.

CAC: Yes, thank you! As you can see, I had some fun with it. But the fictitious reviews also helped to define and categorize the story for new readers, giving them something to compare it to.

So, that should give you an idea of what lies ahead in this series. Lonely Satellite will be the last book in the series, re-titled and re-written in third-person . . . I believe.

TB: You and I have briefly discussed the restrictive nature of genre classification, but we also know that identifying one’s genre is key to successful target marketing, as well as just being able to discuss a work intelligently. I find it intriguing that you have suggested that your work falls into the newly-formed genre Visionary Fiction. Can you please introduce our readers to the substance of this genre and how it dovetails with your work?

CAC: The first two Gray Locke books contain elements of mystery, realistic fiction and science fiction, with some historical fiction mixed in. However, the series as a whole? Now, that’s a tricky bundle to categorize.

So, I did an internet search to see what other categories it would best fit under. And that’s when I found Visionary fiction. Author, Michael Gurrian, (whom I’ve never heard of before now), is promoting this genre on his website. And it seemed to fit the Gray Locke series because, using Gurian’s terms, there are mystical experiences, telepathy, visions and visitations from “spirits”, as had been explored in the first two books.

Part of what I’m trying to accomplish with this series Gurrian explained best on his website, “Visionary fiction is fiction in which the expansion of the human mind drives the plot.”

TB: When and why did you decide to start writing?

CAC: The earliest stories I wrote were in a journal for school when I was ten years old. And it was around that time when I began to make up stories to share with my friends around the campfire or in a darkened room.

I hadn’t always written them down. It wasn’t until the poetry came about when I began to record them. And that was only because it was my intent to share them, for the poems were usually written for a particular girl. But, I was very shy and rarely ever did share them, unfortunately.

I began writing poetry–outside of school–when I was about fifteen years old. Then I got into writing lyrics shortly thereafter, which were basically lines that I partially wrote to songs that I liked on the radio or from an album, using their rhyme and meter pattern. So, although they were technically lyrics—verse set to music—I still referred to them as poems.

TB: Craig, this seems to have begun as a cathartic and exploratory exercise; how did it evolve into a sequence of books spanning a readership from children to adults?

CAC: A series of events and ideas influenced the actual expansion of this story to be made into a series.

My youngest son had become involved in a local theatre group and was cast in a couple of children’s musicals. And, watching the rehearsals straight through to the performances . . . the magic, and the emotion and passion … well, I was awestruck, to say the least. That inspired me to want to write a children’s musical.

After rustling with some ideas, it dawned on me that I could write a story about Gray Locke. So, with a stage set in mind, I began writing it, based on some of the flashback scenes in Lonely Satellite. I drafted some song ideas, and did a rough sketch of the stage set.

But, as I was thinking more about it, I found that I was skipping an important event in Gray’s life. In this story, Gray is fourteen years old. But, I needed to start the story back when the real magic began. That’s when the idea of writing a children’s book came to be. And, quite honestly, I knew that I could write the children’s book in less time than it’d take me to write the musical, even though I have never done either one before.

TB: Was the research for this series extensive?

CAC: Yes, very much so. I searched within and reviewed things that I’d written in the past. And I researched subjects in the sciences, mythologies and religions . . . subjects that I have always been fascinated with.

In regards to the sciences, I had a lot of the original story, Lonely Satellite, take place in outer space, aboard a space station for example. And I had to learn as much as I could about how humans live in zero-gravity. And I also had to satisfy my own curiosity—knowing more than I really needed to about a number of things—like how one eats and moves about in zero-gravity. And learn what one has to do to maintain a healthy body and mind in space. And I also wanted to know about communications satellites, and how they’d be used between Earth, and its orbiting satellites, and then out to a space station in the Sun-Earth system. And it goes on and on.

And I got into the mythology and religions of the world because it’s a part of who we are, and what we are searching for, our purpose—if there is a purpose—and knowing our part in the universe. These two seemingly separate subjects aren’t as different as one might suspect. It’s all very fascinating stuff.

TB: To what degree are your fictional characters based in reality?

CAC: With this series, the fictional characters are very realistic in a very real world. But, I also have fun with creatures, and other entities, that I create for Gray’s dreamtime.

TB: What has been your best experience as a writer?

CAC: My best experience as a writer, thus far, is actually having the finished product in my hand–flipping through the pages and seeing the words–and knowing that those are my words. It brings with it a sense of pride and accomplishment.

TB: Is there a different genre you would like to try writing?

CAC: Certainly. I do have a psychological thriller I wrote last year during a break from the series. I left it at its second draft, and it still needs much more work. But, I’d like to return to it when I’m finished with the series.

I also wrote a one-act play script a couple of years ago that I’d like to return to. It’s funny and sad, with some jolts of conflicting emotions in between. And I’d also like to publish a book of short stories, of which I have a number to choose from, sometime.

TB: Do you use an outline or do you write on impulse?

CAC: Both. If the story is going to be long and complicated, I’d create an outline of some sort. For example, with the Gray Locke series, I created a dossier on Gray! And, because I started with the last story first, I had to develop connections between his adult life and what was revealed in the flashbacks as a child growing up. I created a timeline too. It’s all very important to me to keep the facts straight and keep them consistent. It provides structure for me while writing the stories. It’s almost like playing connect the dots and fill in the blanks–only story development-wise.

TB: Can you tell us a bit about your next project?

CAC: That’s too far into the future to be certain, because you never know what opportunities are on the horizon. But, I imagine I’ll be on this series for a number of years. I’d really like to work straight through the series to the end before pursuing my other writing interests.

At this point in time, the first two books of the series have been published. The third story is currently going through a rewrite, and I still need to work on its illustrations and cover as well.

And as I mentioned earlier, I’ve also been working on the fourth story when I can. I’m really looking forward to working full-time on this children’s musical. This story will not only be more challenging for me, but I’ll have come full circle with regards to my earlier ambitions with music.

TB: Describe your ideal surroundings and conditions for writing.

CAC: Peace and quiet. Generally, I write in my room. Everything I need is here; computer and all its components, desk, writing supplies, musical instruments—keyboards, guitars, etc.—chairs and bed.

I’ve tried writing elsewhere, like in the summer house for example. And I’ve tried to write by the ocean, but it just didn’t work. It seems I take those moments and have to bring them home. And it is here where they are reflected upon and processed, and then churned into poems, lyrics, songs or stories.

TB: Have you ever co-authored a piece?

CAC: A friend and I created a “sandbox” for just that thing. It’s for our own enjoyment and challenge. She had an idea and some characters in mind. I created the setting, and helped develop a couple of the characters. The story is still a work in progress, with no intentions to publish it at this time. It’s still too early to tell how the collaboration is working out. But it’ll be interesting to see how it does develop.

TB: What are your quirks and do they influence your writing?

CAC: Well, for the first book I wrote, The Mystery of the Weeping Rocks, I wrote the first draft in a particular room. I also wrote the initial outline for the second book and fourth story as well.

As I got to work on filling in more details, I’d hold onto a small piece of marble from an old quarry that is featured in that book for inspiration.

For the second book, The Witch of Clover Hill, I had marbles that I’d toy with whilst thinking about the story. (Marbles play a small part in the second book.)

However, for the third book, I’m afraid I have no comfort object to fall back upon for inspiration. (Maybe that’s why I’ve been struggling with this third story so!)

Other than those quirks with those specific books, sometimes I come up with ideas to add to whatever I happen to be working on at the time while taking a shower. Also, when I’m driving a distance something will pop into mind and I’d jot it down.

Early on, (pre-2004), I used to walk around or pace the floors while thinking.

TB: Please share with us a little-known fact about you which others might find interesting and or entertaining.

CAC: Although the series is fictional, I actually look up the weather forecast history for the days and places that I write about in the stories. Sometimes the weather plays a factor in a scene, other times it doesn’t.

TB: What advice can you share with writers who are just starting out?

CAC: If writing is your passion, then I won’t have to tell you to write–for it’s as natural and necessary as breathing. But I would encourage writers to take advantage of the tools and mediums around you. Start a blog or create a website. If you’re in school, and they have a newspaper, get involved. Just keep at it and never stop learning and growing.

Reading reviews of your work takes a shift in mind to deal with and understand them better. The first thing you need to keep in mind is, not everybody is going to like your stories. If the review contains criticisms, try to learn from them. They may offer some insight to help better your next story. Hopefully the reviewers will provide an example from your work to help illustrate their point. And, where you do right, flow with it.

TB: Briefly share your thoughts on traditional publishing vs. indie.

CAC: When I first considered becoming a writer as a serious occupation, back in high school, the traditional publishing was all there was. And it was certainly an intimidating looking world. Going to college was the only option I saw at the time. But, I was too distracted with following my dream . . .  the music one.

When I finally did decide to write a book, in 2009, the self-publishing thing was soaring. A friend of mine had just released a book at that time, and he recommended CreateSpace.

It’s a lot to learn. And marketing is quite the challenge. But, it was one way of making it happen. And, so far, I’m glad I chose it.

TB: What challenges did you face self-publishing your books?

CAC: For me, there were a lot of challenges. The most challenging task that I still have to deal with is not having an editor. Having an editor or two to untangle my knotted sentences would be ideal. That’s the one thing, aside from marketing, that the major publishers have over self-publishers. It would not only make my life easier, but I’d probably be releasing the books much sooner. Of course, I could always hire a freelance editor. But that’s a process in itself as well. And it costs more money.

Come to think of it, I did try-out an editor with the first book. I sent out a chapter to sample his editing skills. And when I got it back, it was horrendous! You’d think he’d do his best to try to impress me to get the job! But I’m afraid he had just the opposite effect. So, I decided I’d do it myself.

The other challenge is with the illustrations. I couldn’t sketch, draw or paint if my life depended on it! Again, with the first book, I looked into hiring an illustrator, but that didn’t work out either. So, I resorted to learning how to use Adobe Photoshop. What I did was manipulate and arrange photographs I had taken and used them for the illustrations and the covers. It’s a little more work for me, but I take pride in knowing that I was able to illustrate the books myself.

The other challenges, regarding the self-publishing process, was setting up the publishing business—Satellite 2 Music—and learning about barcodes, ISBN’s, PCIP’s, etc. It was all very interesting to learn and know, but also daunting and very time-consuming.

TB: Today we’ve learned of your investigation into the fields of graphic arts,   songwriting, playwriting and poetry—all of this in addition to being a novelist. Tell me, please, do you consider yourself to be an artist?

CAC: What is an artist? This is a person whose pursuit is so widely defined that anyone could qualify as being an artist. But I’ll do my best to answer this question by offering up my definition.

An artist is someone whose mastery of his muse has been demonstrated, and by custom a professional and is established in a career in their chosen field.

So, based on those criteria, I am not an artist.

I am not even sure I’d consider myself a novelist at this point. (The second book barely reached 56,000 words.)

I’m an author, am I not?

Again, it all comes back to semantics. What is an author? Beyond its legal significance, I’d say it’s in the same boat as artist! So then, where does that leave me now? It puts me in the company of other non-professional authors, writers and artists.

I think a more suitable term would be DIY. That would cover a wide range of skills! So, there it is. I’m a do-it-yourself artist.

TB: The variety of your artistic involvement in all aspects of the creative process is impressive. Thank you, Craig, for painting such a powerful sketch of your series—Gray Locke—and your imaginative journey. And, despite your creative bashfulness, I consider you an artist.

CAC: Thank you for this interview, Terre. It’s an honor for me to be associated with not only you and your husband’s work, but also with the other wonderfully talented and inspiring authors that you’ve interviewed here on Author’s Dialogue.

TB: . . . and a gentleman. Thank you.

About C.A. Chicoine

C.A. Chicoine realized his gift for writing stories at the age of ten when, after sharing what he wrote in his journal for English class, he was told that he had quite the imagination. He had to write one entry each week. So he filled it with original short stories, news articles, and jokes that he had heard or read. By age fourteen, he had expanded his repertoire to include poetry and lyrics. He wrote articles and poetry for his high school newspaper and wrote articles before becoming editor of his college newspaper.

His dream early on, however, was to be a singer. To him, singing was an expression that went beyond words. In his mind, he’d visual grand productions. But, as fate would have it, it did not come to pass. As the music lay dormant in the back of his mind, he worked at various jobs over the years–from the human services to manufacturing–got married and had two children.

By 2004, divorced and sharing custody of their two children, he had a new lease on life that would spark the most creative period of his life to date. It was during this period when he began to create websites, blogs and Internet forums that espoused some of his varied interests, including local history, wildlife, fan-fiction, art, and–of course–music. This not only gave him a medium to which to express and share his ideas with others, but it also helped him to hone in on his creative ability and begin to develop a distinct identity.

In 2008, he began work on the Gray Locke series. The book series invites the reader to glimpse into the life and times of this original character from childhood through to adulthood. And as the character grows and develops, so too does the reading level. Gray Locke is a fictional character of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century who–through his trials and tribulations–unravels the mysteries of the world around him, and discovers his place in this universe.

C.A. Chicoine resides in Massachusetts where he spends his time writing books, poetry, lyrics and music.

Gray Locke related websites:

The Gray Locke PortalGray Locke blogGray Locke Facebook pageGray Locke on TwitterTriple-Helix Space Colony


Excerpts read from the first book of the Gray Locke series titled, “Gray Locke: The Mystery of the Weeping Rocks,” by C.A. Chicoine.

A brief overview with select excerpts read from the second book in the Gray Locke series titled, “Gray Locke: The Witch of Clover Hill,” by C.A. Chicoine.


C. A. Chicoine’s personal websites:

Web SiteBlogTwitterSatellite 2 Music


Mitchel Rose

Interview with Fantasy, Pulp Adventure and Science Fiction novelist, Mitchel Rose.

TB: Today, I welcome British novelist Mitchel Rose. Mitchel, you are the author and co-author of a number of books. When did you begin writing and what was your motivation?

MR: I started writing in my early teens as I read a lot of fantasy and had so many ideas in my head that I had to put down on paper. Later on I started to suffer from low self-esteem and depression issues and writing was a way of helping getting through it.

TB: I think it’s wonderful that you were able to use your creative outlet in a therapeutic way. Is this also a reason why you’ve chosen Fantasy as your major genre?

MR: Yes. I find it much more enjoyable and easier to devise outlandish creatures and magical realms.

TB: What was your best experience as a writer?

MR: My best experience, I think, was when Ghost Wind was published.  It was amazing to have my work in print and my name on the front of a book cover. I owe Calvin Daniels a real debt of thanks for giving me a platform for my dotty ideas.

TB: I’m sure Calvin will appreciate that kind endorsement.  And, am I correct to say that Ghost Wind is a ‘Pulp’ fiction?

MR: Yes, I think that’s the best way to describe it . . . with strong fantasy and magical elements.

TB: So, what was your worst experience as a writer?

MR: I don’t think I’ve had any real bad experiences as a writer although I have become something of a hermit and I rarely get to bed before 2 AM when I’m working on a book—which is basically all the time—so that might be considered a downside.

TB: How have those experiences prepared you for being an author?

MR: It’s given me the chance to hone my craft, gain the confidence to write in different genres and, more importantly, helped me to be able to work to deadlines and targets.

TB: I understand you are from a small mining town, Cannock, UK. Did you ever work in the industry, and do you think your cultural environment influences your writing?

MR: No I’ve never worked in the mining industry, it was kind of on the wane as I was growing up.  I think because a lot of my work focuses on other worlds and strange and different societies the cultural environment I grew up in does not have that much of an influence.

TB: I understand that you and Calvin Daniels collaborated on Ghost Wind through Facebook. Can you briefly describe that creative process? For instance, was one of you the lead?

Initially Calvin wrote the first chapter, setting the scene and establishing the main characters and I took it from there.  We then did an alternate chapter—each developing other characters and plotlines—and when we reached mid-point, we decided on a vague overall arc of what would happen and how it would all end.  If I had a particular idea I wanted to use I would pitch it to Calvin beforehand, but on the whole he let me get on with what I wanted to do, which is a good way to work.

TB: Did you also Skype your ideas?

MR: No, I haven’t used Skype as of yet, but I’m hearing it is quite popular.

TB: Please tell us about your latest work.

MR: I have a couple of projects on the go at the moment.  There are the Tales of Granton City Adventures I write with Calvin and I am also working on a comic book script for a dark horror adventure set in a Medieval fantasy world.  I am also working through the second draft of a Science Fiction adventure called Tiger Boy, which I hope will be ready for publication in 2012.

TB: What’s the name of the Medieval fantasy? And, can you give us a taste of the plot?

MR: The Medieval fantasy is called Defier and is about a demon/monster hunter who is asked to go to a remote kingdom being terrorized by a hideous creature so he can kill it.  The kingdom hides dark secrets and there is more to the threat of the creature than meets the eye.

TB: Are you a “blank-pager,” or do you use an outline?

MR: I’m a “blank-pager” definitely.  I have a few random ideas initially and weave them in as I go along.

TB: To what degree are your fictional characters based in reality?

MR: Not sure.  Most of my characters are inspired by other books, movies and TV shows.  I grew up on a rather unhealthy diet of fantasy adventures, Saturday morning cartoons and comics . . .  so that shaped my later writing.  I sometimes also base characters on people in history, usually the more unsavory types like Communist dictators and the more deranged and depraved Emperors of the Roman Empire.  They are tailor-made for fantasy.

TB: This just begs the question, which is your favorite cartoon character and why?

There are quite a few but I have a soft spot for Zoltar from Battle of the Planets.  He was quite deranged and cowardly, and had an army of human slaves and scores of giant robot monsters to terrorize the world with.  You couldn’t ask for a more perfect villain.

TB: Would you like to try writing in a different genre?

MR: I would love to do a murder mystery and a good fast paced thriller.  I’d also like to do some historical-based fiction, but it will mean a lot of research before I get that off the ground.

TB: What are your ideal surroundings or conditions for writing?

MR: At a writing desk with my laptop with the radio on in the background ideally playing eighties rock and an almost endless supply of tea to keep me going.

TB: Now, is that a streaming online radio and herbal tea, or a cranked Bose speaker system with a bottomless pot of caffeinated black tea at your elbow?

MR: I like large amounts of milk in my tea and I’d probably go with the online radio option.

TB: Do your dreams influence your writing?

MR: One particularly vivid dream I had gave me an idea for a dark psychological thriller, but I’ve yet to devise a coherent plot for it.

TB: You’ve already mentioned that you co-authored Ghost Wind with Calvin Daniels, have you co-authored any other work?

MR: Yes indeed, with Calvin Daniels for the Tales of Granton City range.  We have worked together on six books to date.

TB: Prolific! Six books. What are the names, please?

MR: Ghost Wind 1: The Torn Veil, Ghost Wind 2: The Runaway Bride, Drago Demon Slayer 1: Cult of the Crucifixion, Saileach Druid Warrior 1: The Shifting Shape of Evil, Scorch & Ice Superheroes 1: Curse of the Blight Stone, and The Adventures of Churchill Alien Bounty Hunter. I’ve also written a flash back story for the last one, while other writers focused on different eras in the alien’s life.

And, I am also working with an artist on my comic book.

TB: A comic book venture; how fascinating! Who is the artist?

He’s a gentleman called Edgardo Granel Ruiz.  He actually lives in Puerto Rico; like Calvin and I, we met through Facebook when I posted a message on my wall asking for an artist for a comic book project I was working on.  He has his own Facebook page showcasing his work.

TB: Can you describe to our audience your creative process? Do you feed Edgardo the story in sections? Do the two of you brainstorm on characters and plots and work simultaneously?

Essentially I send him sections of a script with dialogue and brief descriptions of any action, and he illustrates what I’ve written.  Like Calvin did with me I try to give him as much freedom as possible in interpreting the look and style of characters and surroundings, as that makes the project much more interesting and rewarding.  We discuss a couple of character points and plot development as well.

TB: Do his drawings inspire you?

MR: Certainly his drawings inspire me—the work Edgardo has produced so far has been amazing, and I am very excited in presenting the finished article to the world.

TB: If you could travel anywhere—with no concern for cost or disruption—where would it be?

MR: Switzerland has some wonderful scenery, so I think maybe there.

TB: Who has influenced you most as a writer?

MR: My main influences, among many others, are H P Lovecraft and China Mieville.

TB: If you could shake the hand of any writer, past or present, who would it be and why?

MR: R A Salvatore. His prolific career and excellent and exciting novels inspire me to emulate his achievements.

TB: Do you consider yourself to be an artist?

MR: Not really.  I think I am more of a jobbing writer.

TB: What advice can you share with writers who are just starting out?

MR: I think the best advice I can offer is to read as much as possible in the chosen genre you want to write in and beyond.  By reading as much as you can you learn how other writers craft scenes, present information and you can decide what works and what doesn’t.  Also write for pleasure rather than profit, it’s much more fun.

TB: That’s very thoughtful advice. Thank you so much Mitchel; I appreciate you opening up your private world to us and I look forward to the publication of your graphic novel.

MR: Not at all thank you for taking an interest in my work.

Mitchel is a prolific Fantasy, Pulp Adventure and Science Fiction novelist. Seasoned in the process of long-distance writing partnerships, his endeavors also cross into teaming up with Edgardo Granel Ruiz in the collaboration of a graphic novel. He lives in a small British mining town, Cannock, UK.

His books can be purchased through the Granton City Web site.