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.

Web site | Facebook | Ghost Wind: The Torn Veil on Amazon

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.


Natalie Fuhr-Salvatore

Our Easter Sunday Interview is with Natalie Fuhr-Salvatore, author of ‘Fairy Godmother: Embracing God’s Plan For Your Life’ and publisher of CAST Magazine

TB: We are joined this week by Canadian Natalie Fuhr-SalvatoreChristian author, poet, musician and publisher.
Welcome, Natalie. I’m going to jump right in here . . . do you feel like you were born to be a writer?

NFS: Yes. I started writing at a young age. I remember having to write poetry for an elementary school project when I was about nine years old. I loved doing it, and I received an excellent grade!

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

NFS: My best experiences have been seeing my work in print. This signifies that you’ve completed a project; it’s been accepted by an editor; and then comes a feeling of pure elation.

TB: And, how about your worst experience?

NFS: My worst experience has to be when I decided to do a piece on spec. The editors hated it and told me it read like an infomercial for the DVD series I was writing about. The creators of the DVD series loved my piece, but posted it on their site without my permission. I really try to concentrate on the positives, however, and warn writers not to do work on spec.

TB: Were you able to rectify the situation?

NFS: I find that sometimes, you have to let go of a bad experience and focus on the day at hand, and future work. It’s great if you can rectify things, but in this case, what was done, was done. These experiences are great teachers.

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

NFS: Good and bad experiences make up your character, just as these positive and negative experiences refine and redefine your personal written word.

TB: So, could you introduce us to your latest work?

NFS: Fairy Godmother: Embracing God’s Plan For Your Life is my latest novel. It is a non-fiction work about my spiritual journey that started as a result of me becoming a mother. Click here to download Sample Chapters of Fairy Godmother.

TB: Why, or how, did becoming a mother open a spiritual door for you?

NFS: First of all, I realized that my life was not all about me. There are so many sacrifices necessary, and I had a really difficult time with this. I called out to God, and through Scripture and prayer, I completely depended on Him. Sleep deprivation for an extended period of time can play weird tricks on the mind, and I was spiraling into a pre postpartum depression. I really feel God helped me through a very tenuous transitory time, and I was able to embrace motherhood and not become depressed.

I think the partnership with God (bringing new life into the world) is so powerful and transformational that it needs to be documented. It’s personal yet universal – I love this dichotomy.

TB: Besides motherhood, were there any other reasons influencing your choice to write this non-fiction?

NFS: In the Christian self-help genre, I found out that there was nothing like it. I’ve read a lot of books by pastors and leaders in ministry, but I was looking for a book written by someone like me. And, I wanted to document my story in the hopes that other people would find it useful and a good read.

TB: I’m curious about the title, why did you use a mythical character to describe a Christian non-fiction?

NFS: I think we all know the Cinderella story, and every woman dreams of this helpmate that will transform a dull existence into something extraordinary. Unfortunately, many people do not know of God’s power. They may have heard other people’s lives being changed, but cannot believe that it could happen to them. And, they may even view God as a mythical character. I used a mythical character, because readers would be familiar with ‘Fairy Godmother.’ I want people to understand that sometimes the process is gradual, but change can happen instantaneously, as well.

TB: Do you also write fiction?

NFS: Yes. My Master’s Thesis was a collection of fictional short stories.

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

NFS: My fictional characters are very true to real people. Friends reading my first novel could easily identify themselves. I didn’t intentionally set out to do this, but as the old adage goes, you tend to write what and who you know.

TB: Would you ever consider writing outside your current genres?

NFS: I am dying to do a sci fi book. I’ve always loved this genre, and there’s such freedom in it.

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

NFS: Currently, I am launching a Christian quarterly entitled CAST Magazine in Victoria, BC, Canada under my publishing company, Elation Press. Once I get a few issues out, I want to concentrate on a work of fiction and I’d love to publish a book of poetry.

TB: Although publishing a magazine is a daunting task, your approach has been one of an enthusiastic visionary. What motivated you to take on such an extraordinary project?

NFS: When I found out that there is a very small population of Christians in Victoria, (it is estimated that one out of 20 attends church), I wanted to change that. My background is writing and publishing, and I wanted to put something in the hands of readers who are interested in Christianity. The magazine’s intention is to share our faith, but to also get believers off of their couches and inspire them to be active in their community. I felt that there was a need for a Christian voice on Vancouver Island, that didn’t just compartmentalize us in news articles. We also print poetry and fiction. Each quarter, we feature a Christian artist. CAST Magazine is for believers and seekers everywhere. We accept submissions from across the globe.  Our first issue included pieces from all over North America!

TB: With all your experience as a writer and publisher, what advice can you share with first-time writers?

NFS: I encourage writers to keep writing, despite setbacks such as being rejected by a traditional publisher, for example. Enter writing contests; create a website; get your work out there; use social media to promote it; share it with your friends; and self-publish.

TB: Would you briefly share your thoughts on traditional publishing vs. indie.

NFS: With the acceleration of technology in publishing, I am leaning towards the indie model. Writers need control of their work, and marketing of books has gotten a lot easier with the use of such tools as social media. I think a writer can become extremely successful by venturing out on his or her own.

TB: That’s a very encouraging perspective. So, Natalie . . . let’s talk about your creative process. What would be your perfect writing environment?

NFS: A solitary experience in a log cabin overlooking the ocean. Unfortunately, this is an ideal, not a reality. I find pockets of time to write, immersed in noise and a busy household. Although it’s not ideal, it’s my life right now.

TB: Do your dreams ever influence your writing?

NFS: I think they will for future writing. I have very vivid dreams that have a cast of characters and a distinct plot; I’ve started a dream journal to record them. I am sure that they will crop up in fiction down the road.

TB: Would you describe yourself as being a spontaneous or regimented writer?

NFS: I’m a “blank-pager” for the most part. I think that outlines can be very helpful, especially for fiction. That being said, I did use an outline for my latest novel!

TB: Have you ever co-authored a piece?

NFS: I haven’t co-authored a written piece, but I have co-written songs. This is a wonderful, collaborative experience and if you can find the right partnership, it can be very fruitful.

TB: Fantastic! Was this collaboration with lyrics or music, or both?

NFS: Both. But, it’s pretty hard for me to change lyrics, once I’ve settled on them. But, you have to be willing to share!

TB: So, as a writer, do you consider yourself to be an artist?

NFS: Writing is an art. But, I think there is a distinction. When we think of ‘artist’ it’s usually visual, unless you put ‘recording’ in front of it. I try to paint pictures with words. I would let a reader be the judge of whether I am worthy to be called ‘artist.’

TB: Would you share with us an idiosyncrasy that influences your writing?

NFS: I have many quirks – I think too many to list, here. I am a pen to paper kinda writer, and this can be a very slow, laborious process. I also have multiple journals that are designated for a specific genre.

TB: Finally, is there any little-known fact about you which others might find interesting or entertaining.

NFS: I am a huge Leonard Cohen fan, and he allowed a magazine I used to work on the right to print a previously unpublished poem of his.

TB: Natalie, thank you for joining us. You’ve given me, and our readers, valuable insight into your experiences as an author and publisher. I wish you the best of success in both ventures.

NFS: Thank you so much, Terre.


About the Author, Natalie Fuhr-Salvatore

Natalie holds a Master of Arts degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Alberta. She has been published in several magazines and newspapers; she is currently the publisher of Elation Press and has recently launched a Christian magazine entitled CAST Magazine.

Elation Press Web SiteElation Press BlogFacebookTwitter
Fairy Godmother Sample Chapters

CAST Magazine Submissions (email)


Fantasy Writer, Kevin Lee, To Kick off “Author’s Dialogue”

We are gearing up for tomorrow’s launch of Author’s Dialogue: Sunday morning, April 17, at 6:00 a.m., EST.

Our first guest will be Kevin Lee, author of the Fantasy trilogy TRIO: Book Three ‘Ascension.’

Learn how Kevin turned one long night as a radio DJ into a writing career and how living on the Canadian prairies, dreaming of England, and exploring the spiritual concept of ‘Good vs. Evil,’ have all influenced his perspective as a Fantasy writer.

Learn more tomorrow, here, on Author’s Dialogue.

Hope to see you here!