Interview With Author – Michael Kott

 Hello All!

I had the honor and opportunity to have an interview with Michael Kott – the author of Piasa, Cryptid and LifeShift. I have had the chance to read Piasa (read my review) and Cryptid (read my review)  so far, and LifeShift is on my TBR list.

When did you realise that you wanted to become a writer?

   I considered it at times but got serious when writing with my daughter.  After going to the Naval Academy  and serving her retired time in the Navy, she was attempting to pursue an acting career in Hollywood. She needed something to fill her time there and asked if I wanted to help her write a book about what it was like for a girl to go to the Naval Academy. This was in the early 2000s. She quit Hollywood because she could not see that lifestyle but as she followed her husband from station to station, we continued, via the internet, to continue write. While she was in Memphis, Tennessee, she had the idea of us getting together somewhere in between where I live (Chicago area) and Memphis. Looking at a map we decided on Alton, Illinois, where we found a nice Bread & Breakfast House to rent.  There I was introduced to the Piasa legend and I began writing about that.  Finally, Krystee, tired of the inability of agents to place her novel and finding herself about to have her first child, told me she was giving up writing. I continued.

 

Where do you get your ideas from?

   Our stay in Alton sparked the Piasa novel and an interest in Cryptozoology. That led to Cryptid.  Those stories are in my website blog. Cryptid contains a setup for a third novel but at present I don’t know if I want to continue them.  Most of my ideas of stories originate in the form of dreams, Usually I try to write based on the dream but it leads somewhere else. Both LifeShift and Moonglimmer started that way, as separate novels, but later merged into one idea. Many scenes are based on personal experiences, especially those in LifeShift and the currently being written, Shadow Lake.

 

Where did you get your idea for Piasa?

    I covered this above, but failed to mention that I was actually aware of this obscure legend even  before and it was instrumental in my suggesting Alton as our meeting place. I was looking up something else on the early internet and somehow came across the early pictograph which is said to be the Piasa. That sparked an interest and I gathered many stories of it, many which seemed to have now disappeared off the internet.  I was aware of a museum in Alton which had featured the Piasa myth in an exhibit, and when I found it was very close to a bed & breakfast, I suggested that as a place to stay. I have pictures of the trip (everything in Alton has changed) if you want to see them. The story started with just the Mike and Pamela characters until someone suggested it would be a good YA tale. Enter Sara Marshall.

How do you deal with a writer’s block?

   I’ve never had writer’s block, I more get Writer’s Interference. That is other things interfering with the process.  With those I let them run their course.

 

What does your writing process look like?

     I usually write in the morning’s, but sometime’s it runs all day. If Something changes, I go back and rewrite immediately. Everyone says to finish first but I can’t do that. Sometimes I switch stories when changes have put my intended outline in jeopardy.  When a story is well on its way I’ll seek someone to read it and give me feedback. Lately that’s been my editor. Being self-published, I don’t have some army of people at some publishers to fall back on. I seek out readers and I have a trusted editor in California. She is very honest with me and gives me critical feedback. When we agree a story is finished, I hire a cover creator and at the same time send it off to my formatter to create a print ready version and e-book. From there it goes to both CreateSpace and Ingram Spark.

 

How do you select the names for your characters?

   I thumb through a Baby names book I got when Krystee was having her first child. When I get an inspiration there, I use it. Sometimes I come across names I like and use them. This is for first names. For last names, I keep old graduation ceremony handouts and look for a last name that goes well with the selected first name. Real scientific, Huh?

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

   I love this question.  My secrets are that some scenes of my fictional stories are in actuality based on facts or beliefs. Sometimes they come out in the news and I worry people will think I put them in because i saw them on the news.  In LifeShift, Alex has a dream where he is living  on Mars and meets with a girl at the shore of and ocean. This was originally written about 2004-5. Two years ago, about 2015, an article appeared saying that science now believes that Mars was one day home to oceans of water. My story was based on a personal dream.  Way back when I first wrote Piasa, I included the entire scene with an escaped tiger. Several years after that scene was written a news story appeared out of Texas about an escaped tiger.

If you had to choose, Piasa or Cryptid, and why?

     Piasa because it was my first. The story line of Cryptid was a substitute as it was originally supposed to be about the Tasmanian Tiger. However, some stupid movie came out with like, killer Tasmanian Tigers, so I abandoned that as a Cryptid I would write about. There continue to be stories out of Tasmania and mainland Australia regarding sightings of thylacines, so maybe I’ll reconsider. I would need to go to Tasmania though so I can write about it.

Mike, thank you very much for taking the time to do this with me! I greatly appreciate it!

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Interview With Jay DiNitto, Author Of Pale Blue Scratch

First of all, Jay DiNitto, thank you for taking your time to do this interview with me!

 Jay DiNitto is the author of Pale Blue Scratch, a wonderful story about a nun and her apprentice, and how they try to make a time-travel machine work.

You can download and read Pale Blue Scracth for free here.

 

Jay DiNitto, author, writer, interview, pale blue scratch , book books review, blog, diary of difference diaryofdifference

Where do you get your ideas from?

Most of the time, I get ideas from other stories, either from books, movies, or games. I don’t do this in the sense of stealing ideas wholesale, but most story ideas come from exploring how I would write a story or character different after consuming other stories.

 

Where did you get your idea for Pale Blue Scratch?

I was toying with the premise of an odd couple-type pair of sleuths trying to track down a scientist in trouble, where one of the sleuths really believes the scientist’s work is legitimate but the other sleuth doesn’t. Some of that was inspired by the Sherlock Holmes stories.

I also wanted to incorporate the philosophical idea of our senses being almost-infallible sources of knowledge. What if it clashes with scientific or practical knowledge? How is that reconciled?

I liked the idea of using religious figures as central characters, where they aren’t the scheming Big Bad or the abusive authority figure that fired up the rebellious protagonist. I took cues from what Umberto Eco did in The Name of the Rose, and The Father Dowling Mysteries (yes, I watched those). The “two guys” motif was too close to Holmes, so I changed the sex of one of them. At first it was a monk and a teenage girl, but that pairing was too unrealistic for me, so I switched them to a nun and teenager on his way to manhood. Also, I switched their personalities: the religious/teacher figure is the wild risk-taker while the teenager is the bookish, play-by-the-rules type. Their personalities are unusual but they aren’t out of control; I think too many fiction writers are careless with human behaviour and really go crazy with basically rewriting the human psyche.

I was reading a lot of anarchist writings (and watching Firefly) and came up with the “contractual society” setting. How would it work if there were no nation-state? How would roads, law enforcement, or laws themselves, work? I have interests in alternate history and alternate technology settings, so that played into the plot.

 

How do you deal with a writer’s block?

I don’t, really. I normally don’t force myself to write; I do it when I’m ready. I work full time and have a wife and kids, so that’s enough of a “block” as it is. One trick I’ve learned, regarding books, is to stop a writing session in the middle of a scene I particularly enjoy, so I have some motivation to return to it soon.

 

What does your writing process look like?

I’m middle-aged, but a young writer, and I don’t have a professional schedule, but I can describe the process for my new project (we’ll call it Project X).

I played around with premises a lot. Since so much has been addressed before and I want to make sure I’m writing about something that hasn’t been overdone. Once the premise is there, I’ll have some scene ideas, bits of dialogue, or philosophies I want to represent that go along with the premise. I like Elisabeth’s character, so Project X is another book with her in it.

For Project X, I wanted to have a society that mirrored the kind of society the ancient Hebrews lived in, in Old Testament times, so there’s a lot that has to go along with accommodating that plot point. From all those ideas I form a coherent chain of events, which eventually become chapters. From there, I’ll write summaries for each chapter before I start the actual first draft.

The biggest hurdle, especially with Project X, is determining who knows what, and when they know it. There’s lots of secrets and manipulations, so keeping characters in the dark and slowly revealing things to them takes a lot of organising.

 

How do you select the names for your characters?

Honestly, I don’t spend a huge amount of time on character names or their significance. For Pale Blue Scratch, Elisabeth takes on her religious order’s name, so a great part of her character and profession reflects that. Other than that, I normally don’t attach too much significance to names unless the story demands it.

 

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Not particularly, but in Pale Blue Scratch there are a few references to the game Chrono Trigger, which is also about time travel (though actual time travel isn’t a big part of the book). If you’re familiar with the game you’d be able to spot them.

 

You can find my review of Pale Blue Scratch HERE!