Every issue, IN presents INside Authors, a look at authors from around the world who have significantly caught our attention and deserve a little space and recognition. The following two authors are this month's choices, based on the heat arising from their corners. Our hope is to provide a glimpse, a snapshot, an overview of some of the finest writers of our time making waves both tidal and ripple.
Rick Chiantaretto, Horror Fiction Author
Background INfo: I'd like to claim that I ended up in Salt Lake City by some twist of fate, like I threw a dart at a map, or got chased here by a man with a chainsaw, but the fact remains - the place where you are born is the place you call home. I bounced around in South Texas for two years as an LDS missionary (hey, a horror author can be religious too), learned Spanish, came home, and signed a publishing contract for what I thought was just a high school experiment. Who knew my book was so good?
I was never a fan of expository writing, but after a short story won first place in my high school's literary magazine, I decided I'd try to get in touch with my creative side, a side of me I was always shunned from using in a school setting. Thankfully, this opened my eyes to the fact that English isn't just about essays, but is a world of idea and expression. I fell in love in my Advanced Placement English class - with Egyptian lore, of course - and turned my little short story into the prologue of my first novel, Façade Of Shadows. I blame my AP English teacher.
INfluences: My favorite series was and is LJ Smith's The Forbidden Game. I must admit that this trilogy did more for my writing career than any other book . . . mainly because I fell in love with literature. I'd be amiss if I didn't mention Bram Stoker, Nancy Kilpatrick, David Moody, and one particularly creepy hotel envisioned by Steven King. And I can't forget to thank the ghosts that lived in my basement when I was young.
Advice: Forget everything your English teacher ever taught you . . . except the grammar stuff. Find your style, and no matter how many people tell you it's horrible, just remember that it's horrible to them. We all have our own flair for placing words on a page. Just because yours isn't appreciated by an expository essayist (or English teacher, professor, or magazine editor), doesn't mean it will go unappreciated by millions of readers throughout the world.
Yes, you need to be able to construct a decent sentence, but most errors are so minor that you can write them off as stylistic elements anyway. Let your personality shine through, write the side of you you can't act out in public, and if Random House doesn't like it, go somewhere else.
Internet Presence: I'm a computer science major (computer science with an English minor helps me exercise both sides of my brain), so I'll admit here I'm biased. Online marketing is the best thing since haunted houses. Not only do you have instant communication with fans and professionals, but you can design something that speaks for you as an author. People are going to learn from your website. In addition, you get a place to centralize all of your ideas, promote your book, sell your writing, blog your life, post reviews, and merchandize. Having your own website is so cool it's almost scary.
Mine is at http://www.facadeofshadows.com
The Future: I've been working on two books. The first one is a fantasy novel based on sorcery myth - but since I'm a horror author at heart this book has been placed on the back burner. My newer project is a horror/mystery novel based on fairy tales - but minus the fantasy. It will be about a woman who was taught fairy tales were real, and when the people in her life start dying in Grimm brother style (think poisoned apples), she gets a chance to prove she may not be as crazy as people think.
Because of school and work, I have no schedule for these works. It may be months, it may be years, I don't know. Thankfully, I still have author fever, so I can promise them eventually.
Facade of Shadows; Bedside Books, October 2006
Donna Lancaster, Autobiography
Background INfo: I was born with congenital birth defects that left me without knees, lower legs, or hip joints. Weighing less than four pounds at birth, doctors said I didn't have enough bone structure to ever be able to walk. However, no one told me I wouldn't ever walk. So, at 10 months, I walked, although, I was just half as tall as everyone else.
In 1952 I was 20 years old and had never had a date. The urge to look like everyone else was overpowering. So, during my junior year at the University of Kansas at Lawrence I wrote to the Mayo clinic inquiring about the possibility of wearing artificial legs and was referred to an artificial limb maker in Kansas City. He created beautifully sculptured prosthetic legs, which I wore for the next thirty-two years. The 20 inches and 10 pounds laced to each leg required adaptations to every new situation. Sitting, climbing steps, going to the bathroom, and hundreds and hundreds of other activities required attention and creativity. But this difference in height from 3'10" to 5'8" was unbelievable and exhilarating. For the first time I could meet people at eye level. The fun of being tall, wearing attractive, stylish clothes, taking dancing lessons, and living in a tall world was worth the price I paid in energy and endurance. It took many years to get it through my thick, stubborn head that it really didn't matter whether I was short or tall.
INfluences: Even though my outer world was exciting and interesting, the inner world was full of questions. What was life all about? Who am I? What is going on here? There had to be more to life than money, houses, cars, relationships, prestige, approval, and comfort. Disturbing events occurred in 1982 that lead me to divorce Neal. He died 2 weeks after the divorce was final. Intense anger, overwhelming guilt, and the whole gamut of emotions led me to question all I had ever believed. This re-evaluation of every preconceived idea cleared the way for a different approach to life. Life could be lived without conflict, leaving peace and serenity within.
In the seventies friends insisted that I had a story that needed to be told. I kept chipping away at writing. It was so boring I couldn't keep going. Little did I realize that the next 30 years of living experience was necessary for the story to unfold. My best friend, Tanya, kept nagging me to finish the book, which I did in 2002.
Advice: Set forth your intent to write "whatever" clearly and concisely. It may take some time for it to unfold. Never waver from your decision. It will happen.
Internet Presence: My website at www.donnalancaster.net provides a wonderful two-way gateway for me and my readers. You can also learn a lot more about me and my book there! My website at www.donnalancaster.net provides a wonderful two-way gateway for me and my readers. You can also learn a lot more about me and my book there!
The Future: Most of my energy and attention is directed to marketing. Since I have been speaking in public since 1970, the easiest and most profitable way to market my book has been to speak to groups, including civic, church, youth, prison, women's, and others.
I don't know what the future holds. However, I feel we are in perilous times. My responsibility is to keep my own attitude healthy and positive. I want to enhance the planet, not contaminate it. I can do this by contributing to a harmonious mood wherever I go.
The Short and Tall of It, Word Wright, 2002
Penelope Jensen considers herself a citizen of the world, aligning herself at this moment with the purposes of IN, where you'll find her writing articles and interviewing authors, among other things. You can reach Penny at: PenJen@inorbit.com.
Steve Neubauer is a co-founder of the publishing firm WordWright.biz, Inc. The company serves as an incubator for new authors and works with professional speakers and consultants to create books about their specialty areas. Steve focuses on helping new writers establish themselves and fulfill their publication dreams. http://www.wordwright.biz/index.html