Guest Interview: Stuart J. Whitmore

There are few short stories that I wish had been turned into a novel; No Fanfare by Stuart J. Whitmore is one of those short stories that I wish had been longer. This fantastic well-told story  presents us a topic with so many questions that leaves readers wondering about the endless possibilities. But Stuart not only writes short stories, he’s also written novels and non-fiction. I was lucky enough to interview this talented author and I’m certain his answers will inspire many aspiring writers.

– Tell us a bit about yourself. For instance, how did you start writing?

My interest in writing was mostly sparked by winning first prize in a classroom writing contest when I was about eight years old. The prize was $2.00 in cash, which (adjusted for inflation) would be about $10 in today’s dollars. I’m not sure whether the prize or the teacher’s praise mattered more at the time, but I see that as the start of my writing. I wrote my first full-length novel (first draft) when I was 14-15 years old, and another when I was 16-17 years old. I put my writing on hold for awhile to pursue a non-writing career and start a family, but NaNoWriMo helped bring me back to it.

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– How did you come up with the story idea for “No Fanfare”? Would you consider writing more about this topic and even turning it into a novel?

I like to play around with “what if” questions and see what stories I can generate from various answers. Just this morning I wondered, “what if cats could smell memories?” I give full credit for that strange question to the strange behavior of our cat! While I don’t remember the specifics, I’m fairly sure No Fanfare started in a similar way. What if someone was sent on a secret mission to another planet, and then everybody forgot he was there? (Or, what if someone thought that had happened to them, even if it hadn’t?) I also have a long-term interest in Mars exploration and colonization, which previously inspired my children’s book (Two Boys, Two Planets).

I haven’t given any thought to writing more to the story. It was always intended as a vignette focused on the initial “homecoming” experience. I tried to offer enough uncertainty that the reader might wonder what to believe. On the other hand, I realize that some readers prefer a more concrete resolution, so I might someday write a follow-up to No Fanfare.

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– What do you enjoy most, writing short stories or novels? Do you write short stories with the idea they’ll become short stories or do you usually decide this during the writing process?

Short stories are fun to write, but I love writing long, complex novels. I love all of the world- and character-building that I can do with longer works. Usually when I write a short story I intend for it to be short, although sometimes I’ll start a story without a particular goal for how long it will turn out. With short stories I often want to get a reader to start imagining things about the story I’ve started, with the hope they’ll enjoy filling out their own ending, but sometimes I get in trouble for leaving things unanswered!

– What is you ideal place for writing? Do you have a special process to get inspired or get in the writing mood?

I’m very flexible about my writing. I’ve written on public transit, in doctor and dentist waiting rooms, on a bench in a busy shopping mall, as well as quietly at my desk at home. Some writers develop a process to get in the mood for writing, and I often tell myself I should try that, but I never seem to get around to it.

– Besides the Dan Starney series, are you looking to work on another novel?

With luck, I’ll be releasing several more novels this year, as well as some novellas. I have four fantasy novels that are shaping up nicely, plus I have a detailed outline (rare for me) for a novel in a different genre, and a concept for a novella series in yet another genre. This year I’m exploring the use of pen names to keep the different genre works separated, although my fantasy novels will still be under my own name. I also plan to write a third book in the Dan Starney series to wrap up that storyline, although I don’t have a timeframe for when that will be released.

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– You also write non-fiction, what topics do you most enjoy writing about? What differences do you find between writing fiction and non-fiction?

So far my non-fiction writings have been fairly short dabblings in topics, and I haven’t found one where I feel comfortable yet. I like to be able to share information and ideas with people, things that can be useful in the real world, which is the appeal for me in non-fiction. I finder greater joy in writing fiction, but that is perhaps because it is a lot like daydreaming for me, and I am an incorrigible dreamer.

– What would you recommend aspiring writers? Any tips or writing recommendations?

One of the biggest obstacles that I see in aspiring writers is getting past the “I’m going to” stage and actually doing. While I enjoy talking about writing as much as anyone, being a writer means actually doing the writing too. There are many ways for people to start writing, whether it is fiction or non-fiction, and I would encourage aspiring writers to seek out those opportunities — contests, anthologies, sites like Wattpad, etc. — and start producing words. This is especially useful if it is done in a way where complete strangers can read those writings. Reactions from people outside of family and close friends can help highlight what works and what doesn’t. To develop as a writer, it is important to learn about writing and read what others have written, but it is even more important to just write, write, write!

For more information about Stuart J. Whitmore:

Website: http://www.stuartwhitmoreauthor.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5623681.Stuart_J_Whitmore
Google + https://plus.google.com/+StuartWhitmore
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Crenel
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StuartWhitmoreAuthor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/stuart_whitmore_author/
Snapchat: stuart_whitmore

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Movie review – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

I’m one of those persons that always thought “The Lord of the Rings” films were destined to be the best film-series ever. I still remember my attendance to the movie theater would be repeated several times with the objective to absorb as much as possible from this fantastic trilogy. I couldn’t get enough of it, all the Epic Fantasy in the story was so appealing that I guess many people got as obsessed with it as me. Then the Hobbit came.

I was expecting the first movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey to be memorable, and the whole J.R.R. Tolkien fan base would resuscitate, Peter Jackson (the director) would be again the ultimate God, and that saving money for visiting New Zealand – the land that had seen the filming – was imperative again. But the first Hobbit move was just meeh… I don´t have other proper word. So much expectation but something was not working well with this first delivery of the Hobbit.

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Image source: official propiety of New Line Cinema and Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures

The biggest fan I know of The Lord of the Rings, must be my mother, and she felt asleep during the first Hobbit, she was, of course, disappointed. Then, a year later came The Desolation of Smug. Now we were talking again of something that was worthy of Peter Jackson and the legacy of J.R.R.Tolkien. The movie was indeed much better than the first one (Maybe it was because we got to see Legolas, our favorite Elf, or something else, but it felt better).

Then last week, came The Battle of the Five Armies, and I was blown away. This was certainly a worthy heir of the Lord of the Rings (even though, the story is a predecessor of the others). First of all, my mother didn’t fall asleep (a good parameter of what movies work and which ones don’t). Then, there were those special moments that reminded me a lot of the Lord of the Rings, those where you felt your heart leap, butterflies in your belly, your mouth hanging open, wide smiles, extraordinary connection to the characters (which includes loud screams from my person when they are in danger), suffering, excitement, relief, everything. That’s what the Lord of the Rings was all about and we got to feel it again in this third delivery of the Hobbit. Peter Jackson, you nailed it again.

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Image source: official propiety of New Line Cinema and Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures

If you were one of those who got disappointed by the first Hobbit movie, then gave up on the second one, and even didn’t realize about this third one. Go to see it, trust me, you’ll live the magic again.

And you, are you a fan of the Lord of the Rings, did you see any of the Hobbit movies?

Guest Post: Scarlett Van Dijk – A Writing Journey: Past, Present, and Future –

Hello everyone. Carla Doria kindly asked me to hop over to her blog and let you know a little about myself and my writing. So, to start off, my name is Scarlett Van Dijk and I am a young Australian writer who writes mostly novels but also dabbles in short stories and poetry. I like to dance, train in martial arts, read, go to the movies, and play some multiplayer online games occasionally. My novel genre is Young Adult (YA) Fantasy with my first novel, ‘Sky Stone’, published and on sale at Amazon. I am currently working on the sequel to ‘Sky Stone’, which will be called ‘Guardian Core’.

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How Did You Start Writing?

I started writing novels at the age of fourteen, beginning the journey that would become ‘Sky Stone’ at the age of fifteen. Writing, especially during these early years, gave me a release. Every teen knows the hardships of dealing with school politics and writing allowed me to escape to live in my own world.

Continue reading “Guest Post: Scarlett Van Dijk – A Writing Journey: Past, Present, and Future –”