DA Kentner writes the column THE READERS' WRITERS for the (Freeport) Journal-Standard and GateHouse News Service. My alter ego KevaD lives under a stairway of dreams where he writes stories and grumbles about everything. Click the pic to visit KevaD's blog.
Drop me a line at dakentner@yahoo.com

I invite you to read my award-winning short story posted on Calliope Magazine's web site.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cyberpunk/Science Fiction Author Ernest Hogan


Cyberpunk is the combining of science fiction and technology with a future society on the brink of self-destruction. Ernest Hogan takes the concept a step further, blending in his love of the Aztec’s ancient beliefs and civilization to produce very unique and gripping stories. When it comes to science fiction of a different breed, Hogan is definitely sitting in the front row. For me, it is the author’s research and knowledge of the ancient, his ability to intertwine that with the future and make the end product so unbelievably believable that sets him apart from so many other writers. Yet, at the same time, his sharp eye for current culture captures our own nuances and splintering trends to create characters both contemporary and just around a futuristic corner. 

Quite frankly, Hogan’s work is so entertainingly unique that I’m confused why this author’s work isn’t better known. One reviewer aptly referred to Hogan as a “…mad Mexican Hunter S. Thompson….” His 1990 debut novel “Cortez on Jupiter” gave readers a preview of what was to come from an author not afraid to take risks. Cortez on Jupiter’s main character is the leader of the Guerilla Muralists of Los Angeles, and the exponent of the latest form of free-fall art – splatterpainting. He also becomes the first human to have contact with aliens. Combine this storyline with Aztec mythology, and readers had in their hands a book filled with artistic expression, suspense, thrills, humor, all the dystopian science fiction they could handle, and prose filled with originality and wordplay. 

“High Aztech” presents a virus capable of infecting any human mind with forced religion, and renegade cartoonist Zapata running through Tenochtitlan - the erstwhile Mexico City - pursued by the government, the Mafia, street gangs, cults, and garbage collectors. 

Hogan’s “Smoking Mirror Blues” tells the tale of gamer technology buffs who create an artificial intelligence version of the Aztec trickster god Tezcatlipoca. Only Tezcatlipoca gains awareness and decides to take over the world by injecting his consciousness into tech nerd Beto Orozco and transforming the young man to neo-god status in order to gain control thru havoc. “Smoking Mirror Blues” is a successful clash of cultures, mythology, rock-n-roll, sex, and deities sure to satisfy many readers’ appetites in search of something a little different and engagingly entertaining. 

Born in LA, Hogan now lives in Arizona with his wife where he works at the library. A cartoonist, illustrator, writer, and consultant on pre-Columbian mythology, he can be found on Facebook sharing his vast knowledge and obscure photographs with the world, as well as his blog ‘Mondo Ernesto.’

Q) What sparked your fascination with the Aztecs? 

A) I'm a born-in-East-L.A. Chicano. My mother's maiden name is Garcia. That makes the Aztecs my ancestors, and part of my heritage. They are also an example of culture is “alien” to those who live in the 21st century corporate consumer society, while still being human. I plug my imagination into things Aztecan and bizarre things happen that I write down, and turn into stories. 

Q) The obvious question: What made you decide to combine the future with the past, and very successfully so? 

A) The future comes out of the present – that comes out of the past. If you try to create a future without using elements from the past and present you create something sterile. Also, what makes good fiction is people – humans doing outrageous things – and the past is full of that. The future will be too. 

Q) Art plays a huge role in everything you do. Where do you believe your passion for art comes from? 

A) I'm an artist. I've always got a sketchbook that I'm doodling around in. Creativity is the way I do things. If I'm not finding ways to make strange constructions out of that I encounter in life, I get bored and depressed. Leave me alone and I start doing something that someone will call art. And I don't limit myself to fine art – I prefer Ed “Big Daddy” Roth to Andy Warhol, and comic books to graphic novels, I watch surrealistic art films and low-budget exploitations film with equal enjoyment.

Q) You also write short stories, which have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. “Obsidian Harvest,” co-written with Rick Cook, was part of a collection nominated for a prestigious Nebula Award. Do you find greater expressive freedom in your short stories or your novels? 

A) Here we get complicated. You can write whatever you want. Problems and restrictions come when you try to publish. I write far-out stories, then try to find a market that will publish them. Sometimes this can take decades. Also, the more freedom you get, the less money comes with it. Ben Bova gave me absolute freedom in writing “Cortez on Jupiter” and “High Aztech” – something that doesn't really happen anymore. In trying to sell novels, I do find myself thinking about what “they” will buy, but now Big Publishing is crashing, and I'm experimenting with self-publishing this is all changing. The novels I'm working on now are things that wouldn't have been published a few years ago. 

Q) “Smoking Mirror Blues” was originally a short story in Science Fiction Age magazine. What made you decide to turn the story into a novel? 

A) Actually, it was the other way around. I started “Smoking Mirror Blues” as a novel after “High Aztech” figuring that I was on my way to making a living as a novelist. Unfortunately, mysterious things happened with “High Aztech” – the ad in Locus had no text, no review copies were not sent out, backstock disappeared when stores wanted to reorder. The sample chapters and synopsis of “Smoking Mirror Blues” were rejected after much mucking around, then no one would buy it. I got depressed and had what was for me a rare case of writer's block. Then Scott Edelman got in touch with me about this new magazine – Science Fiction Age – that he was editing, and he wanted a story from me. And I had nothing because I was concentrating on novels for the last few years. I tried to sell Scott part of the “Smoking Mirror Blues” sample, but Scott, being a good editor felt it didn't have an ending. I was stumped. Finally, my wife suggested I write the end of the book, I did, and Scott bought it. Later my agent suggested I finish the novel, I did, everybody in New York rejected it again, so I went the small press route. 

Q) You enjoy pushing boundaries. On your blog, you even jokingly tell readers to ‘read on at their own risk.’ Readers have categorized your books as cyberpunk. How do you feel about your stories being placed in a niche? 

A) I've been joking that I was post-cyberpunk before cyberpunk. I try to write stuff that's interesting, and entertaining. These days I actually try not be literary, though I still get called avant-garde. Labels help what people try to market you, but I seem fall between the cracks. I've been published mostly in science fiction markets – others just don't bite – but Analog once rejected a story for being “too surrealistic and cartoony.” It's probably for the best that I ignore what people call me and just keep doing what I do. 

Q) Any parting comments for fans and those who haven’t read your work yet, and, when can we look forward to your next book? 

A) Buy my ebooks, and review them, if you like them or not. Some of my best quotes come from people describing what they didn't like about my work. “Cortez on Jupiter” and “Smoking Mirror Blues” are available now. “High Aztech” will be coming out soon.  After that, I'm doing a collection of my short stories. On the novel front, there a futuristic bullfighting novel, and a fantasy about the pre-Columbian ball game in which I will ignore all the rules of what people say a proper fantasy novel should be. And then I never know what's going to trigger a short story. . .
DA Kentner is the author of the acclaimed suspense novel Whistle Pass http://whistlepass.blogspot.com/

 

 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Inspiring Fit Behavior – Tony Whatley


A number of years ago I awoke one morning to the fact I wasn’t immortal anymore, and even a third cup of coffee wasn’t going to make the lingering aches and pains go away or inspire me to do…anything. Sometimes, getting older sucks. When that mindset arrives, it’s time to do something about it. There are many books, programs, and people offering tips on how to change our routines and let us enjoy who we are. I’m merely going to discuss one of them. I read and write stories. I am not a health expert, nor do I pretend I am or want to be. In fact, if anyone out there knows of a book discussing ways to stay fit while glued to a keyboard twelve or more hours a day, email me. 

Let’s mention this: Always – ALWAYS – consult your doctor before beginning any new physical regimen or change in diet. 

“Inspire Your Fit Behavior” is a thoroughly engaging ebook and built-in program designed to encourage those of us no longer immortal to improve our fitness. Who wouldn’t like to be more active and potentially reduce the amount of medication some of us depend on, or actually play with the grandkids instead of watching them from a lawn chair? 

What is significant about “Inspire Your Fit Behavior” is that the concept revolves around people we can relate to sharing their results with us. It’s not an infomercial with a fast talking salesman offering us a two for one deal if we call in the next thirty minutes or setting us up to buy the next installment in a never ending series. This is a book with inclusive videos designed to inspire us to get away from our TVs and computers (a near impossibility for me) and make a positive change in our lives. Is this a book for you? Well, could you use some inspiration, would you like to improve your mental attitude? I’ll bet the answer’s ‘yes.’

Former corporate executive Tony Whatley is the founder of FitBehavior.org and author of the book. 

Q)  In your own pursuit of physical improvement, you learned the value of friendships and socializing with likeminded people. How do you suggest an average person expand their sphere of relationships beyond the one we/they have grown comfortable in? 

A) I suggest beginning with an online search for physically demanding sports from table tennis to adventure racing and all those in between, ie race walking, jogging. Then, examine each until you find one or two that sound interesting. You need to give something a try. If it doesn't work out, no problem, this is not marriage, more like “speed dating” until you find a sport you love and want to stick with it for a while.  (And you can always move on to a new sport to renew your fitness interests.  It’s allowed!) 

Q)  Judge Faith Ireland began weight training at age 57 and is now a six-time national powerlifting champion. Retired Admiral Bill Center simply wanted to lose weight so he could play on the floor with his grandchildren. Two different ends of the spectrum, yet the same mindset is required. How can an average person turn on that ‘switch’ to turn a daydream into reality? 

A) Make a decision, build a plan, begin, change directions when necessary, seek outside advice, persist no matter what, and focus on the goal. 

Plan, organize, adjust, and keep going. There is no end to this continuous loop of getting and staying fit. 

Q)  What inspired you to focus on the over forty age groups? 

A) Over 40 people need it the most. Also, being over 40 myself I realize how much I need it. 

Q)  This book and project were not the results of an ‘oh, gee, let’s do this’ kind of haphazard thought. Years of research with noted authorities occurred before anything else took shape. While we, the consumers, sometimes erroneously assume all projects like this are thoroughly investigated and researched before they are marketed, that isn’t always the case. You took the extra steps and years to attempt to cover every base and turn every stone. Why? 

A) I was trained as an engineer and scientist. All of my formal education instilled in me the attitude that you need to comply with the truth and present the most accurate depiction of reality possible. The US has a healthcare problem. FitBehavior and fit/healthy living will solve most of it. Our citizens need to be inspired to join the “Movement.” 

Q)  The inevitable question: Why should we invest in your program/book and not another? 

A) Because Inspire Your FitBehavior can immediately improve your life and take giant steps toward solving our health care crisis. It has a fantastic return on investment. 

Q)  Any parting thoughts for those (like me) in need of a book like this, but still practicing procrastinators? 

A) Don’t wait another second to take that first step.
DA Kentner is the author of the acclaimed suspense novel Whistle Pass. http://whistlepass.blogspot.com/
 

 

 

 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Bestselling Author Jennifer L. Hart/Jenna McCormick


Browsing book titles, my gaze screeched to a stop at The Misadventures of the Laundry Hag cozy mystery series by author Jennifer L. Hart. In this on-going series, the lead character Maggie is the wife of a former Navy SEAL and adoptive mother of two (one of whom is a twelve-year-old growing faster than his common sense) who takes on cleaning jobs to help pay the mounting household bills. Though instead of sweeping dirt under the carpet, Maggie has a knack of uncovering mysteries not everyone else seems to find mysterious. But, true to amateur sleuths everywhere, Maggie’s instincts and perseverance win out in her humorous forays into crime solving. 

The easy style of writing and pure enjoyment of the prose led me to want to know more about the author. Hart, it turns out, is actually the alter ego of romance and fantasy author Jenna McCormick. Hart’s novel “Redeeming Characters,” the story of two writers plotting revenge and love, both on and off the pages, garnered awards and reader interest. Her futuristic novel “Stellar Timing” likewise captured recognition within the industry. 

Born on Sanibel Island, McCormick, a real life former navy wife and mother of two, writes full time. In July 2012, the offbeat and highly entertaining “Daisy Dominatrix Volume 1” (Hart) was released, and in August came “River Rats” (Hart). “River Rats,” set in upstate New York, brings together a park ranger, a waitress, and deadly events that may end any possibility of love before it begins. Due out January 29th is “No Mercy” (McCormick) a science fiction fantasy story of two people lust throws together, and a secret that forces the couple to become untrusting allies in a fight for survival. 

McCormick/Hart’s imagination and willingness to explore genres provides readers with a wide array of reading potential and hours of entertainment. Check her out. I think you’ll be glad you did.

Q) The obvious question: Why continue to write under both names, and, do the two personas ever conflict? 

A) Do the two personas ever conflict? Like female wrestlers in a pit full of Jell-O. Honestly, I started writing mysteries because it was more family appropriate entertainment, things I wanted to read and write and would be proud to have my name on and to tell everyone about. But I held myself back for fear of what family and friends might think. The Jenna persona doesn’t like to be constrained though, she’s all sensationalism, 24/7. My Id. So Jennifer writes when I’m feeling a little more wholesome—or as wholesome as I ever get—and Jenna for the rest of the time.  

Q) You’re primarily a romance author, so, what inspired The Misadventures of the Laundry Hag mystery series? 

A) Actually, I started with the mysteries. I grew up reading Mary Higgins Clark so it seemed more natural. But I became more and more fixated on how my protagonists interacted and one thing led to another…cue the Barry White. 

I’d just moved into a new home in a new state and had a bazillion (the technical term) boxes to unpack for what felt like the bazillionth time. Hazard of the navy wife mantle. I started thinking about how much I wished someone else would do this crap for me. But then I didn’t want anyone to see my dirty little secrets. That led me to thinking about the things other people might have to hide. Thus, the laundry hag was born. 

Q) “No Mercy” is actually the second in a series, the first book being “No Limits.” What’s the common thread in these particular stories? 

A) Both “No Limits” and “No Mercy” are futuristic erotic romance, set in the same world, or in this case universe. The hero from “No Mercy”, Zan the immortal space pirate, actually showed up in “No Limits” and wouldn’t go away until he had his story told.  

Q) Like a growing number of authors, you publish both with well-known publishers and independently. What benefits do you believe you derive from pursuing both avenues? 

A) Not every story is going to have a wide enough audience to attract a mainstream publisher. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be told though. I like to take risks in my writing, push the envelope and create something brand spanking new. Take “Who Needs A Hero?” It’s the story of Maggie and Neil from my Laundry Hag series. In that book I give both the main characters their own first person point of view. I was told this was not done and took pride in doing it anyway. Since the characters were already attached to the mysteries, publishers didn’t know what to do with them, where to shelve them or if it would be worth the risk. Enter self-publishing as ebooks and I have a bestseller that might not have seen the light of day otherwise.  

As an author, there is nothing like the feeling of walking into a bookstore and picking up a copy of your own book. Knowing the story will reach a wider audience then it could even online is a major point of pride for me. I like giving my readers options. 

Q) Any parting comments for fans and readers not familiar with your stories yet? 

A) For my fans, thank you for reading. I couldn’t do what I do without you and I am grateful for every review, recommendation and fan letter I receive. For everyone else, I know your time is valuable and I hope to make it a little more entertaining. I’m currently working on another installment of Jenna McCormick’s “Caught Up In You,” contemporary billionaire erotic romance serial and “No Escape,” the third in the “No Limits” series. Afterwards, I’ve got a new mystery planned, so there will be a wide variety to choose from. I blog, I facebook, I tweet, under both names and I would love to hear from you!
DA Kentner is an author and journalist www.kevad.net

Friday, October 5, 2012

NYT Bestselling Author Kevin J. Anderson


Kevin J. Anderson is a #1 internationally bestselling author with over 120 books to his credit. A multi-award-winning writer, he has been called upon to write spin-off stories for Star Wars, Dune, The X-Files, Batman and Superman, Titan A.E., and StarCraft. Comic book fans may be familiar with Anderson’s Star Wars, Predator, Justice Society, and Star Trek comics.
None of those works would have happened if Anderson didn’t possess genuine, true talent and blazed his own unique and enduring path into readers’ hearts. “Resurrection, Inc.”, Anderson’s first disturbingly entertaining walking-dead novel, arrived in readers’ hands in 1988. The author’s masterful prose, captivating characters, and skillful plotting threw open a storytelling door that readers have been returning to ever since.
Though Anderson has co-authored several books with varying authors such as “Frankenstein: Prodigal Son” with Dean Koontz, “Clockwork Angels: The Novel” with Neil Peart from legendary rock group Rush, and the new “Dune” novels with Brian Herbert, Rebecca Moesta can lay claim to the greatest collaboration with Anderson as she not only has co-authored nine novels and/or series with him, but agreed to marry him. They just celebrated their 21st wedding anniversary.
Prolific by every definition of the word, this year Anderson has produced the steampunk historical “The Martian War,” a sci-fi audiobook “Tau Ceti,” in which Anderson himself performs, “Sisterhood of Dune” with Brian Herbert, and other stories. But 2012 has also seen the author’s return to a genre that first garnered readers’ attention—paranormal, with a trademark Kevin J. Anderson comedic twist.
“Death Warmed Over” is the first in a new series introducing private eye/murdered zombie Dan Chambeaux, “Dan Shamble” to his paranormal clientele. Dan takes nearly every case that enters his ‘Unnatural Quarter’ office. From witches suing their publisher for a misprinted spell that went horribly wrong, to a mummy wanting the museum to release him, to a werewolf ensnared in divorce proceedings, Dan tries to help his clients, all while trying to solve his own murder. The story is witty, original, and presents readers with an unbelievably believable world as only Kevin J. Anderson can.
Watch for the original novelette “Stakeout at the Vampire Circus” in November, and the next Dan Shamble novel “Unnatural Acts” this January.
Q) In 1988 when “Resurrection, Inc.” was published, you had little knowledge of what becoming famous would be like. Today, you readily attend conferences to meet established and potential fans. Thank you for that. What has been the greatest joy of becoming a famous author, and the greatest detriment?
A) Authors are the “invisible” sort of famous. I do know many truly famous people, from rock stars, movie and TV stars, producers and directors—but nobody recognizes me on the street. That’s fine with me. Part of the job is to interact with fans directly, whether by Twitter (@TheKJA) or Facebook (The Official Kevin J. Anderson Page), or at numerous conventions, book signings, library talks, etc. I grew up as a fan and attended many such conventions as a fan, and I still feel at home there.
Q) Your wife Rebecca enjoys mysteries. Did she influence “Death Warmed Over”?
A) Rebecca influences everything I write; I talk with her about my projects as I’m thinking about them in the planning stages, she brainstorms with me as I develop the story and characters, and she critiques the draft manuscripts as she reads them. We watch many mystery TV shows, and know the expectations of the convoluted cases as well as the interesting characters. And what can be more interesting (or funny!) than a zombie private detective?
Q) Readers frequently mention your superb and nearly phenomenal ability to create very real detailed worlds in their minds. Where did that skill come from, and how did you hone it to the level of mastery that you possess?
A) It comes from asking questions. If you take the general idea—what if something called the “Big Uneasy” brought back all the usual monsters, vampires, werewolves, mummies, witches, zombies—and you have to ask *then* what? Think about Step Two. Some people would write a story about the monsters coming back. I’m not interested in that. What happens next? So if all the monsters are back, they would have to figure out how to live in society, congregate in the “Unnatural Quarter” where they can seem normal…and they would have a lot of the same problems normal humans have, such as divorces, property disputes, legal difficulties. So, my private detective and his bleeding-heart human lawyer partner have the usual cases with the added complication of fangs, claws, curses, spells, and more.
Q) Obviously, you savor the genres you write in. Still, writers frequently have a genre they would love to explore that their established fans might not be so keen about. What’s yours?
A) I’m well known for my big complex science fiction and fantasy epics, such as the Saga of Seven Suns, my Terra Incognita fantasy trilogy, the Dune and Hellhole books with Brian Herbert. Those are like “War and Peace” with gigantic stories and casts of characters…and I love sinking my creative teeth into them. BUT, in books like that I never get a chance to have fun or just be silly. I do have a good sense of humor (well, at least I think so), and the Dan Shamble series, as well as my BLOOD LITE anthology series of humorous horror, gives me a chance just to be funny, and it’s so liberating. And ridiculous…but in a serious way.
Q) During your early struggles to be published, you once received a trophy as “The Writer with No Future.” Do you still have it?
A) Definitely. It’s right in my office. (Actually, it’s on the toilet tank in the bathroom of my office.) I received it when I was able to produce more rejection slips, by weight, than any other writer at a large conference. I keep it to remind me of the value of awards—what matters most is what the fans and readers think.
Q) Your epic world-building enthralls readers. Yet, in an interview, you alluded to your preference to smaller scale and personal stories involving time travel – the ‘what ifs.’ Will we see more of those types of explorative tales from you?
A) I don’t think it’s an either/or proposition. I love to create a large canvas and a well thought-out original world, where all the details fit together and all the questions are asked. But a giant world in itself isn’t interesting; you have to put interesting people [sic] with interesting problems into the story. I like looking at the whole thing from both the big picture and the small picture. Some of Dan Shamble’s cases involve the possible extinction of monsters everywhere, but he still has to worry about spending enough time with his girlfriend (even if she is a ghost) and pretending to laugh at the really bad jokes his BHF (Best Human Friend) Officer McGoohan tells him. It’s a good balance.
Q) Any parting comments for your readers and those who haven’t yet read your work?
A) I have a lot of different stories, from big space operas to sprawling fantasy epics, to these very funny and light zombie PI novels. I write very quickly, and I keep myself interested by switching gears and writing different things. Try my steampunk “Clockwork Angels,” or my epic “Saga of Seven Suns”…or, for a good time, try “Death Warmed Over.” I’m amusing myself, and I hope to amuse readers as well.
DA Kentner is an author and journalist www.kevad.net

Monday, October 1, 2012

Multiple Award-Winning Editor/Authors Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling




Generally, we readers hold the misconception that editors are the people who let a misspelled word slip onto the pages or altered a writer’s whatever to fit into limited space. Editors are the ones we blame for just about anything that doesn’t look or read right within a book. And, to a minor degree, we’re correct in that belief in regards to copy editors. What we don’t see is what goes on behind the scenes and the invaluable, creative, service editors, in all their varying forms, provide authors and readers. 

Two of the best and most respected editors in the business are Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. These women don’t just sit at desks, painstakingly reviewing manuscripts for flaws or areas in need of improvement, although that’s an important part of their job. Their love of storytelling and keen sense of what readers want led them to create anthologies – collections of short stories – by some of the most renowned authors we readers have come to enjoy: Stephen King, Peter Straub, Susanna Clark, Neil Gaiman, and Angela Carter, to name a scant few. Datlow and Windling’s work has amassed them a treasure trove of awards, not limited to multiple Bram Stoker Awards, World Fantasy Awards, International Horror Guild Awards, Hugo Awards…the list goes on and on. 

Awards honor a singular event. Be it the Olympics or an anthology of fairy tales, we spectators more than likely view the win as pertaining to that one golden moment of crowning achievement. To the individual receiving the award, that polished disk or framed certificate is the validation of years of labor, sacrifice, sweat, and tears. Such is the case of the thirty year journey of Datlow and Windling. 

On the surface, these editors couldn’t be more different. Ellen Datlow lives in a large U.S. city. Terri Windling, in a small village in the U.K. Datlow enjoys science fiction and horror – Windling,  fantasy and mythic fiction. Datlow adores cats and collects dolls and doll parts – Windling adores dogs and is a dedicated artist. Yet, their opposites have melded in order to create some of the finest and most enduring fantasy and horror anthologies in the marketplace today. 

Snow White, Blood Red, the first of their six volumes of fairy tale retellings, was at the forefront of the modern revival of adult fairy tale literature. Datlow & Windling edited the ground-breaking "Year's Best Fantasy & Horror" volumes together for sixteen years, and Datlow’s recent “The Best Horror of the Year Volume Four” contains some seriously scary stuff. Windling’s The Wood Wife is a Mythopoeic Award winning novel that combines her love of fantasy with her love of the desert. The Green Man: Tales of the Mythic Forest is the editors’ exploration of forest myth and symbolism, and suggested reading for teens and adult alike. There are no boundaries to Datlow and Windling’s creative endeavors. 

Now, After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia is being released by Hyperion October 9th. From Amazon.com: “If the melt-down, flood, plague, the third World War, new Ice Age, Rapture, alien invasion, clamp-down, meteor, or something else entirely hit today, what would tomorrow look like? Some of the biggest names in YA and adult literature answer that very question in this short story anthology, each story exploring the lives of teen protagonists raised in catastrophe's wake—whether set in the days after the change, or decades far in the future. 

There are some people who believe anthologies aren’t as popular as they once were. Read one edited by Datlow and Windling and you will find out just how wrong “some people” can be.

Q) The obvious question: What caused the two of you to work together initially, and what defining moment said this was a good idea that needed to continue? 

A) Jim Frenkel created the Year's Best Fantasy & Horror series (published by St. Martin's Press) and he hired the two of us to edit it -- with Ellen handling the horror half of each volume and Terri, the fantasy half. Both of us were living in New York back then, and we knew each other socially through publishing circles, but we'd never worked together before. We liked the experience so much that we then paired up to create the Snow White, Blood Red series...and twenty-five years later we're still editorial partners, and good friends.  

We find that the strength we have as a team is that we both love fantastic literature, but we come at it from opposite directions: Ellen from the dark fantasy and horror end of the spectrum, Terri from the high fantasy and mythic fiction end, with our tastes overlapping somewhere in the middle. This gives the books that we edit together a broader range and diversity. 

Q) Readers have claimed of late that the focus on book editing seems to have diminished in favor of quantity over quality. What is your take on that type of observation? 

A) Are we talking about anthologies here, or book editing in general? If we're focusing on anthologies, then yes, we'd have to agree. These days it seems as if everyone thinks they can edit an anthology—and well, yes, they can, but the important question is: can they edit a good anthology? So many anthologies published by micropresses are just thrown together by people who have no idea what an editor does. (Ellen notes that this is particularly true in the horror field, where it's something she encounters often when reading for the Best of the Year in Horror. ) With the larger publishers, there's an unfortunate trend towards anthologies edited by popular authors...and while that sometimes works (Holly Black's fine anthologies, for example), more often these books are disjointed and disappointing, because writing and editing are very different skills. Our fear is that poorly edited books will turn readers off of short fiction altogether -- which would be a shame.  

Q) How do you decide what the theme of any anthology will be, and how do the two of you resolve disagreements in that decision? 

A) We suggest themes to each other, and then we run with any idea we both like...provided our agent thinks she can sell it! If one of us has an idea that the other isn't keen on, then we always have the option of doing the book by ourselves (we've each published solo anthologies), so really there are no disputes to resolve. 

Q) Keeping a finger on the pulse of readers is a tricky business these days. What barometer do you use to best guess the direction of readers’ interests? 

A) We both read widely and stay abreast of what's going on in the publishing industry. And sometimes our literary agent, whose finger is very much on the pulse of the industry, recommends a theme to us. Our last two anthologies, Teeth and After, were based on themes she suggested. 

Q) You work together, and separately. What defines when you will work together? 

A) Basically we work together on books that we think will benefit from our diversity of tastes. For science fiction, or pure horror, Ellen tends to work solo -- while Terri generally works solo on projects that focus more on the purely fantastic end of the spectrum.  

Both Teeth (our YA vampire anthology) and After (our YA dystopian anthology) are unusual books for us because their themes fall more naturally into Ellen's camp than Terri's. But because these themes are so commercially popular, and thus a bit over-familiar to readers, our aim was to do something fresh and original with the topics. We felt we could do this best together, drawing on our different but complimentary editorial backgrounds. 

Q) How has the onset of e-books altered what you do? 

A) Like most of the publishing industry, we're still figuring this out! The most immediate effect is a positive one: we're able to make a number of our older, out-of-print anthologies available again in e-book form, which gives them new life. 

Q) Any parting comments for your readers and those yet to become familiar with your work? 

A) We create anthologies out of love for the form, and writers write short stories out of love for the form -- nobody makes a lot of money this way, we all do it out of passion and conviction. We create anthologies because we believe in short stories, and we want to find ways to get them into readers' hands. Our ultimate aim is to keep the  market for fantastic short fiction alive and thriving -- and every reader who buys anthologies, or recommends them, or reviews them, is helping to keep it alive too. And this in turn supports the creative evolution of writers both new and established. 

"Nothing can break your heart like a good short story," says short fiction writer Jason Ockert." Since there isn’t a ton of time to make sense of a shorter narrative you can often trick the heart into feeling something before the pesky brain goes to work dissecting, dissecting, dissecting."
“Short fiction seems more targeted [than novels]," says Paolo Bacigalupi (who writes both), " hand grenades of ideas, if you will. When they work, they hit, they explode, and you never forget them."
That's it in a nutshell.
DA Kentner can be reached at www.kevad.net