This month’s guest author is A.F. Stewart who has a history of writing fantasy, sci-fi and horror novels, along with poetry. Her work has been published in various anthologies such as Beyond the Wail, Legends and Lore and Mechanized Masterpieces from Xchyler Publishing. She has kindly agreed to join us in discussing the broad Speculative Fiction genre and offering some of her insight.
Thanks for joining us A.F. Stewart, to start, tell us a bit about who you are.
I hail from Canada, and lead a very boring life. No great adventures for me unless you count doing the grocery shopping. I split my time between the everyday of life and my sessions of hunt and peck at the computer to write my books. To date, I’ve published several collections of short stories, a few novellas, and four volumes of poetry.
To relax, I like reading (of course), watching TV shows and movies (especially the show Supernatural, action movies, and good sci-fi), and I practice art as a hobby. I love geeky collectables, and have a mild obsession with scarves.
What got you into writing?
I’ve always been writing, since my little fingers could hold a pencil as a child. Stories, poems, even an ill-conceived attempt at songwriting, ideas have been binging about in my head for as long as I can remember (maybe even longer).
Speculative Fiction is an umbrella term for a number of genres, what is your favorite one to write?
My favourite one to write is fantasy, possibly because it’s my favourite genre to read, but I think I may do my best work when I write horror. That’s probably why so many of my stories lean to the dark side, even when they are in other genres. Fantasy though, is where my heart lies, flying with the dragons, conjuring spells, going on quests with your sword at the ready.
What was the first book that you wrote?
A very bad attempt at a Harlequin romance novel, which will stay forever hidden from the world. It was a learning experience, though. It taught me I truly suck at writing romance novels. Magic and mayhem, that’s my specialty.
Something I always ask authors – what made you choose self-publishing?
I started way, way back at the beginning, when self-publishing was just starting to take off (back even before Createspace and Kindle). It seemed to me a great way to test the waters so to speak, to see if readers liked what I wrote, or if I my work was totally irredeemable. I published my first book of poetry, and a book of short stories to favourable reception, and kept on going.
You’re published in a number of anthologies, what were the first steps you took to be a part of your first anthology publication?
I love short stories, reading and writing them, so getting involved in anthologies had to happen for me. I started with self-publishing collections of my own stories, and did a collaborate anthology freebie with some writer friends. But the first small press, multi-author anthology came about due to my budding interest in steampunk. I had been toying with the idea of writing a steampunk story, and then I saw the call from Xchyler Publishing for Mechanized Masterpieces. They were asking for submissions that combined steampunk and classic literature, a tailor made combo for me. So I took a chance, wrote and submitted Our Man Fred, a clockwork spy tale staring Scrooge’s nephew from A Christmas Carol. To my surprise they accepted it. I’ve since had two more stories published in their anthologies, plus a few in the Christmas Lites series, and some others as well.
Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
I wish I knew. (Then I could bottle it and sell it. Ready-made story inspiration only 2.99.) Really, anything can trigger an idea in my head: something I overhear, an online article, a photo, even a sound. I once got a story idea washing dishes and listening to the noise of a plane flying by. My mind is a strange place.
Do you find writing short stories easier than longer ones (say 60,000 words and up)?
In a word, yes. Short stories have far less plot to figure out. Not to mention no pesky subplots, or dangling loose ends to weave into the storyline. Novels are richer in scope, but definitely harder and more complex to write. And getting a short story just right, twisting it in that perfect way, that is a particularly fine satisfaction. Plus, it’s easier to kill off characters in short stories, as you don’t get so attached.
What do you currently have in the works?
Many, many things. I’m currently compiling a horror poetry book to be published in October for my annual Halloween celebrations. I’m also finishing the first draft of my seafaring fantasy novella, Ghosts of the Sea Moon; that should be done in the next few weeks and ready for publication by the end of the year. Plus, I’m working on The Duke’s Assassin, the first novel in my steampunk horror series, and writing The Prophecy of Seven, the first book in my new epic fantasy series. And I have a steampunk adventure novel, Racing the Hellfire Club, ready to begin editing. Oh, I also have some short story collections kicking around in various stages of completion, and a book series planned to continue the adventures of my Camelot characters from the story Grail Days (found in the Legends and Lore anthology).
Thank you again A.F. for joining us to chat about your experience and the various genres you write in.
A.F. Stewart is also active on the following social sites: