Authors Answer – Reader Questions

During February and March, we’re answering questions from other contributors to Authors Answer.  In April, we’re going to start something new.  We want your questions.

If you have a good question for our authors, please leave it in the comments below.  You can go here to see previous questions so you know what not to ask.  When you ask, we’d like you to stay on the topic of books, writing, and reading.

Your questions will begin appearing on here in the middle of April, so look forward to it.  I look forward to your questions.

Leonard Nimoy Has Passed Away

According to this article at New York Times, Leonard Nimoy has passed away.  He was 83.

Last I’d heard, he was recovering.  But I guess it wasn’t to be.  Seeing the stars of my favourite TV show dying is difficult.  It’s hard to really say anything.  Not a happy night.

And I’m not going to do a silly Spock quote.  He had a long and prosperous life.

SpockLeonard Nimoy, March 26, 1931 – February 27, 2015.

What Is New Zealand?

It’s been a while since I’ve done this.  A month, in fact.  But I will now continue to go through the top ten countries that visited my blog last year.  In 7th place is a small country with a small population, but it still ranked quite high.  With 147 views in 2014, that makes it only 0.78% of the total.  So, if you are one of those people, I need your help.  If you live in New Zealand, are a New Zealander, or have visited, please give me your opinions.

320px-Flag_of_New_Zealand.svgNew Zealand

New Zealand isn’t a very big country.  With a size of 268,021 square kilometres, it’s the world’s 75th largest country.  It has a population of 4,509,900, making it 123rd in the world.  The capital is Wellington, while the largest city is Auckland with a population of 1,413,700 (1,527,100 metro). The official languages are English, Maori, and New Zealand Sign Language, though English is spoken by nearly everyone.  New Zealand was given self-governance from the UK on January 17, 1853, but it wasn’t until September 26, 1907 that it was independent.  The head of government is the Prime Minister, currently John Key.  The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, as New Zealand is a member of the British Commonwealth.  The government type is a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy.

New Zealand is a country of great natural beauty, unique wildlife, and is quite isolated.  The culture is influenced by both the UK and Australia, though there is also the native Maori culture.  So, I need your help.  If you are from New Zealand, have lived in New Zealand, or have visited New Zealand, please answer these questions:

  1. What places would you say are the best to visit?
  2. What would you say is the truly New Zealander food?
  3. What is a truly New Zealand activity, sport, or pastime?
  4. For the readers out there, who is/was the greatest (or your favourite) New Zealander author?

Thank you very much! Please share this post so we can get as many answers as possible.  It’s much appreciated.

Authors Answer 17 – Writing Influences

Every author has someone or something that influenced them.  They can be anything from another author to a style.  Even a single book can be an influence.  This week’s question is brought to us by H. Anthe Davis.

J. R. R. Tolkien inspired an entire genre.
J. R. R. Tolkien inspired an entire genre.

Question 17: What authors, styles or intellectual movements have most influenced your writing?

Elizabeth Rhodes

First it was Mario Puzo’s The Godfather.  I liked reading multiple storylines at once from many points of view.  There are many authors who use this technique, but I saw it in Puzo’s book first.

The second was a movement that I’m not sure has a name.  I grew tired of stories that boiled down to clear-cut forces of good and evil fighting against each other.  Despite what we may feel, no one person or cause is completely good or evil.  Instead I wanted to write about heroes that weren’t really heroes at the end, villains who might have had a point but maybe didn’t after all, and people trapped in situations where you really couldn’t remain honorable.  Hence my tagline, “There is no such thing as a hero.”

Linda G. Hill

First, I love reading articles about writing. Picking up new tips to help me along is essential to keep up my own focus. Apart from that, I’m most positively influenced by true storytellers. The writings of Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Diana Gabaldon and Anne Rice (at least her older fiction) are factor largely in how I’ve progressed as a writer. I aspire to be just like any of them.

Caren Rich

Not sure how to answer this question.  I like  Southern writers who have interesting, if not odd, characters. Stories with layers.  I shy away from excess language  and sex but enjoy the conflicts characters have with each other.  I want a story where the reader wants to crawl inside and hang out with the characters and walk the streets of town.  I’m not saying I’m there yet, but I’m working on it.

I think, I’ve been influenced by Harper Lee and Eugene Walter, both Alabama writers.  Jan Karon, Zora Neale Hurston, and Mary Higgins Clark are other influences.

Does my writing reflect these influences?  Who knows, but each one has valuable lessons to learn about place, character, pacing, voice, and storytelling.

D. T. Nova

I would say that my tendency to be very dialogue-heavy when there’s no much action going in is influenced by Isaac Asimov; though my actual plots and the level of action don’t really resemble his stories.

The fact that I’m a skeptic and a feminist also shows in my writing.

Amy Morris-Jones

I am most influenced as a writer by books that focus on a strong female character. Issues of identity, empowerment, and development (of self, relationships, etc.) tend to influence my work.  Authors like Anita Shreve, Jodi Picoult, Liane Moriarty, and Ann Patchett are all doing what I like to think I’m doing (some days more than others!)

Jean Davis

The author’s style that has stuck with me most over the years would have to be Steven Brust. I love the snarky humor of his Vlad Taltos series.  A similar snark level has snuck into a couple of my novels and short stories.

Paul B. Spence

Rudyard Kipling, Roger Zelazny, David Weber, Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, Robert Heinlein.  As far as styles or intellectual movements go, I don’t really pay attention to such things; I just try to tell a good story.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I’m going to be honest, I find this question difficult to answer. For sure I can say Stephen King has influenced my horror writing, and according to “I Write Like” (, I have elements of Tolkien and Lewis in my fantasy writing. Other than that, I couldn’t really say.

S. R. Carrillo

Hands down, the most meaningful thing that has happened to me in terms of literature was the discovery of transgressive fiction. It was such a dark and dirty corner of the literary world in a room full of bring and warm things that I devoured as much of it as I could and let it soak into my pores. It was only by reading books like American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby, Jr. and Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk that I began to feel like there was a place for people like me – readers like me, writers like me. It also introduced me to more erotic and queer fiction, which further affirmed my place among these names and counterculture faces. Transgressive fiction has a special place in the darkest part of my heart.

H. Anthe Davis

I have a few author-mashups that I want to be like when I grow up — say, Jim Butcher’s snark combined with Robin Hobb’s ability to make you care about the fine details of a character’s life, or R.A. Salvatore’s combat plus Clive Barker’s freaky weird stuff.  And while I can’t say that there’s a style that I follow, I have noticed traces of utilitarianism, existentialism and nihilism in some of the characters, as well as various religious philosophies.  I try to keep that stuff out of the plot itself, but I like to let the PoV characters interpret events according to their personal beliefs — and argue with each other as needed.

Jay Dee Archer

Early on, my main influence in getting into writing was probably J. R. R. Tolkien.  I wanted to create a world like he did after reading The Hobbit.  I fell in love with fantasy with him.  As for science fiction, it wasn’t an author or style that did it, it was a TV show.  Star Trek: The Next Generation was a huge influence on me.

But as I grew older and went to university, two authors gave my desires a stronger voice in what I wanted to write, Anne McCaffrey and Terry Brooks.  Ariadne is science fiction, but it will have elements of fantasy in it.  Anne McCaffrey did that, and it gave me the idea.  Terry Brooks’ Shannara showed a world after a great upheaval.  I’d thought about something in a similar way, but not quite like him.

But as for style, fantasy authors like Steven Erikson and science fiction authors like Alastair Reynolds, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Arthur C. Clarke have influenced my preference for realism and scientific accuracy.

How about you?

What has influenced you in your writing? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

The 2K International Writers’ Blog Tour – Zachary Paul Chopchinski

the2kinternationalwritersblogtourWe made it to the end! This is the last day of the blog tour.  The original posts of our final interview can be found here and here.

Zachary Paul Chopchinski

zachary_paul_chopchinskiI am 26 years old and live in Maine with my lovely wife, Layla, our two dogs and two cats. I currently work as the director of security at a local college. Working in a field like security, despite the fact that often I was a manager and in charge of sensitive situations, I found myself with plenty of time to dream up stories. Working primarily nights exacerbated this, since I was often left in solidarity to my own devices. This alone time allowed for me to create other lives, worlds, and times. Often, this led to fervid writings penned as I arrived home after long nights, my day supposedly ending, yet merely at its start. I received an Associates degree in Criminal Justice and a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology from the University of Southern Maine. Although I do not have a degree in writing, or its associated fields, I have always had a passion for it. I had two short stories published by Ohio State University when he was in elementary school, and a poem published when he was in high school.

I have always had two passions in my life, criminal justice and writing, and after spending nearly 5 years working in security, I have decided it is time to give my other passion a chance. When I am not writing, or dreaming up my next story, I can be found reading and studying about watches, playing video games or spending time with my family.

What is the first piece you remember writing (from childhood or young adulthood)?

As a child, I did not live in the best community. Often I found myself sitting alone in my room and reading, about far away places. I began to write at a young age—albeit not very good pieces, but I tried my best—and I have to say that the mere thought of my earliest work still makes me blush. The first thing that I ever wrote and finished was a short story entitled “Never Been Kissed”. Sadly, this was a short story about my very first girlfriend and date. I still have it to this day and my family loves to pull it out of hiding and read it to me just to make me blush. It was quite cheeky, I thought I was the next romantic novel superstar, yet I still think of it to this day.

What is your favorite aspect of being a writer? Your least favorite?

My favorite part of being a writer would have to be the ability to create something out of the most humble of things, or perhaps nothing at all. Whenever I find myself pondering hardships, boredom, possibilities or anything that may hit me, I throw a small story into the mixture and see what develops. I would have to say that my least favorite thing about being a writer is this little attention deficit problem that I have. I often find myself thinking over several possible story ideas at once and get overwhelmed, only to find myself nearly giving up on all of them. I generally am able to press forward, it is just frustrating at times.

Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, what is your best tip for beating it? If not, why not?

Absolutely I believe in writer’s block. Writing, like any art form, is based out of the author’s creativity and inspiration. This is a very fickle thing and, like many things in life, writer’s can find themselves uninspired, not in the mood, or maybe even unable to push through a certain point in their piece, for whatever reason. My best tip for beating this is to think back to what you were experiencing when you first began working the piece. Focus on what sensations you were feeling and emerge yourself into that mindset. If it was a song, listen to the song again. If you were in a special place when the thought first roared through your mind, go back and shoot for it again. Finding ourself in the situation which first spawned your works will relaunch the story for you.

What is your current writing project? What is the most challenging aspect of your current writing project?

zachary_paul_chopchinski_bookI am currently working on the second instillation of my novel, The Curious Tale of Gabrielle. The most challenging aspect of this piece is the base premise of it depends highly on historical accuracy. So, coupled with heavy writing, I know find myself doing more research than I did when I was in college.

What supports you in your writing?

Currently, there are two things that come to mind when thinking of what supports my writing. First thing would have to be music. I often listen to specific genres when writing that help me maintain focus in what I am currently working on. I use the music to channel the emotions and mindset needed to further my writing. The second is my lovely wife, Layla. She does what I have jokingly referred to as “mothering” me to make sure that I accomplish the goals that I set for myself. As I said, I do have a nasty little attention deficit problem, and she helps me keep that at bay when needed. For that, she is my greatest support.

What are you currently reading?

“War and Peace” by Tolstoy

Where can our readers find you and your books online?

One book that I would like to promote is The Curious Tale of Gabrielle, scheduled to come out at the beginning of March.

This Train Has Stairs

We’re on a Green Car on the Shonan-Shinjuku Line on our way back home. This car has stairs.


We’re on the lower level of the car. We have a lot of legroom and reclining seats. We also have tables. These cars have staff that sell snacks and drinks, as well. And it’s not crowded.

My daughter has made this little trip a battle. She’s sleepy, so hopefully she’ll take a little nap. I’m finally going to do some reading.