Louisville area geeks, freaks, readers, writers, movie lovers, and everyone in their vicinity. This is a huge weekend! FandomFest is here.
I was able to wrangle almost-local writer Stephen Zimmer for the scoop on FandomFest & his books. Here’s our interview:
Welcome to the Author Spotlight. Tell us about your latest project.
My current project, in terms of new book releases, is Spirit of Fire, Book 3 of the Fires in Eden Series (epic fantasy, published by Seventh Star Press). It was just released the first week of June, and we are in the midst of a very intensive 48 day blog tour in support of it.
I’m very excited about this release, and it features a new set of interior illustrations from award-winning artist Matthew Perry. My editor on this book was the wonderful Karen Leet. If you like the larger-scale epic fantasy series like you find with authors such as George R.R. Martin, Brandon Sanderson, or Steven Erikson, there’s a good chance you may enjoy this one. It has an ensemble cast , and includes some modern day characters that get taken into a world called Ave.
As if that wasn’t enough, I am the director of the Literary Track at Fandom Fest, which takes place this coming weekend, June 29th to July 1st. The literary component is a very substantial one with around 140 panels and workshops centered on writing, publishing, and everything else in the author world.
Our Guests of Honor this year are fantastic, including Timothy Zahn, John Scalzi, Robin Hobb, Julie Kagawa, Angie Fox, Ernest Cline, Jim C. Hines and Richard Kadrey. In all we have over 110 author/editor/publisher guest panelists. It is definitely one of the largest and most premium author events in the region, with something to offer authors of every genre. If you are from this region and are a writer, editor, publisher, artist, or just enjoy reading speculative fiction, it is truly a can’t-miss event at this point. There’s nothing like this in the area with the combination of networking opportunities and programming.
To see for yourself, I invite you to read through the programming descriptions at: http://fandomfestblog.com/programming/literary-track
I also do a lot of public relations work for Seventh Star Press, and am always busy writing new material for my novels and short stories. As you can guess, things are quite hectic at the moment!
Where do Louisville/Southern Indiana readers know you from, outside of your books & FF?
It is possible that some Louisville and Southern Indiana readers might have encountered my work as a filmmaker. I have done some short films and one feature. The feature was a supernatural thriller titled Shadows Light, and the more known short films include The Sirens, which was a Twilight Zone-esque type of horror, and Swordbearer, a 22 minute short film in medieval fantasy, based on the H. David Blalock novel Ascendant.
How did you get involved with Fandom Fest?
I came aboard officially last year, the first year that Fandom Fest was added to the already highly successful Fright Night Film Festival event. I had attended as an author guest at Fright Night a couple of times, and Ken Daniels (Chairman and founder of the event) asked me to come aboard and build a literary track for him. I have worked with conventions in the past, and go to quite a few as an author and filmmaker guest, so I definitely had some ideas on what would make for a very strong track content-wise, and Ken and Myra (Ken’s wife) have been very supportive in helping me make that happen.
Who are your favorite writers from the area?
I like a great many writers from the area, and there are some exceptional ones very close with Michael Williams and Julie Kagawa in Louisville, and Laura Resnick up towards the Cincinnati area. I have recently become more acquainted with Rose Pressey and her work (she’s also in the Louisville area). With speculative fiction, you cannot go wrong with any of those four authors in the immediate region.
When it comes to poetry, I have to give a shout out to Sheri Wright. And Jason Sizemore, the head man at Apex Publications out of Lexington, is a multi-faceted force as a writer, editor, and publisher.
Finally, there are a pair of gems in Lexington who are currently unpublished, one by the name of Angela Parsons, and the other by the name of Nathan Day. Each has an incredible series in the works, both of which I have had the good fortune to get a sneak peek at.
Tell us about your favorite bookstores/coffee shops/writing haunts. What makes them special?
There are a few bookstores near and dear to me. Without question, Joseph-Beth Booksellers of Lexington is extremely near and dear to my heart. They have been so supportive right from the beginning when my debut novel The Exodus Gate came out. It is a unique store that has an iconic place within the Lexington community, the kind of presence and reputation that you do not find in very many cities when it comes to a particular bookstore. Their staff is phenomenal, and Brooke Raby has been such an angel to me in giving me a home at Joseph-Beth for my work. I also have to salute Michael Cruikshank, who has really come through for me the last few events as well!
Though not technically in Kentucky, That Book Place in Madison, Indiana features Frank Hall, who has been ultra-kind, generous, and incredibly supportive. He really understands what authors go through, and goes to all ends to make it a great experience when you go to this store. Thanks to Frank and his wife Kim, I have had everything from 4-packs of Monster Energy Drinks to cakes themed to my books waiting for me when I have arrived for an event! Just unbelievable how much they care about authors and go the extra mile to make you feel at home. I am thrilled that Frank started Hydra Publications, as it brings another publisher into the scene that genuinely cares about the author.
The other bookstore that I must mention is Around About Books, which is just a nudge to the north of Kentucky in Troy, Ohio. It has a really cool layout, and is run by another rare group of individuals that really “get it” when it comes to how rough the author road is. Sue Cantrell, Michael Wilkinson, and Dave Crouse have been exceptional hosts to me when I have had the honor of being there.
My writing space is not too exciting. I have an old computer that I use strictly for writing, at a desk and workspace that is 100% dedicated to writing as well. All of my internet and home office activity is in another room entirely. My writing space usually has piles of CD’s and often features an empty Monster Energy can or two.
I play music when I write, and with the music and dedicated workspace a sort of “bubble” forms which helps me get into a writing mindset. I really work best when isolated and in this kind of zone, and definitely admire the writers that can work in a coffee shop undistracted. I know I would have a hard time with that kind of scenario! LOL
That used to be the only way I could write. The key is headphones! Now my scenario’s more like yours, minus the Monster drinks and add in the monster kiddos! I envy you Lexingtonians your Joseph-Beth, too, by the way.
What’s next on the writing slate, for you?
Writing-wise, I am on the fourth installment of the Rising Dawn Saga, my other series, which is epic-scale urban fantasy, with tones of the dystopian and apocalyptic. It is a very challenging and rewarding series to write, with its real cross-genre aspects. I am very excited about this particular installment, as my series are designed to accelerate more and more with each new title.
I also hope to finish up some stories in a new horror genre collection I have been working on, as well as some more short stories for the Chronicles of Ave collection, the Annals of the Rising Dawn, and perhaps another Harvey and Solomon tale, the latter in the steampunk genre.
Excellent! Thanks for sharing this inside look into your very prolific schedule, Stephen! Best of luck to you with all your many projects, and see you at FF.
Friends, if you’d like to meet Stephen & many of the other local authors named in his interview, head out to FandomFest this weekend. I know I’ll be there. Although I will actually be going mainly to see my author friends and meet new ones in person that I’ve previously only met online, guests at FandomFest will also include Bruce Campbell, Sean Astin, cast members from The Walking Dead, and the list goes on and on. A good, geeked-out time is sure to be had by all.
Readers, if you know an author who deserves to shine in the Local Author Spotlight, please get in touch. Either side of the river is fine–we speak Southern Indianaese, too! Books about relevant local subject matter are encouraged, as well. Email RedTashBooks@gmail.com and please put “LouisvilleKY.com Author Spotlight” in your email subject. Thanks!
Leslea Tash is a Southern Indiana freelance journalist-turned-novelist. Formerly a freelancer, she now writes dark fantasy, horror, fairy tales, and other fun stuff including the 5 star, Amazon “Hot New Release” Troll Or Derby under the pen name Red Tash. She always welcomes your feedback on this column on the LouisvilleKY.com site, on Facebook, on her websites or twitter. Just about anywhere works. Get in touch!