Name E. Zbasnik
30 something. I think there’s a 2 in there. Or is it a 1? Let’s assume I’m 312.
Where are you from
Nebraska, the land of corn and things that look like corn. There might also be some cows, mortal enemy of corn.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I’m married and have one crazy dog who acts like a puppy despite being 6 years old. My degree is in animal science with a focus on molecular biology so I can build up an army of be-tentacled squirrels.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
It’s called Dwarves in Space, a scifi fantasy series that blends together classic tolkien fantasy with your Firefly space opera to humorous results. It just dropped on April 8th and is garnering some good reviews and excitement. Luckily, for those begging for a sequel, it’s already written and going to be published in October 2015.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Kindergarten is the smartass response, but it was an extremely nerdy start that got me into noveling (not a real word, but I’m sure it’ll catch on). I entered a fanfiction writing contest for a video game and won a sword from a weapons replica store. I like to call myself a sword winning author.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
At first I said it would be when I got my first book out. That didn’t feel right, so it wouldn’t be until I got to two, then three books published. Maybe five will be the magic answer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Because it’s there. No, that was why I talked about climbing a mountain, then remembered the highest peak in Nebraska was a pile of milk crates. I love making characters and twisting tropes to entertain myself. I thought someone else might be entertained with my zany humor and enjoy it. So I spent the hours making that first book, then learning from it for the second. Rinse and repeat.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I use fantasy a bit differently than others. For some, it’s an excuse to make a world where up is down and birds are our masters and overlords. I like to tweak an expectation, a norm in culture and see what havoc that wreaks on my characters. It’s all about messing with the characters. I love making some twisted and complicated characters.
Human foibles fascinate me. I want to know why people do what they do, what drives them. And if I can throw a dragon or two in while they’re having an existential crisis about accepting the unforgiving role of hero or fallen savior, all the better. (Note, I will never actually write a dragon story. To me, sending in a few soldiers to fight a dragon is comparable to five people armed with sticks attacking an aircraft carrier. I don’t see anyone getting out of that alive.)
Fantasy and sci-fi have a strange habit of dropping the little things that make up humanity. Sci-fi particularly tends to ignore religion unless that’s the entire point of the plotline. It seems strange to think just because humanity figured out how to travel to the stars, it would lose something that’s been around since we sat down and hammered out an alphabet. And fantasy treats its characters as paragons of virtues or sins who fell out of a renaissance fair. When all one is concerned with is claiming the crown it leaves little room for the foibles of humanity, apparently.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I thought about why no one ever takes all the old fantasy species, your prissy elves, belching dwarves, smug humans, and ages them a few thousand years into the future. After that it was pretty easy. What’s funnier than Dwarves in Spaa-aa-ace?
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
To laugh and laugh, then laugh some more. The first Dwarves in Space explores bringing the grungy and imperfect experience to space travel. Instead of the pristine and white ships, there are boxes and malfunctioning bots littering the decks.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Elves and dwarves and orcs on spaceships? All of it, all of it is realistic.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Right this second I’m actively ignoring my first historical fiction. It takes place in Granada, Spain in the year 1499. It’s been 7 years since the end of the Reconquista when the crown signed a treaty reclaiming the last of Muslim held land. Despite the treaty allowing the Muslims to remain and retain their religion, the city’s boiling over in rage.
Enter my main character, a bandit with a robin hood penchant for stealing from the rich. Except this male bandit is hiding a secret, he’s actually a she.
I wanted to write this because there aren’t many female rogue types, especially the charming and churlish sort. And there are so few historicals that delve into Muslim Spain; it seemed a rich opportunity to mine.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Twitter and all the crazy awesome people who support me. I’ve made tons of magic internet friends on it who will talk me through the rough patches and encourage me to keep going.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
If I went back and edited it right now I’m sure there’s something I would change, but thanks to me already having four in the series written I could go back and alter the first more in line with changes I made later.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve always liked making characters. Since I was a kid I’d turn any scraps of paper I found into characters and pantomime out their interactions. Some of insulation foam went on crazy adventures. Telling silly jokes with those characters is always a plus.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Sure. I don’t want to clog up this space so you can read a sample chapter here.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Every author has scenes they struggle through and I’m much the same. Exposition scenes, while important for the plot, are a slog for me to write. I get through them by promising myself I can blow something up after.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Out of all my favorites, I’d say the late Terry Pratchett’s is the one whose style I’d most love to share. He didn’t rely on simple reference or pop culture jokes. His books were full of heart and brought a scientific eye to a fantasy world.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
That would be me. A cardinal sin, I know, but I’ve been doing design and photoshop work for about as long as I’ve been writing. It began crude but I try to go for something better each time.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Naming stuff. I hate it, and now I have to name an entire galaxy. Not just planets and people, but religions, food, favorite movies, sports teams. I’m kicking myself regularly for that.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
That if you’re going to put a tiny computer inside someone’s palm, make sure to work out the details before moving on to the next book then having to go back and fix it all.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Abandon all hope ye who enter here. People will speak of dreams and magic and glittery unicorns but writing is work. It’s sitting down, putting in the blood, banging your fingers agains the keys. All the daydreaming and world building will mean nothing if you don’t put in the time. Fight through the scenes you hate to get to the scenes you love. And then keep doing it. Eventually, you’ll have a book, then you write another and another.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope you enjoy the books and come to love the characters as much as I do.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Go Dog Do, the definitive manual on canine transportation.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Clearly gaming for me to have won that Dragon Age contest. I’m also huge into Halloween and make a lot of my own props. My basement is literally full of skeletons.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Comedies are a pretty good given, usually the more offbeat ones: Monty Python, Red Dwarf, Blackadder. I’ll also blow a spleen laughing at Archer and adore Adventure Time & Steven Universe. On the less thinking more popcorn fun, Archer and The Flash keep me entertaining and I’ve given into iZombie.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
The answer to all three is Fried Green Tomatoes. Wait, that doesn’t work.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Taken over the world with my mighty squirrel army!
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
For more about Dwarves in Space you can go here: http://www.dwarvesinspace.com
My personal blog is here: http://intbride.blogspot.com/
Here’s a blurb for Dwarves in Space:
Thousands of years after the jewelry’s destroyed, the sword reforged, the dragon ridden, and the indecipherable prophecy translated into a recipe for sugared biscuits, the dwarves turned to that final frontier: space. And along came the elves, orcs, gnomes, trolls, ogres, and those vermin-like upstarts, humans.
Dwarves in Space is Tolkien merged with Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in a horrific transporter accident.
The Elation-Cru is not the flashiest ship, nor the newest, or even has all of its bolts attached; but she can fly. Well, sort of wade through space, and that’s when all the parts are working. She supports a sugar addicted dwarven pilot, an elven engineer, an orcish doctor, a silent djinn, and the lone human trying to hold the entire thing together with duct tape. Variel, the captain, has been hiding from a secret for the past five years and time’s finally run out.
When she goes against her common sense and fights to save her onboard assassin/renter from a job gone sour, she finds herself before an ex-colleague that knew her in her previous life as the Knight of the realm. The entire ship is sent on a mad dash across the universe — from a decaying space station, home to the wackiest species the galaxy has to offer, down to the Orc homeworld, which wouldn’t be so bad if Variel hadn’t spent most of her previous life fighting in the war against them. Chances of survival are nil and slipping fast.