Where are you from: Heartland Crossing, Indiana
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I have an education and a family life.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My latest release is called Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy (DWACOW), compiling ten years of previously published short stories, including two stories directly tied to my Paranormal Thriller series. I am also releasing the collected paperback of my Red Lotus space opera series, just in time for Christmas.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I have been telling stories all my life, starting with Star Trek parody fan fiction, “Marty Stu” styled action SF that generously borrowed ideas from Star Wars, Flash Gordon, and James Bond, and drawing comic books of variant super heroes. Two things propelled me forward as I matures. First, my fiction in high school and college won awards and some recognition. Secondly, some terrific teachers as well as my parents encouraged me to develop the skill and not give up. I can’t think of any time I wasn’t telling stories. What is surprising is that I made my mark in paranormal thrillers/ghost stories and am now expanding into my first love, science fiction space opera, the category where I always thought I’d make my mark.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always considered myself a writer. I considered myself a published writer when Haunting Blue came out in 2010. The process is an art…to me the most dangerous attitude an author can have is that they have “arrived” because then you close yourself off to learning and getting better.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Haunting Blue was inspired by the old Hardy Boys “blue hardback” novels. In this case, a desire to do an homage to the stories, but one where the mystery turns dark and deadly at the climax. I couldn’t make two teen boys work but when I changed one character to a transplanted city punk girl and the other to her nerdy small town boyfriend, I had tension and chemistry. “Blue” (named for her spiked blue hair) then dominated the narrative and everything fell into place.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I prefer deep third or first person narratives with dynamic characters. I also like to play with the fallible perspective. Blue’s journey, for instance, is that she is a confident high school aged rebel who doesn’t even know how much she doesn’t know, and then finds out how wrong her presumptions were as the series progresses.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Though the title seems obvious now, it was actually the last thing to fall into place. The format for the titles (Blank Blue or Blue Blank) didn’t come until I’d outlined the second book while finalizing the first book.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes, and if readers pick it up, great. Overall, if a reader is entertained and had a good time, that’s first and foremost. Anything after that is bonus.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
I keep my books as grounded in reality as possible while injecting supernatural and sometimes outrageous elements. When you are dealing with problematic factors like vengeful ghosts, demons, and a virtual reality, you have to keep the world as grounded as possible until those elements come into play, so the reader is willing to go with you when you drop down the rabbit hole.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
They are made up events. Sometimes they are inspired by real life, but without exception filtered to their most dramatic or fictional conclusions. People who know me like to guess about this sort of thing and they’re almost always wrong. Even when a real situation inspires me, I apply a lot of poetic license.
Fiona: What books have influenced your life most? A mentor?
I transitioned from Star Trek novels to classic sci-fi (thanks to a paperback-collecting uncle who told me in middleschool that he time had come) via Isaac Asimov. That uncle gifted me with a copy of The Foundation Trilogy and it opened my up to possibilities way beyond media SF. I also left with Robert Heinlein, Arthur C Clarke, James Tiptree Jr and the non-Star Trek fiction of David Gerrold, but Asimov was the link and I read the Foundation books every few years.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I am finishing Me and the Devil, which will catch me up on all things E. Chris Garrison. At the same time on my Kindle I am finding impossible to not keep checking in on the Grimm Legacy by peer author Addie J. King. And a third nonfiction book. I don’t usually divide my time between multiple reads so I am not making fast progress on any of them.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Besides promoting the short story collection, I am wrapping up on the third Red Lotus novelette. That should come out in the next couple of months, followed by a paperback collection of all three stories—hopefully in time for the holidays. After that, I hope to return to the paranormal world and am plotting a very exciting new series of stories with my main series protagonists Rebecca Burton and Blue Shaefer—and…several guest stars. J
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Around the time I started to get serious about getting serious about my writing, social media bloomed and in 2001 I met via a Yahoo Newsgroup Debra Holland. She and I were “peer review buddies” for most of a decade. I learned a lot from her and I think the feeling was mutual, and we had each others’ back during all sorts of drama as well. A few years ago, we both signed contracts that committed us to differing paths, she a bestselling romance writer of sweet westerns and I’m a small press horror and ghost story author, and our individual commitments to ongoing projects meant we don’t have the time for each other we once did. But we still cheer each other on and she continues to be a valuable resource hotline. That’s why, even though she seems an odd choice, there was really no one more qualified to write the introduction to my short story collection.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Writing is looking forward while you work on each project. A career is what you see when you look back over where you’ve been.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. The collection reveals the short stories in publication order, so what you have is a book that reflects ten years of an author’s journey. Would I tighten or replot some things here or there if I wrote them today? Yes, especially in the early tales. However, making such changes would interfere with what the volume represents and no longer be an honest reflection of that journey. That’s not to say I didn’t fix typos or tweak a sentence here or there—I have no respect or need to preserve obvious errors, but I left the story elements alone, even moments that make me roll my eyes or cringe on occasion.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
No, but I suspect it was a secret blend of Spider-man comic books, the Six Million Dollar Man and Star Trek TOS reruns in high rotation on pre-cable TV, and then Star Wars coming out when I was ten. That movie, particularly, not only shook pop culture to its foundation, but wrote the DNA of so many SF fans my age.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
From Fate of the Red Lotus, the first novelette of my upcoming collection:
Sayuri Arai looked through the deep space platform window at the dejected lump that was the Corporate Mining Spaceship Red Lotus. Despite its name, the spacecraft better resembled a legless dung beetle floating outside the space station, as if looking for a shaded area to lay its eggs, or seeking to contaminate the bright metal surface with its corrosion disease. Segments of cracked and charred metal armor marred its surface. A piece of space junk.
… Sayuri wondered what a little TLC might do. The four-decade-old vessel could never regain its original luster, but a new name plate, new armor plating to replace the dilapidated segments, and it wouldn’t be quite the eyesore.
Wasn’t her problem, really, and she wasn’t sure why she cared. …Something nagged at the back of her mind.
If nothing else, she could put in a good word and see if they could help the crew.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Isaac Asimov was known for his science fiction but he wrote over 400 books, including mystery, comedy, fantasy, and a variety of nonfiction. And he did it (for the most part) without a pseudonym, without the use of a modern word processor, typing his manuscripts and submitting them snailmail.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Seventh Star Press provided the artists for my work. The incredible paranormal series were all created by the incredible Bonnie Wasson. She excels at ghostly-sexy awesomeness and has brought it for each of my works. For the short story collection, I wanted the city skyline, so the publisher suggested Enggar Adirassa, who does wonderful space opera architecture and spaceships. The result speaks for itself.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
With the options to publish independently, publish through a small press, or go after a major publisher, the sky’s the limit on storytelling options. That said, only the authors willing to learn, improve, and hone their craft to professional levels will prevail. Savvy readers are coming down hard on sub-par self-published material, as well they should. Anyone who has the drive to commit themselves to learning, developing their skills, and not rushing their product can succeed. But it’s not easy, and you have to commit wholeheartedly to it. This is a full time job, and anyone who thinks this is a way to make a lot of money fast should consider something else. But if you really want it and can’t see yourself doing anything else, this is a great time to be a writer.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
The usual “nerd” things. Big reader, SF TV and movie fan, comic book reader/collector. Also a fan of classic films. I am also a huge fan of Marilyn Monroe, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Haunting Obsession. This is the most popular book in my paranormal series. In it, the fan of dead iconic movie star Maxine Marie finds himself haunted by the object of his affection. Any messages about how people can lose themselves to their hobbies are quite intentional. J
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Amazon Authors Page http://www.amazon.com/R.J.-Sullivan/e/B004TGPAB0/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
Dark clouds overhead may stir up whimsical twists
Collected for the first time since their initial publications, Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy presents ten tales from the imagination of R.J. Sullivan. Thrills and chills await you, but you may also get blindsided by the absurd. This volume includes a pair of stories featuring Rebecca Burton, the mysterious investigator of R.J.’s acclaimed paranormal thriller series. Among the ten stories, you’ll find:
“The Assurance Salesman” shows five strangers more about themselves than they ever guessed.
You don’t want to venture into Daddy’s basement in “Fade.”
Rebecca Burton tries to talk someone out of a bad idea in “Backstage Pass.”
A bullied police detective finally defeats his rival in “Able-Bodied.”
A desperate father finds the “Inner Strength” to save his young daughter, “Becky” Burton.
A child seeds his aquarium with a most unusual “Starter Kit.”
A brilliant robotics engineer creates a “Robot Vampire.”
Webpage order link: http://rjsullivanfiction.com/darkness-with-a-chance-of-whimsy/
“Science fiction, fantasy, paranormal thrillers, space opera– R.J’s talents are remarkable and diverse.” ~ New York Times And USA Today Bestselling Author Debra Holland, from the introduction.
“From a universe in a fish bowl to robotic vampire pop stars, R. J. Sullivan takes you to fantastical places that will chill your marrow and make your imagination soar.” ~ Michael West, bestselling author of Spook House and Cinema of Shadows.
“R.J. Sullivan doesn’t fool around with bad or boring writing.”~ D.L. Russell, Black Books Publishing
“A short collection but with great depth and variety, Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy is a coffee-with-bourbon collection: a pleasurable slow burn. RJ Sullivan is a patient wordsmith, never rushing, always building suspense and tension. None of these stories are alike, except in having realistic characters and ample plots. Sullivan breaks stylistic “conventions” well, plays with form, and, yet, still feels like a throwback author, one who loves the authors he grew up reading. A highly-rewarding batch of stories!” ~ Brady Allen, author of Back Roads & Frontal Lobes
About the Author: R.J. Sullivan’s novel Haunting Blue is an edgy paranormal thriller and the first book of the adventures of punk girl Fiona “Blue” Shaefer and her boyfriend Chip Farren. Seventh Star Press also released Haunting Obsession, a Rebecca Burton Novella, and Virtual Blue, the second part of Fiona’s tale. The short stories in this collection been featured in such acclaimed anthologies as Dark Faith Invocations by Apex Books and Vampires Don’t Sparkle. His next book due out very soon will be Commanding the Red Lotus, which collects the series of science fiction novelettes in the tradition of Andre Norton and Gene Roddenberry.
R.J. resides with his family in Heartland Crossing, Indiana. He drinks regularly from a Little Mermaid coffee mug and is man enough to admit it. www.rjsullivanfiction.com
Amazon Authors Page http://www.amazon.com/R.J.-Sullivan/e/B004TGPAB0/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1