Tess Collins: A coal miner’s granddaughter, Tess Collins was born and raised in a crater. Yes, really, a crater formed by the impact of an asteroid millions of years ago where her hometown, Middlesboro, Kentucky was eventually built. Tess spent her younger years in a one room Carnegie Library reading around the room. She started at SALLY AND THE BEAR and ended with WAR AND PEACE at which time she thought, “I want to do this.”
She is the author of THE LAW OF REVENGE, THE LAW OF THE DEAD, THE LAW OF BETRAYAL, HELEN OF TROY, NOTOWN, THE HUNTER OF HERTHA and SHADOW MOUNTAIN. Her non-fiction book HOW THEATER MANAGERS MANAGE is published by Rowman and Littlefield’s Scarecrow Press. Ms. Collins received a B.A. from the University of Kentucky and a Ph.D. from The Union Institute and University.
Visit her web page at tesscollins.com.
And now a few questions…
WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF PERFECT HAPPINESS? A successful writing career, an attentive lover, a window with a great view
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST FEAR? Poverty
WHICH HISTORICAL FIGURE DO YOU MOST IDENTIFY WITH? Cassandra, but not the one in my book, Helen of Troy
WHAT IS THE TRAIT YOU MOST DEPLORE IN YOURSELF? Impatience
WHAT IS THE TRAIT YOU MOST DEPLORE IN OTHERS? Intolerance
IDEAS: Whispered in my ear by angels and demons
ON WHAT OCCASION DO YOU LIE? To spare someone’s feelings
WHAT DO YOU DISLIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR APPEARANCE? I burn rather than tan
WHICH WORDS OR PHRASES DO YOU MOST OVERUSE? You gotta be kidding!
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST REGRET? Never learning to sing
WHAT OR WHO IS THE GREATEST LOVE OF YOUR LIFE? Bathsheba, a Siamese cat
WHEN AND WHERE WERE YOU HAPPIEST? The last time I made love to… I’ll never tell
IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF, WHAT WOULD IT BE? I’d have been born a redhead
IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT YOUR FAMILY, WHAT WOULD IT BE? They would have been more understanding of one another
I F YOU WERE TO DIE AND COME BACK AS A PERSON OR THING, WHAT DO YOU THINK IT WOULD BE? A topaz crystal
IF YOU COULD CHOOSE WHAT TO COME BACK AS, WHAT OR WHO WOULD IT BE? A snow leopard
WHAT IS YOUR MOST TREASUSRED POSSESSION? A diary my mother kept of my first six years of life.
WHAT DO YOU REGARD AS THE LOWEST DEPTH OF MISERY? Illness, hunger, poverty, life without books
WHAT IS IT THAT YOU MOST DISLIKE? Cold weather
WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE WRITERS? Thomas Hardy, Lawrence Durrell, John Gardner, Pat Conroy, Thomas Harris, Collette
WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE HERO OF FICTION? Moll Flanders, Eustace Vye
WHO ARE YOUR HEROES IN REAL LIFE? Ordinary citizens who rise to the need
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE NAMES? Pandora, Cerridwen, Athena, Tallulah, Jesse
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO DIE? Asleep in my bed, dreaming about cats
WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO? The truth will find the light of day
FONDEST MEMORY: Walking through our town talking to my father
CHILDHOOD AMBITION: To be a singer, actress, movie star
RETREAT: My mind
ALARM CLOCK: The Sun or Nightmares, sometimes a cat
PERFECT DAY: Finishing a writing job early, bubble bath and watch TV
LAST PURCHASE: A totem stone with a raven carved in it
FAVORITE MOVIE: Now Voyager
MY LIFE.... is an unfolding mystery...
Elizabeth Adair has written internationally published fiction and nonfiction and is a graphics designer. The Sun and Stars is her first novel. Elizabeth's connection to Tudor England has a long history. Her ancestors belonged to the Boleyn kinship circle and may have included Margaret Boleyn Sackville, aunt to Anne Boleyn. After a decade on the West Coast, Elizabeth returned to her home, the Kentucky Bluegrass, where she lives in a small town and is an advocate and worker for the aftercare of retired racehorses.
And now a few questions…
WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF PERFECT HAPPINESS? A spring day by the creek under the willows. Massaging my favorite horse. Music that lifts me up to fly.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST FEAR? Loss of freedom.
WHICH FICTIONAL CHARACTER DO YOU MOST IDENTIFY WITH? Shakespeare’s fools.
WHAT IS THE TRAIT YOU MOST DEPLORE IN YOURSELF? Irritation.
WHAT IS THE TRAIT YOU MOST DEPLORE IN OTHERS? Small-mindedness.
WHAT DO YOU DISLIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR APPEARANCE? I should lose 20 pounds.
WHERE DO YOUR IDEAS COME FROM: Usually through the back door.
ON WHAT OCCASION DO YOU LIE? To avoid hurting someone.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST REGRET? Not making enough time for my writing during the last 15 years.
WHAT OR WHO IS THE GREATEST LOVE OF YOUR LIFE? That’s my secret.
WHEN AND WHERE WERE YOU HAPPIEST? In certain deserts. With certain friends in a gondola. Writing certain stories.
IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF, WHAT WOULD IT BE? It’s been said before, but I’d be 25 years old and know what I know now.
IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT YOUR FAMILY, WHAT WOULD IT BE? We’re scattered now. I wish it were easier to all get together.
WHAT IS YOUR MOST TREASURED POSSESSION? As in, thing? A few bits of glazed ceramic. But if the house burns down, it’s my cats I’ll grab before I run out.
WHAT DO YOU REGARD AS THE LOWEST DEPTH OF MISERY? Institutional architecture.
WHAT COULDN’T YOU DO WITHOUT? Colors.
WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE WRITERS? J.R.R. Tolkien, Emily Bronte, W. B. Yeats, William Shakespeare, Jorge Luis Borges.
WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE HERO OF FICTION? Frodo Baggins, Taliesin and Crazy Jane.
WHO ARE YOUR HEROES IN REAL LIFE? Akhenaten. Sikelgaita of Salerno. Almodis de la Marche. Anna Comnena the Byzantine chronicler. Artists of all kinds throughout history who have stuck with their visions despite massive odds. The young Egyptians who went to Tahrir Square. And not least, race horses, because of their courage, honesty and willingness to give.
IF YOU WERE TO DIE AND COME BACK AS A PERSON OR THING, WHAT DO YOU THINK IT WOULD BE? A cat. Maybe a tree by a stream.
WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO? Less can be more.
CHILDHOOD AMBITION: To be a singer.
CURRENT AMBITION: To be a better writer.
LAST PURCHASE: The scent of oranges and a bottle of red wine.
FAVORITE MOVIE: Performance.
MY LIFE…. will have been successful if I remain true.
Richard Anderson is a former ditch digger, a former cab driver, a former phone booth cleaner and a former game developer. He also did computer stuff in Indonesia for a couple years and has 100,000 miles on his thumb. These days he’s a database developer in a town to the left of Berkeley, with a writerly wife, three cats and a nighttime crime writing habit. Visit his web site at deathbelowzero.com.
Floats the Dark Shadow, Yves Fey's first historical mystery, is set in the dynamic and decadent world of Belle Époque Paris. The novel won a Silver IPPY from the 2013 Independent Publisher Book Awards. It was also one of four finalists in both the Mystery and History categories of the Next Generation Indie Awards, and a finalist for Best Mystery in the ForeWord Book of the Year competition.
Yves Fey has an MFA in Creative Writing from Eugene, Oregon, and a BA in Pictorial Arts from UCLA. She has read, written, and created art from childhood. A chocolate connoisseur, she's won prizes for her desserts. Her current fascination is creating perfumes. She's traveled to many countries in Europe and lived for two years in Indonesia. She currently lives in the San Francisco area with her husband and three cats. Writing as Gayle Feyrer and Taylor Chase, she previously published unusually dark and mysterious historical romances.
WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF PERFECT HAPPINESS? A morning and afternoon of exquisitely obsessive creation, then dressing up for an evening of gourmet food and cinematic delight.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST FEAR? Being physically and/or mentally helpless.
WHEN AND WHERE WERE YOU HAPPIEST? In a field in Bolinas, feeling one with the world.
WHAT IS THE TRAIT YOU MOST DEPLORE IN YOURSELF? I'm Queen of Procrastination.
WHAT IS THE TRAIT YOU MOST DEPLORE IN OTHERS? Cruelty.
WHEN WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO HAVE LIVED? In the era I'm now writing about, turn of the century Paris. But it would be nice to have a time machine to visit other favorites.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST REGRET? Not continuing to study French. I can bumble along a bit, but barely understand the answers to my carefully phrased questions.
CHILDHOOD AMBITION: To be a ballerina.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE IN YOUR NEXT LIFE? A better artist. A lilac point Siamese. A dolphin.
WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE WRITERS?
Tolkien, Dostoyevsky, Thomas Hardy, Dorothy Dunnett, Raymond Chandler, Megan
Abbott. Shakespeare! Keats, Baudelaire, Gerard Manly Hopkins, Mary Oliver. Among others....
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE FILMS? Children of Paradise, The Red Shoes, Performance, Lawrence of Arabia, Sense and Sensibility, Diary of a Country Priest, Satyricon. Among others....
FAVORITE ARTISTS? Klimt, Van Gogh, Monet, Lautrec, Tamara de Lempika, Botticelli....
WHO ARE YOUR HEROES IN REAL LIFE? Gandhi.
LAST PURCHASE: A Steampunk jacket.
WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO? Give me glitter or give me death!
A native of Portland, Maine, Lester Gorn has lived and worked in every part of the United States. He has been at various times and in divers places a longshoreman, a cab driver, a news editor, a ghostwriter, a teacher and a soldier. A combat veteran of World War II, he advanced from squad leader to staff officer assigned to the Defense Department. He taught for many years (story lab, world literature, world drama) at University of California Extension, Monterey Peninsula College and the San Francisco Black Writers’ Workshop (its only instructor and sole honky). In the olden days, he put in a stint as book editor and daily columnist of the San Francisco Examiner.
A novel, The Anglo Saxons, was based on his experiences as the only American C.O. in the Israeli Army’s ground forces during the War of Independence. Under the nom de guerre Ben Zion Hagai, he commanded the 5th Troop (Anti-Tank) of the Israel Army, which participated in every major battle of the Negev campaign. His command car was the second vehicle to enter Eilat (then Umm Al-Rashrash), on the Red Sea, the final objective of the Army’s drive south. At that time, Eilat–now a resort city of 48,000–consisted of three huts and a flagpole.
The father of four sons, Lester Gorn now lives in Pacific Grove, California, with his beloved wife, Winnie.
James N. Frey
James N. Frey is one of America's leading creative writing teachers. For over fifteen years, he conducted the popular Open Workshop at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and has run workshops and lectured at dozens of other schools and conferences, including the Oregon Writers Colony, the Santa Barbara Writers Conference, the Heartland Writers, the University of California Extension novel writing workshop, the California Writers Club conference, and many others, both in America and in Europe. He is the author of nine novels and five widely read creative writing guides: How to Write a Damn Good Novel, How to Write a Damn Good Novel II: Advanced Techniques, The Key: Writing Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth, How to Write a Damn Good Mystery, and How to Write a Damn Good Thriller. He lives on a sailboat with his wife, Liza. Check out his website at www.jamesnfrey.com
And now a few questions for James N. Frey…
WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF PERFECT HAPPINESS? The last chapter turns out right
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST FEAR? Laying in intensive care with no hope
WHAT IS THE TRAIT YOU MOST DEPLORE IN YOURSELF? I'm lazy as a clam
WHAT IS THE TRAIT YOU MOST DEPLORE IN OTHERS? Stupidity
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST EXTRAVAGANCE? My boat
WHICH WORDS OR PHRASES DO YOU MOST OVERUSE? No problemo
WHAT OR WHO IS THE GREATEST LOVE OF YOUR LIFE? Liza, my wife
WHEN AND WHERE WERE YOU HAPPIEST? When I have a great writing challenge
WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT STATE OF MIND? Blub
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT? My short story called “There's A Stranger In Town”
WHAT IS YOUR MOST TREASURED POSSESSION? My Kindle
WHAT DO YOU REGARD AS THE LOWEST DEPTH OF MISERY? Writer's block
WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE HERO OF FICTION? Hornblower
WHO ARE YOUR HEROES IN REAL LIFE? Tolstoy
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO DIE? Quickly
WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO? Read, read, read, write, write, write, suffer, suffer, suffer
Beth Tashery Shannon worked with the Egypt Exploration Society’s excavations at el-Amarna and contributed to Amarna Reports IV and meetings of the American Research Center in Egypt. Her experimental short fiction has appeared in Pushcart Prize III and IX, Chicago Review, and TriQuarterly Review. Her story in Pleasures: Women Write Erotica (Doubleday) was a basis for an ABC TV movie. Coincidentally, in 2009, Twilight actor Edi Gathegi performed her prose poem “Bons” with WordTheatre. Her novel Tanglevine was published in 2012 by BearCat Press, as was The Sun and Stars, a murder mystery set in the court of Henry VIII, under the pseudonym Elizabeth Adair. Shannon’s literary criticism includes an essay on Salome in Approaches to Teaching the Works of Oscar Wilde (MLA Press). She has taught university creative writing at the University of Oregon and Transylvania University and edited fiction for a publishing house. Besides writing fiction, she freelances as a graphics artist, editor and consultant on Egyptian antiquities. She is a volunteer tour guide for Old Friends, a retirement facility for Thoroughbreds.
Author’s Note about Dark Wine
Dark Wine took shape in my imagination some years ago, but I might never have got it right had it not been for encouragement from my publisher at BearCat Press. I owe her many thanks. What possessed me to write Dark Wine in the first place? I like ghost tales, vampire stories and other fiction about the paranormal, and I enjoyed recapturing my impressions of Egypt in the mid-1980s when I first spent time there. But where did the obsession that ensnares its characters come from? I don’t know. I can only quote from the only vampire story that ever gave me nightmares, “The Room in the Tower” by E. F. Benson: “It came out of the dark, and into the dark it has gone again.”
Q & A with Beth Tashery Shannon about her novel Tanglevine
Q: Kentucky regional fiction is usually contemporary or historical. Why did you choose to set a speculative fiction novel in Kentucky?
BTS: I love to tease the mind, my own and other people's, to tickle it into unclenching and letting in the unforeseen. All fiction is a kind of imaginative fantasy. Tanglevine came to me when I moved back to the creek where I'd grown up after living for a decade in California. The first image came in a dream: Jihan and Windland riding toward a wooded hill with a brooding sky behind it, looming darker than the trees. But the dream only hinted at what was happening, or what the darkness was. Most of the story worked itself out as I walked by the creek. When I got stuck, I asked the water, or the trees, or the rocks by the spring, and the next bit always came. It was as if the landscape told me the story. At the very least I'd call it a partnership. Tanglevine couldn't have been set anywhere else.
Q: At the story's end the conflicts seem resolved, yet there are hints that the resolution is only temporary. Can we trust that all is really settled?
BTS: Yes, and no. Jihan has learned things he can't deny and is too smart to ignore. But the ambition and family duty that drives him haven't disappeared. And Windland's loyalties are as divided as ever. Tanglevine is a complete story, but I'm writing a sequel. I plan a four-story cycle: Tanglevine, The Heron, Frogtown Race Meet, and Windland's War.
Q: Tell us about a discovery you made as you wrote Tanglevine. What most surprised you?
BTS: It seems strange to me now, but I had no idea who Fern was or how much of the story was hers. Yet I found that though I didn't see her in that first dream, she was always there. I think gradually discovering her was as much a mystery for me as it was for Jihan. You'd think that for a woman writer the most intriguing woman character would always be at the story's center, but finding Fern was like finding and reclaiming some lost part of my soul.
Q: Are the conflicts between the Domenes and Bluegrass people just an imaginative framework for your tale, or do they reflect issues facing Kentuckians today?
BTS: Not just Kentuckians. Kentucky does have a unique history as a legendary promised land for pioneers and as a battleground, but I hope Tanglevine will resonate anywhere there's conflict between people who respect the land and aim at a sustainable balance, and people want to use it for their own profit until it's used up. But in a way, Tanglevine is very specifically about an issue facing the Bluegrass. For central Kentuckians, there's an odd disconnect. We pride ourselves on the beauty and unique culture of the Bluegrass, yet without the attention that surrounds mining or river damming, the farmland, the Bluegrass itself, is steadily being destroyed due to urban growth with no kind of foresight or sustainable plan. All my life I have endured the destruction of loved places. Of course, it's also contributing to our slowly losing our horse industry, a major factor of Kentucky's economy .
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