I was tagged by the author Angie Lofthouse for this post, so here we go...
What am I working on? I am working on completing the first draft of Soul Forge, the third novel in my First Civilization's Legacy Series. I've written 114,000 words, so I'm over 90% finished with the first draft. Actually, I just finished revising/editing those 114,000 words to refresh the story in my mind as I'd been away from it for a while with getting Relic Tech ready for publication. So, technically Soul Forge is at the second draft stage...mostly. In addition, am proofing audiobook chapters of Relic Tech as they're recorded, and hopefully the audiobook version of Blood Sword will be finished and ready for proofing in the next month or so. Lastly, I am working on an editing project for my publisher (Gryphonwood Press). How does my work differ from others in its
genre? Often my works have a mixture of technology. In the First Civilization's Legacy Series (a post apocalyptic fantasy series) there areinstances of modern and near modern devices and equipment in a world that is largely a medieval setting where magic and creatures of legend exist. In Relic Tech, the main character is an R-Tech security specialist, which means he uses and relies upon late 20th century technology and equipment in a more advanced, space-faring society. Why do I write what I do? I write novels that I'd like to find on the bookshelf if I hadn't written them myself. I write mainly to entertain readers, giving them a good, action-packed story. How does your writing process work? For something new (something not in a current series) I take an idea, usually an event or situation, think about it for a while and try to decide if it's really all that interesting and something that can support a short story or a novel, or potentially part of a series. Then, if the idea merits further consideration, I devise the world where the event can take place, and the storyline where it would occur. Then come the characters to bring the story to life. This process can take some time. For a current series? When I'm outlining that first novel, I will have formulated ideas/plotlines for the series so that there can be smooth transitions from one novel to the next, keeping in mind that each novel has to be a complete, satisfying story--a complete story arc with no 'cliffhangers.' Thanks for tagging me, Angie!
` Welcome to Up Around the Corner, Dean. Please, tell
us a little about yourself and your writing.
While I was in the Air Force, I got serious about my writing.
I wanted to write “good science fiction like Arthur C. Clarke.” His Childhood’s End, Rendezvous with Rama, and
2001 were favorite SF novels of mine.
The cosmic wonder they produced I hoped to create myself.
After my discharge, I went back to school and studied physics-astronomy
to get a solid science background for writing serious SF. I wrote short stories
and sent them to Analog, my favorite
SF magazine. But nothing sold.
It took some good suggestions from Analog’s then editor, Ben Bova, for me to admit the problem was
that I was writing from my head. My stories had no heart. So, I tried writing
from my heart and, because of an Old Woman in Black from my childhood, “spooky
stuff” came out that sold.
I was playing alone, as only children learn to do, outside
one day, I guess I was three or four, when I saw a woman in black, dressed fancy
as if for church, hat and gloves, but old fashioned, like in photos my
grandparents showed. She came toward me hunched over, using a cane. A black
veil hid her face. And I got scared.
No one else was in sight there on the outskirts of my small,
rural Kansas town. I ran, hid, and listened for her scuffling footsteps to go
on by. But instead, they stopped. I waited. The quiet continued. Finally, I
looked out. No one was there.
Next time, she was sitting in a pew at church. I tried to
run away but was forced to walk by her. Back home, I asked who she was. No one had
seen her but me. Then my grandma remembered a widow who’d dressed that way, in
mourning, before she died.
One night, after I’d started school, I dreamed I heard
rustling outside my bedroom window and looked out. The Old Woman was there,
unveiled and grinning. I woke up in terror. But worse, after that, usually near
sunset and always when I was alone, I’d hear the rustling while awake.
I told myself it was “dogs walking in dead leaves.” But the
sound came even when no dead leaves were there, and because of the dream, I was
afraid to look.
The rustling continued, unpredictably, for a couple more years,
until one sunset the sound came and sudden anger overrode my fear. I grabbed a
baseball bat and ran outside to confront whatever it was. Nothing was there.
The sound never returned, but one night later on I awoke and
saw my mother sitting in the living room, grinning in the dark. In the morning,
I knew it had not been my mother. I hoped I’d been dreaming. But it felt like
the Old Woman had been inside the house. After that, I never saw her again. I
did, however, dedicate my novel, Fiend, to
her with these words:
For the Crone of my
At my North Window
beneath the Willow, Grinning in Moonlight
with Her Hounds and Nightmares, Feet of Bone rustling
Dead Leaves in Summer Beneath Her Cold Black
Cloak, My Thanks, and this
Of course I have wondered about those strange childhood
experiences. Were they caused by my strong imagination subconsciously playing
with Jungian archetypes? And if so, why? Or was one or more unexplained phenomena
involved? There are many reports worldwide of people awakening to see an Old Woman
or “Hag” in their bedroom. But my encounters while awakewere different from those sleep-related, “Night
Whatever my Muse was, wasn’t, or still is, in retrospect I
see that the consequences pervade my work, in particular with regard to strong
female characters and Witches. Sometimes, I know while writing when my Muse is
responsible. In Buried Screams, a
rustling sound is associated with a visit from one character’s mother’s corpse.
But more often, the “Old Woman” sneaks up on me to be identified later.
For example, the “Witch” themes in most of my novelswere ripple effects of research into
Witches begun in childhood, because I wondered for a while if the Old Woman was
one. Fiend involves the immortal
Witch Medea visiting a Dallas comic book convention. And my Medea is still, as
in the classic myths, a Priestess of the Goddess Hecate, one of Whose triple
aspects is the “Crone” or Old Woman.
Both I Am Dracula and
I Am Frankenstein have a Witch who
voluntarily becomes a Vampire to initiate Dracula into Vampiredom. Tzigane is a
strong, heroic character who becomes Dracula’s lover. When Satan betrays them
and transports Tzigane to Hell, so great is Dracula’s love for her that he fights
both Satan and God to get her back.
Raw Pain Max came from
discovering the historical Blood Countess, Erzebet Bathory, in a book called Witchcraft by William Seabrook when I
was a child. Much later, as a horror
writer I wondered what would happen if a modern woman who was into fantasies
about Bondage and S&M, and wondered why, discovered she was the
reincarnation of Erzebet, whose legend says she tortured young women and bathed
in their blood.
Torture Tomb’sWitch-theme was driven by research into
the Wiccan religion and studying history’s Witchcraft persecutions. In TT, modern
Wiccans or “Witches” are the heroes, but reviewers almost always ignore that
aspect to focus on the book’s explicit descriptions of the historically
accurate tortures of the misogynistic “Holy” Inquisition. Showing in-your-face-so-you-can’t-keep-ignoring-it
historical violence against women was, however, the point. The Old Woman in
Black hates hypocrisy and takes no prisoners.
The Bloodsong Saga, on the other hand, grew from my Scandinavian roots. Dad hailed
from Sweden. Bloodsong is a kick-ass woman warrior/werebeast fighting to save
her daughter and folk from sorcerers, death slaves, and other dark delights. But
at the saga’s heart, disguised as Hel, Norse Goddess of the Forgotten Dead, is
my Old Woman in Black.
Hel also appears in the short story that sent me to the Bram
Stoker Award finals, “The Death Wagon Rolls on By.” And a character with
Scandinavian heritage in Buried Screams talks
of “Old Hel.”
That’s an interesting
overview and quite a career this far!
Can you tell us a little more about how you came to re-release your Bloodsong
Saga and why you originally published it under a pen name?
Tight deadlines hurried the writing of Bloodsong’s saga. Converting
the trilogy to the new HEL X 3 eBook gave
me a chance to revise and expand the novels, even add chapters. To me, the
trilogy was always one story in three parts, so it’s good to have it whole in HEL X 3, which I therefore considerthe saga’s definitive edition.
By the way, I only recently realized that because Bloodsong’s
daughter is 6 in Warrior Witch of Hel,
13 in Death Riders of Hel, and 15 in Werebeasts of He, the saga spans 9 years.
The number 9 is a sacred number in Norse lore. Writers often write things that
mean more than they realized.
About the pen name—nothing mysterious. Two previous dark
fantasy novels had been written under the pen name of “Asa Drake,” Crimson Kisses and The Lair of Ancient Dreams. The publisher of the saga insisted we
continue using that name. I changed it to my real name, later, and am, of
course, using my own name for HEL X 3.
In your writing
career thus far, you must have met some really memorable people (authors,
editors, fans, etc.). Could you relate to us one or two of those experiences?
Is there anybody today that you’d really enjoy crossing paths with?
Because of Bloodsong, Quorthon, founder of Bathory, the
Swedish rock group that invented Viking Metal dedicated a song on Hammerheart to me, “One Rode to Asa Bay.”
I was and remain honored. “Asa Bay” turned out to be Bathory’s only music
video, because Valhalla needed Quorthon and took him early. But his epic music
and video are immortal. Check them out on the Internet, and forever, “Hail the Bathory
My writing also connected me with one of my favorite artists,
Boris Vallejo. A trailblazer, he painted my strong warrior woman using a body
builder as the model before it was fashionable for women to show muscles. He even
called me while painting Bloodsong to get things right. The Boris cover for HEL X 3 shows Bloodsong and Guthrun, her
daughter, fighting enemies together. The beauty of strength, that’s Boris.
And Bloodsong also put me on a World SF Con panel with a
childhood writer-hero, Poul Anderson. His Norse Fantasy work, especially The Broken Sword, Hrolf Kraki’s Saga,
and to me his masterpiece, War of the
Gods, are inspired. What a thrill it was to meet him. Thank you, Bloodsong!
I even managed to correspond with the writer who made me
want to write “good science fiction,” Arthur C. Clarke, before he died. Raw Pain Max has characters that listen
to the original satellite radio station with an all metal format, Z-ROCK. Since
I knew Clarke was credited with “inventing” the concept of communication
satellites, I sent a newspaper article to him about the first Satellite Music
Network. He responded, saying he’d wondered when satellites would be exploited for
entertainment purposes and thanked me for letting him know.
But the person I would still like to meet? Maybe the one I’d
most like to meet, face to face, is not even a person. Of course I mean my Old
Woman in Black. Or maybe I’ve already met her, by writing the “spooky stories”
Do you have any advice for writers trying to
break in or early in their career?
Write from the
heart, and write because you want to write, not because you want to be seen as
having written. And become a merciless self-editor. Elmore Leonard said if your
writing sounds like writing, rewrite it. If that sounds mysterious, read some
Leonard. He practiced what he preached. The way he handled dialogue and
characterization is amazing. Also, if at some point your work is not
condemned by a critic whose opinion you are supposed to respect, work harder.
Can you share with us
what we might expect to see from you in the near future?
A new Bloodsong novel, Valkyries
of Hel, eBooks of my other novels, and the continuing adventures of Dracula
and Tzigane, but also, I can feel a new horror novel rustling closer in my
subconscious. Maybe I’ll call it, The
Rustling. Has that been used? It could start with a writer hearing rustling
at his window like that which scared him when he was a kid, but this time he
looks and sees his Old Friend in Black, to whom he says, “So! What’re we gonna write
next?” And off we go. Always listen to your Muse.
Sounds great, Dean.
Thanks for taking the time to participate in this interview!
Where you can find out more about C. Dean Andersson and his
' Sometimes a book trailer can be an effective way to relate the contents of a novel to a reader. Sometimes not.
Currently I'm reading Maker of Angels by Dean Sault--in between grading and editing and council and everything else. But reading is important to a writer. It's sort of like an engineer who designs cars saying he doesn't have time to take an automobile out on the road to just enjoy.
Anyway, here's an example of what I would say is a well-done book trailer. And for the record, what I've read of Maker of Angels thus far? Well worth my reading time.
` I will be participating in the Christmas in the Village event in St. Paris, Ohio on Saturday December 7th, from Noon until 6:00 pm.
I will be one of possibly two authors at the event, but there will be 65 other vendors including crafts, sewing, jewelry and many other items available. We'll be in the Municipal Building on Main Street and in the Evans-Purk Building just behind the Municipal Building (next to the Lutheran Church).
If you're able to make it, I'd love to see you, talk a little about writing and my novels and assist you with any Christmas gifts you might be contemplating.
Now that Relic Tech has been published, I am back to working on Soul Forge, the 3rd novel in my First Civilization's Legacy Series.
To get back on track, I re-read the first 115,000 words of Soul Forge's first draft, doing a little editing while re-familiarizing myself with the story. I estimate having about 12,000 words left to complete the novel.
One of my favorite set of lines I came across in the novel's first draft was:
My knowledge of wraiths was minimal. I’d heard it said their touch could decay flesh so that it shriveled and fell away from the bone, all the while freezing their target’s soul. Whether that was true or not, I didn’t know. But I recalled Old Lowell once saying: “People tell ghost stories to scare each other. Ghosts tell wraith stories to scare other ghosts.”
It doesn't have a perfect parallel structure, but then again, Old Lowell wasn't that sort of fellow, so the paragraph might remain largely the same. `