I hope everyone is well and enjoying the December holidays as they roll across our calendar. Hard to believe 2015 is almost over. Hannukah has passed; Christmas and Solstice are almost here, and then it’s New Years. Kinda crazy.

I’ve had lots of work stuff going on, and have also been doing much writing and quite a bit of reading. I’m intending to do some year-end wrap-up posts here as a way of relaunching the site. I’ve been intending all year to revise the look of the site and start posting content again, but real life has been getting in the way.

This past Weds, one of my previously-published short stories, “Chasing Satellites” (from Bryan Thomas Schmidt’s Beyond The Sun anthology), was released in audio form on the StarShipSofa podcast. Narrator Rikki LaCoste did a fantastic job with the character voices, pacing and tension of the story; the producers did a fantastic job adding sound effects to enhance the story. I really love what they did, and I’m submitting another “reprint” to them soon. Check it out, on their website (direct link to the page for my story above) or find them on iTunes. Either way, it’s free. (Note: my story starts at about the 20 minute mark of the podcast. It’s preceded by a fascinating interview with Zoltan Istvan, and followed by a neat discussion of historical precedents for the Jedi Order.)


As promised, today we reveal the front and back covers for The Many Tortures of Anthony Cardno. Bear Weiter (who is also an author in the anthology) donated a load of hours formatting the book, designing the interior (which includes artwork by his lovely wife Marlyse Comte) and creating and tweaking the covers.  I cannot thank him enough for his encouragement and his help over the past two months.

I also have to thank Michelle Moklebust and Lee Bloom for the photography on which the cover and interior illustrations were based. On Easter Saturday, we spent a good four hours and took several hundred photos — close-ups with all kinds of facial expressions, as well as “marionette” style photos for a possible different cover idea — so that I’d have a ton of material for Bear to work with. Michelle (also an author in the anthology) and Lee are to me, and while we worked, my niece Renee, Michelle’s son BJ and her nephew and niece Jake and Amanda laughed at us, offered ideas (especially Jake) and talked Doctor Who and other geeky fun.  Thanks to all of you.

And now, without further ado … the front cover:

The Many Tortures of AC.jpg

And the back cover:

Many Tortures Back Cover.jpg

UPDATE:  The book is now available in print form from Amazon. Kindle edition is coming forthwith, and the print version will be available via Barnes & Noble and other outlets soon as well (and non-Kindle ebook format should follow shortly too).

"MANY TORTURES" TOC Announcement

Hello, friends and readers.

You may have noticed things have been a bit quiet here on www.anthonycardno.com for a while now.  I’ve been taking some time away from interviewing and signal-boosting for actors, singers and writers in order to concentrate on my own writing. I’ve been working on some new short stories (and submitting them to markets), I’ve co-written a song (with at least one, and possibly two or three more on the way), I’ve been attending to personal and family life matters, and I’ve of course still be on the road for my day job.

I’ve also been editing the charity anthology I’ve mentioned here before.  The project has finally come together and is in the final stages before release, so it’s time to start making some announcements.

THE MANY TORTURES OF ANTHONY CARDNO is a gathering of 20 short stories and two sets of song lyrics, in which the main character is, well … me. Or some variation of me. The stories range from science fiction to literary and hit pretty much all points in between. In them, I’m an egotistical actor, a beleaguered husband, a scared young boy, an orphan, a randy college student, an alcoholic, a serial killer, a nice guy in the wrong place. In every single story, the authors find a way to tweak one of my real personality or physical traits to give us these alternate …. Multiversal, if you will … versions of me.

This isn’t just a vanity project.  All of the authors donated their words to this project, to help raise money for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life, which focuses on providing support to cancer patients and their loved ones. I’m a cancer survivor, as are several of the other authors in the book; most of the rest have first-hand experience with a loved one’s battle with the disease.  And of course, just this past month we lost Jay Lake to colon cancer.

It’s my pleasure today to reveal the complete Table of Contents for the book, which will be available in print and e-formats within the next few weeks. About a week from now, we’ll also have the reveal of the cover, being crafted by the fantastic Bear Weiter.

So, without further ado: The Table of Contents for THE MANY TORTURES OF ANTHONY CARDNO:

Foreword: I’m NOT A Nice Guy! by Anthony R. Cardno
Introduction: Who IS Anthony Cardno? by Brian White
Temperance by Christie Yant
Anthony Takes The Stairs by Eric S. Bauman
The Antics of Anton Ardno (A Todd Gleason Crime Story) by Joseph Pittman
I Have A Question by Neal Bailey
The Bar at The End of the World by Sabrina Vourvoulias
With A Flick of the Wrist by Michelle Moklebust
Scarred by Damien Angelica Walters
The Hand of God (A Davi Rhii story) by Bryan Thomas Schmidt
The Old Suit by Bear Weiter
The Optimist by Kaaron Warren
The Story Teller by Dennis R. Miller
The White Phoenix Feather: a tale of cuisine and ninjas by Mary Robinette Kowal
The Ballad of Anthony Cardno by Barry Mangione and the Musical Geniuses
Why, Anthony, Why by Frank Dixon
When The Waters Recede… by Day Al-Mohamed
The Chase by Jen Ryan
Three on a Match by Steve Berman
Brutal and Simple by Adam P. Knave
The Zombie Shortage by David Lee Summers
With Dust Their Glittering Towers: A Fly-Leaves Story by Christopher Paul Carey
Canopus by Anthony R. Cardno
Cold Statues by Jay Lake

I’m flattered by how many authors were willing to donate their work to help raise money for ACS, and I thank all of them once again. I’m particularly humbled to be presenting what I think is one of the last stories Jay Lake wrote before his untimely passing; he created this story for me in the midst of heavy chemotherapy over a year ago.

Check back next week for the cover reveal, and after that for news of the actual publication date!

2011 WRITING GOALS - Anthony R Cardno

I think it is absolutely time to state some broad writing goals for this year.  I’ve been in a bit of a slump writing-wise since before the holidays, but am slowly coming out of it.

Part of coming out of the slump is thanks to taking Jeremy C. Shipp’s Yard Gnome Army Fiction Writing Boot Camp (Winter session).  Jeremy is a fun writer to read, and an even more fun writer to work with. He’s been encouraging to even the slowest-writing students (read: ME), and his feedback has definitely improved the story “Thumbsucker” already. I’m interested to see his feedback on the second draft, and am hopefully that a third pass through the material will have it ready to start being submitted.

The story-submission horse is one I definitely need to get back on.  My goal, in the first half of this year, is to revisit all of my existing unpublished short stories and do polishes on them with the intent of getting them back in the world.

The other big assignment for Jeremy’s class is the first chapter of a novel. I’m plugging away slowly at that. It’s due soon, and I think I have something. We’ll see just what it is.

Check out the link to Jeremy’s own website in the Links section to see his work and learn a bit more about him.

The other large motivating factor, today, was Jay Lake’s post on his blog about his writing goals for the coming year. I read it, and I realized: I need to do that. I know there’s a school of thought that insists sharing goals with the greater public actually works against accomplishing them. In this case, I disagree. I need to get these goals in front of me, and this space is one good place to do that (the other being the bulletin board above my desk).

So, the 2011 writing goals are:

Ongoing: rework the unpublished short stories and get them on the rounds again.

March 2011: finish the first draft of Ambergrin Hall, the mystery-thriller set on the Croton College campus.  The whole manuscript needs tightening, but that can only happen when the first draft is finished.

April 2011: finish the first draft of Christmas Ghosts. Not as much to do to finish this one, but I’m sure a second pass will bring plot holes and inconsistencies to light.

June 2011: Plot out and begin Tarasque, the swords-and-planets novel in the vein of John Carter Mars, Carson of Venus, and Adam Strange.

I’ve also, on the non-fiction side, embarked on writing book reviews for ICARUS magazine, which is published by Lethe Press. Paying book review gigs are always a good thing.

So, as Jay said in his post: there are my upcoming goals. What are your plans?

ANTHONY R. CARDNO, Author - Interview

Yesterday I had the older group of kids who are my nieces and nephews interview me. Today we continue with the younger crowd, starting with my niece Renee, to whom THE FIRFLAKE is dedicated.

The Firflake, Anthony R Cardno

The Firflake, Anthony R Cardno

RENEE (age 11): What inspires you the most?

ANTHONY: Yesterday I talked about how inspiration for writing comes from a lot of different places: people I’ve seen, places I’ve been too, things I’ve read. But what inspires me as a person, every day, is love. I’m blessed to have so many amazing people in my life, and that love and support inspires me to be a better writer and also a better person. And hugs. Hugs are important. As you know.

RENEE: Are you going to make another Christmas story for me and Vinnie?

ANTHONY: There is another Christmas story coming. CHRISTMAS GHOSTS isn’t written for you and Vin the way THE FIRFLAKE was, but I still want you to read it! And who knows… maybe Christmas Eve I’ll have a new story to tell you guys, and that might someday become another book!

JARED (age 11): What inspired you to become a writer?

ANTHONY: Yesterday, I said “comic books.” Of course, it wasn’t just comic books that did it. It was also teachers and other adults who encouraged my creativity. Mrs. Bleakly and Mrs. Vezina at Austin Road Elementary; Mr. and Mrs. DelCampo and Ms. Burgh at Mahopac High School; the professors at Elmira. When I mentioned the cousins on Long Island whose house I used in my super-hero stories? Aunt Terry used to read everything I wrote while I was visiting, and then she’d ask questions and make suggestions about how to improve it. All of that encouragement helped, and continues to help.

JARED: Are your characters in your stories based on people you know?

ANTHONY: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. The main characters are very rarely based on any one person. For instance, in CHRISTMAS GHOSTS, the character of Collum McCann has bits and pieces of the personalities of lots of sixth graders I’ve known over the years. It’s hard to base a main character on a specific person because there’s always the chance that person will be insulted or upset at the way you portray them, despite the fact that the story is fiction. I find it’s easier to use friends and relatives as supporting characters, so they can be happy they got included but I don’t have to worry about how they’ll feel about their portrayal. CHRISTMAS GHOSTS is a good example: between students, teachers and coffee shop workers, there are a LOT of familiar names and little “winks” at family and friends. Who knows … YOU might even be in that one!

JARED: What’s your favorite kind of writing and is it the same as what your favorite kind of reading is?

ANTHONY: Hmmmm. They are probably not the same thing. I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy, but I haven’t really written that much science fiction or fantasy so far other than the super-hero stuff I wrote for the Super-Team Amateur Press Alliance (STAPA). I can say that I read a lot of short stories (at least 365 every year) and that’s the story length I like to write too. Novels are hard work!

MORGYN (age 8): How do you like to elaborate with your stories? I’m learning to elaborate with mine right now.

ANTHONY: I’m glad your teachers are teaching you how to elaborate on your ideas! You know, the first draft of the THE FIRFLAKE was a lot shorter. There was a lot less detail about the kids and how they were a part of the storytelling tradition of the family. So when I wrote later drafts, I added more sense detail: smells, sights, etc., and I gave the kids more to do. And then in one of the last drafts, your Uncle Jon said “there’s still something missing. What is it? Elves. Santa. Snow. Presents. Waitaminnit! Where’s the reindeer??” And a whole new scene got written. So sometimes I elaborate by asking “what is it the characters are seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting, doing.” And sometimes I elaborate because someone says “hey, did you ever think about including a scene where…”

MORGYN: How do you decide on a topic to write on?

ANTHONY: Mostly it’s whatever strikes me when I sit down to write. It might be a new idea that popped into my head while I was driving, or it might be a scene in a story I’m already working on but I’ve been struggling with it. Story ideas come from all over the place, but it’s really rare that I have an idea and immediately start working on it. I usually let ideas sit in my head a while, until I’ve thought them over and they seem ready to be written. I call that “letting them percolate.”

MORGYN: If you could interview someone you haven’t interviewed yet, who would you pick?

ANTHONY: I can’t give just one answer to this question. So I’m going to divide it up by category, okay?
Authors: Rick Riordan. Neil Gaiman. Seanan Maguire. Ellen Kushner & Delia Sherman.
Musicians/Singers (adult): Rosanne Cash. Dennis DeYoung. Adam Levine. Kalan Porter. Pentatonix.
Actors (adult): Nathan Fillion (Castle). Colin Morgan (Merlin). John Glover. John Lithgow.
Comic Book Writers/Artists: Gail Simone. George Perez. Bill Willingham.
Musicians/Singers (teens): Kropp Circle. Cody Simpson. The Feaver. And I know you and Renee would love it if I could interview Big Time Rush.
Actors (teen): Sterling Beaumon. Zach Mills. Jeanette McCurdy. Molly Quinn.

XAVIER (age 8): What inspired you to write the book?

ANTHONY: Well, Xave, like your mother I have always loved Christmas. And I’ve always loved the animated television specials like Rudolph, The Year Without a Santa Claus, and Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. So those cartoons were part of the inspiration. Reading The Grinch and Polar Express and ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas to Vinny and Renee when they were very little was another inspiration. And then there’s the tradition of wishing on the first snowflake of winter, and what magic that snowflake carries. All of that came together to become THE FIRFLAKE you know and love.

JACK (age 10): Who is your favorite Harry Potter character? (even though I already know)

ANTHONY: Well, since you already know, I don’t have to answer, do I? haha. Okay, since other people probably want to know, too: Remus Lupin. He reminds me a lot of me. My second favorite character would be Ron Weasley,who also reminds me a lot of me.

JACK: Which is your favorite Harry Potter book?

ANTHONY: They’re all so good, but if I had to choose one … Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It’s exciting, it introduces Remus and Sirius (my favorite character and your father’s favorite!), and Buckbeak is just really cool.

JACK: What was the most exciting part of your favorite Harry Potter book?

ANTHONY: Oh, the whole scene in the Shrieking Shack where Harry, Ron and Hermione are facing off with Sirius and Lupin, and we find out Scabbers is not really a rat, and then Snape shows up … the first time I read the book I couldn’t put it down through that whole sequence.

JOEY (age 7): Have you read any books about the Titanic?

ANTHONY: I have! I read Walter Lord’s A NIGHT TO REMEMBER when I was in high school. I haven’t read any recently though. It’s an incredible story, though, isn’t it?

JOEY: Have you ever written a humongous paragraph?

ANTHONY: I think the longest paragraph I’ve ever written was one full page long when I typed it up. That’s probably not really “humongous,” since there are some writers who write paragraphs that go on for 10 pages!

JOEY: What’s your favorite book?
XAVIER: What is your favorite book?

ANTHONY: I don’t have just one favorite book, so it’s a good thing you both asked me this question. And, since it’s the same question I ask at the end of every interview I do, it’s the perfect final question for this post too! So here’s my two favorite books, and what I would say to recommend them to someone who hasn’t read them yet:

Dracula by Bram Stoker. I’ve read this book every couple of years since high school. It wasn’t the first vampire novel ever written, but it is the most famous. What I love about the book is that while Dracula is the title character, he’s not the narrator. In fact, you very rarely get a look into what Dracula is thinking. He’s frightening because of the way the other characters talk about him.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I read this one every year around Christmas. Even when I’ve been having a bad day or week or year, the story of Scrooge reminds me that anyone can change and be a better person, if they want to be. It’s just that some of us (like Scrooge) need someone else to remind them why being a better person is important. And the narrator tells the story as though he were a favorite uncle telling the story to kids in front of the fireplace on Christmas Eve, which reminds me just a little bit of me!

* * * * *
I want to thank all of my real and adopted siblings for letting their kids take part in this: my sister Lorraine Bostjancic, Margaret and Scott Witt, Jon and Cindy Cornue, Jim and Liz Leahey, Tom and Hilda Werder, Frances and Grant Price, Nina O’Reilly, Judy Kiddoo, and Romykay Hajkowski. I’m hoping to do this again in about 6 months and get the rest of the nieces and nephews who missed this one to take part. I think all of the kids (and the not-so-kids like Danny, Laura, and Jake) asked some great questions, making me a proud uncle!

ANTHONY R. CARDNO, Author - Interview Part One

I had the brilliant idea a few weeks ago that it might be a nice year-end change-up to my regular interview posts to have my various nieces and nephews (both the ones related to me by blood and the ones who are kids of friends) quiz me about my writing, interviewing and reading habits. While I didn’t hear back from everyone (*cough*AlexDevinMaxA*cough*), I got a lot of good questions with only a few repetitions. Today’s post is the older batch of kids, ages 13 to 20.

Anthony R Cardno with niece Renee, his sister, and his nephew, Vinny

Anthony R Cardno with niece Renee, his sister, and his nephew, Vinny

Anyone who has read THE FIRFLAKE has seen the dedication (“For Mom and Dad, who taught me how to believe, and for Buddy and Squirmy Worm, who reminded me when I forgot.”) Buddy and Squirmy Worm are our family nicknames for my nephew Vinny and niece Renee. Vinny’s questions start off today’s post, and Renee gets the lead-off tomorrow when the younger kids have their say.

VINNY (age 14): What inspired you to write?

ANTHONY: Comic books. That’s the short answer, anyway. The first stories I remember writing were all with Marvel and DC superheroes. I can remember a summer visit to the Cornelia cousins on Long Island, and using their house as the secret base in a story featuring a group of Marvel’s third-string characters (Marvel Man (now Quasar), Blue Streak, The Vamp, and someone else). I had to be in 5th or 6th grade then. I also remember being in the lunch-room at Mahopac Junior High and writing a story about Bat-Girl (the Barbara Gordon version), and trying to draw the logo they used for her in Batman Family at the time. Those stories are all long-since lost; they were all hand-written in loose-leaf binders and spiral-bound notebooks and who knows where they ended up.

VINNY: Will you ever venture into the horror genre?

That depends on what type of horror you mean. Will I ever write a slasher-flick like the Jason movies? Probably not. But the short story “Canopus” right here on the website is suspenseful-horror, and my mystery novel AMBERGRIN HALL has at least a few horrific moments (and a hint of the supernatural). And as you may remember, I’m still supposed to be co-writing a zombie novel with Aunt Nina if I ever get off my buttocks and work on it. (By the way, Vin, kudos for using the word “venture.” Haha)

LAURA (age 20): When you get a creative idea, what sparks in your mind and says “THATS IT! There needs to be a book about this!”

ANTHONY: Ah, the famous “AHA!” moment. I’m not sure I actually get those. I hear other writers talk about them, but my epiphanies are smaller. I get an idea and it’s not “OH MY GOD THIS HAS TO BE A BOOK” so much as “oh, there’s a neat idea, let’s see where it goes.” The moment a story “clicks” for me is usually well after I’ve started it, and then I get that “Oh, yeah, this works!” spark.

LAURA: Out of all of the places you have traveled to, which place gave you the most inspiration when it comes to writing?

ANTHONY: Inspiration always seems to be stronger in the places that feel like home. The scenery change can be subtle (the slightly different small towns elsewhere in northwest NJ / southern NY) or dramatic (an apartment in a city somewhere in the country), but when I’m closer to family I’m more inspired to write. Outside of NY/NJ, the places I get the most writing done are, in no particular order: Palmdale CA, Chicago IL, Portland OR, and Kenosha WI.

DANNY (age 19): How do you avoid repetition in your writing?

ANTHONY: Hire a good editor.

DANNY: How do you avoid repetition in your writing?

ANTHONY: Wow, déjà vu. You want a more serious answer? Being in a local writers’ group (“The Write Direction,” and thank you Marie Collinson, Rosemary Foley and Jessie Peck-Martin!) and having a few “beta-readers” via email — folks who are looking not just at story as a whole but for clarity of language and awkward repetitive moments.

DANNY: How do you avoid repetition in your writing?

ANTHONY: Yes, folks, Danny is the one who seems to have inherited my sense of humor. Or he’s bucking for a job as my editor. Alright, Dan, any OTHER questions?

DANNY: Yes. How do you stay confident with your own writing?

ANTHONY: Oh, good one. The truth is, I don’t. I’m not sure any writer ever does. It’s sort of like stage fright for an actor. Helen Hayes, near the end of her long and varied career, said “I get sick with stage fright. Noel Coward threw up before every show, he got so sick. God made stage fright.” Carol Channing followed that up with “She was right about that. God made stage fright. I’ve noticed over a lifetime those that do not have stage fright, are not that good on stage.” It’s the same for me. Doesn’t matter that I’ve got had non-fiction, short fiction, and a short novel published. Every time I write something, there’s always that “oh my god, does this suck bat-guano” question lingering in the back of my head. And even after it’s been published, it’s the same. Just this month, knowing Marianne Burnham and her talented family had a copy of THE FIRFLAKE, I was constantly thinking “what if these wonderful new friends of mine, who were so excited to buy the book, end up hating it?” They didn’t hate it, but that’s beside the point.

JAKE (age 20): Are you working on a follow up to THE FIRFLAKE and/or are you going to try to go in a different direction with your writing?

ANTHONY: Yes. Don’t you love when people answer “either/or” questions that way? Seriously, THE FIRFLAKE is pretty complete unto itself. As much as I love Papa Knecht, Mama Alvarie, Engleberta and the rest, I’m pretty sure (at least right now) that their story is complete. However, I do have another, longer, Christmas novel nearing completion. Where THE FIRFLAKE is a book meant to be read by parents to children, CHRISTMAS GHOSTS is aimed straight at the middle-grade / young-adult market. It’s about sixth grader Colum McCann, who is still hurting about the unexpected death of the older brother he worshipped, and how he discovers a secret about Christmas Eve that could give him the chance to say goodbye. Beyond that, I’d say my writing is constantly headed in other directions. AMBERGRIN HALL is a college-set mystery-thriller. I just sold a science-fiction short story. I’m working on a sequence of connected fantasy and sf stories. I never know what genre I’ll be writing in next. The authors I most idolize (Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Orson Card, Lawrence Block) all have the ability to write in more than one genre, and to write in more than one style.

JAKE: Is there a specific artist or genre of music that you like to listen to when you write?

ANTHONY: Generally speaking, no. In the past, I’ve gone from working in complete silence to working with only instrumental music in the background. IF I’m going the instrumental route, I tend to rotate between classical stuff like the Carmina Burana and Dvorak’s New World Symphony (both of which I’ve loved since high school, thank you Terry Wynne and Darrell Long respectively) and movie or tv soundtracks. For horror-story-moodiness, nothing beats Wojciech Kilar’s soundtrack for the Francis Ford Coppola version of DRACULA. Michael Giacchino’s LOST soundtracks to seasons one through three are frequently playing as well. When I write my annual holiday poem, there’s always seasonal music playing. In a broader sense, I draw inspiration from the music I love, whether I’m writing at that moment or not. Right now, that ranges from all-time favorites like Rosanne Cash, Jennifer Holliday, Styx and Supertramp to friends like The Dalliance, Casey Stratton, Burnham and Matt Johnson.

JAKE: How would you describe your relationship with Orson Scott Card? I remember my mom telling me he posted on your Facebook wall a while ago which I thought was awesome.

ANTHONY: Over the past few years, I’ve had a chance to interact with Orson a couple of times. Some of his books would easily make any Top 25 list I might put together (particularly Ender’s Game, Lost Boys, and the whole Alvin Maker series). I’ve learned a lot about craft reading his books, and he’s graciously answered my fan-boy questions about his work and even about the Mormon religion. He’s never been anything but polite and friendly towards me, and I appreciate that from any well-known person (meeting Neil Gaiman was equally as gratifying, for instance. And Jennifer Holliday and John Glover and Ellen Datlow, as well.). Orson has made some pretty controversial statements in the recent past about homosexuality and “hating the sin but not the sinner,” (that’s not a direct quote, it should be noted) that I obviously don’t agree with – but that doesn’t detract from my love of his books and how I feel about the times we have interacted. (In fact, I think the Facebook post your mom was referencing was my quote “Gravity doesn’t care who you fall for,” which Orson liked.)

JAKE: How have your past experiences working with children influenced your writing?

ANTHONY: Immensely. You’ve been in the audience when I’ve told campfire stories. There’s no denying that some of my current style is a direct development from that experience. I also think the child and teen characters I write are more realistic because of all the actual kids and teens I am proud to call my nieces and nephews. Whether you were aware of it or not, you and your brother and the rest were the testing ground for the voice I use in a lot of my short stories. And speaking of your brother…

GABE P. (age 16): As you know, I am a high school student, and often times I find myself, along with other high school students, frustrated with teachings about writing in English class. How much of what you learned in school applies to your current writing career, and since then what has affected your writing habits and style?

ANTHONY: I had some really great English teachers in high school: Chris and Eugenia DelCampo (no relation) and PJ Burgh specifically. I learned a lot about literary analysis from them. My love of Mark Twain is all Mrs. DelCampo’s fault. My love of the theater and Shakespeare comes from the other two. I know the basics of writing an essay that I learned in high school served me well when I was writing non-fiction articles for various company newsletters and for Camping magazine. But if I’m being honest: I don’t remember actually studying creative writing in high school, at least not in any of our regular classes. Jerry Hahn and I co-wrote an adaptation of Snow White our senior year of high school that was produced as the fall play, but that’s about the only school-assignment type creative writing I remember doing. All the super-hero stuff I wrote in high school was on my own. The first creative writing classes I took were at Elmira College: Creative Writing with Professor Kerry Driscoll, a Playwriting Directed Study with Professor Jerry Whalen, a Science Fiction class with Doctor Bruce Barton in which we built our own worlds from scratch. Also, being a member of the Super-Team Amateur Press Alliance (STAPA) since 1982, and being in various writers’ groups over the years.

GABE P: Many writers I have seen in the past have conveyed a bit of their personalities in their writing such as Christopher Moore with his wittiness, or Oscar Wilde with his pompous disposition. If there is a characteristic of your personality that you would want your readers to take away from your writing, what would it be?

ANTHONY: Well, I hope my punny, somewhat dorky, sense of humor shines through in most of my work. But I don’t think I intentionally put a characteristic of myself out there as part of the planning for a story. Another Elmira professor of mine, Malcolm Marsden, told me that he enjoyed reading every paper I wrote because I always revealed a bit about myself and my own search for identity as I was analyzing the book or author in question. I think that’s still true. In THE FIRFLAKE, it might be Engleberta’s insecurity about being the best Watcher she can be; in AMBERGRIN HALL, there’s a bit of my quest for identity and love of folk music and the theater in Garrett and in Ezra; in “Canopus,” well… there’s a lot of me in the narrator of that story. I’m still constantly questioning who I am and where I am, and I think that comes out in my fiction.

GABE P: Do you ever find yourself unintentionally emulating an element from another writer’s work, or are you always aware of where you are drawing your influence from at a given moment?

ANTHONY: Unintentionally, all the time. I’ll reread something I wrote and think “wow, that’s a bit of Stoker / Butcher / whoever right there, isn’t it?” Sometimes, of course, that means rewriting because I don’t really want to sound like anybody else … and sometimes it gets left in because that little homage is exactly what I want. Then there are the times when yes, I am intentionally emulating a style. AMBERGRIN HALL has some intentionally Gothic moments in it that recall Stoker, Conan Doyle, Bronte. THE FIRFLAKE is one massive homage to the classic Rankin-Bass claymation Christmas specials. CHRISTMAS GHOSTS is intentionally Dickensian, and “Canopus” has a bit of Lovecraft in there.

GABE P.: I can imagine that when you read, you read pieces from genres all over the map. Is there one genre that you are particularly drawn to?

ANTHONY: I do try to be as widely-read as possible. That being said, in 2011 I’d say at least half of what I read was firmly in the science fiction and fantasy realms. Part of that is because I started writing book reviews for ICARUS: the magazine of gay speculative fiction this year, and that’s two books every quarter that need to be science fiction/fantasy/horror. But it’s also because those are the genres I’ve always loved. Take a look at my home library one of these days and most of it is genre fiction, including mysteries and pulp-adventure.

And now, let’s hear from the 13 and 14 year olds…

GABE O. (age 13): When did you start writing?

ANTHONY: I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. Definitely by the time I was your age, but surely younger.

GABE O.: How do you beat writer’s block?

ANTHONY: With a rather large canoe paddle.

AIDAN (age 14): No, seriously, how do you cure writer’s block?

ANTHONY: It’s an ancient family recipe: salt and other spices rubbed in, and then you let the writer’s block sit and dry for a while, and then…

DANNY (age 19): I think what they mean is, what is your most helpful routine to do when you find yourself with writer’s block?

ANTHONY: Obviously, it’s to make jokes about it. Writer’s block is not so scary when you realize that everyone goes through it occasionally and the best thing to do sometimes is walk away from the project you’re blocked on and just do something else. Go for a walk. Work on a different project. Spend several hours playing Scrabble on Facebook, chatting on Twitter, etc. Or just read. At one point when I was blocked on a short story, I walked away and sat down with a book in a completely different genre and read for a little while, and that seemed to “cleanse the palette” so to speak.

EDDY (age 14): What gives you your inspiration to write?

ANTHONY: I talked early about what inspired me to become a writer. What continues to inspire me? Part of it is that I can’t imagine NOT writing something every day. Some days that urge is fulfilled by my day job (writing for the company newsletter, etc) and some days it’s fulfilled by conducting an interview with a writer, artist, singer, actor or other creative type I respect. And then some days, I’m inspired because I know you all enjoy reading what I write. Encouragement from family and friends helps me continue to enjoy writing, even if I never get published.

AIDAN: So where do you find and how do you come up with ideas for your next story/book?

ANTHONY: Everything, honestly, is capable of giving me inspiration. Sometimes it’s a physical thing: AMBERGRIN HALL has its roots in an old unused building on the Elmira College campus and “Canopus” is based in part on an island in the middle of Lake Mahopac. Sometimes it’s a person: “That Happy Kid” was based on a teenager I used to pass every day commuting home from work. Sometimes it’s a news article: my one-act play “Sneakers in the Sand” and my story “Invisible Me” were based on things I read in the newspaper. So there’s no one thing, really.

EDDY: How many books have you written/published?

ANTHONY: Perfect question to end today’s post on, Eddy! I have one book out there, THE FIRFLAKE: A Christmas Story, and folks can find it if they go up to this site’s navigation bar and click on the tab with the book’s title on it. I also have a short story coming out in the SPACE BATTLES anthology sometime in 2012, and sometime early in the year you should be able to see a music video I scripted for The Dalliance on Youtube. Hopefully, next year will see more of my fiction out there.

That was a much longer post than I expected! Tomorrow (Monday), I’ll post what the younger kids asked me.