Jill Bisker, author of “Within Reach” and the upcoming “Finding the Way Back” stopped by to have a chat with fellow Melange author, Walt Trizna, author of “New Moon Rising” and the new sci-fi novella “Elmo’s Sojourn.”
First, a little about “Elmo’s Sojourn.”
Elmo, a retired scientist, travels through a wormhole to the planet Roth where he helps combat an alien invasion which is menacing the planet.
JILL: Please tell me a little about yourself – Where you come from? What led you to writing?
WALT: I was born and raised in Newark, NJ, but since then lived in the Midwest, LA, Miami and now in Pennsylvania.
I’ve always been an avid reader, feel naked if there is not a book close by. I began writing poetry in college and pursued that for about thirty years while I pursued a career in science. About 14 years ago I began writing fiction.
JILL: What books and authors influenced your career?
WALT: I’ve read a great deal of science fiction by Arthur C. Clark, Asimov, Ray Bradbury among a host of others.
For horror I’ve read H. P. Lovecraft and Stephen King and Algernon Blackwood.
JILL: Your story, Elmo’s Sojourn, is a space jumping sci-fi story. Do you write other genres?
WALT: I also write horror and the occasional poem.
JILL: How did you come up with the premise of your story?
WALT: I belong to a writers group, The Wordwrights, and one of the members writes children’s books. She told us she had to write a story beginning with someone yelling that they have a problem. Couple that with a Far Side cartoon where a wife is looking from a door down into a cellar. In the cellar is her husband with the head of a fly. She’s yelling, “Lunch. Are you still a fly?”
With that in mind I had intended to write a story, Cellar Science, but enjoyed the story so much that I continued and the result was the novella, Elmo’s Sojourn.
JILL: Your time machine seemed very well thought out – is it based on something in theoretical science.
WALT: The time machine is a product of my imagination.
While I was in college, there was a guy in the dorm who built a tesla coil. You could pull something like a quarter million volts to your finger, but since the amperage was low, you survived. I had to get that thing into a story.
JILL: How do you personally relate to your main character in your story?
WALT: I was a scientist for 34 years, but a biologist not a physicist. I love science and the opportunity it gives you to discover something new, when all the parts of a puzzle suddenly come together. I share the wonder Elmo has for science.
JILL: How challenging was it to build your alien landscapes and creatures?
WALT: I have a very active imagination so it was really quite easy. But the creatures changed along the way. The first creature that comes through Elmo’s machine was going to be the dominant creature on Roth, but of course that changed. Then Valmid was going to be a sinister being and that changed. Since I needed some conflict, Gylex came into being and I could just picture what it looked like.
JILL: What theme do you want to convey to your readers?
WALT: I think, as with most science fiction, I want to create adventure and the wonder of the unknown.
JILL: This would make a great series – have you considered writing the next adventure?
WALT: Glad you asked this one, it’s already written. Elmo’s Invention is a prequel to Elmo’s Sojourn. In Elmo’s Invention, Elmo is working at Los Alamos and here sets out to build a time machine using an old iron lung, but things do not go as planned.
This novella is longer than Elmo’s Sojourn and still needs a lot of editing, and then out it goes. I’m sure there will be other stories fermenting in my brain, but they have yet come to the surface.
JILL: What are you working on now?
WALT: Currently, I’m doing a great deal of editing. I have two novels written but are in need of a rewrite.
The Beast Awaits is the most complete. It deals with a monster created through stem cell research. It escapes into the Everglades and its destruction leads to enhanced global warming. How’s that for ‘hot button’ issues?
Sweet Depression is a novel which is a cross between the work of James Patterson and Robin Cook, a very sinister thriller set in a pharmaceutical company.
JILL: In your point of view, what is the most difficult part of the writing life?
WALT: Imagining story ideas I find to be the easiest part. The writing can be difficult and the editing is, I find, even more difficult. But the part of writing I find the most difficult is trying to get the work published. I agonize over writing query letters.
JILL: Do you outline your stories before you sit down to write?
WALT: For short stories, I mull over the plot before I put pen to paper. I write all my first drafts by hand. So when I begin writing the story, it’s already fully formed in my mind.
For novels I use an outline but keep it fluid. In a steno pad, for each novel, I form an outline to include scenes and dialog when the characters start talking.
JILL: What plans do you have for your writing going into the future?
WALT: If I can publish Sweet Depression I have plans to write at least one sequel.
I’ve also published a short story, Martian Rebirth, which I want to develop into a novel.
And of course, my brain keeps on cranking out short story ideas.
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About Walt Trizna:
Walt Trizna, a scientist for thirty-four years, is now a full-time writer of horror and science fiction. He has published more than twenty stories, both online and in print. Walt lives in West Chester, PA with his wife, Joni.
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About Jill Bisker:
Jill Bisker lives in Stillwater, MN with her husband and a calico cat named Senora. She believes in empowering women to be strong enough to protect themselves, while still soft enough to be loving and compassionate. Her work includes paranormal mystery and traditional high fantasy, as well as contemporary and humorous fantasy and an everyday living blog. Her novella Within Reach is her first publication with Melange. Once a dedicated stay at home Mom, Jill now writes full-time.
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Winner will be chosen on March 10, 2014.