Carnival of Cryptids, an exciting fantasy anthology, is about to hit the market, and I have been honoured to read its preview. In the coming weeks, every Aussie Saturday, I will post an interview with each of the book’s seven awesome contributing authors along with my mini review. However, due to the recent Australia Day, this first entry only is out on an Australian Monday.
Hello Jeff, thank you for visiting with us. Would you be so kind to give readers a one-sentence synopsis of “Carnival of Cryptids”?
Carnival of Cryptids gives seven stories about creatures man was never meant to know.
How real are your characters?
My characters are larger than life, but show their human weakness. I started from the genre of pulp with an adventurer, and the sense of awesomeness definitely carries through with the crafty native and the dashing hero.
What inspired you to write this short story? When did you know you just had to write about Mapinguari?
I’ve always been fascinated by the cryptid I chose, the mylodon or giant ground sloth. I remember seeing a picture of it in an ancient mammals children’s book I had as a kid, and I’ve never lost my fascination with this enormous yet seemingly gentle creature. Whenever I heard more stories about it, such as conquistadors supposedly fighting one, my interest grew. When the cryptid theme was given, I knew immediately what I wanted to write about.
How long did it take you to “Where’s Captain Rook?”
I worked on prewriting for about two weeks from initial idea to a mental draft. The first story I had in mind was nothing like the result: the protagonist changed, the theme deepened, and the twist appeared. When I had it all mapped out, I sat down and hammered out the story in a long afternoon. It was such a wonderful feeling to end the day having created something.
And having created something worth reading at that!
How did you come up with the title?
The story needed something memorable and pulpy but not as garish as “The Adventure of the so-and-so.” Using the first line of “Where is Captain Rook?” proved excellent as the now-first line became a haunting, “He’s dead.”
Hey, we have something in common in that! I picked most of my chapter titles the same way.
Tell me your favorite line in this story.
I love the conclusion hinting that the magic of the Amazon had something to do with causing World War II. “Wars need rubber.”
Thank you Jeff.
Who would you say have been the most influential authors in your life? What is it that really strikes you about their work?
Jules Verne and H.G. Wells have always been great influences to me. I love Verne’s attention to detail, explaining how an 1860s submarine worked, down to the chemistry of its electrical system. His adventure stories really showed me how to plot. Wells’ variety of topics and exploration of reasonable outcomes from fanciful “what ifs” are great. Establish the rules of the world, and the reader will trust you no matter how weird the bug-aliens of the Moon are.
And you sure have the vivid imagination to support that!
What story would you like to share about the joy, challenge, or hardship of writing?
Writing always struck me as the same as the old actor’s adage, “If you don’t have to do it, don’t.” It’s not easy. Sitting at a screen typing for hours or writing by hand until you get cramps is tough, but there is no deeper sense of completion I’ve ever felt than finishing a story. It’s the good kind of tired where, at the end of the day, you look back over your handiwork and smile.
Congratulations on completing this short story!
Who gives you the most encouragement? Why is that important to you?
My friends have always been great encouragement simply by listening to my “crazy ideas” whenever I have them. They’re a great set of sounding boards and make me question it from every direction to understand fully my own seedling of an idea. My best friend Chad, an engineer, and my wife, Courtney, a writing major, are two of the best for coming up with new angles.
What are you working on right now? Tell us your latest news.
Whenever possible, I’m continually at work on my Alternate History blog and my web comic. I’m hoping to complete both by this summer, editing and compiling This Day in Alternate History into a single collection and relaunching The Academy with “director’s commentary” on the process of web comic creation.
How do you see writing, Jeff?
If anything, I see it most as a way of life. It doesn’t pay the bills, but I’ve always hoped it would. Someday my life dream is to just sit and make stuff up all day, every day.
With your imagination and talent, I’d say keep going! A lot of people are sure to find your work entertaining.
Now, how much do you have in common with your protagonist Paulo?
We’re both meek, but we plan for the long game in a tricksterly fashion.
That cunning twist at the end! Never saw that coming 🙂
What are your hobbies?
Writing, definitely. On top of that, I like building things, remodeling, and watching tons and tons of movies.
Movies? With your imagination, I guess it’s worth taking up screenwriting to entertain more fans. Check out “The Screenwriter’s Roadmap”, highly recommended. What is your other profession, by the way? When do you find the time to write?
I teach college Composition courses as well as other classes I have developed, such as the History of Comics and Comic Books and a biography of Charlie Chaplin. I write before class, after class, on days off, evening, and pretty much any time I don’t have something else scheduled.
Tell us a bit about who or/and what matters to you.
I got married a month ago, and Courtney’s definitely a major part of my life. Things are just better when she’s around. I think spirituality and morality are two of the most important things in anyone’s life. Personally, I find meaning in accomplishing things, which keeps me busy trying to start, work on, and complete projects.
How has your published work influenced others and their attitude towards you?
I think it inspires hope. I’m just an average guy, and if I can sit down and do something I want to do, why can’t they live out their dreams, too?
I agree. We all need a purpose; it’s a great feeling to be looking forward to our tasks.
What one thing is important for your readers to know about you? Why?
Ideas come to me like a little seed popping inside my brain. “What if this?” Then, it grows and stretches and consumes until I have to write it out, tell someone, share the seed so it grows beyond me.
Any tips for us on reading and/or writing?
Patience, infinite patience. Sometimes you’re working so hard you can’t stand it; other times you’re waiting for emails to be returned or rejection slips in the mailbox. Either way, be patient and keep plugging along.
You’re a saint!
Thank you so much for your time, Jeff. And best wishes in all the things that you do.
Jeff Provine was raised on a Land Run farm in northwest Oklahoma. He lives with his wife of one month and two kitties in a home he remodeled. Come check out Jeff’s website, his ebook ‘Dawn on the Infinity”, his steampunk adventure series of Celestial Voyages.
Following is my mini review on “Where is Captain Rook?”
The year is 1938 and jungle guide extraordinaire Paulo Nativo prepares his boat for Captain Rook at the border of the Venezuelan jungle and the wide Amazon River. Upon his arrival, the brash explorer from Chicago announces his destination and the purpose of their expedition, commanding Paulo to take him up the river regardless of the guide’s strong reservations. What dangers await them deep in the jungle?
WHERE IS CAPTAIN ROOK is one fine short story. Provine’s vivid details of the exotic setting and his ability to develop rich characters within the short span as the plot unfolds are engaging.
Watch out for the anthology’s release later this week. It’s all for charity, specifically the American’s National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.