Virtual Launch Interview

For those who missed the virtual launch of “Thieves and Scoundrels” and my interivew – here it is. Apologies for the dodgey formatting in places – it is an artefact of cut and paste.

And finally, our very last author of the day, joining us from Brisbane Australia, Jodi Cleghorn.

Jodi’s Bio:
In a world-building master class in 2008 Jodi was overheard saying, ‘Oh, but I don’t write science-fiction’. Up until that point she’d never given any real thought to genre.
While her characters are still unwilling to allow their muse to be shoe-horned into any one genre there is a growing appreciation of the freedom to explore ‘what ifs’ in speculative- and science-fiction, along with urban fantasy.
Love, betrayal, identity, dynamics of power and time travel are recurring themes in Jodi’s writing.
As well as writing, Jodi has a passion for editing and publishing, and is the co-owner of eMergent Publishing with Paul Anderson, creating short story anthologies which push the boundaries under the Chinese Whisperings brand.

Good morning, Jodi!

Good morning Tina. It’s 8:45am Sunday morning here in Australia and the mist is hanging about the trees in my suburb. Thanks for having me along.
Well thanks for getting up early for us.

Still hard to believe I’m talking to someone from the future (it’s only 4:45 pm on Saturday here)

Why don’t we start off by you telling us a little bit more about you? Where are you from, what do you do, and how did you find out about the Flash Fiction Challenge?

I currently in Brisbane – in what often feels like the end of the world (or the beginning) when working across massive time zone gaps. I’m a full time writer, as well as co-managing a small Indie publishing house, eMergent Publishing, which produces conceptual anthologies under the imprint Chinese Whisperings…
I first learnt of AXP and the FFCs last September through a writer who contributed to Chinese Whispering’s debut anthology, ‘The Red Book’.
Awesome. Without giving away the plot of the story, can tell us about what you’ve written for Thieves and Scoundrels?
Many of my stories come from that wonderful question “what if?”…
“The Chameleon” is a sci-fi story, unashameably influenced by my own domestic situation in December last year (though the actual story bears no resemblance to it). The spark for the story came from a conversation about 24 hour retail trading…
“The Chameleon” was also shaped by the growing numbers of reports of identity theft, as well as the themes of loss, love, the dynamics of power and time travel – though in this regards it is not time travel in the most literal sense…
I guess it addresses important questions regarding identity, scientific innovation, psychology and humanity .“The Chameleon” asks… are we more than just the sum of our parts? Is there something more than the reductionist version of science?
Wow. Pretty deep stuff. Is this what readers can expect from your other work? More thought provocking science fiction?
Yes… well I hope…
In past I haven’t written sci-fi though I seem to be pulled more that way because of the freedom for exploration the genre offers and the ability to really probe social issues…
Plus I love being able to toy with science, technology and innovation – push it beyond know boundaries and then apply it back to the human experience…
Right now I’m working on several sci-fi projects: a novella set in a society where natural birth has been outlawed as a crime against the State, punishable by death. The main characters are young midwife, a fallen angel and a Government agent hell-bent on getting ‘his woman’; also a cross-genre detective serial named “Hartog”…
There are several other short stories in varying arrays of “finished-ness” and I’d by lying if I said I wasn’t fishing for a story to submit for the next FFC. There are two scenarios gestating – but as of yet, no definite story emerging from either idea.
Well I guess that answers what you are working on right now. 🙂

Are there any authors or books which you particularly admire, or which have influenced you as a writer?

It does…
The more I read of Margaret Attwood, the more I like her writing and admire her as a woman and an author. Her ability to produce such diverse work, of an amazingly high standard is something any writer would aspire to. I am in awe of her descriptive narrative (something I struggle with in my own writing) and ease of story telling…
As for influences – it seems I take a little from every book I read and apply it in small and large ways to whatever I am working on at the time – it is often completely subconscious…
I’m lucky enough to belong to a wonderfully talented and supportive community of writers – both on and offline. A small group of these writers are my beta readers and it is their insightful comments and critiques which help to shape the final drafts I produce. “The Chameleon” is an example of how a good story can be made a great story with the critical input of others.
That’s great.

What is the hardest part about writing for you, in general or just flash fiction?

Telling a rich, evocative story in just 1000 words isn’t easy at the best of times. Throw into that mix, the need to do some type of world building and you have what I consider, the hardest part of writing flash fiction in the sci-fi genre…
For “The Chameleon” – my world building had to be based on small, potent symbols. I focused on technology to build Clarissa’s world. There’s no space to explain them, so I used simple, easily recognisable items or concepts… then pushed out from 2010 usages into a place in the not too distant future…
“The Chameleon” utilises three novums – an identity chip in the back of the hand, DNA rewriting and DNA litmus paper.
You mentioned that you also manage a small press. Would you rather be known as a writer or as a publisher?
Jodi Cleghorn:

This seems to be a question which keeps popping up recently – a bit like would you prefer critical acclaim or popular success…

I’d like to be greedy and be known for both I think. I wish I could be one or the other, but it seems I am pulled in both directions.
I can understand that.

Maybe you can tell us when and why you began writing? What gave you “the bug” so to speak?

I began writing aged 10 with a sappy piece about Willy the Australian mascot for the LA Olympics…
Jodi Cleghorn:

It was the light bulb moment that I could string together my own sentences, create worlds, action. A bit of a “God” moment so to speak…

As I got older the pull was to escape. My life wasn’t particularly awful – but there was something about being able to escape into a world were you had ultimate power (what teenager wouldn’t want to do that?)…
Now I realise that it is my characters who control me to tell their story, and not the other way around!
Alright, one more question before I open it up to the audience. How can readers get in touch with you?
Jodi Cleghorn:

There are three ways…

Facebook fan page!/pages/Jodi-Cleghorn-Author/294766224588?ref=ts
Jodi Cleghorn:

Twitter @JodiCleghorn

Wonderful. Thank you Jodi.

Looks like we have our first question…

[Comment From Robin Robin : ]

You seem to have some profound insights into people. Do you have a degree or anything in psychology?

Nicely picked Robin… I have never finished my degree in Psychology – but have definitely spent a fair chunk of time at uni studying for one. My son came along to spoil my last attempt to get my piece of paper. I’m also an avid people watcher and like to think a lot about what makes people tick…
I’m also blessed by the appearance of many interesting and complex characters who choose me to share their stories.
We’ve got time for one more if anyone has another question for Jodi.
[Comment From Trixy Trixy : ]

What kind of story are you writing for the next FFC?

I have two ideas kicking around in my head at the moment Trixy – both will end up being sci-fi I guess. One has an element of time travel and the other about the complex nature of love and regret. They are only seed ideas and the actual story has yet to come. I was lucky enough to have some pretty potent dreams while I was away over Easter.
And one more…
[Comment From Red Red : ]

How do you balance your publishing, writing and home life? Any useful tips for achieving the discipline needed to make it all happen?

It is like juggling – as friend once said to me – you keep your eye on the ball in the air…
I have to admit I get the balance really askew. I am lucky enough to have a wonderful husband and son who are ever patient and allow me to do what I do…
The only advice I will give – is make sure you give writing a priority status. Until I made writing a priority (and it was only on a Friday night!) it languished for a decade untouched. I am sad that I lost those years.
Well it has been wonderful chatting with you this morning Jodi. Thank you so much for getting up early for us.

And thank you to Robin, Trixy, Red and Jim (whose question was very similar to Red’s).

Thank you Tina… and thanks to those last minute questions!
You’ve just watched the interview of Jodi Cleghorn, who wrote the story ” The Chameleon” in the Theieves and Scoundrels anthology.

“Thieves and Scoundrels” is a publication of Canadian Press, Absolute Xpress. Stories were selected as part of AXP’s third Flash Fiction Challenge.

The anthology available from Amazon (US$14.95) or as an eBook from Smashwords ($3.00)

Time Is On My Side

…oh yes it is!

I refuse to think of myself as time poor. This is despite hammering down the door of a major deadline for the first of eMergent Publishing’s non-fiction clients, keeping the fires of Chinese Whisperings stoked, preparing for my first virtual book launch and trying to keep afloat in life. If I bring a poverty mentality  to my working and creative life I can’t expect keep my head above the water.

Yes – I’d like more sleep, yes – I’d like more time to read, yes – I want to spend time with my family and yes – I am yearning to write (especially since my kind characters chose this very week to reveal the previously hidden hooks of a story to me in the shower on Thursday) but this too will pass.

The non-fiction project is a planning text called ‘Gnarly Planning’ by the wonderful Dr Jane Stanley. The book is amazing and definitely not your run-of-the-mill university text. Instead it is  full of inspiring personal stories from Jane’s adventures overseas, humbling accounts of people making do with very little and lots of good old common sense, that doesn’t just apply to the area planning, so I’m discovering as I read and layout. While it continues to be a very consuming experience for me – the plethora of astounding photographs and the text in general keeps me going. It is the only experience of working/reading a non-fiction book where I have been inundated with waves of goosebumps.

Speaking of time –  tomorrow is my first time as part of a virtual book launch (Saturday for those folks in the Nth Hemisphere)  Absolute Xpress’ “Thieves and Scoundrels” anthology, which my short story “The Chameleon” is published in, is officially launched tomorrow.

There are two parts to the launch  – a rolling stock of  ‘virtual’ interviews with some of the anthology’s authors (12 authors, in 9 time zones, across seven hours) as well as an Amazon chart rush.

While I’m part of the virtual interview section – to promote myself, my story, my writing and of course the anthology, I’m also participating to see how it all works and what sort of fit it might be for The Yin and Yang books in October.

My “spot” is on at the following times:

  • New York: Saturday 6:45pm
  • Chicago: Saturday 5:45pm
  • Calgary: Saturday 4:45pm
  • LA: Saturday 3:45pm
  • GMT: Saturday 10:45pm
  • London:  Saturday 11:45pm
  • German: Sunday 12:45am
  • Afghanistan: Sunday 3:15am
  • Brisbane: Sunday 8:45am

I’ll be talking/typing about about my story, what I’m currently working on, my influences and what I find challenging about flash fiction. You can be a part of the author chats by following this link.

The other aspect of the launch is an Amazon chart rush.

To participate I’m asking my friends, family writing colleauges and blog readers, between 10am – 5pm Mountain Time (Pacific: 9am – 4pm, Central: 11am – 6pm, Eastern: Noon – 7pm, GMT: 4pm – 11pm, EST Queensland: 2am – 9am on April 11) to go to the Thieves and Scoundrel’s page and considerdoing one or all of the following:

  • buying ‘Thieves and Scoundrels’
  • view the ‘Thieves and Scoundrels’ page
  • add the book to their wish list
  • suggest to a friend

All these things will increase the book’s ranking on

Now, speaking of time… I have some interview questions to get sorted and some sleep to be had.

Image: Temporal Paradox by PatsPiks via Picture Post

The Chameleon Accepted for Publication

Late last year a fellow Chinese Whisperings writer Tina Hunter contacted me about Absolute Xpress’s Flash Fiction Challenge. She told me to keep an eye out for the 1st December when the prompt for the challenge would be announced, adding my writing would definitely suit the anthologies they were producing.

Thieves and Scoundrels is the third anthology, coming in the wake of Creatures of the Night and The Seven Deadly Sins (Tina had stories published in both!) cementing Absolute Xpress’s committment to the Flash Fiction form, which is growing in popularity with writers and readers alike.

There is nothing like someone making, even the smallest investment in your writing life, to spur you on to bigger and better things. In many ways it was the indebtedness to Tina which made this a priority once I had submitted to the 12 Days Project (work begets work… I’m convinced of that!)

The prompt was:

Would your characters try to swindle a dragon out of his treasure? Perhaps they’d try to steal the fastest spaceship in the galaxy? Or are they after something a little more sinister that’s in need of taking? Where ever and when ever they take place, the stories of these Thieves and Scoundrels will take hold of your imagination and ransom it back to you.

I had a couple of ideas floating around in my head, especially after Vasia Markides and Anna Barros posted to their Facebook pages an article about a group of elderly Cypriots being charged with illegal gambling. The youngest was in their mid-70s. While it didn’t end up firing for this competition but it is latent waiting for the right trigger.

It was a moan about shopping hours which lead me to ask: What could possibly happen to someone in the dead of night in a supermarket.  ‘The Chameleon’ answers that and is my debut story in the sci-fi/spec-fic genre. This from someone who said two years ago, “Oh but I don’t write sci-fi.”

While I’m indebted to Tina for encouraging me to enter, I’m also indebted to some wonderful people who read the first draft, commented and compelled me to distill and capture the essence of the story. These wonderful beta readers were Chris Chartrand, Annie Evett, Dan Powell, Diane Ballard and Jen Brubacher… oh and my Mum, who is captured here mid-story. Why mention them… because these amazing folk are the real powerhouses behind any writer, the unseen who help to sculpt and solidify creative flights of fancy. Who ensure a piece goes from “er, yeah,” to “OMG!”

The anthology is scheduled for release later this month, so watch this space.