Monday

Interview with Christa StJean

Christa StJean is a very talented artist, illustrator, digital painter, graphic designer and cook. She describes herself as a restless creative soul. And she's an expert at talking about candy.

ME: Can you tell the readers something about your background. What inspired you to be an artist.

CHRISTA: Well, my dad was the one who introduced me to art when I was a kid, but he was not really the one who inspired me the most. One of his friends and colleague, Larz Friberg, was my biggest inspiration and also the one who helped me the most :) He taught me the basics in oil painting, he gave me some insight into other techniques as well, like watercolour and lithography. And Larz was also the one who gave me a bit of information about the business world that surrounds art and art galleries. So he was very valuable source to me.

But me and my sister probably used more paper and Crayons than any other kids I knew when we grew up. Mom was very good at drawing, so I guess you could say it was contagious :p However, the creative streak comes mainly from my dad's side I think.

ME: Do you prefer digital painting or traditional art on paper or canvas.

CHRISTA: They are very different ways of creating and only a few years ago I would have said canvas. Or at least the traditional way of doing art. But the more I do digital art, the more confused I get in a way. So I have to say that I prefer all of them for different reasons. Digital art is a lot easier since it allows you to make mistake and correct it without any hassle. Digital art is very forgiving in that way. Watercolour on paper is darn difficult in it's own way since you have to work fast before it's drying, and it doesn't allow any big mistakes at all. Oil on canvas doesn't have the undo button that Photoshop got, but it's still easier to use than watercolour. I love oil paint because of the smell and texture :D

So I guess I can't really answer that.

ME: Which of your paintings are you most proud of.

CHRISTA: Of the digital paintings I've done it's probably the first one of "Merlin". It took some time to do, but I was very happy the way the hair turned out and that I managed to get his clothing done pretty good without actually paint the chain-mail he was wearing in the reference photo.

ME: What is the longest and shortest time it has taken you to complete a painting and which paintings are they.

CHRISTA: Hm...it's not easy to say which painting took the longest to complete...but the one I made of the 10th Doctor Who in black and white was probably the painting that took least time to put together. I painted that during an afternoon. Can be found here: http://christastjean.co.uk/?p=4860

Most of the time it's just a matter of hours between most painting I've done, with the exception of that Doctor Who painting.

ME: What started your love for all things steampunk.

CHRISTA: I can't remember when I saw it the first time, but I can tell you how I slipped into the making of it. For a long time I've had some pocket watches in my jewellery box and neither of them worked any more. My dad and granddad left them behind and I've kept them out of sentimental value. However, I got tired of moving them around, but I didn't want to sell them. So I figured I could redo them into something I could use. And that's how it started.

ME: What artists have influenced you and why.

CHRISTA: As I said above, Larz Friberg was one big influence back when I was younger. He was a landscape artist, painting a lot of wild animals and that sort of thing. But since then I've gone through a lot of "stages" with my art and sometimes I've changed my style because I've been influenced to do so, while other times it changed because I had to. Recently I went from painting portraits that looked pretty much like the reference I used for them, to something more expressive and colourful. But also a bit surreal. I guess the colourful bit is influence from Van Gogh and his bright happy paintings :) The surreal bit was picked up from within my own head, and that's usually the way it is. It's one part influence from someone else and one part me :) As for surrealist artists. I'm a sucker for anything by Salvador Dali. His paintings were amazingly weird and imaginative.

ME: I've often wondered this, (heh) what gives you more satisfaction painting or cooking.

CHRISTA: Hmm....I can do both, you know...at the same time...so I don't really have to pick and choose. Cooking is something I enjoy because it's relaxing to chop onion and slice carrots for example. And since I came here to England I've had to do a lot of cooking from scratch if I wanted to make any dishes that are traditional in Sweden, so it's a challenge too sometimes.

I don't express as much with the cooking as I do with my painting, so the painting gives me an outlet that way.

Do I have to choose? LOL

ME: Yes, young lady, you were suppose to choose. :-D

ME: If you had to be a strawberry pie or some custard which would you choose.

CHRISTA: I would probably be a strawberry pie :p

ME: What delicious yummies do you have in your cupboard.

CHRISTA: Right now my cupboards are actually quite empty...but I usually have custard, cocoa, icing sugar, eggs, butter...all those necessary things for the sake of making a cake or somemuffins when I feel like it :p The problem is that no goodies last very long here so I usually can't stack those...heh. I don't have a freezer right now, but if I did I would always have ice cream at home. No question about that.

ME: You have some great looking recipes in your swedish kitchen, do you often surf other food blogs.

CHRISTA: I've got a few favourite food blogs that I follow, both of them being Swedish actually. And I'm a member of a Swedish recipe community for the sake of keeping my recipe treasures fresh :D It's not often I surf food blogs without a reason. That usually happens if I'm looking for a certain recipe that can't be found anywhere else.

Thank you for the interview, Christa. To check out Christa's art, food and rants go here: http://christastjean.co.uk/

Thursday

Interview with Michael D. Griffiths

Michael D. Griffiths is a good friend and superb writer of horror and science fiction. Mike has won the Withersins 666 award and had his Skinjumper series published in M-Brane magazine. His novel published by The Living Dead Press 'The Chronicles of Jack Primus' is something special that every home should own.

M. How would you describe your novel 'The Chronicles of Jack Primus'.

MDG. Besides being a novel, which could be called Horror or Dark Fantasy, The Chronicles of Jack Primus is a book of discovery and acceptance. Jack is a young man and was normal as anyone else his age, until he was exposed to the dark existence that lurks under the fa├žade of our accepted reality. When he is exposed to the foul evil known as the Xemmoni, he barely escapes his first encounter intact and is forced to flee.

He soon discovers that, not only has he become a ‘marked man’ who now has every Xemmoni he runs across trying to kill him, but he has also attracted the notice of a mysterious entity known as Yig. This Godlike creature is giving him some abilities to try to help him survive, but will it be enough when supernatural serial killers are hunting him as he races across the country?

M. What inspired you to write this story?

MDG. Jack Primus is a big part of the puzzle that several series of books are telling on an epic level. Jack is the Hero of the Earth, protecting us from outsiders seeking to destroy all we hold dear. Other series focus on the eight different Stalwart archetypes and together they hope to rid the multi-verse of the threat of the Dark Alliance and its goal to unite to Xemmoni in an attempt to claim all there is, so they can promptly make it foul, dark, and decayed.

M. Do the evil Xemmoni ever materialize in your nightmares.

MDG. At times, it has been known to happen. I tend to have action-oriented dreams quite often, where the chance to be a hero and fight a supernatural menace can certainly happen. Exact representations, such as, “Oh man, there is a nest of Darcarre in the basement that I have to destroy,” are rarer.

M. Did you want to create the perfect stalwart hero with Jack?

MDG. The simple answer to that question is yes, certainly. But it needs to be kept in mind that there are eight types of Stalwarts (heroes). Jack is the perfect Stalwart of Yig, but if he were a follower of Loki or Dionysus, he wouldn’t be doing a very good job. Each brand of Stalwarts has their own modalities and goals. What would be perfection for one might be mediocre or even wrong for another type.

But despite this, some of Jack’s heroic nature transcends Stalwart boundaries. He is an ideal hero in many respects. He gets furious at injustice and would lay down his life to protect a friend. When it comes to the forces of the Darkened, he quickly realizes that no mercy should be shown and he enters each battle like it could be his last.

M. When setting out to write a story do you have to be in a certain state of mind? Do you plan your stories or do you just see where they take you.

MDG. Do I have to be in a certain state of mind, no, not really. All I need to write is the time to do so. I plan my stories to a certain extent. Sometimes, I might know where they will end, but the journey takes me on a ride of its own. I am often as surprised as the reader as to some of the ways things turn out. On more than one occasion, I have grown angry with myself. “Well how is he going to get out if this, Mike?” Yet, they always find a way.

I don’t really believe in writer’s block or waiting to be inspired. If I waited to be inspired, I’d be finishing my second book by now instead of have written seventeen. If you really want to be a writer, you need to write, every day. Even if it is only half a page or for a few minutes it needs to happen. If it is something you dabble in twice a month, when the mood strikes, then you are a person with a hobby of writing, not a writer.

M. Do you have any writing rituals?

MDG. Yes and no, here. I tend to like to have something to drink nearby. I enjoy soda and cold ale, wine is good, or even water. I will light a stick of incense at least when I first sit down. On the weekends, I’m a little more open ended, but I often take a walk in the woods before I start. On weekdays, I try to start as soon as I get home and keep going for two or three hours before I call it quits for the night.

M. What are you writing at the moment?

MDG. I just finished writing my first Skinjumper novel for M-Brane. M-Brane magazine has already published my Skinjumper short stories series, but now we are taking it up a notch and putting out the first of what could easily be a series of Skinjumper novels.

I’m working on a Zombie novel for Living Dead press. The owner said he would publish a zombie novel if I wrote one, so I’m writing one. I also have three or four short stories I’ll be tossing his way. I’m already in five Anthologies through Living Dead Press and I’d like to double that by the end of 2010 if I can.

I also write for the comedy site, The Daily Discord, but I use my old punk rock name, Alex Bone, for them. I also work for a local scene oriented newspaper, The Noise, and do book reviews for Innsmouth Free Press. My longest running job is with Abandoned Towers where I tend to wear a lot of hats.

I have a weekly Jack Primus blog, so there is never a time where the dust has to settle when it comes to following Jack’s adventures. I also have a thread on the SFReader in the anything goes section, where I team up with a demented grandmother to either rid the world of havoc or plunge it into chaos, I can never be quite sure.

Also keep an eye out for Dalsala Den that will be released soon through Cyberwizard Productions and perhaps Alone in the Vast through Journalstone.

M. Any stories we can read online.

MDG. Oh sure. I have a few up on the Abandoned Towers web site. Rope and Wire has one of my stories posted. I think some should be available at Golden Visions. I usually have something up on The Daily Discord and Innsmouth Free Press. Also the Jack Primus blog and the Shovel thread on SFReader are updated weekly.

M. What authors inspire you and why?

MDG. Many authors inspire me. Jack Vance comes to mind. His use of language and dialog never ceases to amaze me. HP Lovecraft for his holistic approach to the totality of horror and evil. Michael Moorcock has inspired my series, by breaking rules. His characters jump from series to series, story lines spill over. Imagining a conflict that can span different series of books has inspired me a great deal. I like to think that he build the foundation I am currently using for my various series. Lastly when it comes to heroes like Jack, Robert E. Howard was certainly inspiring. His heroes never gave up. When confronted with horror that is only two options, one can give up and die, or one can forget all the rules and fight with whatever you have. The list could go on, but this is a good start.

M. If you could be a cartoon character who would it be?

MDG. I tend to become Daffy Duck when confronted by serious problems. There has been a few times I’ve fled from scenes of trouble going Wop, wop, wop-wop, wop, while dodging people and furniture.

Thank you for the interview, Mike.


To purchase your very own copy of 'The Chronicles of Jack Primus' go here http://www.amazon.com/Chronicles-Jack-Primus-Book/dp/1935458434/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1273547814&sr=8-1

And if you want to read more about Jack's adventures then go here http://jackprimus.wordpress.com/

Friday

The Novelist

Lenny the lifeguard gives sympathy to the grieving family, yet Lenny has no need to feel remorse, it was worthwhile watching their daughter gasp for air as he held her under water.

He finishes the final chapter and thinks about his next novel…

‘Being a serial killer sounds much more entertaining, always hated lifeguards anyway.‘