Writers on Lockdown: Logan Ryan Smith

Logan Ryan Smith writes dark, disorientating, and highly imaginative streams of consciousness with a unique sense of humour and madness. In the third of this new series, I caught up with him to talk about isolation, the flow of writing, and the unreliable narrator.


Hi Logan, welcome to Writers on Lockdown!

Hi, C.R. Thanks for the invite to participate. Very happy to be a part of this.

How are you faring in these strange times, is isolation a help or a hindrance to your creative process?

Outside of the occasional moment of being overwhelmed emotionally by the terror and beauty of a whole planet trying to achieve something together, in unison, not only for themselves, but for their families, neighbors, and those workers out in public selflessly providing essential services for the rest of us, I guess you could say I’m doing quite well, actually. As I’m betting you’ll hear from most writers, I’m not incredibly social. I’m not antisocial, but the things writers like doing (reading and writing) are things done in isolation already, so it’s not a huge disruption to my life. And I’m in isolation with my favorite people, my family, so why would I complain? So, we’re taking this lockdown very seriously and fortunately they’re like me — not super social. I guess we were all homebodies to begin with, so we’re not dealing with the same stress as those that have a real need to be out and about with bunches of people. So it goes.

As for the creative process, I guess it has stymied it. I usually take a break after releasing a new book, but I likely would have begun a new one by now had this whole thing not happened. I am fine with (some) isolation, but I actually do a lot of my writing out of the house. That’s mostly due to not having any kind of writing studio in our house, which means the kids would be asking every five seconds what I’m doing, what my book is about, and if they can help me write it. But when I say, “Sure. Tell me how many S’s there are in ‘occasional.’ I can’t remember,” they just give me blank expressions and start hitting the keyboard, laughing madly like a couple tiny maniacs. It’s frightening. You should see it.  That said, even if I get my writing studio with a door that locks (we’re going to try to convert the garage during this time of lockdown), the six-year-old is already a master lock-picker. So we’ll see how that goes.

Aside from needing space, I’m also not the type to write when my mind is completely occupied by something other than the thing I’m writing at the moment. I turn on the news every morning, hoping against hope that the death and infection rates are slowing, and as yet, it seems to only be increasing. Hard for me to think about my next book when that’s how the day starts. Then of course there’s getting used to working from home. So, sitting all day in the house on the computer for the day job makes it a little daunting. I mean, to basically “clock out” of the day job without having gone anywhere and then to simply “clock in” to the writing job is an abrupt change in gears and I’m much better working when there’s more of a transition from one thing to the next. I hate abruptly changing gears.

All THAT said, the itch to write is a lifelong affliction, and that has returned. I’m ready to get rolling. What that will likely do is inspire me to get to work converting the garage ASAP. So, long story short, this whole crisis has affected me by inspiring me to do some home renovation. Who’d a thunk it?

Continue reading “Writers on Lockdown: Logan Ryan Smith”

Writers on Lockdown: Gavin Jefferson

Gavin Jefferson is a multi-genre author, spanning time travel, fantasy, humour, and the paranormal. In the second of this new series of interviews, I caught up with him to chat about isolation, trigger warnings, categorisation, and the impact of comic books on his work.


Hi Gavin, welcome to Writers on Lockdown!

Thanks for having me, I love this idea! 

So, how’s this crazy situation been for you so far – do you find isolation a help or a hindrance as a writer?

I find it okay, to be honest. Although I work in an office full of people in my day job, I tend to live there in my own world, with over-ear headphones and music. You might say that I’ve been prepping myself for this for quite some time, ha ha! 

I tend to do most of my writing on my lunch breaks or late at night, so because I’ve been lucky enough to have the ability to work from home, I’m getting roughly the same amount of writing done. One thing I didn’t expect from the lockdown is how it has made me look at my work in a different light.

Really? In what way?

Well, it’s forced me to consider theme and story setups more. I’m a firm believer in trigger warnings, but I never really considered pandemics as triggering events. I know, for me at least, I don’t want to read anything relating to that right now. And I don’t think I’ll want to in the near future, either. To think I intended to reread Station Eleven this year, too.

Take The Surrogate, for instance. That’s the story of the world’s last obese man. The way I eradicated obesity in that book was to have the worldwide governments band together secretly and have them release a virus into their respective drinking water sources, altering everyone’s genetics. It felt like something only bigger people, like me, might be offended by. And, to be honest, I thought the presence of that potential trigger would be clear from the synopsis. But, the virus idea… I hadn’t even considered it. I put a tweet out prior to the lockdown telling people not to read the book, or to take care with it if they did. The last thing I want is to upset people. I mean, it’ll happen whether I want it to or not, I guess. But, I’d rather present the warnings upfront and have a clear conscience about it than not.

I jokingly said that there would be an influx of pandemic-related fiction over the next decade, but now that I think of it, there probably will be, right? This’ll be taught in schools, at the very least.

Continue reading “Writers on Lockdown: Gavin Jefferson”

Vast…

I’m thrilled to tell you that the very first anthology from Orchid’s Lantern is due for publication on 28th February 2020! Vast: Stories of Mind, Soul and Consciousness in a Technological Age has been in the works for the last few months, and it’s looking better than we ever expected.

We asked authors to think about the relationship that current and imagined tech has with the human psyche. Does it change us, or do we change it? How might such a relationship develop in the future, and what could the unexpected consequences be?

The resulting submissions were fascinating, and we have pulled together the very best we could find to make this exciting, thought-provoking volume.

Some stories border on the fantastical in their scope, while others paint a picture of a world we recognise. We have pieces that explore the relationship between social media, marketing and consciousness. We have extrapolations of quantum physics and what we know about the dreaming mind. we have dramatic life extensions, 3D printed medical care, DNA splicing and artificial biology aiding environmental recovery. And, at the heart of all this, we have a careful appreciation that science remains humble in the face of our inner mysteries.

The contributors and their stories are:

Stephen Oram – Chimy and Chris

J.R. Staples-Ager – Little Thief

Thomas Cline – Limited Infinity

Vaughan Stanger – Dreamtime

Sergio ‘ente per ente’ Palumbo – The Weight of Your Mind

Jonathan D. Clark – The Video

Ellinor Kall – The DreamCube Thread

Ava Kelly – Luz Beyond the Glass

Peter Burton – Every Aspect of Every Recollection

Juliane Graef – Ancestors

Vast is available to pre-order right now from most bookstores, both online and on the high street. The Kindle edition can be found here, with versions for other e-readers being rolled out over the next few days. You can also get the paperback edition right here on Orchid’s Lantern.

New Science fiction anthology Vast

An Interlude

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I thought since I have come out of hibernation, it might be a good time to tell you about a few things I’ve got going on. As I don’t do this too often, you could consider it a bumper newsletter! Here goes:
Writing

While giving the draft of my novel, The Enlightenment Machine, some space to breathe, I ended up plotting and starting to write another in the same world. Technically it tells the story of events preceding The Enlightenment Machine, so working on that has given me a good idea of what needs changing on the first for consistency and a stronger story arc. I also have a vague idea for how a third might go, so it’s looking like this might be a trilogy. I know how to set my targets high, that’s for sure!

Despite aiming to complete some longer works, I still love writing short fiction. I have so many ideas for new stories; if I stopped giving them a platform, they’d sneak their way into the novels and that would get messy fast. So, as well as the standalone pieces I post on the blog, I am working on a new collection. It’s going well so far, and I have plans to release it at the end of summer. This time it will be completely new material. These stories are a little longer than my usual flash – in the region of 2,000 words each – and have a running theme and a thread connecting them all. I’m really excited about it and can’t wait to tell you more.
Editing

I’ve done more beta reads over the last couple of months, as well as some full critiques and editing jobs. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the latter. They have been a great exercise in improving my craft as well as hopefully helping others. I look forward to doing more of this sort of thing. Thank you also to those who are helping me to see my own blindspots.
Fragments of Perception

Fragments of Perception has been out for 4 months now and I am thrilled with how well it is doing. Thank you so much to everyone who has bought a copy and recommended it to your friends. I have 7 reviews on Amazon and 8 on Goodreads, all claiming the book was thought-provoking and unusual, most giving 5 stars.

If you have read the book, please do consider leaving a review as they make a huge difference to indie authors. If you haven’t read the book yet, you can find the full blurb and buying options here.
Book Reviews

My ‘to read’ pile (OK, bookcase) is still ever-growing, but I do love to have unread books around me; I find it inspiring. I’ve just finished Otherworlds by David Luke, and have started on Narrative Machines by James Curcio. The new Borne story by Jeff Vandermeer also just arrived on my desk, along with Brett Anderson’s memoir Coal Black Mornings.

I have decided to lose the ‘marks out of ten’ method for rating books here on the blog in favour of letting readers make their own decision from the words I use. I want Orchid’s Lantern reviews to be respected for their in-depth and well-rounded approach, and I think the score being so prominent was going against that a little. I may still use the traditional 1-5 stars in the footer if people prefer that?

I am open to review requests, but they must be within my genre interests for fiction (metaphysical, sci-fi, fantasy, weird) or for non-fiction (philosophy, psychology, mysticism). As always, I will give a full review to anything that gives me enough to say without spoilers, and a ‘group spot’ for brief reviews of everything else.
Orchid’s Lantern

I have been thinking about where I want to go next with Orchid’s Lantern, and it seems that the natural progression would be to invite guests to share stories and reviews on the blog. I am still working out the details of this, but watch this space if that sounds like it could be of interest to you.
Virtual Futures

On 20th February the first Virtual Futures Near-Future Fiction event of the year took place at Library London. Geoff Ryman was guest speaker, and several other authors were in attendance (including me) to share their fictional interpretations of the future of disease. I’m not a public speaker, so thankfully the organisers paired me up with a talented actress who read my story Toxic Duck Inc to the live audience. It was a great venue, a great bunch of people, and a very high standard of writing. I was honoured to be involved. Recordings of all of the stories will be soon available to view on the Virtual Futures YouTube channel, which is well worth checking out anyway.

If you are local and missed this event, the next one is happening on 20th March. The theme will be Virtual Persons, and I have another brand new story called The Test which will be featured. Tickets are available now from Eventbrite.

And that’s it for now. It sounds like there’s a lot going on, and there is, but I’m loving every minute of it. The light is coming back and I’ve found my most productive rhythm – dream and draft in the morning, edit and proof in the afternoon.

I love to hear your comments, so please do keep interacting on the page and anywhere else you can find me. I am on Facebook, but I’m a bit more active on Twitter.

A Chaotic Mind

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My notebook has notebooks inside it!

A chaotic notebook has unfortunately led to a chaotic mind, and last week I had to take some time out from my writing projects to put everything into some semblance of order. I could really do with one of those meta-grids I imagined in Bottled Up… Anyway, I have now devised a set of symbols to help me find things more easily in my journals without losing the spontaneity of mixing up inspiring quotes with research, plotting, prose, and general thoughts about life. I have lists, spreadsheets and trackers; and a (slightly) less cluttered piece of consciousness.

So, as you know, Fragments of Perception has been released into the world. A big thank you to everyone who has bought it so far! I do have a favour to ask: if you have read the book, would you consider posting a short review on Amazon and/or Goodreads? It would mean a lot to me. Alternatively, if you are a book blogger, perhaps you would write a review here on WordPress?

The road to indie publishing has been interesting and challenging: I have loved every minute of it. I know more than ever that this is the path I wish to take, and am excited to now be working on the next book. Right now I’m busy researching subjects as far-ranging as the mid-Atlantic ridge, Greek mythology, and VR therapy. I’m also writing for an anthology, and throwing around some ideas for a collaborative project. All of this inevitably steals from what used to be blogging time, but the truth is I need to keep writing flash fiction to release those smaller, short-term creative echoes. It may be a juggling act, but I fully intend to keep posting new content and I won’t keep you hanging for the next instalment of The Holly King’s Apprentice much longer!

One more thing: this week I will be doing an interview about Fragments of Perception for an online author’s site, and I thought it might be fun to do one here too. If anyone has any questions for me about the stories, process, forthcoming work or even me as an author, please pop them in the comments or email me at orchidslantern@gmail.com and, providing there is enough interest, I will compile them into a special post in the next week or so.

Thanks everyone!

***

Fragments of Perception and Other Stories is available in paperback and ebook now! For a synopsis and purchasing options, please visit my Books page.

Psst!

Just a quick post to let you know that Amazon have released Fragments of Perception and Other Stories early! You can buy it on their UK, US and individual European sites right now. The ebook will be available on 4th November as planned.

Orchid's Lantern blog C.R. Dudley author

I also received my stock today, so signed copies are ready to send out in the morning.

Thank you to all my lovely WordPress friends for your support on this project, I mean it when I say I wouldn’t have done it without you.

Happy Halloween, Happy Samhain everybody!

Why I am Going Indie

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I was having coffee with a friend the other day, and of course I told her all about the book I am about publish. “Oh, but why not try to get a proper publishing deal before you do that?” she said. I told her I wasn’t interested in that route, and she quickly responded with “don’t put yourself down: you never know unless you try.” I assured her that this was a positive decision I was making, and nothing to do with being under-confident. Her response? “Well I suppose at least a proper publisher might see what you do and pick you up later.” My friend’s perspective is not an uncommon one; I have come across many others who think I am somehow selling myself short by ‘settling’ for publishing independently. So in this post I want to explain why it is my first choice to put my book out this way, without ever having sent off a single query letter.

Continue reading “Why I am Going Indie”

500

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August might have been my worst month yet in terms of writing new blog posts, but on the 27th – my birthday – I woke up to the good news that 500 of you now follow Orchid’s Lantern. I am honoured to know so many people are enjoying my little stories, articles and book reviews; thank you!

Fragments of Perception and Other Stories is now in the safe hands of a few trusty beta readers, the cover is out for design, and all being well it will be published in early November in paperback and ebook. I have some work to do with my website next: I’m going to attempt to move over to my own domain. Hopefully this won’t cause any disruption on WordPress but I’ve never done this before…

Apart from that, I am looking forward to continuing work on The Enlightenment Machine, and what I am now referring to as its prequel, The Tale of Dr Hertz. I also have outlines for two non fiction books, but I’m not sure where they’re going to fit into the schedule yet. Despite all of this, I do now have time to start blogging properly again, so you can expect brand new stories to start arriving in your inbox again very shortly.

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You can now follow me on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates on my progress and inspirations. I’d love to see you there!

Progress

C R Dudley Author - Orchid's Lantern

Exciting things are happening behind the scenes at Orchid’s Lantern!

I have finally decided to independently publish under the name C R Dudley: some of you have already noticed I’ve started changing my social media accounts to reflect this. Orchid’s Lantern will be the name of my publisher and I’m having a logo designed for it, which will appear on the back of my books and my website. 

I am currently editing and compiling a selection of flash fiction for my first official publication. I expect there will be 30 – 35 stories included, many of which have already featured here on my blog but some are brand new. I am working with the title Fragments of Perception which I believe captures the essence of my work, what do you think? I’d also be interested to learn from my regular readers what genre you would describe my stories as? This could play an important part in how I present them.

Once the editing is complete in about a months’ time I will be looking for a couple of beta readers to look over the collection with a critical eye. If you’d be interested in doing this, please drop an email to orchidslantern@gmail.com so we can discuss. I will gladly return the favour if anyone is in need.  

My novel is progressing and about to enter a second draft stage. This will involve a fair amount of re-writing from the first draft as I now have a stronger, clearer idea of what needs to happen to achieve my vision. I’m working under the title The Enlightenment Machine for this. Broadly, it is about a man taking part in experimental therapy living underground with similarly afflicted individuals. The world he is exploring is changing his outlook but something unknown is slipping through the cracks that no one is yet equipped to deal with… 

Some of you may be pleased to know I have also done some more work on The Old Woman, The Stag, And Me (working title only as it’s grammatically incorrect among other things). Looking at the outline, I think this will likely end up at novelette length but could be slow progress as I am desperate to press on with the novel foremost. 

Lastly, I’ve written a couple more flash fiction pieces to submit to anthologies which I hope are fruitful.  

I hate to be creating new work and not sharing it straight away, but hopefully it will all be worth it. Once I have Fragments of Perception nailed, I will be back to putting my flash fiction straight onto the blog as it is ready. A big thank you once again to everyone who follows and interacts with this blog (almost 500 of you now!), your support is my confidence.

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