Sunday, March 25, 2007

Interview With Diablo Swing Orchestra

Combining Metal and Classical with Swing, the Diablo Swing Orchestra is nothing like you've ever heard before. So it was pretty cool to be able to interview their guitarist and vocalist, Daniel Hakansson.

How did you come up with the name Diablo Swing Orchestra?

The name is just a version of the band our ancestors played in. They were called “the devil’s orchestra” and the name Diablo Swing Orchestra comes from that.

How did you get the idea for "Balrog Boogie"?

We wanted something that acknowledged our roots and what music we enjoy but at the same time sounded new and fresh. The final sound of the song came together in the studio though.

How influential has SF, Fantasy, and Horror been to your music, and how influential do you think it has been to music in general?

Not too much for us actually, we tend to get the inspiration other sides of life when it comes to the music. However, for the genre in general I think it’s has made a great impact, especially for the lyrics and images.

Where do you see the blending of Classical with Rock and Metal going in the near future?

We think there are too many bands copying each other and using the same bricks over and over to build their songs. The audience need something new for the genre to stay vital and interesting and that’s where we come in ;)

What's in the future for Diablo Swing Orchestra?

A new record, a video for "Balrog Boogie" and lots and lots of gigs.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Interview With Robert Dunbar

I got a chance to interview playwright and author, Robert Dunbar. We discuss the art and business end of writing as well as his books and upcoming projects.

What are The Pines and The Shore about?

Tell me you haven't heard about the Jersey Devil. On second thought, don't tell me that. And, no, it's not a cocktail. (Well, it is, but that's another story.) It's a rather terrifying bit of folklore about a feral creature, born of a witch, who haunts the pinelands of New Jersey. You've got to love these stories. Anybody who grew up in this area was virtually raised on them. The same goes for anyone who ever went camping around here as a kid or ever vacationed at any of the shore towns. Wild stories. And people totally believe. To this day. The Jersey Devil lives!

Which is more fun to write: novels or short stories?

Are you on drugs or something? Who said either was fun? This is hard work. Any real artist mines his psyche for raw material, then chisels away at in a frenzy, fashioning this complex matrix of plot and character, of nuance and atmosphere. Just on the level of sheer language it must be brilliant. Or why should anyone read your work? Sorry - didn't mean to get heated, but I feel quite passionately about this. "Fun" is not an issue, though sometimes there's a kind of savage joy that accompanies the act of creation. Do you understand what I'm saying? I mean, yes, the horror genre is glutted with hacks, grinding it out like sausages. But there are real artists laboring in the field as well. I swear, it's the difference between making love and masturbating. Art is about truth. And truth is hard work. A writer who's just jerking off is also jerking around his readers. Who needs it? Wait ... what was the question? Something about short stories versus novels? Lord, they're both so different. I've also written for television and the stage. All these venues - they have almost nothing in common. The only consistent factor is what throbs in your chest. Or wherever. You know? The force that impels you to create in the first place?

What are the most effective promotion methods for novels, and how many of them can be applied to short fiction also?

Most effective? You mean, do readings and signings work? Of course they work. Everything works. A little. But it's a long process. Listen. Here's the point - you've got to be out there pitching all the time. All the time. So many writers hate the whole self-marketing thing. And rightly so. We are by nature quiet, thoughtful, introspective people - at our best in a blue heat of concentration in total isolation. Standing in front of a crowd and talking about our work goes completely totally against the grain. But this is a fiercely competitive environment, and there are people out there - dreadful hacks many of them - hawking their wares at the top of their lungs on every street corner. Artists get lost in the shuffle. Publishers, editors, agents - faced with a choice between a brilliant unknown writer and a terrible one who calls lots of attention to himself ... well, what decision do you think they're going to make? These are business people after all, and excellence isn't even a criteria. See what I mean? It's tough for an artist to survive in a world full of salesmen. But if you have talent, real talent, plus a passion for the work and a commitment to the craft, you also have an obligation to play the game. And in many ways, this is worse than ever right now. Don't you ever wonder how some of the junk out there gets published in the first place? With so many agents expecting authors to pledge their own money for marketing, even previously reputable companies are turning into vanity presses. No wonder there's a glut on the market. Okay, I'll chill out. Wait. Deep cleansing drinks. There. Much better. Of course, marketing applies to short story writers as well. Lately, I'm seeing a lot more writers signing copies of magazines or title pages in anthologies. On a couple of occasions, I've even organized group readings. The important thing is to be out there doing it.

What's your favorite type of music and how helpful has it been to your writing?

I listen to music constantly when I'm writing. Often it helps take me to that higher state I need to achieve. And I listen to everything. Well, almost everything. I mean, no Black Sabbath. Sorry. But everything from Moby to Cibo Matto to Billie Holiday. Then I have manias that come and go - whole weeks where I listen to nothing but Stan Getz or Chet Baker. A month of Joshua Bell and Jacqueline du Pré leads into a Louis Armstrong marathon. Then there are those days when only Madeleine Peyroux keeps me grounded. And I can't even tell you how many times Annie Lennox has saved my life.

What are your future plans?

I think I'd like to be a professional ice skater. Or possibly train tarantulas for jungle pictures. Maybe I'll just continue writing. Both The Pines and The Shore have made quite an impact. In the months ahead, Delirium Books will be bringing out my first collection of short stories -Martyrs & Monsters. And I'm always being asked to contribute to magazines and anthologies. Plus I'm working on a new novel, a new play, a screenplay. I've got proposals for anthologies and nonfiction books out there circulating, even one for a television series. The only thing I haven't scheduled for the future is free time. Remember free time? Never mind. I doubt I'd know what to do with it.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Interview With Shaun Farrell

I had the pleasure of interviewing SF author, interviewer, and podcaster Shaun Farrell, host of the podcast, Adventures in Scifi Publishing. Enjoy!

What is Adventures in Scifi Publishing about?

Adventures in Scifi Publishing is my podcast about the publishing industry. I tend to focus on science fiction and fantasy themes, since those are my loves. Each show features interviews with writers, editors, and other publishing experts. I've been very lucky so far, as I have had the chance to feature Ray Bradbury, Dan Simmons, David Weber, R.A. Salvatore and many other bestselling authors. Future episodes will feature Robert J. Sawyer and Kim Stanley Robinson, among many others. I also love getting new writers on the show, like Brandon Sanderson. Anyone interested can learn more about the show by visiting

I noticed you're doing a paudio reading of The Silk Code by Paul Levinson.

Yes! The Silk Code won the Locus Award for Best First Novel in 1999, and I'm pleased to have the chance to adapt it for podcast distribution. I've known Paul Levinson for about a year now. He is a big supporter of creative commons, and he has several podcasts of his own. So, when I approached him about doing The Silk Code, he was all for it. It's been a good experience, though, I'll admit, even more work than I expected! And it seems to have been received well, as it's been the most downloaded novel on for about 2 weeks straight. More information on that is available at, and folks can subscribe (for free, of course!) at

What is your short story "Conversion" about?

"Conversion" was a short story published in Issue 13 of Ray Gun Revival Magazine, and it follows a dysfunctional group as they try to escape NET, Nano Engineered Transhumans. I wanted to write a fun piece with quirky characters that had strong pacing. Also, I wanted it to have a space opera flare, since I had never written a space opera story before. So, in a lot of ways, I was experimenting and trying new things. It seemed to work for the folks at Ray Gun, for which I'm grateful, and I've actually received several emails from readers requesting a sequel. That has been very cool.

What's the best music you've heard on podcasts, and what's your opinions on the more stringent DRM/Copyright Laws certain companies have been lobbying for?

You know, I don't listen to any podcast about music. While I enjoy music, I'm very picky about what I like, and I don't have the tolerance or the time to search much. I tend to wait for recommendations from friends. I like the music in my podcasts! And J.C. Hutchin's 7th Son novels have great theme music. But besides that, not much.

As far as DRM/Copyright laws, that's a tough one as I'm not sure exactly to what you're referring. In general, I believe in copyright very strongly, but I think artists are the ones who should have the right to decide if their music can be used or not. It makes sense to allow your music to be used, for how can a potential listener know if she likes a certain band unless she can hear that band? Music labels have a tendency towards being evil, from what I've read and heard concerning this issue, so I'm not supporting everything they do. But I do believe that podcasters should follow the law.

What are your favorite bands?

My favorite rock band, hands down, is Collective Soul. I've been a fan since high school, but never so big as now. While most of their hits came in the late 90s, their last 2 albums, Youth and Home, were very solid. I also like U2, Lifehouse, some Better Than Ezra. But I mostly listen to soundtracks. I collect John Williams scores, and I absolutely love the Battlestar Galactica music scored by Bear McCreary. Those two composers are both geniuses.

What direction do you think podcasting will go in the future? And what's up in your nearest future?

Podcasting is just scratching the surface of its potential. Only 1 percent of internet users actually listen to podcasts, so the audience growth will continue to be staggering. People get hung up on the technology. When words like "RSS" and "podcatcher" and "feed" get thrown around, people tune out (no pun intended), think it's complicated, not for them. Of course, listening to podcasts is quite easy, and if every listener brings just one friend into the fold, well, the numbers climb pretty quickly.

As for me, well, I have a number of very cool things happening. I can't say anything about the biggest of them. It's too soon for that. But if things go well, and if I have a little luck, my life could be drastically changing. I'll be less cryptic when I'm given permission to let that metaphorical cat out of its bag! For now I'll keep on podcasting, writing and acting. And I encourage your readers to either look me up on Myspace or visit my website at

America's Last Days by Douglas MacKinnon

In the very near future the U.S.A. has ceased to become the nation intended by the Founding Fathers. The People have become complacent, decadent, and lazy. The Presidential Candidacy has become little more than a popularity contest of the worst kind, and the military is less effective than it had been since before Pearl Harbor. And that's just a drop in the bucket.

So some of the most powerful men and women in the country has decided it's time to revolt, and the spark ignites with the plans of the "1776 Command", a crack-team of the best at destabilizing countries. But can the revolt succeed, and what sacrifices must be made?

The plot is frightening yet so true to the direction our country is currently headed. That alone makes the novel worth reading whether you're a Conservative, Liberal, Libertarian, or Moderate. MacKinnon has a good grasp of all the elements required for a good political thriller, and his book is one I recommend reading at least twice.

Mass Market Paperback: 338 pages
Publisher: Leisure Books (January 2, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0843958022
ISBN-13: 978-0843958027
List Price: $7.99