Archive for October, 2011

Niteblade Contributor Interview with Jonathan Pinnock

On this Halloween I’m happy to present you with an interview with Jonathan Pinnock. I hope you find Jonathan as engaging as I did.
Jonathan Pinnock
When did you first recognize yourself as a writer?


I’m still working on it. But I think the point at which I began to think I might be able to recognize myself as a writer was when I heard I’d been shortlisted for an open competition (the 2007 University of Hertfordshire Creative Writing Awards).


What draws you to speculative fiction?


I think it’s the freedom to go anywhere you want, so that you can take an interesting idea to its logical conclusion and then go a bit beyond that.


Is there a piece of writing advice you’ve never followed?


Loads. Particularly stuff to do with being disciplined and writing so many words every day, that kind of thing. I’m pretty chaotic about when I write and I tend to need a good deadline to focus my mind.


In the December 2008 issue of Niteblade, Rhonda chose to publish your story, “An Unsuitable Replacement“.  Is there a story behind how it came about?


As it happens, there is. I originally wrote it during a charity write-a-thon I took part in back in late 2007. The way this worked was that a list of prompts were published every hour, on the hour, and you had an hour in which to write something based on a selection of those prompts.

I can therefore tell you quite precisely that “An Unsuitable Replacement” was written between the hours of 8PM and 9PM GMT on Thursday November 15th, 2007, using the prompts “I took my looks for granted” and “My body is wearing out”.

Apart from changing the title (it was originally called “A Matter of Life and Death”, I don’t think I did a lot of further editing before submitting it to Niteblade.
 Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens  by Jonathan Pinnock
What have you been working on lately?


My first novel “Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens” was published by Proxima Books, an imprint of Salt Publishing, on September 1st, so I’ve been spending a fair amount of time lately promoting that. I’ve also been writing a few short stories and working on a Big New Project that I’m going to keep under my hat until I’m sure it’s going to fly.


Is there anything else you’d like to share with Niteblade’s readers?


Well, here’s the website for “Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens”:, and here’s a spoof Wikipedia I’ve put together to give a bit of unreliable background information: Here’s my writing website:, and you can follow me on Twitter as @jonpinnock. You can also follow Mrs Darcy on Twitter as @RealMrsDarcy.

Niteblade Contributor Interview with Megan Arkenberg

Megan Arkenberg’s stories and poems have appeared in multiple publications. She’s a magazine editor too. I can’t help but think she’s somehow managed to add an extra ten hours into the day. You can visit her on the web at

When did you first recognize yourself as a writer?

I was in first grade. We were writing stories about superhero potatoes. My teacher was hard-core impressed by the phrase “as a tear rolled down her cheek,” which I must have
picked up from a book somewhere. That was the day I declared myself “good at writing.”

I didn’t become serious about being a writer until junior high, when we were required to take keyboarding classes. Suddenly, drafting stories stopped being a frustrating rush to record my ideas before I forgot them completely; for the first time, I could get words on “paper” as quickly as they sprung into my head. I’m sure I annoyed everyone around me with my insistence that I was an “author” and my lengthy descriptions of my novels-in-progress until my sophomore year of high school, when my stories finally started getting published.

Ironically, though learning to type was what made me confident about writing in the first place, I’ve recently returned to drafting with pen and paper—it forces me to slow down and pay attention to my sentences!


What draws you to speculative fiction?

Something’s a little screwy in my brain’s wiring, I think. It never comes up with ideas like “high school athlete loses scholarship after drunken party results in manslaughter charge.” No, it suggests things like “girl trains ravens to attack zombies,” or “woman is murdered on page 217 of an obscure poet’s biography.”

I also like the way secondary worlds can reject the historical second-class place of women, people of color, and people who live outside of accepted gender norms. Real Victorian women may have been encouraged to stay in the home, but there’s no reason my female steampunk hero has to put up with that kind of nonsense! Sometimes, I just want to enter a safe space, where I can play dress-up with historical settings without dealing with depressing historical mind-sets. Secondary world speculative fiction lets me do that.


Is there a piece of writing advice you’ve never followed?

I’ve never understood the general animosity towards adverbs. Some writers claim that all adverbs can be replaced by stronger verbs, but I think that’s nonsense. There’s a world of difference between “whispering” and “speaking quietly.” “Running” and “walking briskly” are two different actions. There is no good verb for “fiercely unhooking her necklace.” Of course, it is possible to use too many adverbs, just as it’s possible to use too many adjectives, or too many nouns. But stripping a story to the bare minimum of
adverbs isn’t always necessary or desirable.


In the September 2010 issue of Niteblade, Rhonda chose to publish your story, “Rosewinter“.  Is there a story behind how it came about?

I read a story in an anthology—I don’t remember which, and to be honest, I’d prefer not to remember—about a girl who received a magical rose from her magical
adventuring lover every winter. This irked me incredibly. He’s off having marvelous adventures, and she (and the reader) is stuck at home, waiting for a silly rose! If they missed each other so much, why couldn’t she go adventuring with him?

That became the core idea of “Rosewinter”—why might one lover hide her adventurous life from the other? What dark secrets could that innocent gift, a winter rose, be hiding?

I wish I could remember where I got the idea for the braided chronology, past-present-past-present-future-present-future. I’ve always enjoyed playing with the way I tell my stories; this is most obvious in “Rosewinter” and in one of my other favorite short stories, “The Copperroof War.”


What have you been working on lately?

The combined influence of John Milton and the Book of Enoch has resulted in a lot of angel-and-demon stories recently. For some reason (I blame my screwy brain-wiring), these same stories also include a lot of heavy machinery: trains, wind turbines, warships and dirigibles. I also find myself writing more present-day stories, populated by people in jeans and tee-shirts instead of corsets and waistcoats, though most of these stories still have otherworldly settings—places ruled by tribes of zombies or metal angels, trains that run by themselves or hoard treasure like dragons.


Is there anything else you’d like to share with Niteblade’s readers?

I love getting feedback—I think most beginning writers do. Even if it’s just “funny story” or “I liked the part where the guy choked on a fishbone” or “I still don’t understand why Susan married the goldfish,” it tells me someone actually read and paid attention to the story. My e-mail address is –I promise I don’t bite!

I’d also like to plug my two e-zines, Mirror Dance (fantasy of all flavors!) and Lacuna (historical fiction, alternate history, and speculative fiction with a historical setting).

Poetry Anthology Update

Alexa and I had been hoping to respond to all submissions to the poetry anthology by October 15th, but there is a significant quantity of high-quality submissions to go through so we may need a little longer than that. We are working through them as quickly as we can while still giving each piece a fair assessment. Honest.

All other submissions may also have slightly longer wait times than usual.

Niteblade Contributor Interview with Jacinta Butterworth

Today’s interview is with Jacinta Butterworth, a short story writer, who is someone you should keep your eye on. She’s been nominated or short listed for several prizes and I’m certain we’ll be hearing more about her work.

When did you first recognize yourself as a writer?


I don’t think I do. I was first published in 2006. After all this time I still tend to think of myself as somebody who writes, rather than a writer. Not that  there’s really a difference. It’s just that when I think of a writer I think of  somebody who writes all the time or has had a book published or gets paid  decently for their work. Maybe I’m just scared of taking myself seriously because then I can actually fail. Not that I can’t fail anyway. (In the back of my head there’s always this little voice whispering if I don’t believe I’m a  writer I’ll never be one. Too much Oprah I guess.)


What draws you to speculative fiction?


Speculative fiction lets me write about the real world in a creative way. For me, the best speculative fiction is written for young adults. I love The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan and Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater.


Is there a piece of writing advice you’ve never followed?


Never use the second person. There was a time when I was obsessed  with it. In fact, my mantra was always use the second person. What else? Research publishers and publications fastidiously before you submit your work. Obviously I believe in researching publishers and publications generally but I try not to set my heart on one in particular before I submit my work. I’m a fan of the ‘shotgun approach’ – sending my work out far and wide with the belief I’ll get a hit sooner or later.


In the December 2010 issue of Niteblade, Rhonda chose to publish your story, “Love Affair“.  Is there a story behind how it came about?


“Love Affair” was the first story I ever had published. I wrote the story when I was about sixteen (I’m now twenty-four). I redrafted it and redrafted it before submitting it. I was super excited when cOck accepted the story for publication – not only was I going to be getting paid but the editors had  decided to use it to promote the anthology. The story later received an honourable mention in the best horror short story category at the 2006 Aurealis Awards. Finally, it was reprinted in Niteblade and nominated for the 2010 Pushcart Prize. I’m proud of it. It was a good first (and how often can you say that?).


What have you been working on lately?


I have been redrafting a handful of stories, writing a new one and looking forward to editing a young adult book I wrote last year.


Is there anything else you’d like to share with Niteblade’s readers?


One of my horror short stories was shortlisted for the 2010 Wet Ink Short Story Competition. You can read it here: