Interview with Author James Hanna

I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina because my father was a State Department officer. At the age of twenty-one, bored with my life in America, I dropped out of a Midwestern college, caught a freighter to Australia, and spent seven years roaming the continent. Returning to the United States, I served a stint in the Army and picked up a couple of degrees in criminology on the GI Bill. I spend twenty years as a counselor and program director in the Indiana Department of Corrections and recently retired from the San Francisco Probation Department where I was assigned to a domestic violence and stalking unit. Due to my background, the Australian Outback and the criminal element figure strongly in my writing.

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

My most popular book is Call Me Pomeroy. It’s about a narcissistic street musician on parole who joins the Occupy Oakland Movement and its sister movements in Europe. He does not join for political reasons but to get on television, attract an agent, and score a million-dollar recording contract for his music. The character, Pomeroy, is a consolidation of several criminal types I knew.     

Why do you write?

I write because it is necessary to me. If I don’t write, I feel as though my soul has become congested.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

I write every day for most of the day, taking occasional breaks to play tennis. I revise my work continuously, sometimes even after it has been published. I also run my work through my writing critique group.

How did you come up with the idea for your story “The Tallyman”?

When I was a San Francisco probation officer, I had a client who was on probation for stalking a famous movie actress. He was placed on probation after he showed up on a movie set in San Francisco where she was being filmed. I think he intended to kill her because he was carrying a sword. The stalker kept harassing the actress even after he was placed on probation, so I had to arrest him and put him in jail. When the actress did not come to court to testify, the stalker was released and started stalking me personally. Sadly, the San Francisco courts are not very effective in dealing with stalkers because the victims rarely show up to testify. Perturbed by this, I decided to write a story in which a stalker receives justice on a more ethereal plane.

In “The Tallyman”, the narrator references famous literary works several times. What is your background in literature? Did you read English and world lit just in college or do you read it often now? Is it a passion or a way to kill the time or somewhere in between?

I didn’t read much literature in college, but I read a lot of great books after dropping out, sometimes by campfire in the Australian Outback. I particularly like the classics because I’m not sure the best writing was done in more modern times. Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, and Homer will always be among my favorite writers.   

How much reading do you do? How necessary do you feel it is necessary for an author to read?

I read every evening. Television is okay, but I burn out on television after an hour or two, and then I pick up a book. It is vital for an author to read, and I would recommend that aspiring writers read like the wolf feeds.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

Yes, my critique group reviews my writing by checking it for content and grammar. An author can’t go it alone—he needs the help of others to get it right.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

My latest book, The Ping-Pong Champion of Chinatown, was just launched. This is a tale about a naïve young girl from backwoods Kentucky who leaves her dead-end town in search of fortune and love. She ends up getting into a bizarre series of misadventures, which includes starring on a foot fetish site in Los Angeles, hustling bets as a mechanical bull rider in Texas, and serving a stint in West Virginia’s Alderson Prison because she “trusted the wrong kind of fella.” Her ultimate mishap occurs after she seeks the ping-pong championship of San Francisco’s Chinatown—all while hiding out in the Witness Protection Program. The Ping-Pong Champion of Chinatown is a short, fun read.  

Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?

I have nothing scheduled at this time, but that is likely to change.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

I hope to write the best books and stories that I can and to market them effectively.

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

If you put your work out there for anyone to see, you have to expect hurtful reviews. These are usually written by mean-spirited people who have not read your book in-depth. Bad reviews can embitter a writer if he lets them, so he has to learn to shrug them off. He has to be able to tell himself that whoever wrote the review does not count. Occasionally, an author may glean something from a bad review, but I find this to have rarely been the case.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

Read in-depth, write continuously, and join a critique group. Also, learn how to market your books. If an author does not effectively promote his books, he will become the equivalent of a musician playing outside a subway station. No matter how well the musician plays, ninety-nine out of a hundred people will stroll on past him without giving him a second thought.   

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

Talent is important, but persistence is more important. There are countless people with the talent to write a book, but lack the persistence to do so. They let life get in their way to the point that their talents never come to fruition.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)

They can check out my books on Amazon. Here is the link: amazon.com/james-hanna.

Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?

Yes, I hope they enjoyed “The Tallyman.”


Interview with Author and Film/Video Game Producer Tim Carter

Tim says about his life:

“I was born and raised on the West Coast of Canada. Began writing professionally while still in graduate school and survived as a writer and editor ever since. I’m gradually morphed from corporate writing and magazine editing into screenplays, video games, and now fiction. I live in Vancouver, Canada, with a toe still in Los Angeles.”

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

I’m proud of my produced movies, but I would have to say the game Sleeping Dogs is my greatest source of pride. The production was very challenging but I love how it came out. Also it’s probably found the greatest worldwide audience. And many of the gangsters are named after friends and in-laws.

Why do you write?

I love storytelling. Also I’m crappy with numbers, so accountant was out of the question, I could never run for office and Canada already has enough hit men.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

Except during film production, I start writing every weekday at 9 AM and try to do at least 3 hours of solid creative work. Anything more is a bonus. Anything less is a problem. I have various friends and fellow writers who I exchange notes with. It various from medium to medium. My short stories were all workshopped on the Zoetrope website.

You have written numerous films and several large video games and only recently started exploring narrative fiction. What has the transition from films and games to stories been like so far for you? Have you faced any new challenges in writing narrative fiction?

I’ve found it very different but very rewarding. It’s fun to get inside your characters’ heads, which you can’t do in film. On the other hand, you have to make a lot more decisions about detail, description, etc. There’s no production team to back you up. In a film script I might write “He walks into the office. It’s a mess.” The rest is the set decorator’s problem. You can’t get away with that in fiction, but choosing where and how to be specific and detailed becomes a real challenge.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

Yes, I have a whole network of people. Different people review different types of writing. I try as hard as possible to have at least one expert read it, and at least a few women.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

My day to day work is in adapting video games. I’m working on several, but I can’t reveal specifics. The gaming industry cares a lot about confidentiality. I’m also working on a novel and a series of short stories that I hope will evolve into a collection or a longer work. It’s fantasy based, so look for it in a fantasy magazine near you soon.

Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?

Nothing during covid until my next film or tv project is announced. At that point I’m in the hands of (and at the mercy of) studio PR people.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

I love to tell stories and make people feel something. Could be fear, laughter, it really doesn’t matter. Some of my work has political points to get across. Hopefully at least one series lands on the air soon. Beyond that, a happy life and creative fulfillment. Whatever that means.

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

They suck. But they’re part of life in a creative field. You have to be zen and just move on, I think.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

Keep writing. Finish things. Send them out. Write some more. Build a community of fellow writers. Most of all, keep writing.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

I guess it depends on the story you’re telling. I don’t think you need much.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)

http://www.contradictionfilms.com


Interview with Author Titus Green

Titus, tell us a little something about yourself.

I was born in Canada in the early seventies and moved back to the UK with my parents at the age of two. I graduated with a degree in Communication Studies in 1993 and then, via the occupation of teaching English as a foreign language, went on a twenty- six year odyssey that had me residing in six different countries for extended periods. This overseas experience has educated me profoundly and provided the empirical basis for much of my writing. I wrote sporadically in my twenties and thirties, but didn’t have anything published until I was forty-two.

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

There are a few highlights I can think of. The first is a story called Odyssey of Tears, published originally in Sediments Literary Arts magazine in 2016, in which (I believe) I portray the colossal tragedy of Syria from 2011 onwards with the power and candor worthy of the subject matter. I am also proud of Quetzalcoatl Comet, published in The Collidescope in 2019, which was my attempt to capture the last delirious days of Aztec Emperor Moctezuma II, as the conquistadors closed in, in a magical realism style.  

Why do you write?

I write to interpret reality and deviate from it. I also write to express compelling, profound and sometimes uncomfortable truths about the human experience. I am most interested in humanity’s macro themes as subject matter.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

I am an undisciplined writer and my concentration span has lost many battles with YouTube and other digital narcotic dens. Don Delillo said: “As writers we spend our lifetime seeking solitude only to squander it” and this is uncomfortably true for me. I have no specific times set aside to write but try to sit down with a text I am working on for at least thirty minutes a day and read through it to make refinements. I’ve never finished a work in one sitting and rarely write for longer than one hour. I simply don’t have the stamina or will-power and can only marvel at the Zen-like focus of the literary masters of the past (Tolstoy and Dostoevsky come to mind) who could commit hours in the chair and produce monumental 800 page novels.

My stories can either be more or less finished articles in one draft or go through several iterations, changing from one submission to the next. My stories rarely have uniform creative processes.

Your story “The Liminal Lure” alludes to Franz Kafka in places. How much of a role has Kafka played in your life so that you decided to have him play a part in this story?  Have you read a lot of Kafka? Has he influenced your worldview a lot? What do you find fascinating about him? What do you think he would think of the 21st century?

I first read The Trial as a callow eighteen year old for my English Literature classes at my local college in Torquay, South Devon where I grew up. Initially, I wasn’t exactly knocked out by the terse, laconic style of the narrative, the bleakness of the setting or the rather enigmatic characters who seemed to have limited internal worlds. There was Joseph K, summoned randomly by court bureaucrats and kept in the dark regarding his ‘crime’ etc. With my immature mind and zero life experience, I just didn’t have the lived knowledge required to discover the novel’s brilliant meaning. In this novel Kafka is showing us that the power-holding institutions of the world are inaccessible because they are occult and occulted. If you don’t have the password, don’t have the connections or haven’t been initiated, then you simply don’t get a look in. This is why K is doomed never to reach the ‘higher court’.

Kafka makes his dream cameo in this story for two reasons. The first was his understanding of why corporations and institutions break us down mentally with Sisyphean tasks such as that experienced by the protagonist in The Liminal Lure. The second was his prescience: he sees the slick architecture of techno-tyranny under construction with a clarity no seminar-selling futurist of the present ever could. His message is, of course, a warning to the protagonist which goes unheeded.

I think Kafka would be justifiably horrified with the world of 2021. Phenomena such as China’s Social Credit System and the West’s corresponding fetish for enhanced surveillance societies, facial-recognition, big data, the ‘internet of things’ etc. would certainly give him pause and motivation to reinterpret reality in his fiction.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

Yes, I have to give a shout-out here to my father Paul (also a writer) who has given his time generously to beta-read some of my work and give suggestions.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

I recently completed a paranormal short story called The Encounter, which I am planning to submit to (hopefully) receptive editors shortly.

Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?

Not currently.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

On a practical level, I’d like to find a publisher enthusiastic enough about my work to put my short fiction into a collection. This will of course be a very difficult and time consuming project and my expectations are realistic. I want to produce a novel but don’t think I have the writing DNA or novelist discipline required for this, as indicated in my earlier comments. The short-form and I just seem to have a natural affinity. I’m a literary ‘sprinter’ while the novelists are the marathon runners.

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

Frankly, almost no editors of literary magazines ever give feedback these days other than dismissing your submissions with the familiar cliché that your story ‘wasn’t a good fit’, as if the creation of hours of your toil is nothing more than a cheap, badly-fitting suit. I don’t think there’s a perfect algorithm for determining how valuable those rare nuggets of editorial opinion are, because ultimately they are just that: opinions.  

What advice do you have for novice writers?

It’s very important to open your eyes. If you intend to become a literary writer and a true artist, then keen observation of worldly phenomena is mandatory. Travel, wide-reading and accumulation of diverse knowledge are other prerequisites. Reading is particularly important, because without a sense of how the best practitioners use language to communicate their visions, your writing won’t go far. A writer whose own reading is impoverished is unlikely to say anything worth remembering.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

The five senses, imagination and language.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)

My body of work can be found at

http://titusgreenfiction.com/

Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?

Not at this time. I am very grateful for their interest in my work.

Interview with Author Thomas Elson

Thomas Elson’s short stories, poetry, and flash fiction have been published in numerous venues such as Calliope, The Cabinet of Heed, New Feathers, Pinyon, Lunaris, New Ulster, Lampeter, Selkie, and Adelaide. He divides his time between Northern California and Western Kansas.   


What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

Even after all these years, my greatest accomplishment is being published for the first time

Why do you write?

I come from a family of Irish storytellers and photographers. As a child I listened to  stories associated with those photographs that grew from snap-shots into fully-developed lives, e.g. an older conservative woman in her 80’s who was a flapper in the 1920’s and the photograph of her in flapper attire; a photograph of three men standing by a county lake and what their stance reveals about their relationship; or an old man and his grandson on a coastline and how that reveals their life together.


What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides, you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

I usually write the story in one fell swoop, then rewrite it 10-12 times, after which I turn it over to two beta readers, review their suggestions, and revise again. All this takes place in a back room of the house at an old kitchen table with a laptop and  an IBM-style keyboard and Rossini overtures blaring in the background.

Your two stories published in The Chamber (“Not Yet” and “A Cell in Motion”) seem to be very intense, very personal inside views of the main character. You seem to be getting inside their minds. How do you come up with these viewpoints? How do you imagine being in their metaphorical shoes?

My process is to be with the characters in that particular setting either as a participant or an observer who hears what they hear, smells what they smell, and hurts when they hurt. To me it’s neither a “metaphor” nor an “as if” situation; it’s being with them. After I experience it with them, I write about it.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

I have two beta readers who review my work.


Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

I have about fifteen short works and two novels near completion.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

To be able to continue what I have wanted to do since the age of twenty four: to write the stories of life’s dramatic interventions and folks’ reactions to them; to take a bunch of words I have tossed onto a page and mold them into a story with emotion and impact.

What do you think of rejections and criticism? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

Any editor who takes the time to critique a story of mine, then takes the additional time to reduce that critique to writing is an immediate friend of mine. Some of my most significant growth as a writer has come from critiques contained in rejection letters.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

I can’t really give advice, but what I did as a beginning writer was to read:

  • Willa Cather who taught me how to write about the land I came from.
  • Annie Proulx who takes flat, dull people and transforms them into vibrant characters.
  • Mary Karr who taught me I could write about the people I grew up with.
  • Daniel Woodrell who shows emotions through the characters’ behaviors.
  • Alice Munro who taught me the smallest of things in the smallest of towns have large lives.
  • Margaret Attwood and her skill of injecting life and elfin-like humor into the gravest situations.
  • Molls Giles and her ability to take someone sitting on a porch and make it a breathing story.
  • Tania Hershman who can take an upright piano and transform it into a reflection of someone’s life.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

My most useful resources are Writer’s Digest articles and the website, Helping Writers Become Authors, and Literary Hub.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.) 

I’m on Facebook and LinkedIn, but the best way is to google “Thomas Elson – author”.

Interview with John Tustin


The Chamber has published three of Mr. Tustin’s poems (“Dia de Muertos”, “Space Diminishing”, and “Steady on the Wheel”), all within the last three weeks.


Approximately 100-word (more or less) summary of your life: A life of minor aspiration, necessary loneliness and forced exile.

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

Writing productively almost every night the last two years. For the first time since I began writing again I feel I’ve gotten to the point that I often actually say what I want to say when I write.

Why do you write?

I don’t know. I began writing poetry when I was fourteen. I didn’t have interest in reading poetry but for someone reason I was compelled to write it. I probably write poetry because it’s a good way for an introverted exhibitionist to express themselves.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

My process has changed over time. I used to scoff at people who took out specific time to write. I didn’t understand that it could work like that. I thought that you got the idea or the first line whenever it happened to come to you and then you just started writing. That still happens to me sometimes but most of my poems are written at a specific time set aside for writing.


It works like this: Almost every night I set aside one or more hours to writing. It’s very ritualized – I listen to music and read poetry, waiting for a line or an idea. The poetry definitely inspires me. Since I began doing this about two years ago I’ve written much more and much better.


I use Microsoft Word because it’s important to get the words down quickly. It also makes editing easy. As for revising and editing, I feel that most poetry is unfortunately revised into a shiny lifelessness. I tend to write a poem and rewrite/edit it in the same sitting. It can be no rewrites or a dozen. I also sometimes take small breaks while writing if I’m stuck on the next line or even merely feeling overwhelmed with what I’m writing. 99% of the time my poems are completed in a small timeframe. One thing I always do is wait a month or so after I’ve written something to do a final rewrite/edit. Most of the time I don’t end up editing/rewriting anything at that stage but when I do I’m mostly rewriting lines for clarity. When you get further away from what you’ve written you can edit more clearly.

I can see by the link to Fritzware that you provided, that you have had a lot of poems published since 2009. How do you keep finding new ideas, new motivations for poems? How do you stay original?

Charles Bukowski said poets write about the same few things over and over. I agree. It’s easy to get stale. I read a lot – especially poetry. Living a life and/or being well-read is the best way to get new ideas or find a new way to write something.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

No. I have a private Facebook page and I post my poems there as I write them but most of my Facebook friends don’t care about poetry. I had one friend who would constantly critique my poems unasked and I had to unfriend her. I don’t care for being edited beyond typos and it’s probably because my poems are so personal to me.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

As I write this I have poetry forthcoming in over thirty different journals, online and in print. I’m working on my first book of poetry and hope I will begin shopping it soon.

Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?

I have poetry forthcoming in: Avalon Literary Review, Bare Back Magazine, Blue Unicorn, Cacti Fur, Chiron Review, Dalhousie Review, Eunoia Review, Euphemism, Freshwater Literary Journal, Garfield Lake Review, Horror Sleaze Trash, Impspired, In Parenthesis, Ink Sac, Lakeview Journal, North Dakota Quarterly, Pangolin Review, Perceptions, Piker Press, Prole, The Rail, Raven Review, Sparks of Calliope, Steam Ticket, Straylight, Tower Poetry, Triggerfish Critical Review, Unique Poetry, Vaughan Street Doubles, Visitant and  Writer’s Block.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

I want my poems to reach many people and make some of those people feel the way that I do when I read certain writers. I remember the first time I listened to Bob Dylan when I was about 16 and feeling like someone was expressing my own emotions and thoughts. That’s what I want to do. I want people to read what I write and feel good – feel not so alone. I want people to feel connected to my poems.

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

The closest I’ve had to reviews are a few nasty or dismissive rejection letters from editors. I don’t take criticism well but I think it could be helpful. There are a lot of factors to consider.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

Write. All the time. Write all the time and read much more than you write. Be open to anything and put down any line or idea you have. It’s OK to consider an audience when writing. I usually imagine a single person reading a poem I’m writing. Sometimes it’s an actual person and sometimes it’s an imaginary person. Reading is so important. Read a lot and not just literature.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

Life experience and reading/listening. Pay attention to what others write and what they say. Everyone is interesting if you write them well.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)

http://fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry/ contains links to my published poems and https://www.facebook.com/johntustinpoetry is my promotional page. I post links when something I’ve written is published and I also post the poems of others I happen to be reading at the time.

Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?

I like my words being read by strangers and I like when they are touched in some way by those words. Thank you for reading my poems.