Monday, March 08, 2010

Make-Believe Monday with Stephen Zimmer

Today on Make-Believe Mondays my guest is Stephen Zimmer.

Stephen, first, tell us a little bit about the manuscript you’re working on now.

Stephen: Right now, I’m working on a couple of fantasy short stories for a pair of anthologies being developed by two different publishers, as well as working with my editor on polishing up the 2nd book in the Rising Dawn Saga (the sequel to The Exodus Gate). We have a release party for this book coming up at Hypericon in Nashville, which takes place June 4-6. I am very excited to be launching the new book there, as this year’s guest of honor is no less than Ramsey Campbell!

Debra: Oh, that's exciting! There's nothing quite like that book release party and holding it in your hands. (And for those who are in my stomping grounds in the Memphis area, Stephen will also be at Midsouth con.)

Ray Bradbury said, “We are cups, constantly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” How do you keep your creative cup filled?

Stephen: Music, dreams, experiences, travel…a good number of things go into my pools of inspiration. It is not any one single thing, but rather a broader process by which my inspirations emerge from a range of sources.

Debra: Is there a point when your characters begin to come alive and you can see and hear them?

Stephen: Absolutely. I get into a rather strange zone when I write, and it is as if I am writing down what I perceive, telling the story as it is played out within some sort of inner level of perception. Sometimes it is actually quite jarring to come out of a long writing session! I hope that doesn’t sound too crazy!

Debra: Doesn't sound crazy at all to me. I forget to eat and drink when I get into that zone. Then my husband will say what's for dinner, and it takes a moment to register where I am and that it is indeed time for dinner. Good thing we both like pizza. LOL

Some very famous authors have played with language, creating words for people or places that no one has ever heard of. Have you ever played with words in that way and if so how?

Stephen: I often have fun with words, sometimes even using international languages to name something. In Crown of Vengeance, I have a very formidable group of woodland creatures called the Jaghuns, which derives from the German for Jaegerhundt, or hunting dog! Similarly, the Unguhur, who live in the great caverns below the surface, have a name derived from the German word for monster.

Debra: This is fascinating! I love knowing a words origins.

For some writers, dreams play a role in creating fiction. Has this been true for you? Have you ever dreamed a scene or an image that later wound up in one of your books?

Stephen: Dreams are very powerful sources of inspiration, especially as you can experience many things that are not possible in the physical world, whether that be flying, walking under water without scuba gear, encountering dragons or monsters, and much more. I have far too many images to mention that have ended up having strong influences in my books. Visions of the Abyss, heavenly realms, and Purgatarion (in the Rising Dawn Saga) rely heavily upon such dreams. My concepts of the demonic and angelic derive from my dreams. The Elder from the Fires in Eden Series are another strong example, as are the An-Ki shape-shifting race of the Rising Dawn Saga. I’ve been able to get a very first-hand perspective of many things!

Debra: Anything is possible in a dreamscape and maybe that is why they fascinate me so. I'm glad you're able to capture them on paper. That is the tricky thing to do.

As a child did any particular book or author pull you into their imaginary world?

Stephen: My mother read me J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Hobbit when I was seven, and not long after that she got me the Chronicles of Narnia. It definitely had a profound influence on me, and set me on a fantasy voyage that has no end in sight!

Debra: Bless your mother, and all mothers who expand their children's minds this way.

If there were no categories for books, no reader expectations to meet, and you could create the wildest work of imagination that you could think of what kind of story would that be?

Stephen: Honestly, it would be doing the stories that I am doing right now, within my epic fantasy series. Epic fantasy is what I love the most, whether the tale is set in past, present, or future settings!

Debra: I'm always pleased to hear an author say that. It means the stories they are meant to be writing are being written!

Is there anything else you would like to add about the role of imagination, and dreams in creating fiction? Any other message for our readers?

Stephen: For me, dreams are a huge source of inspiration, and I have gotten many ideas and concepts for creatures and environments directly from dreams. The Elder from the Fires in Eden series, as I mentioned earlier, is one such example. I often have very powerful, very lucid dreams of a fantastical nature, sometimes dark-edged, and I am very happy when I wake up and am still able to remember the content of these sometimes harrowing, sometimes thrilling, and always unpredictable excursions.

Debra: Stephen thank you for a sharing your dream world with us and for visiting Make-Believe Mondays to share a bit of the magic of writing with our readers.

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Debra's News/Debra is watching:

Friday I guest blogged over on Lucy Monroe's blog about Hot Springs, where I plan to set a novel.

I'm hard at work on the manuscript in progess and will soon be sending it to a few selected agents. After some bumpy patches the writing is smoothing out nicely.

Updates for book signings and conferences I'll be attending are on my website calendar:

Authors interested in being interviewed on Make-Believe Mondays may fill out the form there or email me at

I'm enjoying my friend Gerri Russell's blog Knightly Musings and getting ready for an SCA event called Gulf Wars. I enjoy medieval reinactment and this is where we go camping for a few days and live in the re-created world. Still gathering material and researching for the medieval romance I plan to start. (Yes, I like multiple stories to work on. Probably it's the Gemini in me.)

Anyone else noticing the daffodils peeking their heads up? Spring is on its way!

Love and light,

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