Do you enjoy untypical coming-of-age stories? Well you find one more untypical that Moxie’s Problem. Moxie is an obnoxious, teen-age princess who has never been outside her father’s castle. Until now. The real world is quite different and she struggles to come to grips with reality. The story takes place against a backdrop of Camelot. But it isn’t the Camelot of legends. It’s Camelot in a parallel universe. So, all bets are off!
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About the Author
Hank Quense writes humorous and satiric scifi and fantasy stories. He also writes about fiction writing and self-publishing. He has published 14 books and 50 short stories along with a few dozen articles. He often lectures on fiction writing and publishing and has a series of guides covering the basics on each subject. He is currently working on a series of two humorous novels that take place in the Camelot era.
He and his wife, Pat, usually vacation in another galaxy or parallel universe. They also time travel occasionally when Hank is searching for new story ideas.
Visit Hank’s websites: http://hank-quense.com/wp andhttp://strangeworldsonline.com/wp
Questions for the Author
Have you always enjoyed writing?
I can recall writing short, satiric cartoon stories as a junior in high school. I’d send them around the classroom to my friends who would get in trouble because laughing in class is frowned upon in a Jesuit prep school.
2) Who is your favorite author?
In fantasy/scifi, Tom Holt, Terry Pratchett, Chris Moore and Douglas Adams. In historical fiction, Bernard Cornwall.
3) What book genre do you adore?
Satiric or humorous scifi and fantasy. There just isn’t enough of it. I’m attempting to fill the humor and satire gap with my fiction.
4) What book should everyone read at least once?
Catch 22. It’s the greatest work of satire I’ve ever read.
5) How did you develop your writing?
My stories always start with a character. Then I give the character a plot problem. That’s as far as I go until I can figure out the story ending. Once I get the ending, I have to build a path between the beginning and end. After that the story is essentially finished, I just have to develop the characters, the setting and the scenes. Then it’s time to write the first draft.
6) What is hardest—getting published, writing or marketing?
Writing is the easiest. Prepping a manuscript for publication is mostly boring. Marketing is frustrating and often expensive. Being successful is the hardest part of the entire process.
7) Do you plan to publish more books?
Yes. Moxie’s Problem isn’t the end of Moxie’s journey to become an independent woman in charge of own destiny. I’m writing the conclusion of Moxie’s development. The working title is Moxie’s Decision.
8) If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Tough question. Rome would be at the top of the list followed by a tie between Paris and Barcelona. Or maybe Quebec City (at least in the summer)
9) Is it vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing?
Exposure is a vital element of a marketing plan, especially for a self-published book. Random exposure however doesn’t do much. The exposure has to be targeted to the people who will be interested in your book. If you wrote a romance novel then targeting folks who read gun magazines is futile.
10) Tell us about your new book What is it about and why did you write it?
Here is the book blurb: Moxie’s Problem is a coming-of-age story unlike others in this genre. Moxie is an obnoxious, teen-age princess who has never been outside her father’s castle. Until now. She finds the real world is quite different from castle life and she struggles to come to grips with reality. Moxie knows she has to get a life, but doesn’t know how to go about it.The story takes place against the backdrop of Camelot. But, it isn’t the Camelot of legends. It’s Camelot in a parallel universe, so all bets are off!
As to why I wrote it, I’ve loved the Moxie character for quite a while. I wrote a short story with her as the many character over ten years ago. I couldn’t sell because Moxie is a terrible main character in a short story. She doesn’t have room to grow and to learn important lessons. I’ve been determined to tell her story for some time now and I finally got this project under way and the end is in sighs.
11) How often do you write and when do you write?
I write every day and I do it in the morning, usually from 6:30 to 10:30 or 11:00. Of course, writing doesn’t necessarily mean writing new books. It also means blog posts, emails and book marketing tasks.
12) Tell us a bit about your family.
My wife and I have been married for 50 years (I think!) and we have two daughters and five grandchildren aged 13 to 6.
13) Do you have an organized process or tips on writing well?
I do have an organized process. Once I started working on a new story idea, I don’t develop characters or work on the setting and scenes until I have a story ending. Only after I figure out a way to get from the beginning to the end do I work on the characters and other stuff. Writing well is important to the reader, but it won’t sell stories. Editors and publishers buy stories that have superior story design and use great story-telling techniques. If they are also well-written, that is a bonus
14) What do you hope people will take away from your writing. How will your words make them feel?
For my fiction, I hope the story and my words give them a few hours respite from reality. For my non-fiction, I hope the people learn something useful.
15) How do you feel about social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter? Are they a good thing?
I use Facebook to stay in touch with my friends and other writers. As a marketing tool, I think both platforms are grossly over-rated, especially Twitter. I have over a thousand followers on Twitter and I don’t know more than a dozen of them. I read recently that only 3 or 4 percent of the people on Twitter actually read tweets from others. Everybody tweets, no one reads tweets. So what’s the point? Many other websites are nothing but a bunch of authors trying to get other authors to buy their book. Almost every post is a variation of “Please buy my book?” These sites are useless in my mind.
16) What makes you angry?
Politicians who sell their vote for a payoff from lobbyists. Politicians who put the good of their party over the good of the country and the voters. Religions that try to convert me to their way of believing.
17) Are you a city slicker or a country lover?
I was born and raised in Jersey City. At that time it was the most densely populated city in the country. I now live in a “suburban area” that is spread out but still densely packed. I think I’d go crazy after a week in the country.
18) How do you think people perceive writers?
When I tell people I’m an author, the response is “Wow, really.” But I think they’re thinking, “I wish I could stay home and do nothing all day.”
19) What’s your next project?
After I finish the second Moxie novel, I have a choice. I can write the third book of the Zaftan Trilogy which is way overdue or I can write a novel that is a heavy-duty religious satire. Eventually, both will be written. I also have a non-fiction book that’s almost finished. The title is Planning a Novel, Script or Memoir. It describes my way of developing a novel, but the process will work for any type of story.
20) Do you find time to read?
I read constantly, mostly fiction but a lot of history also.
21) What’s your favorite place in the world?
Since my wife and I spent a week in Italy, Rome has been our favorite place in the entire world.
22) How has your upbringing influenced your writing?
I don’t think my childhood has, but a 30 year career in Corporate America taught me to question everything that comes out a corporation. It also demonstrated to me the principle of Tunnel Vision and how everyone at a meeting can look at a set of data and come to radically different conclusions. And then argue vehemently about how their own conclusion is the only correct one.
23) Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I think it was junior year in high school. In English class the teacher encourage me to write off-the-wall stories and essays instead of producing the usual turgid teenager stuff. This showed me that writing doesn’t have to boring.
24) How long have you been writing?
I started serious writing after I took an early retirement package in 1996. I took the package in order to become a full-time writer. And that’s what I’ve done since that.
25) When did you first know you could be a writer?
In high school, my junior year English teacher encourage me and I ended up writing some pretty bizarre and funny essays instead of the usual boring stuff my classmates were writing.
26) What inspires you to write and why?
For fiction, I enjoy creating stories to entertain readers. For non-fiction, I want to share my experiences so others can learn and benefit from them.
27) What genre are you most comfortable writing?
Satiric or humorous fantasy. Scifi is cool, but I am more comfortable with the fantasy genre.
28) Who are what influenced your writing once you began?
I think the most influential author in my career is Douglas Adams. Until I read Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe I wasn’t aware scifi could be funny. Heinlin wrote some funny stuff but nothing like the Hitchhikers Guide. After reading the Hitchhikers book, I decided I would stick with writing humor and satire genre stories, nothing serious. The most influential book on fiction writing is Story by Robert McKay
29) What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel?
There are a number of challenges in novels. The one of the biggest is getting all the characters to the location where the climax occurs. My stories tend to have a large cast and all these characters have to get to where the climax will take place and get there at the same time; otherwise the climax becomes a who-cares. Another issue is keeping the character’s personna consistent thru the length of the story. If one character undergoes a mental change, ensuring the change is subtle and not abrupt is a challenge also.
30) What is your greatest strength as a writer?
Readers and reviewers connect with my characters. I spend a lot of time designing them and building a biography, a personality and adding a few bizarre traits.
31)Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
I don’t think I’ve ever had writer’s block. There are times when I get stuck on my current WIP. When that happens, I switch to a different project to work on for a while. Then I’ll go back to the original WIP and usually the problem is gone and I can move forward. This is one reason I usually have three projects going on a time, all of them in different stages of completion.
32) Can you share a little of your current work with us?
The title is Moxie’s Problem. Here is the book blurb: Moxie’s Problem is a coming-of-age story unlike others in this genre. Moxie is an obnoxious, teen-age princess who has never been outside her father’s castle. Until now. She finds the real world is quite different from castle life and she struggles to come to grips with reality. Moxie knows she has to get a life, but doesn’t know how to go about it.The story takes place against the backdrop of Camelot. But, it isn’t the Camelot of legends. It’s Camelot in a parallel universe, so all bets are off!
I think that will answer your question.
33) Can you tell us about your main characters?
Moxie is the main character in my new book. At the start of book 1, she’s a spoiled, self-centered teenage brat. She gets involved in quests with three apprentice Knights of the Round Table and realizes she hasn’t been trained to do anything. All she is expected to do is marry and produce a heir for her father. She decides to be the queen after her father dies, but she has no idea how to rule and no training. In the next book, she has more adventures and develops into a strong woman.
34) How do you develop your plot and characters?
My first step is to get a cast of characters. To write effective humor, the internal makeup of the characters must include a bizarre flaw or two. These flaws are what make the characters different from ordinary people. Then comes the plot. The purpose of plot in this case is to get the characters into situations in which the character flaws can take over.
35) Who designs your covers?
All my covers are designed by Gary Tanuta. Usually, I send him a word description of what I think the cover should look like. Gary draws something up and sends it to me. Gary often nails the cover in the first pass. I’m a bit awe-struck by that because my word descriptions aren’t all that specific (or well-written).
36) Who is your publisher?
All my books are published by my imprint Strange Worlds Publishing.
37) How much of the book is realistic?
I don’t use actually people as my characters but I do use human qualities in the characters. In Moxie’s Probelm, the only historical figures are Hengist and his brother Horsa. They are in the history books as two Saxon war chiefs who invaded Britain the 400’s.
38) How important do you think villains are in a story?
Villains aren’t all that important. What is important in a story is to have a character who opposes the hero. The opposing character doesn’t have to be evil, but he does have to provide conflict. That is the the important factor, generating conflict whether a villain or not.
39) What are your goals as a writer?
To stop being famously unknown.
40) What are the best tools available today for writers, especially those just starting out?
Scrivener is the best tool available, IMHO. Within a single file, it contains EVERYTHING pertaining to your story. Chapters, scenes, character sketches, notes, tags, links, research. No matter where you are in Scrivener, you are no more than a click or two away from anything in the file. It’s awesome.
41) What contributes to making a writer successful?
Critiques. Critiques are essential to give the author a check on what other writers think is wrong with the story and where changes are required. One of the worst thing a writer can do is skip the critique step. Or have a family member try to critique the story, especially one who is not a writer.
42) Do you listen to music while you write, or do you need silence?
I listen to music. On ITunes, I have over 1800 tracks consisting of jazz, classical, symphonic, operas, Broadway plays and pop tunes. I’ll often restrict the music to one of these genres. Other times, I ‘ll tell ITunes to shuffle everything up and play whatever.