Joseph Carrabis – It’s Autobiography…I swear!

Quite the Life (and all in Times New Roman 10pt!)

Regency and SciFi Author Wendy Van CampHello all and welcome to our first February Author Interview Plunge. Today we’ll be talking with…umm…me! I finally get my go at this with Jennifer “The Editress” Day at the helm! Feel free to give me (and Jennifer) a big round of applause for taking part in our exciting adventure.

I’m boring and dull

 
Joseph’s Bio
Joseph Carrabis, walking contradiction, is a boring dull man who writes fantastic stories. Or, as he says, “Autobiography in the guise of poetry, fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, magic realism, and other associated Dark Arts.” Joseph has worked as a butcher, a tractor-trailer driver, and a Chief Neuroscience Officer. This variety of experience (some more boring and dull than others, I’d wager) brings rich life and emotion to his stories. He started writing at a very young age thanks to his sister.

Joseph lives in Nashua, New Hampshire with his ever loving, ever caring, ever patient wife-partner-princess Susan, his Bassador dog Boo, and his quietly purring cat Ghost. He also regularly converses with many Old Ones including Raccoon, Turkey, Red and Gray Fox, Opossum, Skunk, both Eastern and Northern Woodlands Coyote, Deer, Hawk, Owl, Eagle, Wolf, Toad, Frog and this doesn’t even get into the Standing Ones. He’s quite a conversationalist! And they all tell him things about you!

His fiction in print includes TALES TOLD ‘ROUND CELESTIAL CAMPFIRES (as individual ebooks and as an anthology including the Nebula nominee CYMODOCE and the Pushcart nominee THE WEIGHT). His novel EMPTY SKY has been called “a rollercoaster ride of a read” and “a sleek mystery…one of the best Fantasy/Science Fiction novels of 2016”. And many more stories in progress can be found on his Patreon and his blog.

It’s not so much making a lot of money (but if I do that’s fine), it’s more about people really benefitting from what you are doing

 
In this interview, we chatted about the power of the people you meet as a writer: constructive and destructive. Don’t be a Lenny! His boring, dull, hallucinatory writing process. And thrilling, logical editing process! Measures of success for writers and authors. (there’s a difference!) Making his readers cry or yell at him. Now, Joseph, that’s not nice!

When I’m writing I am not boring and dull

 
The Interview

 
Things Jennifer and Joseph Talked About
Critiques
About Joseph (& Susan)
Gable Smiled (excerpt)
Ritchie&Phyl
Rich Marcello
The Augmented Man
Sanctuary
Dancers in the Eye of Chronos
Those Wings Which Tire, They Have Upheld Me

I’m a very good growler

 
Joseph Carrabis’ Links
Joseph’s blog
Joseph’s Amazon Author’s page
Follow him on Twitter
Follow and befriend Joseph on Facebook and Goodreads
Follow and link to him on LinkedIn
Follow and pin him on Pinterest
Follow and inst him on Instagram


Be one of the first to comment or send this out through your social networks (and let us know) and you could win a signed copy of either Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires or Empty Sky!

(want me to critique some of your work?)

Gable Smiled

I’ve shared Gable Smiled with a few folks, on Facebook and in a few workshops. Here’s an excerpt to go along with my interview. Enjoy, and do let me know what you think.


Valen patted Gable’s muscular neck as they trotted into Lensterville. They’d been ten days out, mostly soldiering Sipio’s vast northern plain and this time of year that meant heat with a capital “H”. Valen could feel his own sweat trickling through the hairs on his chest and back and every time his Ranger issue travel cords relaxed around him, his scent rose like steam washing his face.

Not pleasant.

Not so Gable’s smell, though. Gable was a Callisto class ModEquid, part horse part…something. Valen was never sure what and Gable liked to keep him guessing. Mostly horse on the outside, Gable’s sweat was the sweet musk of heavy horse, working horse, a gentle giant unless riled and it took a lot to rile him. There was a tang of trail dirt and rich plains tallgrasses and lathering brow and flanks that Valen thought wonderful, comforting, reassuring, and it made him proud that Gable had taken so to him.

“Let me know when,” he said to the horse.

Gable smiled back, Any time you’re ready.

Valen performed an emergency dismount, Gable still trotting so that Valen landed running beside him on the horse’s left, reins in Valen’s right hand. He knew Gable liked to run side-by-side, the two of them together, and the horse always smiled laughter at the man’s two-legged gait.

No speed, Two-Legs, he would smile at Valen.

“Yeah, well…speed when I need it,” Valen said back.

When they were out Ranging and neither Gable nor Valen could sense any activity in the tall grasses of the plain, Valen would amuse the horse by dismounting and running beside him for a while. Eventually Gable would be laughing so hard he had to stop, blowing, his nostrils flaring like wind cannons. Even at Gable’s twenty-hands height, Valen could stare the horse eye-to-eye.

I chose you good, Gable smiled at Valen. Valen was chosen to Range Sipio due to both training and genetics. A long drink of water, Valen was rail thin with a large ribcage and a prominent brow ridge, the former to give his lungs room to breathe in a low density atmosphere and the latter to protect his eyes from Sipio’s twin suns. His people had been farmers and Rangers on four worlds before he settled here.

But it was Gable, the warhorse, who had chosen Valen to ride.

Sometimes, on the hotter days, Gable’s flank gills, beautifully placed so that neither saddlebags nor saddlepad would interfere with them, would open to cool his internals. Valen always took some time to rub Gable down, to use some of his own water to sponge Gable’s sides, when he did that.

Gable always smiled his appreciation.

At night, when they’d made camp somewhere deep in the plain and once the suns had set, the cold would set in. When they ranged the deep north, Gable would open one gill, facing Valen, and rotary breathe to warm him.

Sometimes Gable would ask Valen to read him something from The Library. Sometimes they had to wait for Valen’s mini to capture a Reader but when it did, Valen would read from the classics; Nora Roberts, J.K. Rowling, David Baldacci, Elmore Leonard. The occasional Steinbeck but never a Faulkner or Hemingway. The readings turned into a trail game. Gable would smile a line from some book and Valen had to guess the book or Valen would quote and Gable would guess. Gable was getting pretty good, too. He might not know the book but he could guess the author most times.

It broke up the monotony of patrolling walking grasses and smart waters, creatures with enough intelligence to be tamable and not enough to be dangerous.

Occasionally they’d come upon a Behemini encampment. Valen would call it in and Dusters would arrive within a few hours to relocate them. The Beheminites weren’t indigenous. They came from somewhere millennia ago and then something happened. Whatever their plans were for Sipio, those that settled lost contact with their people or were forgotten, did the best they could until all their tech gave out and then just did what they could. For millennia. Once great beings left with only myths of their greatness.

Valen walked Gable into his stall at the post’s stable. Two Tlinglets, each carrying grooming supplies and a bucket of sweetfeed on their bodyhooks, ran up to them. Valen said, “Take good care of him, okay? He’s been out a while.”

The Tlinglets bowed, their version of a nod because Tlinglets had no neck. One of the first humans on Sipio, Warner something or something Warner, nicknamed them Gumbies but nobody knew why. In any case, it stuck.

The Tlinglets were interesting beings. Not so much aboriginal as just plain simple, there were three types; green, yellow and brown. The green were closest to their evolutionary forebears, the walking grasses. The yellow were social and sociable but with some kind of indiscriminate biology that nobody had figured out yet. The browns were huge tree-like creatures, mostly immobile and evidently either the oldest Tlinglets or the oldest form of Tlinglet. Again, nobody knew.

What intrigued Valen the most about the Tlinglets was their language. Their word for horse, for example, was ‘GodDog”, so similar to the Lakotah aboriginals of the American plains name for horse, Sunkawakan, “god’s dog”.

The Tlinglets were familiar with dogs, or at least dog like creatures, and had no difficulty adapting to Ranger patrols in Sipio’s northern mountains, where ModCanids were the rule. The Tlinglets took to the ModCanids and vice versa in a Sipio day, the Tlinglets’ natural ability to communicate ultrasonically gave them the ability to hold backroom-like conversations with the modified dogs, both dogs and Tlinglets laughing while their human allies wondered at the joke.

“Tchure thing, Falen,” one of the Tlinglets said as they went to work.

“Thanks, Jake,” Valen said.

The Tlinglet who hadn’t spoken stopped sponging Gable, “I’m Chake, that’s Kossamer.”

“Oh, sorry. I’ll be in Compton’s office then in the barracks if you need me.”

Sipio’s nights were always cold when compared against the warmth of binary sun days and even with the barrack’s thermopiles set on high, the bunks were still cold. Not that it mattered to Valen. He hadn’t slept on a mattress since he was a kid and barracks life was just a necessity between Ranging missions.

Valen, Glam’s signal collapsed, Gable frowned.

Valen whispered into the air over his bunk, “Tell me more.”

Gable frowned the particulars. Glam. Calibre class ModEquid. Advanced research mare. Northern plain. Far side. Weather going negative. Reports heavy horizon.

“Did they go out of Repeater range? Is she combat capable? Who’s her rider?”

Standing station. Combat minimal. Siobhan. Signatures gone. The big horse paused.

“Go on.”

Silence.

“Are you concerned?”

Glam carries my foal.

Valen moved his blankets aside and swung his legs down. “Good a reason as any to get back on the trail. I didn’t know ModEquids could have foals.”

ModEquids can do many things. I’ll be waiting at the post gate.

Valen paused. That was odd. Gable would normally wait by the stable door so Valen could check the horse over once, sometimes twice, just to make sure Gable was trailworthy. It was part of Valen’s training and just plain good practice, kind of like carrying extra fuel cans if you had no idea where you were going or when the next fillup would be.


Comment me know what you think and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of my next book!

Labor Relations

Pesky characters, always makin’ a ruckus…

Interesting experience a few weeks back. I got into a serious argument with some characters in The Augmented Man. The argument was so serious that all writing stopped. Not only writing on The Augmented Man, also work on Ritchie and Phyl, Gable Smiled and a host of others.

Fantasy characters threatened to strike in support of their literary fiction brothers and sisters. Characters still in development refused to cross picket lines in support of their already written brethren and sistren.

There was talk of locking up my keyboard until things got resolved.

But if you lock up the keyboard we’ll never reach an agreement, I explained.

Phyl said, “You have two paragraphs, Mister. Get writing.”

Okay, it wasn’t quite like that.

My writing method is usually stream of consciousness. I sit, rest my hands over the keys and stuff happens (like right now, in fact). I just let it happen and edit on the next pass (doing that, too!). Sometimes what I write doesn’t go with what I’m working on, at least not obviously so, and I have to rip it out.

Usually I’m able to take that ripped out piece and use it elsewhere, if not in my current project then in some future project. For example, my writing coach thought having Trailer “stare down a bear or wolf or something” would be a great way of demonstrating Trailer’s authority in the woods, that nothing dares oppose him. Specifically, my coach wanted me to have Trailer encounter some uber-predator and have the uber-predator back off, showing that even the uber-predators fear him.

That’s an interesting idea if you’ve read the first two sections of The Augmented Man (go for it, sponsor me on Patreon and you can download and read them at your leisure). Here’s what I came up with:

Fives miles further in he slowed. There were blood signs on the trail. Deer, definitely. And coyote.
And bear. He inhaled deeply. A sow and two cubs.
He stopped running silently. He kicked up brush and pine cones, let twigs snap under his feet, slapped trees as he passed them.
He came through the trees low to the ground. The sow faced him, stared straight at him but didn’t challenge him, her two cubs feeding on the carcass behind her.
Trailer evaluated the scene rapidly. A coyote pack had downed an aging buck, filled themselves and left in a hurry: vines hanging loose from trees, leaves piled at the end of paw strikes, undergrowth blood moist and flattened for about ten feet around. Tufts of coyote fur here and there. Paw marks, some deep, preceding blood smears where individual coyotes had dragged a hank or rib to suck out the marrow.
Then the sow arrived with her two cubs, drawn by the smell of warm blood and probably the howling of the pack announcing their kill.
Wise coyotes and probably already gorged, they left momma to feed her children.
And now she stared at Trailer, showing no fear.
Animals, he’d learned, never showed him fear. Humans always. Or mostly always. Animals, never.
Long ago he’d been tracking a Pancho Pathfinder Team in the Orinoco. The team was fleeing ahead of him, not even attempting stealth, now knowing only fear, knowing they would die and wanting to prolong their lives by as many seconds as possible.
Trailer, keeping their scents fresh in him, encountered something new, something different, a smell he’d never encountered before.
To the left. A hundred yards or so off the Panchos’ trail.
He investigated.
A jaguar and newborn kits, their eyes not even open, mewling as she licked them clean of natal fluids and nuzzled them to her teats.
She spotted him as she ate the afterbirth.
She snarled, her whiskers flashing forward from her snout, her ears pulled back against her head, challenging him, still panting, exhausted from delivering her kits. And they would die if she didn’t nurse them.
But she would die for them.
“It is dangerous here, Little Mother,” Trailer said. The scent of the Panchos was still strong, although fading as they continued their flight through the jungle. He could still track and sanction his target, preferably while the others watched.
He knelt before the jaguar. “Feed your children, Little Mother. I will stay and keep you safe but then you must go.”
He turned his back to the big cat and listened until all the violence was far, far away. Then he stood and left.
Now the bear stared at him while her cubs dined. “It is dangerous for you here, Mother. You’re too close to civilization to go unnoticed. They will take your cubs from you and kill you.”
He somersaulted into the trees, over the sow and next to her cubs. He picked up one in each arm and took the remains of the carcass in his hands, then continued running the trail, now slowly enough for the bellowing sow to follow him, her nose ever on his scent and her cubs barking their confusion.
Thirty miles in he picked up speed slightly. The sow shrieked her rage as her children left her line of sight.
Then Trailer stopped. He put the carcass and the cubs down.
The sow raged through the trees and reared up, her claws slashing in front of her.
“Mother, your children are safe.”
As if she understood, the sow lowered herself to the ground and licked her cubs, first one then the other then the first again, as if joyful and relieved to discover they were safe, removing the scent of that nasty human from them.
“This will be better for them and you, Mother.”
The cubs nuzzled against her and she led them to the carcass. They ate.
And Trailer was gone.

You may or may not like the above and the point is it does (some of/close to) what my coach wanted while also revealing something about Trailer; he doesn’t kill needlessly. In fact, in both cases he acts to show mercy, something he’d never do with humans.

But

But it just didn’t belong in the story. And I couldn’t find a place where it would belong in the story. It’s interesting (I hope) and revelatory and it slows the story down. The Augmented Man is a fast-paced story. My first readers tell me they lose track of time reading it, they pick it up and can’t put it down. Great! That’s my intention.

But the above caused me some problems. I stopped writing. Trailer and some of the other characters walked away, shaking their heads in disgust or dismay. Even the bear sow stood up, crossed her arms over her chest, tapped her foot impatiently and shook her head at me. Trailer, especially, said, “That’s not relevant. Not here, not now, maybe not ever, not in my story, anyway. Use it in something else.” (and you’ll notice I am)

And I fought him on it.

Idiot moi! I took on an Augmented Man, 654#, 7′ tall.

It weren’t no fun.