Shells Chats with author Michael Hanson

What influences you to write?

Anything and everything, and no, I’m not being trite. But, to give you a more pointed and detailed answer, I often get a major jolt of creative inspiration from new writing, which can be anything from finding a great poet whose works I’ve never read before, or discovering a new fiction author and burning through their first short story collection and first breakthrough novel. I find inspiration in entertaining movies and TV shows. I find inspiration in music and new hit songs. I find inspiration from hilarious standup comedians. I find inspiration in silent meditation, or in fun coffee house discussions with good friends. I find inspiration while reviewing my own history and past, as if it were an archived motion picture reel, and am amazed at all the ideas that pop up from instances that I had long forgotten. I find inspiration in the smile of a beautiful woman, the laughter of a good friend, the twinkle in a small child’s eyes…

As for specific authors and poets, my influences are legion. But, to offer up a short list: Roger Zelazny, A.E. van Vogt, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip Jose Farmer, Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, Ursula LeGuin, Andre Norton, F. Paul Wilson, Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, Frank Herbert, e.e. cummings, Edgar Allen Poe, Jay Leeming, Walt Whitman, Maya Angelou, and Robert Frost.

Which do you find more challenging to do, being a Technical Editor or writing stories?

Writing fictional stories and mainstream poetry is definitely much more creatively challenging. Technical Editing, though, with it’s real-time demands of quick turnover time and rock solid deadlines is definitely the more stressful challenge, LOL.

How important do you feel it is for author's to express themselves in their writing?

I can only speak for myself, and for me, expressing my inner feelings, convictions, beliefs, and philosophy is Key! My poetry and my fiction often directly reflect my own world view.

What is your favorite thing about creating a story?

That calm, inner confidence that wells up when you find yourself doing something that you feel confident about, and totally “alive” when engaging in. Writing fiction is one of the few activities left to the creative control freak in all of us.

Sha’Daa: Tales of the Apocalypse was a project of several authors, can you tell us about that experience and what books are part of it?

A good question, hmmmm... the project has evolved so much over the years. Well, to try to make a long story short, it started out as a series of short stories I wrote and published in various e-zines and webzines on the net. Next, I was inspired to create a universal theme after having read books in the “Thieve's World” series, the “Wild Card” series, and the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, F. Paul Wilson, and many other classic horror authors. Once I got the basic parameters of my idea down on paper, I came to the realization that The Sha'Daa could eventually become pretty darned diverse, complicated, and BIG, and it hit me that rather than treat this as a lifetime writing project, I could invite other authors on board thus making it a true Shared-World Series. The only problem was that I had a pretty unspectacular bibliography at the time, and no real credentials or reputation that would allow me to attract the attention of successful published authors.

So I did my homework. I spent several months reading every single horror, sci fi, and fantasy story I could that was published online, at all of the e-zines and webzines that existed back in 2003. Out of the hundreds of stories and authors I read, I narrowed down a list of 33 authors who were talented, but had not yet quite crossed over into the paying markets. I sent them all a VERY long e-mail, showing my bibliography, examples of my Sha'Daa short stories, as well as a full explanation of the idea. 18 authors decided to take a chance on me, and the ball started rolling there. From that point it took five full years until the publication of the first book. The second book was published a year later. At present we have attracted the positive attention of several well-known writers in the field (garnering us excellent Forewords and Introductions by Mike Resnick and Catherine Asara) as well as positive interest from prospective writing professionals for future Sha'Daa books. It has been quite an adventure.

The first two books in the series (and currently in print) are SHA’DAA: TALES OF THE APOCALYPSE and SHA’DAA: LAST CALL (both published by Altered Dimensions Press). Ed McKeown (the official “Editor” of the Sha’Daa series) and I have just started work on compiling the next two Sha’Daa anthologies, SHA’DAA: PAWNS and SHA’DAA: CATECHISM, which will be developed and written simultaneously.

Can you tell us a bit about Space Force Adventures?

My sister Helen Harrison is an avid collector of Dollfies (realistic looking ball-jointed dolls that are roughly one-third scale human size). Two of the dolls were offered up to buyers in cute little uniforms that advertised them as being part of a space force fleet. So to make a long story short, Helen had the idea of creating a comic book style series of adventures for these two alien humanoids. She invited me on board to write all the scripts, and then, acting as director, she would pose and photograph the figures in front of a green screen, and through the use of computer magic and her own fantastic graphic arts skills, render up a bunch of panel images that comprise the outrageous antics of this duo.

We created several chapters, and saw them printed in the magazine HAUTEDOLL over the course of two years, until budget constraints eventually forced them to drop our series. Helen and I will be publishing all of the chapters online over the next year or so (which can be viewed at the Space Force Adventures website).
So, for the uninitiated, Space Force Adventures are the cliffhanger tales of Captain Neojouet Narae and Lieutenant Consilium Narin, officers of The Galactic Confederation’s vaunted Space Force Fleet.
Crewing the Space Force reconnaissance ship, The Lockerlick, Capt. Narae and Lt. Narin are on a top-secret retrieval mission on the out-of-the way and rather technologically primitive planet of Terra, aka, Earth. Their subsequent misadventures, mishaps, and interactions with humanity will leave you rolling on the floor with laughter, and cheering in anticipation of the next exciting chapter.

Space Force Adventures premiered in Chapter One: Footfall, in the December 2007 issue of HAUTEDOLL Magazine.

You can view the first online archived chapter of Space Force Adventures at:

Many people say poetry is a reflection of something that happened in the poet's life. Do you find that true as well with your poetry?

Absolutely! I would say that over half of my poems are very autobiographical. Sure, I write my share of pure fantasy poems, but, in the long run, every one of my poems touches upon an aspect of my mood, my dreads, my loves, my inspirations, and thus, my life.

Can you tell us a bit about Jubilant Whispers and where we can find it?

My second book of poetry. Wow. How could such a thing come to pass? I find myself momentarily nonplussed at this unexpected milestone in my life. Not quite two years ago (though it feels like yesterday) I put the final touches on a collection of sixty poems (fifty-nine rhyming and one free verse) that comprise the limited print run, hardcover edition titled Autumn Blush. It didn’t exactly jump off the shelves. Yes, this is an old story in the world of literature, and one that I humbly embrace as part and parcel of the journey all writers find themselves on. Still, I had my doubts in late 2008 that I would ever get another such batch of my hopes, dreams, fears, and epiphanies into print again.

Not that I was short on material with which to fill a second collection! On the contrary, by the end of 2008 I found myself near the culmination of an unusual and ultimately uplifting six-month adventure at the writer supportive website of Created by famed film director Francis Ford Coppola, this website is a nexus for writers of all disciplines (poets, short story writers, novelists, playwrights, scriptwriters, you name it) and offers up the free opportunity to workshop one’s written work amidst large groups of like-minded creative minds from all over the world. Upon discovering this wonderful place, I quickly found myself embracing the challenge and opportunity that such an entity offered. A fire was lit inside me, and I fanned the flames.

In the course of just half of a calendar year I wrote, from scratch, seventy-five poems that I threw out in the ring to do battle with harsh criticism, insightful reviews, viii and quite often, good advice. Some days I was jumping with joy, on others, punching the walls with frustration. I found myself re-conceiving, rewriting, and polishing my work to an extent I had never experienced before, and I believe I am a better poet for it. I certainly hope that the work contained in this anthology is proof of that. I leave it to you, the reader, to make that judgment. Roughly forty poems from that creative flood have found their way into this book. I am very proud of them.

So what separates “Jubilant Whispers” from my first collection of poems? What, if anything, marks it as a separate, breathing, living, entity in its own right and not just a sequel to “Autumn Blush?”

This time around, I decided to take chances. I decided to expand my output to embrace free verse as much as I did the loose, technically sloppy rhyming verse that had comprised the majority of my last collection. I decided to examine some of the more painful and emotionally traumatic moments in my childhood; events that I only
recently realized had left deep scars in my psyche. I have looked back upon the length and breadth of my life to date (I’m in my 40’s) and tried to give it some kind of
insightful perspective, in poetry form. I impetuously wrote a tribute to one of the most famous love poems ever penned by an English-speaking poet. Heck, I even wrote a Villanelle and a Rondelet, as well as a couple of nineteenth century American sonnets, daring myself to remain within the tight constraints of such maddening forms.

On a whim, I submitted this hastily thrown together manuscript to Diminuendo Press mere months ago. The rest has been a whirlwind. Embrace your dreams.

JUBILANT WHISPERS can be purchased from, Barnes and, and many other online venues. Also, you can walk into and order a copy of the collection from any of the major bookstore chains.

Can you please tell us a bit about the Fictioneers, why you created the group and how authors can be a part of it?

The Fictioneers is a non-profit, international Writer's Club for folks who write science fiction, fantasy, and horror. It is loosely modeled after those fun children's clubs of mid-20th century Radio fame (Little Orphan Annie, Captain Midnight, etc.) and is intended to be an enjoyable nexus for budding writers and experienced writers to break intellectual bread and crack jokes, so far mostly on the world wide web (though our first in-person meeting, a Fictioneers Launch Party, will be held Saturday Night at BALTICON 2011 over Memorial Day Weekend, in Baltimore, MD). To find out about the club (whose unofficial motto is no dues, no fees, no hassles) just check out our official website, read the charter, and if we look like we're the writer's club for you, please consider joining:

How has working with film helped you as an author?

Well, the only actual films and videos I ever produced were in College. It was after graduation that I spent 12 years writing a large stack of un-produced teleplays and screenplays (all “On Spec,” and no, I neither sold nor optioned any of them). To answer your question, though, I’d say authoring all of those screenplays helped me a great deal with polishing my ability to write good dialogue, and also taught me a lot about economy of language. Scripts are, by nature, lean, mean, fighting machines. The same can be said about a well-written short story. And there you have it.

You have written some screenplays. For those just starting out in writing screenplays, what advice would you give them based on your experience?

Read the following two books from cover to cover: “Adventures in The Screen Trade” by William Goldman and “Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting” by Syd Field. Then open your eyes REALLY wide and understand that the famously nepotistic Hollywood film industry is flooded with tens of thousands of spec screenplays every year. According to Screen Digest, 453 films were produced in the U.S. in 2007. Do the math. It’s lottery odds. Keep your day job and write your brilliant screenplays in the evenings and over the weekends, and pray that your spouse/partner/lover is patient and understanding (because they are going to have to be to put up with your depressions and lack of free time).

Where can people find more out about you?

My home page:
My YouTube Channel: NorthCountryPoet
My FaceBook Account: Michael H. Hanson
The Fictioneers:
Space Force Adventures:

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