AFOW Interview #10 – JM Ames

Today, I am featuring, well, myself! My story “The Californian” is included in the anthology “A Flash of Words,” alongside 48 other wonderful tales! Here are the answers I provided for this blog tour:

What was the inspiration for your story?
The Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles was the main inspiration. The Eagles’ song ‘Hotel California’ helped shape it.

Was there a time when writing where you had to sit back stunned at what just happened? If so, what was it?
Yes, twice. My first published short story ‘The Last Ride’ is a creative nonfiction about my boyhood best friend. I had no intention of writing it, but I sat down and it just poured out of me – the entire story in about 90 minutes time. It went through a couple edits after but the story itself didn’t change at all. The second time was with a still unfinished work called ‘The Cleansing.’ I had just a basic story in mind involving the atrocities committed in war, and how the people involved have to somehow come back to society and pretend they are the same. What came out was much, much darker, and is the goriest, most violent thing I’ve ever written. Made myself physically ill with that one.

What do you think is the key to writing a compelling flash story?
You can’t be a lazy river, meandering through the plains. You must be a roaring rapid, and get straight to the point quickly, and with a lot of action.

Do you write every day?
I try to , but I’ve been working so much that hasn’t been possible lately. New position is weaning my hours down though, so more writing time for me! 

Was this the first time you wrote a flash fiction story?
Nope. Flashes and shorts seem to be my bread and butter, but only because of my work hours. Once that dies down, time to get back to my planned longer works.

Apart from writing, what do you do for fun?
Not work. Spend time with my kids, read, go hiking or to the beach.

Which author(s) influenced your writing the most?
Stephen King, HG Wells, JRR Tolkein, GRR Martin, William Shakespeare.

Can you relate to any of the characters in your flash fiction story?
Only in that I know the frustration of flight delay layovers, and the difficulty of LAX.

What is your writing space like?
It is also the home office from which I work my main job at. An L-Shaped desk with 4 monitors (2 each for work and home), a nice chair, multiple fans, and a door I can close to keep children and pets from disturbing my work.

Did your story turn out the way you planned, or were there some surprises along the way?
Overall as planned, but as usual minor details flesh out or develop as I write.

How long did it take to write your story?
Tough one. First version was different and quite sparse, probably a couple hours total then, but then I picked it back up and heavily revised for this anthology.

Do you think writing flash fiction is a challenge with the word restriction?
It was at first, but at this point it is usually not a problem for me. I think I will have a problem when I go back to longer works.

If you were on death row, what would you want your last meal to be?
Lamb chops with lemon pepper, roasted brussels sprouts with hazelnuts, with a nice dark stout and three fingers of a good strong bourbon.

Pick up a copy of “A Flash of Words” in paperback or eBook at any book retailer worldwide, including Amazon. If purchased directly from Scout Media, you will receive a FREE companion soundtrack CD!! #ScoutMedia#AFOW

AFOW Interview #4 – Elizabeth Montague

Today, I am featuring author Elizabeth Montague whose story “Albatross” is included in the anthology “A Flash of Words,” alongside my own brand-new story, “The Californian

What was the inspiration for your story?
Inspiration for my story came from two sources. The first was a prompt given to me by a colleague at work. I asked him to give me three words and he provided me with banana, melon, albatross. That seemed to lend itself straight away to comedy so I decided to challenge myself by writing a story that was tragic rather than funny. I always look for music to inspire my work and when thinking of songs that made me sad the song Another Man’s Cause by The Levellers came to mind. Combining the spirit of the song with the words slowly became Albatross as it is today.

What do you think is the key to writing a compelling flash story?
You have to grab the reader in the first sentence. With such a story if the reader is not invested early on then it will be an unsatisfying conclusion if they reach the end without having truly been gripped by the story.

Was this the first time you wrote a flash fiction story?
I’ve written a lot of flash fiction before Albatross. I started very much in the world of fan fiction where 100 word drabble challenges were common. As I became serious about writing my own material I found them to be a great form of writing practice, helping me make my writing tight and as a way to get the annoying little stories that were in my head down on paper.

Apart from writing, what do you do for fun?
I’m an avid reader and enjoy reading the works produced by the authors I meet through my work as well as challenging myself to read a wide range of available fiction. I’m love theatre and am lucky enough to work in one so I get to experience all different styles without having to travel far.

What is your writing space like?
I’m a really messy writer and my work space is situated on my sofa in my living room. My ideal writing session involves no one else being home, cushions piled up behind me, local radio station on and a nice candle burning. I have my laptop on a stand on my lap and notebooks, sheets of paper and anything else I’ve scribbled ideas on spread out on the seat beside me. I’ve tried having a more formal space but it didn’t work so it’s back to me on my couch with a candle.

Did your story turn out the way you planned, or were there some surprises along the way?
It originally started out being set in the First World War but, bleak as that scenario was, I wanted it to be bleaker so I set it in a future where humankind is still fighting only this time they don’t know how or why, they’ve just been fighting for so long that it is what they do.

How long did it take to write your story?
It took several weeks to get the story right. The bare bones of it I wrote in one sitting but it took several rewrites and trips to my lovely supportive writers’ group to get it ready to send in. I think I worked harder on Albatross than I have done on much longer pieces.

Do you think writing flash fiction is a challenge with the word restriction?
It’s definitely a challenge but a great one that I think every writer should undertake. You have such a small amount of space but you still have to fill it with plot, character and emotion. I could easily spend the length of a flash fiction piece just setting up a scene so to write an entire story really focusses your mind and skills.

If you were on death row, what would you want your last meal to be?
I’d definitely have to start with my Nan’s salmon mousse, so brilliantly 1970s but I have so many fond memories of it. For the main section, definitely my Mum’s roast dinner with Beef with French mustard, garlic and rosemary roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, peas and proper thick beef gravy. Dessert would be a chocolate brownie sundae with whipped cream and sprinkles. Preferably all would be provided with some form of getaway gear, possibly stashed inside the Yorkshire pudding.

What is a quote that you find inspirational/motivates you to write?
The quote I have always carried with me since the first day I heard it comes from the musical Rent, ‘the opposite of war isn’t peace, it’s creation.’ Whilst I know the world will never be a perfect place I hope that in my little corner I can create works that make people try to find a common ground with their neighbour so we can all be a bit kinder to one another.

Pick up a copy of “A Flash of Words” in paperback or eBook at any book retailer worldwide, including Amazon. If purchased directly from Scout Media, you will receive a FREE companion soundtrack CD!! #ScoutMedia#AFOW
http://www.scoutmediabooksmusic.com/a-flash-of-words

‘The Californian’ is out now, ‘Waves’ due out February 15th!

Folks,

It may be some time next month before I can update the website fully, but here are some updates for you in the meantime.


‘The Californian’ has officially been published now in Scout Media’s ‘A Flash of Words’ anthology. You can pick it up now on Amazon or the Scout Media website AFOW2


‘Waves’ will be published on February 15th in the ‘Charmed Writers Present Flash Fiction 2019’ anthology. Stay tuned for more details!


While a release date has yet to be announced, ‘Thankful’ has been accepted into Zombie Pirate Publishing’s ‘Flash Fiction Addiction’ anthology. Will provide more detail as I get it.


Both ‘Not Yet Dark’ and ‘Karma’ are out to publishers now.


Stay well-read my friends, and always Expect the Unexpected!

~JM Ames

JM Ames to pen foreword in upcoming short story collection!

Fall is shaping up to be quite the busy season!

In addition to two electrifying Flash Fiction anthologies that contain a story of mine coming out, I have had the honor of being asked to write the foreword of an upcoming collection of short stories by a well-known and respected member of the Indie Author community. I am still writing said foreword, but once it is done and the author approves, I will reveal who it is. This really is an incredible honor and a first for me.

Upcoming releases:  ‘Waves‘ in Charmed Writers Presents Flash Fiction 2018, and ‘The Californian‘ in A Flash of Words.

I also have ‘Not Yet Dark‘, ‘Thankful‘ and ‘Karma‘ out to publishers now.

Stories I am actively working on:

  • Phil – Those of you who have been with me since the beginning may remember this one. It was the very attempt of mine at writing a story. It is quite interesting for me to revisit what I thought was good writing 3 years ago. This is getting a full rewrite. A struggling beauty salon in Cambria, California gets the karmic balance it needs when a highly unusual Rhododendron is placed in it’s waiting area. Fantasy, PG-13.
  • Allie’s Dog – Fate brings young Allie together with a young seal pup off of Catalina Island, California. As they grow older, their bond grows unusually deep. When an unnatural disaster threatens the island as a whole, the two must work together to save everyone, including each other. This is a Destiny Reborn story.  Fantasy, PG-13.
  • Blackstar – Modern-day prospectors search for long-lost veins of gold and silver near Silverado, California. They finally find what they were searching for, but have also found what has been protecting it all these years- and it is not at all happy about that. Fantasy, PG-13
  • The Cleansing – Follows a twisted psychopath’s descent into madness, mayhem, and murder. Horror, NC-17.

Which one interests you the most?

~JM Ames
Expect the Unexpected.