Thursday, October 11, 2012

Spotlight Feature on Regina Duke and Her Book Trickster and Other Stories

Trickster and Other Stories, quiet horror and soft science fiction, a collection of six short stories.
"Song of the Elephant Lady" -- Winnie looks like just another old lady in a nursing home, demanding a Terminal's right to an oral history. But she is so much more.
"Garden Variety" -- A new species? Visitors from another world? Or some new form of garden pest?
"Where Shiny Ones Love People" -- Bigfoot's side of the story.
"Aid and Comfort" -- Invasion in the suburbs.
"Face to Face" -- Putting your house on the market can really test your faith.
"Trickster" -- Their claim to the Earth is as old as our own.

Trickster and Other Stories by Regina Duke is a collection of short stories and ordinarily I am not a huge fan of short stories, but Regina’s are far and above some the best that I have read.  Each story is unique, and they each leave you guessing until the end.  The unifying theme seems to be creatures and how humanity keeps changing the global landscape.  Regina’s stories, while entertaining, make me think about things instead of just rushing through the story to get to the end!  In one of the stories, there is a surprise in a man’s garden,  that is so unexpected you won’t believe it.  In another, we discover how another creature may view humankind, and see ourselves through their eyes. It is such a unique perspective, and not at all what I was expecting out of the group of short stories.  There are hair-raising moments and others that make you realize that there are some things in this life that just cannot be explained.  There is a lot of good things that I can say about Regina’s stories, but I really believe that one must see for themselves.  The stories caused me to pause for moments of reflection on the validity of thoughts that are presented.  Not only are they entertaining but they are thought provoking as well.  I recommend that you check out this collection.  And maybe you will fall in love with Regina’s stories just as I have.

R&M's Interview with Regina Duke

R&M:  Can you tell us an interesting fact about you, your writing, or anything at all?  Or, is there anything in particular you want the readers to know about you?
Regina:  Like Gerry (in “Face to Face”) I think my life is totally mundane, but I find myself faced with absurdities from time to time. Fortunately the craziness in my life is a bit less terminal than what he encounters. I think my hobby as a dog trainer might be interesting. I also write about my dogs. I love to knit, but only during the winter.
R&M:  When did you first know that writing was what you wanted to do as a career?
Regina:  I was making up stories before I had paper or pens to write them down with. My younger sister would ask me to tell her bedtime stories. One night I told her a story so frightening that she screamed for mama and I got in big trouble. My horror roots run deep! LOL
I used to buy my own supplies with my allowance and began writing novels in binders at age 13. Oh my, that was a very long time ago! So I have had a lot of practice.
R&M:  When you are working on a book, do you plan ahead, or do you let the story flow as you write?
Regina:  In the early years, I just let the story flow. Over the years, as I took writing classes and workshops and read books on the craft, I learned to aim my plot in a general direction.  For short stories, the seed of the idea is so compact that I can still let the story flow. However, for novels I find it most productive to write my setup, then jump to the end and write the last fourth of the book. Once I know how it ends, I can determine exactly what has to happen in the middle chapters to get me there!
R&M:  Is there a special place in your home that you work at?
Regina:  I do have a room in my home that I call my “office,” but it is too isolated. I found myself making excuses to take breaks so I could step into the living room and check on the dogs, or look at the garden, or catch part of the Yankees game. So I decided if writing and indie publishing was going to be my full-time job, I should write where I am comfortable. Other people have a dining room. I have an office with French doors leading to the garden. Oh my gosh! I just realized that phrase describes what I used to dream of having!!!
R&M:  Are any of your characters in your books based on people that you know in real life?
Regina: Like most writers, I draw inspiration from people I see every day. However, I never put real people into my books. I may think, “I love that mannerism!” and give it to one of my characters. Winnie Poulet (“Song of the Elephant Lady”) was inspired by my favorite grandmother, but no one who knew my grandmother would read Winnie’s description and say, “Oh, isn’t that Ina?” My characters are “homemade.” I pull different traits together to match who that character is.
Of course, there are always those characters who spring full grown and fully formed  into my mind. My ground-dwelling inspirations for human vampire tales were like that. Ooliff and Tyepl (“Trickster”) just took over my brain and demanded that I pay attention. My job was to tell their story.
R&M:  What is your opinion on Indie publishing versus mainstream publishing?
Regina:  I love indie publishing because it allows more talented authors to share their work. I never managed to squeeze through the tiny eye of the traditional publishing needle, although I had begun receiving very encouraging rejections. Editors loved my narrative voice, they loved my stories and plots, but there was no place for me in their lineup. Since going indie, I have learned a great deal more about traditional publishing and how it works, and frankly, I have never been so grateful for those rejections. My characters and fictional worlds are mine to play with, and I can write stories nonstop without worrying that some publisher will tell me to change my pen name or slow down.
R&M:  What does your family think of your writing?
Regina:  They are very encouraging. My brother even insists on reading everything I write, even my romances! Now that is true devotion.
R&M:  How has being published changed your life, if any way?
Regina:  It has made me a much stronger and more prolific writer! My skills seem to improve with every book, thank goodness! I work hard to make sure each new title is better than the last. It has also filled me confidence about my creative endeavors. People love my stories! I can’t please everyone, but for those who enjoy my genres, I am dedicated to giving them my best effort every time I publish.
R&M:  What are you currently working on?  We would love to know what is coming next from you.
Regina:  I am working on The Wedding Hazard, my next marriage of convenience novel. I already have a beautiful cover. Hopefully, it won’t be long now!
R&M:  What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?
Regina:  Write as much as possible. Take classes and workshops. I once took a short story correspondence course and learned a great deal. Read, read, read. If you find an author whose voice you love, immerse yourself in those books. Find time to write every day, if possible. Turn off the TV. Write on your lunch hour. Go to Starbucks and take over a table. Go to writers’ conferences and find people who write in your genre. Make friends and find critique partners. Accept the possibility that your first draft may be lousy. Just keep writing.
R&M:   What hardships have you encountered while writing your books?
Regina:  There were four very difficult years when my mother was dying and one of my sisters was deteriorating as well. It was very difficult to write during that time. In fact, after those years ended, I found two-thirds of a book manuscript that I could not even remember writing. I mean, I know I wrote it, I had copious character notes and other details written down proving that I had written it during those hard times, but I had completely blocked it out. So strange how the mind survives crisis.

Fun Questions:
1.    Favorite flavor of ice cream: Any kind of soft serve. Love the soft serve. Why can’t someone invent a truly sugar-free soft serve?  *sigh* Now I substitute with homemade frozen-banana smoothies. Almost as good. :-)
2.   Favorite color: Every color but brown. I don’t mind browns in nature or as part of wooden furniture, but I feel that brown should know its place.
3.   Favorite animal:  Dogs! I love animals, including cats, horses, etc. But my life is filled with the joy of dogs and doggy activities. I had very little time to play with my pets while working full-time for others. Now I make time every week to take training classes and go to dog shows.
4.   Favorite season of the year: Now that I am retired from my “day job,” I love every season of the year!
5.   Favorite Author: I cannot answer this because I know I will leave someone out. Let me say, in honor of Halloween, that my favorite DEAD authors include Isaac Asimov, Rex Stout, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, and H. P. Lovecraft.
6.   Favorite drink: Water. I know, I know, boring. But there you go.
7.   Favorite food: Oranges, apples, bananas. Fruit is my favorite food group.
8.   Favorite Halloween Candy: Oh, for the days when I could eat sugar! LOL My favorites used to be Snickers bars, Reeses cups, and Skittles.

Regina Duke’s Somewhat Unorthodox Character Interview

Buzz Kilgore, local news reporter: We’re coming to you live on the evening news from the Virginia Foothills south of Reno, Nevada where construction workers have uncovered some kind of mass grave.  Hang on, I think one of the workers is approaching. Phil, turn the camera this way. Sir? Sir, may I have a word? We’re live on the air, and--

Construction Worker: Get out of my way! You crazy? Get your cameras and get out of here!

Buzz: Just a few words! Damn. Oh, sorry. It’s pretty tense out here. (shuffling through notebook) Preliminary interviews indicated four or five adult forms, probably mummified humans given their emaciated state, and-- Hey! Hey, Phil, where you going?! Bring that camera back here!

Phil: Screw this! Turn around, you idiot! You want the camera? Take it!

Buzz: Hey! That’s expensive equipment! You can’t just-- Maybe-- Well, hell, it can’t be that hard. Oof, this thing is heavier than it looks. Alright, then. Can you hear me at the station? Are you getting this feed? Okay. I’m going to take this camera over to the excavation and get us a first hand look at what’s going on. Hmph. What are those? Someone’s starving greyhounds? No, too big for dogs. The woman on your screen is Professor Ingrid Veckman from the University. She’s a physical anthropologist, and she was asked by the police to come take a look, and--  Oh, my gosh. What’s all the screaming about?
Let me jog a little faster here. Oh, here comes a policeman. Officer? Officer, what’s happening?

Policeman: Get out of here! Run!

Ingrid Veckman: No! No weapons! Are you mad?! Don’t shoot, for God’s sake!

Buzz: Oh, my God, gunshots! Are you getting this at the station? The sun is behind the mountains now but we’ve still got a lot of twilight. I know this camera can still pick up. I’m trying to get closer, but-- Here comes Professor Veckman. Maybe-- What the hell? Is that--? Professor! Are you bleeding?

Ingrid Veckman: (panting, shaken) Where’s your truck? Your news van?

Buzz: Down the hill a ways.

Ingrid Veckman: Quick! We’ve got to get inside. Run, man! For God’s sake!

Buzz: I’m coming! But I wanted video! Damn, this camera’s slowing me down. Dr. Veckman! Wait up!

Ingrid Veckman: It’s every woman for herself! Is that van unlocked? Drop your camera and run, you fool! They’ve disturbed the nest! Those creatures are nesting! And they’ll kill us all before they give up their young!

Buzz: You mean, that brown mummy thing? Wings?! It has wings like a bat! Oh, my God! (camera crashes to ground) Hold the door! I’m coming! Let me in the van! Let me--!

(dissolve to anchor desk)

Anchorwoman: Ladies and gentlemen, we apologize for the abrupt loss of our signal. Maybe we should check on the weather, and then we’ll see if we can reestablish our live feed. No? (to someone offstage) What’s going on? Read this? All right, all right!
All residents of the Virginia Foothills are advised to remain indoors. Do not, under any circumstances, leave your homes. All small pets should be brought indoors. This alert will remain in force until further notice.

(What’s all the fuss about? Read all about Ooliff and Tyepl in TRICKSTER AND OTHER STORIES.)

(Copyright 2012, Linda White / Regina Duke)

Stalker Links:

Buy Link: