Welcome to the Amazing Stories BLOG HORDE INTERVIEWS!
The ASM Blog Horde is a diverse and wonderful species. I have the privilege of talking with all of them, and I get to share those chats with you. In this long-running series, you will have the opportunity to peek inside the minds of the ASM bloggers to to see just what makes them tick.
I hope you enjoy the series as much as I have enjoyed preparing it for you. Please feel free to ask questions, or just let the Horde know you’ve stopped by for a visit.
Bloggers love comments, so let them know you’re out there!
RICKY L. BROWN was born and raised just outside of Detroit, Michigan. He still lives in the area, and has worked as a mechanical engineer for nearly twenty-four years. Ricky’s supportive wife (literal and figurative) now lets him play Mister Mom to their three kids while he gets to write, read, and write about what he reads. Between getting rejection letters for his own writing, he has posted reviews on Doctor Fantastique’s Show of Wonders and Examiner.com.
Fran Friel for Amazing Stories: Welcome to the ASM Blog Horde Interviews, Ricky. I’m so glad you’ve joined us. Please tell us how you became interested in blogging for Amazing Stories Magazine.
RB: Back in November of 2011 on an earlier incarnation of the Amazing Stories website, Steve Davidson posted that he was getting backlogged with a couple books from publishers in need of reviews, so he put out a call for assistance. I offered my help and was later thrilled when he posted my review of Daniel Polansky’s, Low Town on his blog the following January.
Encouraged by what Steve was trying to accomplish in bringing back Amazing Stories, I’ve been following its re-evolution ever since. Needless to say, I was honored when I received an invitation to be a contributor to the website, and I jumped at the opportunity.
ASM: Amazing Stories Magazine has a wide variety of blogging categories. In what categories will we find your blogs, Ricky?
RB: I primarily cover literary reviews of science fiction, but we all know how the genres often bleed over, so I reach into fantasy and horror on occasion. There are some amazing writers out there right now worthy of discussion, but I still have a soft spot for the earlier works.
ASM: Tell us a little bit about your previous work in the publishing or genre industry?
RB: I haven’t published anything as of yet. Yet! But I was recently invited to write for the website of a really cool classic science fiction magazine. We’ll have to wait and see how that one turns out!
ASM: I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot of you around the writers’ water cooler, Ricky! And for now, how might you categorize the type of blog you enjoy writing for that “really cool classic science fiction magazine,” AKA. Amazing Stories?
RB: Many of the blogs on Amazing Stories draw on the compassion of the fandom and entice the readers to think, appreciate, and participate in discussions of the topics. That’s my goal. I often review books and short stories with an observer’s perspective rather than just an opinionated review.
I won’t shy away from passing judgment on something deserving, but my reviews are different from most of the ones you might find through online retailers. I enjoy discussing key elements of literature that make the work unique or question something that draws my attention.
ASM: Amazing Stories Magazine is focusing on the genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. What’s your favorite genre?
RB: Science Fiction holds a slight edge over the other two because of the “what-if” factor. Even when facing theoretical limitations, the speculation element often leads us to other advances in real life technology. Fantasy and Horror are more of an escape from our limitations. All three are vital to the growth of imagination, but I believe Science Fiction is more of a doorway to the possible.
RB: I have a long list of favorites reaching across many genres. From the classics, I’d have to give a nod to Edgar Allan Poe. When I first read, “The Tell-Tale Heart,” as a kid, I was floored by the power of his imagery. Looking back now, I understand where I gained my appreciation for the macabre as an art form instead of just something morbid and twisted. Well, most of the time anyway.
Hands down, my favorite writer of today is Jack McDevitt. His innate ability to turn typical everyman people into compelling characters is the backbone behind the plausibility of his storylines. A lot of science fiction writers ask the familiar “what-if” and just drop in archetypical characters. McDevitt asks “what-if” and lets his characters develop naturally without being forced. It’s a style many aspiring writers can and should learn from.
ASM: I met Jack at the Nebula Awards this past weekend. He’s a super-nice man, as well as a marvelous writer. Have you read any new or lesser-known authors you would like to bring to our attention?
RB: City of Demons by Kevin Harkness was a pleasant surprise. It’s a fresh change from the overused vampire-love-wizard-school stories for young adults. With an acute knack for creating defined characters along with some incredibly original monster imagery, the author gives hope for the next generation of young readers.
RB: I have a habit of reading more than one book at a time. I’ve been reading The Aylesford Skull by James P. Blaylock. The character of Professor Langdon St. Ives is predictably eccentric for the genre, but the twisted bad guy, Dr. Narbondo, is keeping me interested.
I’m also reading a 1976 edition of Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker by George Lucas but ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster. So far I’ve discovered an earlier conversation where Biggs tells Luke about his plans to join the rebellion, which I hadn’t heard before. Sadly, I didn’t find anything new to prove my argument that Han shot first though.
ASM: Are you a genre movie fan? What are your favorite titles? And have you seen any lately that you would recommend for us, or suggest we avoid?
RB: I grew up watching the classics like, When Worlds Collide, The Fly, and Fantastic Voyage. I’d be hard pressed to suggest any to avoid though, because I love them all. It’s kind of like looking at a child’s crayon drawing and just appreciating the effort. If you have enough passion to produce something in a genre I love, it’ll get a thumbs up from me. C’mon! Robot Monster wasn’t that bad, was it?
ASM: What’s your day job?
RB: I worked almost a quarter century as a mechanical engineer, and during that time I was able to earn a degree in English Literature. Now that I’m a stay at home dad, I try to squeeze in as much reading and writing time as I can.
ASM: That’s impressive, Ricky. You’ve been a busy man. Now that we’ve got the background scoop, please tell us something about yourself most folks might not know.
RB: I enjoy camping with my family. Not the backpack, sleeping bag and tent kind of thing. I’m talking about real camping in a fifth-wheel with air conditioning, a shower, a microwave and two TV’s.
RB: Bacon. There is no substitute. That is until my cardiologist reads this.
ASM: You’re too funny. And don’t worry, I won’t tell your Doc.
You’ve been blogging for ASM for a while now. Which of your blog titles would you recommend to our readers to give them a taste of your work?
RB: “Writing Reviews – In My Opinion” is my favorite post on Amazing Stories so far because it was from the heart, and it says who I am as a writer. “In The Beginning” was fun to write too because I got to talk about some of my favorite first lines in literature.
ASM: Sounds good, Ricky. I’ll be checking them out. How about your fellow ASM bloggers? Whose blog posts would you recommend to our readers?
RB: All of them! Seriously. I’m humbled by this group.
ASM: I agree, Ricky. It’s quite a talented bunch. Tell us, have you won any awards in the industry?
RB: No, but did I tell you I was invited to write for the website of a classic science fiction magazine once?
ASM: I think you mentioned that, but it can’t be said too many times. Is there anything you would like to share with us that we haven’t asked you?
RB: I once took second place in my sixth grade spelling bee. I came so close to winning, but then I misspelled the word “college.” Go figure. I love words, but my skills in spelling them have declined ever since.
ASM: Well, Ricky, spell-check is a close friend of mine, so I completely understand. Now that you’ve totally won us over, where else can our readers find you on the Web?
RB: I can be followed and contacted at:
RB: Han shot first?
ASM: Well played, Mr. Brown. Well played.
Dear AMAZING READERS, thank you for being with us. I hope you’ve enjoyed tonight’s interview. Please come back next week for another featured blogger in the Amazing Stories Blog Horde Series.
We’ll keep the light on for you!