Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Guest Author: Hank Quense

Today's guest is Hank Quense an author of humorous and satiric fantasy and scifi stories. He has a collection of twenty short stories called Tunnel Vision. It is available in both print and ebook editions. Rather than discuss the collection itself, we'll talk about writing fiction in general and Hank's writing in particular.

What have you had published?
I have over three dozen short stories and a few fiction writing articles that have been published. I also have a novel called Fool's Gold in print and ebook versions and an ebook on fiction writing Build a Better Story.

What are the Tunnel Vision stories about?
The main theme is laughs. The characters all suffer from an overabundance of tunnel vision and the stories bounce from modern Manhattan to a mythical land called Gundarland. They don't take anything serious. Politicians, Shakespeare, Lord of the Rings, the military, aliens, the undead, they all get cut down a notch or two.

You've written both short stories and novels. Is there a difference other than the length?
There are a number of differences. The short length of a story restricts the number of characters and subplots that can be deployed. Usually, the story only has room for one Point of View character, usually the protagonist. I have used the protag's sidekick as the POV character in some stories.

The Tunnel Vision stories are populated by a number of bizarre characters. Do these characters just pop into your head or do they require a lot of development work?
Both situations occur. Sometimes they do pop into my mind, but not usually. Most of the time, I have to work to develop a character that has something bizarre in his makeup. Occasionally, an external stimulus will trigger a character. Or even a story.

As an example, several years ago, one of my daughters gave me a grilling spatula as a birthday gift. It was much bigger than the one I use indoors. One side was sharpened and could be used as a knife to cut food while it cooked. One day I was using it I hefted it and thought it could be used as a weapon. Click. Burga, my warrior-cook, sprang into existence. Burga is the hero in Recipe for Revenge, one of the stories in Tunnel Vision.

In your stories, many of your characters are aliens or fantasy creatures. Is there a reason for this?

Using dwarfs and aliens means I can address sensitive issues without the Political Correctness Police raiding my home. For instance, I wrote a spoof of Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, one of the most anti-Semitic plays ever written. I cast Shylock as a dwelf (half dwarf and half elf). In my story I can treat him in an insulting manner and it comes off as humor, whereas in Shakespeare's play it is considered hateful.

Here's another reason. In my most recent stories, elves are thuggish and larcenous. They belong to large gangs called "families" headed up by a Godmother. If I described a nationality of humans this way, I'd get sued by lawyers for defamation. Somehow, I don't think the elves will drag me into court.

How did you go about writing twenty stories for the collection?
I didn't. That is, I didn't sit down one day and say to myself, I think I'll write a bunch of short stores and put them into a collection. These stories were written and published over a number of years. Primary Research was published in September of 2003. It was one of the first stories I ever sold. I wrote the first draft of it in 2000. You can see that between writing this story and getting Tunnel Vision published in 2009 there was quite a time lag. Actually, it wasn't until after I had a number of stories published that it occurred to me to build a collection.

What do reviewers say about the collection?
Here's one I like a lot.
"Quense's stories are filled with unlikely heroes whose courage and idealism are exceeded only by their inability to understand human relationships. They bumble their way to victory, only to find they failed to understand the situation. Both rescuer and rescued are afflicted with "tunnel vision" and can't see the big picture. But the reader can, and therein lies much of the humor, as we observe human foibles from a safe distance."
This came for young adult author Jan Clark

Does reading your stories have any possible side-effects?

A. I'm glad you asked that because there are precautions that should be taken by readers. First, check with your doctor to determine if you are healthy enough to take part in spontaneous laughter. Second, if you are suffering from a contagious disease such as the flu, wear a mask to limit the spread of airborne germs when you laugh out loud. Finally, no one should read my stories while driving a car or operating heavy machinery.

How can blog readers learn more about you and your stories?
My website has a lot of stuff about me and my stories and my writing. My blog has several new posts every week. I blog about my books, the characters I create, life in modern times, book reviews and even an occasional rant.
Here is Youtube link to a trailer for the Mead Cup, one of the stories in the collection.


Madison Scott said...

Hi, Hank! Thanks for blogging with us today!

hanque said...

It is my pleasure to post on this blog

Anonymous said...

You can follow my antics, comments and rants on twitter: