Meet the Members: Stacey Berg

“It’s been wonderfully affirming to meet other writers in various stages of our journeys to publication.”

-Stacey Berg

A member of the Writers’ League of Texas for five years, Stacey Berg lives in Houston.

Scribe: In what genre(s) do you write?

Stacey Berg: I write speculative fiction — science fiction and fantasy for adults and teens. My first novel, Dissension, was published by Harper Voyager Impulse in 2016.

Scribe: What author would you most like to have a drink with, and what’s the first question you would ask them?

SB: William Gibson, the author of seminal speculative fiction like Neuromancer and The Peripheral (and inventor of the word “cyberspace”). I’d ask him how he comes up with his astounding metaphors; for example, the description in his essay “Since 1948” of punk as “the detonation of some slow-fused projectile buried deep in society’s flank.”

Scribe: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what book would you want to have with you to keep you sane?

SB: The complete Shakespeare would be my one indispensable book. There are dozens of worlds to explore in there, and hundreds of people to keep you company. The Riverside version is the one I grew up with, but maybe I’d pick the Norton so I’d have a new (to me) edition for the desert island.

Scribe: What have you learned from your association with the Writers’ League?

SB: It’s been wonderfully affirming to meet other writers in various stages of our journeys to publication. The Writers’ League’s Agents & Editors Conferences definitely helped me take the crucial step from writing secretly in my study to submitting my work to agents and ultimately publishers.

Scribe: Where do you see your writing taking you (or you taking it) in the future?

SB: My first two novels have been set in the moderately distant future; I’m looking forward to stepping sideways into whole other worlds.

Scribe: Here are the Writers’ League, we love sharing book recommendations. What’s one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down?

SB: I’m so far behind in my “to-be-read” pile that I’m not sure I read anything that technically qualifies. But I’m counting Maria Dahvana Headley’s Magonia, since she was at this year’s Texas Book Festival.

Scribe: Is there anything else about you that you would like to share with the world? An opportunity for blatant self-promotion!

SB: Regeneration, the sequel to Dissension, is out now from Harper Voyagers Impulse. You can buy it here.

Thanks, Stacey!

If you’re a Writers’ League member and you’d be interested in being interviewed for our Meet the Members feature, email us at member@writersleague.org for more information. It’s a great way for other members to get to know you and for you to share a bit about what you’re working on!

Meet the Members: Elise Holland

” In November 2016, I co-founded 2 Elizabeths, a short fiction and poetry publication, with my mother. We are committed to reading each and every single submission we receive, as there is no slush pile for us.”

-Elise Holland

A member of the Writers’ League of Texas since October, Elise Holland lives in Houston, TX.

elise-hollandScribe: In what genre(s) do you write?

Elise Holland: I write articles, essays, short fiction, and poetry for 2 Elizabeths, which is a grassroots publication I co-founded with my mother late last year.

Scribe: What author would you most like to have a drink with, and what’s the first question you would ask them?

EH: That’s such a tough question! There are so many incredible authors that I would be honored to meet. A few that come to mind are Emma Straub, Erin Loechner, Gabriela Pereira, Mirtha Michelle Castro Mármol, or the literary ghosts of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. I recently had the opportunity to interview Mirtha Michelle Castro Mármol for 2 Elizabeths. She continues to inspire me as a poet, but also as a woman. She is ceaseless in her innate ability to encourage women to uplift other women. Hearing her discuss how her mother helped to shape her, how her own girl friends support her, and her desire to continue to help other people to grow was both inspiring and motivating. She is truly a rare gem.

Scribe: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what book would you want to have with you to keep you sane?

EH: Any one of Emma Straub’s books would most likely be among my top choices on a deserted island. Her witty sense of humor would keep me sane in a situation like that! If I truly had to select one, it would be Other People We Married. For one thing, I am a lover of short stories. (Very few people know she published a collection of short stories, and they are excellent!) For another thing, it could not be her book The Vacationers, as I would likely just grow far too jealous of the luxurious European vacation featured in that novel. I suppose it could be Modern Lovers, which is also fantastic, but for the purpose of this conversation, Other People We Married it is!

Scribe: What have you learned from your association with the Writers’ League?

EH: I am still a relatively new member; however, the most important thing I’ve learned thus far is about the endeavors of other writers in Texas. I am a massive fan of Scribe, and I adore the opportunity to read these interviews of fellow writers. It is a massive honor to have the opportunity to participate as well!

Scribe: Where do you see your writing taking you (or you taking it) in the future?

EH: We are massively focused on 2 Elizabeths and the opportunities that it creates as a platform for other writers of short fiction and poetry. At this point, after only a couple of months, we have been able to publish the work of five writers and pay them for their contributions. In five years I hope that 2 Elizabeths grows to a point that we can offer exponentially more to writers of short fiction and poetry.

Scribe: Here at the Writers’ League, we love sharing book recommendations. What’s one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down?

EH: I just finished reading The After Party by Anton DiSclafani. The novel centers around the epitome of Texas glamour in the 1950s and focuses on Houston. Being from Houston myself, I found the entire story to be enthralling.

Scribe: Is there anything else about you that you would like to share with the world? An opportunity for blatant self-promotion!

EH: In November 2016, I co-founded 2 Elizabeths, a short fiction and poetry publication, with my mother. We are committed to reading each and every single submission we receive, as there is no slush pile for us. We will always pay for the pieces of fiction, poetry, and cover art that we select to publish. For a copy of our submission guidelines, click here. We would love to hear from you!

Thanks, Elise!

If you’re a Writers’ League member and you’d be interested in being interviewed for our Meet the Members feature, email us at member@writersleague.org for more information. It’s a great way for other members to get to know you and for you to share a bit about what you’re working on!

Meet the Members: Will Ottinger

“I’ve come late to writing fiction, but I believe I have a readable voice that resonates with audiences.”

-Will Ottinger

A member of the Writers’ League of Texas for one month, Will Ottinger lives in Houston.

will-ottingerScribe: In what genre(s) do you write?

Will Ottinger: I’m exploring several genres but leaning toward historical fiction, mysteries, and literary fiction.

Scribe: What author would you most like to have a drink with, and what’s the first question you would ask them?

WO: First author (if he was alive!) with whom I’d have a drink: Ray Bradbury. My question to him: “Of all the memorable characters you’ve created, which one is the closest to yourself?”

Scribe: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what book would you want to have with you to keep you sane?

WO: The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy (we both grew up in the Low Country around Savannah and Charleston).

Scribe: What have you learned from your association with the Writers’ League?

WO: I just joined WLT, so I’m looking forward to learning what the League provides that will hone my writing skills.

Scribe: Where do you see your writing taking you (or you taking it) in the future?

WO: In the future, I would like to develop a series of novels based on the male/female protagonists in two of my books.

Scribe: Here at the Writers’ League, we love sharing book recommendations. What’s one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down?

WO: I’m still looking for a recent can’t-put-it-down book that’s Texas-related, but I really enjoyed The Son by Philipp Meyer several years ago. Excellent read that’s been made into a new miniseries by AMC.

Scribe: Is there anything else about you that you would like to share with the world? An opportunity for blatant self-promotion!

WO: I’ve come late to writing fiction, but I believe I have a readable voice that resonates with audiences. My first novel, A Season for Ravens, let me explore a lifelong fascination and received good reviews. My next novel (to be released later this year), The Savannah Betrayals, takes the reader to an entirely different time period and subject, being set in Savannah, Georgia in 1836. Future plans lean toward historical novels/mysteries, but other than a possible series, upcoming novels will explore different characters, historical periods, and settings. Like almost all new writers, I’m still unraveling the mysteries of promoting my work!

Thanks, Will!

If you’re a Writers’ League member and you’d be interested in being interviewed for our Meet the Members feature, email us at member@writersleague.org for more information. It’s a great way for other members to get to know you and for you to share a bit about what you’re working on!

Meet the Members: Curt Locklear

“I believe in goal-setting, so I do not doubt that my books will ultimately take off and be sought after by all types of readers.”

-Curt Locklear

A member of the Writers’ League of Texas for four years, Curt Locklear lives in The Woodlands, TX.

curt-locklearScribe: In what genre(s) do you write?

Curt Locklear: I write in several genres: contemporary, mystery, and historical fiction. My published novel is historical fiction.

Scribe: What author would you most like to have a drink with, and what’s the first question you would ask them?

CL: Were she alive, I would like to have a drink, probably tea, with Mother Teresa. I would ask her how she was able to persevere and do  so much good for the poor, and indeed for the world, despite incredible odds.

Scribe: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what book would you want to have with you to keep you sane?

CL: I would have to have the Bible, but if I could bring along a fiction book, it would be Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier.

Scribe: What have you learned from your association with the Writers’ League?

CL: I have attended some valuable workshops. I believe the people who run it are a confluence of geniuses. You know what writers need, and I applaud you.

Scribe: Where do you see your writing taking you (or you taking it) in the future?

CL: I believe in goal-setting, so I do not doubt that my books will ultimately take off and be sought after by all types of readers. Although my first novel trilogy is a historical fiction, many of my most enthralled readers do not typically read historical fiction. What I hear the most is something like, “OMG, I love this book. I love the characters.”

Scribe: Here at the Writers’ League, we love sharing book recommendations. What’s one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down?

CL: Anything by Anthony Whitt — sterling writing with strong characters. His books are about Texas cowboys facing incredible danger.

Scribe: Is there anything else about you that you would look to share with the world? An opportunity for blatant self-promotion!

CL: I am a retired educator, having been a principal at elementary, middle school, and high school. I am an accomplished education consultant. In addition, I give talks about the Civil War or other historical eras, always accompanied by my banjo and guitar. I tell corny jokes and make the learning memorable and fun. I’m available to teach on writing, brain theory, and more. www.CurtLocklearAuthor.com and email curt@curtlocklearauthor.com.

Finally, it’s my humble opinion that Writers’ League rocks!

Thanks, Curt!

If you’re a Writers’ League member and you’d be interested in being interviewed for our Meet the Members feature, email us at member@writersleague.org for more information. It’s a great way for other members to get to know you and for you to share a bit about what you’re working on!

Meet the Members: David Eric Tomlinson

“Writing, like nothing else, encourages me to focus on the bigger picture, to try and make sense of my community, my place within it, and how and where change can be affected.”

–David Eric Tomlinson

A member of the Writers’ League of Texas for three years, David Eric Tomlinson lives in Dallas.

tomlinson-webScribe: In what genre(s) do you write?

David Eric Tomlinson: I write fiction and the occasional book review or personal essay.

Scribe: What author would you most like to have a drink with, and what’s the first question you would ask them? 

DET: My college writing professor, novelist and memoirist Mel Freilicher, who I haven’t seen in more than ten years. He always has a unique perspective on the intersection of art and politics, so I’d want him to explain the recent presidential election and what it all means. If anyone can do it, Mel can.

Scribe: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what book would you want to have with you to keep you sane?

DET: Underworld by Don DeLillo. It makes sense of this modern world like nothing I’ve ever read.

Scribe: What have you learned from your association with the Writers’ League?

DET: The Writers’ League has given me access to a whole diverse community of Texas writers, all of them pushing boundaries and taking chances with their work, which is so often excellent. I’ve reviewed several novels for the Members Review, something that has helped hone my own craft, because it forces a closer engagement with a manuscript, which is always a good thing for an author.

Scribe: Where do you see your writing taking you (or you taking it) in the future?

DET: I’ll keep writing novels. It’s a long game, many years from idea to finished product, but that process forces me to both retreat from and engage more deeply with the world around me. There is such a constant barrage of information these days, much of it meaningless. And writing, like nothing else, encourages me to focus on the bigger picture, to try and make sense of my community, my place within it, and how and where change can be affected.

Scribe: Here at the Writers’ League, we love sharing book recommendations. What’s one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down?

DET: I read a fantastic novel by Dallas author Joe Milazzo a few years ago called Crepuscule W/Nellie. It’s about a love triangle between Thelonious Monk, his wife (just diagnosed with cancer), and Monk’s benefactor, a wealthy baroness. It’s a big, brilliant, rambling, gutsy book that dives into jazz and the creative process and intimacy and friendship. Another great one is Carmen Boullosa’s Texas: The Great Theft, about Mexico’s invasion of Texas (which had been stolen from them), in 1859. It’s a funny, irreverent, and politically relevant take on the seemingly endless cast of characters struggling for control of the border.

Scribe: Is there anything else about you that you would like to share with the world? An opportunity for blatant self-promotion! 

My debut novel The Midnight Man was just released this month from Tyrus Books, now a division of Simon & Schuster. It’s a story about five Oklahomans who overcome deep racial, political, and social differences, to form a kind of family unit, in the year preceding the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. The plot revolves around a capital murder trial. We’re having a book launch party on Monday, January 16, at The Wild Detectives bookstore, in Dallas. You can learn more about all of that here: www.DavidEricTomlinson.com.

Thanks, David!

If you’re a Writers’ League member and you’d be interested in being interviewed for our Meet the Members feature, email us at member@writersleague.org for more information. It’s a great way for other members to get to know you and for you to share a bit about what you’re working on!

Meet the Members: John Pipkin

“It’s supremely important for you to have a community of writers to turn to for support and for advice, and for drinks when you finally crawl out of your writing cave.”

-John Pipkin

pipkinA member of the Writers’ League of Texas for over 16 years (and a former WLT Executive Director!), John Pipkin lives in Austin.

Scribe: In what genre(s) do you write?

John Pipkin: Literary Historical Fiction. My book The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter (Bloomsbury) came out in October.

Scribe: What author would you most like to have a drink with, and what’s the first question you would ask them?

JP: David Foster Wallace. I’d like to ask him what was on the deadly-entertaining videotape in Infinite Jest.

(But I don’t think he’d tell me.)

Scribe: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what book would you want to have with you to keep you sane?

JP: John Milton, Paradise Lost (1667). It’s an epic poem, so it has the merit of being really really long, and it holds up under multiple re-readings.

Scribe: What have you learned from your association with the Writers’ League?

JP: It’s supremely important for you to have a community of writers to turn to for support and for advice, and for drinks when you finally crawl out of your writing cave.

Scribe: Where do you see your writing taking you (or you taking it) in the future?

JP: I’ve written novels set in the 18th and 19th centuries, so eventually I’d like to creep up into the 20th century, maybe.

Scribe: Here at the Writers’ League, we love sharing book recommendations. What’s one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down?

JP: Dominic Smith, The Last Painting of Sara de Vos

Scribe: Is there anything else about you that you would like to share with the world? An opportunity for blatant self-promotion!

JP: Ah, I feel like I’ve already been doing a lot of shameless self-promotion on social media lately, so maybe I should pass on this one. (Okay, one thing: the UK edition of The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter came out on December 15, and the large print edition publishes on January 17. That’s it.)

Thanks, John!

If you’re a Writers’ League member and you’d be interested in being interviewed for our Meet the Members feature, email us at member@writersleague.org for more information. It’s a great way for other members to get to know you and for you to share a bit about what you’re working on!

Meet the Members: Douglas Carlyle

“My motto is, ‘Writing Fiction and Saving Lives . . . All in a Day’s Work.'”

–Douglas Carlyle

A Writers’ League of Texas member since 2009, Douglas Carlyle lives near San Antonio.

me-croppedScribe: In what genre(s) do you write?

I write in multiple fiction genres:  Family Drama, Romantic Fantasy, Medical Thriller, and Crime Mystery.

Scribe: What author would you most like to have a drink with, and what’s the first question you would ask them?

Douglas Carlyle: I would like to share absinthe and champagne with Ernest Hemingway. My question to him would be, “If you could narrow it down to one thing, what event had the greatest impact upon your career?”

Scribe: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what book would you want to have with you to keep you sane?

DC: On the Road by Jack Kerouac.

Scribe: What have you learned from your association with the Writers’ League?

DC: Two things immediately come to mind. First, I learned that there are many excellent independent authors around the world who, like me, choose not to pursue traditional publishing. WLT helped me achieve that personal goal. Secondly, writing is acquired talent that takes a substantial amount of effort before one should consider him or herself proficient at the task. Even then, one can never stop refining one’s skillset. WLT offers the ongoing workshops and networking to assist in this matter.

Scribe: Where do you see your writing taking you (or you taking it) in the future?

DC: I’ve published four novels. A fifth novel is half complete. I hope to complete it upon my retirement next year and to continue writing as a way to maintain my mental acuity and to meet other talented authors.

Scribe: Here at the Writers’ League, we love sharing book recommendations. What’s one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down?

DC: News of the World by Paulette Jiles.

Scribe: Is there anything else about you that you would like to share with the world? An opportunity for blatant self-promotion!

DC: I’ve rejected agency representation and traditional publishing because I’m certain the quality of my work would suffer from the prescriptive business practices I associate with going that route. I write what I want to write. Because I touch on subjects that have deeply affected me, it shows in the passion of my words.

There is a strong moral lesson in each of my novels. In my debut award-winning novel, In Search of the Fuller Brush Man, that lesson is “True love is never-ending.” That is a lesson I learned from my mother and my high school girlfriend, both of whom are now deceased, yet left indelible marks on my life.

In my second novel, Vinegarone, the lesson is “Greatness comes from the most unexpected people and places.” It alludes to the insensitivity with which we treat the homeless and the mentally ill.

My third novel, Boundaries, teaches us to “Beware of our misuse of technology.” It shows how greed and bureaucracy can destroy that which should give us great hope.

Finally, my most recent and second award-winning novel, Death by Times New Roman, plays on the cliché, “Keep your friends close, your enemies closer.” It leaves you wondering who you can trust. This novel is the first in my Cat Kavanagh Mystery Series featuring a heroine who is tough, smart, sassy, all the while struggling with her PTSD.

I live on our Domarja Mesa Ranch about 75 miles west of San Antonio between the “thriving” wide spots in the road Tarpley and Utopia. We refer to it as being “centrally isolated.” I am an electrical engineer by degree. I worked in the semiconductor industry in Texas for twenty-six years beginning in Austin in 1977. Travel around the world has given me great inspiration as has raising three daughters and leading the life of a gentleman rancher.

Since leaving the world of electronics in 2003, I have been able to focus my energy full time as both a paramedic and firefighter–my dream job I began over three decades ago. While discharging my duty and medical ministry, I encounter people most of us would likely not have the opportunity–perhaps not the desire–to meet. These people are colorful. They span the spectrum of human existence. They often are experiencing the most tragic, intense, painful, emotional, humbling, moment of their life. They confide in me. They tell me their story. Fragments of these incredible people who cross my path maybe just once, maybe many times, become bits and pieces of my characters. If the individuals in my novels appear genuine, that’s because they are.

My motto is, “Writing Fiction and Saving Lives . . . All in a Day’s Work.”

Thanks, Douglas!

If you’re a Writers’ League member and you’d be interested in being interviewed for our Meet the Members feature, email us at member@writersleague.org for more information. It’s a great way for other members to get to know you and for you to share a bit about what you’re working on!