Meet the Members: Amber Royer

Writing forces me to keep learning, face new challenges (every novel’s a unique puzzle to build and solve at the same time), and grow as an empathetic person every time I look through a new set of eyes.

-Amber Royer

A member of the Writers’ League for three years, Amber Royer lives in Dallas.

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

Amber Royer: I write comic space opera, which means it’s science fiction where character development trumps everything else. I’ve also dabbled in writing about time travel, virtual reality, lovesick AIs, and robot dogs.

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

AR: Mark Twain. His travelogues are both hilarious and personal (though no one seems to know — or care — which parts are actually true). I would ask him what it was really like to travel in the late 1800’s and what real events were too weird, sad, or boring to put into the books. I love to travel, too, and I think it would be amazing to take one of his books and go some of the same places to see how the world — and people’s perceptions of it — have changed. I play around a lot with history in my own writing, and in the “Chocoverse” (the universe for the book I have coming out this summer) there is a race of long-lived aliens where individuals alive in my protagonist’s time could have overlapped the later years of Twain’s lifespan.

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

AR: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. That way I could just read back over the descriptions of the Guide’s cover: large friendly letters that say Don’t Panic. Because I have no idea how to build a boat or a short-wave radio. So if I’m on a deserted island, I’m pretty much doomed. Wait. Can I change my answer to a guide on how to build boats and short-wave radios out of driftwood and coconut husks?

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

AR: How many amazing writers there are in Texas — and how supportive they are of each other’s goals.

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

AR: My debut novel has just been released, with a second one to follow next year. I’ve also got a couple of other projects in the works. They all have one thing in common: a sense of fun, while playing with standard science fiction tropes. Hemingway said, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” Every writing project makes a writer stronger, and I’ve got quite a few stored safely out of sight on my hard drive. I’ve been teaching Creative Writing for about a decade now, and I’ve learned something from each of my students. Writing forces me to keep learning, face new challenges (every novel’s a unique puzzle to build and solve at the same time), and grow as an empathetic person every time I look through a new set of eyes. Writing helps decrease stress and increase mental agility, so I see it as helping to keep me balanced.

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? 

AR: I write science fiction, but I read in a number of genres, and when I think Texas writers who use Texas as a setting effectively, the China Bayles mystery series by Susan Wittig Albert comes to mind. China owns a herb shop in rural Texas, so she’s alert to Texas plants in her surroundings – and they often serve as clues. This series is a cosy where you are guaranteed to learn something about botany. I’m a few books behind, but the twenty-sixth in the series just came in April.

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

AR: My debut novel, Free Chocolate was released on June 5, 2018 from Angry Robot Books, and the launch party is on June 7 (that’s tonight!) at Interabang Books! Telenovela meets Space Opera in a galactic battle to control the only thing Earth has that a hungry galaxy wants: chocolate. Bo Benitez, former paparazzi princess and daughter of Earth’s most famous celebrity chef, gets caught in the middle. Barnes and Noble’s SFF blog named it one of the top 25 SFF debuts to watch in 2018.

Thanks, Amber!

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!

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Meet the Members: Terry H. Watkins

“Writing tends to be such a solitary pursuit that it is important that you find your tribe, a community of which you can be part.”

-Terry H. Watkins

A member of the Writers’ League of Texas for two years, Terry H. Watkins lives in Austin.

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

Terry H. Watkins: I write literary fiction.

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

THW: I have to confess that I feel that the author has given me everything I need or deserve right there on the page. The questions I’m left with at the end of a book are really more about me, my reaction to the book than they are about the author. Of course, I’d love to dish with Dorothy Parker or ask George Eliot what it was like to defy convention in such a rigid time.

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

THW: I think I’d have to fall back on the classics, Austen or Bronte. On the other hand, maybe I’d go with poetry; Neruda or Oliver, perhaps Olds.

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

THW: It is a wonderfully supportive group. I was at the Agents and Editors Conference last year and everyone was just so nice! They all listened kindly to me talk about my book, answered all my questions, and were just lovely! Writing tends to be such a solitary pursuit that it is important that you find your tribe, a community of which you can be part.

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

THW: It’s about to take me to Ireland for research on my second book!

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?

THW: I’ve been rereading Larry McMurtry. His books have just been reissued in e-book format so I can have all of them with me anywhere. I think he’s the best writer about Texas there is, whether he’s writing history, contemporary, or essays.

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

THW: My debut novel, Darling Girl, will be published in October 2018. You can find more about me on Facebook, my website, and my two Blogspot pages: terrywatkins.blogspot.com and terryhwatkins.blogspot.com. I’m still trying to learn how to navigate the social media maelstrom!

Thanks, Terry!
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: Lucia DiStefano

“My hope for writing in the future is that I continue to love it and feel challenged by it.”

-Lucia DiStefano

A member of the Writers’ League since 2017, Lucia DiStefano lives in Georgetown.

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

Lucia DiStefano: As a ghostwriter, I write in almost every genre (fiction, non-fiction, self-help, even the other-than-the-recipe content of a cookbook), but under my own name, I write Young Adult novels. As a former high school English teacher, my heart has a giant book-shaped spot for that audience.  

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

LD: Richard Ford (Independence Day). Assuming I wouldn’t be stunned speechless by being across a table from him, I’d ask him whether Frank Bascombe feels as real to him as he does me (which is more real than many people I’ve met in the flesh); and then I’d ask him whether he realizes he’s one of the great experts in human psychology alive today (and then I’d try to still my quaking hands enough to avoid embarrassing myself with a catastrophic spill).  

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

LD: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. (Indeed, I have had the experience of feeling metaphorically stranded, and this book is one of the ones that reminded me of the redemptive and connective power of story.)

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

LD: That Texas writers are just as friendly and supportive and warm as Texans in general. Thank you, y’all! 

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

LD: Writing has always been the largest and most consistent presence in my life, but I also want to work on achieving balance. Now that I’m here in the Hill Country and surrounded by so much that I’d love to explore, I want to learn how to give quality time to a life beyond my desk. So I guess my hope for writing in the future is that I continue to love it and feel challenged by it. I know that the business side of it is unpredictable (understatement!) and quite often downright zany, so I don’t want to hold out expectations for what I can’t control.

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?

LD: News of the World by Paulette Jiles. (Need I say more? Sometimes I read her work and catch myself wondering if a mere mortal wrote it. I mean that as the highest compliment, of course. I’m gobsmacked by her talent!)

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

LD: Ah, yes — blatant self-promotion! As a ghostwriter, I had no need to self-promote, but now I need to get the hang of that (and push through my resistance toward it). So here goes … I was recently named the winner of the 2018 Helen Sheehan YA Book Prize, which means my Young Adult novel Borrowed will be published in the fall by Elephant Rock Books — it’ll be my first non-ghosted book!

I’m on Twitter at @LuciaDiStef. My website is currently under construction, but when it’s live, it will be www.LuciaDiStefano.com

Thank you, Lucia!

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: Enzo Milo Michel

“The sheer communal feel [to the Writers’ League] alone is stunning, truly. I’m amazed with the conferences, and the agents and editors who attend them.”

-Enzo Milo Michel

A member of the Writers’ League for six months, Enzo Milo Michel lives in Killeen.

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

Enzo Milo Michel: Mostly literary fiction, some experimental.

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

Enzo Milo Michel: Kafka, hands down. My first question would be, assuming he has some consciousness of the 21st century academic world, “what would you change in the American Philosophy and English departments?”

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

EMM: Probably something written by Nietzsche, a Sci-Fi anthology, or a good detective novel!

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

EMM: The sheer communal feel alone is stunning, truly. I’m amazed with the conferences, and the agents and editors who attend them. They’re incorporated at every turn into the hospitable and warm tone set by the Writer’s League, adapting as if they too are members. It’s unprecedented.

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

EMM: I have to say, the current projects alone don’t have me looking too far. It’s safe to say, I’m focused on where the writing will take me within the next stroke of my pencil! Let’s keep it there.

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?

EMM: Latest reads usually are short stories, but one I enjoyed particularly was The Boathouse by Tim Griffith.  

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

EMM: I’m currently working on my first novel! For updates on short stories, essays, and that novel visit my website. There you will find updates on my projects and social media links.

Thanks, Enzo!

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: Gates Whitley

“It seems doubtful that I shall run out of material. More likely, I shall first run out of time.”

-Gates Whitley

A member of the Writers’ League for one year, Gates Whitley lives in San Antonio.

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

Gates Whitley: Historical fiction and biography.

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

GW: Winston Churchill. After exploring our possible family connection, I would want to ask his opinion of T. E. Lawrence’s assessment in the aftermath of WWI, found in his Seven Pillars of Wisdom, that “the old men came out again and took our victory to re-make in the likeness of the former world they knew. Youth could win, but had not learned to keep….” If I were allowed a follow-up question, I would ask him how those terms would apply in the aftermath of WWII.

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

GW: Clearly, the Bible, specifically the NRSV. You did say however, for purposes of keeping one sane. If for entertainment…well that would be Amor Towles’ ( A Gentleman in Moscow, Rules of Civility ) new book.

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

GW: From the bountiful selection of courses and teaching staff, I relish the opportunity to grow in the craft.

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

GW: There seems to be, in my family, a sizeable number of relatives who had very interesting lives, lived in interesting times and had great adventures. It seems doubtful that I shall run out of material. More likely, I shall first run out of time.

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?

GW: If I may stretch the time frame to last two years, it would be Stephen L. Moore’s (with William Morrow), Texas Rising.

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

GW: Share with the world? More and better humour, especially the self-effacing kind.

Thanks, Gates!

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: Bruce Thatcher

“I’ve gained a great appreciation of how much hard work it takes — after the writing — to promote and disseminate the end product.”

-Bruce Thatcher

A member of the Writers’ League since 2013, Bruce Thatcher lives outside New Braunfels.

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

Bruce Thatcher: Non-fiction: political science and history.

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

BT: Martin Dugard (co-author of Bill O’Reilly’s Killing books). I’d ask him, “after deciding on a subject, which comes first, outline of the book or research?”

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

BT: Can’t think of a single title. I’d probably like the luxury of a complete series by Tom Clancy, W.E.B. Griffin or Jeff Shaara, etc. They’re all so thoroughly researched and well written that my time on the island would be both pleasurable and educational … and it would fly by.

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

BT: I’ve gained a great appreciation of how much hard work it takes, after the writing, to promote and disseminate the end product.

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

BT: My purpose is to distill history’s lessons into practical and reliable advice for today’s Americans and our leaders. Shorter works and articles/essays may have a place in that program.

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?

BT: Though it first came out in 2013, I was recently given a copy of Philipp Meyer’s The Son, a historical novel of a family/dynasty set in Texas from 1811 to well past the mid-20th century. It’s too long for a single sitting but, once begun, that’s the way I wanted to read it.

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

BT: I wrote a few books during my business career (including one on a short-deadline contract), but they were for specialised audiences and limited purpose. After retiring and moving to Texas I started writing the HST books out of frustration with how country’s leaders – America’s and others – seem to approach most problems with no apparent awareness of history’s relevant lessons. History Speaks Today was launched as my attempt to correct that ignorance, at least in some small way. I decided to use a business-case approach to presenting practical historical lessons, focused not so much on the who-what-when-where-why of history but, rather, on the so what that is usually absent from traditional history teaching. The result has been three books that articulate clear guidelines for dealing with specific problems of today (Adamant Aggressors, Immigration and Rise and Decline).

When I began HST, I envisioned it could be an umbrella under which other authors could research and present historical lessons for today. That hasn’t yet happened, but if it sounds interesting to other Writers’ League members, I’d like to hear from them.

Thanks, Bruce!

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: Rebecca Nolen

Everyone I’ve ever met who is a member at WLT has been a good friend.

-Rebecca Nolen

A member of the Writers’ League of Texas for three years, Rebecca Nolen lives in Houston.

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

Rebecca Nolen: I write middle-grade fiction – I have a published middle-grade historical fantasy. I also write adult suspense! I’ve won awards for my published novel Deadly Thymeand I write and illustrate picture books as well — but I am not published yet.

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

RN: Rudyard Kipling. I would ask him where in the world he enjoyed living the most and why.

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

RN: The Bible, because it would keep my hope alive.

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

RN: Everyone I’ve ever met who is a member at WLT has been a good friend.

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

RN: A series of adult suspense – the Deadly series. And many partially illustrated picture books are waiting on my shelf for completion. I dream that happens soon.

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?

RN: I just finished Nikki Loftin’s book Wish Girl! Loved it.

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

Houston Writers House (of which I am director) has published a Texas-themed anthology, which I illustrated!

Thanks, Rebecca!

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!