I write science fiction with a fantasy element and fantasy with a science fiction framework. I love crime fiction, history and comics. I write about what I have read at my blog https://dancingwithskeltons.blogspot.com/.
I am a married (37 years and counting) late middle-aged Irish subarbinite who is doing his best to make sure that his family get to live long and prosper.
My long term ambition is to be the greatest space pirate cowboy wizard in history, in the meantime I am creating stories that I hope will engage and entertain.
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Bottle Born Blues (Spoils Of War Book 1)by Conor H. CartonPublish: Nov 01, 2019Series: Spoils Of WarScience Fiction
The Thousand Year Fall (Spoils Of War Book 2)by Conor H. CartonPublish: Dec 03, 2021Science Fiction
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Bookish, and not good at sports. I have no interest or ability at any sports other than walking, I read instead. I cannot remember not reading and when I discovered our local library I was in heaven. The kitchen in our house was cold, the whole house was cold, and I remember sitting there by myself as it got later getting colder by the minute unable and unwilling to put a book by Wilbur Smith down. I was totally immersed in the story and had to find out what happened. I am a very willing reader, I want to be led by the story to wherever it will go.Who was the most influential person to you growing up? Did you always want to be a writer?
My Aunt Patsy who showed me that kindness and generosity are the hallmarks of strength. I feel her loving hand on my shoulder every day. I never imagined myself as a writer, I was a reader and happy to be one. An unread book is sad, as a reader I am the vital other half of the equation. I was unemployed and looking to do something positive with my time other than look for work so I started to write just to see if I could. This story became Bottle Born Blues.What do you love the most about crime fiction, history, and comics?
I love crime fiction for the plot, how story mechanics are used to capture the reader and bring them along, engaging them deeply in the story. A good crime story is deeply satisfying, you have been properly surprised and entertained. I have always been fascinated by history, the extraordinary story of ourselves, how we are the same and so different in different circumstances. In the Museum of London there was an exhibit of some Roman coin blanks, one had been minted on one side, found in the between the blocks of the Roman walls of the city. Looking at them I was instantly at the scene as the forger was stamping the blanks, was disturbed and swept the coins into a crack to hide them. I head the tramp of booted feet as a patrol came close .I just stepped into the story. I was just born loving comics, my mother used to buy me Treasure Magazine and Look and Learn and the comics sections just captured me. A good comic creates a fusion between words and picture that creates something that is more than a sum of its parts.Where and when did you get the idea for your first book? What challenges did you face to get your first book published?
I had an idea of a man running down a road being pursued by gargoyles that flew off the buildings lining the road. The man had just lost his job which included protection from gargoyles, so now he was vulnerable to the attacks. It was just a fragment, unrelated to anything else. When I started to Write Bottle Born Blues it became ta thread that I followed to lead me to the final story. When I had finished the story, I liked it enough to want to have it published, I had and have no huge interest in self-publishing so I started to send it out. I got the usual answers, all refusals, some polite, some form replies and a great deal of no responses. I decided that if the only person to red the story was myself that would be fine, I wanted to make sure that I had exercised myself enough to get it to an audience, so I continued to send it out. Finally, I sent it to Next Chapter, and they accepted it.How did you get the inspiration for your book, "Bottle Born Blues"?
A dark bubbling stew of influences and stray ideas, some of which I only realise after the fact. I like historical crime fiction and one of the critical aspects to good versions of this genre is that the story is not painted onto the context, the story works because of the context. I wanted my story to be stitched into the context so that the reader would become engaged and be willing to fall into the story. I wanted to write a story that would satisfy a reader.What inspired you to start writing fiction with a fantasy element and fantasy with a science fiction framework?
I love genre mash ups, supernatural westers, historical crime stories. I heard a musician say that he was inspired by the music he did not hear, for myself I was inspired by books that I did not read. I wanted to know why magic was so strongly associated with the absence of technology, it nearly always had some sort of pre-industrial context. To my mind magic is energy and energy drives technology. I wanted a story that had that mix. Once I had the mash up I wanted this story started to grow and develop.How did you come up with the name of your blog, Dancing With Skeletons?
Ha, great question. In the Hellboy story, The Island, there is a wonderful panel where Hellboy ways, “Lady, don’t mess with me I have been drinking with skeletons” I was going to call the blog Drinking with Skeletons but did not was to pirate the words of another writer, so I ended up with Dancing with Skeletons. I really like it. I know a lot of people choose a brand that they later feel was a mistake and make changes that suit them better. I still like the name.When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
If I am asked for mu mobile number at a checkout in a shop, I always give an incorrect number. I get enough spam as it is without wanting more.How did you begin writing the Spoils Of War series?
For a long time, Bottle Born Blues was a standalone story, done in one. I had been submitting the story to agents and being rejected. I was thinking about the story as I was out walking one day, and I realised that in fact it was the first part of a bigger story. As I dug further into the bigger story, I realised that A) t was a trilogy and B) the title for the story was Spoils of War. Not to give anything away I am hoping that when a reader gets to the final part of the third book, Ladder from The Sun, they will be very satisfied with the way the whole story has unfolded and feel that their engagement has been amply rewarded.What are some things you like to do to get the brain juices flowing when you feel uninspired?
I walk. When I walk my brain has a chance to just float and be engaged in a different way. Pretty much all the story reveals, and movements have started for me while I am walking. Then I sit to write them, and they change and develop again until they are fit for purpose, to engage the reader.What is the hardest part about being a writer?
Writing the start, the opening for a story, a scene an event. I had a opening for Bottle Born Blues that I used for the first version, then I decided it was not effective. I wrote several different ones, all of them died on the page. Finally, after a long period while the story slumbered, I had a new thought and when I put it into words on the screen it still had the breath of life. It allowed me to bring the reader into an unknown world and context in a natural way. I had to provide a huge amount of information to orientate the reader and give them the information to unlock the story and become engaged. I did not want to do a information dump, I wanted a way of telling the reader without lecturing.How does one write convincing characters in a science fiction story that are real and true to their timeline but also relatable to people today?
That is the wonderful, enduring lesson of history. We wear different clothes, speak different languages, raise our families and live our lives in contexts as remote as far flung galaxies to our ancestors, even our near ancestors. The core of us humans is still the same, we recognise the fact the problems and our responses are similar, and we jump the gulf between us and them, then and now. Science fiction is history thrown forward, we are the same creatures, different context. The connection is still there that allows us to engage.What are some of your biggest fears when it comes to writing?
Failing to consider the reader and taking a short cut that is convenient for me to resolve a story knot. A reader is gifting me with time and attention, resources beyond price. I need to be respectful of that. I hate stories that feel like the writer just could not be bothered, I read a story about a woman who was a virtually a super villain, she was just so resourceful, committed and capable. Then it was revealed that she was last employed dragging deer from a forest and having a limited education. Which is fine except there was no explanation for how she had moved from one state of being to another. Her motivation was superbly, if horrifyingly detailed, then the story blew up because the writer failed to bridge the gap. I feel the writer simply could not be bothered to solve the story knot and ignored it. As a reader I am willing hand myself over to the writer, I expect them to treat that with confident respect.What are a couple of major lessons you've learned since becoming a writer?
As a reader I say no to stories many, many more times than I say yes. I go into a store, physical or on-line, and I look at a small selection of the stories that writers have carefully crafted to entertain and engage me. Out of that small selection I decline to pay more attention to most, getting my attention and my money is hard, hard work. I had never been conscious of the process until I had to try and get time ad attention from readers. I also have an increased relish in reading, I enjoy handing myself over to story even more, I learn so much.How big of a role, do you think, social media plays in the sales of books? What have you to say about AllAuthor and is this a platform you would recommend to your fellow author friends?
Social media is vital, it is how an increasing number of readers discover books, any writer who wishes to develop an audience must be working in the same arena as the audience. A dinosaur like myself can find this a struggle. I really like AllAuthor, you make it much easier and more natural, you are a great meeting point for writers and readers. I have and will continue to recommend AllAuthor. Thank you for your thoughtful questions, it has been a pleasure to think about and answer them.
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