Sunday, April 18, 2010

An Interview with Hank Quense

Today for a change, we have an interview with another author. Hank Quense is, an American author of humorous and satiric fantasy and scifi stories. We'll be discussing Fool's Gold, his novel about the Rhinegold myth.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born a long time ago, married my wife, she gave birth to two daughters. I left my day job to write stories, my daughters gave birth to five grandkids. That's all that's important.

What have you had published?

Over three dozen short stories and articles on fiction writing. One novel (this one) and a collection of 20 previously published short stores called Tunnel Vision. Recently I self-published a book on fiction writing called Build a Better Story.

What's Fool's Gold about?

It's a retelling of the ancient myth about the Rhinegold. Instead of taking place during the Dark Ages, my version takes place in the future and has aliens instead of fantasy creatures.

What's the hook for Fool's Gold?

My book blurb says it best:

A Ring of Power? That is soooo yesterday. Now it's the Chip of Power. It's the newest thing around and it produces laughs.

Aliens, ancient gods, humor, beautiful Valkyries, heros, conniving nobles, betrayal, greed, incest, a magical gold horde; this story has something for everyone.

This book is only retelling of the ancient Rhinegold myth that is set in the future and is a humorous scifi tale.

Do you have a favorite characters from this story?

Fafner. He's an alien from the planet Zaftan 31B. I love Zaftans. They aren't evil as we humans understand the term, but they think quite differently than we do. They think treachery and assassination are social skills.

How do you go about creating one of these bizarre stories? Is there a process you use? Or do they just pop into your head?

This version came about while I was writing a spoof of the original Rhinegold myth. It occurred to me that this would make a great space opera. It took me several years of thinking about it, off and on, before the story finally gelled in my mind. Others usually start with a character, a bizarre one. I get him into a ridiculous situation then figure out how to save him.

Is there a message in the story?

If there is, I didn't deliberately plant it there. I think readers can take a number of messages from the story. It all depends on there psyche, their upbringing and their personality. Everyone will get something different.

What is the best review your book received? Or your favorite?

"Fool's Gold by Hank Quense is another terrific story written by an incredibly talented and FUN writer. Hank's characters and twists on tales we've heard before takes us down the unbeaten path into the hilariously crazy workings of his mind. And it's a twisted one at that!" That one came from Nanci Arvizu.

In your stories, many of your characters are aliens or dwarfs. Do you dislike normal characters?

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 decidedly anti-dwelf manner and it comes off as humor, whereas Shakespeare's play 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.

Does reading your stories have any possible side-effects?
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 the 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.

Tunnel Vision is a collection of twenty previously published humorous short stories. It has plenty of laughs in it.

Build a Better Story is a book on fiction writing. It describes the process I use to develop a story.

Here is a fun trailer to watch.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Happy birthday Helen

We hosted my friend Helen's party last night, because they could sleep at our house, but we couldn't sleep at theirs. So I cooked quiches and they bought sausage rolls, and we ordered a cake.

I thought the cake sounded a bit expensive, but what the heck, it was a special occasion. When I collected it, I found out why. I'd asked for a cake for 5, but the phone line wasn't great, and they'd heard "15"! Oh deary me, whatever shall we do with the extra cake?

We all clubbed together to get Helen a boxed set of DVDs, but I wanted to get her a little something extra. In the end we bought her two bags of cement, because they still have lots of building work to do on their house. Since it was too big to wrap in paper, I decorated it with a rose.

And then we played video games.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


They've just switched off the analogue TV here, so of course there's been a scramble to get digital TV going, in spite of the fact that we were all warned about this months ago.

My husband installed an old lady's Digibox, and told her that the beer and nibbles she provided where payment enough.

So she went out and bought us presents. Our son got some underpants. Here's the fun part: the brand is "ASSMAN" (yes, really) and it actually has, "Underwear" printed down the front. Presumably in case you get confused and dry the dishes with them or something.

It was still sweet of her.

Thursday, April 08, 2010


Untied Shoelaces of the Mind just bought my story "The Circle Line" for their next issue. So that's me doing the happy dance.

Monday, April 05, 2010

My New Year's Resolution

Like several of my writing friends, I find that I sell roughly one story for every ten submissions. The more I submit, the more I sell. The secret to steady sales is lots and lots of submissions. As soon as one market rejects a story, I send it off elsewhere - in theory. If they buy it, they usually want it exclusive for a while, typically 90 days. I wait until that's over, and I start trying to sell reprint rights - in theory.

Last year I aimed to send off 8 submissions a month, which would come to 96 in the year. I managed 50.

This year I decided to aim for two a week. And as of today, I'm slightly ahead! In 13 weeks, I've sent off 27 submissions.

I think two things are helping. One is the shorter time scale. Last year I kept getting to the 29th of the month with only two submissions sent out. Then I'd try to catch up, of course, but usually it was too late and I did too little.

New Year's Day was a Friday, so my submission weeks end on a Thursday. This year I get to Wednesday and realise I have to catch up - and that's only two submissions, which is much easier. The other is that I have every Thursday on the wall calendar marked with the number of submissions I'm supposed to have made so far, so I can see how much I've fallen behind. That's a great motivator to NOT fall behind.

39 weeks to go.

Sunday, April 04, 2010


Holy Week is a big thing in Spain, with lots of photogenic, religious processions. And this year I managed to miss the lot.

Partly it was the weather - it drizzled and rained constantly for the second half of the week. Mostly it was a combination of laziness and business.

I used to edit two of my blogs -- the ones about the island of La Palma and El Hierro -- at the Blogger site and then squirt the files up to It's called FTP publishing, and Blogger will stop doing that on May 1st. I had a choice between giving Google control of all my files, or moving to another platform.

I'm a bit of a control freak. I decided to move it over to Word Press during Easter week, while I had a little more time. It wasn't as bad as I expected. With a bit of help from Helresa publishing who host my website I got the heavy lifting done in a couple of days. Of course there were still lots of other bits and bobs to sort out, like putting the links back, and making it look nice. I'm not 100% happy with it now, but it's a working blog again, and reasonably tidy.

I spring cleaned the utility room, too. Not much fun, but it shouldn't need doing again for quite a while.

Best of all, I spent a day with my friends in Franceses. My goodness, I'd forgotten how much fun it is to have fun!

And now it's Sunday night, and I'm wondering where the week went.