Author Interview: John W. Otte on The Hive

Welcome friends! Today I have the great pleasure of interviewing the epic John Otte, author of The Hive, Numb, and Failstate!!! I’m super duper excited, so let’s get started!

Hi John! Thanks for joining us today! How are you?
I’m doing pretty good. A little nervous about how The Hive will do when it finally comes out, but still pretty excited.
Excitement is filling the air today! So, first off, tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and I am a Minnesotan through-and-through, even down to rooting for sports teams that I know will inevitably let me down. I went to Concordia University in St. Paul, where I majored in theatre, and then went on to Concordia Seminar in St. Louis where I studied to be a Lutheran pastor. Right now, I live in South St. Paul, Minnesota, with my wife and two boys. I like to say that I’m a pastor, husband, father, writer, and geek, but not necessarily always in that order.
What is The Hive about in one sentence?
The Hive is the story of a pregnant teenage cyborg who is being chased by two powerful intergalactic governments so she can save her baby.
Can we all say, EPIC? Where did the idea come from?
You know, that’s a really good question and I’m not sure I can really answer it. Some book ideas (like Failstate or Numb), I can remember every step of where the story came from. But sometimes, I honestly can’t remember. I think it was as simple as asking myself “What happens next?” I wanted to tell another story set in the same storyworld as Numb, so I started thinking, “Given where the world was when I left it, what would happen next?” And I kind of focused on one very minor character from Numb and sort of spun it all out from there. I won’t go into more than that, mostly because there’d be big spoilers for both Numb and The Hive. But once I had a glimmer of what might happen next, Zain and Scorn and all the rest came tumbling together.
What is the purpose of this book? (Who do you want it to reach and why?)
I had originally thought of The Hive as being a YA book (hence why both Zain and Scorn are teenagers), but when I showed it to my long-suffering and intrepid agent, she pointed out that it was missing some foundational elements to make it a true YA. As a matter of fact, I was planning on doing a major rewrite of the first half of the book to bring some of those missing elements into it. But before I could really do that, my Failstate books kind of took off, and then, next thing I knew, I was talking to Steve Laube of Enclave Publishing about releasing The Hive as is.
As for what its purpose is, I hate to play the spoilers card, but if I get into the overarching purpose, I’d have to kind of ruin the end of the book. So…I guess people will just have to read it. LOL!
*laughs with glee because I know the ending already*
Waffles or Pancakes?
Ooooh, tough call. I’m a fan of both breakfast items. But if I have to choose, I would say waffles, simply because I’m a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
6. Tell us about this cover – because it is INCREDIBLE!
I know, right? I’m absolutely floored by how it turned out! This cover is all Steve Laube. When I originally pitched him the idea, I described it as my “pregnant teenage cyborg” book (which was a nickname the project got at an ACFW Conference many years ago). That sparked his imagination, and at one point, he told me that he could already see the cover: a pregnant woman cradling her stomach with a cybernetic arm. He just knew that’s what the cover was going to be, and his excitement for it was infectious. When he sent me the artwork, I nearly fell out of my chair.
No kidding! The first time I saw it, I got chills!
Why do you think people should invest in this story?

Because it’s awesome?

Oh, wait, you’re looking for a serious answer…

Okay, because this story touches on a subject that’s near and dear to my heart. And unfortunately, I once again can’t say why because of spoilers. Gah! Plus there’s also the fact that there’s very little science fiction out there in the Christian market. I think that’s a void that needs to be filled. And plus, I think it’s an enjoyable story with some important points to be made about the dignity of human life and the nature of the Church.
Do you have a favorite part of the book?
Do I have to pick? Okay, my most favorite part has to be the dialogue between Scorn and Hopkins, his apartment’s AI, right after Zain finds them. I really like the way that scene plays out and I’m especially glad I could sneak some silly humor into it.
Ah, that scene was great. Definitely one of my favorites.
If you had to choose between a sword fight with Aragorn or a fist fight with Captain America, which would you choose?
I’m fighting either Aragorn or Cap? Wow. I’m going to lose so hard.
But if I have to choose, I’d pick a sword fight with Aragorn. I actually did some sword fighting with padded weapons when I was in the Seminary. That’s not saying much, though. My nickname was “Speedbump.” I could only slow someone down, not stop them.
Who is your favorite character in The Hive and why?
Another tough choice! I’d have to say Jim. I just like him and his gruff attitude. I think it’d be interesting to crawl around in his backstory for a while and see what makes him tick.
That is something I would be very interested in seeing.
Which character was most fun to write?
That’s easy. Hopkins the apartment AI. I just loved his wry sense of humor and I giggle every time I read his scenes.
He is absolutely amazing, I love him 😀
Do you have any parting words of wisdom for us?
I’m the last person who should be doling out wisdom because I have so little of it to begin with. LOL! But I think my favorite bit of wisdom is this: “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” What He has figured out for us is usually a whole lot better than what we could ever dream up on our own.
Be sure to go follow John on Facebook and Twitterand watch for The Hive coming to you on October 16th!

Author Interview: Ben Wolf on I’d Punch a Lion in His Eye for You

Greetings everyone!

Today I have a very special treat for you – an interview with the amazing Ben Wolf! Ben has just recently launched a Kickstarter to raise the funds needed to print his awesome new children’s book, I’d Punch a Lion in His Eye for You – and today is the last day of it’s running!. He joins us today to tell us a little more about the project.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome award-winning author, Ben Wolf!

           Welcome to Storytopia, Ben! Please, tell us a little about yourself. 
My name is Ben Wolf. I’ve written six novels, published one, and banished another to the abyss because it was terrible. I’m the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Splickety Publishing Group, where I oversee the publication of three incredible flash fiction magazines. I’m not as funny as I think I am, but that doesn’t keep me from trying.
What inspired you to write a children’s book?
I love my son. Unfortunately, I don’t get to see him as much as I’d like. I wanted to give him something tangible that he could look at and enjoy as a reminder to him that no matter where I am or what happens, I will always love him. I’d Punch a Lion in His Eye for You is that tangible item.
What is your goal for I’d Punch A Lion?
My primary goal is to provide my son with a reminder of how much I love him, but this is a message for basically every parent anywhere. A lot of parents can’t alway be around their kids due to extenuating circumstances like busy jobs, a hectic travel schedule, divorce or separation, military involvement or deployment, or any number of other reasons. The message of this book serves to remind the children in those families how much they are loved in spite of whatever the surrounding circumstances may be.
Do you have a favorite part of the book?
I love it all, of course, but my favorite part has to be right in the middle when I’m kicking the shark. I’m terrified of sharks (or anything that can get me in the water), so kicking him in the gills was liberating, in a weird way. Just don’t tell the real sharks that I did that.
Mum’s the word!
What was the hardest part of the writing process? 
I’m used to writing novels for grown-ups or young adults, so writing this kids book forced me to tone down my vocabulary usage and try to use words and language that little kids would understand. I thought I was pretty good at it, but after I sent the book out for some peer/kid reviews, I realized I had a lot of improving to do! In the end, I think their advice was really helpful, and it made the story better.
If you had to choose between spending the night in Gollum’s Cave or the Endor Ewok Village, which would you choose?
I would absolutely hang with the Ewoks! I’m counting on fewer spiders and more late-night parties after we defeat the empire. Hopefully the Hayden Christiansen version of Darth Vader’s ghost leaves us alone, though.
Do you see yourself doing something like this again in the future? (Maybe a Father daughter adventure? You know your little girl is going to want a story some day too!) 
Absolutely. I’ve already got a story in mind for my gorgeous daughter Violet. That will be the next kids book I do, probably sometime next year, and probably via another Kickstarter campaign. I’m excited to write her story next. I also have a couple of ideas for some other kids books, but we’ll see how these first two go before I dive too deeply into the land of children’s books.
Waffles or Pancakes?
Waffles, of course. The texture is more fun.
Any final thoughts or words of wisdom for us? 
If you’re a writer, the best thing you can do is write as much as possible. The second best thing you can do is study the craft to get better. The third best thing you can do is hire an editor (like me) to help you take your drafts from good to great. If you’re an indie author, the fourth best thing you can do is to get a great cover for your work, and then put it out there.
If you’re not a writer, the best thing you can do is read as much as possible. Especially my books. 😉
Do you have a little boy in your life? Show him how much you love him by going to the Kickstarter campaign now and pledging your support! The base goal has been reached, but even more sweet prizes await if we can help raise the total $4500 printing cost! 
Ben and I at this year’s Realm Maker’s
conference on Costume Banquet night