Check out this author spotlight for Jeff Chapman!
You can find all his links furthest down the page, and don’t forget to check out his books!
1. Hi! Welcome to my humble blog of all things bookish! I would like for us to start by getting to know you. Give us a short bio, please!
Jeff explores fantasy worlds through fiction and is the author of The Merliss Tales fantasy series, The Huckster Tales weird western series, and The Comic Cat Tales series.. Trained in history and computer science, Jeff writes software by day and explores the fantastic when he should be sleeping. His fiction ranges from fairy tales to fantasy to ghost stories. His short stories have appeared in various anthologies and magazines. He’s not ashamed to say he’s addicted to dark hot chocolate and he loves cats. Jeff lives with his wife, children, and cats in a house with more books than bookshelf space.
2. To get to know you just a little bit better, I’d like to ask you some this or that questions. Answer 5 of these and explain why you chose this or that, or maybe an entirely different alternative!
Cat or dog? Definitely cat. I’ve been a cat person all my life. I think felines and I understand each other, and there’s nothing more relaxing than a purring cat curled up on your lap.
Tea or coffee or mocha? Mocha. I love dark chocolate, and a hint of bitterness in my hot chocolate makes it all the better.
Morning or evening? Evening. I wish I was a morning person but my body says otherwise. I do most of my writing in the evening hours and often after midnight.
Plotter or pantser? Pantser. I’ve tried to be a plotter but I’ve found my best ideas come to me while I’m writing. That’s when the creative juices are cooking. I often know where and how the story will end, but how I get there is a mystery to be discovered. Sometimes the ending changes as well if I come up with a better idea.
Book or ebook or audiobook? I enjoy all three but I’ve come to prefer audiobooks. It’s amazing how many mindless tasks we do in a day. With an audiobook, you can fill those wasted hours with story. And they’re free from the library.
3. When you look for books to read, what trope or type of story will always catch your attention?
A fantasy featuring cats will always attract my attention. So, if there’s a cat on the cover, I will always pick up the book and take a closer look. I prefer historical rather than modern days settings. The level of magic isn’t a big draw for me. I’m as happy to read a Brandon Sanderson with its highly developed magic system as I am to read a Robert E. Howard with its undefined magic. I also like stories about characters who are not at the top of society nor are they on the road to being at the top of society.
4. What do you write? Tell us about your current projects and the latest happenings!
My focus at this time is a fantasy series called The Merliss Tales. Merliss is the spirit of a young woman who has been trapped inside the body of a gray cat. She had been training to become a healer/shaman, so she retains some magical abilities, but she lives as a cat. The magic which transferred her spirit to the cat gives her physical body an unusually long life. We’re talking thousands of years, which means I have opportunities for many stories spanning many time periods with the same protagonist. Merliss aids her human companions in their battles with disease and supernatural threats.
I’ve written two novels in the series (The Great Contagion and Cat Sidhe) and a short story “The Water Wight.” I’m working on a Merliss novel titled The Breath of the Sea, which is set several centuries in the future from the first two novels. City of Cats–the next novel in the Cat Sidhe story—is also in the works. If you want to try out The Merliss Tales for free, “The Water Wight” is available on StoryOrigin: https://storyoriginapp.com/giveaways/3cddcb88-c607-11ea-8a9a-878925005b51.
5. What is your most recent release? Give us a short presentation, cover, and a link for where to buy it!
My most recent fantasy novel release is The Sniggard’s Revenge. This is a YA-fantasy about a young man’s quest to win a girl’s heart using an item he found in a haunted barrow. The Sniggard—the ancient guardian of the barrow—wants the item back. Events go from bad to worse to far worse. Blood is shed and the protagonist makes a couple trips to Faerie, a place filled with strange people and many dangers. I had intended The Sniggard’s Revenge to be a standalone but there’s more to the story, so a sequel is in the planning. You can find The Sniggard’s Revenge at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09BDVHDWL.
6. What real-life inspiration do you draw from?
The idea for Merliss came from a cat that my family rescued.
I came home one fall day to find a small gray cat sitting in front of the garage. I had seen this cat before but never had a good look at it. I had usually glimpsed it at night or twilight and a gray cat in the dark appears to be little more than a shadow. I had assumed it belonged to someone in the neighbourhood. I was so wrong. It was starving. I could see every bone in its ribs. Pus was visible beneath one eye. The cat meowed at me. My wife came out the breezeway door at that moment. The cat trotted toward her and tried to enter our house.
We gave the cat some food and water. It ate like it had never seen food before. My daughters surrounded the cat so it wouldn’t run away, but I believe at this point the cat had decided it was going to live with us. We coaxed it into a carrier and took it to an emergency vet. The cat, which we named Smokey, was not sick with any life-threatening disease. She was dehydrated, malnourished (only 5.5 pounds), suffering from an upper respiratory infection and an eye infection, and had a million fleas.
Several hours and several hundred dollars later, we returned home with two antibiotics and a sick cat. We quarantined her in the breezeway. Out other cats spent a lot of time sniffing at the back door.
Smokey responded well to the medicines and our TLC. She gained weight and proved to be incredibly well-tempered. She wasn’t the cutest kitty on the block but certainly the sweetest. We soon discovered that she was deaf and missing an upper and lower canine. We had no idea of her age, but Smokey appeared to have been up and down the alley a few times. When her quarantine period ended, Smokey moved into the house.
We speculated a lot about Smokey’s past. What stories would she tell if she could talk? The speculation got me thinking about characters based on an old cat. Somehow, I made the leap of pairing a human spirit with a cat’s body. In the fantasy world I was developing, this pairing would grant the animal’s body unusually long life, but injuries would accumulate. Merliss was born.
Unfortunately, Smokey passed away after two and a half very good years with us. Her health had been declining and then x-rays revealed painful bone tumours in her sternum. Taking her to the final vet appointment and staying with her until the end is one of the roughest tasks I’ve experienced.
Smokey’s memory lives on the character of Merliss. The cat silhouettes in the map and at the beginning of each chapter were made from pictures of Smokey.
7. What is your writing routine? If you have one, give us the run-down!
I do some sort of writing activity every day. Some days it’s editing as opposed to creating completely new content. Until a few years ago I did my initial writing with pen and paper, but I found typing the manuscripts was taking too long and I couldn’t always read what I had written. Now I do my initial writing on a tablet and then transfer the first draft to a writing program (I use yWriter) for organizing and polishing.
8. If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice as you started out on the path to becoming an author, what would it be?
Don’t get discouraged and read more books. I know. That’s two pieces of advice but I couldn’t decide between them. It’s easy to become depressed and quit when you feel like no one is reading anything you write, but you must continue plugging away. A failed writer is one who quits. Some famous writer (it may have been Hemingway) said a writer should have read everything already.
9. Last but not least: where can we find you? Drop those links!