Guerilla Journalism Random Interview #1 Carol Hightshoe

Posted: June 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

It’s fun to mix things up sometimes. The serial isn’t really coming to me this week, I don’t have much news to report and I like to save film reviews for later in the week. So, I’m trying something new. I went on Facebook and posted a request: I would interview the first person to consent to be interviewed. The first paticipant was one Carol Hightshoe, a fantasy author that does public relations for Professional Bullriders. Here is the interview. My questions are in bold.

What’s your name and what do you do for a living?

Carol Hightshoe – my day job is as a Customer Service Rep for the Professional Bull Riders. I am also a SF/Fantasy author as well as editing and publishing 2 online ezines (The Lorelei Signal and Sorcerous Signals and running a small press publishing company (WolfSInger Publications).

Well, that’s pretty unusual. That’s a good start. I’ll get to asking about the writing in a minute and editing in a minute. Your day job immediately caught my attention. What sort of customer service inquiries does one get when representing Professional Bullriders?

We get a range of different questions from our fans. We have our PBR Fan Club and handle tickets sales for members. We get calls from fans wanting information on the riders, bulls and general questions about the sport – upcoming events, etc.

Most of the calls are from fans of the sport with specific questions. We also get the occassional complaint because someone disagreed with a score that was given or disagreed with a disqualification.

Fans want to check on riders who were injured at events or ask why they haven’t seen their favorites at the televised events in a while.

What got you interested in working in the Professional Bullriding field? Is it something you grew up around? Is it just the job you felt your PR training would be best suited for?

I was working as a temp between day jobs and ended up with them. Was only supposed to be a couple of weeks, but the supervisor went back and got authorization to hire me full time and I’ve been here for over 5 years now.

Wasn’t a big fan of the sport at the time, but it can pretty addicting to watch and while there are some fans that can be a pain – most of them are great to talk to and deal with.

Is there anything from this job that carries over into your career as a fantasy author and editor? Beyond the obvious public relations application of courseIs there anything from this job that carries over into your career as a fantasy author and editor? Beyond the obvious public relations application of course

Even though interaction is over the phone, I do get interesting character information ffrom dealing with the fans during the day.

I’d imagine the constant flow of humanity would certainly put you in touch with a lot of colorful people, particularly since many of these people are going to be hardcore fans of Professional Bullriding. What fantasy writers working today do you think are must reads. Which ones will change people’s perception of the fantasy genre, which, I think in most people is kind of skewed. Even looking at bookstore shelves, you see a very myopic perception of fantasy. Whose work do you think proves fantasy isn’t what people that don’t read fantasy believe it is?

My personal favorites are Lynn Flewelling, Mercedes Lackey and Carol Berg.

Unfortunately, too many publishers and authors try to pigeonhole books into specific genre definitions – makes it easier to market. As to must reads – (I would love to say me but that’s ego talking and I know there are better authors than me out there). I think the must reads are to read as many authors as you can – look for diversity and find the style and niche of writing that helps you to escape.

For pure fun – I have to say Piers Anthony and his Magic of Zanth books help to break some of the ideas people have about fantasy – oh the cliches are there – but he twists them into something fun and unexpected.

An author who proves that fantasy isn’t want people who don’t read fantasy believe it is – That was J.W. Rowling. And the main reason I say that was that her Harry Potter books got a whole generation reading again and brought new blood into the fantasy genre.

Her books weren’t that different, but they entertained (still are) and appealed to a very large cross section of readers – both young and old and I admire her for that.

For the non-fantasy fan who doesn’t want to have to deal with learning fantasy tropes, etc – I recommend Mercedes Lackey and her Heralds of Valdemar series of books. Her books (as well as they 3 ladies I mention as my personal favs) are very character driven – not just sword swinging and magic.

What is your most recent book about?

My recent book – Chaos Challenged – is book 4 in my Chaos Reigns series. The group of friends that the series is about descend into the Abyss to rescue another friend from the clutches of an evil goddess. One who has been trying to seduce one of the members of the group.

How long have you been writing this series? What do you think makes it a series that readers should check out?

I’ve been working on Chaos Reigns for over 7 years. The first book was published through Double Dragon in both ebook and print in 2008. I currently stalled on book 5, but hope to have it to the publisher by the end of 2011 for a 2012 release.

This is the sort of series that will appeal for traditional fantasy fans. Lots of sword swinging and magic. Fast paced action and high intrigue set the stage for the full story arc that will continue through 6 (possibly 7 books). The main story arc will wrap up in book 6. there is a secondary arc that I can continue to book 7.

What sort of work do you like to publish in your zines and with your publisher? What kind of writers are you looking for?

Both zines are fantasy magazines. The Lorelei Signal is themed in that I want stories that feature strong female characters. Sorcerous Signals isn’t themed – other than being fantasy.

I’m not looking for any specific type of story. When I get submissions, my initial read through is to see if the story grabs my attention. If I’m intrigued enough to want to continue reading past the first two pages, I set the story aside for a second read through. I have a limited budget so only tend to publish 10 stories each issue.

The stories published in both magazines have been somewhat eclectic over the years, so it’s hard to pin down a specific type. I know I have published a number of retold fairy tales and those are always fun, but there are only so many ways the story of Cinderella can be retold 🙂

The stories that get my attention the quickest have engaging characters from the start. I immediately care about the characters and want to learn more about what’s happening to them. The story has to be about the characters. Even in a plot driven story, it still has to be about the characters.

With the books I publish, it’s pretty much the same thing. I do tend to look for short novels and long novellas primarily, but also accept books in the 70-90k word range.

I prefer working with fantasy and SF, but will consider any genre if the story grabs my attention. Last year, I published a PI/Mystery novel that grabbed my attention – I’m not a mystery fan, but when this came in it was during the NBA playoffs (I’m a Spurs fan) and I found myself reading the book instead of paying attention to the game.

Thank you for your time and participating in my experiment, Carol

Thank you – it was fun – hope I was a good subject


The Lorelei Signal

Sorcerous Signals

WolfSinger Publications

  1. Eileen Schuh says:

    Great interview about a very busy lady. Carol, you’re an inspiration to your readers and your writers!

    Eileen Schuh, Author

  2. Lee Widener says:

    Yes, very interesting interview. I’ll be checking out your ezines!

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