I am pleased to introduce you to a unique pair, brining life to the written world through their paranormal renditions:
Author Cynthis Echterling
and Stephen Wytrysowski, Alien Interpreter
Before we get started talking about your books, tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What is your occupation outside of writing?
Cynthia: First of all, thanks for having us. Why don't you start, Steve, you're the author.
Steve: Well, okay. I'm from
. That's up near Hammond, Indiana . I lived there my whole life, but now I live at the Intra-galactic Self-determinant Species Network - US Embassy in like a dorm for us interpreter trainees. It's in Halfway, Chicago Virginia which is like near in the middle of nowhere. It doesn't even have a zip code. I used to be the assistant night manager at a truck stop before I got picked to be an interpreter for aliens. And they don't mind bein' called aliens, by the way. Most of 'em can't pronounce extraterrestrial. Just don't call 'em space monsters or nothin' like that. As for the book, it's part of my trainin' to keep a journal and my teachers liked it, so they told the ambassadors, and they wanted to put it out as a book. Help Wanted, Human: No Experience Necessary. It It's my autobiography. It may even be a series of books if people like it cuz I still have to keep a journal. Washington DC
Cynthia: I guess we should tell people that Steve lives in alternate universe just like ours, but aliens have made contact in theirs. We communicate telepathically. I'm just the ghost writer.
Steve: Actually, to me, she is like a ghost and trust me, I know ghosts personally. I guess cuz I was scared about writin' a book, one night, I dreamed about her, and she dreamed about me and we've been communicatin' telepathically ever since. She helps me with the book, but she still makes me sound like a jerk who don't speak English right, or nothin'. But that's okay, I guess. Gotta be authentic.
Would you describe yourself as an introvert or an extrovert?
Cynthia: I'd say I'm primarily an introvert, but since I've worked with the public for so long as a counselor and workshop facilitator, I've become more extroverted.
Steve: (What is that? Oh.) I'm an outgoin' kinda guy. Kinda the class clown. Since I've been writin' though, I gotta think about myself and how I feel, especially about some of the really scary stuff that's happened. So I guess I've become more of a ... whatever you called it.
Do you have any pets? If so, what kind and tell us their names.
Cynthia: I have a black cat, named
, Katman for short. Katmandu
Steve: Back home we have a dog, Peanut. He's a little mutt and he like to hump legs, but I kinda miss him. Around here, I think I'm considered a pet. Prob'ly cuz I'm the youngest trainee.
Where is the most unique place you have traveled?
Cynthia: Inside a cave in
. It wasn't a regular tourist cave. You had to crawl in and then it was completely black and silent except for water dripping far off. A very unique experience. Georgia
Steve: I've been places I'm not even sure are places cuz I was havin' a outa body experience.
Aside from your successes in the writing industry, what in your life has given you the greatest sense of accomplishment?
Cynthia: Raising my daughter to help her be the kind of person she is – honest and concerned for other people. My military service also.
Steve: I got a track trophy once.
How many books have you written and how many of those are published?
Cynthia: I have an unpublished book, The Scavenger. It won some literary awards, but I think it was too dark. Help Wanted, Human: No Experience Necessary is our first published book and, as Steve said, it's the first of a series. We've finished Help Wanted,Human: Paid Holidays, and Help Wanted,Human: Works Well with Others and have a fourth book we're working on now. Problem Solving Skills. It's more of a mystery.
Do you have one particular genre that all your books fall under (i.e. suspense, romance, etc.) or do you write in many different genres?
Cynthia: Help Wanted is probably literary science fiction, humor, paranormal or metaphysical.
Steve: Those books are my autobiographies!
How much character and plot detailing do you plan out before you begin writing a novel, or are you a “pantser” (fly by the seat of your pants) ?
Steve: I just keep a journal.
Cynthia: I literally dream these things up, then I write them seat of the pants. The only notes I keep are things like how I spell names and alien words. Dates. After I've written something I check facts and add research detail. I have to make sure Steve knows what he's talking about. For example, book three involves an F-22 fighter jet. I knew nothing about aircraft and stealth technology and Steve didn't know much either, so I researched that. My main emphasis is character development, especially when dealing with the aliens. I don't want them to come across as humans in costumes with funny names. We've explored their culture, history, belief systems, values and even their folklore.
Steve: And I know what they feel like and whether their breath stinks.
Prior to becoming a published author, how many rejections did you receive? How did you handle the rejections?
Cynthia: A ton, but they were always telling me I wrote well, my work just didn't fit their list. I suppose if they told me my writing style sucked, I might have quit, but the positive comments kept me at it. I think the main problem is that what I write doesn't fit neatly into a genre category. I'm grateful that Whiskey Creak Press decided to take a chance on it.
Steve: I never wrote anything before, so most of my rejections come from chicks.
How and when do you write? Do you keep yourself on a schedule or do you work while the muse is with you?
Steve: I sit down every night after dinner and talk to the computer about my day.
Cynthia: I don't make a schedule. I divide my time between my writing, artwork and marketing. When I get tired of one I do one of the others.
If you have a new release coming out, tell us about it.
Cynthia: Help Wanted Human:No Experience Necessary is Steve's autobiographical account of first contact and how he was hired by aliens to be an interpreter trainee. It covers the period in which the trainees are getting to know each other, and going through orientation with Ambassador Shyemiyashkete, who is the equivalent of a Pyeshtwenle shaman.
Out of all the books you’ve written and the characters you’ve created, which is your favorite character and why?
Steve: I'd say Deer Shit. Ay's a real character! Well, they're all real characters, but Deer Shit is the bratty little offspring of the Hoidan Zeday ambassador and a total pain in my ass, but I feel sorry forthe kid, seein' as how ay's the only kid at the base. Oh, and “ay” is a Hoidan Zeday pronoun for someone that isn't male or female.
Cynthia: Yes, Deer Shit is a lot of fun, but Ay doesn't show up until book three along with Ceiling. In book one, Ambassador Shemiyashkete aka Smash is interesting. Ay's so clueless about reality. And Dr. Moe, Steve's dentist. Then there's Allison ...
Steve: Allison is a pain in the butt! She's also a weirdo!
If you could step into the world of anyone else’s novel or meet with any character, which/who would you choose?
Cynthia: I think I'd like to be on the raft with Huck and Jim.
Steve: Can I be Jason Bourne and get to kill people?
If you could give one piece of advice to writers trying to get published, what would that advice be?
It's very competitive out there. Join a writers critique group whether it's online or in your neighborhood. Look for people who will give you constructive criticism instead of just stroking your ego and telling you you’re wonderful. Editors aren't going to do that, so get your work in the best possible shape for the reader before you send it out.
What's up next for you and your writing?
I also have an animated web series based on an alien folktale called The Legend of Killer Killer. The trailer is out now and I plan to begin putting the episodes online in February. I wrote, animated it and did the voiceover. That was fun! You can watch it on the website under Pfugler.
Anything else you'd like to share with my blog readers?
Cynthia: (whispering) Steve's single. Ouch!
Where can we read more about you and your work?
Cynthia: The best place would be the IGSDSN US Embassy website. Http://www.welikehumans.com
Steve: Yeah, that's right. Thanks for inviting us to your blog. We really appreciate it.
No, thank YOU Cynthia and Steve for making this a very lively and entertaining interview. I look forward to reading your stories and tuning into Pfugler!