Ann Dávila Cardinal is a novelist and director of student recruitment for Vermont College of Fine Arts where she earned her MFA in Writing. Her novels Five Midnights (6/4/19) and the sequel, Category Five (6/2/20), are published by Tor Teen. Ann lives in Morrisville, Vermont with her husband Doug and son Carlos, and likes to spend her free time cycling, doing fiber arts, and preparing for the zombie apocalypse.
Ross C. Miller website can be found at SkyeRun.com
I started writing when I was in the Navy. …there isn’t a hekuvalot to do on watch at 2:00am in the morning when the ship (USS Tattnall DDG 19, 1974 through 1977) is in port, and shut down, but someone has to be in the engine room.
Yes! I was a Snipe!
…and I may even go dig those stories up some day and see if I can come up with a valid plot for them.
After the Navy, I went to college. I have a BS … Bachelor’s of Science … not the other kind of BS … in Accounting, and an Accociate’s with Honors in Management. …having worked full-time and shifted the courses I could to the summer to lighten the course load. I put myself through the four years, graduating with only minimal loans, getting extremely little outside help. The GI Bill wasn’t paying out much at that time.
After that, life went on. I had a daughter. …who doesn’t read my books. But her husband does. So, that’s a semi-win.
I discovered the X-Wng Combat Simulator, shortly after it came out. I flew a lot. …I’m talking “incessantly”. AOL was still in its infancy and had an official X-Wing Tactics and Strategies board. They also had one for the TIE Fighter game, too. …which I got and flew. Those boards were a big disappointment, though. They only told the minimum of what you had to do to pass the missions. I was maxing them all out. So I started adding my own Help responses telling them exactly what they needed to do to Kill the mission!
After a while, a few of the online Star Wars clubs started chasing me. Greedo96 (who I wish I could find now) finally talked me into joining one. They had access to mission builder programs that would let you create the mission, goals, and briefing. And people could copy them into their games and fly them.
This … was … a … phenomenal development.
Things led to things. I created the Academy for X-Wing, and started running Grey Squadron. …I’d taken over for Aj Loki (who I also wish I could find), at the end of Tour 1. I did Tour 2, handing out the missions every week. “Here ya go” didn’t cut it after a while. So I started doing extended briefings in the emails that carried the mission files.
…which lead to bigger things. Tour 3 ended up something close to 180 pages, including the pilot reports. I had most of the club writing fiction. It was great!
I created the Academy such that it could have a section added for a new game any time one came out. I even ran the club for a while. I had a huge comprehensive rank progression and medal system in place.
But as things sometimes will. Stuff happened. My personal life got fouled up, as well.
I did Grey’s Tour 5 after I’d done some rearranging of my life. T5 is 600 pages of raw first draft fiction. …full sheet typing paper pages.
I stayed in touch with a few people. …one being Stacy Shofner-Williams (Of Shadows & Ash), who is also a published author, and has been for far longer than me. After seeing a number of my half-stepping attempts at fiction, she convinced me that I should jump into the deep end, finish up the stories I had, and publish them.
So … I did. …and it has ruled me ever since.
My books aren’t normal. But they are almost always received with enthusiasm, once people can adjust to the concepts. The one word used most in referring to the Horseless Horsemen is “Intense”. The most often used phrase is “very hard to put down”.
I, personally, feel that a Great Author can reach out of the book … grab your heart … and twist it any way they want it to go. …and the only option the reader has is to close the book. …which they will do, but unwillingly so. But that same author can keep calling the reader back to open it again and keep reading.
…that being said … That’s exactly the kind of author I try very hard to be.
“Creativity is the essential response to grief.” —Henry Seiden, Ph.D.
I didn’t stumble across the above quote until years later, but it describes my reaction to losing the love of my life at age twenty-nine. She and I had known each other for years, lived together, then bought a home; had planned a forever future.
Too bad forever never lasts as long as we hope.
Though, I will admit. Despite the tears, the regret, the months of mourning, the endless lament of “what could have been” – there is a happy ending to this story.
But it won’t arrive for over two decades. More about William Northey’s story.