Long and Short Reviews welcomes Voss Foster, whose newest book Tartaros was released in January. Leave a comment for the chance to win a download of Tartaros.

Voss decided to use a pseudonym and I asked his reasons.

“Partly because I share a name with another author, which can end in a lawsuit, and partly because my name sounds rather similar to the name of yet another author that I didn’t want to be associated with (not naming names). Coming up with the name was easy. Voss was my grandma’s name when she died, and my mother’s maiden name, and Foster was my grandma’s maiden name. And, you know, it makes me sound like some character in a crime noir novel.”

When choosing titles, Voss tries to either make a play on words or use the name of something important in the story. For example, Tartaros was chosen because the name of the main character is Daniel Tartaros, but also because it’s a play on Tartarus, the ancient Greek pit of torture for nasty dead souls. Another book Rings of Treachery, which is currently with beta readers, is a play on words. The culture in the book is based on a complex code involving rings, but also like a suspicion, i.e., “Hmmm. This rings of treachery.”

Voss has been writing for a long time and, in fact, still has the first short story he wrote on a typewriter when he was in the first grade.

“Super Duck,” he told me. “I remember he used ‘duck tape’ to tie up the ‘bad guys.’ Then, for a while in middle school, I got into writing poetry. Really bad poetry. Cliches stacked on top of saccharine imagery and held together with teenage angst. But, around my junior year of high school (and I fully attribute this rediscovery of fiction writing to my English teacher at the time) I got back into real writing. My senior year, we all had to do a project–I wrote a novel. Not a good novel, since I wrote it under protest, but a novel. Then, the month after I graduated, I wrote Tartaros— NaNoWriMo that November and I was lost to the world of fiction.”

“What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?” I wondered.

“I’d say, and anyone that’s ever been in the same room with me while I write will back me up, it’s the moving. When I think, I move. I make faces, I copy my characters’ movements, I try to capture what’s going on. It helps me get things straight in my head. I remember once, writing with some other writerly friends, I got up and had to act out an entire battle scene, because I’d lost track of how many chakram my character had left to throw. So I counted while I acted.”

When he is preparing for a project, part of the prep work is putting together a playlist to listen to when he writes—the music ranges from anything from K-Pop Filk, Country to Death Metal, Symphonic Rock to Techno. If it has the right vibe, he throws it into the playlist.

“Of course, sometimes, if I’m really into something, I end up just listening to that instead,” he said. “The last novel I wrote was done half to the playlist I put together and half to K-Pop.”

“What group did you hang out with in high school?” I asked.

“I was a nerd (I know. Shocker). I was a band geek, and I was in Science Olympiad. Yep. I was also later informed that I was committing social suicide. I didn’t care. These were intelligent people with minds just as out there as mine. Plus, you know, when you spend days on end with people, you can’t help but form some bonds. High stress performance situations or competition situations. It happens. And it helped that a number of them all read the same things I did.”

He’s not that far out of high school himself, so keeping up with the YA market is not an issue for Voss. He still has friends in high school and a lot of his own reading is in the YA genre.

“Do you write in multiple genres or just one?” I asked. “If just one, do you ever consider straying outside your genre?”

“I write under the whole blanket of speculative fiction. I can’t honestly be expected to choose just one, can I? Even if that’s what people expect, it’s just not going to happen. I’m very happy to write paranormal, fantasy, science-fiction, and horror. A few times, mostly on shorter works, I’ve strayed into (gasp) mainstream. But, if I was required, forever, to write just one genre, I’d pick YA. It’s the only way to really cheat–I can write in whatever genre I like under YA. I’m sneaky like that.”

When it comes to world building, most of his sci-fi world building comes in the social interactions. What are the conventions of the culture? Why did the culture evolve? How do they flirt or marry? Is there a religion? In fantasy, he does the same things, but he also draws maps, plans magic systems, and finds out where their technology level would fall in comparison to Earth.

“No matter what, I normally just type up and scribble down pages and pages of notes and drawings. And then I attempt to figure out where I put everything when it comes time for me to actually use it,” he admitted.

“Are you a pantser or a plotter?”

“I pantsed my first book. Then, the first time I read it, I figured out that I had to completely cut out half of it because it was completely pointless. So, from then on, I’ve always had at least some idea of what to do. It ranges from book to book. Sometimes, I fill out a form that details every single point you need to touch on in a plot, has it broken down into a formula. Other times, I go to the opposite end of the spectrum, just have a beginning, middle, and end. But, normally, I’m a moderate. I’ll just write out a couple pages of outline, mostly just to get the plot straight in my head. And I do stray from there, almost every time, but it makes the book better, I’ve found.”

I asked Voss what kind of mythical creature he would be interested in owning and he told me without hesitation, “A unicorn. Not even a question in my mind. I want a unicorn. A pretty unicorn with a long horn. And it would be like a giant lap dog. And I would love it pet it and squeeze it and call it George. I’m just not sure where to get unicorn chow. Anyone know what they eat? I’d be happy to find out.”

Voss has one group of friends that can tear him away from writing, editing, marketing, and submitting most of the time; however, apart from them, unless he completely burns out there’s always something going on in his head about his writing. However, when he is burned out, he sits around and plays what he called “stupid online games.” However, when he gets with that one particular group of friends, things can go anyway.

“I just, in about three days, shot a short film with them inspired by ‘Repo! The Genetic Opera’ and ‘The Devil’s Carnival.’ We watch movies, have game nights, sing. And they’re also my Rocky Horror crowd. I’m a part of the local cast for our Rocky Horror showcases,” he said.

“Do you have a favorite quote or saying?”

“I do. I actually keep a list of quotes, constantly growing. And I have two favorites. Why yes, I am cheating. How kind of you to notice. The first is from Walt Whitman: ‘I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable, I sound my barbaric YAWP over the roofs of the world.’ I first heard that watching ‘The Dead Poets’ Society’ in Junior English. I eventually looked up the full quote and fell in love. Now, the other one is from Marianne Williamson, but often gets wrongly attributed to Nelson Mandela: ‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.’ That’s one I just came across in my meanderings and it teared me up a little. So it’s definitely going to stay as one of my favorites.”

About the Author: 4_9 Voss Foster Author PictureVoss Foster lives in the middle of the Eastern Washington Desert, where he writes speculative fiction from a single wide trailer. When he can be pried away from his keyboard, he can be found belly-dancing, cooking, singing, and practicing photography, though rarely all at the same time.
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4_9 Tartaros Cover ArtA demon hunter, Daniel Tartaros is sworn to slay the denizens of Hell and, for over a decade, he has. He’s kept the world, and his girlfriend, safe. But, one night, the demons cross the threshold to his home. His girlfriend is taken, possessed by a powerful demon. Too powerful for him.

But the horror increases when he finds out the truth: it’s not just a demon. Lilith, the Queen of Hell, has bound herself into a human body to be with him. But broken free and without the restraint of a human life, she still needs him, and plans to use all of her power to keep him. She’ll do what it takes to keep him, even if it means the end of life. With Earth hanging by spider’s silk, the tiniest ripple from either Daniel or Lilith could send it swinging into the fires of destruction.


  1. Excellent site 🙂 wow 🙂

  2. The book sounds intriguing.

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

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