Stephen Coghlan, an IN THE AIR Author Interview


On the verge of a new anthology, we are celebrating IN THE AIR with a behind the scenes view of authors and their stories. Here’s a look at Stephen Coghlan and his story “By Trial and Conviction.”



Tell me a little about your story and the world you’ve created.

“By Trial and Conviction” is a Steampunk Swashbuckler adventure, about the crew of an underdog vessel, the Albion, who takes desperate measures to stop their country’s captured flagship and take revenge for slights of old.

The story focusses on a young protagonist, Mr. Oot, a deckhand on the aforementioned Albion, who has found himself the personal weapon smith of the captain and his two unique blades.

What came first, the plot or the characters?

The plot. BTAC was originally scripted for another anthology about swords but was eventually squeezed out of the running in the last bout of competition. While I’m happy it made it that far, I was super excited to see that it made its way into here.

If you had to describe your protagonist in three words, what would they be?

Young, driven, and passionate.

What is something about your protagonist that only you know?

Well, if I told you that…

Honestly, though, I downplayed just how much Mr. Oot admires his mentor. One thing I ended up editing out was a sense of romantic attachment and confusion between the young deckhand and his captain, and instead, dialed it back to simple admiration, as I felt I wasn’t able to properly express such a complicated relationship in the wordcount I had allowed for.

Which scene was the most difficult to write and why?

There really wasn’t a difficult part to write, but that’s because I plotted this one out carefully before I began, and ripped it out in a week.




What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I’m a geeky construction worker, (Yes, those do exist.) And I love the challenge of my other career, so that’s always fun for me. When I’m not working, or writing, I’m generally finding ways to accidentally piss-off my long-suffering wife with the help of our children.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your stories?

I’ve been writing for so long, yet I’m always learning something or other about the craft, and/or the English language. I treat writing like a practice, I can always improve.

Do you have any suggestions to help others become better writers? If so, what are they?

Find a group of writers to become Critique Partners with. The best way to learn is to try and help someone else. THAT’s when you realize you might not know everything, and it forces you to study and therefore improve your own work.

What do you think makes a good story?

Have an ARC. Make sure your story has a beginning, middle, and end, and that the protagonist develops through it. If the story does not have some sort of growth or realization, than it’s not a story, it’s just a series of events.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

Rich. 😉 I dreamt of many things and pursued what I could in order to figure out what would be best for me. One of the thoughts I had was to be a maintenance engineer on a spaceship, and while I’m no longer physically fit for space travel, I do some very similar work in construction, as I get to do a little of everything.

What is your favorite writing tool or technique?

The Cloud. Being able to access my work from any electronic device connected to the internet has been such a bonus for me. I can work almost anywhere, on almost anything. No more must I suffer to write until I have hours of luxury time. Now I can sit down on the crapper, and whip out a fight scene in a few precious moments of serenity.

How would you describe your general writing voice and tone?

I’m ever-growing, ever-expanding. I don’t have a general voice or tone, as every story I craft has me experimenting with a new technique or prose, or focusing on a facet of the rules of English.

Share something fun or interesting:

Share a photo – favorite place, favorite food, favorite animal etc.





48416177_2008938705839504_8094266344947580928_nStephen Coghlan writes from the oft-frozen capital of Canada. His works include both the GENMOS and the NOBILIS series, the dreampunk Novella, Urban Gothic, Podcasts, Poetry, and a multitude of short stories across various anthologies, including Joseph and the Technicolor Fur Coat appearing in the award-winning ARCANA anthology, edited by Madison Scott-Clary. Those curious about him can either follow him on Twitter of Facebook as @WordsBySC.


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