Featured Author · Spotlight Interview

Featured Author: Ash Gray

Wednesday Spotlight

Shh: Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

AG: Whenever I’m asked this, I usually go into the I-am-really-a-dragon routine, because I hate talking about myself. And I hate talking about myself because I’ve had a crappy life and I’m sure bringing it up would just bring people down. I can’t even tell you where I grew up because I didn’t grow up in any one place.

Since I’m feeling broody this morning, I’ll share something real and not dragon bullcrap.

Just know that I was born loving stories out of the womb. And that’s not some cliché. My romance with novels began before I could read. My mother read to me every single night, even before I could talk, and I was constantly in front of the tv, and I only looked at things that had actual stories (and maybe the occasional Looney Tunes). I loved stories so much, that I had taught myself to read by the time I was three just because I wanted to be able to access those books without asking an adult to read to me. No one taught me. Not on purpose anyway. So how surprised were they when we were driving down the street and I kept blurting out what every street sign said – no matter how vulgar. I mean, I was three.

My mother told me this story the other day of how I taught myself to walk and actually walked early too. (This is remarkable because I was born with crooked legs and had to wear leg braces on them for a while – yeah, like Forrest Gump.) I was so eager to be in the world. It was like I didn’t even understand I’d only just got there. I also didn’t understand that the world was not for me but for someone else, and that I would spend the rest of my life on the outside looking in, trying to be valued as a human being and acknowledged. Of course, it took several more years to understand that.

Shh: What inspired you to write?

AG: I never wanted to write. When I was a kid, I didn’t yet understand that I was a blind dork with a bad back condition who would never play sports. I wanted to play soccer and tap dance and be a ballerina. People were astonished by how fast I could run. But the older I got, the more my nerdness caught up with me, the further I retreated into books.

Even then, it still never crossed my mind that I could or should write my own stories. I’m not sure who would have read them anyway. I was on my own a lot. Then when I was twelve, my aunt passed away. My mother, who has a degree in journalism and thus values writing highly, handed me a journal and told me to write as a catharsis. She believed writing would help me process what was happening in ways that she couldn’t.

So I wrote. And a bit over twenty years later, I’m still writing.

Shh: What inspired your novel?

AG: Since The Prince of Qorlec is what I’m working on right now (and having a friggin ball, I might add) I guess it’s the series I’ll talk about in this interview.

I was inspired to write book one Project Mothership when I realized how much I loved science fiction and that I should really, really be writing more of it. I came to this realization one evening when I was rewatching the first Men in Black film with Will Smith for the umpteenth time. I started thinking to myself, “Dammit, this is the sort of stuff I love and want to see more of, so why not create it?”

I grew up with movies like Men in Black and Alien and Terminator and even Mars Attacks! I didn’t realize it at the time – I mean, of course, I wouldn’t, I was a kid – but I was very, very lucky to have these science fiction films where people like me were on the screen depicted as human beings and not offensive and harmful stereotypes and caricatures.

It’s easy to get bogged down by negativity and feel like the world is a dark, dark place where you are not welcome and do not want to be – in fact, I feel this way every day, or else I wouldn’t write. But there is evidence that people are at least trying to be decent human beings. I’m not gonna hand out cookies or pat anyone on the back for that because we should all be trying to be good to one another every day anyway. But it’s still great to look back at my childhood and realize how damned lucky I was.

Basically, I realized I wanted to write the things I love, and I love humorous science fiction that is fun and silly and still manages to express some deep and profound truth, even in a lighthearted way. Or sometimes not. We don’t always need to philosophize about pancakes in every dang thing. So I sat down and wrote Project Mothership, which is the story of the last princess of an alien planet who was planted as a fetus inside a human woman so that she could escape the invading aliens who wished to take over her planet Qorlec.

The first book is really funny and lighthearted with some poignant moments here and there. I like to describe it as a cross between Men in Black and Terminator, except the aliens are the good ones (because me love aliens) and the FBI aka men in black and the robots/terminators are the evil ones trying to capture Quinn, the princess of Qorlec.

And because I adore action heroes in science fiction, I’ve always got at least one female action hero, who smokes cigarettes constantly and is sarcastic and tough and wields some kind of big gun. In The Thieves of Nottica, we’ve got Morganith as the action hero. In Project Mothership, it’s Zita, who I enjoy writing so much, I actually brought her back one book earlier than I originally planned. So she’s actually in the second book and meets up with Quinn again. I like to think of her as a cross between Bruce Willis in the Fifth Element (or, hell, Die Hard) and Linda Hamilton in Terminator. The difference between Zita and Sarah Connor is that Zita keeps her humanity. Even though she’s a soldier who’s supposed to be hard and cold, she never goes over the edge. She actually winds up being the person who keeps other soldiers (such as Quinn’s borderline psychotic aunt) from going off the deep-end.

I wanted to give the first book away free during my blog tour just to get people interested in the series. I actually plan to make it permafree once I’ve written at least four books in. I feel like it’s the series I’m going to be focusing the most on in the year to come simply because I love writing it so much.

Shh: What draws you to this genre?

AG: I’ll answer the last two questions together. The genre is science fiction > action adventure. Well, the first two are. The first two books are very action-packed, with crashing spaceships and chase sequences and people suddenly kissing as the fire and smoke are rising (just kidding on that last part).

In the first two books, Quinn is very young, so she’s not sitting around brooding about the universe. She’s got a mission in every book, and it’s not until she gets older that she starts slowing down to look around and smell the daisies. In the first book, she’s just trying to escape the zonbiri, amphibian aliens who are trying to conquer Qorlec, her home planet. In the second book, she’s trying to protect Earth from the zonbiri, who are at it again trying to make humans into mutant soldiers for their war efforts. In the third book, she trains as a warrior and learns what it means to be entirian, her species.

The third book is more quiet and reflective because this is Quinn learning and growing up and falling in love. It’s normally the sort of thing that would be skipped over in a montage if it were a movie, but I plan to use the third book to nerd-out and expand the lore and explore who the entirian actually are. So far in the second book, they are presented as a militant, cut-throat society, where their men are actually oppressed because of a physical disadvantage. They are not presented in a flattering light – which is supposed to be a sort of twist because these are the victims of an invasion by a brutal and more technologically advanced planet. Book three explores this and attempts to make the entirian more sympathetic while still showing they have flaws.

Shh: How did you develop your plot and your characters?

AG: This is a difficult question to answer because I don’t really have a process. I made this guest post recently talking about how to build a character with a character sheet, but in reality, I haven’t used a character sheet in years. I think the point of the character sheet is sort of like training wheels for when you’re just learning – though it can also serve to organize messy thoughts about a character. It has its uses.

As far as Project Mothership is concerned, I just sat down and started writing it one day. Rose was originally a cynical, sarcastic woman (which is why she tells Zita she has no gods), but I realized I hated that, and I went back and made her more soft and sweet. I don’t know why. It’s just the direction I chose to take.

The plot is half inspired by real accounts of alien activity and the young adult science fiction series Invasion America, in which a half-alien prince protects America from his uncle’s planned invasion. I actually didn’t do this on purpose. In fact, I didn’t realize how similar my story was to Invasion America until I found myself thinking one day of how sad I was when the series was cancelled. I remember reading the book that was loosely based on the show and being so miffed that the books were never continued. I guess in a way, I was subconsciously continuing David Carter’s story with my character Quinn Carmichael.

But at the same time, the stories are almost nothing alike. It’s their basic elements – lost prince/princess, fighting the alien invasion, human mother, whacked out aunt/uncle – that are similar.

Shh: What inspired your protagonist?

AG: Quinn’s story was inspired by a documentary I saw once of an alien abduction. Anyone who’s seen the documentary would read my book and instantly realize what I was retelling. I don’t feel like Quinn herself was inspired by anything, not even David Carter. Unlike David, Quinn doesn’t rely on a family heirloom to win her battles. I always thought David Carter needed to lose his handy-dandy glove at least for a while just to prove that he was a capable hero without it (and he did lose it for a while a couple times, but it still wasn’t convincing enough for me).

I’ve been playing with the idea of giving Quinn some alien weapon to defeat the zonbiri, but in the first couple books, she will be fighting without that weapon, just to show what she’s made of to the audience and that it’s her that has the strength, not some alien magic voodoo.

Shh: What inspired your antagonist?

AG: General Phorott hasn’t even made a real appearance in the books yet (I’m still writing toward that part). I can’t say what inspired him right now because right now he is just a name.

The villain of The Harvest, book two of the series, is a scientist named Dr Zorgone who is completely emotionless and cold and casually shoots his own colleagues mid-sentence. He’s been fun to write. He wasn’t inspired by anything that I’m aware of. I just wrote him (and snickered the whole time).

A lot of the villains in this series wound up being male because zonbiri women are so oppressed on planet Kahz, they can’t even progress to a point where they have enough power to be influential villains. But I’ve been playing with the idea of some self-loathing female minions who actually like the patriarchal power structure.

Shh: What was the hardest part to write in the book?

AG: The scenes with Oliver, Rose’s husband. And I think it’s because, after I’d written the first draft of Project Mothership, I went back and realized that Oliver was based on a real person. This was not something I did on purpose, but I’m not going to go back and change it now. Oliver stays. And . . . ha. I guess his inspiration is still on my mind. But you never forget the first person you loved. Even if they didn’t love you back.

Shh: What was your favourite part of your book to write?

AG: All the crazy chases and fight scenes. I can’t say because it’s a spoiler, but the scene in Project Mothership with Zita in the car and the FBI agent who tries to run up on her? I liked that.

Shh: Are you a full time or a part-time writer? If part-time, what do you do besides write?

AG: I’m a full-time writer, but I still do other things. I used to think I could paint. I also used to sew little teddy bears and make dolls. I was thinking one day I might start giving away teddy bears and dolls as swag for my books. If only I had enough talent to make dolls of my characters. That would be so cool.

Shh: What are you currently reading?

AG: I’ve decided to start reading, even more, science fiction. If I’m going to write it, I should be learning from my masters. So – after angrily trading in some copies of Constantine’s work – I grabbed some Isaac Asimov and am currently reading I, Robot. I’m still trying to get my hands on more Ursula K. Le Guin. I live down the street from two privately owned bookstores with huge amounts of books. It’s only a matter of time before I’ve got more science fiction on my shelves alongside the epic fantasy.

Shh: Who would you say are your favourite authors?

AG: I don’t know anymore. When people ask me that, I draw a blank. It’s because I just came from being an English Lit major, where I learned that most of my favorite authors are actually jerks, and even after earning my degree, I’m still learning that the ones with the greatest talent are some kind of bigot in some horribly twisted and disturbing way.

The authors I grew up loving, who haven’t let me down yet (or can’t because they’re dead) are Daphne du Maurier, Clive Barker, Ursula K. Le Guin, Dostoevsky, Herman Melville, Shirley Jackson, Mercedes Lackey and I’m sure there are more but I can’t think of them.

Shh: How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?

AG: The Idiot by Dostoevsky, the story of a pure and good soul corrupted by a dark world.

Frankenstein was brilliant. And yes, misogynists. Mary Shelley – a woman – wrote it all by her onesy. And she didn’t “try too hard” and she didn’t write it to prove anything because – gasp! – women write books because we love to, not to impress men. Our lives don’t revolve around you!

Moby Dick is often blasted for its encyclopedic nature, but there are some truly beautiful passages. One of my favorites: “Our souls are like those orphans whose mothers die in bearing them: the secret of our paternity lies within their graves, and we must go there to learn it.” In other words, we can not know about death or “god” or an afterlife until we’ve died and it’s arrogant to pretend we do know. These words became more significant for me when I had a near-death experience and saw the light. Yeah. The whole trip.

Ursula K. Le Guin is amazing and I love A Wizard of Earthsea. My book The Seaglass Stair is heavily influenced by it.

Hmm. Let’s see. One more book . . . It would probably have to be The Thief of Always by Clive Barker, who is the king of horror and fantasy to me and always will be — unless he – like my other favorite authors – does something to prove he is anything less than a decent person and then I will have to sadly abandon him. So far, so good.

I abandon authors who are toxic because, more often than not, their venom is aimed at people like me and I can’t support authors who express hatred for me. May seem illogical to some people – amazingly enough – but to me, it makes perfect sense not to worship people whose bigotry contributes to systematically hurting me socially and economically. Yes, words have that power. You can’t be a writer and not understand that. So while everyone else is free to “separate the artist from the art” I can not.

Shh: What are your future projects, if any?

AG: After I finish my two series A Time of Darkness and The Prince of Qorlec, I plan on writing several spin-off books based on my short story collection Tales of Talithia. I might even start on it as I’m writing the other series because the spin-off books will all be standalone but based on the same world.

And because I’ve been actively trying to enter the publishing world for ten years, I have an entire pile of old novels that still need to be published. So polishing, revising, and rewriting those will be future projects too.

Shh: What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?

AG: I am always lurking in the rafters of Goodreads, so if you want something from me, the best way to call the dragon out of the cave without getting singed is to contact me through my Goodreads. I’ll get your message in an email and get back to you. You can also access my Amazon page from there and download all my books through that.

Shh: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? 

AG: Avoid eating people with bone marrow disease. Oh wait, you said “authors” not “dragons.” (Good advice for dragon’s, take note dragon readers out there! – Shh, I am Reading.)

I usually shy away from giving people advice because who the hell am I? I’m just some self-published slushpile reject. But here’s the best advice I can give.

If you want to develop your skill as a writer, read. Read for hours and hours every single day if you can. And read good things. Things that are written well. Things that are freaking fantastic. It’s the easiest and most inexpensive way to learn. In fact, it’s the best way to learn. All the best writers were readers first. Why? Because they learned from the masters.

Connect with Ash

Goodreads | Amazon | Patreon

 

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Featured Author · Spotlight Interview

Featured Author: Addie Hunter

Wednesday Spotlight

Welcome readers! I have a wonderful interview with author Addie Hunter and her novel Heritage. Enjoy!

Genre: Superhero Fiction
Publisher: Pronoun
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Pages: 206
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Where to Buy

B&N | IndieBound | Alibris | Google Play | Amazon

Interview

Shh: Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

AH: My name is Addie Hunter, and I’m 21 years old in Ohio. I work three jobs (two seasonal, one year round) and I’ve always been a big reader. I taught myself how to read before I went into Kindergarten, and after that, I read anything I could get my little hands on. I was a huge fan of the Harry Potter series and any other ones that had fantasy elements. When you combine that with a massive love for superheroes, it was only a matter of time before I wrote a book of my own!

Shh: What inspired you to write?

AH: Along with reading, I’ve been writing little stories since I was a kid. They were always wild and all over the place, and I rarely finished one, but it was a fun hobby of mine, especially in high school. I’d send short stories to my friends about adventures we’d get into for fun. My creative writing teacher loved me. And this leads perfectly into the next question…

Shh: What inspired your novel?

AH: My best friend enlisted in the Navy a couple years back. Since you can’t have your phone at bootcamp, I started writing letters to her that had small stories in them. One day I wrote a story about if we had powers, and 300 words later, I realized there was a lot more to this story than what I had paper for. Out of that one letter, I created an entire universe with loads of characters and rules for powers and crazy backstories. Fast forward a year and a half of planning out the Transcend series, and here’s Heritage!

Shh: What is the genre?

AH: Superhero Fiction (a nice little subgenre of Science Fiction).

Shh: What draws you to this genre?

AH: The possibilities. I feel like anytime you involve humans and fantastical elements, the possibilities are absolutely endless. There’s so much room for imagination to drive the story forward, and who doesn’t love superheroes?

Shh: How did you develop your plot and your characters?

AH: While there are a lot of made-up elements, I wanted the characters to be relatable and deal with real-world problems. So, even though there are some crazy characters and powers flying around, their conflicts and plot twists are rooted in real life issues that anyone could be dealing with. 

Shh: What inspired your protagonist?

AH: The group of friends that make up the main characters were very loosely based on some people I knew. After their personalities were more developed, they became something totally unique. I started out with their powers and then built their personalities off of which power they had. I gave them stereotypical elements (such as the mind reader being super smart) but then gave each a sort of twist that made them the exact opposite of what you’d expect. It’s fun playing around with popular comic tropes like that.

Shh: What inspired your antagonist?

AH: Partly from the phrase “your inner demons” and partly from listening to a lot of Panic! At The Disco while I was writing. 🙂

Shh: What was the hardest part to write in the book?

AH: Some of the things the characters deal with. I don’t want to give anything away, but there are some issues in there that I personally haven’t gone through, and so I really did a lot of research into it to make sure I was portraying it correctly.

Shh: What was your favourite part of your book to write?

AH: The group interactions. I’m a sucker for any book that has a solid group of friends, and I really wanted to push that forward in this story.

Shh: Are you a full time or a part-time writer? If part-time, what do you do besides write?

AH: As much as I’d love to be a full-time writer, I don’t have the time. I’m still paying off some college loans, so I’m usually working when I’m not writing (sometimes both at the same time!)

Shh: What are you currently reading?

AH: The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle, and I recently finished reading The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. That was an incredible series, I highly recommend it!

Shh: Who would you say are your favourite authors?

AH: Maggie Stiefvater apparently wrote a lot of the books I loved when I was younger, so her for sure. JK Rowling is up there as well, along with Christopher Paolini (who wrote the Eragon series) and I’ve always loved reading Shel Silverstein’s poems.

Shh: How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?

AH: Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter #5), Eragon, King of Shadows by Susan Cooper, Watchers by Dean R Koontz, and any Calvin and Hobbes comic.

Shh: What are your future projects, if any?

AH: The rest of the Transcend series! There’s a lot more in store for these guys. 🙂

Shh: What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?

AH: Probably on my blog! I’m on there all the time and I’m always happy to answer any questions. (Just ask my friends, I never stop talking about my book.)

Shh: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

AH: Never stop. Even if you think your book is bad, even if you think no one will like it, even if you think it’s the worst story put on the face of this earth: don’t stop. If it makes you happy, keep at it!

Connect with Addie

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Featured Author · Spotlight Interview

Featured Author: Abby Williams

Wednesday Spotlight


Genre: Cult Fiction, Coming of Age
Publisher: Excalibur Press
Publication Date: February 19, 2016
Pages: 200
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About the Book

“We’re a youth culture of hedonists, Scarlet. And we’ll drink, snort, love and laugh ourselves into nothingness.”

Scarlet has never been one for moderation or doing anything by halves in fact. 2014 is coming to an end, and a generation of disillusioned youth is awakening. Set in the heart of Belfast, Scarlet, Deano and Lauryn find themselves in a restless limbo fueled by increasing amounts of cocaine. The opportunity for hedonistic extravagance is everywhere in ever-evolving forms, and they are taking full advantage.

Then Scarlet finds her ultimate hit…Jamie Brennan. Their intoxicating affair takes them on a metaphysical journey of love, laughter and psychedelic discovery. But all good things must come to an end, and their beautifully-crafted reality is threatened by the past, the truth and their own self-destruction. Will they realise who they are before it’s too late?

‘Tripping’ delves deep into a world defined by excess, pleasure and soul exploration. When more is never enough, how much are we willing to sacrifice?

Where to Buy

Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | Amazon USExcalibur Press

Interview

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I am 26 and currently live in Belfast, Northern Ireland. After experiencing almost ten years of mental illness and addiction, I have been recovering for almost 2. I am the contributor’s editor and part owner of BAM Mag, an online publication based in Northern Ireland. I also write a Game of Thrones column called Throne Watch (www.bamni.co.uk-category/throne-watch). I am an aspiring Buddhist and practice meditation regularly.

What inspired you to write?

I have always loved writing from a young age. In school, English was my favourite subject and I have always been passionate about the written word in all its forms. It’s a very natural form of expression for me.

What inspired your novel?

I was in a psychiatric hospital recovering from a severe episode of depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I began writing the story out of the blue and never expected anyone else to actually read it!

What is the genre?

It is a cult fiction, coming of age drama.

What draws you to this genre?

It was very easy to write in this genre because I was growing up myself and was drawing and elaborating on personal experiences. With growing up novels it is a process of purging and processing your own issues, which is why it can be so therapeutic.

I also wanted to explore the depths of drug addiction, the mind of hedonism and the self-destructive culture that so many young people are stuck in.

How did you develop your plot and your characters?

I wanted the main character, Scarlet, to be female since you don’t read about women going through addiction as much as you do men. The young characters were easy to play with and develop as I had been in their position myself. Being my first novel, it was fun to add to their characters and change around their qualities. I am intrigued by psychology and people-watching, so creating characters is an extension of that.

What inspired your protagonist?

Mainly my younger self and all the deluded mindsets I am constantly trying to work through. I have met so many similar young women on a search for their ‘truth’, and there is a little part of her in many of us.

What inspired your antagonist?

Again a combination of people I met, experiences, and the inner demons many people face when it comes to addiction, disillusion and self-destruction.

What was the hardest part to write in the book?

Probably the climactic points of the characters’abuse of drugs, where I had to mentally return to that mindset and get it out on paper. It’s not easy to voluntarily go back to your darkest places and accept them as they were, but it is essential for growth.

What was your favourite part of your book to write?

I loved revisiting parts of the story, even if they were wrapped up in addiction, pain and delusion because now I have distance. This meant I learned to look at them with perspective, so I appreciate being able to do that and learn from it.

Are you a full-time or a part-time writer? If part-time, what do you do besides write?

I write part-time for BAM Mag and Excalibur Press, although sometimes that turns into full time! Aside from that, I practice Buddhism and volunteer at Belfast’s Kadampa Meditation Centre.

What are you currently reading?

How To Solve Our Human Problems” by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

Who would you say are your favourite authors?

David Nicholls, The Bronte Sisters and Irvine Welsh.

How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?

  1. The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger

  2. The Tibetan Book of Living And Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche

  3. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

  4. One Day by David Nicholls

  5. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

What are your future projects, if any?

I am writing another fiction novel about two sisters as well as a non-fiction book on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I will be expanding my Throne Watch column onto YouTube this year and also hope to write more articles on modern Buddhism.

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?

Either by email abbyw@hotmail.co.uk or via my Facebook page: www.faceboo.com/AbbyWilliamsAuthor

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Write as much as you can and forget about the ego voice telling you what you are writing is rubbish. Let the rubbish come out and trust your inner voice. Write as though no one will ever read it and explore yourself through your writing to reach the good stuff.

Featured Author · Spotlight Interview

Featured Author: Chioma Nnani

Wednesday Spotlight

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

My name is Chioma Nnani and I am an award-winning author & blogger, radio presenter, producer and the CEO of The Fearless Storyteller House Emporium. I was born and raised in Nigeria, had my university undergraduate and postgraduate education in the UK and now live in Nigeria. I hold an LLB Honours degree from the University of Kent in Canterbury and a Postgraduate Certificate in Food Law from the De Montfort University in Leicester.

What inspired you to write?

I started writing when I was maybe six years old. I am inspired by the Universe.

What inspired your novel?

I come from a country where the authorities don’t take domestic violence as seriously as they should. Yes, there is an NGO called Project Alert that deals with such cases, but it is more the norm for abused women to be told by the police to ‘go home and settle with your husband’. Other themes in the book are friendship, love, sisterhood, cultural clashes and religion.

I read a book by Faye Kellerman in which one of the characters said that everyone is either running away from or towards something. But people run because they’re uncomfortable. They run till they get home. Home is a person, place or thing where one can be naked and unashamed. So Because Home Is … is a collection of short stories on finding a home, going home and being home – and it highlights the thing about home meaning different things to different people and how there are many paths to home for different people.

What is the genre?

Forever There For You would fit into General Romance, Women’s Literature, Feminist Literature and there is a bit of Coming-of-Age in there. Because Home Is … is a collection of short stories, so there’s a fair bit going on – definitely Women’s Literature, Feminist Literature and a bit of YA.

What draws you to this genre?

I was going to say something really profound and clever but I honestly don’t know (laughing). I genuinely believe that some pieces of work choose you, not the other way round.

How did you develop your plot and your characters?

Lots of research. I tend to get a bit OCD with research. Then, I like working with warped characters on paper of course …

What inspired your protagonist?

Lots of things. Some of the things that Nadine experiences – like coming to England to study, attending college in the city of Oxford, having her hair break because of the weather, wanting to dye her hair and difficulty with finding an African saloon – and some of the things she is – the girl who thinks the world is coming to an end because she scored an 80% on an exam as opposed to 110%, the girl who is so terrified of failure that she works herself into an ulcer … all of that were things from my own life. You will be glad to know I have matured a lot since then (laughing), so certain things aren’t that big a deal anymore. But there was a story that needed to be told. I will say however that Nadine’s story isn’t my story.

What inspired your antagonist?

I know abusive, violent people and one of them is the inspiration for Tony who is the villain in Forever There For You. There are a number of antagonists in Because Home Is … as it’s a collection of short stories. But they are based on real people, which is kinda scary, I was talking to a friend about one of the antagonists in the book and he kept going, “Are you sure this is based on a real person cos this dude sounds like he has serious issues?!”

What was the hardest part to write in the book?

For Forever There For You, there was a rape scene. There’s physical and verbal abuse. So that was difficult to write because I had to have those in my head; it was really uncomfortable. For Because Home Is … when Jade’s mentor dies of cancer. I lost one of my mentors on September 11, 2016 and the shock to my system … for like a week after that, I would wake up at like 2 or 3o’clock just to cry. And that blows because there are times I still feel robbed. She passed on in September and I won an award in October; it was one that she was sure I had the ability to win. And she had told me that exactly a year before. So, having what she predicted to happen and she’s not there in person, you’re like, “Yep! Cancer is a bitch!”

What was your favourite part of your book to write?

In Forever There For You, one of my favourite parts was the friendship between Nadine and her best friend, Stella. In Because Home Is … one of my favourite parts was writing about Victor’s character beating cancer.

Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?

I’m a full-time author-preneur. I’m CEO of The Fearless Storyteller House Emporium Ltd. It’s a media and publishing firm based in Abuja, Nigeria. And we have a suite of products and services – books, online courses, screen productions, stage productions, audio productions and a done-for-you service for entrepreneurs and SMEs so that they can concentrate on their real business. I also run the “Memo From A Fearless Storyteller” blogazine and we won the 2016 BEFFTA (Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts) Award for “Blog of the Year”. And I’m a radio presenter …

What are you currently reading?

“Sun Sets At Vanity Fair”. It’s a book by one of my new authors and it comes out at the end of March 2017. So, I am going through with a fine toothcomb (laughing)

Who would you say are your favourite authors?

Oh, I don’t really have a favourite author per se; when I get into an author, I will literally gorge myself on them. So, I will read everything I can find that they have written. My reading tastes are varied – Martina Cole, Chimamanda Adichie, Barbara Taylor Bradford,

How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?

I don’t have any favourite books; I’m more like a “I like an author, I’ll read their work”.

What are your future projects, if any?

As a writer, I’m working on a trilogy aimed at teenagers, the trilogy comes out in the summer. Then, there’s a collaborative autobiography scheduled for release in September. And I am working on my second full-length novel. As a radio presenter, I need to revamp my show. As the CEO of The Fearless Storyteller House Emporium, there’s stuff … screen productions, a stage production, online courses, more clients’ books to publish, and a done-for-you service for entrepreneurs and SMEs to help them focus on their real business.

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?

Social media and my mailing list.
Connect with Chioma here
TwitterLinkedInFacebookPinterestGoogle+Website

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Write. Read. Write some more. Read some more. Look for an editor Look for a publisher. Read. Network. Learn. Read.

Featured Author · Spotlight Interview

Featured Author: Brooke Williams

Wednesday Spotlight


Genre: 
Romantic Comedy
Publisher: Boutique of Quality Books
Publication Date: September 1, 2017
Pages: 268
Add to Goodreads
Buy: AmazonB&N

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Book

A reserved wallflower discovers that reality TV is the perfect backdrop to develop her confidence in this lighthearted rom-com. Megan Malone is the ultimate homebody. When her sister talks her into going on The Leftover, a local version of the TV show Survivor, she isn’t sure she’ll make it past the first vote. Meanwhile, Cane Trevino is nursing a broken heart by joining the show as a medic. With time away from his regular job and a dozen contestants to distract him, he hopes he can finally get over the woman he thought was “the one.”

Interview

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

 I’m a stay at home mom by day, a freelance writer and author by naptime, and asleep by 9pm! I have a decade long history in radio broadcasting as a producer and on-air announcer. And I did a brief stint in TV news…that was a disaster! I’ve always loved to write, though, and when I had my first daughter in 2009, I fell back into it as something I could do from home with her around. It’s always been my first love and I never should have given up on it.

What inspired you to write?

 As scary as it sounds, the voices in my head tell me what to write. Ha! Characters form and stories take shape in my imagination and I know the right one to write because it will NOT leave me alone until I do.

What inspired your novel?

 I’ve always been fascinated by reality shows and the type of people who go on them. I wondered what would happen if someone who didn’t really want to go on the show got pushed into it. Someone more like me… Those wonderings got me started!

What is the genre?

 Romantic comedy

What draws you to this genre?

 I feel like it’s my job as a writer to help readers get an escape from everyday life. Nothing too serious or overbearing. Just something light-hearted and fun that will help them get away from it all. A good laugh and a little love never hurts!


How did you develop your plot and your characters?

 For this book, I used the TV show Survivor as a basis, but the book revolves around a local version of the show. So there are competitions, but they’re nothing compared to the national show. People get voted out and funny instances arise.

What inspired your protagonist?

 I wanted someone shy without much confidence to get pushed into going onto the local version of Survivor called The Leftover. She’s reluctant and anti-social and not someone you would expect to see in such a position. She’s also big parts me. She wears glasses, doesn’t do well with people much of the time, and is clumsy.

What inspired your antagonist?

 I knew I would need a bully or jerk to push my main character to extremes. I didn’t know which of the characters that would end up being at first, but Andrew stepped up to the plate. 

What was the hardest part to write in the book?

 Finding the time to write it. Honestly, when I’m inspired, it’s hard to stop. But with two little girls running around, I HAVE to stop. Way more often than I’d like. If I had a week alone, it would be a breeze!

What was your favourite part of your book to write?

 I liked writing the competition scenes. Describing what the contestants were doing and how they were doing it and how things went wrong was a lot of fun.

Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?

 I’m a full time mom, part time writer. I have two daughters, one of whom is in school. Once my younger daughter hits school age, I will make it more of a full time career. While I dabble in fiction, my “real” job is freelance writing. I write for a number of different marketing companies. I do blogs, product descriptions, copy, all sorts of exciting things.

What are you currently reading?

 Mostly magazines. I do always have a book on my kindle and one in paperback going, but it’s been a few weeks since I’ve picked them up so I can’t even say what they are. My reading time is right before my daughters go to bed. They watch a few videos, I read. But lately, they’ve had some serious games going at that time of day so I’ve just let them play those longer and we’ve skipped the video/reading time.

Who would you say are your favourite authors?

 I have plenty! Karen Kingsbury, Richard Paul Evans, Heather Gudenkauf, I could go on.

How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?

 I have trouble remember book names. I really enjoyed The Time Traveler’s Wife, though, and anything Jodi Piccoult.

What are your future projects, if any?

 I would like to make this book into a series. This one revolved around a local version of Survivor, but I’d like to write one that is a local version of The AMazing Race and another revolving around a local version of Big Brother and so on. Call it “The REality of Love Series” or something like that. But I’m going to have to wait until my daughters are both in school.

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?

 Email, website, facebook, twitter, I’m not picky!

www.authorbrookewilliams.com

https://www.facebook.com/authorbrookewilliams/

@authorbrookew

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?


Write because you love to write. That needs to be first and foremost. If you don’t love it, don’t bother. Never dream of giving up. IF you give up, you never know what would have happened. IF you keep with it and keep searching for your path, you’ll find it.

Featured Author · Spotlight Interview · Spotlight Sunday's

Featured Author: Kharma Kelley

Wednesday Spotlight

 
Genre: 
Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Wicked Bayou Press
Publication Date: September 30, 2016
Pages: 214
Add to Goodreads
Buy: Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Book

Half vampire. Half human. 100% Badass.

Chloe Hunter can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Incarcerated by The Bureau after running amok for a century with a brood of vampires, grifting and terrorizing humanity, she’s ready to make up for her dark past. Luckily, when The Bureau would rather see her at the end of a wooden stake, in comes her new straight-laced handsome boss, Ethan Raines, who’s got other plans for the seductive ex-con.

An enigmatic and sexy vampire who finds Chloe’s hybrid blood and street prowess too irresistible to pass up, Ethan requests The Bureau to release her into his custody to protect the streets of New Orleans. Now, her debt to society is to punish other supernaturals who break the law and bring them to justice.

When Chloe’s creepy old gang involves her in a plot to unlock a mysterious box, she’s forced to make some hard choices that threaten to betray the trust of the man who’s given her a second chance at life and love. Ethan may have his work cut out for him in Tall, Dark & Deadly, the first steamy New Adult Paranormal Romance blockbuster in the Agents of The Bureau supernatural romance series!

Interview

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Sure! I was born and raised in Texas to a pair of Cajun parents. I was a Tomboy growing up, despite my Dad trying so hard to keep me a lady. Now my husband still fights that battle LOL. I’ve been writing fiction since I was 13 and after my much older friend smuggled me some romance books, I was smitten. I fell in love with romance and urban fantasies and it keeps me plenty busy. I venture into many genres of fiction, but I always come back to paranormal romance.

 

What inspired you to write?

I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I think it was my brother that continued to inspire me to keep writing. We both were big movie buffs and loved creating dialogue, so we both got into screenwriting. Mark continued on that path, but I kept exploring writing in different styles of fiction. I remember telling him that I was a bit embarrassed to write romance because so many people looked down on it. He told me to forget what others think and to just write for myself because I enjoy it. After that discussion, I wrote what I enjoyed and never looked back.

 

What inspired your novel?

It’s so funny it turned into a full-length novel! When I first started “Tall, Dark & Deadly”, I wanted to make a short story. I’ve always found making short stories challenging because I always end up fleshing it out more and more until it turns into a full length. I had written my first draft of my other book, “Selenium Night”, but wasn’t ready to publish it. I wanted to write something short and sweet–a “friends turn lovers” story with different characters–but not another full-length book. My rationale was to make a fun short story in the same vein of urban fantasy/paranormal romance to put out to the masses to see how people would like my style and storylines. Only then, would I have decided to be brave enough to put my full-length novel out there. (Laughs) Well, that was blown away after I decided to write it on Wattpad. Turned out, writing the story through the app forced me to think big picture and for the first time, really help me understand how to pace my story and keep my little audience engaged. Thanks to the readers on Wattpad, the story became something bigger than I ever hoped for. It was amazing, so I just ran with it. Chloe and Ethan were too fun to turn away and I’m glad I didn’t.

 

What is the genre?

It’s a Paranormal Romance with strong Urban Fantasy elements.

 

What draws you to this genre?

Oh my gosh, I LOVE world building! There are some amazing authors out there who possess such a beautiful imagination to create entire worlds that readers can wrap themselves in. As an avid reader of the genre, I could always appreciate the level of dedication it takes for an author to spin up a new reality for us to enjoy. Urban Fantasy is just so much fun and my generation was inundated with it growing up with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel.” That’s why I just had to mention Buffy in the book regardless of how dated it made the book feel. I wanted to pay homage 🙂 I know this generation is all about “The Vampire Diaries” (which has become my guilty pleasure), but when I started falling in love with writing and reading paranormal romance/urban fantasy, it was all about Miss kickass Buffy!

But seriously, I love spooky things and creatures finding love. There’s something intriguing about strong women finding love in all the “wrong” places in the world of fantasy. Of angels, demons, ghosts, werewolves and your occasional blood sucker, all these paranormal metaphors are catalysts of what humans are and crave most…that we’re all different, beautiful and a little bit weird–and just want someone to love us for who we are.

 

How did you develop your plot and your characters?

I’m a recovering pantser, so I actually started with the character development. I knew I wanted a strong female character who was far from perfect. I wanted her to have a past where she was a bad guy and collide with a goody two-shoes. One of the themes in the story is redemption and that’s what Chloe wants. She wants people to trust her. That’s pretty hard though when you come out of incarceration and everyone is judging you. You may have served your time, but the judgement never really stops. That kinda adversity can do two things: it can force you to shut down and give up or it can fire you up and make you prove to the world you don’t need their approval and get on with your life. Chloe obviously took the latter.

It also doesn’t help that she’s a vampire-human hybrid. In that world, she’s actually the freak. She doesn’t belong and anytime you feel that level of exclusion from society, it’s gonna drive a bigger wedge between you and what society thinks. I think Chloe’s a badass because she’s got so much working against her, but still, she doesn’t let it break her. She’s my hero.

On the flip side, I probably didn’t imagine her hero, Ethan, such a prim and proper authority figure at first. He kinda developed that way organically. Because Chloe is so out there and gung-ho, it would’ve been absolute chaos without giving her some sort of an anchor. I needed a sage mentor for her. Someone who was wiser, older and on some level relate to Chloe and accept her for who she is. Ethan has seen so much and been around for so long, nothing should really amaze him. But somehow, something possesses him to take a chance on a hybrid ex-con and bring her on his team. So either he was bored or saw something in Chloe that he hadn’t seen before 🙂

In developing the plot, I kept thinking about interviews I watched and read about street gangs and small time criminals when they get out on parole. You aren’t supposed to connect with any felons per your parole release. You have a list of rules long as your arm to obey or else you go back in. It had me thinking about the gang Chloe ran with. The ones that got away would still be up to their hell-raising ways, while she was forced to walk the straight and narrow. So I thought, “Okay, I have to get the Boyettes to do something foul and in doing so, Chloe will already raise suspicions because it’s sadly ‘guilt by association’.” She’ll have to prove her loyalty to The Bureau and Ethan. What the Boyettes are up to can destroy and unravel a lot for not just The Bureau, but the world, so it’s game on to retrieve the box!

 

What inspired your protagonist?

Chloe is beautifully human. She’s flawed and hopeful and wants to be accepted. However, she’s also a “bad girl.” She’s tough and has this tenacity to her that makes the story work. When I thought about the ideal heroine for this book, I pictured her sitting in a jail cell, having this feeling of regret and resentment. She made some mistakes, and she sat back and let things happen instead of speaking up. Lots of us have experienced that kind of regret. It’s pretty character-forming, you know–having to live with a mistake where you are almost certain wouldn’t have happened if you’d just stepped up and said/done something. It doesn’t make you horrible, it just makes you human. So when I thought of a heroine, I wanted her to be someone who was destined to set things right.

 

What inspired your antagonist?

I’m a bit obsessed with villains who are a bit sociopathic. I’ve always read about the kinda gangs that were in the streets in New York at the turn of the century and there were some seriously bad guys. Twisted, hard-nosed guys that got away with a lot of wickedness. Inspiration to have a gang of brothers, the Boyettes, came from reading about the gangs like The Dead Rabbits and the Bowery Boys. Alistair is taunting and cruel, but he loves his brothers. He believes in family, but above all, he’s territorial and isn’t afraid to shock. He and his brothers didn’t get enough love before they turned and it spoiled them for all eternity.

 

What was the hardest part to write in the book?

The action! Don’t get me wrong I LOVE action! It’s not a shock that it found its way into my Paranormal Romance books. But, I wasn’t used to writing action in my style. I had to find my own rhythm and educate myself a LOT on realistic fighting as well as how to actually write action that wasn’t so technical it was boring or so abstract readers couldn’t visualize. That part was really tough.

 

What was your favourite part of your book to write?

It would have to be the mellow downtime in the story where Chloe and Ethan get to connect. The story is so fast paced, I welcomed the time where they could stop for a minute and get to know each other better. Ethan is so closed and reserved, it’s very hard to figure out what he’s thinking, at least from Chloe’s POV. When they calm down and talk, it’s downright touching and often hilarious.

 

Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?

When I’m not writing, I lead a team of fantastic techies at an Austin-based software company. I love doing anything creative, so if I’m not writing, I’m painting, reading, drawing, knitting–you name it! It all fights the dreaded writer’s block!

 

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading a collection of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter short stories titled “Love Bites.” It’s making me happy 🙂

 

Who would you say are your favourite authors?

I’m always on the lookout for the new and rising authors, but Gena Showalter writes some sizzling paranormal romance! Sherrilyn Kenyon’s magnum opus of world building keeps me inspired and giddy. Kresley Cole makes me need a glass of ice water nearby to read her work and L.A. Banks is reigning champ on urban fantasy with her “Vampire Huntress” Series. The writing world continues to miss her imagination and craft.

 

What are your future projects, if any?

Yes! I have a 2nd book to add to the Agents of the Bureau series. Leto’s story is in the works and if you read “Tall, Dark & Deadly,” I think you’ll understand why 😉 Also, I have another series I will start next year based on werewolf-like creatures called “ShadowShifters.” Yep, “Selenium Night” will be in the works for publication.

 

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?

Feel free to stalk me on Facebook or Twitter as I hang on those a lot. Readers can always email me–I’ll always respond 🙂

Other Links:
Website | Goodreads | Amazon | YouTube | Smashwords

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Two words: just write! Doesn’t matter how rough it comes out if you feel it sucks. Just write it! Let your imagination run wild and let your writing make its own path. Remember, you can always go back and re-tweak it. I just have one published book under my belt and I don’t plan on stopping there. The best thing a writer can do to hone their craft is practice and that only happens by writing. So stop finding excuses and write every day. Things will get better. Just write!

Featured Author · Spotlight Interview · Uncategorized

Featured Author: Geoffrey Saign

Wednesday Spotlight

 
Genre: 
Epic Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Kiraku Press
Publication Date: November 26, 2016
Pages: 296
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Buy: Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Book

A hundred-year-war that won’t end… Three young women sworn to kill each other… Famere, the wyshea butcher, seeks vengeance with loyal mythic beasts called shadows, Jennelle, commander of the Northerners, fights for her people’s survival using brilliant strategies, & Camette, a wild divided draghon, searches for her kidnapped lover… Famere, Jennelle and Camette must discover who is friend or enemy, who is responsible for the hundred-year dark sky, and death mists, and if the men they adore will still love them.

Interview

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I love nature and wildlife, so environmental issues concern me. I have many other passions, including water (swim, sail, snorkel), cooking, self-awareness, walking in forests, and of course, writing. I grew up in a city that was surrounded by forests and a small farm, so the outdoors became my playground. Later I studied biology, humpback whales, and got into sailing. I’ve travelled over much of the South Pacific, and have worked in special education for decades.

What inspired you to write?

I love stories, but my first thoughts about writing were triggered by a high school creative writing teacher, who prefaced reading my homework essay assignment with, “A writer like this comes around once every 17 years.” I was shocked, and her words always stuck with me.

What inspired your novel?

I wanted to show that good and evil can be in all races, each of us and that our choices decide where we end up. One of the main characters in Wyshea Shadows hates war but ironically becomes a cold-blooded warrior/killer after a tragedy. Our responses can either swing us to peace and love, or violence. Another theme is the overarching threat to their world, which is being caused, ultimately, by a quest for power—a parallel to the current situation in our world.

What is the genre?

YA epic fantasy action thriller with romance subplots.

What draws you to this genre?

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen Donaldson were some of my favorite books. Fantasy that is a bit dark (darker than my books), but with hope too. I grew up reading thrillers and fantasy, and combining the two seemed a natural fit. At one point I decided I enjoyed writing for younger readers, MG and YA, but really my stories seem to appeal to all ages.

How did you develop your plot and your characters?

Unlike many of my books, this story was developed over many years. It was my first fantasy novel, and over the years morphed from adult to YA, and from first-person to third, and from male main characters to female (though the book also has male main characters, the story is seen mostly out of the eyes of three women who have tremendous challenges and tragedy to overcome while fighting a war).

What inspired your protagonist?

I wanted to show a young woman struggling with what is expected of her, rebelling against that, while events overtake her desires and force decisions upon her. She’s strong, connected to nature, in love, confused, and tired of everyone’s expectations of her. The other two women in the story have similar situations, and they also have to make decisions that force them into dangerous alliances. I wanted to show women leaders who were strong, yet sensitive and compassionate, tough and mysterious, yet very clear on what they want. War, love, and mystery entangle them together.

What inspired your antagonist?

Actually, there are several antagonists of different stature. Some are minions, one is conflicted, and there is one who is driving all the conflict. In our current society, there are men of power who don’t care what happens to the environment or people who stand in the way of ‘progress’—whether it is pipelines or a new dam in Brazil threatening native peoples. These men have single-minded goals—riches and power, and their actions become very destructive. The antagonist in Wyshea Shadows is in a fantasy world, but with those same attributes.

What was the hardest part to write in the book?

Blending the beauty of the dangerous world of the Wild Lands on Pangaea with action and suspense so that beauty is always there, yet never slowing the pacing or taking over the scenes.

What was your favorite part of your book to write?

The book is full of action and suspense, yet I love the emotional strands connecting the characters, who in the end are willing to die for what they believe in, and for each other. It brings deep emotion to me even now after reading it a hundred times.

Are you a full-time or a part-time writer? If part-time, what do you do besides write?

I work full-time in education, where I teach novel writing, self-awareness, and speech, among other things. But I’m writing 25+ hours/week, and 40+ in the summer.

What are you currently reading?

I read science articles at times, to keep current on environmental issues. I’m also reading some things on Virtual Reality, which is used on one of my thrillers. Mostly right now I’, rewriting a thriller, and even more time is spent on marketing the 6 books I have out.

How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?

I loved Sabriel by Garth Nix, Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, and more recently I’ve read Hunger Games (book 1), and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children—I read to see what others are doing, and enjoyment. I spend most of my reading time on my books—I will be putting out another 5-8 by July 1, 2017.

What are your future projects, if any?

I will be publishing 2 adult thrillers over the winter. Then the 2nd Books in the Bubblegum Mike series and Divided Draghons series. The 3rd books in each of these series will be out by July 1, hopefully. I also have a younger MG book, another nonfiction book, and possibly a romance. Many of these books are written already, and thus just need editing and production—otherwise, I could never do something like this, put out so many books so fast.

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?

WebsiteFacebookTwitterLinkedIn

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? 

You either write just for fun, pleasure, a few friends and family, or it’s a business.

Publishers often are no longer the best route, since an agent/publisher if you are lucky will take two years to put out a book (IF you sell it fast), and then you have 3 months in B&N. If you don’t sell well, you’re done. I know a number of writers who have experienced this. Then you have to get the rights back, redo the cover and interior files, etc. Thus, self-publishing gives you more chance of success and more options. However, it costs more up front, and there are 4,000 new Kindle books published daily. That’s a lot of competition. But most of these books will never be read, never be successful, and are glutting the platforms. Most writers work other jobs, so you have to love it to keep at it.

Winning awards, sales, readers telling you they love your book all help keep you excited along the way.

Good luck!

Featured Author · Spotlight Interview

Featured Author: Chrys Cymri

Wednesday Spotlight

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: March 31, 2016
Pages: 230
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Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: December 2, 2016
Pages: 234
Add to GoodReads

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: April 12, 2017
Add to GoodReads

Interview

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I currently reside in England but have travelled widely and in my time I’ve lived in the USA and Wales. My first career was in financial services, but in 2003 I left my well-paid job to train to be a Christian minister. I’m a priest in the Church of England and I’m in a full-time training role, with a bit of input into an urban church. Previously I served in a small village church. A bit like Penny White…

My main hobby is photography, and I love to travel. My most interesting trip was to North Korea in August 2016. You can read about that on my travel blog, www.travellinghopefully.co.uk

 

What inspired you to write?

When I was seven years old I had a vivid dream, and I wrote it down. From this, I discovered that writing (when going well!) is a bit like dreaming while awake. A film plays in my mind, and I try to capture it on the word processor.

 

What inspired your novel?

Some years ago I decided to try my bishop’s patience by asking him whether Holy Water, blessed by a female priest, could harm a vampire who didn’t accept the ordination of women. His response was ‘Only you would ask that!’ A few months later I found myself wondering, what if he’d answered differently? And out of that came the Penny White novels.

 

What is the genre?

Urban fantasy. The main human character has an ordinary life in England (as a female Church of England priest) but has stumbled across a parallel fantasy world, Daear. The parallel country to the United Kingdom is called Lloegyr.

 

What draws you to this genre?

The contrast between the ordinary and the extraordinary. I can well understand why Penny longs to be more involved in the fantasy world, particularly when her life in England seems so, well, ordinary.

 

How did you develop your plot and your characters?

I usually know the start of a story, and how it’s going to end. Sometimes I struggle a bit in the middle and I find myself making lots of notes. The characters simply surprise me. Sometimes I feel like I’m simply the channel through which they are speaking. A few are loosely based on people I know.

 

What inspired your protagonist?

Penny loves science fiction and fantasy. So stumbling upon a world which has dragons, gryphons and unicorns initially seems like a dream come true. As she discovers a darker side to this fantastic world, she becomes inspired to help.

 

What inspired your antagonist?

My books don’t have so much an enemy as those of opposing viewpoints whose backgrounds leads to them making decisions which affect the protagonist. In the first Penny White book, ‘The Temptation of Dragons’, a dragon family is opposed one of their own who decided to become a monk and, later, form a relationship with a human woman. This went against their sense of honour.

 

What was the hardest part to write in the book?

There is a budding romantic triangle for Penny. She’s met a police inspector, Peter, who loves ‘Doctor Who’ as much as she does, but there’s also a darkly handsome dragon, Raven, who is keen on her. I found it difficult to make Peter’s character interesting enough for him to be real competition to a dragon!

 

What was your favourite part of your book to write?

I loved a scene at the end, when Penny is riding on a dragon with a small snail perched at the front, giving them directions. The image makes me chuckle.

 

Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?

My role as a minister takes up plenty of time (I only get one day off a week). So writing is something I do on evenings and my days off.

 

What are you currently reading?

A fantastic piece of fan fiction set in the ‘Dragonriders of Pern’ universe. It’s online only and called ‘Dragonchoice.’ The writer’s ability to write dialogue, action scenes, and characterisation exceeds many of the official novels.

 

Who would you say are your favourite authors?

Patricia McKillip, Ayn Rand, Ben Aaronovitch, James Herriot, Katherine Kurtz

 

How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?

The Riddle-Master Trilogy by Patricia McKillip

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Dragonchoice by Faye Upton

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik

 

What are your future projects, if any?

I’m currently writing the third book in the Penny White series (the second, ‘The Cult of Unicorns’, was published December 2016) and I have plans for at least seven in the series. After that, I plan to return to a science-fiction series which I’ve started and need to finish.

 

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?

I can be contacted via my website, http://www.chryscymri.com. Anyone who signs up for my newsletter list (I send out an email around four times a year) can choose a free ebook copy of any of my books. I also have a Facebook page and I’m on Goodreads as well as other social media sites.

Here are all the links:

www.chryscymri.com

https://www.facebook.com/chryscymri/?ref=bookmarks

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1076161.Chrys_Cymri

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ChrysCymri

http://chryscymri.tumblr.com/

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? 

Write, write, write. And accept criticism, because it will come and you can learn from it. Make friends with other writers. Other pointers can be read on my website.

 

Thank you to Chrys Cymri for sharing a lovely interview. Since I interviewed her, she has published a new book in the Penny White series. I have made sure to add that for all of you who are seeking a new urban fantasy read! – Leticia

 

Featured Author

Featured Author: Natasha Bennett

Wednesday Spotlight


Genre: Horror, Mystery
Publisher: Belfire Press
Publication Date: September 13, 2016
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Buy: AmazonIndigo/ChaptersIndieBound

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Book

After finding his family murdered, Matthew Burke is arrested and sentenced to life in prison. The next day he is mysteriously released and given a briefcase of money. Needing answers, Matthew finds a pile of old documents in his house and discovers his wife was once part of an organization called D.R.E.X, who were responsible for hunting and killing supernatural creatures. Even though D.R.E.X had been shut down for years, his wife was murdered just after she tried to reach them. Matthew reluctantly joins with the remnants of her old organization and investigates a new problem arising in France. But the more he discovers, the more he realizes how few people he can trust….

Interview

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

First of all, thank you very much for the opportunity to be in the author spotlight. I am a Canadian author living on Vancouver Island. In my spare time, I also review horror books and produce short films with my husband.

What inspired you to write?

My mother was a writer, so it ran in the family, the main difference being that she wrote non-fiction and I wrote fiction. I have been trying to write books ever since I was a kid in class. It didn’t lead to them being published, but it was great practice.

What inspired your novel?

That’s a tough one to answer. In the end, it was a bunch of little ideas that came together. I am a huge fan of both spy and horror genres. It seemed natural to bring them together.

What is the genre?

D.R.E.X Blackout is primarily horror with military action and a dash of mystery thrown in as well.

What draws you to this genre?

A couple of things. For me, horror is more liberating than other genres. The main characters are under no obligation to survive in the book or have a happy ending, which gives me a bit more freedom to work with. At the same time, it is a very easy genre to write in. In fantasy, for example, you normally have to create a great deal of world-building and establish quite a few things before you can write about the actual characters. Horror usually takes place in a very real-world setting, where many things have already been established. And in the end, I simply love horror.

How did you develop your plot and your characters?

Some writers spend a considerable amount of time drafting out an outline for a book. Usually, I have a rough idea of what the main idea is, and what drives each character. I then usually write my favorite scene in the book, and the ideas naturally flow after that.

What inspired your protagonist?

Matthew Burke is a man who has lost everything. His wife and child have been murdered, and he is arrested for their murder. The next day, he is mysteriously released and given a briefcase full of money. Finding answers is what leads him to D.R.E.X.

What inspired your antagonist?

The antagonist, Father Jacobs, is a priest who has lost faith in himself and God. He is simply going through the motions rather than be passionate about anything. When a stranger offers him genuine power, he decides to see where it takes him.

What was the hardest part to write in the book?

Anything that is focused on action is a bit of a challenge for me to write. Since the ending is very action-heavy, that was the last part for me to finish.

What was your favourite part of your book to write?

There is a significant scene where the team arrives at a town and the people inexplicably try to kill them or commit suicide. It also introduces two important characters and overall was a great deal of fun to write.

Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?

Unfortunately, I have met very few writers who can successfully write full-time and make ends meet. I myself am a part-time author. My 9-5 job is working in the administrative world providing sales support. In my spare time, however, I also like to produce films with my husband, review books, and learn how to design video games. We always have something to do.

What are you currently reading?

Currently, I run a book review site at http://www.blackhavenreviews.com. At the time of this interview, I am reading the House that Death Built by Michaelbrent Collings. However, I typically read a few books a month.

Who would you say are your favourite authors?

Stephen King is without a doubt my favorite inspiration. I know it’s a bit obvious, but a horror author who is known throughout the world and has several movies after his work is definitely something to aspire to.

How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?

I grew up reading J.R.R Tolkien and a Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. I also love reading anything by Stephen King and my blog has given me an opportunity to read many diverse horror stories. So far my favorite is Massacre of the Mermaids by A.Manzetti.

What are your future projects, if any?

At the moment I have two novellas which are out for consideration with publishers, and I have quite a few book ideas and short stories on the brain. Please check out my facebook for my latest updates. I promise don’t bite… 🙂

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?

I am the most social on my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/natasha.bennett

Otherwise, there is my twitter page: https://twitter.com/Natasha_Bennett

And my goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2963817.Natasha_Bennett

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? 

Be prepared to work hard. Even after you are published, there is still a lot of work goes into editing, marketing, etc. Be sure to also look closely at your contract as well. Being published is a wonderful feeling, but you don’t want to sign away all of your rights at the same time.

Featured Author · Spotlight Interview

Featured Author: Konn Lavery

Wednesday Spotlight


Genre: Weird Fiction, Horror
Publisher: Reveal Books
Publication Date: July 15, 2016
Pages: 228
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Buy: AmazonKoboIndigoBarnes & Noble

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Book

WARNING: DO NOT CONSUME

If you’re reading this, then you did not take the above warning seriously. In that case, you’re probably as stupid as me. I’m Logan, by the way. I didn’t pay attention to any warning signs either. Being an unemployed deadbeat in Edmonton with no family and getting dumped by your girlfriend for her best friend can wear a guy down. All I had was my cokehead buddy, Skip, to cheer me up.

Surprisingly, my precautionary tale was not caused by either Skip or the drugs. Let’s just say a drunken make-out session with a pale girl by a dumpster, who was supposedly pronounced dead earlier in the evening, can leave you mentally jumbled up. A good motivator to figure this scenario out is having robed cultists stalk you, asking where the girl is.

Is this an ill twist of fate? Did I bring this on myself? Is there a reason behind my misfortune? Is the moral to not make out with spooky girls behind dumpsters? Hell if I know…

Interview

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

My name is Konn Lavery, I was born in Edmonton, Alberta. Raised as a vegetarian by trekies (Star Trek fans), I was home schooled until reaching High School where I chose to go to Jasper Place High School so I could make some friends and get ‘the real high school’ experience. It wasn’t what it was cracked up to be.

Following graduation, I quickly learned retail sucked and I went on to learn web development and graphic design from Guru Digital Arts College (now known as Edmonton Digital Arts College) since multimedia was my highest marks in high school. Using this knowledge, I now work as an independent graphic designer and web developer. These skills also transition into my writing where I create the novel covers, build my web presence among other marketing materials.

What inspired you to write?

Writing has been a huge part of my life from a very early age. Originally I wrote background stories to strategy board games that I made up at the age of eight. The back stories kept growing and eventually I started writing, a lot.

The inspiration to those board games as a kid, and for my writing today, comes from movies and video games (specifically RPGs). These two sources of media were my primary enjoyment while growing up and I wanted to share the same awe factor that they gave me as a kid.

I dabbled in video games and animation to try and share stories but found myself getting stuck in technicalities of the medium and was unable to express the stories in a comprehendible manner. I shifted from learning to produce those forms of entertainment and dove fully into writing. To this day I have found it to be the best method to portray the stories I want to share with people.

What inspired your novel?

For my latest novel, Seed Me, it has been inspired by a number of various sources such as my experience with bed bugs which started my research into symbiotic relationships amongst creatures. Bed bugs are a horrible experience and it genially made me uncomfortable. So I thought basing a story on hostile symbiotic relations (amensalism) would be an exciting idea.

I was also inspired by Edmonton’s rich river valley and my love for the horror genre, which is where my fascination with cults comes in.

What is the genre?

On a large scale, Seed Me is a horror genre. Specifically, it can be narrowed down to weird fiction, a term coined by H.P. Lovecraft. His writing was an inspiration to this novel. His style specializes in having horror elements while keeping the frights and gore shrouded in mystery, letting the reader’s imagination fill in the blanks.

What draws you to this genre?

I’ve watched horror movies growing up and love them for their dark, creepy (and sometimes cheesy) vibes. They also make me laugh, not sure if that is a good thing…

How did you develop your plot and your characters?

The story and characters went through MANY revisions. Originally in 2012, the plot was something entirely different with a freelance blogger wanting to solve a mystery of a girl’s death in the river valley for a big story on his site. This plot was shelved as I couldn’t see any conclusion to it. I participated in NaNoWriMo back in 2014 where I approached the same concept but with a new plot.

After NaNoWriMo, I gave the first draft a very critical review and decided to scrap over half of the manuscript. I rewrote the second half and revisited various characters’ motives and backgrounds while doing research at the City of Edmonton Archives and searching on Google.

What inspired your protagonist?

Logan, the protagonist was pieced together from myself and my brother. The fun thing with Seed Me is it is a first person narrative, so you get to hear the internal monologue of his mind. I was in a very different place than I am today when writing Seed Me so my own thoughts did meld into his behaviour. He also pulls a lot from my brother with his worldly views.

What inspired your antagonist?

The antagonist went through many variations. With Seed Me, there was no one primary antagonist, rather various pieces that formed the overall opposing force (that is where the cult and amensalism comes in). For this book, I originally wanted it to be a creature feature – this is where the bed bug inspiration came in – which had a lot of slash and gore. All of this was drastically cut out after the first manuscript, it came across way too cliché and was boring. After researching about amensalism and studying Edmonton’s history I refined the monster and the cult to what they are in the final piece.

What was the hardest part to write in the book?

The first and last chapters. As stereotypical as that is, it is the truth. The meat of the book was straightforward to do because the premise had been set. It was the initial opening scene into the book that was a challenge because there had to be a hook to have the reader continue on but I couldn’t give too much away.

The ending was also a challenge for similar reasons, I didn’t want to reveal everything to the reader because then it would be over. It’s like the man behind the curtain concept, the mystery would be taken away and would lose all wonder to it. Both the beginning and end had to have the right balance of just enough information and not enough to keep the reader guessing and wanting more.

What was your favourite part of your book to write?

Logan’s internal rambles. A lot of them were removed in the final version but I kept the relative ones in the story. Again, Logan pulled a lot from my state of mind during writing this book and these parts were more like a diary to me.

Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?

I am a part time author, working to the dream of being full time. For income, I work as an independent graphic designer and web developer in Edmonton. My portfolio is under Reveal Design (revealdesign.ca). Before that, I taught at a digital arts college and worked as operations and marketing for a home warranty company.

What are you currently reading?

My current book that I am reading is Looking In Seeing Out – Consciousness and Cosmos by Menas Kafatos and Thalia Katafou. I don’t often read fictional books, I tend to gravitate to non-fiction for their subject matter.

Who would you say are your favourite authors?

Clive Barker is my favourite author, a major inspiration to writing. Todd Mcfarlane and Chuck Palahniuk as well.

How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?

These aren’t in any particular order, but my top five would be: Flight of the Eagle by J. Krishnamurti, Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, Tales Tall and True by Alberta Education, Graphic Design Basics by Amy E. Arntson and The Satanic Bible by LaVey, Anton Szandor.

What are your future projects, if any?

I have quite a few projected projects. More on this to come in early 2017. A hint is I am going back to finish my dark fantasy series, Mental Damnation.

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?

My website has all of the information they need to get in contact with me and grab my books. It can be found at konnlavery.com. I am also fairly active on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? 

Keep pushing forward. That doesn’t mean you have to write every day, some people do not work well writing every day or simply do not have the time to invest in doing so. However, make sure you always keep doing something to improve your writing.