Spotlight Interview · Spotlight Interview Thursdays

Spotlight Interview with author L. Ron Gardner

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

I am 65, and have had more jobs than I can count. I’ve been a partner in computer and water filter businesses, but my most successful and interesting work was as a professional sportsbetting arbitrager living in Las Vegas.   

What inspired you to write?

The fact that I have unique deep and interesting things to say. I’m probably the foremost expert in the world on the subject of spiritual philosophy. 

What inspired your novel? 

My desire to combine my crazy, unconventional wit and sense of humor with my expertise in spirituality and sociopolitics (I have a B.A. in sociology). I loved the idea of combining these three things into a fictional format.  

What is the genre?

Spiritual/sociopolitical/quasi-erotic fiction  

What draws you to this genre?

It combines the subjects that interest me.

How did you develop your plot and your characters?

Spontaneously. It’s as if the book wrote itself, because my subconscious had been working on the ideas for years. 

What inspired your protagonist?

I wanted him to embody John Galt-like qualities, except be wilder and a spiritual and physical master as well as an intellectual one.  

What inspired your antagonist? 

Barack Obama. 

What was the hardest part to write in the book? 

The descriptions of the MMA fights. My protagonist is a world-class martial artist, and because I had no experience writing on MMA fighting, I had to work hard to put together the fight scenes. 

What was your favourite part of your book to write?

The interactions between the protagonist, Jack Cohen, and his sadistic dominatrix girlfriend, Mary McDonald. 

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

Part time. I’m also a spiritual teacher (with two blogs and a Facebook group), and am focusing on making money by arbitraging the Mexican peso and U.S. dollar. 

What are you currently reading? 

Various books on Eastern mysticism, especially those on Yogacara, Madhyamika and Tibetan Buddhism, along with ones on Hindu tantra and nondual Kashmir Shaivism.  

Who would you say are your favourite authors?

Ayn Rand, Adi Da Samraj, Bernard McGinn

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

The Method of the Siddhas, The Knee of Listening, Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, The Philosophy of Sadhana, and Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. 

What are your future projects, if any?

I have a list of 25 more books I want to write. The next two will be meditation texts: one on Power of Now meditation, and one on Dzogchen.  

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

People can freely email me at lrongardner@hotmail.com, and check out my books at Amazon.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Write for the love of it and not the money, because the odds of achieving big-time commercial success are slim.

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Spotlight Interview · Spotlight Interview Thursdays

Spotlight Interview with author Maria Luisa Lang

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Happy Thursday fellow readers! I have another spotlight interview with author Maria Luisa Lang and her novel The Pharaoh’s Cat.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I was born in Rome, Italy, and live in New York City. I have a degree in art from the City University of New York, and my artwork has been exhibited in New York galleries. 
I love all animals, but especially cats, and I’m an amateur Egyptologist.
Most of The Pharaoh’s Cat is set in ancient Egypt, but I also included my neighborhood–the Upper West Side–and other parts of the city. My sequel, The Eye of Nefertiti, is also set in ancient Egypt and New York City, but my cat goes to Bath, England, as well. I’ve spent a lot of time there and the beautiful Georgian city is one of my favorite places. When I was planning my sequel, I knew Bath would play a major part in it. The cat also time travels to ancient Stonehenge. I’ve visited the site and found it fascinating.

What inspired you to write?
I’ve sketched and painted, and writing seemed a natural extension. Writing seems to be in my blood. My mother wrote a memoir of her experiences in Rome during the war, and one of my brothers is a noted Italian art critic and the author of several books and numerous articles.

What inspired your novel?
My love of cats and my fascination with ancient Egypt. I also enjoy comedy and couldn’t resist the challenge to make ancient Egypt funny.

What is the genre?
Comedy, fantasy, historical fiction.

What draws you to this genre?
I can combine different elements that are familiar and important to me.

How did you develop your plot and your characters?
My protagonist came first, a stray cat in ancient Egypt who’s suddenly given human powers, then the two people who love him, the Pharaoh and the High Priest, and the ogre who hates him, the Vizier, the Pharaoh’s uncle. Out of their distinctive personalities came their relationships with one another, and the plot is the story of how those relationships evolved.

What inspired your protagonist?
All the cats I’ve ever known, and there have been many. I love and am fascinated by both cats and ancient Egypt. When I decided to write a novel, I couldn’t help creating an ancient Egyptian cat to be my hero. He’s also me in many ways. He has my sense of humor and my sense of justice.

What inspired your antagonist?
The Vizier, the Pharaoh’s uncle is my villain, and the first thing I reveal about him is that he hates cats. His hatred is the root of his villainy. Fortunately, I’ve never met anyone remotely like him. I invented him based on what I see as the worst in humanity.

What was the hardest part to write in the book?
Integrating information about ancient Egypt into the narrative without it sounding like something from a text book.

What was your favourite part of your book to write?
The Pharaoh’s death. The cat’s reaction showed unexpected psychological depths. I ended up admiring him even more.

Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?
Read, travel, go to flea markets and thrift shops. Not surprisingly, my cat visits a Bath flea market in my sequel.

What are you currently reading?
I’m re-reading Bulgakov’s Heart of a Dog.

Who would you say are your favourite authors?
Kingley Amis and Mikhail Bulgakov

How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?
Amis’s Lucky Jim, Bulgakov’s Heart of a Dog and The Master and Margarita, my mother’s memoir, any of Ruth Rendell’s Inspector Wexford novels except the last.

What are your future projects, if any?
I’ll soon publish my sequel to The Pharaoh’s Cat–The Eye of Nefertiti.
(Published in November 2016 The Eye of Nefertiti– Leticia)

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

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? 
Don’t try to please an imaginary reader. It will only inhibit you and your writing will reflect that.

Thank you to Maria Luisa Lang for the lovely spotlight interview. I do hope you, my fellow readers, seek out her novels! 

Spotlight Interview · Spotlight Interview Thursdays

Spotlight Interview with author Joe Basara

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Welcome to Spotlight Interview Thursday’s again. Today I’ve an interview with the author Joe Basara and his novel The Shadows of Shuffleboard Manor and other novels he has published.

My background:
I grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida. After four years in the navy I attended college and graduated from Florida Atlantic University in 1976. In Okeechobee, Florida, I met my wife, Dana, and have been together thirty-six years.

My inspiration to write:
 Loving reading, I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was in my twenties and tell people I have been an “aspiring writer” for forty-five years. Was I exceptionally intelligent? No. Did I have something especially important to say? Not really. I was just enchanted by the art of writing.  

Inspiration for my novel:
Since I got the perhaps silly idea in my head I wanted to write a series of interrelated novels, all taking lace in the imaginary city of Cypress Lake, Florida, instead of simply coming up with an idea for a story, I first have to settle on the story’s time and place (always being Cypress Lake). My current novel–The Shadows of Shuffleboard Manor–is foreshadowed in my first novel–Cypress Lake. In 1977 Owen Cloud is parked at a stop light and sees a lady walking alone in Flagler Park. She looks like she’s holding something invisible, like maybe someone else’s hand? Turns out in Shadows (which takes place in 1992) we find out he was right. Every morning Sue Pecos, who lives in the Shuffleboard Manor retirement home, takes a walk in Flagler Park while pretending to hold on to her deceased husband Bill’s hand.   

The genre:
Shadows is a fantasy.

What draws me to this genre?
In this particular story I needed to explain why Sue Pecos holds her invisible husband’s hand while out on her walk. In the first chapter, while out on this morning’s walk, she decides it is time she and husband Bill are reunited again. It is a crazy idea. At seventy she is pretty healthy, does not especially want to do die, and yet believes it is time.

Developing my plot and characters:
I had to explain how reuniting with her husband might become a reality, so I had one of her deceased ex-roommates at the home, Silvia Waif, appear before her. Sue is not especially religious, but has been attending Sunday services given by a retired Catholic priest. Sylvia offers to be as Beatrice was to Dante, her guide through the mysterious Flora Land (that mirrors both Florida and Purgatory). Sylvia promises that this journey will lead her to her Bill. 

My protagonist’s inspiration:
Sue’s deep desire to by with Bill again inspires her to accept Sylvia’s offer. 

Her antagonist’s inspiration:
Steve Hawkins, another resident at the home, believes she is foolish. Angel Raton, an orderly who once worked at the home, and Hawkins both become dark figures who seek to discourage her on her quest. In fact, all of the characters she meets, friends and foes, are people she has known at the home. 

The hardest part:
Sue dreams one night she sees elderly people playing shuffleboard outdoors, and the sound of colliding of shuffleboard discs often is a sign that she is entering a new scene on her journey through Flora Land. It was hard to make these transitions as smooth as I wanted them to be.

My favorite part of the book:
Since the 1992 election was coming up as the story began, I enjoyed writing about Sue’s passage and experiences in Bush and Clinton Castles, both huge sand castles. They mirror the conservative and liberal political outlooks on life. This, and the whole novel, borrows from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

Full or part time writer:
I am a part time writer, though retired now. I worked with business machines for twenty years. After our plant was shut down I was a para-educator and worked with special needs kids for five years. What a joy and honor that was, though humbling as well.

Currently reading:
I have been reading Henry James’ The Ambassadors. His long, convoluted sentences amaze me. I recently listened to a literature speak about James’ prose: “When you start reading one of his sentences, better bring a lunch.”

Favorite authors:
Having a Kindle is great. Most of the novels I want to read are free. Don’t know if that’s good or bad. I love Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ The Yearling and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. Both of these are Florida novels. I have recently been reading Anthony Trollope, and I’m amazed at how long his stories are. You really feel like you are immersed in the world of mid-nineteenth century Britain. Not too long ago I read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and was interested to find how different it was from the movie version I saw as a kid. 

My future projects:
I am now working on Rollie Gold, whose title is the main character and son of Fred Gold, who, in my Fred’s Golden years, retired to Cypress Lake in 1982. While I’m at it I might mention my Sale Day at C Mart, the story of one day in the life of a big box store in the year 1985. Also, I might mention that Owen Cloud, the main character in Cypress Lake, shows up in all the novels that follow, though in cameo parts. Rollie Gold, which will be my fifth (taking place in 1999) is a story of a son’s reconciliation with his father. I haven’t figured how I will squeeze Owen in there yet. 

Getting in touch with me and my book:
All my novels are on Amazon.  I’d love to hear comments from readers but don’t have a website and am not sure home best to do this.

(Note: You can also find his novels on Good Reads – Leticia)

Advice:
If a young writer can find joy in seeing his/her story getting better with each re-write, that is a great satisfaction. Instead of saying “I can’t write!” say I’ve only begun to write this story or novel. You might think it a tedious chore, but to me if I see my story is getting better, that’s a real joy. If my writing depended upon external success, I’d have quit long ago. And if someone gives you a bad review, I feel grateful that they took the time out of their life to actually read my book. As Henry James wrote: “Criticism as appreciation.”  

Thank you to Joe for providing us with a wonderful interview. If you’re looking for a different fantasy story, give his novels a read! 

Spotlight Interview · Spotlight Interview Thursdays

Spotlight Interview with author Michael Burns

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Hi dear Readers!

I hope the holidays were full of love, family and friends for you. Today I have another Spotlight Interview with author Michael Burns. Enjoy!


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

My most recent day job was teaching at the high school level for nine years on a remote Indian Reservation 100 miles west of Tucson. I worked for the Bureau of Indian Education, within the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The part of Arizona where I taught has a relatively pristine environment. It was so far from my home, I had to live on the reservation during the week, from Sunday evening until Friday afternoon. It was very isolated, but I was able to breathe clean air, and see the Milky Way at night. This was a time of great spirituality in my life. I was able to do a lot of soul searching about what is really important in our lives.

What inspired you to write?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. My first novel gained some traction in the form of good independent reviews, and that novel was Hot Planet. It’s an environmental novel about climate change I began writing in 1990. My goal was to warn the world that climate change would not be pleasant. I’ve updated this novel several times as I keep getting new information about this issue.
When Hot Planet got a really good review, it convinced me that I needed to write about other compelling topics.

What inspired your novel?
There is no one thing that inspires me. I would say that true inspiration comes from within in that our subconscious mind controls our behavior. I can’t write unless I’m constantly telling myself that I can write. Constant pep talks given to me by me.

What is the genre?
I write in different genres, and sometimes multiple genres. Summer of the Beast begins as a good old-fashioned murder mystery, but quickly morphs into a supernatural/horror thriller—two seasoned detectives on the trail of what they believe is a serial killer. They soon find more than they expected.

The Horn is a sea adventure, mostly action but with some romance. The First Miracle is pure Christian fiction. Police State is a very graphic and disturbing dystopian novel. It is based on my belief that what happened in Germany in the 1930s could happen here in America, except it would be a hundred times worse due to the surveillance technology that the government has put in place. (Every year that I worked for the BIA I was mandated to take and pass an Internet security test. One thing I learned is that cell phones can be tracked in real time even when they’re turned off, and that they can be turned on remotely, even if they’re off, and the microphone used to listen in on your conversations.)
Sanctum Sanctorum is a war novel set in the Middle East in the near future. The Spacemen is science fiction based on the current ongoing militarization of space. Northwood & Other Short Stories is a collection of my short stories, except for my short story Lipstick. My most recent work, Starship Hunters, is a sci-fi novel that is set in the future, about a safari to distant planets within the Milky Way Galaxy, except the story takes a big turn when unexpected aliens arrive on the scene.
In my job as a teacher for the BIE, I taught language arts. My daily program called for reading short stories and analyzing them in depth. Over the years, I became something of an expert on short stories.

What draws you to this genre?
My novels are the result of my current level of interest in any given topic, and so they are usually written in a different genre. I like to challenge myself and these novels require research, sometimes a lot of research.

How did you develop your plot and your characters?
The plot for each novel is based on a topic that might develop into a good story. With each story, my goal is to further the story from the beginning paragraphs. No roadblocks for the reader. To tell a good story, you have to have believable characters. I first develop these characters in my head based on the plot of the story. I find myself revising their dialogue over and over again, until I get it right.
I don’t think of myself as a story teller, but rather a story crafter. I try to be a good craftsman. Writing a short story requires a different approach as the entire story must be told in just a few pages.

What inspired your protagonist?
With each novel and genre, I try to find protagonists who operate within their personal moral code, flawed or otherwise. The characters, by their actions and their dialogue, must move the story forward at all times.

What inspired your antagonist?
Human nature? Today, we have to accept that there are evil people living among us. Criminals, thugs, gangsters, terrorists, and white collar criminals who care nothing about hurting others.

What was the hardest part to write in the book?
There are four major elements with each story: 1) exposition 2) rising action 3) climax 4) falling action/resolution. Rising action is always the most difficult. It takes a lot of time to create suspense, conflict, and tension.

What was your favourite part of your book to write?
Beginning, middle, and ending. They are all my favorite parts. I like to start a book, knowing that a creative adventure is beginning, but I also like to write the ending, knowing that another project has been finished. I do enjoy all aspects of being a writer.

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

What are you currently reading?
Seven Pillars of Wisdom, by T.E. Lawrence.

Who would you say are your favourite authors?
Ian Fleming, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and James Jones. For short stories, Rudyard Kipling. You could say I’ve definitely been influenced by the English writers, or in the case of Doyle, an Irish-Scots writer.

How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?
From Russia With Love by Ian Fleming. Last Word (My Indictment of the CIA in the Murder of JFK) by Mark Lane. From Here to Eternity by James Jones. Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. Of course, there are many more, and I’m not sure about the top five or even the top ten, but the above books are definitely among my favorites.

What are your future projects, if any?
I am working on the two sequels to Starship Hunters, and I want to publish them simultaneously, so it may take a year before they are ready. I’m finding it is a monumental task, but I am having fun with this project.

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?
I don’t have my own website. Readers should leave reviews or comments on both Good Reads and Amazon. I welcome all reviews, good or bad.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Have a nice, comfortable office chair. Have a large bookshelf nearby and keep reference books at hand. Be willing to drop everything to do research at a moment’s notice.

Spotlight Interview · Spotlight Interview Thursdays

Spotlight Interview with Author T.A. Gallant

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Hi my dear fellow readers.
Today we have an interview with author T.A. Gallant and his novel The Legend of the Dagger Prince. Enjoy!

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I was raised by a traveling preacher and moved all over western Canada throughout my childhood and youth, living in cities and towns as well as on farms and even aboriginal reservations.

What inspired you to write?
Honestly, life inspires me to write. I’ve always loved words—I started reading when I was four years old—and I was trying to write fiction by the time I was about ten.

What inspired your novel?
The basic premise pretty much came to me, and I was fascinated with both the way I could develop plot twists from that premise, as well as what could be developed from it in terms of posing hard questions to the characters. It basically became a case where I just had to write it.

What is the genre?
I guess you could call it medievalesque low fantasy. It is set in a period something like our medieval times, but the world is made up. I would call it “low” fantasy, because it’s not filled with magical elements or superpowered characters.

What draws you to this genre?
I think almost everybody is drawn a bit to images of swords and shields, and I’ve always had a soft spot for themes like honor and chivalry. Plus, there is a lot of freedom in breaking away from our times and our world. You can let your imagination flow in world-building.
And of course, unlike historical fiction, nobody can point a finger at you and say, “Hey! that’s not historically accurate!”

How did you develop your plot and your characters?
So far as plot goes, as I said the central premise pretty much came to me, and then I just had to set about the hard work of writing to get from that to a full-blown plot. It sounds cliché, but it really was initial inspiration, and then a lot of perspiration to turn it into a story.
I consider plot and character development to be a mutual process. The story grows out of the characters, and the characters grow out of the story. As I developed the plot, that allowed me to draw out my characters; and as I drew out my characters that again helped me see where the plot could and should go.

What inspired your protagonist?
It would be easy to give too much away, but I’ll put it this way. Prince Korbin, who goes from about 13 years old to 17 in the story, is driven throughout by a profound sense of honor and justice. That grounds him completely; but that evolves as we get to watch how that plays out as he goes from, shall we say, adolescent judgment to maturity born from experience and wise guidance.

What inspired your antagonist?
Old-fashioned selfishness paired with a philosophy that power for me is what matters, no matter how I achieve it.

What was the hardest part to write in the book?
The middle, without question. I wrote the opening section fully knowing where that was going, and relatively early on I worked out an ending that I felt really satisfied the story, but it was hard for me to see how I was going to connect the two. Truthfully, it intimidated me a bit, and I let the story simmer for far too long.

What was your favourite part of your book to write?
I’d say the ending, because I could sense a bit of the power of the story as I wrote it. But also the scenes with Nattan were a lot of fun.

Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?
I have quite a few mouths to feed, so I have to wear a few hats. I have a small design and web development business, and I also work in the hospitality industry. I would love to write full time, but things would obviously really need to catch fire.

What are you currently reading?
At the moment, I am reading The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis.

Who would you say are your favourite authors?
There are so many, but I love Potok, Austen, Lewis, Graham Greene, Anthony Trollope, Dostoevski—a wide swath of writers, really. I absolutely love Brandon Sanderson. I’m completely in awe of so much of what he does in terms of worldbuilding.

How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?
Wow, that’s tough. So far as fiction goes, here are a few that would definitely be vying for the list: In the Beginning, by Potok; Emma, by Austen; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by Lewis. Dostoevski is really tough, because it’s hard to pick one out of that litany of great books, although I have a particular fondness for The Idiot.

What are your future projects, if any?
The Legend of the Dagger Prince is the opening of a series called The Annals of Adamah. I’m not sure exactly how many titles that will involve, but at least three or four. They will be set in different times, but there will be a unifying story to tie them together. The second volume is called Nabbl’s Concubine.

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?
Start with the publisher web site, timotheospress.com, and get on the mailing list! I try to throw a few treats out there that way to reward my fans.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? 
Just the one piece of advice that I keep having to remind myself: don’t give up. Stick to it. Good things come when you write, not when you wait.

Links:

Facebook | Amazon | Good Reads

Spotlight Interview · Spotlight Interview Thursdays

Spotlight Interview with author Earl Javorsky

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Good day my dear Readers! I hope you are all well!
I bring to you a Spotlight Interview with author Earl Javorsky and his novels Down Solo and Trust Me. Enjoy!

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I live in Southern California—have since I was five—and was brought up in a weird mix of precarious affluence, surf culture, and the performing arts (my stepfather was a Paramount actor; my mom was in the ballet). I was the bad boy in my family and went for blues guitar, weed, and beat poetry. I moved out of my parents’ Brentwood home to Venice when I was sixteen. I wanted to be a journalist but got distracted by the idea of being a musician instead. I financed my wannabe rockstar career by dealing weed, then coke. It all came to a pathetic end when I was thirty-seven.

 What inspired you to write?
Reading. I started with the kids’ classics of the time—Treasure Island, Tom Sawyer, etc.—and then started reading my dad’s stuff, including a lot of science fiction. I had a particularly tough tenth-grade English teacher. She threw five kids out in the first fifteen minutes of the semester. I would have been sixth, but I decided to try it her way. The A’s and positive comments were very gratifying and I developed confidence in my ability to arrange words on paper.

What inspired your novel?
The first novel I wrote, Trust Me—which was actually published second—was inspired by real events. As a long-time member of the recovery community, I’ve met a lot of interesting personalities. One of them, a genial old chap with a lot of sobriety, was a doctor—a shrink of some type—who would mentor attractive young women who were new to recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction. His mentorship would cross a line into seduction. He was in his late sixties, so it was grossly inappropriate. I took his character and developed it for the book, along with several other lead characters—it’s more of an ensemble piece—based on people I had known.

What is the genre? 
I would call it Psychological Suspense. My other book, Down Solo, is a Noir thriller with a supernatural edge, very different in style and tone.

What draws you to this genre?
I’m drawn to the  dramatic elements of crime stories—the soul sickness of perpetrators, the struggles of flawed protagonists, and the fascinating possibilities of the world of addiction and recovery.

How did you develop your plot and your characters?
In each book, I had an easy first ten pages, enough to know that I had something worth working with. After that, I used a hybrid approach—half seat-of-the-pants and half timelining and storyboarding. I wrote an article on this that called Storyboarding for Depth and Clarity.

 What inspired your protagonist?
In Trust Me, the protagonist has a lot in common with my own experience. He’s a loser, bottomed out, nowhere to go, who gets motivated when his sister is found dead, an apparent suicide. His mission to find what really happened converges with what turns out to be his redemptive process. In Down Solo, the protagonist and his dilemma came to me out of the blue.

What inspired your antagonist?
See above for Trust Me. For Down Solo, my original antagonist was based on a character in real life—he was an evangelical Christian with a website in which he combined biblical prophecy with proclamations about the end of US currency and the ascendance of gold and silver and their respective mining stocks. He’s still part of the novel, but his role as lead antagonist was usurped by someone higher up the food chain.

What was the hardest part to write in the book?
The next page. Okay, just kidding. But not really. I get stuck when I get to what could be a fork in the narrative road—go one way and it could be a dead end. I want it to all spool out in a nice, orderly fashion so I don’t have to go back and do major surgery later.

What was your favourite part of your book to write?
The last page. It means I’m done. Again, kidding, kinda . . . The real answer is that my favorite parts are the ones that come when I’m in the flow. The problem, of course, is that I don’t live in the flow—that would be too easy—so I have to face the keyboard with a head full of wool and dust and then hope that flow develops.

Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?
I also do editing and proofreading. I have worked on over thirty novels in the past several years. It’s very satisfying to participate in the polishing of someone else’s craft. I have also written web content for recovery centers, done proofreading for a technical journal, and solved major philosophical and political problems in my spare time.

What are you currently reading?
I just finished Charles Portis’s Gringos. I’m going on a trip to Mexico soon and may embark on Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.

Who would you say are your favourite authors?
Kem Nunn, Graham Greene, John Le Carre, Michael Gruber, James Lee Burke, Elmore Leonard, I could go on and on . . .

 How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?
Tough one, but much easier than What’s your favorite book? So, I’ll go with these: Iain Pears—An Instance of the Fingerpost; Michael Gruber—Tropic of Night; Vikram Chandra—Sacred Games; and the collective works, respectively, of James Lee Burke, John le Carre, and Elmore Leonard. And a real outlier: Radix, a fabulous piece of science fiction by AA Attanasio. But then, I’m leaving out so much: Farewell, My Lovely; Cloud Atlas; The Power and the Glory; Tijuana Straights . . .

What are your future projects, if any?
I have a father-son novel envisioned. It will take place in the town we transplanted to in 1994—Oceanside, CA. It will involve stolen money, a near-fatal beating leading to a troubled teen in a coma, and an anguished dad who wants his son healthy and his money back. The revenge he seeks may strip him of his humanity.

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books? 
Through my Contacts page at my website: www.earljavorsky.com.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? 
Sure. Write. Keep writing. Even when you don’t like it. Even—especially—when you’re not inspired. You can cherry-pick the good stuff at editing time. Some of the passages in my novels were cannibalized from earlier works. Expose your writing to other writers. If you’re really new, take a class at your local college. Participate in a writers’ group—do the read-critique thing until you’ve internalized what there is to learn. Read good fiction—it is axiomatic that you cannot write better fiction than you read. You will, hopefully, internalize (again) what good writers have to offer: sentence structure, narrative structure, characterization, setting, and so on. Keep your day job.

Thank you to Earl for participating in this Spotlight Interview. If you’re interested in his books, definitely check them out! 

Book Tour · Spotlight Interview Thursdays

Soul Blade by Aaron Hodges Blog Tour and Spotlight Interview

 
Genre: 
Epic Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery
Publisher: The National Library of New Zealand
Date of Release: November 28, 2016
Pages: 300 pages
Links: AmazonGood Reads

About the Book:

The Three Nations are crumbling.
Darkness is gathering.
And only Eric remains to stand against it.

Eric stumbles through the wilderness, searching, hunting – desperate for sign of his sister. But the girl is gone, stolen away by the power of the Soul Blade. With each passing hour its hold on her tightens, her spirit fading before the onslaught of its magic. If he cannot save her soon, it will claim her soul. And he will have to kill her.

Meanwhile, Gabriel is locked in the cells beneath Ardath. The darkness presses in around him, absolute, suffocating. Time, hope, sanity, all have long since slipped beneath the waves of his despair. Only it remains – the unrelenting voice of the demon. It haunts the darkness, tempting him with promises of freedom.
How long can he resist its call?

Giveaway:

http://blog.ravenpublicity.com/giveaways/sciencefiction-fantasy-win-3-paperbacks-giveaway-kindle-amreading/

About the Author:


Aaron Hodges was born in 1989 in the small town of Whakatane, New Zealand. He studied for five years at the University of Auckland, completing a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Geography, and a Masters of Environmental Engineering. After working as an environmental consultant for two years, he grew tired of office work and decided to quit his job and see the world. During his travels he picked up an old draft of a novel he once wrote in High School – titled The Sword of Light – and began to rewrite the story. This book, Soul Blade, marks the final conclusion of that epic tale.

Fans of Aaron can signup for updates and special offers at:

aaronhodges.co.nz/newsletter-signup/

Links:

Website Amazon Author Page | Good Reads

Spotlight Interview

Thank you to Aaron for allowing me to host part of his Blog Tour and to interview him. Enjoy my fellow readers!

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Sure thing! Well, the first thing you should know about me is that I’m from New Zealand. And yes, I like The Lord of the Rings ;-). I am an Environmental Scientist by profession, but gave that up a few years back to see the world – an Overseas Experience (OE) as we call it in New Zealand. And, well, since then I haven’t really looked back. I’ve travelled through SE Asia, lived in Canada, backpacked down the west coast of the USA, bused through Mexico, Central and South America, and I am currently living in Argentina.
As for my writing, that came about almost completely by accident. During my travels, I started rewriting a story I’d written for an old High School project. I finally completed and published it back in December 2015, and to my surprise, it took off. Since then I’ve been working on book 2 and 3 while continuing my adventures around the world!

What inspired you to write?
I’m not really sure. I’ve always loved writing. Even back in Elementary and Middle School I wrote long, multi-chapter works for my creative writing projects. I guess I just love losing myself in another world, especially when, as the author, I get to decide what happens!

What inspired your novel?
I think my trilogy has drawn on a lot from my own experiences throughout life. At its heart, my first trilogy is about standing against darkness whatever the odds – and those odds are pretty bad for my poor characters. In the words of one of my reviewers: “Toughest. Baddies. Ever.” In my own life I have faced a few challenges, including the loss of my father when I was 13, and those challenges have definitely added to my works.

What is the genre?
My first trilogy is Epic Fantasy/Sword and Sorcery, but my next project will be a Science Fiction series.

What draws you to this genre?
As I mentioned earlier, I really enjoy losing myself in another world. Fantasy has a particular draw for me because literally anything can happen – magic, gods, demons, dragons, you name it! With all the challenges and pitfalls of real life, it’s nice to have an escape in fantasy.

How did you develop your plot and your characters?
My plot actually developed in waves. As I mentioned, my first trilogy was created way back in High School, which was over ten years ago for me… But in the ten years since then, I’ve revisited the story several times, rewriting it over and over again. In each of those rewrites, more aspects of the plot came into light, and it slowly grew and developed into something quite substantial over the years. Questions like ‘where did the God of Light go?’ are actually answered now, rather than being a mystery that is never resolved. Although you have to wait until the final book, Soul Blade, to find out 😉
As for my characters, they come from a variety of sources. Some are a reflection of people I know or knew, people I’ve met or who have always inspired me. Others are born from the plot itself. They begin as the raw components of a character, but the more challenges they face, the more I learn about them. So they grow as the story goes along. Sometimes I’ll even go back and write in foreshadowing for certain characters because they do something even I did not!

What inspired your antagonist?
My primary antagonist, Archon, first seems a reflection of the classic epic fantasy villain. For example, Sauron in The Lord of the Rings. All powerful, completely evil, etc. But personally, for much of the story I think of Archon more as death himself – inevitable, a shadow hanging over all the characters. He is a dark power influencing things around them, always threatening, but never quite there. Not until the final book anyway – Soul Blade finally brings him to the forefront, and reveals the truth about his character.

What was the hardest part to write in the book?
The start. Definitely the start. I can sit for hours, days even, staring at that blank page, struggling to find the perfect way to begin the story. Even when I know what scene is going to open the book, those first words are still a struggle to find. After that, the rest of the story seems to come easily!

What was your favourite part of your book to write?
The plot twists. Each of my book comes with some pretty big surprises, although I like to think they’re foreshadowed for the keen observers. Either way, I find those scenes the best parts to write, because whether the reader knows it or not, a lot of the chapters leading up to them have been in preparation of that twist. Whether it is a character’s death or a big reveal, it’s nice to finally have that payoff.

Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?
I am now a full-time writer, although I do take long stretches of time off to continue my travels. Usually it takes me about 2-3 months to finish a 90k word novel – first and second drafts, editing, and proofreading included.

What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed. Not my usual kind of book, but I picked it up in a hostel and have been slowly making my way through it. It’s an interesting read, although the girl (aka the author) at its centre does make me want to slap her occasionally! As a traveller, the idea of carrying a backpack I can’t even pick up horrifies me. My pack is now a tiny 38L, and I plan on downsizing again the next time I’m home!

Who would you say are your favourite authors?
My two favourite authors are David Gemmell and Ian Irvine. David because of his characters. It’s a very rare thing that a writer can make me cry with his story, but the characters in David’s novel are just so real, so vivid, I can’t help but cry every time I read Druss the Legend.
As for Ian Irvine, I love his worlds. His Three Worlds books are absolutely amazing. He actually spent 20 years developing them before he began to write – he even created a map the size of a door to show just one of his three worlds. And that’s just the geography. There’s also a detailed history, magic system, and four races of human. It all makes for an incredibly rich story.

How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?
1. Druss the Legend or Morningstar by David Gemmell
2. Geomancer by Ian Irvine
3. The Harry potter books
4. The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
5. The Troy Game by Sara Douglass

What are your future projects, if any?
Well, I have just finished up Soul Blade (Book 3 of the Sword of Light Trilogy), so after taking a breather from that, I will be starting a new series. This time, I’m hoping to write a Science Fiction thriller focused around genetic engineering. It will focus on a group of young men and woman who awake to find themselves trapped in a prison. They remember nothing of a world outside or a prior life, but it won’t take long for them to find out their future is not looking too bright.

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?
Readers can find me at www.aaronhodges.co.nz, or email me at author@aaronhodges.co.nz.
I now have three books on Amazon. The first book, Stormwielder, is now only 99c and can be found using this link..

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? 
Just one thing – keep writing! Who knows how far into my writing career I would be now if I had backed myself from the start and kept up with my writing. Instead I spent years at a time writing nothing. Each time I returned to writing, it was harder. I forgot things, the words didn’t come as easily, and it took a long time to regain my stride. So really, I just have two words for aspiring authors:

Write On!
Thanks for reading.
Aaron Hodges

Spotlight Interview · Spotlight Interview Thursdays

Spotlight Interview with author John A. Heldt

glow in the dark

Hi Readers, I have a lovely interview with author John A. Heldt and his novels Indiana Belle and Class of ’59.

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

I grew up in Oregon and Washington, the third oldest of six kids, and began writing professionally when I got out of college. For about a dozen years, I wrote and edited sports articles for daily newspapers. I switched careers in the late 1990s and have worked in libraries ever since. When not writing and marketing novels, I like to walk the dog, watch sports, and make homemade beer. I turned to novel writing in 2012 with the publishing of The Mine. I am a married father of three grown children.

What inspired you to write?

I write because I like sharing the stories. Writing is a release. It’s a way of expressing myself.

What inspired your novel?

The 1961 movie Splendor in the Grass was an inspiration for Indiana Belle. So were The Great Gatsby and Legends of the Fall. I wanted to set at least one of my books in the Roaring Twenties.

What is the genre?

Indiana Belle, like all of my novels, is a multi-genre work that spans everything from historical fiction, romance, and time travel to adventure, humor, and fantasy.

What draws you to this genre?

I like taking fish out of water — literarily and figuratively. I like putting 21st-century protagonists in 20th-century settings and seeing how they react.

How did you develop your plot and your characters?

I outline the plot extensively before writing a single word and develop the characters as I go. More often than not, I will add description to the story in later drafts. I have begun doing just that in Class of ’59. I expect to publish that book, the fourth novel in the American Journey series, by the middle of September.

What inspired your protagonist?

No one person or thing inspired Cameron Coelho, the protagonist of Indiana Belle. He is a fresh creation, even though he resembles the American actor Adrian Grenier and acts like a typical graduate student. Quiet, thoughtful, and gentlemanly, Cameron is also a lot like Kevin Johnson, the protagonist of The Fire, my fourth novel and the fourth book of the Northwest Passage series.

What inspired your antagonist?

I drew inspiration from villains I have seen in movies and television programs.

What was the hardest part to write in the book?

The beginning was the hardest. When you write books in a series and all the books have the same departure point — in this case, a mansion in Los Angeles — you have to be creative. Both Indiana Belle and Class of ’59 start out much differently than September Sky and Mercer Street, the first two books of the American Journey series.

What was your favorite part of your book to write?

I enjoyed writing the chapters where Cameron interacts with Candice Bell, the heroine of Indiana Belle. The two complement each other and click from the beginning.

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

I’m a full-time writer in that I spend more than 40 hours per week on writing and marketing. But I also work part-time as a reference assistant in a university library.

What are you currently reading?

I’m listening to the audio edition of Ken Follett’s Edge of Eternity, the third book in his Century Trilogy. I listen to books more than read them these days.

Who would you say are your favorite authors?

Ken Follett, Nelson DeMille, Vince Flynn, Stephen King, Clive Cussler, and John Jakes top my list of favorite authors.

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

My top five are: “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand, “The Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett, “Wild Fire” by Nelson DeMille, “The Firm” by John Grisham, and “The Hunt for Red October” by Tom Clancy.

JOHN A. HELDT AUTHOR LINKS

Blog: http://johnheldt.blogspot.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/johnaheldt

Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/John-A.-Heldt/e/B007A23EQS

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jaheldt/

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5754231.John_A_Heldt

Tumblr: http://timetravelauthor.tumblr.com

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/johnheldt

Spotlight Interview · Spotlight Interview Thursdays

Spotlight Interview with J. Michael Gallen

glow in the dark

Hi Readers, I have another Spotlight Interview with author J. Michael Gallen about his novels and novellas Saga Terra: OdysseusSaga Terra: Judge of the HavenSaga Terra: Judge of StellasolumSaga Terra: Jordan the WandererSaga Terra: The Lone Star Adventure. Enjoy!


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

I’m a high-functioning autistic adult who lives with my family in Central Texas, and have lived in my town since I was four years old, having beforehand spent four years with my military family in Wuerzburg, Bavaria, Germany, and before then for a few months in Ft. Riley, Kansas, where I was born. I’ve always had a fascination with videogames and talking animal literature, and when I’m not writing I enjoy playing primarily Japanese roleplaying games, which I also write reviews of, and reading other author’s work.

What inspired you to write?

The late Brian Jacques’ Redwall series was one of my favorite series when I was in grade school, and I definitely want to follow in his footsteps with my own series, which is geared primarily towards grade-school students.

What inspired your novel?

Mainly, the question of who would succeed humans as inheritors of the earth, and I began what would eventually evolve into Saga Terra: Odysseus when I was in ninth grade, and have rewritten it several times.

What is the genre?

Fantasy, science-fiction, and adventure.

What draws you to this genre?

The escapism of imaginary worlds.

How did you develop your plot and your characters?

I modeled many characters after real-life family members and public figures, and as the title of the latest version of my first novel, Saga Terra: Odysseus, indicates, Homer’s Odyssey was the original inspiration for the book, although I would heavily deviate into Norse mythology, which I know has inspired other fantasy such as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series.

What inspired your protagonist?

Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey, with his full name being Ieremia Odysseus Deerlord Otterland. I got the idea of hybriding vastly different species, which plays a big role in my novels, from Disney’s old animated cartoon The Wuzzles, with Prince Odysseus being a deer-dolphin-otter hybrid.

What inspired your antagonist?

I named the main adversary Alec Gogh after two public figures, a celebrity and a politician.

What was the hardest part to write in the book?

The events that follow the characters’ encounters at Malice, which were not originally part of earlier version of my novel, and I newly added a few years back.

What was your favourite part of your book to write?

The battle scenes, which some scenes from movies and video games inspired.

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

I’m definitely part-time since I devote time heavily to other hobbies such as playing and reviewing video games, and reading other authors’ work, chiefly fantasy and science-fiction.

What are you currently reading?

Kathryn Lasky’s Guardians of Ga’Hoole series and the late Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time saga.

Who would you say are your favourite authors?

Brian Jacques, Terry Goodkind, and George Orwell.

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

George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm, Phillip K Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, Brian Jacques’s Redwall series, and Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth saga.

What are your future projects, if any?

I eventually plan to continue the story of Judge Victor Piers Bucks, the titular protagonist of the Judge of… subseries, and write a few prequels, one of which will take place about sixty-five hundred years before Odysseus.

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

Definitely email, jmgallen@hot.rr.com, and I’m always seeking beta readers for my work, particularly Odysseus, which I’ve heavily revised in recent time, so I know how to improve and make them better. My first book can be reached on Amazon and I also have a DeviantArt account at http://jmg124.deviantart.com and a videogame review wiki at http://jmgreviews.wikidot.com.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Keep on writing, and get advice from fellow authors and readers.

Spotlight Interview · Spotlight Interview Thursdays

Azaroth and Sefalin by Leonard G. Mokos

glow in the dark

Hi Readers, I have an interview with the Canadian author Leonard G. Mokos and his novel Azaroth & Sefalin. Please also check out his new novel The Bad Canadian.

What was the hardest part to write in the book?

The beginning, the middle and the end. Writing is hard.

What was your favorite part of your book to write?

The metamorphosing, and the action scenes. Also the Easter egg tucked into the text which, if found by a lucky reader, will reveal the Meaning of Life and generate unlimited eternal wealth.

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

I was trading for a dozen years, took time off to create a board game (Holy Land: Crown of the Leper King, for Kickstarter in winter of 2016), my first novel (the epic action fantasy adventure Azaroth & Sefalin), and a literary historical mystery called “The Bad Canadian” that I am actively seeking a literary agent for.

What are you currently reading?

Unsold TV Pilots, the almost complete guide to everything you never saw on TV. I should lie and say something more pretentious, right? O.K. Poilu: The World War I Notebooks of Corporal Louis Barthas, Barrelmaker, 1914-1918. Which I read last summer in a hammock, as research for “The Bad Canadian”.

Who would you say are your favorite authors?

I find everybody easy to love. For instance, Nabokov’s writing, especially in Lolita, is sublime. But who can write an action scene like Robert E. Howard, or make you laugh harder than Justin Halpern in Shit My Dad Says?

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

Stoner by John Williams

Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsun

Most of John Fante and thus by extension, Charles Bukowski

Steinbeck’s the Winter of Our Discontent

Charles Panati’s Extraordinary Endings

What are your future projects, if any?

Finding a literary agent – there’s no money in self publishing, and I must eat, I have a family.

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

Internet venues are fine. I am present in most of them, however irregularly.

WordPress

Amazon

Good Reads

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Don’t get discouraged. If it was easy, everyone would do it.