Author Interview: Adesina Brown

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Adesina Brown, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Adesina Brown

Adesina Brown is a queer, non-binary author who centers QTPOC in all their work. They have been previously published in Rigorous Magazine, Coffee People Zine, and more, and their debut novel Where the Rain Cannot Reach is forthcoming with Atmosphere Press. Check out their recent guest post on LGBTQ Reads, “The Liberating Politics of Queernorm Fiction.”

You can find author Brown here:
Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California—where I’ve lived all 21 years of my life, with some stints at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie and an internship at Planned Parenthood in New York City, both in New York. I have two younger siblings, Negasi and Bakari, a dog named Oliver, and my mom and I are very close; my family is my greatest inspiration, and I wouldn’t be anywhere without their support, creativity, and care. I love all kinds of creative expression, which I try to make clear in my interactions and in my general enthusiasm for music, tattoos, paintings… I love it all! I also love plants, which you’ll learn in my author bio or on my Instagram; my greatest pride is my money tree, which has grown about three feet in the two years I’ve had it. 

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

Be prepared for altered states of consciousness with a collectivist lens. 

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

I think the greatest lesson I learned from my Room Magazine mentorship with Téa Mutonji is that I can’t control what my readers take away from my works. Every person is going to have such a personal, and ultimately emotional, connection to anything they read. That’s the beauty in literature—and the beauty in all art, really. I’m not so interested in defining the experience my readers have so much as I’m happy they’re having an experience at all. 

That said… If I had to choose one message I’m trying to communicate to my readers in this novel, it’s that you deserve to live unquestioned and unburdened by what the dominant culture would question and burden you for. You deserve liberation—but it must be on your terms, for your reasons. I poured a lot of my dreams for the future of queernorm fiction into this project, and I hope you may find your own path to safety through glimpses of this world.

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

My favorite characters often differ from my favorite characters to write; in the case of Where the Rain Cannot Reach, I’d say Shianna is my favorite character, while King Usnaso, who shows up later in the novel, is my favorite character to write. I love both characters because they’re complicated, albeit for vastly different reasons, and they always kept me wondering as to what they would do next—I never knew myself!

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

I came up with the very first scene of this book when I was 12 or 13 years old, made some character notes, and then ignored it for the next decade or so. In 2020, I arrived home from Vassar College after having left to pursue writing—but having no idea what I wanted to write. After some digging, I found some of my old journals, and I decided to rewrite the first scene of the book. I think I ended up with something like 10,000 words in that first sitting, so I like to say I was inspired by my younger self to write this book. 

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

This is the toughest question for me to answer. It’s taken almost a decade from inception to publication. More accurately, the initial draft of this book took around three months; and it was maybe nine months before Atmosphere Press approached me with an offer for publication. We had another two or three months of editing after that… I don’t think I’ll ever feel like a project is complete. 

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

Five years from today, I will have released the entirety of the Doman’s Despair trilogy; I also will release another novel (or two!) that departs from this trilogy. I’ll publish a poetry collection, too. In truth, my greatest ambition as a writer, and my most sustainable goal I think, is simply to write—which means that I want to write a lot. There are days when I don’t have it in me to put a single word on the page, and I’ve learned to accept that. Most days, though, I wake up and wonder what I will write, and I hope that feeling never goes away, not in five years and not in my lifetime. 

Are you working on any other story presently?

Currently, I’m writing book two of Doman’s Despair, worldbuilding for another fantasy story, editing a sci-fi novel on-and-off, and shopping around my debut poetry collection. 

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

I’d love to write in as many genres and styles as I can. I love writing poetry and have had a lot of stuff I’m proud of published online and in independent journals. Admittedly, though, speculative fiction is my happy place. Sci-fi, fantasy, and horror come naturally to me. I find a lot of comfort in the questions about, against, and toward reality inherent in speculative fiction genres. As a queer, non-binary, and mixed-race person, I’ve always gravitated toward stories that did not shy away from life’s complexities but instead showed new possibilities within those complexities. I mostly write speculative fiction—mostly think about speculative fiction—because it requires newness and constant reflection of the self and the wider world. 

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

I truly started writing in my preteen and early teen years. At that time, it was abandoned ideas, like the one I had for Where the Rain Cannot Reach, and fanfiction—my first taste of writing publicly for something other than school. Back then, it was largely anonymous, mostly for fun, and I don’t think I told anyone what or where I was publishing… I probably never will! However, it was my first taste of writing for an audience, and the confidence I gained from the realization that I can write and someone will be interested in it has since proved essential. When I decided to leave Vassar College halfway into my sophomore year, I also knew I was sacrificing institutional structure, stability, and support. Without those things, I had to cultivate and redefine my definitions of wellbeing and success. I’m inspired to keep going whenever I reflect upon what I’ve already accomplished.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

For whatever reason, I can only write in the afternoons, usually starting around 1:30PM. I first change the lighting in my room from warm white light to cool, and then I light a stick of incense. The most important step is choosing the music to accompany my writing: it creates ambience and places me into the world I’m writing. If I’m working on a longer project like a novel, I have one or two songs that trigger my brain to get into writing—my “go song(s).” For Where the Rain Cannot Reach, it was “Human” by Molly Sarle; for the second book of Doman’s Despair, I’m loving “I’m Going Away” by Elizabeth Cotten and “Heavy Horses” by Jethro Tull. When I edit, I always start with Kendrick Lamar’s “DAMN.”  

With the space set, I aim for over 2,000 words a session, which I break into parts: after the first thousand words, which takes about 30-45 minutes, I take a break to stretch, drink some water, and make a meal; I then sit down to write whatever I have left in me that day. I’m a total pantser, so I often don’t know what I’ll write until it’s on the page. 

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I write on my laptop. More specifically, I write with Microsoft Word in “Focus” mode on my Mac, which is essentially a blank page against a plain background. It’s perfect.  

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

Although it’s ever-changing, my current favorites are: Emergent Strategy by Adrienne Maree Brown; Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo; Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments by Sadiya Hartman; She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan; and The Black Poets by Dudley Randall. The lattermost is a lifelong favorite—and probably my most traveled book. 

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I’m a very self-motivated person, so I usually only take one or two days away from writing at a time. By then, I’m usually desperate to write something. However, if I’m truly unable to move a story forward, I have to change it. With the second book of Doman’s Despair, I wrote about 100 pages before I stopped; because I stopped, I knew I was not writing the story I needed to tell. I decided to scrap it all, and now I’ve almost finished writing it. Sometimes I need to take a step back and remind myself that it is not a block but a necessary break. 

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

Anyone can write, so if you’re aspiring to write, I’d recommend getting some words on the page! If you’d like to publish your writing, though, you need time—and you need to take the time you give yourself seriously. I only say this to be realistic about how elitist and inaccessible the publishing world can often be. Be truthful with yourself about how much time you need for this process, take it at a speed that suits you, and remember that your writing deserves to be read. 

Thank you, author Brown, for your honest answers!

About the Book

Where The Rain Cannot Reach

Tair has never known what it means to belong. Abandoned at a young age and raised in the all-Elven valley of Mirte, the young Human defines herself by isolation, confined to her small, seemingly trustworthy family. 
Abruptly, that family uproots her from Mirte and leads her on an inevitable but treacherous journey to Doman: the previous site of unspeakable Human atrocities and the current home of Dwarvenkind. Though Doman offers Tair new definitions of family and love, it also reveals to her that her very existence is founded in lies. Now, tasked with an awful responsibility to the Humans of Sossoa, Tair must decide where her loyalties lie and, in the process, discover who she wants to be… And who she has always been. 
In their debut fantasy novel Where the Rain Cannot Reach, Adesina Brown constructs a world rich with new languages and nuanced considerations of gender and race, ultimately contemplating how, in freeing ourselves from power, we may find true belonging. 


You can find Where The Rain Cannot Reach here:
Bookshop | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Atmosphere Press | Goodreads

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Catee Ryan

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Catee Ryan, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Catee Ryan

Catee Ryan retired in 2011 after 35 years as a marriage and family therapist. She has dedicated her life to writing since then. She spends her days in her home office in the Coachella Valley, down the street from her wife of 33 years. She enjoys strong coffee, expensive chocolate, and falling asleep on the couch to foreign language murder mysteries on Netflix. Catee’s book of short stories, Diving Home, was published in 2017.

You can find author Ryan here:
Atmosphere Press


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

My travels have deeply impacted my life and influenced my writing. I proudly claim the title: World Citizen.

Istanbul, Turkey

I lived here for 20 months, attending Robert College, which overlooks the Bosphorus, and living in a dorm with Turkish girls who spoke English in their classes but Turkish in the dorms. I was lonely. I wandered the cobblestone streets of Istanbul alone and found my favorite places to get lamb sandwiches, baklava, and espresso. I learned that although many Turks did not like Americans, they did like me. I fell in love with the cobblestone streets. I elected to stay in Istanbul for another 9 months where I taught English to Turkish adults at a Turk-American Cultural Association. I loved my students. (In Diving Home, my book of linked short stories, you can read more about my Istanbul story in the Cathy section.)

Greenfield, New Hampshire

My first of three jobs teaching outdoor education to 5th and 6th graders in New England. My relationship with nature expanded. I fell in love with the trees, forests, bogs, swamps, lakes, rivers, birds of New England, and the constellations in the night sky. Being in nature is being home. (Diving Home, Maine section.)

Bahia de Culebras, Costa Rica

I was on an archeology dig. I drove from St. Louis to Costa Rica on the Pan American Highway with 5 other Beloit College students; explored numerous Mayan ruins; and had many border crossing experiences. For three months we ate rice and beans three times a day at the dig.

New Zealand

I visited my parents in Palmerston North; hiked the Routeburn Track; met life-long friends who owned a dairy farm in Waiuku and are orienteerers. I fell in love with the New Zealand land, trees, birds, people, and culture, and was impressed that every child received medical and dental care at their school. (In The Prisoner and The Executioner, NZ is a destination.)

Southwestern United States

I had my Soul Year with Animas Valley Institute in Durango, Colorado. (2009-2010) I started the Eco-Psychology Program where I began writing prolifically after our first of four sessions, often waking at 3:13 a.m. with story-poems pouring out of me. I call this year: The Year The Muse Came and I Listened. My #1 gift: I became a writer. (I made a 58-minute CD of my story poems.)

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

At some point my writing partner told me I had to choose the protagonist. This was a difficult choice for me. I wanted there to be two protagonists. Both Eliza and Emma were important to me. I chose Eliza and I gave Emma a large section because I wanted to honor each woman.

My Muse gives me stories and my job is to weave the pieces together. Sometimes this feels daunting. What a story is about is revealed to me over time. I write what I hear.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

Transformation is possible no matter what your circumstances are. In The Prisoner and The Executioner most of the characters transformed their lives. Eliza lived in a small underground cell for 3 years and 9 months. Initially she had hope that she would be released. When they condemned her to death, she lost hope. She went through Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief—denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Lydia/Emma, Nadia, Brian, Brenda, Celeste, and even MaryLou experienced the grief process and transformed their lives.

At some point in our lives all human beings come face-to-face with grief and loss. I want people to know that no matter what you have lost you can find a way to move through the grief process. You can create a life that you love.

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

This time I do not have to choose: I love both Eliza and Emma. Both women have an amazing transformation process. Maiden—Mother—Crone. I love, appreciate, and relate to their struggles and their willingness to do the work it takes to create a life they want. I respect and admire their courage and willingness to show up and have difficult conversations.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

My Muse began giving me pieces of this story. I said YES! I will take this story on. I had no idea where this story was going. I wrote to prompts which helped me move deeper into this story and its characters. Eventually I got what the story was about. Some of the prompts I wrote to: “If you believe you have it all mapped out…” (25 minutes), “I wonder how I’m going to…” (15 minutes), “When I saw the hanging lightbulb…” (19 minutes), “As I begin to make plans for my trip…” (10 minutes).

Writing to prompts is a great way for me to ignite my creative process.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

Probably about a year, perhaps 13 months.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

I have wanted to be on the New York Times bestseller list for a long time. I have wanted to be published by a New York Publishing House. Since getting published by Atmosphere Press, neither of these past ambitions seem to matter as much. I want to make an audiobook of The Prisoner and The Executioner, narrating it myself.

I am working on another novel. The current working title is ISLA. I am beginning to type in the handwritten pieces, which means I am beginning to edit.

I have another novel, Liberty, which is my first novel. I put it aside because I could not do the initial editing. I may want to go back to it.

I like trilogies; I have thought about writing one.

In five years, I see myself having published at least one other novel. More will be revealed as I continue to write daily and am open to getting stories.

Are you working on any other story presently?

I am working on ISLA, a novel. This is the third working title. I am combining two stories and My Muse has given me the connections to be able to do this. I am excited.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

My Muse has brought me this genre. I choose to listen to her guidance.

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

After completing Session One of my Soul Year with Animas Valley Institute, Nicole, another Soul Year participant, and I spent the first night in Flagstaff, Arizona. Upon awakening I began getting what turned out to be a poem. Every morning I got more words. I had been a daily journal writer since high school and had been doing Julie Cameron’s Morning Pages for about 15 years. Now I began to get stories that My Muse was giving me at 3:13 a.m. Only one time early on in this process did I not get up and write down the words I was hearing. After that one refusal I was full on in. At some point in the year after I completed my Soul Year I claimed I was a writer. I had no idea what that exactly meant, and I knew it was a big claim. For the past 11 years I have dedicated myself to writing.

This poem came to me in the middle of my Soul Year. (15 April 2010)

It is like this when she wakes in the early morning darkness

Before dawn has shown her pretty little head and the first signs of life appear

This woman who comes every morning holding the hopes of this new day

With new possibilities and treasures in store

If you are only open to receiving them

Do your part

Respond to her call

Whatever time it comes

You do not get to pick when The Muse comes for a visit

She comes when she feels like it

This time her words are one two three, connect the dots

That’s what you get

And you can do it or not

She waits to see what you will do

She doesn’t care if you are tired

She wants to know if you have what it takes to follow the thread from the beginning

To see where it goes without judging if something is good or not

Because it doesn’t matter

What matters is your response to the call

Sometimes the deep and bitter response to the call

You prostrate yourself to the words

You commit yourself to the process

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

Upon awakening I do an hour of meditation followed by a 25-minute proprioceptive write (PW). In her book, Writing the Mind Alive, Linda Metcalf describes this process. This is the proprioceptive question that I ask periodically during this write: What do I mean by…? I pick a word or phrase from what I am hearing and writing and write into that. When the timer goes off at 25 minutes, I answer four questions: What am I feeling now? What did I hear and did not write? What is the larger story? What are possibilities for future writes? Sometimes in my PW I get story.

I am in two writing groups that meet weekly. We write to prompts in both groups and I get more story. We read our work out loud and people give feedback.

Weekly for the past 11 years, Grace, another Soul Year participant, and I read our PW writes to each other.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I write in 8½-by-11-inch hardbound journals with blank pages (no lines). I write with two different types of pens. Both have black ink. I prefer a quiet space in my home when I write and I can write anywhere. When I begin to type the handwritten pieces into the computer, I begin my first edit.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

1Q84, Haruki Murakami

Surfacing, Margaret Atwood

Carthage, Joyce Carol Oates

The Lying Game, Ruth Ware

My 5 favorite authors: Haruki Murakami, Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood, Elizabeth Strout, Tana French

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I do my PW daily.

I acknowledge I am stuck.

I write about being stuck.

I talk about my stuckness.

I ask My Muse for story.

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

Writers write. Sometimes we like what we write, sometimes we don’t. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we write no matter how we feel.

Make a commitment to write. Be specific regarding where, when, how long, and what tools you need.

Get an accountability partner if you need one. It helps to have someone supporting us to do what we say we want to do.

Write whether you feel like writing or not.

Develop a writing practice.

Consider joining a writing group or taking a writing class.

Read your work out loud to yourself and eventually to others.

Read a lot of books and notice writing styles, characters, and dialogue that you like and don’t like.

As William Stafford says: When I write, I like to have an interval before me when I am not likely to be interrupted. For me this usually means the early morning, before others are awake. I get pen and paper, take a glance out the window (often it is dark out there), and wait. It is like fishing. But I do not wait very long for there is always a nibble—-and this is where receptivity comes in. To get started I will accept anything that occurs to me.

Thank you, author Ryan, for your honest and insightful answers!

About the Book

The Prisoner and The Executioner

Eliza Jacobs, a former midwife, high school counselor, and child advocate, is now a death row inmate. She was falsely accused and wrongly convicted of murdering Lydia Garth, a fifteen-year-old student. Today is Eliza’s execution day.
Brian Stafford, The Executioner and son of The Warden, is scheduled to execute Eliza. The Executioner knows The Prisoner is innocent and he will not be complicit in killing her.
Lydia Garth, now Emma Maxwell, is a nineteen-year-old sexual abuse survivor living in Santa Fe. When Emma becomes aware of Eliza’s imprisonment she ‘rises from the dead’ and contacts the FBI.
In The Prisoner and The Executioner by Catee Ryan, the reader is drawn into the horrors of injustice, the dark side of human nature, and the transformative power of love.


You can find The Prisoner and The Executioner here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Readers’ Favorite

If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Rosemary Nichols

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Rosemary Nichols, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Rosemary Nichols

Rosemary Nichols practiced land use law for 50 years before she was able to write historical fiction full time. Nurturing an abiding fascination with America’s Civil War years, with this book Rosemary begins a series on the impact of that extraordinary conflict upon residents of the United States, particularly New York.

She has previously published three books of Nineteenth Century historical fiction. The two co-authored volumes earned significant writing awards. Her third published book begins a planned series on building the Erie Canal. Each book highlights a different place on the canal and a different newly invented technology that aided construction. Rosemary has lived for 35 years in a small city (Watervliet) on the banks of the Hudson River in upstate New York with her son and a collection of terriers. These days when she is not writing Rosemary restores her 140 year old house, gardens, makes jewelry and old-fashioned hats, watches birds at the feeders, and volunteers for a variety of organizations celebrating history. Please contact Rosemary at rosemarygailnichols@gmail.com

You can find author Nichols here:
Website


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

I love to read. I cannot remember a time when I didn’t read. My five sisters and brothers and I lived for many years on a relatively remote ranch in central Arizona. The configuration of the ranch at the bottom of a canyon meant telecommunication of any kind in the 1950s was challenging. There was no television, and only one country radio station, and that was late at night. Our indoor entertainment came from reading. Both my father and mother were avid readers when time allowed from the challenge of managing a small cattle ranch, so reading was normal to me as a child. We all read so the books got well-used, being passed from hand to hand.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

I have been studying the American Civil War since I was a high school student. I set out the summer between my junior and senior years in high school to write ‘the great American Civil War novel’. Fortunately, I got distracted. At that time I would have written a derivative, cliché-ridden story. But the Civil War kept nagging at the back of my head through undergraduate and graduate school.

In the part of upstate New York where I have lived since June of 1972, the original European settlers were the Dutch, who came in 1624. After New York was taken over by the English in 1664, many of the Dutch families stayed. New York was their home. Why leave? The colonial Dutch heritage of New York has always been a theme in the history of upstate. Since the Knickerbockers are an original settler minority in the rich mosaic of New York’s population, and culturally very distinct from the early English settlers, I thought it would be fun to create a large family derived from the original Dutch settlers and learn what their experience might have been in 19th-century New York.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

I wanted to share the insight that for black citizens in the North during the entire 19th century pre-war period, even coming from a monied family did not necessarily protect you. Lately there has been good work done by Civil War Era scholars writing about kidnapping of black Northerners into the South. See Jonathan Daniel Wells, The Kidnapping Club: Wall Street, Slavery, and Resistance on the Eve of the Civil War. Solomon Northup was a Saratoga Springs man who was kidnapped and held for more than a decade as a field hand in Louisiana before his family learned where he was and how to obtain his freedom. Solomon’s story, Twelve Years a Slave, has always fascinated me. Only lately have New York museums and Civil War study groups begun to acknowledge the ugly history of slavery in the Empire State. I think that is useful information to highlight in our current culture.

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

That’s a tough question because I ended up liking or being intrigued by almost all the characters, including the villain. I started the book from the perspective of 13-year-old Amaranda Van der Peyster, so I have known her longest. I do remember being invisible to the larger world by virtue of my sex and age. No one ever asked me to do a brave series of actions as Ama was called upon to perform, but I hope I would have found the same kind of courage she summoned to help rescue Carl and Hannah.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

To my eyes, the period immediately before the shooting part of the Civil War is intriguing. Everything is in flux. Loyalties are being tested in all ways. Small acts can have large consequences. That is certainly grist for a novelist’s imagination. This book and the series of which it is first has been in my mind for so long that if there was a single triggering element, I have forgotten it.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

I write relatively quickly once I have my research in hand. In one sense I have been researching and writing this book for more than 50 years. In terms of putting text to paper in the present incarnation, I had been engaged in that work for less than a year before the book was submitted to publisher Atmosphere Press and its talented staff.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

I want to become a better, more skilled storyteller with each year. Stolen is the initial volume in an open-ended series about New Yorkers in the Civil War. There are so many stories that can be told from a broader perspective than soldiers serving. On the other hand, I also want to make room for additional volumes in my Building the Erie Canal series. That series has a finite end, 1826, with the initial volume set in 1817. 

In five years, I would hope to have six additional books published to complement the four, of which Stolen is the most recent. 

Are you working on any other story presently?

Like lots of writers, I have plots circling around in my head. I am trying not to distract myself from the Civil War series and the Building the Erie Canal books. The first volume on the Erie Canal, Murder in Rome, came out in 2017. The second, Missing from Utica, got delayed with the closing of the archives of three places where I need to do research to learn more about one of the major characters, a famous Erie Canal engineer, Canvass White. Now that the archives are open for the fully-vaccinated, I have no more excuses to procrastinate. 

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

I write historical fiction because that is my favorite subject to read. I enjoy reading in lots of different eras and locales but for my own work, I like 19th-century America. It is an era on which I have focused my learning and I think I have an affinity for the history.

Several years ago, I wrote a three volume series of fantasy about nation building on a previously uninhabited Earth-like planet. The series garnered some agent interest but I have not pursued it because I think I should focus on the books I have in hand in a genre where I feel competent.

My family is both very old and comparatively new immigrants to what became North America. Two branches of my father’s family settled respectively in Quebec and Tidewater Virginia in the 1640s. My mother’s parents came to the United States from Norway in 1915. Along the way several of the ancestors had some interesting adventures. Two of my 19th-century ancestors wrote well-regarded memoirs that are still in print. When I can I do some genealogical and other research on who the family members were and where they were with an eye toward doing something with the material. It may end up being nothing more than a series of short pieces for my siblings and our children so it is easier for them to remember where we came from.

I think I had an unusual childhood. A number of people, with whom I have workshopped my memoir about a dramatic family incident related to our departure from our ranch home, have agreed. The memoir is almost finished. It just needs polishing and a good editor. I will find both of those essential elements someday. A good story doesn’t spoil over time.

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way? (feel free to give us your story, we love hearing author stories!)

My stepdaughter, Michaela MacColl, is a well-regarded writer of historical fiction usually aimed at young adults. She recognized before I did a decade ago it was time for me to give up the practice of law and embark on my long-held wish to write historical fiction full-time. 

I was always too engrossed in my cases and projects to successfully carve out time to pursue a writer’s life part-time as a number of successful lawyers such as Steve Berry, Scott Turow and John Grisham have done. For me it was all or nothing. I had to stop being a lawyer in order in my own mind to satisfactorily become a writer.

Michaela was approached by a friend who had just become the managing editor of a young people’s imprint owned by Boyds Mill Press. Michaela was invited to submit a proposal for a series with the imprint. She had contractual responsibilities to another publisher that raised questions in her mind whether she would have the time to fill both publishers’ expectations as she would wish. She asked if I would like to join her in coauthoring a series we called Hidden Histories. It was an opportunity to bring to light some of the many stories that have gotten lost in the mists of time, with a focus on young people. I was to carry the laboring oar on the history part. Michaela would, at least initially, handle more of the writing duties. We published two books together, Freedom’s Price and The Lost Ones, both of which were commercial successes and won writing awards. 

Given Michaela’s importance in my successful introduction to writing and publishing, I think I was able through her good offices to slide relatively easily into the business of being a full-time writer. Having heard the heart-rending horror stories of the challenges that have confronted people who are now successful published writers only because of amazing perseverance, I feel my path as a writer was made much smoother by initially traveling it with Michaela.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I am a morning person. I do my best work before noon, so that is a characteristic I try to accommodate. 

I reconfigured my office so it now says ‘writer,’ not ‘lawyer.’ I changed the art on the walls. I changed the books in the shelves. I liked my desk, my lighting and my chair so I kept them but instead of being the command center of a busy office, they now face an interior wall on which I have installed a large display board where I put relevant elements of what I am presently working on. For example, all the time I was writing Stolen, I had two large calendars, one showing 1860, the other 1861. Though I didn’t end up writing beyond January 1, 1861 as the end of Stolen, I left that 1861 calendar to remind myself there needed to be some clues in the story that looked forward beyond the end I was presently writing. I also displayed a variety of images of the places I was writing about, since I chose to use actual geography and existing buildings in support of the story.  This visual display obviously changes with each book.

One of the ways I plot is by telling myself a story every night as I go to sleep. It is my goal to write all or part of that story the next day. Sometimes that works; sometimes not. In any event, come the morning I edit whatever I have written in the past couple of days. This has two benefits. It reminds me where I am in the story, useful because my stories are factually dense. It also cleans up glitches I may not have noticed as I was writing or editing the day before. I may be excessively sensitive, but I would rather catch my factual hiccups or plotting overlooks before my editor does.

I write fairly fast though I edit slowly. I learn a lot about editing from each of the editors with whom I work. I hope that makes me a better client for the editor and a better writer as I incorporate more of the wisdom of people other than myself into the structure and execution of the stories.

Once I finish my edits I then turn my attention to my day’s writing. I expect to produce at least a chapter every day. Since my chapters are between 2000 and 5000 words, that daily writing diet requires between one and three hours. If I come to a natural stopping point as at the end of a chapter, I stop writing. I am confident that if I am short on words on Monday, I will make up the deficit on Tuesday.

From then on, the afternoon is devoted to more of my life. If I am not doing research, I garden, play with my dogs, read or exercise. I also have been doing more organized promotion of my books, which is something I enjoy.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I have terrible penmanship. There was a flawed concept in the training of early 20th century elementary school teachers that said if a child picks up a pencil or pen with the left hand, you will be doing him or her a favor if you press them to use the right hand as the majority of the population does. I was one of those instinctive lefties. When my beloved first/second/third grade teacher Mrs. Potter (it was a one-room schoolhouse) urged me to learn to write with my right hand, I tried to comply. The price of that obedience was terrible, almost illegible, handwriting all my life. My penmanship is so bad that not only almost everyone I have ever worked with, but also myself, find it difficult to decipher my written notes a few days after they were created. Not a good formula for writing longhand with a pencil or pen.

From the earliest days of commercially available computers, I have sought them out. In the beginning it was word processing equipment. Then came true computers, which I have used faithfully since the early 1980s. If I didn’t have access to a computer, I don’t know that I could write legibly enough to produce any meaningful text. 

The one difference I find, which I view as a plus, is that having produced the bulk of the words in a chapter by a process where I type as fast as I can talk (which is pretty fast), on the many edits that follow I can work hard to refine the elegance of the language. Since that kind of language is a hallmark of 19th-century writing, I view that as a positive though I never feel constrained to imitate 19th-century novels. Readers today, myself included, have no patience for all those words.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

That is a hard question for me to answer. Having been in the habit of reading an average of 5 fiction books and 1 to 3 nonfiction books a week for almost 75 years, I’ve read a lot of books. I love books. I love the way they feel in my hands, the way they look, the way books smell, the graphics on the cover and inside, the fonts. I feel privileged to live in a time when so many books are available in so many formats. [I do read on the computer, both my office and laptop as well as my phone.]

I can better talk about favorite authors. No surprise, almost all of them are historical fiction of one form or another. My current most favorite author is Louise Penny. I have read all of her books about the enchanting little Three Pines village in rural Quebec. When I read an interview where she said she had not expected to ever write again, having lost her beloved husband, I grieved not only for her loss but also for mine. When she published the Madness of Crowds, I was glad to see the author had not lost a step. Then when a few months later Louise Penny coauthored a thriller, State of Terror, with Hillary Rodham Clinton, I was confident her writing life will long endure. 

A longtime favorite author is Anne Perry. I very much enjoy her Thomas and Charlotte Pitt and William and Harriet Monk series as well as the five volumes of World War I historical fiction. Just when it seemed the author was finished with her writing life, she started two apparently open-ended new series. The Daniel Pitt books allow us to see inside the sometime messy practice of law (untidy in the 19th century; still that way) from the perspective of a bright but somewhat naive young man. The Elena Standish series, focused on the then newish profession of photography, allows the author to move into the World War II period. I have enjoyed the volumes I have read in these two series and look forward to others in the future. 

I am constantly charmed by Perry’s Christmas volumes. Both physically smaller and slimmer in subject matter, these novellas now number 19 with volume 20 at the publishers for Christmas 2021. They allow Perry to explore in more depth some of the interesting occasional characters she has created in the main series with a lighter touch and a guaranteed happy ending. Just right for reading after a nice Christmas dinner sitting in front of the fireplace with an appropriate holiday beverage close at hand.

One of the themes that always plays in the back of my mind when I read a Perry book is the amazing value of redemption. Most regular readers of 19th-century fiction know Perry and her beloved girlfriend joined together as 15-year-olds in 1954 to murder the other girl’s mother. No surprise, they were quickly apprehended. Sentenced to prison in New Zealand in an indeterminate sentence, Perry served 5 years. She moved to Scotland, took on a variety of different occupations, but started writing professionally in 1979 and never stopped. Talk about overcoming self-created adversity.

Moving to writers with American roots, I am especially fond of C. S. Harris, who writes the Viscount Devlin (Sebastian St. Cyr) early 19th-century series.  I always enjoy reading Charles Todd not only for the Inspector Ian Rutledge stories, which are great, but also for the puzzle the joint authors create. I always try, and usually fail, to figure out which author – mother or son – is responsible for which pieces of the story. My interest is probably stimulated by having been part of a joint writer team myself. Going back and trying to critically review Rory’s Promise and Freedom’s Price, after a few years I find it difficult to parse out which pieces of the books Michaela wrote and which pieces I contributed. No wonder I can’t decipher the separate contributions of the mother and son in the Charles Todd team.

Devlin and Rutledge served in two brutal wars, Devlin in the wars with Napoleon, Rutledge in the trenches in World War I. Since one of my major characters in my Erie Canal series also suffers from what we today call PTSD, I am always interested to see how other writers handle the symptoms and consequences of battle upon supposedly surviving soldiers. Having two Marine sons, each of whom served in one version or the other of the 20th-century Iraq wars, that is a topic of more than academic interest: how do soldiers, sailors and Marines find their way home from battle.

Finally, I would mention a writer who only gingerly put his foot into historical fiction in what became the United States. James McGee wrote a six-volume series about a very early Bow Street Runner, Matthew Hawkwood. Most of the last of the six books, The Reckoning, takes place in the wilderness of northern New York with Mohawk warriors as major characters. It seemed to be a successful series. There was no obvious reason why McGee had to stop with the 2017 volume, but he did. In one sense, I admire McGee who at least nonverbally says to his fans, “I don’t have anything else to say about this character.” He has stuck to his guns. Six books are it. I admire that, though I would love at least one more book.  I have a chronologically imposed deadline of ten books for my Erie Canal series. That is one for each year it took to build the original Erie Canal, starting in 1817, with the last book in 1826 for celebration of the success. Will I follow McGee’s example, get to the end of the story as history and stop, or will I be tempted to add just one more book to the pile?

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I have not yet suffered from Writer’s Block. I have reached places in books from which I cannot at the moment write forward. My solution for that is more research. My deficit is not characters or action. It is answering ‘what happens next’ in a way that is true to the history and engaging for my readers.  Picking a different angle to research, or re-reading a scholarly book usually solves my problem. I get ideas about moving the story forward, or a new character steps onto the stage who jars the story loose from its muddy trap, or just taking some self-imposed time to think through the writing problem I perceive has always pulled me out of the trap. But there is another trap waiting around the corner. Transportation in the 19th century was dreadful or worse. I’m not getting smug.

Another help for me is that, though I do not write it down as the formal outline many writers use, I know the arc of my story before I put fingers to keyboard. I know where the story is going. That is partly determined by the known history. I don’t do counterfactual history. Harry Turtledove’s alternate universe is not for me.

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

Read. Read as much and as broadly as your time and inclination allows. If you can, as you read run two tracks in your mind. The first track is the story. That’s why you are reading that book, essay, or poem. The second track is a learning track for you. How does the author do many things: engage your interest; sustain that interest; seem credible; create engaging characters; respect the genre or know you are violating its norms; tell the story in a reasonable number of pages.

If that double track is hard for you, don’t do it. Read the book for its pleasure. Then, if the book seems worth it, read it as a learning experience for you as a writer. Not every book will merit that level of your attention. As you read, you will become a more sophisticated reader. You may still love the books of your youth, but you are revisiting them as much for the memory they trigger as the books themselves. There is no reason why we should abandon our beloved book friends.

If everyone you trust is raving about a work and you despise it, consider why you are the reading outlier. You may learn a lot about yourself and your writing from that internal review. Self-knowledge is never wasted. I learned I am quite judgmental in the privacy of my own brain about what constitutes good writing. It isn’t always what sells. What I consider quality matters to me, in my own writing and in the work I choose to read for my education or recreation.

There is a well-published writer focused on digital books whose name on a promotion simply causes me to move to the next offering by someone else. I don’t even read the description. I read a book she wrote and I hated it. I thought it was derivative. The characters were cardboard. I had seen the plot before. Then I thought I was being too harsh, so I selected another of her books. I became even more set in my earlier negative opinion. In the second book the author had not even chosen to perform her own editing or engage a competent editor. There were factual inconsistencies between one chapter and the next. The book was rife with typos and grammatical mistakes. She got the names of the characters wrong from one place to the next. I felt disrespected as a reader. Why should I spend my precious time immersed in such an unsatisfactory product about which the author obviously did not care?

If the author does not merit your attention, using whatever criteria you impose, put the book back on the shelf or erase it from your computer. Life is short. Don’t waste your time. I used to feel a moral imperative to finish what I started. I don’t feel that way anymore. 

Thank you, Nichols, for your honest and insightful answers!

About the Book

Stolen (Civil War Series Volume #1)

“This is the first of what I hope will be a saga about the Van der Peysters, their family illustrating aspects of the Civil War other authors seldom consider.  Rosemary has ample experience with the Civil War historical community and knows her history very well indeed.”
– Robert E. Mulligan, Associate Curator of Military History New York State Museum

Fall of 1860. America lurches toward Civil War. Two students on their way to college are kidnapped into slavery. What is their family to do?
When Hannah and Carl vanish in Cleveland, it takes months to learn the two young people are prisoners in New Orleans, scheduled to be sold into slavery on January 5, 1861.
Lincoln has been elected. Southern states are seceding. For Northerners, the streets of New Orleans and its courts are now unfriendly places.
What is a family to do to prevent their cousins from vanishing into the horror of the seceding South?
Take their courage and baggage in hand, and travel to rescue them.

You can find Stolen here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop | Feathered Quill | Readers’ Favorite


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: A.M. Grotticelli

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author A.M. Grotticelli, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

A.M. Grotticelli

A.M. Grotticelli is a veteran technology trade journalist who resides in suburban New Jersey. After a life of overcoming similar challenges, he is an avid supporter of foster kids aging out of the foster care system at 18 and provides encouragement to all who need it.

You can find author Grotticelli here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Facebook


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

I am a technology journalist who has worked for various trade and consumer publications over the past 30 years, writing about cameras, microphones and everything else used to make television shows. In high school I was part of the video production department, so I guess I learned the ropes then.

I have a natural curiosity for many things and try to stay well balanced in my hobbies (from guitar to collecting football trading cards). I also feel that the written word is a powerful thing to leave behind.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

The book is a tale about what fostercare does to a person’s emotions. Through it, I hope to bring some attention to the plight of kids that turn 18 and are “aged out” of the system and have to fend for themselves. I also plan to start an online discussion group with foster kids to help them make the difficult transition a bit easier.

Why did you choose this particular theme for your book? What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

That foster kids are people too. This book shine a light on what it really feels like to want to be part of a family. Too many people take that for granted today.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

This is a story that needed to be told. I’ve been carrying it around in my head for 30 years and have now decided it’s time to share it with the world.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

Four years (and many rewrites).

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? 

I am a professional writer by trade, so my ambition with this book is to shed light on a social issue that needs more attention.

Are you working on any other book presently?

Yes.

Do you also dabble in Fiction?

Yes, my next book will be fiction and is called Stupid Cupid. It’s about a hopeless romantic who tries to fix everyone’s relationship around him but can’t get his own relationships right. He spends a lot of time in a psychiatrist’s office. It’s a comedy. 

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way? (feel free to give us your story, we love hearing author stories!)

I have kept a diary or journal for most of my life. Although I wrote often as a small kid, I knew I wanted to a professional writer after reading The Catcher In the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I write every day at different times of the day. I enjoy writing, so I never have a problem making the time. Finding a regimen is important, but there are no right or wrong hours or times of day/night to work. The key for me is to feel like I’m making progress. That could be ten pages or two paragraphs. Both forward my story, so both are helpful to the eventual goal.

Can you recommend a book or two based on themes or ideas similar to your book? (You can share the name of the authors too.)

Educated by Tara Westover and To the End of June By Cris Beam.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I don’t call it “writer’s block.” When I feel stuck, it’s time to get up from my desk and think about what I am writing. I call it “refreshing” for the next chapter. It’s not good to fight your manuscript. Sometimes you have to listen to your thoughts. Just listen.

What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?

If you have a story to tell, tell it. I had to write The Bond or I couldn’t live with myself. The story is that important. We live in a world now where there are many ways to publish a book, including just putting it online. Nothing should be holding you back from telling you story. If you are a writer, then you should be writing, not waiting and hoping for a book deal. It’s also a great thing to leave behind for the next generation of your family.

Thank you, Grotticelli, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

The Bond

The Bond is a powerful memoir that chronicles the strength of the relationships formed among a collection of unrelated siblings who forged a remarkable, separate, and permanent family within a foster home.

Kirkus.com calls it: “A poignant, infuriating, informative, and ultimately triumphant account of an unusual clan.”
BookLife.com wrote: “Grotticelli’s unsparing honesty about his birth and foster families will make readers wince and keep them marveling at the indomitability of these children. That the foster siblings were able to forge familial bonds with each other is extraordinary.”
OnlineBookClub.com said: “This is a book about real people, real lives and real feelings. It is the story of their triumph over adversity and their struggle to find the kind of family love that many of us take for granted.”

You can find The Bond here:
Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes and Noble | Independent Book Review | Readers’ Favorite


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Cathleen Cohen

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Cathleen Cohen for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Cathleen Cohen

Cathleen Cohen was the 2019 Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, PA. A painter and teacher, she founded the We the Poets program at ArtWell, an arts education non-profit in Philadelphia (theartwell.org). Her poems appear in journals such as Apiary, Baltimore Review, Cagibi, East Coast Ink, 6ix, North of Oxford, One Art, Passager, Philadelphia Stories, Rockvale Review and Rogue Agent. Camera Obscura (chapbook, Moonstone Press) appeared in 2017 and Etching the Ghost (Atmosphere Press), 2021. She received the Interfaith Relations Award from the Montgomery County PA Human Rights Commission and the Public Service Award from National Association of Poetry Therapy. Her paintings are on view at Cerulean Arts Gallery (ceruleanarts.com).

You can find author Cohen here:
Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

I’m a painter, writer and teacher in the Philadelphia area. My family, students, and community have been a big source of inspiration, as has being a painter.

After 9/11, I was galvanized, along with other poets and artists, to create programs for children in our area to express themselves through the creative arts – since few arts programs existed for them. (www.theArtwell.org). There are so many diverse and rich cultures in our area. Teaching has inspired me to write, paint and think deeply about life.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

As the Covid-19 pandemic caused social isolation, I (like many others) couldn’t teach in classrooms. But this gave me more free time to read others’ poetry, ponder and write more of my own poems, to hear my own inner voice. For years I focused on teaching poetry to others, but this project resulted from an enforced personal artist’s retreat.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

All sorts of experiences will happen to us, joys and challenges. Things are broken and need repair. When such brokenness come to us (big and small, including big social upheavals, personal challenges, etc.) we can notice, listen and process things through creative acts, alone or in community. We can reach out to others. This can help. 

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

Sparks and Disperses was inspired by an art project that my daughter-in-law, Tiffany, and our friend, Gila, had begun. They were working on a beautiful ceramic mural outdoors. It was a joy to help them, to stand together for hours, even in the cold with our masks on, clipping ceramics and placing tiles. Neighbors dropped off contributions in the form of old plates and such. It became a communal project. There were neighbors next door who raised chickens in a coop (in the city, which was illegal!) These chickens would keep us company and peck at our feet as we worked. I included them in the poems.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

It took a few months. A few of the poems are edited versions of writing I had begun years back. It was exciting to revise them and piece them together with new poems for the manuscript. Sparks and Disperses is actually the second book that I wrote during this period of Covid. The first is Etching the Ghost (Atmosphere Press).

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?

I plan to continue teaching as well as writing poems. Hopefully my own poems will grow richer and deeper over time. So many topics are inspiring: stories of the self and others, issues of community and social justice, the importance of creativity. 

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres? 

I like the lyrical, imagistic properties of poems and how they can resonate on so many levels. They can be a narrative, personal, emotional, a glimpse of a powerful moment. They can reach out to the reader, who bring their own meaning to the poem. How a poet uses the space of the page or between lines and stanzas can be powerful. So much is open and filled with potential. I don’t write much in other genres, but am a painter. My paintings definitely relate to my poems. (www.cathleencohenart.com)

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you to follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

My family moved to a new community when I was about 10 years old. A shy child, I was barely able to raise my hand and speak in my new classroom. But our teacher, Mr. DeFalco, was so creative and loved poetry and art. He took us on many field trips to museums in New York City. I remember making mobiles like Calder’s and painting “snow paintings” as we stood outside at our easels, pelted by snow. We read and wrote poetry every day. I seemed to have a flair for it, which my teacher recognized, and I became the “class poet”. This forced me to speak and join the community. What a gift he gave me.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it? And how do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

Often I write in the morning if my schedule allows, and I try to “make an appointment” with myself to write. I like to write on the computer using a voice activated program,

because that keeps up with the speed of my inner language. Sometimes I take a walk and dictate into my cell phone. It probably looks pretty strange, but maybe the neighbors just think I’m on a call! 

I edit poems later, anytime of the day.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

When I was young, I wrote longhand in a notebook. Lately if I am outdoors painting landscape and ideas come to me, I will use a notebook. But if I have a real flow of ideas coming and am home, I use the computer and my voice activated program.

Who are your 5 favorite books or authors? 

This is a hard and delightful question. My favorites change by the week, depending what I am reading. Some favorite current poets: Ilya Kaminsky, Briget Pegeen Kelly, Eleanor Wilner, Aracelis Girmay, and the late A.V. Christie (who was one of my teachers).

How do you deal with writer’s block?

Sometimes our brains and souls need a rest! When those times come, I try to get more downtime, connect with others, go outside and walk, read, paint, listen to music, hear what others have to tell me. I try to be a better listener.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I would say to read widely, not just others’ poetry, but from a variety of genres. Keep a journal. Listen deeply to others—including those who feel challenging for you. It helps to have a scheduled time to write, (it’s the same for painting.) This helps your subconscious relax, I think. It can be beneficial to participate in workshops (there are so many available lately, especially online.) It’s nice to have a partner or group where you can share your work– but make sure it’s a safe space, not riddled with competition. I once had a great workshop leader who said, “You have to read and critique another person’s poem with love and care, as if it’s your own.” This is great advice.

Thank you, Cathleen, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

Sparks And Disperses

The poems in Cathleen Cohen’s Sparks and Disperses reckon with contemporary life through the perspective of visual artists. Drawing on an ancient Kabbalistic myth of the “shattering of vessels,” Cohen explores issues of fracture, healing, and creation; the challenges of poverty, isolation, and the pandemic; and how we can find meaning and joy through artmaking. By building a poetic mural made of cracked ceramics, household items, and glass shards, Cohen promotes healing through continuity and hope.

You can find Sparks And Disperses here:
Amazon | Goodreads


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Richard R. Becker

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Richard R. Becker for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Richard R. Becker

Richard R. Becker is an award-winning American writer. His debut collection of literary, psychological, and speculative fiction began as a project to write one story a week for 50 weeks. He continues to expand many of these stories for inclusion in a second collection, and expects some will evolve into larger works.
When he is not writing fiction, Richard works as a creative strategist for Copywrite, Ink., a 30-year-old strategic communication and writing services firm with clients that have included government agencies and Fortune 500 companies. He has also been very active as a community servant, previously taught classes at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, for 20 years, and has been a featured speaker for organizations such as G2E World Gaming Expo, Nevada Recreation and Parks Society, Regis University, U.S. Small Business Administration, and Wizard World Comic Con.

As a journalist, Richard has written hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles, with his byline appearing in the Denver Post, Los Angeles Times, and publications for Simon & Schuster and Paramount Communications. He also scripted a documentary produced with PBS and contributed to five books, including “Beyond Generation X: A Practical

Guide for Managers” and the American Ambulance Association’s “Public Relations Handbook.” 
Aside from his writing, he enjoys a broad range of activities, including travel, hiking, exercise, photography, and illustration. He is married and has two children.

You can find author Becker here:
Author Page | Amazon | Goodreads Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn | Blog


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

Thanks so much for including me on TRB! My name is Richard Becker, and I’m the author of 50 States. Until recently, I was best known as an accredited business communicator and president of Copywrite, Ink., which is a writing services and strategic communication firm based in Las Vegas. 

For more than 30 years, I’ve developed campaigns for clients all over the world, including the City of Henderson, Fidelity Investments, McDonald’s, National Emergency Number Association (NENA), U.S. Air Force, and Volkswagen. Concurrently, I’ve worked as a journalist, magazine publisher, and university instructor. I’ve also been very active in my community, helping out on nonprofit and professional organization boards. Right now, for example, I’m serving as a city council-appointed parks commissioner for the City of Las Vegas.

Over the years, I’ve refocused my work with those who aspire to make the world a better place or seek to advance humankind. Along with this, I’m investing more time into writing fiction.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

50 States is an eclectic collection of stories that explore the human condition, filled with characters who face or cope with life-changing moments, both real and surreal. 

It’s especially suited for people who enjoy many different genres: literary fiction, psychological fiction, speculative fiction, and historical fiction specifically. One reader described it as a box of chocolates because you never really know what’s next. There is some truth to their description. The diversity of the stories has been called out as one of its greatest strengths. 

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

As different as the stories are, they are much like life — an infinite series of intersecting stories, paths that cross, divide, and double back again. While it isn’t necessarily apparent in this collection, all of these stories are connected in small or significant ways. 

Independently, I hope readers find whatever they want inside each story because I don’t believe in forcing a message. Collectively, however, I hope they find we are more alike than different, all of us experiencing life with our collection of joys and pains, triumphs and tribulations.

Who is your favorite character in this book and why? 

This is a very tough question because there are so many stories, each with its own set of characters. So, for this interview, I think I’ll call out Ellen Williamson from ‘A Beautiful Day.’ The story takes place in Pennsylvania in 1990.

Ellen is an older woman, a grandmother, near the end of her life and resolute in knowing it. She isn’t afraid of death. Instead, she embraces its eventuality, content in her life’s completeness, lighter in what she has let go of, and only mildly remorseful for those she leaves behind.

I identify with Ellen because I was raised by a grandmother very much like this and experienced a similar feeling when I was diagnosed with cancer years ago. Except, in my case, I was fortunate enough to beat it.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

I was a storyteller all my life. My grandmother used to tell me that I should be a lawyer because I had a story for everything. It wasn’t until much later in life, in college, that I learned to channel storytelling into writing so I could write other people’s stories. 

A couple of years ago, on the advice of a friend, I finally committed to putting my stories first by creating a self-imposed deadline to write one short story a week for 50 weeks. Everything else, the different locations and states of mind, evolved naturally from being immersed in the project.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

The book took 50 weeks to write ‘first look’ drafts that I started sharing on a social network every week in September 2019. Once all of the stories were finished, the collection took a few more months to edit again, on my own and with editors, and put it into production. 

I originally slated six months for editing and production, but a family crisis and tragedy postponed publishing the book for another four months. This also made the initial launch a little haphazard, but things are moving along nicely now.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?

Eventually, I will focus exclusively on writing fiction. I have so many writing projects in the works or waiting in the wings — several collections of short stories and at least five novels. Most of them involve or intersect with characters or locations that exist in 50 States because many of these characters and locales have so much more story to tell. Time will tell how much I can wrap up in the next five years, but I’m hopeful more and more people will enjoy what will become a body of work. 

Are you working on any other books presently?

I’m currently working on several projects at once. I’ve written about eight stories that connect with or continue some of the stories in 50 States. I’m working on a much longer story set in Goldfield, Nevada, in the 1950s. And I’ve outlined what I think will be the first novel. So we’ll see how it all shapes up. I treat writing fiction a little bit like someone might garden. I tend to what needed to be tended. 

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres? 

I’m a very eclectic reader, so I suppose it’s only natural to be a very eclectic writer. I write in multiple genres or cross-genres because, for me, I go wherever the stories want to take me. 

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you to follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

I was always a storyteller, but I never expected to become a writer. I was even held back in the third grade because I couldn’t read very well. I wanted to be an artist, and then a psychologist, and then an artist again. My stories were often told with pictures. 

When I realized I didn’t want to become a psychologist, I transferred schools with this idea to combine art and psychology so I could find a job in advertising. But when I arrived at my new school, they told me they had an advertising program through their journalism school. So that’s what I did. They taught me how to write, and I built a career as a writer after I graduated. What the challenge became, for me, was never having time to write my own stories. I was a slave to everyone else’s deadline. 

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it? And how do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I wake up early, work out, and settle into writing first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee. I usually read whatever I wrote last, edit a few things, and then find my rhythm to carry it forward. On the best days, I see and feel the stories unfold in my mind’s eye. Then I write what I see and feel. 

I might add that working on 50 States with the self-imposed deadline of a new story every week did talk me out of this comfort zone on occasion. Sometimes I would have to thumb the story out on my phone while I was at the softball fields with my daughter. 

Who are your 5 favorite books or authors? 

Oh, I’ll have to go with authors because it’s too hard to pin down my favorite books. 

I always start with Ernest Hemingway and John Updike because they were so very good at writing straight, honest prose about people. After those two, it becomes more of an ever-changing potluck. I love the rawness of Zora Neale Hurston’s work, the poetic descriptiveness of Peter Heller, and, recently, the developing work of S.A. Cosby.  

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

50 States would have never happened had I not listened to my friend Geoff Livingston. Geoff had a heavy marketing deadline schedule as I do, but he managed to write several books and later transform himself into a photographer. So I asked how he found the time. 

He said you have to put your projects first. This really clicked for me a couple of years ago, and I set Monday mornings aside to start a new story every week. I also carved out time to take online classes from writers who are masters of their craft so that I could bridge the gap between commercial writing and fiction writing. This immersion and commitment to the work became its own inspiration. If you want to be a writer, then writing your stories should be the most important thing, not the least important thing like many of us make it (until we don’t). 

Thank you, Richard, for your insightful answers!

About the Book

50 States: A Collection Of Short Short Stories

50 States is a debut collection of short stories that reflect on the human condition. The book spans several literary genres, moods, and situations across the American states between 1955 and 2020.

Two runaways cross paths in a Tennessee bus station with only one ticket between them. A middle-aged man in Illinois eyes the daily grind of a young basketball player who never boards the school bus. A family sees looters racing toward their home as they escape an Oregon wildfire. 

These and 47 more stories make up the collection. Together, they provide a sampling of the American experience over the last 60 years, similar to the Spoon River Anthology by Edger Less Masters or The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer with more diversity. 

You can find 50 States here:

Amazon (Print) | Amazon (Kindle) | Barnes & Nobel | Books-A-Million | Apple (with graphics) | Apple (with aoutflow) | Google | Google (with aoutflow) | Target | Blurb | Kobo | Odilo E-Sentral Ciando


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Deepak Mullick

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Deepak Mullick for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Deepak Mullick

Founder and Chief Wealth Strategist, SimplyMutual

Deepak has spent over a quarter of a century in the investments industry, working with the country’s largest wealth creators. His last assignment was a 15-year stint at HDFC Mutual Fund. He was their Business Head for North, South and East India during different parts of his tenure. Having dealt with a large spectrum of investment avenues, Deepak realised that Equity Mutual Funds is where the best balance can be achieved. This belief in the India growth story and its potential to create wealth for decades to come stems from deep experience.

Deepak spent decades in the financial sector witnessing the fast evolution of each constituent of the investments industry — mutual funds, banking, insurance, investment advisors, NBFCs, the regulators, etc. He associated with the country’s top minds in financial and investment planning, attended numerous workshops and conferences, and dived deep into the intricacies of the business.

To come up with the best solutions for investor needs, he constantly drew comparisons between the most popular asset classes, such as equity, debt, real estate, fixed deposits, and gold, and other new asset classes like foreign equity, cryptocurrency, and art. He weighed each option with an exhaustive list of factors such as liquidity, volatility, regulatory environment, transparency, cost of investing, cost of holding and maintenance, convenience, and returns adjusted for risks, taxes, and inflation. This analysis has cemented his belief in the importance of Equity Mutual Funds for individual investors and given him the foundation to create SimplyMutual: The 1% formula to gain financial freedom.

You can find author Deepak here:
Email | Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram | Website


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

Thanks for having me here. My one true passion is to travel the world with my family – my wife and two children. And that is what I have been doing post my early retirement. I took keen interest in financial planning and management very early on in life, and that has led to become what I am today. I am also a firm believer of the fact that knowledge is at its best when its shared and that’s something which I have tried to achieve through my book. And a lot of me is sculpted from my school – La Martinere College, where we were instilled with all the key values, and one of them being discipline. That has made me always approach situations and opportunities methodically. 

I have spent over a quarter of a century in the investments industry, working with the country’s largest wealth creators. My last assignment was a 15-year stint at HDFC Mutual Fund. I was their Business Head for North, South, and East India during different parts of my tenure. Having dealt with a large spectrum of investment avenues, I realised that Equity Mutual Funds is where the best balance can be achieved. This belief in the India growth story and its potential to create wealth for decades to come stems from deep experience.

I’ve spent decades in the financial sector witnessing the fast evolution of each constituent of the investments industry — mutual funds, banking, insurance, investment advisors, NBFCs, the regulators, etc. I’ve also associated with the country’s top minds in financial and investment planning, attended numerous workshops and conferences, and dived deep into the intricacies of the business. To come up with the best solutions for investor needs, I constantly drew comparisons between the most popular asset classes, such as equity, debt, real estate, fixed deposits, and gold, and other new asset classes like foreign equity, cryptocurrency, and art. I weighed each option with an exhaustive list of factors such as liquidity, volatility, regulatory environment, transparency, cost of investing, cost of holding and maintenance, convenience, and returns adjusted for risks, taxes, and inflation. This analysis has cemented my belief in the importance of Equity Mutual Funds for individual investors and has given me the foundation to create SimplyMutual: The 1% formula to gain financial freedom.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

It’s fairly simple to put it in a few words – FINANCIAL FREEDOM. This book is your guide to retire early by investing smart and investing early. 

In this book I talk about a simple-yet-effective formula to make your money work for you! 

Want to escape the rat race, travel the world, or retire in your 40s with comfortable assets under your belt? SimplyMutual is your key to unlocking the 1% formula and gain your financial freedom.

With SimplyMutual you can learn how to: 

  • Retire in your 40s with a sizable corpus that provides you with a salary–pension that supports your lifestyle 
  • Free yourself from financial anxiety, fear, and corporate slavery to live the life you always wanted, now, and in the future
  • Cultivate wealth-building as a second nature, embedding it into the very core of your psyche 
  • Make financial decisions based on facts, not emotions 
  • Make the most of the India opportunity and invest in equity for long term gains while beating volatility

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

In India, millennials have a very unique opportunity to take advantage of.  Corporates and start-ups are on the rise. Globalization has increased the kind of jobs that pay well. There is a rise in different types of careers, that was not the case a decade ago. Income ranges are high and most of the population is working in companies or their own ventures. This, coupled with various investment options available to people right now, a little discipline and monthly investments will help them build a massive corpus that can enable them to live their dreams. 

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

I have spent a fairly decent amount of time in the Finance Industry and I see that most people ‘save’ their money and don’t ‘invest’. Let me give you an example – if you start investing 10,000 today every month for the next 15 years, you would have a corpus of 1 Cr. With this book, I want to educate people about investing, equity mutual funds and share my experience with them. After quitting my job, I mostly consulted on wealth building and management for my friends and family. But that made me realise that there is lack of equity understanding amongst people at large. And there is a sheer potential for growth through equity investing. So that inspired me to bring out my idea and my formula in a book, as that can reach  large set of people. 

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

It took me a few months to crystalize the idea and get my thoughts structured. Writing a book is no easy feat, I can tell you that.  Although the subject is right up my alley, it took a while to structure the subject and simplify it for it to resonate with readers.  Finance is a tricky matter – most people don’t like to read about finance. And hence, once I had the structure in place, I had to work on simplifying it and making it interesting for readers. 

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?

While I am a great planner when it comes to planning for the future, this is one aspect I have not really thought of yet. This particular period has been very overwhelming for me and I would like to take my time to decide what the future is like when it comes to my writing ambitions. But I am more inclined to write my second book. 

Are you working on any other books presently?

None as of yet

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres? 

The sole purpose of choosing this genre was to share my story and experiences with the audience in the most lucid way possible – while I understand that how this topic can get too technical for many, I have tried to keep it as simple as possible

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you to follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

Currently approximately 3% of people in India invest in equities. And there is a large potential for growth there. From my experience in equity investment and wealth management, I knew I had insights that are otherwise not easily available. And that’s when I thought, what better vehicle than a book can I use to communicate the idea of achieving financial freedom early. And that caught on very quickly for me and I started penning my thoughts down. Once that happened, I saw myself creating an outline, a structure and the message seemed very interesting and easy to follow. And that’s when I knew that I was ready to be an author. And from there until the time I held the first copy of my book in my hands, the journey has been exhilarating. I have realised that writing a book is not as easy as I thought it would be. There were multiple times, I stopped, had to go back to the drawing board, find a way for my thoughts to flow. Being an author also means that you have to constantly keep your readers in mind. It is not about what you know as an author but what will interest your readers. And putting your knowledge in that perspective is essential and not the easiest part. But not for a second did I doubt the decision of writing the book and it has been a great journey. 

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it? And how do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I like to write at scheduled hours. I am someone who follows a calendar and I have dedicated hours for writing. I put together an outline and then a structure to the story and my flow of thoughts. And then I began writing the book chapter wise. 

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

After being in the corporate for so many and working on the laptop – writing on a laptop is my go to option.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I read. It helps me get the clutter in my head cleared and my thoughts to flow. But I did not encounter a serious writer’s block while writing Simply Mutual. I was very excited as it was my first book.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I would like to give one simple advice – write what you know and write what you like. If you feel your story/experience can help somebody with your knowledge, don’t hesitate. 

Thank you, Deepak, for your thoughtful answers!

About the Book

SimplyMutual : The 1% Formula To Gain Financial Freedom

Everyone wants to be rich, but not everyone is. There is a method and meaning to it that’s more than just numbers.  
In this book, investment veteran Deepak Mullick takes you on a journey to financial freedom. SimplyMutual isn’t just a guide to make more money, it is about building wealth to live the life of your dreams.  

If you’ve ever thought of retiring in your 40s to do what you love, this is THE book for you!

You can find this book on:
Amazon
 | Goodreads


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author interview: Rich Marcello

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Rich Marcello for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Rich Marcello

Rich is the author of five novels, The Color of HomeThe Big Wide CalmThe Beauty of the Fall, The LatecomersCenotaphs and the poetry collection, The Long Body That Connects Us All. He also teaches creative writing at Seven Bridges’ Writer Collaborative. Previously, he enjoyed a successful career as a technology executive, managing several multi-billion dollar businesses for Fortune 500 companies.

As anyone who has read Rich’s work can tell you, his books deal with life’s big questions: love, loss, creativity, community, self-discovery and forgiveness. His novels are rich with characters and ideas, crafted by a natural storyteller, with the eye and the ear of a poet. For Rich, writing and art making is about connection, or as he says, about making a difference to a least one other person in the world, something he has clearly achieved many times over, both as an artist, a mentor, and a teacher.

Rich lives in Massachusetts with his wife and Newfoundland, Shaman. He is currently working on his sixth and seventh novels, The Means of Keeping and In the Seat of the Eddas, a follow-on to The Latecomers.


You can find author Rich here:
Website | Email  | Goodreads


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

I’ve been writing full time now for ten years and plan to do so, if all goes well, for the rest of my life. When I started, I had a goal in the back of mind to publish ten books before all was said and done. Cenotaphs is my fifth novel and my sixth book, so I still have a ways to go, but I remain committed to that goal. 

On a personal note, I love Newfoundlands and, in particular, my eight-year-old Newfie named Shaman. When I write in the mornings, she is normally at my side.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

I was really interested in writing about a man and woman, separated in age and circumstance, that form a deep emotional bond. Few books are written about platonic love between a man and woman. In the rare cases when that kind of love does happen, it tends to be a deep and honest love. Once I got Ben and Samantha’s connection clear in my mind, the book wrote itself. I was just a conduit telling their story.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

That love, in its truest form, a form where two people truly see each other, can be redemptive, even for those who don’t believe they are worthy of being redeemed.

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

I equally love Ben and Samantha. They are such different people on the surface, but underneath they’re driven by the same things. Cenotaphs is their story, and that’s why I chose to tell it from both of their points of view. 

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

As I mentioned above, not many books are written about platonic love between a man and a woman. I wanted to explore this topic in addition to the topic of redemption for those people who don’t believe they deserve it.

How long did it take you to write this particular book? 

A couple of years. 

What are your writing ambitions?

I plan to keep writing for the rest of my life.  I hope to make it to ten novels before I’m done. 

Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?

Going to my writing studio each morning to work on a new novel, Shaman at my side.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

I’m working on two novels, The Means of Keeping, about the climate crisis, and In the Seat of the Eddas, a follow-on to The Latecomers.

Thank you, Rich, for your insightful answers!
You can read Rich’s previous Interview here and the review of his book The Latecomers here.


Books by author Rich Marcello


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author interview: Deb McEwan

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Deb McEwan for an author interview with The Reading Bud.

About The Author

Deb McEwan

Following a career of over thirty years in the British Army, Deb and her husband moved to Cyprus to become weather refugees. 

Deb loves spending time with her husband Allan and rescue dog Sandy. She also loves writing, keeping fit, and socialising, and does her best to avoid housework. 

She’s written children’s books about Jason the penguin and Barry the reindeer and young adult/adult books about dogs, the afterlife, soldiers, and netball players. 

You can find author Deb here:
Blog/Website | Amazon | Goodreads


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

Before I started writing books I enjoyed writing rhyming verse and wrote poems/ditties for several friends and colleagues who were moving on to pastures new. I wrote a poem for my niece and her fiancé and was honoured when they invited me to read it at their wedding in 2013.

I started writing song lyrics in the early noughties and collaborated with a few local musicians. I co-wrote a song ‘We Belong Together’, for our 25th wedding anniversary and presented the song to my husband as a surprise. It’s very cheesy but he loved it! You can listen to all my songs here: https://www.debmcewansbooksandblogs.com/my-songs/

I hate cold weather! My extremities turn purple when I’m cold (literally) so my husband and I decided to settle somewhere warm when I left the Army in 2013. That’s why we live in Cyprus. When I’m not writing I work part-time for a military charity and enjoy keeping fit and hanging out with friends and our dog!

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

I’ve based the series on a fictional island (Souvia) rather than the island of Cyprus to give me some flexibility with the police procedures. However, whenever I describe any of the locations I have a place I’ve visited in Cyprus in my mind’s eye.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

In an ideal world you reap what you sow and the characters pay the price for their crimes. Karma is very satisfying!

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

Elena is my favourite character in this book. She’s hard working, a bit nosey and can be quite naïve, despite what life has thrown at her in the past. Like one of my close friends who’s also a successful businesswoman, Elena’s found her soul mate a little bit later in life and is making the most of it.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

I’ve wanted to write a cozy mystery series since writing my ‘Island Dog Squad’ series of novellas which are based on our rescue dog, Sandy. (Book #1 is free for subscribers at this link https://dl.bookfunnel.com/wdh6nl8p08 ) I also wanted a break from my ‘Afterlife’ series for a while so this felt like the ideal time to do it.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

Each of the books in this series are approximately 30k long and I already had ideas for the first three. When I’m into my stories I aim to write 1000 words each day so finished the first draft in a month. From first draft to completed book takes about another month to six weeks, depending on how busy my editor is.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?

I’d like to write about 12 books in this series, more in my ‘Afterlife’ series and to also expand my standalone book about netball players into a series. I might even write another in my ‘Unlikely Soldiers’ series so guess that takes up most of the next five years! 

Whatever happens writing is in my blood and I’ll carry on for as long as I am able.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

Although I’m concentrating on this series for now, ideas for the next book in the afterlife series often pop into my head. Jotting them down means I can forget them for the time being and come back to them later.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres? 

Variety is definitely the spice of live and I love writing in multiple genres. (Supernatural Suspense (Afterlife series), Action and Adventure/Military (Unlikely Soldiers) Women’s Fiction (Court Out, A Netball Girls’ Drama), Children’s Fiction (Jason the Penguin books and Reindeer Dreams for 3-8 year olds), Cozy Animal Mystery/Action and Adventure (The Island Dog Squad novellas)). 

I’ve also co-written a non-fiction book entitled ‘Zak My Boy Wonder’. It’s a short, harrowing, but inspirational true story of a mother’s fight for her son’s survival and acceptance in society, and how the military authorities deserted her family when they needed them most. 

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you to follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

I had a very busy career in the British Army but have always wanted to write. I had confidence issues and never thought I’d be good enough. We have an illness in our family (Huntington’s Disease) and when I discovered that one of my brothers had the disease but that I didn’t, I considered myself very lucky and decided to make the most of my life. I haven’t looked back since.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it? And how do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I get up at 6am and write for an hour before going to my part-time job between 8am and 2pm. Then I write some more when I get home from work. I’m a speedy typist so I type all my stories on the computer at home. I stick to this routine at weekends too as I’m at my most creative first thing in the morning.

I write a rough plot for the first three or four chapters and then the end of the book. I always know the ending but sometimes my characters surprise me by taking unexpected turnings to get there. My characters are like real people to me and often surprise me. Some of my friends find this quite weird but that’s the way it is.

What are your 5 favourite books?

That’s such a difficult question so I’m not going to answer it! I loved reading Enid Blyton books when I was a youngster then Wilbur Smith books when I was a little older. Now I mostly read books by Indie authors such as Jean Gill (I love her Natural Forces and Troubadours series) and I’m currently reading ‘How Icasia Bloom Touched Happiness’, by Jessica Bell. It’s a fascinating story set in a future dystopian world where immortality can only be granted to those who follow the rules. I change genre depending on my mood and am always up to reading new authors.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

A good walk sets the ideas flowing and always seems to work wonders.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

As someone once said, ‘Writers write’. So follow your dreams, go to your happy place, and get writing!

Thank you, Deb, for your insightful answers!

Books by author Deb McEwan


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author interview: Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday for an author interview with TRB-team!

About The Author

Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday 

Laricea Ioana Roman-Halliday is a business leader, marketer, mentor, public speaker and brand specialist who has built her passion for brand purpose on the back of her meaningful marketing career with various Fortune 100 companies. Her experience includes working with Microsoft, Google, Unilever, Huawei, Hyundai and many more. She is a big environmental advocate who truly believes in successful business done for good and is constantly curious about driving it forward.

You can find author Laricea here:

Instagram | LinkedIn


Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

I am Romanian, living in London with my English husband and our chinchilla called Snowy. I am also very passionate about the environment and madly in love with all animals and plants. I have my own garden which I have been passionately working in for the past 5 years whilst also trying to explore as much as we can this beautiful planet. I have been to 65 countries so far, usually having a target of 5 new countries every year, however with the pandemic this has become really difficult to achieve. I even received a badge from Tripadvisor for one of the highest number of countries visited vs age. Another passion is diving, both my husband and I are certified advanced divers, with over 80 hours of diving all over the world, from Europe to the Indian Ocean, Mediteranean, Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The more we travel and dive, the more we realise how fragile the natural world is and how much we can do on an individual level to protect it. I am hoping that through my book, I will be able to raise awareness of this and encourage businesses and individuals to support the idea of profit for good rather than just profit.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

I set about writing this book from a desire to raise awareness around brand purpose, its critical implications for society and beyond and to provide the tools for making the right, informed decisions for both marketers and consumers when it comes to evaluating true brand purpose. There has never been such a desire to change, fix, improve, eliminate, or embrace actions that would make a difference to the current affairs and not only make us feel better about ourselves but genuinely help shape a better future. Specifically, for this reason more than half of consumers believe that brands play a greater role than governments when it comes to the future of this planet. Whilst this is all fabulous news for brands to be entrusted with such great confidence, some of them are taking advantage of this trend in an unorthodox manner. Thus, through this book I am hoping to highlight some of the issues around brand purpose and purposeful brands, attempting to better define brand purpose and dreaming to be able to make a difference in how people/consumers/marketeers perceive brand purpose and its real importance and power.
This book is addressed to a very wide audience: from consumers, to marketers, business leaders, entrepreneurs, founders, pretty much anyone who has an interest in sustainable businesses and future proofing the future.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

We live in a very troublesome world, which needs more than ever actions that speak more than words, consumers who act through their choices and businesses that put purpose above profit. I set about writing this book from a desire to raise awareness around brand purpose, its critical implications for society and beyond and to provide the tools for making the right, informed decisions for both marketers and consumers when it comes to evaluating true brand purpose. I am hoping that this book will make a difference on how businesses perceive, approach and apply brand purpose, which is for greater good, through genuine actions and a more empathetic approach towards consumers, society and the planet. My desire is for this book to enlighten the audiences, expand their understanding of brand purpose and its greater consequences and ultimately change the current state of affairs by being more like a dazzle of zebras and less like a lonely unicorn!

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

I have been working in marketing and advertising for a while now, so I have been exposed to a variety of brands – from cult driven, small, family run businesses to multi billion pound empires that have become modern days icons. One day, during a warm summer in London, I had completed a long brainstorming session with one of my clients, which concluded with a burning desire for the company to establish a new strategy that displays “purpose”. That was the moment when I realised that all of this was wrong; very wrong because what my client was asking me to do was to purely sell an image, portraying a behaviour that resonated with their current customers and potential new ones. However, for them, it was more important as to how they would advertise and market this new “purposeful” positioning and not how they could actually bring it to life with genuine actions and truthful communications. 

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

Around 5 months 

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?

I do not consider myself a writer, as this is my first book, however I believe it’s more of a manifesto, a desire to raise awareness about an issue. I will have to wait and see what is the public’s reaction to this first book and if it is positive I will of course consider expanding on the topic and provide further inspiration and assistance to both brands and consumers. 

Are you working on any other stories presently?

No

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you to follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

Please see question 5, it all started with my brand experiences and because it felt very unjust and unfair, I decided I need to make my opinion more formal and also provide solutions and advice in terms of true brand purpose and ways of bringing it to life as a business. Lockdown and the pandemic helped me with the book writing as I wouldn’t have had normally so much spare time to sit down and write my ideas. So I have not given up anything per se to make this happen, however I was fortunate enough to do it during a time when the whole world has hit pause. There is a silver line in any cloud 🙂

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I have collected first all my ideas in a little notebook over a few months since I first got the idea of writing a book. I then categorised them in chapters and then I start crafting each chapter. The first two months were most difficult as I was doing it after work, in the evening, so I felt quite tired at the beginning, but then the more I wrote, the more excited and motivated I began. And as I mentioned lockdown helped as I could do it over weekends as well and also over bank holidays, on sunny spring days in the garden. I always had a beautiful candle next to me and a cup of tea, this is my little secret to get inspiration, but it also makes me very happy to feel the beautiful smell of a candle and taste the hot tea on my lips.  

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

It was a combination of laptop and longhand with a pen as I adore to write 🙂

What are your 5 favourite books?

Non-fiction: Simon Sinek, Seth Godin
Fiction: Agnes Martin-Lugand, Elif Shafak, Ion Creanga (Romanian)

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I haven’t had this issue yet! 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Follow your dreams! If you have an idea, follow it to completion despite the hurdles you might come across. It isn’t easy, it requires a lot of time, dedication and patience, however when you hold you book in your hands for the first time, that feeling is so worth it! And also, knowing that your book will make a difference in this world, may it be cheering people up, inspiring them, helping them to go through difficult times, educating them or even being their companion for a short time, that makes all the difference. Never give up and follow your dream!

Thank you, Larecia, for your insightful answers!

About the book


Brand Purpose – Less Unicorn, More Zebra?

Purpose is a journey, not a destination. More business leaders, marketers and customers need to become aware of true brand purpose and act upon it through business strategies, marketing campaigns and their wallet. This book challenges the way brand purpose has been deployed over the past few years and examines ways of correcting misconceptions and misuses by providing practical solutions and examples of what good looks like. We all have a role to play in the community, so stop dreaming about unicorns and be more zebra!

You can find Brand Purpose here:

MyBestseller | Amazon Blurb


If you are an author and wish to be featured as our guest or if you are a publicist and want to get your author featured on TRB, then please get in touch directly by e-mail at thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: E. T. Gunnarsson

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

Today, we are featuring E. T. Gunnarsson, author of Forgive Us, for our Author Interview feature.

About The Author

E. T. Gunnarsson

Mr. Gunnarsson grew up on a horse-rescue ranch in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado. He now resides in Georgetown, TX.

Once in Texas, he wrote his first post-apocalyptic book, “Forgive Us” while attending high school. Outside of writing, Mr. Gunnarsson is a purple belt in BJJ and a brown belt in Judo.

You can connect with the author here:

Facebook | Instagram | Reedsy Discovery | Twitter | Website



The Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin.

To start off, I learned how to read through World of Warcraft. It sounds funny, but it’s true. When I was taken out of school at around seven, I didn’t know how to read, write, or do math. While I was being tutored how to read and write, I played World of Warcraft, and as I slowly gained lingual skills, I applied them to the game which allowed me to go from wandering around all day to doing questions and leveling up my character.

I actually started writing when I was nine, though the literature I produced probably sucked, and never saw the light of day. I also started text roleplaying on platforms such as Discord, which led into my author career and where my writing skills first started.

I am also a Norse pagan, and I’m into woodcarving to create idols for deities and spirits.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

Forgive Us is told as three interleaved stories covering different timelines in the 22nd century.This part is not in Forgive Us but gives more info about the environment the survivors live in: The wasteland began way before the fall of civilization. It started with the widespread use of Ignium in the 2050s, and its continued use through the 2060s and 2070s. Ignium, an energy similar to electricity and plasma, is easy to create and extremely malleable, therefore economically better than electricity. Its downfall was its slight toxicity. With its widespread use by billions of people, Ignium slowly poisoned the soil, air, and worldwide ecosystem, leading to cataclysmic climate change and leading to the sixth mass extinction on earth. Combined with pollution such as trash and other waste, the oceans were killed, the sun was blotted out, and the soil itself became a mix of dirt, Ignium, and plastics.

Ignium’s usage became a dependency, and by the time that it was discovered to be extremely damaging to the planet it was too late. Many major companies depended on it and funded campaigns to cover up the damage it caused.

During the 2070s, the world became destabilized and eventually collapsed. The population soared to roughly 14 billion, countries collapsed from resource, water, and food shortages. Despite the amazing technology of the 2070s, major parts of the population died due to illness and starvation as unemployment (in the US) soared into 60%.

Toward 2078, Europe collapsed into war between its nations while the US fell into a three-way civil war. At the same time as a world-wide pandemic and world-wide economic collapse, this broke the country. The pandemic which started in India, ultimately left India, the Middle East, and Africa in a broken state with most of the population dead or dying.

During 2079, the last powerful countries on Earth (such as the USA, Russia, and China) declared war on each other over the last resources on Earth. After a few nukes, bombs, chemical weapons, mutagenic bombs, and more, civilization finally came to a crumbling halt.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

If there is a single message that can be derived from Forgive Us and the Odemark series as a whole, it’s to be green. In the series, the sky is blotted out from pollution and trash is everywhere, layering the ocean and earth. It is the idea of not poisoning our world. There are many other messages in Forgive Us, like caring for those you love, that war is hell, and that tyranny never dies but should not be stood for.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why? 

I have to say that Oliver is my favorite character because he matches the perfect description of a wasteland survivor. He is the lone wolf that many post-apocalyptic works feature, he is the grizzled, mentally scarred survivor he fights and claws to live. His storyline also represents the wolf of power/greed, which is an evil predator.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

There is no specific inspiration for Forgive Us. Rather, Forgive Us and the Odemark series was born from a love of post-apocalyptic fiction, a gap in the genre, and years of interacting with the genre. For example, there are many influences for many aspects of Forgive Us. The father-daughter relationship between London and Rose is seen in many games (see the Dadification of games), the wasteland is inspired from Mad Max, the Fallout Series, and 9, and the conflicts in the book are inspired from history and the media mentioned before.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

It took me two years to write Forgive Us, starting when I was sixteen and ending when I was eighteen. The first year consisted of the actual writing as I learned the twists and turns of creating a book, while the second year consisted of editing, which was a long process of more learning.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?

In five years I hope to finish the Odemark series, along with starting a new series in my high-fantasy world which is currently still in the works.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

Currently, I am writing the prequel to Forgive Us, Abandon Us, which will show life in theold world, the downfall of civilization, and show who the Outsiders really were.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

I love post-apocalyptic fiction. I think it makes for great movies and great games when done well. Forgive Us came to me one day, so it was really the genre choosing me rather than me choosing the general. I learned to write in high-fantasy settings, so I hope to transition back one day.

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you to follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

I decided to become a writer when I started Forgive Us in 2018. Being a writer is not easy in general, but I am lucky to have an extremely flexible schedule that allows me to work a lot without sacrificing anything beyond free time that I’d otherwise waste.

Following the course of being a writer comes with a lot of ups and downs. The ups would be positive feedback on your work or success in writing, and the downs would be writer’s block, negative feedback, and self-doubt. Fortunately, I think the ups make the downs look small because when you’re so high up, falling a little bit does seem so far.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I’m boring when it comes to writing. I generally sit down, try to play some music that fits the genre I am writing in, and write. I usually have tea while I write, but not always. If I am doing serious writing, I will remove all the distractions around me and just write. No distraction writing is a really easy way to burn out in my opinion, and is really boring, so I usually avoid it.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I have dysgraphia, so it’s hard to write with a pencil or pen. I prefer the power and utility of a computer or a laptop, since it allows me to edit and create with ease.

What are your 5 favourite books?

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien is one of my favorite books, simply because it’s the Lord of the Rings with lighter reading, and serves as a wonderful introduction to the series. The Poetic Edda by Snorri Sturluson is my second favorite book, since it serves as a pillar to understanding Norse Mythology, and as an important religion text. I also love Maus (Art Spieglman), 1984 (George Orwell), and Rise of the Lich King (Christie Golden).

When it comes to authors, I absolutely love Stephen King and Tolkien. My father read the Dark Tower series to me when I was little, which I think has a subconscious influence on my writing. Tolkien is the father of all modern fantasy, and without him I would not have my childhood game World of Warcraft, or the inspiration to make a high fantasy world.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

When it comes to Writer’s Block, a due date gets me out of it. If I feel pressure to write, I will write, and that’s how real writing works in my opinion. It’s a job, and a job does not wait for you. If you struggle with Writer’s Block, you either have to wait for it to go away or break through it.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

If one wants to seriously write, it has to be treated like a job. A job has hours, due dates, and expectations, and writing should be no different. Without it, procrastination and no results rule. For me, I have a daily word count I have to reach, and a chapter/page amount I have to reach per week or month.

Thank you, Mr Gunnarsson, for your interesting answers!


About The Book

Forgive Us

Three timelines. One dark future…

A new form of energy has poisoned the earth, leaving civilization in ruins. As decades go by, the inheritors of this devastation struggle to survive and reconquer a broken planet…

In 2099: Mankind emerges from the darkness. A lone rider named Oliver journeys east, seeking civilization beyond the Rocky Mountains. Braving the toxic earth and poison air, Oliver must battle a horde of deadly mutants as he unites a band of refugees into the first nation of this new world…

In 2153: Fledging nations clash over land and resources. London, a veteran of the wasteland, struggles to protect his adopted daughter Rose as the world decays around them. But little does he know, both he and his adopted daughter will soon find themselves drawn into a coming war…

In 2184: Simon, a descendent of those who fled the earth, lives on the great Arcadis Station. A gifted technician, he works vigilantly against those who rule his society with an iron fist. In the shadows, he will be the difference between enslavement or liberty…

Fans of The Gunslinger and The Stand will love Forgive Us. This epic novel takes readers on a post-apocalyptic thrill ride, spanning three generations of a ravaged earth…

You can find the book here:

Amazon
 Barnes & Nobel BookBub Goodreads |  Lulu NetGalley


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Con Chapman

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

Today, we are featuring Con Chapman, author of Kimiko Chou, Girl Samurai, for our Author Interview feature.

About The Author

Con Chapman

Con Chapman is the author most recently of Rabbit’s Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges (Oxford University Press), winner of the 2019 Book of the Year Award from Hot Club de France. His work has appeared in The AtlanticThe Christian Science MonitorThe Boston Globe, and a number of literary magazines. His young adult short story, “The Vanishing Twin,” appeared in the March/April 2015 issue of Cicada

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Twitter



The Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin.

I’m a writer on the side—it’s not my day job.  I’ve written young adult fiction before (“The Vanishing Twin,” Cicada Magazine, March/April, 2015) but this is my first YA novel.  My most recent book was about Johnny Hodges, Duke Ellington’s long-time alto sax player: Rabbit’s Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges (Oxford University Press).  Kimiko Chou has a samurai theme because I’m interested in that now-abolished caste whose members were, at the same time, warriors and artistic; they were highly literate and wrote poetry; their motto was “The pen and the sword in accord.”  

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

It has a “meta” aspect to it, in that it is introduced by a character—Etaoin Shrdlu—who says that he translated the work.  He is as fictional as Kimiko Chou, though.  This technique—sometimes referred to as a “framing device”—explains how it is that the reader is holding in his or her hands a first-person account from the 14th century.  It is used in the novel by Thomas Berger, Little Big Man, one of my favorite works (and one that I think is underrated).

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

Not sure there’s a particular message I want readers to take away from the book, but characters reveal themselves to you as you create them—Pygmalion style.  Chou is hardened by the tragedy at the beginning of the book, but doesn’t miss a beat and embarks on a new life.  Along the way, she finds that her first impressions about people don’t always turn out to be correct, but even those who she grows close to—such as the boy page, Moto Mori, who is her companion on the journey—have their flaws that are in need of mid-course corrections.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why? 

The ronin, or fallen samurai, Hyōgo Narutomi, who leads the two children on their expedition.  He is a failure who refuses to acknowledge that fact, and carries on despite having no real hope of ever realizing his ambition; to become a samurai again, after having been dismissed by seven masters.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

I had a lot of time on my hands waiting for a publisher to get back to me on a proposal—over a year.  At some point I threw up my hands and decided to start on another project.  I’ve written two novels before, one of which (CannaCorn) is a baseball novel with a character who thinks of himself as a latter-day samurai in his role as a relief pitcher.  I read a YA novel about a boy samurai, and Women Warriors: An Unexpected History by Pamela Toler, which includes stories of female samurai.  I did a little research and didn’t find any YA novels about girl samurai, and decided to write one.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

Once I got going, not that long, maybe a year.  I had to do some research on Japanese history during the period when the samurai first came to prominence, the 12th to the 14th centuries, and also on Japanese geography, to get the details of a Japanese invasion of Korea down.

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?

I’d like to be able to write full-time, but I’ve got a long ways to go.  I’d like to write a sequel to Kimiko Chou if there’s a demand for it.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

I am currently writing a history of Kansas City jazz for Equinox Publishing, a British publisher.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

The novel (or novella, it’s not that long) seemed right for this story.  I also write plays, histories, poetry, humor, and short-form journalism.

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you to follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

?  It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was  in high school.  I became a sports reporter for my small-town newspaper when I was a junior in high school, after I hurt myself and couldn’t play football anymore.  I got a newspaper reporting job right out of college, but found I wasn’t very good at going up to strangers and asking them embarrassing questions, which is essential to the job.  So I had to find some other path, which took a while.  I wrote an article on jazz for a Boston-area “underground” paper, but didn’t have much success pitching freelance articles.  I decided I needed to get a book written, and chose the 1978 pennant race between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, which no one had written about.  Red Sox fans didn’t want to be reminded about it, since they blew a big lead and didn’t make it to the World Series, and Yankee fans weren’t interested since it wasn’t a big deal to them—they went on to win the World Series, so the win over the Red Sox was insignificant by comparison.

I self-published the book, The Year of the Gerbil (the word “gerbil” refers to a scornful nickname the Red Sox hung on their manager that season).  This was back in the bad old days when self-publishing was expensive.  I took money out of my savings to finance it, and had to do all the marketing myself.  I wrote a lot of letters to bookstores, made personal trips to ask bookstores to stock it—very naïve.  I’d send copies to various newspapers and magazines, got maybe two reviews.  Then I sent a copy to the Business Editor of The Boston Globe because he had mentioned how Boston and New York had similar rivalries in business and sports; the Yankees back in the day were perennial winners, the Red Sox went 86 years without winning the World Series, and New York is a much bigger business market than Boston.  To my surprise, he wrote a glowing review of the book in the Business Section of the paper, the book got named to a list of 50 essential books about the Red Sox, and while I never made back my initial monetary investment, I had a start on a reputation in that I could name a book I’d written and people might actually want to read it.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

.  I have to write at the beginning and end of the day since I have a day job.  If I wake up early I’ll try to produce a paragraph or two before going off to work, and at night if I’m not too tired I’ll try to do it again.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

?  I write on a computer, as it’s much faster, even for drafts.  The one exception is playwriting; I’ve had twelve plays published, and because you’re just writing dialogue, not exposition (other than stage directions), it’s easy to get a lot down with just a pen and a pad of paper.

What are your 5 favourite books?

The books I’ve read the most, multiple times, are:

  1. The Moviegoer, Walker Percy (novel)
  2. The Sweet Science, A.J. Liebling (non-fiction, boxing)
  3. True Tales from the Annals of Crime and Rascality, St. Clair McKelway (non-fiction,         crime)
  4. George Ade and Ring Lardner, Midwestern humorists
  5. And the Holy Trinity of Southern female writers: Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, and   Carson McCullers

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I had writer’s block when I got out of college, wanted to be a writer, and couldn’t get anything written.  You only have writer’s block if you want to write and can’t, so I can’t say I had writer’s block when I more or less gave up on writing for a while.

It’s sad but true, as far as I’m concerned and one of my friends who had writer’s block and couldn’t finish his Ph.D. dissertation, that getting thrown into a job where you have to write, or going back to school and being under pressure to produce on a daily basis will cure you of writer’s block.  The problem then is—you have no time to write because you’re busy.

For the most part that’s the situation I’m in today; I have to find time to write around my work, which forces me to become more efficient and not have a beer and stare off into space and think about the Great American Novel I’ve got in me down deep inside.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Well, you’ve got to look the part on paper.  I bought a book on manuscript preparation and writing book proposals (the Writer’s Market book, “Formatting and Submitting Your Manuscript”), which gave me some guidance on presenting yourself as a writer.  Where before I’d do things wrong (like sending in a non-fiction article without querying first), I at least had a sense of what an editor or publisher who might actually buy something from you expected it to look like when it came in over the transom.

Thank you, Con, for your insightful answers!


About The Book

Kimiko Chou, Girl Samurai

KIMIKO CHOU is a girl on a mission. Her mother and brother have been killed by robbers in 14th century Japan while her father, a samurai warrior, is off on an invasion of Korea.
Chou (“butterfly” in Japanese) narrowly escapes death by hiding while the robbers ransack her home, then—dressed as a boy in her brother’s clothes—she goes in quest of her father. Alone on the road, she takes up with Hyōgo Narutomi, a former samurai who has been dismissed by seven previous masters, and Moto Mori, his page.
The three of them—man, boy, and girl—make their way across Japan along with Piebald, an old horse with a curious spot on his coat that resembles a Fenghuang, the mythical bird that rules over all others in Asian mythology. Together this unlikely trio experience a series of adventures and narrow escapes until Chou and Mori—but not Narutomi—land in Korea. There, as a spy for the Koreans, Chou searches for her father-across enemy lines!

You can find Kimiko Chou, Girl Samurai here:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Daniel Hagedorn

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

Today, we are featuring Daniel Hagedorn, author of The Lodestar, for our Author Interview feature.

About The Author

Daniel Hagedorn

Daniel Hagedorn lives in Seattle, Washington, where he was born and raised, with his wife and elderly dog. An alum of Pacific Lutheran University with a couple of humanities degrees, he now splits his time between writing and helping various businesses and entities do what they do. He has written a number of novels, poems, and countless other musings. The Lodestar is his first published novel.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Author’s Website | Facebook



The Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin.

I work in finance. That might surprise some people as if they are incompatible forms that couldn’t co-exist. To me though, words and numbers have more affinity than it seems. Patterns. I see patterns in numbers just as I do in words. When I am not writing, I am often looking at spreadsheets. I started college as a math major. I finished as an English & Philosophy Major with an emphasis in creative writing and a minor in classics. But I still love numbers. Numbers and words are my life.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

The Lodestar can be looked at as an examination of the modern world, not just in terms of this futuristic place, but where we live now, of wanting to escape out of the curated world, whether it be social media or your custom news feed, into something of your own making. Where I live in Seattle, they knock down an old house and put in its place this box that looks exactly like a thousand other boxes in the city as if there is some master design guiding everything towards homogeneity. It’s not just a book about what is real, what is reality, but also being a human, being creative and interesting and unique, about finding a place in the world, an identity amidst the flood of images that dominate our existence.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

If there is a message in The Lodestar, it would be how we are complicit in handing over our lives to technology because we think it is making our lives better somehow when it may not be. It is not that technology is good or bad, per se, but how we use it or let it use us. I fear the transition to this visual society, where it no longer matters the power of our imagination because we’ve let the world be imagined for us. Why are books better than movies? Well, because in a book I can imagine the world the author has created, wherein a movie, it’s told for me. I almost always feel like I can imagine something more, something better than what’s being presented to me. And the world of video games is another interesting phenomena, this whole interactive experience that rewires our brains. How will this all change us? How will it make the move towards virtual worlds more seamless? 

Who is your favourite character in this book and why? 

The main character in The Lodestar is David, but my favorite character is in fact Marta. She’s mysterious. She knew before David that she didn’t want to be part of the network world. David is under this illusion that he created this so-called out that dispelled him from the network. He’ll learn later, not in this book, how that’s not true. And Marta is the key. He couldn’t have made it very far without Marta. And of course, David loves Marta, and love is the mystery of all mysteries, something not even the network could understand, so it did away with the concept.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

The Lodestar has been in my mind for about a decade and a half. I never thought I could do justice to the idea, so I resisted the notion to write. Sometimes things are more powerful in the mind, that to commit to paper, to lose that illusion of what it could be, was something I couldn’t give up. A few things, though, struck me. For one, the idea that machines did not become more like humans, but humans became more like machines. Instead of being unique, it seemed to me there was a sameness in things, in people, in the particular look of what makes someone attractive. I was reading a lot of dystopian fiction at the time too. It just seemed more efficient for some grand network controlling everyone as opposed to feeling down and taking a pill. As humans, we do not always know what we want or need, but a network, a system that was unbiased and really knew us, it would know. Of course, I am being sarcastic to a degree. There is a bias in everything.  

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

I spent about a year writing The Lodestar. Even then, when I had finished what I thought was my final draft, I wasn’t sure. I let it sit for about 6 months before I went back to the book, this time, with the help of an editor. During that cooling off period, I was still constantly thinking about the book and where it was going because I didn’t like the initial ending, although I thought the book itself was better than it was. In my head, I had created something amazing. However, when I went back and did the proper edit with an editor, that was an eye-opening experience, how incomplete sections were. In the end, The Lodestar took two years, but I am pretty sure I’ll think about the characters and the story for the rest of my life. 

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?

I have long felt that writing was a kind of breathing, and as long as I breathe, I hope. Whether or not I am successful as a writer does not matter that much. It’s just something I do, something I’ve always done. Obviously, I would love to make a living as a writer. In my mind, I am more successful than I am. That’s always been the thing. I would love to walk around, think about stuff, write, cut vegetables up at dinner time while listening to music and just allow myself to create. I kind of do that anyway, pretending so to speak, so I suppose it would be pretty cool if it was less dream than reality and I had more time to actually write.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

I am always working on something. Just as I might be reading a couple of different books at once, I am writing several different things too. In a normal day, I might compose a poem, write a song or add some part to another novel, one not connected to The Lodestar trilogy. I have written a bunch of novels, close to a dozen probably, some in better states of completion than others. 

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

I am not sure what genre The Lodestar is. Sci fi, I guess. There’s a lot of philosophy mixed in too. Maybe it could be considered speculative fiction, but some of my other stuff seems more speculative, though in a different way. In my mind, I always have this idea of the so-called great American novel. I know that is an overused term, but it has meaning to me. In my twenties, that was a driving force. Now, I am not sure. 

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you to follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?

I’ve long thought of myself as a writer. In some ways, it is necessary to exist under that illusion, that I am writer because that allows me to write. If I didn’t think of myself as a writer, then it might not matter what I do, what I write. But by thinking of myself as a writer I have a sense of purpose, that I am capturing something essential. I’ve used that breathing metaphor. Writing is a kind of music too, that I hear. It’s in my mind. I am the kind of person that has an active imagination. In my early twenties, I worked in a bookstore. I loved being around books. I wrote a lot of stuff back then but felt undermined by my lack of success. That was hard. A writer friend of mine at the time told me it was all about perseverance, that as long as you kept writing, you would be successful. At some point, I kind of changed the equation and thought about success not in the publishing sense, but in terms of creating a body of work representative of the way I think and feel about the world. And when I write, that’s the song I am trying to replicate.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I prefer to write in the morning. I wake up early. Sometimes I think I write in my sleep because I wake up with solutions to things in my writing. Coffee and a walk help drive my thoughts, get them flowing. I don’t always have the time or opportunity in the morning, but I try to make time during the day to write something, anything. Sometimes, I can’t write what I want to write, but I can always make my daily emails more interesting or even a report I am preparing a better read. The fact is, we are always writing, even if it might something mundane. I’ll use any opportunity I can to try to be creative. 

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

When I was young, I wrote everything out with a blue pen in a small notebook. The second draft would be transferring the notebook to computer. I actually wrote a lot of The Lodestar out by hand as I was in the backseat of a car along the coast of Italy, Slovenia and Croatia because I didn’t bring my laptop along for the trip. Today, while I prefer my laptop, I accumulate scraps of paper, pages in notebooks, little tidbits here and there, depending when an idea comes to me. I love and hate it, when I am walking by the Canal, and something so good comes to me that I have to stop and write it down. Once I start writing something down on a walk, I’ve broken the cycle, so that whole walk will keep getting interrupted. 

What are your 5 favourite books?

Top 5 books. That’s a tough one. I go through phases and so I probably will discount some of my early favorites. I’ll always have Great Gatsby on my list. I love the opening and the close. Probably A Moveable Feast because I love the idea of being an ex-pat in Paris, hanging out in cafés, bars, surrounded by artists. Kerouac was a big inspiration on me, the feeling in his writing and though I was struck by a number of his works, I’ll probably go with The Subterraneans because of one line in that book that seemed so profound to me, about a light always on that one day won’t be on. Brave New World and We. Philip K Dick is one of my favorite authors, so I have to pick something by him. Ubik. I am not going to go with one of his more well-known pieces. And lastly, Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion. I love the voice in that piece, though I am not as fond as some of her other work. I read a lot of foreign authors. I particularly like Murakami and Roberto Bolano. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of Patrick Modiano too.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I don’t want to say I don’t get writer’s block. Maybe that would curse me. I tend to not have much trouble writing, though. It’s just what I do, akin to breathing. I can sit down at any time and write something, a few lines, just something. I don’t worry whether it’s good or bad. I just write. I’ve always thought, write a page or so a day, then after six months you practically have a novel. And I have kind of done that my whole writing life, three decades so to speak. And that has been amazing. Because I don’t remember half of the stuff I have written. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

If you want to be a writer, then write. There’s no special advice other than that. Read and write. I am constantly reading, and not just fiction, but philosophy, poetry, economics, science, whatever. I keep a notebook where I accumulate ideas, where I write little imaginary scenes based on some interesting thing I might have read. There’s no special club. If you want to be a writer, then you must write. You mustn’t get swayed by the daunting task it really is. 

Thank you, Daniel, for your frank and insightful answers!


About The Book

The Lodestar

How do humans survive after a massive pandemic that has devastated the population? Rather than living amid continued chaos and panic, the surviving population enjoys a thriving life thanks to the assistance of the network, a vast system that connects everything and everyone. The network protects from the virus while allowing everyone to lead their best life. Every dream and desire can easily be attained.

14 years into this networked world, David, one of the creators, wakes up to find that he is no longer connected. Is he the only one? And why, for what purpose? David feels almost like waking from a dream only to discover a technologically advanced world, full of beautiful and spectacular things, but all may not be what it seems. What is the difference between a dream and reality? What is the nature of experience?

Follow David as he wanders through a vast maze, uncovering layer upon layer in his search for truth. Recalling his former life, he must choose between what he feels, his natural compulsion to question everything, and what is good for humanity. The Lodestar takes you on a deep look into philosophical questions surrounding technology and its role in humanity.

You can find The Lodestar here:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Eliza Harrison

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

Today, we are featuring Eliza Harrison, author of The Mystery Of Martha, for our Author Interview feature.

About The Author

Eliza Harrison

Eliza has had a lifelong passion for exploring different spiritual pathways in the East and the West and has been a teacher of meditation all her adult life. Alongside her work as a spiritual mentor and guide, she is a photographer and author and has produced several books on the life and landscape of Northern England, including The Light Within – A Celebration of the Spiritual Path, and the story of her own: In Search of Freedom – One Woman’s Journey. Now, with her husband David, she runs Sacred Meditation from their home in Cumbria. 

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Author Website | Facebook | Instagram



The Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

The portrayal of the present-day Martha is partly autobiographical, the story of my own search for truth and love. My spiritual journey entailed me spending time with different teachers, which gave me the idea of portraying what it might have been like being around Yeshua. From one moment to the next, none of his close followers would have known what experiences he would take them through, teachings he would impart, nor the challenges they would have to face. I also wanted to bring to life people in the Bible, who now seem remote and stereotyped. Owing to the discovery of the Nag Hammadi texts and other recent research, I was able to tell some of the well known Biblical stories from a new perspective, which makes them more relevant to us today. 

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

That everyone has within them the capability of moving beyond their fears and insecurities and finding the truth of themselves and the truth of love.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why? 

Martha of Bethania as I identify with her most closely. She feels inadequate and lacking, but has the courage to face her fears and determines to move beyond them. In this respect, she serves as inspiration for us all today. I also loved immersing myself in the imagery of Palestine 2000 years ago and painting a picture of Martha’s way of life as it would have been.  

What inspired you to write this book?

I first read about Martha of Bethany in a book called The Christ Blueprint, which spoke of two sides to her character – the shadow side, which described how she felt undeserving of love and so felt she had to earn it, and the higher aspect of herself as embodied by Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion and Mercy, who gives selflessly without needing anything in return. 


How long did it take you to write this particular book?

Three to four years, with a lot of re-writing and interludes when I researched and travelled to places where the two Marthas lived and spent their time. 

What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?

Writing helps me find myself but before writing another novel, I shall wait until a new idea presents itself or I go through an experience that I want to relate.

Are you working on any other stories presently?

At the moment I am writing scripts for videos that we are making for Sacred Meditation to help people move beyond feelings of fear, which is so important in these challenging times.

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?

This is my first novel, but I imagine that it would be within the genre of inspirational/spiritual fiction that I am drawn to write again.

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you to follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way? (feel free to give us your story, we love hearing to author stories!)

I have written since my early twenties – poetry, a novel that I scrapped, an autobiography that was published: In Search of Freedom – One Woman’s Journey, and a series of published photographic essays for which I also wrote the text. I was blessed with having income from meditation teaching while I wrote, so I just needed to commit to the project, but that can be a challenge in itself. 

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I went through a period of getting up at 5am and writing for 3 hours before breakfast, as well as during the day. It was quiet, beautiful and peaceful in the early morning, but I realised I needed my sleep more, so changed to writing in the morning and afternoon instead.

How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I write on my laptop.

What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)

The two novels that most inspired me to write The Mystery of Martha were Siddhartha by Herman Hesse and The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak. However, my book entailed quite a bit of research and one of the most illuminating books was Jesus – The Explosive Story of the 30 Lost Years by Tricia McCannon

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I never push myself if an idea or words are not flowing. I just walk away from my laptop and take a break. That could be for an hour, a day or even a month or more. I feel the creative process needs gestation time and it’s important not to push oneself when encountering a block.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Begin and never lose heart. It doesn’t matter if it is just a page or two, or if it’s thrown away a day later. It’s my experience that through writing we unleash our creative energy and subsequently find ourselves, which is one of the greatest gifts we ever could have.

Thank you, Eliza, for your enlightening and honest answers!


About The Book

The Mystery Of Martha

Two timelines, one truth . . . 

Two women, two millennia apart with seemingly unconnected lives – one from the Lake District in England and the other from Bethany in Palestine. Both experience loss and betrayal, which engender feelings of fear and uncertainty about what their future holds.  

Martha from the Lake District faces challenge and change in 2000 AD as her deepest insecurities are exposed. But supported by her partner Ben, she discovers the mystical Aramaic teachings of Yeshua that offer her a pathway to Self-realisation and freedom.

In Brattleboro, Vermont, a long-forgotten doorway opens, to a land beyond living memory, where two lifelong enemies must journey as allies, to save two worlds, or destroy them.

In 30 AD Martha of Bethany has Yeshua as a friend and guide. From a place of tenderness and vulnerability, she witnesses the last three years of his life as he embodies the ultimate mystery and power of love, which inspires her own journey to awakening. 

These two stories weave together seamlessly until finally they converge in a hauntingly beautiful tale of revelation and redemption.

You can find The Mystery Of Martha here:

Website | Audible | Goodreads


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Matt Spencer

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

Today, we are featuring Matt Spencer, author of The Blazing Chief, the third book in the The Deschembine Trilogy, for our Author Interview feature.

About The Author

Matt Spencer

Matt Spencer is the author of five novels, two collections, and numerous novellas and short stories. He’s been a journalist, New Orleans restaurant cook, factory worker, radio DJ, and a no-good ramblin’ bum. He’s also a song lyricist, playwright, actor, and martial artist. He currently lives in Vermont. 

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Website | Twitter | Facebook



The Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

Well, my life has abruptly hit the reset button of late, to put it kindly, not under circumstances I’m happy about, but either way, here I am living on my own again for the first time in years, feeling kind of like a stranger to myself in some ways, like I’m catching up with this version of me. It’s been weird, especially in these Covid days, where getting out around people like I used to isn’t such a thing for the foreseeable future, but I’ve come to realize that ain’t such a bad thing either. I’ve been making the most of it in a lot of ways, eating/exercising/living healthier, to the point where the old saying “40 is the new 30” suddenly makes a lot more sense to me than I’d expected it to. I still work in a restaurant, which is only open to limited capacity, with reduced hours. I assist my best friend in teaching fencing, and we love to sword-fight and martial-arts spar. With a little luck and prudence, I’ll keep the positive things on track, continue to grow and change for the better, do what I can for other people, and keep writing crazy yarns that people get a kick out of reading.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

As the final book in a trilogy, it’s the one where everything boils to a head for a giant blow-out go-for-broke finale, y’know? I’m proud to be able to say that a lot of people have been asking me for years, “So when the hell is the next book coming out?” [more on that later] and now that it’s finally officially on the way, I’m both thrilled and nervous about how it’s going to be received. All of the major characters – Rob, Sally, Sheldon, Janie, Remelea, Jesse, Zane, Puttergong, among others – wind up where they’ve been headed this whole time. Many of them change drastically, some for better, some for worse, some, well, in-between. And yes, some of them die.

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

I don’t typically write stories with didactic messages at the heart of my authorial intent/narrative. There are obviously themes I want to explore, regarding the human condition and my complicated feelings and opinions about where we’re all at, have been, and could go as a species. I find I explore those kinds of themes best when I discover them organically as I’m writing the story, through what the characters are going through and what they’re struggling with, which makes me more aware of what we’re all struggling with, so it sort of builds from there. Whenever I’ve tried to write a story with some thematic social-commentary axe to grind as my driving motive, the characters end up feeling like mouth-pieces for my argument or whatever, rather than living, breathing people, with their own perspectives and motivations that drive the story forward to its natural conclusion. If I lose sight of that, then the story starts to feel like a writing-exercise, and I’m too old for that shit, so it dies on me.

If there’s a “moral of the story” to The Blazing Chief, it’s probably “Hang onto your critical thinking skills, and don’t be a bootlicker.” There’s definitely a running theme throughout the entire series about the cycle of violence and cruelty self-perpetuates itself, and my perhaps naively idealistic belief that healing those cycles begins with small human connections of empathy and love, that can eventually snowball out and make a difference, with the ignorant growing and changing through self-education and better exposure. 

Who is your favourite character in this book and why? 

It’s a toss-up between Remelea and Balthazar, both of whom were characters who never honestly got their due in this book ’til the last couple drafts or so. In whipping this book into shape, they were the ones I really got to explore on the most fresh ground, so I pushed myself into new territory, and ultimately surprised myself, in ways that I think will make the overall tapestry of the larger narrative far richer and more rewarding to readers.

Remelea’s a character who’s introduced in the second book. She was a hit with a lot of readers. In a lot of ways, she’s the most morally gray character in a series full of morally gray characters. She starts out as this very formidable warrior woman, with a strong, brazen, irreverent sort of personality that readers get a kick out of, that I certainly got a kick out of writing. She likes to see herself as this outlaw rebel who plays by her own rules, except she ironically comes to realize that she’s always just been sort of going through the motions, living life according to how she’s been trained and conditioned, but hasn’t had a cause she’s felt truly passionate about fighting for, ’til she takes up with Rob, one of our central protagonists. She eventually hits a point where she’s forced to question whether this whole revolutionary rampage she’s gotten swept up into is what she really believes in, or if she’s been lying to herself because of her personal emotional connection to Rob. I think that’s a very relatable thing for a lot of people’s continuous journeys of self-discovery through life. A lot of us form deep emotional bonds with people with strong personalities that fire us up to their tune at the time, to where we fall in love more with the idea of them than who they actually are. Then we eventually come to realize later that the relationship was never a healthy one in the first place, and starting over from that place is scary and full of inner-conflict. Most of us aren’t, y’know, monstrous superhuman blade-wielding fighting-machines like Remelea, but still. In the third book, her path diverges from Rob’s, so she’s back to trying to figure out where she fits into this whole apocalyptic mess she’s caught in the middle of. By the end, she’s forced to make some painful decisions, with dire consequences for the big picture, that ultimately define who she truly is on a new, more solid level, as a truly rounded person. 

Then there’s Balthazar, who’s the new heavy-hitter villain who this book introduces. He’s one of the most broadly over-the-top major characters I’ve ever written, in ways that were a lot of fiendish fun to write. I treated him in earlier drafts like a sort of glorified red herring, but in the later drafts, I realized that I hadn’t explored him properly, or made the reader truly feel the threat he represents. In brainstorming from my editor Garrett Cooke’s suggestions, I found myself delving into Balthazar a lot deeper. He ultimately turned out to be a lot more psychologically interesting than I expected. On the one hand, he’s this grotesque, diabolical genetically crafted monstrosity, with superhuman abilities and a brain crammed since birth with all this strategic and tactical military prowess on how to use those powers to make him and those he commands a major threat to what’s left of civilization, yet he also has this childlike, naïve mentality about it all, because of the people who abused, twisted, and conditioned him from birth to be what he is. He’s sort of a pitiable Frankenstein-monster sort of figure in a way. There’s no redemption for him, and he has to be stopped, and he’s the center of some of the book’s most disgusting, nightmarish moments. Yet it’s ultimately not his fault that he is the way he is. The older I get, the more I’ve come to realize that a lot of the worst harm people are capable of doesn’t come from malice or what have you, but just from what people have been conditioned to see as normal behavior. With Balthazar I just took that to the most grotesque, deranged extreme I could think of within the context of these already extreme hypothetical circumstances. A lot of both Balthazar’s character-development and an up-close view of the destruction he’s causing and the threat he poses, comes from the point of view of this young human man who he’s tortured, mutilated, broken, and basically made his pet…who he now sees and treats with what he views as affection, like people raise livestock to eventually kill and eat, who they treat like a beloved pet right up to when they slit the animal’s throat, and don’t recognize the cognitive dissonance there. 

What inspired you to write this series?

At the time I started writing the first book, there were several ideas of books I wanted to write, then there was the book I started writing. I was playing around with all sorts of concepts, stumped on what to start next. My mind was a pretty big mess over a lot of recent trauma, including the death of a dear friend, and I wasn’t sure where to start processing that whenever I sat down at the keyboard. I felt like writing a straight-up horror novel, in the old-school Stephen King or Robert Bloch vein. I also wanted to write a giant epic adventure story, incorporating all the classical elements of heroic myth…all the intrigue, action, romance, friendship, betrayal, and epic stakes, like in all the great stories my dear departed friend and I used to geek out about…but to somehow make it all my own, to turn all those elements on their heads, say something about my own observations about life, so readers might not even realize that’s what they were reading at first, but by the end still feel something of that sublime rush that my buddy Dave had always gotten out of such tales at their best, hoping to honor his memory that way. I just didn’t know where to start, had to find some way in to make it my own, so I wouldn’t just regurgitate what had already been said in all those masterworks we’d read/watched/loved.

When I started writing The Night and the Land, that’s honestly not the story I thought I was getting myself into. I was more fascinated with the daily minutia of Brattleboro, Vermont, my adopted home town I was living in at the time and have since moved back to and settled in. I started tinkering with writing a quieter, semi-autobiographical magical-realism ensemble novel, about the various quirky characters in the community I was part of. Hell, if I’d continued in that vein, it may well have turned into something publishable under the label Literary Fiction, and wouldn’t that be a hoot? Then I wrote that scene in the bus station in Pittsburgh, where we meet Sally’s family while they’re looking for her, and the whole thing took on a life of its own from there. I sure as shit didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but here we are.

A lot of people these days in the speculative-fiction community will say that the trilogy is a played-out, over-used format. It’s one Tolkien pretty much accidentally invented when he wrote his giant War-and-Peace-sized epic which the publishers decided to split into three parts, but it’s a cool format, in my opinion. When it works, it works, particularly for a long, multibook story with a beginning, middle and end. I was never interested in writing one of those gargantuan 12-books-plus fantasy series that I saw cluttering the bookselves at the time, nor was I interested in making it feel like one continuous book split into three parts, or anything pretentious like that. Once I realized what I’d gotten myself into, it wasn’t long before I had an amorphous, general idea of where everything was headed, and a trilogy just felt like the story’s natural shape. The whole thing should tell a cohesive story, but I always approached each book as its own entity with its own beginning, middle, and end. The first book wound up being on some levels a small-town horror story in that aforementioned King/Bloch mode. There’s a love story driving the central narrative, but I wouldn’t call it a romance novel. The second one expands a great deal on the hidden-world mythos, through the perspective of a lot more characters in lots of different places all over North America. It’s probably the tightest and fasted-paced of the three, basically a chase/road-trip-through-hell story. Which brings us to the third and final book, which starts out like a post-apocalyptic story, then turns into a full-on psychedelic multi-dimensional fantasy tale, with hints of sci-fi, where certain characters, under circumstances I won’t spoil, actually travel through time and space to these other worlds and realities that through most of the series, we’ve only heard spoken of as vague lore and mythology among the people of this hidden society. 

What are your writing ambitions? 

Artistically, to keep stretching myself, to keep working with the various elements of storytelling that I love, keep making them my own in ways I haven’t even thought of yet, and overall to keep spinning good yarns driven by fascinating characters who hopefully more and more readers continue to discover and connect with. Professionally, I’m very proud to have beaten the odds to the point where my writing is legitimately a source of secondary income, so I figure if I keep my shit together and stay on track, five years from now I’d like to have made it my primary source of income…that’s all assuming, the way things are going in real life, that we’re not all fucked and living in a worse dystopian, apocalyptic nightmare than anything I could come up with. But hey, no one ever accomplished jack shit by succumbing to despair and futility, amIright?  

Are you working on any new projects presently? 


I’m in the process of re-writing a new novel set in the far future of the world of these stories, where the world is still in the process of rebuilding itself after an apocalypse or two, and many of the characters readers have come to know in the trilogy and the adjacent works have themselves become the stuff of distant, unreliable mythology. It’s been wild and challenging, in some ways like settling back on familiar ground, while at the same time in many ways building a whole new world, with its own new rules, from scratch, and dropping a whole new set of characters into the middle of it. I’ve also had a hankering of late to dive head-first back into contemporary horror, and I have several ideas kicking around about where I might go with that.  

Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you work in multiple genre?

My first love, writing-wise, was really horror fiction, particularly the classic Gothic horror works from the likes of Poe, Stoker, Shelley, and Leroux. I really cut my teeth at a young age trying to emulate those styles, before maturing, reading more broadly, going through more life experiences, etc, and developing my own style. As an oddball, neurologically atypical misfit kid growing up, I was particularly drawn to the kinds of larger-than-life human-monsters who were really just misfit social outcasts at odds with mainstream society. I’ve also always been drawn to stories of high adventure, and there’s a fine line between a lot of the morally gray kinds of heroes from those kinds of stories (such as Indiana Jones, the Man With No Name, Conan the Barbarian, or Long John Silver) and Gothic horror villains/anti-heroes like Dracula, the Frankenstein monster, or the Phantom of the Opera. There’s also a very fine line, I think, between adventure stories and horror stories. Compelling fiction is driven by conflict, and both adventure and horror distill that to a primal level, where it’s about high stakes such as the struggle for survival – the stuff of a ripping good yarn that gets the reader’s blood pumping. I think what continues to fascinate me the most at this point, with those kinds of stories, is exploring the contrasting psychologies of different types of characters caught up in those kinds of situations, how different kinds of people will respond differently in any number of ways, depending on their background, temperament, etc, and how those kinds of experiences change people, for better, worse, or some combination of the two. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

When reading the kind of shit you want to write, take mental notes on what does/doesn’t work when perfecting your craft. Also, get out there and live a life that makes you feel alive. Take risks, make mistakes, get into trouble, get into adventures, whatever that means to you personally (if not on the scale of the kind of “adventure” yarns I write, well, that’s probably for the best 😉 ). Above all, follow your own inner creative voice. You never know where that’ll take you. You’re not so unique in your experiences and feelings as it often seems, but no one can write about it exactly like you can, and you never know whom your voice is exactly what they need. Shoot for the moon, you may or may not make it, but you’re still likely to hit something along the way that those who didn’t dare never would have dreamed of. 

Thank you, Matt, for all your insightful and fun answers!


About The Book

The Blazing Chief

For untold ages, the refugees from the land of Deschemb have lived secretly beneath the surface of human society. Now modern civilization crumbles as their ancient feud boils to the surface. As chaos and brutality engulf the world, strange alien forces reshape the lands for a new beginning…for whoever survives.

In the frozen Canadian wastes, the United Deschembines take shelter in an abandoned military base, under the leadership of Jesse Karn, Zane Rochester, and Sally Coscan.

In the Louisiana swamps, Rob and Remelea press towards the ruins of New Orleans, for a final confrontation with Talino.

In Brattleboro, Vermont, a long-forgotten doorway opens, to a land beyond living memory, where two lifelong enemies must journey as allies, to save two worlds, or destroy them.

You can find The Blazing Chief here:

Amazon | Goodreads


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Morgan Cole

Welcome to TRB Lounge!

Today, we are featuring Morgan Cole , author of Marilia, the Warlord, the first book in the Chrysathamere Trilogy, for our Author Interview feature.

About The Author

Morgan Cole

Bureaucrat by day, fantasy author by night, I began my writing career with several highly questionable life choices, such as a major in history and creative writing that was meant to lead to a glorious career as a fantasy author but instead led to the world of unpaid internships, minimum wage jobs, and a dingy, lightless apartment in small-town Ohio.

I suppose I took all those motivational posters about shooting for the moon and landing among the stars far too seriously. After a rocky relationship with a literary agent that didn’t quite work out, I decided to pursue an alternative career path (that actually allows me to pay rent) and to write my books on the side.

Growing up, my father instilled in me a passion for ancient Greek and Roman history (especially all the battles!), while my brother helped immerse me in the imaginative worlds of Morrowind and Middle Earth. All those influences are very much present in my writing.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Author Website  | Goodreads | Instagram



The Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

I grew up in the American Midwest with my brother, where I spent most of my time pretending I was either in space battling stormtroopers or in some fantasy world battling orcs or demons or whatever the monster of the day happened to be. I was the quintessential quiet, shy, anxious kid—I hated school because it involved social interaction and even CROWDS, a more fearsome foe than any demon. All that self-doubt, fear, alienation—I tend to pour it into my characters. It’s a cathartic process. 

I made a number of poor life choices in the intervening years. One winner has to be signing a contract with a literary agent while in a particularly intensive school program. I soon learned that I had absolutely no time, while studying, to make the edits she sought in order to transform the book from an adult fantasy into the more marketable YA genre. I stalled, and the relationship fizzled out. Afterwards, I decided to go it alone, as I kind of preferred the book as an adult fantasy anyway!

Morgan Cole is my pen name. Why the secret identity? I wish it was because I was some kind of secret celebrity, but the truth is that a buried part of me hasn’t totally given up on trying to get “traditionally” published some day when I have more time to devote to agent-hunting (and a book that better fits the market). And I’ve heard it’s easier to do that if the powers that be don’t realize you’ve published books on your own—an act of rebellion many in Big Publishing seem to frown on.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

Though Marilia, the Warlord is a fantasy, it’s written in the structural style of a historical biographical novel, following the protagonist over the course of many years. I love to explore how childhood shapes who we are, so I couldn’t just not have scenes of the characters as children! It’s also possibly one of the only fantasy books I’ve read without any magic. Sure, there’s some weird creatures here and there, and crystal swords and the like, but no powers or spells. I have nothing against magic in principle, though I do truly hate it when the final showdown comes down to a character using some newly-discovered magical ability to just up and destroy the villain (you hear me, Letter for the King on Netflix??). I’ll take a good old-fashioned sword duel any day.

Finally, each book in this series explores a different theme, and one of my main goals with the first novel was to examine the notion of the “strong female character.” For some reason, the media often seems to assume that it’s empowering when a female character beats people up or kills them. Why? Isn’t it interesting that violence—stereotypically a masculine pursuit—is considered strong, while being less martially gifted is considered weak? Marilia swings a sword around, but that’s not what makes her a strong character. 

What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?

Well, that kind of spoils the ending. But one thing I can say—despite this book being about a badass woman warrior, I did not want it to be about the generic kind of tough girl I see in a lot of recent Hollywood movies and bad novels—saucy, witty, always ready with a quip, always the most composed and unflappable person in the room, and strong by the virtue that she beats up/kills men. In fact, that was one of the very notions that I set out to question—that being a strong female character means engaging in the traditionally masculine, and kind of terrible pursuits of violently killing or beating people up. Why is that what is most respected by our society? How far have we really come if being a strong female hero means entirely rejecting traditionally feminine things in favor of violence? 

Who is your favourite character in this book and why? 

I feel like that’s an easy one. Marilia, of course—the protagonist. She’s the most developed character in the story. She’s also probably the character who changed the most from draft-to-draft, going from a religious zealot who actually believed she heard the voices of the gods to the more grounded, level-headed heroine she is today. I also have a soft spot for several side characters who are loosely inspired by real people I know…but to say who or why would spoil the sequels. 

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else? 

The Chrysathamere Trilogy was inspired by a conversation I had with my brother where we discussed the unrealized potential of the three Star Wars prequels (I was a shamelessly obsessed Star wars fan growing up; I had the Jedi hair going and everything) and how they were ripe for a remake with better dialogue. The story shifted and changed over time, and now only very loosely resembles its Clone Wars-in-fantasy-land origins.

There are certainly a lot of other influences. A song of Ice and Fire, obviously (I liked Game of Thrones before it was cool!), but also some lesser-known books and movies like Searching for Bobby Fischer, a rather excellent movie about chess and the harmful effects jealousy and cutthroat competition can have on children. When it comes to battle scenes and tactics, I tend to steal a bit here and there from real history. In this book, it was Alexander the Great’s epic battle at Gaugamela. 

How long did it take you to write this particular book? 

While I’m happy to finally have this book finished, it was a real struggle to get there! I began brainstorming and outlining this novel back when I was scarcely older than Marilia herself. The writing and re-writing took ten long years! At one point, a literary agent advised me to cut the book (which at that time had two protagonists) in half and focus only on Marilia. I did, and the story was stronger for it. 

What are your writing ambitions? Are you working on any new projects presently? 

When it comes to my writing goals, I’m just going to take things one step at a time. I’ll finish editing and fine-tuning the 4 books (The Chrysathamere Trilogy + 1 other adventure novel) I’ve been working on, and then we’ll see…if people respond to them, like them, I’ll probably feel the urge to make more!

As for the good ‘ol “where do you see yourself in 5 years” question…I don’t think I’ve given an accurate answer to that question thus far in my life. Especially with COVID-19 roiling the globe and political turmoil roiling my home city of Washington, DC, I find it best not to plan too far ahead. In 5 years I could be a victim of the coming apocalypse, who knows? I don’t want to jinx it.

Are you working on any new projects presently?

I’m still working on the third book in this trilogy. It’s the longest and the three, and the bloodiest, so it’s quite a bit of work. I ended up re-writing the last 150 pages from scratch because I wasn’t a fan of the climax. I wanted to be sure to get it right—I might have been inspired by A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones but I definitely wanted to make the same mistakes that series did when it came to (not) wrapping things up. After that, I have another nearly-finished project that’s sort of like if The Last of Us met the Princess Bride. 

Why have you chosen this genre? 

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with harrowing sword duels and magical worlds. Together, my brother and I killed many imaginary orcs. So it always felt natural to explore that in my writing. Plus, I’d always wanted to read more fantasy books where there was no magic and the main character was just a regular person, so I figured why not write one? 

When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you to follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way? 

I probably decided to “become a writer” around the time I was ten. I wrote my first novel in high school. It wasn’t totally terrible, but it certainly was pretentious, especially the scene where the villain stopped mid-fight to monologue to the hero for four pages straight about how charity and altruism is for the weak because we live in a society and something something laissez faire capitalism. Just as unnecessarily edgy as you’d expect an emo high schooler’s first novel to be, really. 

It wasn’t easy at all. In pursuing the dream of being a writer, I ended up making some foolish choices in college that cost me dearly when it came time to get a job. I feel, in retrospect, that it’s far better to major in something practical like computer science that allows you flexibility in employment (so as to have time to write on the side) then majoring in creative writing itself. For one thing, none of those classes teach you a whit about how to actually write and sell a novel, and the short story market isn’t exactly robust. I also sacrificed a lot of time I could have spent with friends—still a bit sad about that. 

Because I screwed college up so badly, I ended up struggling for a whole to find a long-term job. Eventually, an immigration lawyer was kind enough to take me in as an assistant after we met in the middle-of-nowhere Texas in a family detention center where we were both volunteering—him as a free lawyer for refugees seeking political asylum, me as an interpreter. Because of my experience working with him, I ended up going to law school, which is funny, because I never saw myself as any kind of lawyer (I always hated public speaking). Life takes you in strange directions, I guess!

I labored for a long time under the delusion that writing could pay my bills. It really doesn’t—the cost of a professional editor alone will easily be more than the yearly earnings of most self-published authors. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t value or beauty in the act of writing. 

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it? 

I have no real ritual. I like to do a lot of planning first—sometimes two months of brainstorming before I ever sit down to write. Even then, the story never goes 100% the way I planned. I write when I have time, which is usually on the weekends. Some of my favorite scenes got down on vacation, though. 

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

Certainly on a laptop. I tend to hold my pencil with a death-grip and my handwriting is terrible. I’m convinced I was born left-handed and raised right-handed by mistake. I tend to do a lot of editing as I go, so the laptop tends to make that easier. 

Your 5 favourite books?

A tough question, as they tend to change as I grow older. But they might be: Dark Age, by Pierce Brown; Circe by Madeline Miller; The Land Beyond the Sea by Sharon Kay Penman; Best Served Cold, by Joe Abercrombie; and Horns, by Joe Hill (what is it with Joes?) But I also like Gillian Flynn’s books a lot, and there’s this one book by Nick Cutter called the Troop that gave me nightmares and still gives me the shivers when I think about it, if you’re into that sort of thing…I guess maybe a part of me is still the edgy student I was in high school.  

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

By feverishly trying to brainstorm my way around a problem until I fail miserably, then talking to someone else—a friend, or a relative—until finally clarity strikes. Usually the answer to my plot hole is outside the box. For example, I once spent three weeks agonizing about how Marilia could break into a castle and assassinate a certain character. After devising twelve plans, each more preposterous than the last, I jettisoned the assassination plotline completely and completely re-did the ending of that book. But I really struggle with writer’s block sometimes. For reasons unknown to me, so many of my problems seem to revolve around boats/ships. That naval battle in Marilia, the Warlord? An absolute nightmare. Once this series is over, if I keep writing, I’m going to only write books set in landlocked countries. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

They always say to read in your genre, but I feel like I grew as much, if not more, reading outside it, finding new ideas, and then dragging them back into the fantasy genre. “Literary” fiction, historical fiction, horror—I tend to read those the most. Also, don’t do what I did—major in creative writing in college. They taught me nothing about the marketing side of being an author, and, while my professors gave me some useful teachings regarding writing short stories, I gained almost next to no information about writing novels, which are a very different beast. I wish I’d chosen a major that would have made it easier to get a day job to leave lots of time for writing—I learned best through constant practice. 

Thank you, Morgan, for all your honest and helpful (especially to new writers) answers!


About The Book

Marilia: The Warlord

Born the bastard daughter of a painted lady, Marilia was told she would live out her days within the walls of her mother’s brothel, a companion for the rich men of Tyrace. But after a terrible betrayal, Marilia’s world turns upside down. With the help of her twin brother, Annuweth, she flees the only home she’s ever known in search of the one man who can offer her a chance at a better life: one of her deceased father’s friends, the Emperor of Navessea’s greatest general. 

What follows is a journey spanning years, from the streets of the desert city of Tyracium to the splendor of the emperor’s keep and the wind-swept, wild island of Svartennos. Along the way, Marilia discovers, for the first time, the gift she has for strategy and warfare—a world that is forbidden to girls like her.

When the empire is threatened by a foreign invasion, the defense of Navessea is left in the hands of a cruel and arrogant general no match for the empire’s foes. With the fate of her new home and her family hanging in the balance, Marilia swears to use all her courage and cunning to help repel the enemy…if she can convince anyone to follow her.

The struggle that follows will test her to her core and lead her back to the past she thought she had escaped. Facing treachery within her own ranks as well as a devious enemy commander, Marilia will need all the help she can get, even if it means doing something her brother may never forgive—making a pact with the man who murdered her father. 

Inspired by The Song of Achilles and Ender’s GameMarilia, the Warlord is a blend of the epic and the personal, a story of war, romance, envy, the rivalry between brother and sister, and a young woman’s fight to find her place in the world. 

Get your copy of Marilia here:
Amazon | Kobo | B&N | Smashwords | iBooks


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Debarshi Kanjilal

Welcome to the TRB Lounge, the part of TRB that helps authors and publishers promote their titles.

Today, we are featuring Debarshi Kanjilal, author of SuperBu: Homecoming, for our Author Interview feature.

About The Author

Debarshi Kanjilal

Debarshi Kanjilal (DK) is an urban fiction writer based out of Bangalore, India. His debut novella, Based on Lies, was touted as a gripping psychological thriller by several reputable reviewers.

His latest novella, SuperBu: Homecoming is an emotional journey of a family and their dog. Debarshi ran the ‘God of Absurdity’ blog from 2012 to 2015, which published humorous anecdotes and reflection pieces.

He is also an accomplished learning experience design professional who has helped shape adult learning strategy for some of the most well-known organizations globally.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Author Website  | Amazon | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram



The Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

Hello to the readers of TRB! I am an urban fiction author based out of Bangalore, India. I published my first novella, Based on Lies, in 2017 and now I have a new story to share with the world. When I am not writing, you will find me lecturing people about the way adults learn, spending time with dogs, fiddling with my phone, or begrudgingly cooking a meal in the kitchen. Before the pandemic hit, you’d also have found me planning weekend road trips around the city.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

I don’t think it will come as a surprise, but the story of SUPERBU is inspired by the life of Buzo, who was a part of our family until recently. When I had first started planning the story, it was meant to be a fantasy about a four-legged superhero. But with time, I realized that every dog is already a superhero for its family; I didn’t need to give Bully, the dog who this book is about, any additional superpowers to tell the story I wanted to tell.

As for Buzo, she will always be my superhero. And if this book does well, she will, hopefully, become a superhero for some other dogs. I plan to use most of the proceeds from this book to fund the Buzoland project, which will provide a real home for a few stray dogs. Being able to get the Buzoland project off the ground will mean much more to me than any accolades this book may or may not earn.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why? 

In its essence, SUPERBU Homecoming is the story of a flawed family. I care deeply about each character in that family. Homecoming is the first novella in the SUPERBU series and it focuses heavily on Bully a.k.a. Bu, who the novella is named after and Barnali, the lady of the family. Homecoming is as much Barnali’s story as it is Bully’s.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else? 

I think I kind of answered this question earlier. I wanted to write a book to commemorate my dog, Buzo, who we lost a couple of years ago. This is, among other things, my attempt to do some good in her name.

How long did it take you to write this particular book? 

Homecoming is the first of three novellas in the SUPERBU series. The idea to write a book like this came to me a couple of years ago, conceptualization happened a year ago, the actual writing took a month, perhaps, and editing took another month and a half. I work with a few amazing beta readers in my network who really help me refine my work after the first draft is done. 

What are your writing ambitions? Are you working on any new projects presently? 

I think the goal is to transition into being a full-time writer but right now I just want as many people to read the stories of SUPERBU as possible. I have a few too many projects in the pipeline, to be honest. The immediate focus will be on two of them:

  • The next novella in the SUPERBU series – Becoming
  • And a novelette I have in the works called Government

Why have you chosen this genre? 

I find genres quite limiting. I tell people that I write urban fiction because it allows me to explore a variety of themes within an urban setting. I wrote SUPERBU because I love dogs and to commemorate my dog.

When did you decide to become a writer? 

When I was eight, and every couple of years after that. But I think I have been serious about it for the past couple of years. I like the idea of being an indie author. I feel that it liberates me to write about the things I want to write about and in the manner that I want to write about them. I truly believe that novellas and novelettes are the future of books and yet traditional publishers often push these formats to the sidelines. If we are to capture the imagination of a new generation of readers, we cannot expect them to spend days or even months reading one book. As an indie author, I can cater to that modern reader who is reading on electronic devices and hopping from one interest to another every couple of days.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it? 

A lot of ideation without any actual writing for weeks, followed by panic and a few weeks of 3 or 4-hour writing sprints, and then editing like a madman. Personally, working with chapter outlines or scenes hasn’t really worked out for me. I like to write my stories in sequence. 

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I write on my laptop but I am getting more savvy with mobile word processors. In time and with the advent of superior technology, I won’t mind writing books on my cellphone.

Your 5 favourite books?

I love answering this question, thanks.

  1. The book that got me interested in reading as a kid was Moby Dick. 
  2. A favorite of mine in contemporary Indian literature – Ghachar Ghochar. 
  3. Third, I’d say Lord of the Rings. I’d recommend anyone to pick LOTR over Harry Potter books, if you had to choose. 
  4. Four, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. Not many people have read this but it is such a fantastic, whimsical book.
  5. Lastly, The Story of My Experiments with Truth. I loved learning about a different side of Mahatma Gandhi.

If I may take the liberty of adding one more to the list, Maneaters of Kumaon by Jim Corbett is a blast of a read.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

By procrastinating until an idea hits me. 😊

No, but seriously, the answer is often care. If I care about a story, I am more likely to be able to write about it than if I don’t. I have realized that writer’s block often comes from an attempt to be inauthentic. I often found myself not being able to write something that I have not experienced in any way, shape, or form. Having had those experiences, I try to only tell stories that I can relate with on some level. Also, switching off for a bit of time helps – music, movies, a long drive, they all seem to work for me.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Getting your work published is easier than ever now. But that also means that competition is stiffer than ever, post publication. Take your time. Invest in professional editing. Know that writing is 20% of the work but the good news is, no one’s stopping you from acing the other 80% either. Persevere and you will succeed.

Thank you, Debarshi, for all your insightful answers!


About The Book

Superbu: Homecoming

This is not a children’s book or a fairy tale. This novella is not all about fun, or that fuzzy feeling you get from stories about dogs. It is a dramatic story of a family who brought home a dog. If you are looking for a book that’ll keep you continuously smiling through the antics of an adorable puppy, this is perhaps not the book for you.

So, now that you know what not to expect, let’s talk about what you can expect from this book. Have you or someone you know ever felt like something is missing in your life and getting a dog could help you fill a void? Did you, or an acquaintance of yours, end up actually getting that dog? Did you and your dog figure out how to navigate through life together?

This is the story of that dog, or a dog like that one. But more importantly, this is the story of that version of you, or that acquaintance of yours, who decided to act and bring home that dog, or of people like you who went through similar experiences in life.

You can find SuperBu: Homecoming here:

Amazon | Goodreads


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Abby Arthur

Welcome to the TRB Lounge, the part of TRB that helps authors and publishers promote their titles.

Today, we are featuring Abby Arthur, author of Twins of Shadow, for our Author Interview feature.

About The Author

Abby Arthur

Abby Arthur writes young adult fantasy in a fascinating modern world full of magic and adventure that lingers even after the last page. With over 20 years of writing experience, she loves giving readers an escape from reality and is constantly creating new stories. Her magic portal is located in small town Iowa, protected by herself, her husband, and their son. Her first book is Twins of Shadow.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Website | Twitter  | Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook | YouTube | Goodreads



The Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin. 

Hi beautiful readers! I’m Abby Arthur, a young adult fantasy author. I strive to take you on an adventure in a magical land you can never forget with characters and experiences that linger even after the last page. 

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

TWINS OF SHADOW is the first book I’ve published in a world of magic that’s been living inside me since I was 8 years old. Tarrek and Albree (the twins and the narrators) are some of the first characters I created. They have been with me for almost twenty years. The twins have, therefore, woven themselves into many more books to come. 

Who is your favourite character in this book and why? 

My first reaction: Albree! Because he’s tall, dark, and handsome … (Wait, so is Tarrek. They’re identical!) 

My second reaction: Ok, let’s be serious now … Looking back. Tarrek used to be my favorite (When I was, like, 12) because he was so sensible. However, a friend of mine mentioned how she loved Albree and his “bad-boyness”. She said he had more depth to him because of his rebellious behavior, and something inside me just agreed with her. He’s been my favorite ever since. 

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else? 

I was inspired to write TWINS OF SHADOW for a few reasons:

  1. I wanted people to start falling in love with the characters I’ve lived with for years. 
  2. Books can break through all kinds of barriers. Books reach across the world, helping people connect with each other. (I think of LORD OF THE RINGS and HARRY POTTER when I say this.)
  3. I dream of creating a reason for people to connect, to form a fantasy loving family around the books I write. TWINS OF SHADOW is my first step towards that goal.  

How long did it take you to write this particular book? 

A week. 

I was on fire. The story idea rushed me like a raging river and sucked me under time and time again. I would lay down for bed and jump back up to write more. Then I’d wake up early and start at it again. I wrote around 5,000 words a day. 

What are your writing ambitions? Are you working on any new projects presently? 

My ambitions are to write until my soul is called home. Stories run thicker than blood in my veins. I’m addicted to writing and can’t imagine life without it.

I’m always working on new projects. I want to see my books spread across the world in multiple languages so the fantasy family can grow. 

Just in the last 6 months, I’ve written 3 novels and finished a short story collection. (It’s faster to write than publish :)) All of the stories I’ve finished take place in the same world as TWINS OF SHADOW, and in many of the stories I completed, the twins make multiple appearances. 

One of the novels I wrote is told by Sheva, Tarrek and Albree’s crazy younger sister. (She makes an appearance in the second half of TWINS OF SHADOW.) Her novel shows us why she’s crazy (and freakishly powerful). It also follows what she was up to while the twins were on their mission in ToS. Sheva’s story also has a mysterious heart throb and his rival, Albree’s best friend. 

Why have you chosen this genre? 

I first chose fantasy as a child around the time HARRY POTTER came out. I’ve never read the books myself. (Dramatic gasp). My parents were a part of the “Anti-Harry Potter fan club” when I was young. But I watched the movies at a friend’s house—the most rebellious thing I ever did, I promise.

That said, the book that got me into fantasy was SHADOWMANCER by G.P. Taylor. Followed by the LORD OF THE RINGS movies. 

My books were originally inspired by Tolkien’s world and featured a 13-year-old boy as the star. (I was 8 and 13 seemed like such an old age to me!) My characters grew up with me, gained technology, and eventually got stuck in their teens. What a way to be, right? 

When did you decide to become a writer? 

When I was 8 and my sister read young adult books to me at night. I thought the stories were awesome and just thought, I can do that! So I started writing, and I’ve never stopped.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it? 

I get to my computer, open my current story, and set to it. 

My writing time has changed over the years as I’ve grown up, moved around, and gained my own family. I now tend to wake up at 5:30 AM to write for a few hours before everyone else is up. My son takes a nap at 9, and I write again. 

I go to work at 12pm and get off at 5pm, so if my husband is home at night, I write some more. I’m obsessed, and my husband feeds the obsession by reading what I write. He’s always up to speed on my character’s lives.

If my husband isn’t home at night, I read books and watch TV shows to feed the stories inside me.

I also always have a notebook with me to brainstorm ideas on the go and during downtime at work. 

Making time to keep my body healthy is crucial as well. If my body isn’t in good health, my writing lags. Therefore, I always tend to do something physical in the 8’oclock hour. Yoga has been my go-to for months! My exact writing formula is to break my stories into 4 parts, brainstorm the overall goals of the book, then write all my scenes in order. I can go on, but I explain more on my writing style in my YouTube videos. The one titled “Short Story Writing Tips for Fantasy| 4 EASY STEPS” is actually the formula I use for everything I write, not just short stories.

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

Computer!

I tried a pen and paper when I was 16. My hand cramped so bad! And I still had to move what I wrote to a computer… I ain’t got time for that!

Your 5 favourite books?

Number one is easy. Cassandra Clare is my idol! So of course CITY OF BONES is number one. Sabaa Tahir has a way of making me shake to the core with her un-conventional plot twists, so her AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is number two. THRONE OF GLASS was just so good, and though I’m not in love with every Sarah J. Maas story, I LOVED that one. Four is the POISON EATERS AND OTHER STORIES by Holly Black, because her short story, COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN, is burned to my mind! The fifth is harder to choose, because there’s a lot of good books I’ve read… but right now I’d say KISS OF DECEPTION by Mary E. Pearson.

  1. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. 
  2. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
  3. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
  4. The Poison Eaters and Other Stories by Holly Black
  5. Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

Ooo, the notorious question! There’s not too often I run into writers block these days, as the muscles in my mind related to book stuff seem to be on overdrive! BUT, in the last year I remember one moment where I stood before the computer unsure as what to write, like my inner writer fell asleep! (How dare she!)

After about a minute of contemplating the little curser blinking at me, I took a step back, grabbed a notebook and pen, and implemented something I learned from the author of WRITING BETTER LYRICS, Pat Pattison. 

Shameless plug* 

WRITING BETTER LYRICS is about the craft of writing itself as much as it is about writing songs. It is the single book I credit to GREATLY improving my writing style, so I highly recommend it!

Anyway… Pat teaches something called Object Writing, where you pick one thing to write about (a phone, paper, etc) and ramble about it. However, the rambles are to use all your senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste). This naturally causes me to write with metaphors and similes. I do this exercise quite often (for about 5-10 minutes) in the mornings before I write. It has turned out to be an INSTANT writer’s block conqueror for me.

So that one day when writer’s block thought it could claim me, it was instantly conquered by a 5 minute Object Writing session. My inner writer woke up and my story came rushing to me. The blank page disappeared, and I had 1000 words to show for it!

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read books in your genera. Read a lot! But also read how-to-write books from people who’ve gone before you. It will accelerate your writing skills and make your books better faster. 

If writing is your dream, and all you can think about is being a writer, you can do it! You will learn to brush off rejection, improve your skills, and never give up. Because you can’t ever give up, even when your fingers cramp from writing 5000 words for three days straight, and you’re rejected too many times to count. 

As in the words of Lisa Nichols, “Quitters never win, and winners never quit.” 

Thank you for sharing your time with me!

-Abby Arthur

Thank you, Abby, for all your enthusiastic and insightful answers! I personally love doing prompt-writing too and object writing sounds fun! Will definitely give it a try.


About The Book

Twins Of Shadow

A crown prince and his twin brother are secretly skilled assassins…

…killing for a cause they both despise.

A crown prince and his twin brother are secretly skilled assassins…

…killing for a cause they both despise.

Bound to a dragon by a powerful spell, Tarrek and Albree are sent on their deadliest mission yet: Overcome an archangel, capture an innocent snake whisperer and smuggle him across foreign soil, alive. If they fail to comply with the spell’s demand, it will drive them to insanity. Yet a deadlier force commands their attention when an ice-wielding slave trader freezes several civilians in a local village, ensnaring Albree’s love interest in the process. Will the twins choose to complete their near-suicide mission or fight insanity to save innocent lives?

All eBook formats Free at https://abbyarthur.com/
Get the physical copy here: Amazon



To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Roland Sato Page

Welcome to the TRB Lounge, the part of TRB that helps authors and publishers promote their titles.

Today, we are featuring Roland Sato Page, author of Eating The Forbidden Fruit, for our feature, Author Interview.

About The Author

Roland Sato Page

Eating the Forbidden Fruit is a gritty fiction novel loosely based on true events in author Roland Sato Page’s life. The newcomer author delivers a personal journey into his rise and demise as a St. Louis City Police Officer. He takes the readers on a roller coaster ride of good ole family memories to the nightmarish reality of being a police officer indicted on federal charges. During his trial, he wrote memoirs as a testimonial of redemption. Roland’s case stems from the conflict of his childhood affiliation and his oath to uphold the law. What is certain is one can’t run from sin for karma is much faster.
Roland Sato Page was born in Brooklyn New York in a military household with a mother from Osaka Japan and a combat trainer father with three war tours under his belt. He grew up in a well-disciplined home with five other siblings. As he got older his family relocated to St. Louis where the author planted his roots and also pursued a military life in the Army Reserves.
Roland married his high school sweetheart and started a family of four. Roland joined the St. Louis police department were his career was cut short when he was convicted of federal crimes due to his childhood affiliation.
After enduring his demise he rebounded becoming a famed a tattoo artist opening Pearl Gallery Tattoos in downtown St. Louis Mo. The company grew into a family business yet another unfortunate incident tested his fate. He was diagnosed with Lupus which halted his body art career. However, with tragedy comes blessings. Roland’s sons took over the business and propelled the shop to a higher level. Roland consumed with depression began writing to occupy the time. With a newfound passion, he traded visual art for literary art.

You can connect with the author here:

Author Website  | Amazon | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram



The Interview

 

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin.

My name is Roland Sato Page hailing from St. Louis Mo. I am a husband, father of 4, a person with too many past occupations, and I’ve been cursed and blessed during my journey.

 

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

Eating the Forbidden Fruit a urban fiction loosely based on true events form my past as a St. Louis police officer convicted of federal crimes because my childhood affiliation. A roller coaster ride of emotions drama, humor, and love. I put my heart and soul into this book. March 30, 2020 is the official launch date. Pre-orders available mid February.

 

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

My wife because the many times when people said we would never make it and here we are three decades later. Strong as ever.

 

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

Well I was a quite fortunate tattoo business owner years back. I was diagnosed with Lupus, which halted my body art career. To make matters worse my mother passed away therefore I descended into a deep depression. My wife and kids encouraged me to find another hobby to distract me from my woes. I started writing discovering I had a passion for the literary realm. Quite therapeutic.

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

I would say seven months or more. The beginning was slow but once I open my heart the words flowed onto the paper. Now I have insomnia so I started on another novel titled “Skin Deep”. It’s based the temptations and desires in the body Art industry.

What are your writing ambitions? Are you working on any new projects presently?

It’s not about the fame or money. I write to maintain my sanity. Now I have insomnia so I started on another novel titled “Skin Deep”. It’s based the temptations and desires in the body Art industry.

Why have you chosen this genre?

I choose fiction to maintain the respect and privacy of characters in my storyline. I prefer to narrate life experiences that I have endured. So much easier to translate onto paper.

 

When did you decide to become a writer?

Once I discovered being a author requires a artistic mind it was natural. I traded visual art (tattooing) for literary art. I manage my depression so much better now.

 

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

In the privacy of my own home. Actually in my mom’s old rocking chair sipping on some maca green tea.

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

It varies mostly on my laptop however sometimes I do a outline on a notepad. If I’m out and a moment pops in my head I will grab whatever is available.

Your 5 favourite books?

S.E. Hinton “The Outsiders”, Andrew Walker ‘Se7en”, Stephen King “Shawshank Redemption”, Alice Walker “Color Purple”, James Haskins “The Cotton Club”.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I’ll take a drive with my wife even late night trips. We talk a bit suddenly unblock. Sometimes you got to back off not to rush it.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write from the heart and stay humble. You have to keep a open minded to criticism and feedback. I’m still learning myself so I can gain knowledge and alliances.

Thank you, Roland, for all the interesting answers!


About The Book

Eating The Forbidden Fruit

A gritty fictional novel based on true events in author Roland Sato Page life as a St. Louis police officer convicted of federal crimes. A tale of karma, confession, and redemption. The author takes you on a roller coaster ride of his journey searching for the answer “Where did he go wrong?”

You can find Eating The Forbidden Fruit, here:

AmazonGoodreads | Website

 


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: R.J. Parker

Welcome to the TRB Lounge, the part of TRB that helps authors and publishers promote their titles.

Today, we are featuring R.J. Parker, author of Requiem, Changing Times, for our feature, Author Interview.

About The Author

R.J. Parker

Russell Parker was born in Bountiful, Utah. As his father was a safety manager he had to move around until his senior year of high school, when he came to Cache Valley, Utah to stay. He married the most wonderful woman in the world and they are the parents of four fantastic kids, with one crazy dog. Russell played all kinds of sports and was an outdoorsman until an accident brought him to writing. A writer since high school, encouragement brout his stories to life.

YOU CAN CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR HERE

Author WebsitePublisher Website  | Amazon | Goodreads | Facebook



The Interview

 

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

Requiem is set in two different places and times. I wanted to write something that would bring fantasy to our world. Something that you could see happening when you open the door or look out your window. To do this there had to be spy’s, science, elves, trolls, goblins, imps, spellbinders, dwarfs, magic and the group that has the most fantasy streaming through it…. the government.

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

There are two for me that I couldn’t get enough of. The first is Corbin. He has had a very difficult family live and is the guy who has not been picked for any sports team. So he deals with it with humor. The next is O’Neil. He is a carefree character who can see the fun in anything. He doesn’t care what others think and gets the job done. He is a dwarf making the best of both worlds, literally.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

I had some health issues which left me on my back for months. I read a lot of books and I got to a point where I wished I could change them just a little. In some cases, a lot. Before I lost what little sanity I had, (some would say to late) I begin writing my own novel. I wanted to write one that I wished I could read. I researched as much as I could in the things I wished to put in a book and couldn’t stop writing it.

 

How long did it take you to write it?

It didn’t take me long to write at all. When I was finished it was great except for one thing. It stunk. I poured over it changing and tuning it again and again. Until I got it to the point that it is today. All that time was about a year.

 

Are you working on any other project(s) right now? If yes, what are they?

I have finished the sequel to, “Changing Times” and it will be out some time next year. I have also finished the first of another series that will be coming out in two to three months. That one is called, “Crystal Shadows, Gripping New Blood.” I am currently working on the sequel in that series and started on a western adventure.

 

Why have you chosen this genre?

I have always been a fan of Urban fantasy. It is a realm that I think we can all symbolize with and see something that only you can see. It has our reality woven with our dreams.

 

When did you decide to become a writer?

I am still making the decision. I don’t consider myself a write as I do a storyteller.

 

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

To be honest I just do it. I began to think of every part of the story within the story and map it out. Now it just works itself out that way.

 

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

My computer is my best friend when it comes to writing and spell check is my best friend. I tend to write so fast that I would if I didn’t have that, we would need a team of translators just to get past the heading.

 

Your 5 favorite books?

The first would be canonical books. Religion is very important to me. The next four would be a tie, Harry Potter series, Lord of the Rings series, George Lucas books, Shannara series, and Green Eggs and Ham to top it off.

 

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I don’t really get it. There is inspiration all around. The hard part is deciding which is the best way the story should turn for me.

 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Get as much education and advice as you can. Find out what works for you and keep at. There have been some who I have meet that plan every little thing in their books, down to what food their characters eat. Even when that has nothing to do with the book. Then there are some who just write and then go with it and let the story unfold.

There are so many ways to do it, find what works for you and have at it, keep at it and enjoy it.

 

Thank you, R.J. Parker, for all the interesting answers!


About The Book

Requiem, Changing Times

Clint and Corbin are having a weird day. Best friends for life, things are getting a little strange around their town, and at school. When they’re followed by a strange man looking for Clint and later attacked by an imp, it makes sense to retreat to the safety of home. But when strangers from another world, Banks and O’Neil, arrive with their medley of allies, things get even weirder. Why are they here? What do they want? And what is The Requiem that everyone keeps talking about? As Clint and his friends and family are drawn deeper into a thrilling adventure, only one thing is for sure. They may not be getting out alive. And class with Mrs Christenson will seem like a walk in the park after this.

Amazon | Goodreads | Olympia Publishers


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Rich Marcello

Welcome to the TRB Lounge, the part of TRB that helps authors and publishers promote their titles.

Today, we are featuring Rich Marcello, author of The Latecomers, for our feature, Author Interview.

About The Author

Rich Marcello

Rich is the author of four novels, The Color of Home, The Big Wide Calm, and The Beauty of the Fall, The Latecomers, and the poetry collection, The Long Body That Connects Us All. He also teaches creative writing at Seven Bridges’ Writer Collaborative. Previously, he enjoyed a successful career as a technology executive, managing several multi-billion dollar businesses for Fortune 500 companies.

The Color of Home was published in 2013. Author Myron Rogers says the novel “sings an achingly joyful blues tune, a tune we’ve all sung, but seldom with such poetry and depth.” The Big Wide Calmwas published in 2014. The US Review of Books stated, “Marcello’s novel has a lot going for it. Well-written, thought-provoking, and filled with flawed characters, it meets all of the basic requirements of best-of-show in the literary fiction category.” The Beauty of the Fall was published in 2016. The Midwest Review of Books called it “a deftly crafted novel by a master of the storytelling arts” and “a consistently compelling read from cover to cover.” The Long Body That Connects Us All was published in 2018. Publishers Daily said, “Fathers and sons have always shared a powerful and sometimes difficult bond. Rich Marcello, in a marvelous new collection of extraordinary verse, drinks deeply from this well as he channels the thoughts and feelings of every father for his son.”

As anyone who has read Rich’s work can tell you, his books deal with life’s big questions: love, loss, creativity, community, aging, self-discovery. His novels are rich with characters and ideas, crafted by a natural storyteller, with the eye and the ear of a poet. For Rich, writing and art making is about connection, or as he says, about making a difference to a least one other person in the world, something he has clearly achieved many times over, both as an artist, a mentor, and a teacher.

Rich lives in Massachusetts with his family. He is currently working on his fifth and sixth novels, Cenotaphs and In the Seat of the Eddas.

YOU CAN CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR HERE

Website | Email  | Goodreads



The Interview

 

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin.

My name is Rich Marcello.  I’ve been writing full time now for almost nine years and have been fortunate to have four of my novels published along with my first collection of poetry.  Before I became a professional writer, I ran several multi-billion dollar hi-tech businesses. Today, I’m going to discuss my fourth novel, The Latecomers.

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

The Latecomers is the first of what I hope will be four Latecomers novels.

 

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

My favorite character is Maggie Latecomer.  What I love most about her is her strength, her resilience, and ultimately, her decision to embrace her destiny. When the novel starts, she believes the last third of her life is securely headed in one direction, with Charlie at her side, and when things don’t go as planned, it was wonderful to witness her grow in such an unexpected way.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

I wanted to write a book about older characters in the last third of their lives who do something extraordinary. There aren’t many stories like this out there, and I think it’s a real issue with contemporary fiction. In many ways, our society devalues its elders, so I wanted to show how fifty- and sixty-something characters might evolve, do hero-like things normally reserved for the young, and become wiser as a result.  I believe we’ve lost the notion of the importance of wisdom in our society; I wanted to tell a story of how at least a few people might find their wisdom.

 

How long did it take you to write this particular book?

Three years.

 

What are your writing ambitions? Are you working on any new projects presently?

I’m currently working on two novels. Cenotaphs is almost complete and will be out next year. In the Seat of the Eddas is the second book in The Latecomers’ series.

 

Why have you chosen this genre?

I was interested in writing a novel that crossed genres.  I wanted to tell a story that combined the best character-related aspects of literary fiction with a bit of magical realism.  I was interested in going deep into Maggie and Charlie’s approach to life, and, at the same time, sending them on an unexpected mystical adventure.

 

When did you decide to become a writer?

I’ve written all of my life, but I decided to become a professional writer about nine years ago.

 

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

I write every morning in my writing studio for about five hours. I rarely take a day off.  I live on a lake in Massachusetts, so my studio is an ideal place to create.

 

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

Initially, I write out each scene by hand. Then I enter it into the computer, print out a copy of my work, and edit it by hand.  I find the process of putting pen to paper works better when it comes to getting all of the emotion into a scene.

 

Your 5 favourite books?

  1. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera.
  2. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy.
  3. Underworld by Don DeLillo
  4. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  5. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

 

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I haven’t experienced it.  I have so many ideas for books, so I’m hopeful I’ll have time to get all of them down on paper! I think I haven’t had a problem with writer’s block because this my second career and I’m more than thankful I’ve found my voice.

 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Find a routine that works for you and stick to it. Great writers have some innate ability, yes, but most work extremely hard at their craft in a disciplined way.

 

Thank you, Rich, for all the insightful answers!


About The Book

The Latecomers

AN AGING COUPLE AND THEIR CLOSEST FRIENDS PIECE TOGETHER A LIFE-CHANGING PLAN FROM AN OTHERWORLDLY TEXT.

Maggie and Charlie Latecomer, at the beginning of the last third of their lives, love each other but are conflicted over what it means to age well in a youth-oriented society. Forced into early retirement and with grown children in distant cities, they’ve settled into a curbed routine, leaving Charlie restless and longing for more

When the Latecomers and their friends discover a mystical book of indecipherable logographs, the corporeal world and preternatural world intertwine. They set off on a restorative journey to uncover the secrets of the book that pits them against a potent corporate foe in a struggle for the hearts and minds of woman and men the world over.

A treatise on aging, health, wisdom, and love couched in an adventure, The Latecomers will make readers question the nature of deep relationships and the fabric of modern society.

You can find the book here:

AmazonGoodreads | Facebook


To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Melissa Lynn Herold

Welcome fellow bibliophiles. Today, we are featuring author Melissa Lynn Herold.

About The Author

Melissa Lynn Herold

Melissa Lynn Herold is artistically-talented, scientifically-minded, and magically-fascinated, something that manifests in both her fiction and nonfiction. Her debut into published fiction is the artistically immersive Heaven’s Silhouette, first book in the Iyarri Chronicles (September 17, 2019).

An herbal alchemist, Melissa owns and runs NightBlooming where she blends up herbs and oils that grow real-life fairytale hair, including ones lifted right off the pages of The Iyarri Chronicles. She has published two nonfiction books, Rehabilitating Damaged Hair Naturally and Coloring Hair Naturally with Henna & Other Herbs.

She lives with her husband in a sweeping river valley with their mutinous cats and garden dotted with honeybees.

You can connect with author Melissa here:

Author websitePatreon | Amazon | Goodreads | NightBlooming | Etsy | Instagram | Twitter


The Interview

Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself along with your writing ambitions before we begin with the actual interview

I’m Melissa, author and herbal alchemist, and I toggle between creating unique herbal blends for my store, NightBlooming, and writing. Although I’ve published two non-fiction books, Rehabilitating Damaged Hair Naturally and Coloring Hair Naturally with Henna & Other Herbs, my fiction writing has always been the second beating heart in my chest. I’ve been working on The Iyarri Chronicles for years, and Heaven’s Silhouette is both the series debut and my debut as a fiction writer. My goal is to see the entire series through (I’ve planned at least four books but the series can easily grow into more) and to complement it along the way with side projects that make use of my fine art skills (for an illustrated guide to the Iyarri) and my herbal alchemy (for character-inspired perfume blends).

Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?

My husband titled it in the sweetest way possible. I’d been working on Heaven’s Silhouette for a good while but didn’t have a title for it. I was away for a weekend and as a surprise he wanted to make me a book cover and set it as the wallpaper for my computer as a surprise. But a book cover rather needs a title, so he picked something he thought went with what he knew of it. It was a fantastic surprise and felt the title was perfect—years later, that was the title we went with in the end.

Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

I think authors that write first-person tend to favor their main character (which is why they ARE the main character), so if I went with that answer, I love that Aurelia’s strength draws from her artistic side—her eye for detail and visualization—rather than her becoming some sort of physical badass over the course of a few 1980s Training Montages. There’s a quiet strength to the art of creation, and I wanted that to be what Aurelia uses to come to terms with herself and, eventually, shape the world around her rather than physical prowess and ass-kicking. To give the non-first-person-POV answer, I love Cæl so much. He’s a character who is trying to get out of the morass that his past decisions have landed him in, but none of the choices in front of him are easy, either on him or those around him. He’s an immensely conflicted character and that makes him a joy for me to write.

What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?

While some authors have a “What if-?” idea for a world-threatening conflict or start with a societal issue they want to explore, I always start with an individual character and spin the story outwards from there. Aurelia is a character that exists in the grey spaces, in between the halves of her world. The larger inspiration for Heaven’s Silhouette, and the series of The Iyarri Chroniclesbecame an exploration in what happens when halves and pieces, real and perceived, get torn apart and pushed back together.

How long did it take you to write it?

This question is a little tricky because I didn’t write this book and then start the next. I actually wrote the first draft of Heaven’s Silhouette, then the first draft of book two Mourning’s Dawn(which is coming out next year), and then would go back and tinker on Heaven’s Silhouette, then start drafting the third book, etc. There was a lot of concurrent drafting and editing for the first three books over the better part of a decade, but I’d say Heaven’s Silhouettetook me about two years solid to write and then a year to work through the final editing and publishing process.

Are you working on any other project(s) right now? If yes, what are they?

I’m working on more books in The Iyarri Chronicles. The second book, Mourning’s Dawn, should be out in a year or so and that’s in the editing process. The third book is being redrafted based on some revelations that came out of editing book two, and I’ve got the skeleton for the fourth book, which will be a prequel to the first three. As a Patreon goal, another big project I can’t wait to get my hands into is the illustrated Précis on Iyarri Society. I’m a visual artist as well, and this project would marry my writing and my drawing. I’ve also been making Iyarri-Chroniclesinspired essential oil/perfume blends for my herbal alchemy store, NightBlooming.

Why have you chosen this genre?

This is probably going to sound familiar to a lot of readers and writers of fantasy, but I fell in love with the genre, initially, because of the escapism it provided. I didn’t particularly enjoy middle school and high school (*cough* understatement *cough*) and wasn’t popular, so reading let me go to these other worlds instead of being stuck in reality. I’m also a huge gamer and started playing D&D and other RPGs in middle school, so fantasy settings where you can create your own characters and choose your own course of action have always been where I’m most at home. Being an avid reader in the genre, and then playing RPGs in the same genre lends itself naturally to writing (and being a Dungeon Master) in it.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I don’t think there was ever a decision to start writing, I just had these stories in my head that I wanted to pull out and put down. It kept up as a hobby until I was reading a particularly questionable book and went, I can do better than this. I think I’m already doing better than this. It was my husband who nudged me to take that final step from hobby writer into author with physical book in her hands.

What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?

The main thing is late at night, really late at night. While a lot of writers are night owls, I have a sleep disorder called Delayed Phase Sleep syndrome, which means that my internal clock doesn’t budge and can’t be trained into a new schedule. I’m hardwired to go to bed at 5am, which puts my best and most creative hours from about 11pm until 4am. There’s something wonderful about the rest of the world being hushed and asleep and while I’m working. So, late, lateat night, with a cup of green tea and a kitty is what I need to settle in and write.

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

In an ideal world, I’d write longhand, but the downside there is I can’t read it half the time. I’m naturally left-handed, but when we moved back in with my grandma she decided that was a no-go and I had to relearn to write right-handed when I was 9. The result is that I can write illegibly with either hand. Because of that, I do the bulk of my writing on my gaming computer while listening to music on my headset, but I will use a notebook for taking notes, and I have a special waterproof note-taking board in my shower (which is where I get all my best ideas). Something I love but don’t get to do often is writing on my laptop on the train. There’s a magic of being in that in-between space where you’re not one place or another, with the ticking of the tracks and the sway of the train.

Your 5 favourite books?

I’m a huge rereader and finally managed to answer this question by looking at which books I’ve reread the most. Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey, Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier, The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, Stardust by Neil Gaiman, The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (I’m going to cheat a bit and cite the series here because when I read them I binge on them back to back to back.)

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

There’s two parts to this answer.

1) I take a bath or a long, hot shower. I get all my best ideas there and keep a waterproof notepad in there for exactly this reason. The number of ideas I lost before I did that is kind of depressing.

2) I let the problem I’m grappling with stew in my brain for a while. I go work on something else, I read, tinker on character-inspired perfume blends, go for a walk, but what I don’t try to do is force it. After a couple days or a couple weeks of my subconscious gnawing on the problem, and the answer will present itself and it’s always the right It’s part of why I take a little umbrage at all the “You MUST write XXXX words a day!” advice out there. Yes, there’s immense value in getting into the habit of writing daily (or nightly, in my case), but there’s also knowing when you, as a writer, need to step back and give yourself breathing room to make the right decisions moving forward.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Realize that you are both a better writer than you think you are and a worse writer than you think you are. By that, I mean that I think most writers know what they’re good at and where they need to improve, but also need to be mindful of overusing the things you’re good at, and avoiding the things you’re bad at. For example, my favorite, and strongest, part of writing is the description— I love going into the insane amounts of detail I can see in my mind’s eye. Because I was so confident and comfortable with description, I didn’t notice that it manifested in my writing as me introducing a character or a setting with a Wall O’ Description that totally killed the forward momentum of the story. By contrast, I was told I used too many commas in school and this turned into me becoming immensely comma-shy in my writing. I had to learn to trust my judgement again when it came to punctuation. That’s a really long way of saying to be critical of your strengths and trusting of the improvements you make to your weak spots rather than declaring yourself ‘bad at XYZ’ forever.

Thank you, Melissa, for all the honest and inspiring answers! I love the way you deal with writer’s block and your advice on writing really strikes a chord.


About The Book

Heaven’s Silhouette

When I was little, other children called me a monster. A painting proved them right.

A lifetime of cruel taunts and heartbreak has taught Aurelia to hide, to not get too close to anyone. A painter and gallery docent, her only solace is in the art that can’t stare back. When a new piece arrives, depicting an angelic figure who shares the physical features she’s always thought of as monstrous, Aurelia searches for the artist, determined to get the answers her mother has long refused to provide.

But she isn’t the only one searching. There are others who want the artist—and the truth—silenced. Aurelia is attacked by figures from the painting, fierce warriors with wings and sharpened blades. Shaken and bloody, she manages to escape with her life but finds herself hunted by the Iyarri, who are anything but angels. As she comes to terms with her connection to them, Aurelia is drawn deeper into the heart of a millennia-old struggle. If she’s not careful, the consequences will tear her body, her heart, and the Iyarri in two.

You can buy Heaven’s Silhouette here:

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If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Rob Shackleford

Welcome to the TRB Lounge, the part of TRB that helps authors and publishers promote their titles.

Today, we are featuring Rob Shackleford, author of Traveller Inceptio, for our feature, Author Interview.

About The Author

Rob Shackleford

An English-born Australian, Rob Shackleford has lived in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, with a varied career that has included Customs Officer, Scuba Instructor, College Teacher and management roles in too many places.

With degrees in the Arts and Business, he is mad keen on travel, Scuba diving, Family History, martial arts, astronomy, and playing Djembe and Congas.

Rob is father of two and lives on Australia’s Gold Coast.

 

YOU CAN CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR HERE

FACEBOOK | TWITTER | PINTEREST | LINKEDIN


The Interview

Can you please tell my readers about your ambitions for your writing career?

To become a highly paid, best-selling author.

Seriously, it would be nice to make a living from being an author as I have a few stories that are ready for print. To write more and do what I love will be the ultimate life goal relating to my writing career.

Which writers inspire you?

I can’t say I have a firm favourite, though many do inspire.

Brilliant and imaginative storytellers with whom I can relate include Stephen King, J.K. Rolling (yes – I know – Harry Potter – but what can I say?, she is very clever), Arthur C Clarke, Frank Herbert, H.G. Wells, Margaret Atwood, and many more.

Beautiful writers I admire as wordsmiths include Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, Steinbeck, Tolkien, Yann Martel, and Gregory David.

There are so many others.

I aim to become a great storyteller and hope my writing skills improve as I progress.

Tell us about your book?

If you were sent a thousand years into the past, would you survive?

With the accidental development of the Transporter, university researchers determine that the device sends any subject one thousand years into the past.

Or is it to a possible past?

The enigmatic Transporter soon becomes known as a Time Machine, but with limitations.

An audacious research project is devised to use the Transporter to investigate Medieval Saxon England, when an international team of crack Special Services soldiers undergo intensive training for their role as historical researchers.

The elite researchers, called Travellers, are to be sent into what is a very dangerous period in England’s turbulent past. 

From the beaches of Australia to the forests of Saxon England, Traveller – Inceptio reveals how Travellers soon learn that they need more than combat skills and modern technology to survive the trials of early 11th Century life.

How long did it take you to write it?

I was obsessed in making sure my data was correct; about the Saxons, the Vikings, and about modern Special Forces. In the end my head swam with so much information I ultimately began to believe in myself.

I was often banned from my local library because one obscure tome on Saxon history or another had been out for six months.

It took me about five years before the book was in a state I thought worthy of someone to read.

I then gave the book, then called ‘Traveller’, to an English editor. He metaphorically tore off my arm and beat me over the head with it. Wiping away my tears I followed his advice in most areas, reduced the draft by 50,000 words, sent it out for review and received a positive response and 5 star ratings. My head still hurts though.

Are you working on any other project(s) right now? If yes, what are they?

Traveller Inceptio lends itself to a sequel. The tale of sending 21st Century, Special Forces trained ‘History Researchers’ back 1000 years can spread to other locations than Saxon England, so Traveller Book 2 – ‘Traveller Probo’ (to Prove) takes in missions to New Zealand and Byzantine Turkey. Traveller Book 3 – ‘Traveller Manifesto’ – details the issues that arise from missions to Mississippi USA and Jerusalem.

I have completed a couple of other books away from the Traveller stable, but I am keeping those under wraps for now.

Why Have You Chosen This Genre?

For as long as I can remember I have loved Science Fiction and History. My father is a keen genealogist so I have been fascinated by tales of our ancestors’ struggle to survive.

Traveller Inceptio is a mix of science fiction and historical fiction that examines how members of 21st Century Western society could survive the world of the 11th Century.

I was inspired one day when I sat on a beach imagining how the location would have looked 100, then 200, then 1000 years in the past. Fortunately I lived close to the beautiful beaches of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia and the exercise of imagining the location before resorts, powerlines and phone towers brought to mind a very different world.

The next step in the tale was to imagine how modern humans would survive ‘back then’. Then – how was this leap of imagination possible?

Traveller Inceptio (Latin for Beginning) examines what could happen if such an accidental discovery was not hidden from public view. How would a device that takes one back a thousand years be used? Where would one go? In a world where academic historians are not like Indiana Jones, who would be sent?

So, that is my long-winded way of saying that I didn’t really select the genre, but in a way the tale and thus the genre selected me.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I am kind of old. I really started my writing in my late 40’s. I never sat and thought, “I know! I’ll become a writer!” The story began to coalesce and, in the end, I decided to actually write. To my surprise I liked the creative process and, I hope, have learned a lot about writing and language.

Why do you write?

When I decided I had a story to tell, it was almost impossible not to write. It became a compulsion, not driven out of an arrogance that my story was to change the world, but something that, once I began, I found something I could do.

Surprisingly I have found a few stories lurking in the deep crevasses of my mind which, I hope, will be entertaining.

Where do your ideas come from?

My ideas come from a mixture of real life – real people and their funny and silly ways, and the creation of an ‘if-then’ scenario. I try to keep the story as realistic as possible within those parameters and retain the reality of response of the characters involved.

Through research I have been able to understand the history and reality of some of the lives my characters could experience. Also, many amazing tales can be shared rather than experienced, thus enriching the story without having my characters having to actually engage in everything.

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I am a computer writer. Word on a PC. Don’t hate me.

What are your 5 favourite books and 5 favourite authors?

In no apparent order – here are 5 books I enjoy with wonderful authors:

  1. Shantaram by Gregory David
  2. The Roman series of books by Colleen McCullough
  3. The Lord of the Rings series by Tolkein
  4. The Dune series by Frank Herbert
  5. 1984 by George Orwell

Ask me next week and I will have others, but these are a great start.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

Rather than writers block, I experience writer’s fatigue. I get sick of writing, so I go for a swim in the ocean or play a game on my PlayStation. Getting smashed by ‘Red Dead Redemption’ and loved ‘Fallout 4’. A gaming legend I am not.

I also go through a book many times. Once immersed I think of issues or situations to include or discover new items in my reading or even from Social Media. I keep my eyes open for possibilities and my ears open for good stories from people I talk to daily. That inspiration then pads out the bare bones of a tale into something I hope resembles real life.

What advice would you give to new aspiring authors?

Writing can be tough, because much is about your own personal confidence and desires.

My first piece of advice is to start writing, no matter what. Too many believe they must have the whole story before writing starts, while I find the story develops as I write. It’s like painting, or weaving a rich tapestry with words. Like a journey, it starts with the courageous first step.

Second is to not worry about what everyone else thinks. Writing is like running: you have to practice to get good at it. I find the process of writing and rewriting allows me to get better. Just go for it and let your creativity shine.

Third: Never be happy with the first draft. I always go back through the story, the words, the creative writing many, many times. It might feel like an OCD thing, and that is what makes writing so personal. My format will be different to everyone else. Find your way and follow it.

Fourth – and the hardest. Be prepared to be disappointed at criticism. As my first book, ‘Traveller Inceptio’ was initially self-published, critiqued, then edited. Criticism can be very tough, but cling to what others might say are well done. Not all can be Salman Rushdie.

Fifth – have a market in mind. Writing is a creative art, but selling books is strictly a marketing endeavour. I aim to become an author that sells. That is my ultimate goal. For any writing to sell it must appeal to a market, to a slice of humanity who likes what you produce. Some popular book series come to mind that are only marketing, with no substance, yet they sell. Publishers only seek what will sell and then leave it to you to create the market for them. Gone are the days of offering a new author a million dollar contract. Yes, it’s a tough gig.

Thank you, Rob, for all the interesting answers!


About The Book

Traveller Inceptio

If you were sent a thousand years into the past, would you survive?

With the accidental development of the Transporter, university researchers determine that the device sends any subject one thousand years into the past.

Or is it into a possible past?

The enigmatic Transporter soon becomes known as a Time Machine, but with limitations.

An audacious research project is devised to use the Transporter to investigate Medieval Saxon England, when a crack international team of Special Services soldiers undergo intensive training for their role as historical researchers.

The special researchers, called Travellers, are to be sent into what is a very dangerous period in England’s turbulent past. 

From the beaches of Australia to the forests of Saxon England, Traveller – Inceptio reveals how Travellers soon learn that they need more than combat skills and modern technology to survive the trails of early 11th Century life.

AMAZON | GOODREADS | WEBSITE

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If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Erin Rhew

Welcome to the TRB Lounge, the part of TRB that helps authors and publishers promote their titles.

Today, we are featuring Erin Rhew, author of The Transhuman Project, for our feature, Author Interview.

About The Author

Dwayne Gill

Erin Rhew is an editor, the operations manager for a small press, and a YA fantasy and sci-fi author. Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word. She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the “Grammar Police.”

A Southern girl by blood and birth, Erin spent years in a rainy pocket of the Pacific Northwest before returning to her roots in the land of hushpuppies, sweet tea, and pig pickin’. She’s married to fellow author, the amazingly talented (and totally handsome) Deek Rhew, and spends her time writing side-by-side with him under the watchful eye of their patient-as-a-saint writing assistant, a tabby cat named Trinity. Erin and Deek enjoy taking long walks, drinking coffee, lifting, boxing, eating pizza, staying up late into the night talking, and adventuring together.

 you can connect with the author here
Website | Facebook | Twitter


The Interview

Can you please tell my readers about your ambitions for your writing career?

Of course, everyone would love to have a bestselling novel, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t dream of that. But mostly, I enjoy entertaining people. If people read my book and feel like they’ve taken an amazing adventure by the end, I can’t ask for much else.

Which writers inspire you?

I love, love, love Rick Riordan. His Percy Jackson series is top-notch for me. I really like how he mixes mythology with the modern world and adds a splash of humor. I’m not nearly as funny as Rick, but I try to have a humorous character, my Percy homage if you will, in every book.

Tell us about your book?

The Transhuman Project is about two neighboring countries, each subjugated by different things. Pacifica is run by a brutal dictator, and Kadar tangled up in the fake niceities of social media shows called Life Channels. Molly Richards and her friends get sucked up in the middle of both countries, and Molly must figure out a way to stop a tyrant from turning people into robots called transhumans while smiling and waving for the Kadarian masses who’ve made her their latest obsession.

It’s about friendship, love, social media, family, and what’s really important in life.

How long did it take you to write it?

The initial draft took me about three months to write. However, what you see now is actually the sequel. I decided the real story lay not in the original but in what comes after. So, I’ve been writing, rewriting, and fussing with this story for about five years.

Are you working on any other project(s) right now? If yes, what are they?

I am currently working on story which places a historical figure in modern times. I’m very excited about it and can’t wait to share it with readers!

When did you decide to become a writer?

I don’t know that I ever really decided to become a writer. I think I was born a writer. When I was four, I wrote my first poem (a terrible rhyme verse about cars, since my grandparents own a car dealership), and I’ve been hooked since that moment.

Why do you write?

I write because I can’t not write. Stories live in my core, and characters take up residency in my mind. They clamor to have their stories told, and I am at their mercy to oblige.

Where do your ideas come from?

I am inspired by everything around me. But mostly my ideas come from conversations I have with my husband. We’ll be like “what if this” or “have you ever thought of that,” and stories evolve.

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I prefer to use my laptop because it’s portable, and I think way faster than I can write. I’m a pretty fast typist though, so my fingers can *almost* keep up with my brain when I type.

What are your 5 favorite books and 5 favorite authors?

Wow, that’s a tough one. I love a lot of books, so I’ll just name five I really dig.

  1. Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare. I know it’s not technically a book (it’s a play), but the Bard is one of my biggest inspirations. I’ve played Juliet in three different renditions of the play, and I have almost the whole thing memorized.
  2. The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. Percy Jackson is one of the funniest characters I’ve ever read.
  3. 122 Rules and Birth of an American Gigolo by Deek Rhew. Yep, that’s my husband. I’m obviously biased, but let me tell you, my man has got words. I’ve worked for small presses for years now, and I can truly say I’ve never seen such an amazing mix of literary and commercial in one voice. He’s masterful.
  4. She Wants It All by Jessica Calla. One word—Dave. I love this story so much, and I definitely have a book crush on Dave. Jess creates such vivid worlds and characters that you can’t help but get swept up in them.
  5. The Bloodline Series by Richelle Mead. While I enjoyed the Vampire Academy series, I really, really loved the follow-up series. It’s a whole world of alchemists and vampires that is a new, fresh take on the genre.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

It depends. If I’m on a deadline, I sit down and force myself to write, even if what comes out is garbage. But if I’m not on a deadline, I take some time to get inspired again. I read, watch shows, and talk to people. Inevitably, it rejuvenates my spirit.

What advice would you give to new aspiring authors?

Two things: never give up on your dream and edit, edit, edit. This business is tough, so you’ll need a thick skin. You’ll have to believe in yourself and your works even if no one else does. But you wrote something, so stick with it and keep believing. Secondly, edit, edit, edit, and when you think you’re done, edit some more. Never, ever, ever turn in a first draft to anyone.

Thank you, Erin, for all the insightful and interesting answers. I personally loved your writing advice!


About The Book

The Transhuman Project

When a video of Molly Richards is taken out of context and goes viral, she’s thrust into the upper echelons of social media stardom and becomes an overnight success in a country where Life Channel ratings reign supreme. As Kadar’s fastest-rising celebrity, her life becomes a media circus, a show put on for the shallow national audience salivating for the next new thing.

But in a world where image is king, danger and death hide among the shadows. In the nearby country of Pacifica, the brutal Caezar turns his citizens into robotic weapons who infiltrate Kadar as sleeper transhumans. They walk among the populace, unaware they are pawns in the madman’s personal arsenal.

Only Molly, her friends, and an elite group of Kadarian fighters known as the Cyber Knights fully understand the transhuman threat, and only they can break the Caezar’s terrorist grip on both Pacifica and Kadar. Battling Fire Bots and humanoid agents, they seek to put a stop to the Caezar’s tyranny by unraveling the secrets buried between layers of deception.

And they have to do it all while smiling and waving for the cameras.

As Molly and her friends peer behind the glitz and glamour, they discover something more frightening and more sinister than anything they’ve encountered yet…the truth.

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If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Dwayne gill

Welcome to the TRB Lounge, the part of TRB that helps authors and publishers promote their titles.

Today, we are featuring Dwayne Gill, author of Written By Blood: Conviction, for another one of our very popular feature, Author Interview.

About The Author

Dwayne Gill

Dwayne Gill is a new, up-and-coming author with a big imagination. He first thought of the premise of his series “Written By Blood” when he was just twelve years old. Growing up, he loved action movies and larger-than-life heroes, which is evident when reading his writing.
However, as he got older, he became bothered by the typical action figure tropes and the predictability of the plots, causing his series idea to evolve further.

If you like action thrillers, unlikely, conflicted heroes, twists, and character development that has a much deeper moral than most other thrillers in its genre, you’ll want to follow the series “Written By Blood.”

The two short stories, “Cane’s Detour” and “Daniel’s Darkness” feature Cane and Daniel, two major characters in his series “Written By Blood.” The first novel of the series, Conviction, will be released in December 2018.

Dwayne Gill lives in Louisiana with his wife, newborn son, and his yellow Labrador Retriever.

 you can connect with the author here
website | facebook | bookbub | goodreads


The Interview

 

Can you please tell my readers about your ambitions for your writing career?

My starting ambition was simply to put my story out there for everyone to read, but a funny thing happened along the way. I separated one long book into separate volumes. By doing this, I knew I’d be losing a lot of content, so I decided to incorporate the extra content into short stories.

I published Cane’s Detour in February 2018 with little expectation and a lot of pride. It was awesome to see my book, my story, on my own Kindle. Of course, my family and friends read it and said they loved it, but the reception I began receiving from complete strangers is what first made me realize there may be more to this. There were readers writing me expressing how much they enjoyed the story and began asking me when the full-length novel would be published. A few readers turned into many, and by the time I released the second short story, Daniel’s Darkness, in May 2018, I had quite a substantial following. Little did I know that readers would like Daniel even more than Cane.

Daniel’s Darkness caused my following to multiply exponentially, which made me realize the potential in what I was doing. I knew if all of these people loved the two short stories this much, they’d love the novel.

Then, in August 2018, my wife gave birth to our first child, and my world changed forever. My wife and I were both working before, but shortly after Sampson was born, we both decided she would stay home to raise him. It’s what my wife always wanted. That left me shouldering the burden of being the sole breadwinner, which made me realize how badly I needed this author thing to work for me in the long-term.

I hope to someday be able to support my growing family as a full-time author. We’re not done having kids, so I better get busy!

What started as a hobby has escalated into a deep desire to entertain people, and to make an honest living doing so.

 

Which writers inspire you?

This may sound funny coming from a self-published author, but I’m inspired by the traditionally published authors who came before me. These authors didn’t have the luxury that I have today of being able to decide to put my work out there for the world to see, absent any gatekeepers. Authors Like Margaret Mitchell, John Grisham, J.K. Rowling, even James Patterson, were all turned away multiple times by publishers, yet they never lost hope. They kept writing. They didn’t have the alternative that we indies have today; they just had to keep submitting their manuscripts, hoping someone would believe in them. That inspires me. I hope that I’d have the same level of confidence in my writing to trust myself on that level.

 

Tell us about your book?

My book is, in a lot of ways, your classic action thriller. It has all the elements you’d expect to see: a scary bad guy, epically bad-ass protagonists, damsels in distress, high-level corruption, and heavy doses of action sequences. It’s set in the near-future and features genetically enhanced men to throw in a dash of Sci-Fi. Conviction is also obviously pointing at a soon-to-be apocalyptic-type event, which would give readers that enjoy that sort of scenario something to look forward to in future volumes.

The book features Cane, a rogue-assassin who was trained by the government. He’s ruthless, efficient, and because he was isolated from society from birth, unable to understand most human emotions. In one of the short story prequels, Cane’s Detour, you get to see him at his worst. He’s still an asset of the government program, before it’s shut down, and he’s on his way to kill an American citizen. He runs into Kristy, who’s recently escaped from a serial killer, and has to decide what to do with her. He ends up helping her, albeit in an unconventional way.

The other main character is Daniel, who you also get a peek at in the short story Daniel’s Darkness. He’s 7’5 and over 400 pounds and is locked up in a super-max prison, convicted of multiple counts of murder. While Daniel isn’t in the novel as much as Cane, he’s still a highly entertaining character.

There are lots damsels in distress; besides Kristy and Taryn, the two you meet in the short stories, you meet Natalie and Jordyn as well. Not all the women in the novel are in need of protection though; readers will get to see a lot of the female characters evolve and stand apart on their own.

The other supporting characters of note are Lynks, who is Cane’s best friend and former fellow trainee, Bowman, the man who trained Cane and Lynks, Calvin, Daniel’s best friend, and Agents Hart and Barkley, whose roles grow bigger as the plot unfolds.

The villain of the novel is named Amos, and he’s one of the seven terrorist leaders who are giving orders to the marked men. Years ago, men by the thousands began disappearing all over the country, then reappearing elsewhere. What made it stranger was that they all were ordinary, hard-working family men. They abandoned their families and careers and moved away, and every one of them now have a marking, like a tattoo, on their forearm. There are also some who commit seemingly unprovoked acts of random violence, leading many to be suspicious of the group’s intentions. The true nature and origin of these men become clearer as the novel progresses.

The centerpiece of the plot has to belong to Marcene, however. She’s a mysterious lady that directs Cane to save Natalie from the marked men, thus bringing them to his attention. She also leads him to Calvin, then Daniel. She’s instrumental in the novel.

The novel follows Cane’s journey to save Natalie, investigate the marked men, recruit Calvin, and extract Daniel.

It also follows Amos’s path of trying to corner Cane, and when he fails, he targets Kristy and her mother, the two people Cane cares most about.

It turns into a feud that will keep escalating until the final pages.

Anyone who likes thrillers in the vein of Rapp and Reacher will surely be entertained, but where my novel and series differ from most thrillers, I believe, is in the exploration of the characters’ own inner struggles. Cane and Daniel are two of the most unlikely hero-types you’ll ever find in a novel, but each have found a way to overcome their own limitations to be someone better.

And it’s just the beginning of that journey.

 

How long did it take you to write it?

I won’t count the original version of Written By Blood, because it was really long and ended up being segmented into different volumes. Because of the way I had to restructure the one long story, it’s hard to gauge how long it took to actually write Part One: Conviction. I began separating Written By Blood into different volumes in February 2018, which was a complicated process. I wanted each volume of the story to stand alone on its own, absent cliffhangers, so I had to add some plot and move things around.

The end product was Written By Blood Part One: Conviction, and I finished the manuscript in August 2018. In total, it took nearly four months of actual writing, once I had the plot worked out.

 

Are you working on any other project(s) right now? If yes, what are they?

Oh yes! I’m always working on other projects. Currently, there are three short stories due before the launch of Written By Blood Part Two. One features Cane, another is a prequel to Part Two and features Daniel, then the other features the third main protagonist of the series, William, who will be in Part Two.

Of course, I’m also working on Written By Blood Part Two itself, which I think readers will like even better than Part One.

Why have you chosen this genre?

I didn’t really choose the genre. In fact, I didn’t consider genre until after I finished my first short story. It turns out my novel really crosses genres; it’s best described as a technothriller, but it could fall into a number of others as well.

 

When did you decide to become a writer?

I wrote my first book when I was about five years old. It was called, The Thing, and it was awesome. My sister helped me make it into an audiobook, in the form of a tape cassette recording. In fact, I would read a page aloud and she’d press the side button of a walkie-talkie to indicate it was time to turn the page.

Seriously, though, after that phase of my life I gave little thought to writing. However, all through school I excelled in English and Grammar, and my ninth-grade teacher was so impressed with my journal entries that she presented me with a special award at the school end-of-the-year awards ceremony. She also told me she wanted a signed copy of the first book I wrote. I plan on following through on that promise.

I still didn’t quite fancy myself a writer at that point, and it really wasn’t until I wrote the first version of Written By Blood that I yearned to become a writer. It was more of a pipe dream then, but as I got older and the publishing industry became more indie-friendly, that dream became a reality.

 

Why do you write?

I started writing because I had a story burning inside of me. I didn’t sit down to write it until I was twenty-eight years old, and it was for fear of the story being lost somehow. I knew when I died, the story would die with me, unless I put it in writing.

So I did. However, I didn’t actively pursue publishing until I was thirty-nine years old. I had talked about it, people had encouraged me to go for it, but it took many years to pull the trigger.

However, Written By Blood isn’t the only story in my head. In fact, I have entire books, or stories, start-to-finish, sitting in my mind, waiting to be written. Dozens of books in many different genres, and I plan on writing them all.

I write for two reasons: One reason is the love of the story, for seeing the movies in my head come to life in written form. There’s no bigger thrill for me than that.

The second reason is for my fans. No one ever warned me about what it would be like to have fans that turn into dear friends. I have met so many great people in the past year, people that began as casual readers who took a chance on me. I’m so thankful for the relationships I’ve formed, and my readers mean everything to me. I vow to always be accessible to fans; I answer every email and have months-long conversations going with people.

Where do your ideas come from?

I’ve always had a very vivid imagination. When I was a young boy, I’d play entire movies out using G.I. Joe men or stuffed animals. I’d even set a timer to make sure the length of the “movie” stayed in a certain time-frame. As I got older, even though I’d abandoned my toy props, I’d still play movies in my head. My favorite time to do this was on the school bus; because I lived in a rural area, I rode the bus for over two hours to and from school. In the mornings, I would lie on the back seat, close my eyes, and let the film roll in my mind. During these trips to school, the concept of my series Written By Blood was born.

Even at age thirty-nine, I still have the same, active imagination, although I rarely use stuffed animals or action figures. I’m inspired by anything I watch on television, anything I read, and I’m greatly inspired by music. I can listen to an emotionally moving song and have a movie trailer, of my making, playing through my mind by the end. I also use complete silence to brainstorm. One thing’s for certain: I never force an idea into a book or plot. It all comes very naturally, for I could only write stories that move me personally.

 

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

90% of my writing is done on a desktop computer, however, I’ve been known to type out portions of my books using my phone. I use MS Word and save my work on OneDrive, so my phone can connect seamlessly to any document that I need to edit on the fly. In fact, I do a lot of my proofreading on my phone.

I’ve yet to master dictation. I’ve tried a few times but so far it doesn’t seem to suit me.

 

What are your 5 favorite books and 5 favorite authors?

Five Favorite Books:

  1. Tough Customer by Sandra Brown
  2. American Assassin by Vince Flynn
  3. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
  4. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
  5. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

Five Favorite Authors:

  1. Vince Flynn
  2. George R. R. Martin
  3. John Grisham
  4. Dean Koontz
  5. Sandra Brown

Each of the books and authors played a great role in me becoming an author. I don’t claim for any of the books or authors to be a top five list of the best, but the impact they each had on me was substantial.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I’ve honestly never experienced Writer’s Block, but that’s likely because all the writing I’ve done has consisted of stories that I already know from beginning to end, and everything in between. I’m sure at some point I’ll inevitably hit the wall, but so far there’s been no issues.

 

What advice would you give to new aspiring authors?

The most important piece of advice I’d give is simply to write. That may seem like a no-brainer, but I think too many aspiring authors out there don’t consider themselves true authors. I think this rings truer with Indie authors; we tend to only think of ourselves as an author once we see one of our books published. However, being an author starts long before any of your writing is published, so we should act accordingly. A true author writes, and does so every day. Set time away and make content your priority. By writing daily, you’re honing your craft, finding your voice, and becoming a better author.

The second piece of advice would be to grow your audience, and to do it immediately. This ties into writing everyday as well. Produce content, whether it be blogs or short stories, and get that into the hands of readers that will value your work. And keep producing! Give free material away all the time to your faithful readers to keep them engaged.

Decide whether you’re writing as a hobby or making it a career endeavor. If you’re writing as a hobby, you don’t have too many rules or guidelines you need to follow. But if your aim is to make a living from your writing, there’s certain things you’ll need to do if you want to be successful, and it will cost a few dollars. Don’t think you can put out quality work completely on your own without spending a dime. While you absolutely can publish at virtually no cost, your chances of long-term success are pretty low. Get a professional editor and cover designer, at the very least, and if you’re really looking at getting your name and novel out there, consider researching marketing. Learn how to write a professional blurb, learn categories on Amazon or wherever you’re publishing. Consider Facebook and/or Amazon Ads.

Lastly, join communities, whether it be other like-minded authors or readers in your genre. Goodreads has a ton of groups. Join one, or three. Get to know other people in the industry.

If you want to be successful, visible, and to stand out, you’ll need to do things other authors aren’t doing, because let’s face it: there are thousands of authors out there that no one knows, so if you want to avoid being just another name thrown into the mix, go the extra mile.

Have confidence in yourself and your writing. Accept criticism; it’s more important than you realize. Have fun. And most importantly, value your faithful readers. They’re the ones who will always have your back. Keep them happy, and never take them for granted.


Thank you, Dwayne, for all the insightful and exciting answers! 


About The Book

Written By Blood: Conviction

Abandoned to a secret government program at birth, Cane was trained to be the world’s most skilled assassin. For years he excelled in the field, bringing dangerous terrorists all over the world to justice and making even the most protected villains lose sleep. But since the program was shut down four years ago, he’s been forced into hiding, doing odd jobs to keep himself busy, and struggling to find a place for himself in society. The years of social isolation and, seemingly, his own brutal nature, have made him question whether or not he possesses the ability to feel certain emotions that most others exhibit effortlessly.

Cane’s only hope of normality in a lonely life rests in the warmth of his friendship with Helen and her daughter Kristy, the latter of whom he rescued five years earlier, from the clutches of the evil Blue Rose serial-killer. Cane lives with his friend Lynks, with whom he served in the disbanded “Red Delta” assassin program.

Cane finds a cryptic message from Marcene, a mysterious lady who knows more about him than she should. He soon finds himself thrust into the middle of a mystery that’s been at the center of the country’s attention for the past several years: ordinary men around the United States have been disappearing by the thousands, leaving their families and careers behind, only to turn up elsewhere in the country. Even more curious are the markings, which look like tattoos, that each bear upon their return. Conspiracy theories have abounded for years, but little has ever been known about these men, until now. Marcene claims the missing men are not only dangerous terrorists plotting a major attack on U.S. soil, but that they’re also genetically enhanced, and she aims to prove it to Cane through a series of instructions.

First, Cane is to save a college girl named Natalie, who, without her knowledge, is being targeted by the marked men. Guided more by curiosity than information, Cane and Lynks agree to help the girl, but after succeeding, they find only a new web of mysteries to unravel. The marked men are receiving their orders from seven dangerous men, and Cane remembers one of them by name: Amos. He’d been on Cane’s radar in the past, though he remained out of reach. Amos’s re-emergence gives Cane added motivation, so he looks to Marcene to continue pointing him in the right direction…

She leads them to the next, and most important step: find and recruit Daniel, a mountain of a man with a long history of violence.

There’s only one problem: he’s a convicted murderer in a super-max prison.

Cane and Lynks enlist Calvin, Daniel’s old friend, and Bowman, the man who trained Cane, to help orchestrate a plan for extracting Daniel. But Amos and the marked men are watching and making plans of their own, and they’ll use any tactic available in order to ensure their sinister plans remain in place, including hurting the few people Cane cares about.

It’s not only the marked men hot on their trail; FBI Agents Hart and Barkley, who’ve been hunting Cane and Lynks since the dissolution of Red Delta, are getting closer as well. But the nearer they draw to Cane, the more they learn about Amos, the other six terrorist leaders, and the marked men. And what they discover leads to even more terrifying scenarios and a deeper web of corruption than anyone expected, including a conspiracy involving high-ranking U.S. officials and the Russian government.

If Cane can just save Daniel and set him free, he’ll have a valuable ally: Daniel stands over seven feet tall and weighs over four hundred pounds, and he has his own bitter history with the marked men.

What started as curiosity for Cane quickly turns into something personal when Amos targets Helen and Kristy, sending him on a frantic race against time, pitted against enemies that far outnumber him and his friends. It’ll be a struggle to balance saving Kristy, rescuing Daniel, all while battling his own demons and self-doubt.

To succeed, it’ll take determination.

It’ll take focus.

It’ll take CONVICTION.

book links
amazon and goodreads

To read more author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Kally-Jay Mkwawa

Welcome to the TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome Kally-Jay Mkwawa, author of Isidora – The Life, Mind and Memories of an African Phoenix, for an author interview.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kally-Jay Mkwawa

Kally-Jay Mkwawa (a pseudonym), is a lady of 30 years living and working in
Tanzania and is the author of Isidora – The Life, Mind and Memories of an African
Phoenix. She gained her undergraduate degree in Bcom Law (majoring in law and
minor in business management) which she was awarded in South Africa and is
currently working for an NGO dealing with provision of medical assistance in the
country whilst pursuing her MBA with the University of South Wales, the latter
being via distance learning.
She’s always been a lover of reading and collecting books, a passion through
which (in addition to formal education) and, possessing a mind louder than words
she can actually utter, has enhanced and inspired her to start writing. Her writing
is more of a born talent since she’s never had classes in literature or the arts which
would have enabled her to grow further in the field. To her, writing is a form of
therapy and a way to tap into her imagination.
Besides her love of writing, Kally-Jay has a passion for lending an ear to people
who most of the times need someone to listen to, music and watching series or
movies.
She draws inspiration for writing from travelling, reading fiction novels and devotional books and conversations with close friends and family and, anything that is ‘out the box’ or living life not conforming to society’s normal set standards. She strives to write stories from real life experiences and thus, living an essence of herself in them and what she’s personally been through in life and epiphanies she’s come to in the process.

 you can connect with the author here
instagram | linkedin | goodreads


The Interview

 

can you please tell my readers a little bit about yourself?


I’m a Tanzanian lady living and working in Tanzania and am the author of Isidora – The Life, Mind and Memories of an African Phoenix. My given name is L.J. Mkwawa even though for the purposes of publishing my work I’ve picked the pseudonym of Kally-Jay Mkwawa. I attained my undergraduate degree in Bcom Law (majoring in law and a minor in business management) which I was awarded in South Africa.


please tell us about your book?


My book is generally about life stages, epiphanies that one comes to whilst encountering different people and experiencing different situations. It’s about love (in most of its facets), friends, family, memories one collects during one’s life and personal growth. I’d say parts of it are quite emotional but I’d rather readers look at the bigger picture. I’ve put an essence of myself in the book as well.


how long did it take you to write it?


I’d actually started scripting the chapters for quite a while but, the process had actually been on and off since I’d had to juggle work, family and school. But ideally, I’d say it took me less than a year to complete it since I’d set a deadline of my birthday in 2018.


why did you choose this topic?

Wow (chuckles). This is definitely one of my favorite questions. I chose the topic/ title because ‘Isidora’ which ideally means ‘gift of isis’ or in other different stories, she was an empathetic woman always overlooking herself and putting others first whilst in history she is said to have been quite reserved as well. This is something which talks about Isidora’s character. The subtitle ‘Life, Mind and Memories’ is simply about her life, the way her mind works and the memories she’s kept instilled within her that’s somehow shaped and still shaping her character. ‘African Phoenix’- a phoenix is a mythological bird who at the end of its life, goes in flames and, out of the ashes it is reborn. This portrays the various stages and trials that Isidora goes through by experiencing different situations and encountering different people and in signifies that no matter how trying a scenario/ experience is for her, she lives to see another day. And, ‘African’ is just the fact that it represents the story being based in Africa – Isidora’s home. Having said that, I therefore chose this title for my debut book.


which writers in your field inspire you?


The actual fact is that I haven’t quite read a lot of books by non-fiction authors, but the few that come to mind are such as C.S. Lewis, Susan Cain, Sarah Young, Stephen Covey and the like. In all honesty, I’ve read more fictional books than non-fiction and I feel it’s perhaps because I’m quite particular about a writer’s writing style.


what inspired you to write?

I’ve personally grown up to have very few people I can speak to or confide in, and thus, there more times when my mind tends to be louder than my mouth or the number of times I speak. I also easily always find myself thinking a lot (most especially about deeper meaning of issues in and of life) and thus, writing is my way of emptying my mind. This is especially because most times not a lot of people would understand what I’m saying (thus appreciating my level of ‘weird’) or relate to what I’m saying. Writing is my type of therapeutic exercise. When a thought or an epiphany (be it spiritual/religious or general, comes to my mind, it even gets to a point of getting a headache. Thus, I’d grab my laptop or a pen and notebook and just pour it all out.


are you working on any other project(s) right now? if yes, what are they?

I’m currently working for an NGO dealing with provision of medical assistance in the country whilst at the same time, I’m pursuing my MBA with the University of South Wales, the latter being via distance learning. I also manage a vacation home on a part-time basis (this being a family venture). At the same time, I’m still writing and thus, in the process of writing my second book as well.


how do you prefer to write? on computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?


I prefer writing with a pen in any notebook of mine I can find and when it’s something I feel I can include in a book, that’s when I use my laptop (or, my phone when the urgency to get a thought out of my head gets too overwhelming).


what are your 5 
favourite books and 5 favourite authors?


  • K. Rowling – All the Harry Potter Books (wouldn’t be fair to pick just one)
  • Susan Cain – Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking
  • Nora Roberts (definitely too many books of hers to mention as I’ve read (still reading) a lot of them and equally loved all of them),
  • Stephen Covey – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • Dan Brown – Angels and Demons


non-fiction deals with a lot of facts and real-life study. how do you deal with the all research work?

Honestly, it’s really not that much of a challenge for me at the moment and this is simply because debut book is about things or people I’ve encountered or experienced or, have in one way or another played a role in. This is be it through conversations with my close circle of friends or my family or, at times, through reading work from other non-fiction writers/ authors (something which isn’t at all hard for me since reading another form of relaxation for me. I’m a certified book junkie!). I also think non-fiction isn’t solely about research all times, it’s just the mere fact that it’s based on true or real life occurrence of events.


what advice would you give to new aspiring authors in your genre?

I reckon each person has a story to tell about oneself and it doesn’t matter if it’ll be a bestseller or not or, whether you’d be praised for your heroics or be laughed at. The point remains that you have a story which has somehow shaped their character and made you who you are today; it is your testimony. If you touch one person, one million or all 7 billion, you’re in a position to inspire, change or motivate someone. With your story, another person would grow and learn to do and be better, why not share it? I encourage aspiring authors to speak up and let them be heard. It’s one which through which you can definitely make a difference.

Most times it’s not easy to make your mark in this world, so even if you’ll eventually be writing for an audience or readers, initially, you can write for yourself. Do it for you! This piece of advice was hammered into me by one of my closest friends and she said ‘do it for yourself woman! Be your own fan’. It took a lot of debating and second guessing myself to have finally decided to publish (and self-publish at that, a field I was completely clueless about) but I did it for me. And it still amazes me that so many people praise the fact I published and that they appreciate my writing.


Thank you, Kally-Jay, for all your honest answers and for the insightful and exciting answers! 


ABOUT THE BOOK:

Isidora – The Life, Mind and Memories of an African Phoenix

Spending the better part of your life being called a good listener, a weirdo, a hermit or a ‘mirror of ugly truths’ and a walking-talking memory machine isn’t at all that it’s cut out to be. To a large extent, it’s a lonely life. You arrive into this life without even meaning to and suddenly it seems that you carry the weight of the whole world on your shoulders. You get sucked into it quite easily and coming up for a breath of fresh air is not easy at all.

This is an account that will give the reader an idea of what Isidora has encountered this beautiful, yet twisted and noisy place called the world. It’s not a long story with a happy ending (at least not so far). Rather, it’s about the reason for her tears, worries, unending voices in her head, the blows that life threw at her, about those precious moments of sheer joy and last, but certainly not least, her encounter with Him. Hopefully, sharing her story will find others who can relate to it and make them feel they’re not alone. Writing this work has been like an ‘extension’ of herself whilst overcoming her fear of hurting people or being compelled to ‘walk on eggshells’. It’s one of her legacies and as always, has been her type of therapy. May it be a type of therapy or inspiring for you too.

book links:
amazon and smashwords

To read other author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Thomas Josef

Welcome to the TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome Thomas Josef, author of Incoming! Secrets Of A Contract Warrior In Afghanistan, for an author interview.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Thomas Josef

Thomas Josef is a native of Wisconsin and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. He hiked the epic 2,200+ mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in his mid-twenties. Thereafter, he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tunisia, North Africa. He studied Spanish in Mexico, Guatemala, and Ecuador. With his passion for travel and adventure, he took a military contractor position with a Fortune 500 engineering and construction company to serve the Warfighters of Afghanistan. This is his story of that time and his first book.

 Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads | Website


The Interview

Can you please tell my readers a little bit about yourself?


I was born and raised in Wisconsin, and I’m a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. I took a short time off between my sophomore and junior year of college to hike the epic 2000+ mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.
From 1989 to 1991, I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tunisia, North Africa as a community service worker helping local farmers manage greenhouses. We were ordered out of the region by decree of the State Department because of the initial Iraq-Kuwait conflict that escalated to the Gulf War.
With my Peace Corps assignment cut short and the US is on the brink of war, I decided to travel to Mexico and Central America where tensions were much more subdued. I learned Spanish in Mexico and Guatemala. When I returned to the states, I endured my career with the State of Texas and continued to reside in Austin.
After nearly ten years of service to the state, I was looking for a change in my career and one that would offer an excellent compensation package and travel opportunities. I decided to take a military contractor position with a Fortune 500 engineering and construction company to help serve the Warfighters of Afghanistan. During that time I started to write about daily accounts that became the premise of my book.


Please tell us about your book?


Life as a military contractor working in a war zone is very different, yet fascinating as you can imagine. It’s more about attitude than aptitude. It takes a unique personality and character to stick it out in a war zone and probably more so for a gay man on a military base.
Every day in a war zone, you’re reminded of death. We were working seven days a week, 12 hours a day. Frequently it’s melancholy, but there’s also beautiful cultivation of how you handle your work and what you do outside of work. I worked out nearly every day. I trained to run marathons. I made lasting friendships, had libidinous love affairs, and knowing you’re working alongside our men and women in uniform serving our country as well as our NATO allies made the experience rewarding.
I have a passion for life and adventure and things out of the ordinary, so I decided to keep a journal of the highs and lows of my experiences and feelings during this time in Afghanistan. I started writing stories and sharing some of them as newsletters back home. I had several friends tell me I should compile the newsletters and make it a book. So I did.


How long did it take you to write it?


The book spans four and half years of my time that I served in Afghanistan. It took me another four years after my service to rewrite, rethink, and rework the book for publishing.


Why did you choose this topic?

It’s a memoir, and I wanted to share some of my thoughts and feelings of war that are not shared in newspapers or magazines, how I was able to find peace and happiness in a place that reminds us of dark and gloom almost every day, and that it’s more about the journey, not the destination.


Which writers in your field inspire you?


I’ve always been fascinated by writers that wrote about their life experiences, thoughts, and how they handle things on a daily basis. A few writers that inspired me are Sylvia Plath, Anne Frank, Alice Walker, Khaled Hosseini, and Kevin Powers.


What inspired you to write?

Life’s an adventure. I think it’s great to live and talk about my unique life and experiences that are outside of the norm.


Are you working on any other project(s) right now? If yes, what are they?

Not at this time. I want to see how this book is perceived before I pursue another.


How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?


I prefer to write using a computer or laptop. I can’t imagine how writers did it before computers.


What are your 5
favorite books and 5 favorite authors?


The five authors that I mentioned that inspired me to write are also on the list of my favorite books:
  1. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  2. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  3. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  4. The Kite Runner and 10,000 Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  5. The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers


Non-Fiction deals with a lot of facts and real-life study. How do you deal with the all research work?

My memoir is a real-life study, so I guess that portion speaks for itself. I made several political and social comments in my writing on topics that I explored and researched. I have a personality trait as a thinker and analyzer. I love to study subjects that interest me, so it’s something I enjoy to find differences in thought and perception, but also familiar ground.


What advice would you give to new aspiring authors in your genre?

As a friend and fellow author told me, “Everyone has a story to share; share yours.”


Thank you, Thomas, for all your honest answers and for the simple yet powerful writing advice! 


ABOUT THE BOOK:

Incoming! Secrets Of A Contract Warrior In Afghanistan

INCOMINGis an intimate view of one man’s highs and lows during his four and half years of work as a military contractor at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.

Thomas’ account explores the oftentimes melancholy details of working in a war zone, but equally delves into the beautiful cultivation of lasting friendships, libidinous love affairs, and the many other ways one must find to help them endure a life away from home and family.

Through his vivid recollections of training as a marathon runner, as well as the amorous but sometimes tumultuous exploration of life as a gay man on a military base, Thomas offers a political and social commentary along the way. For every harrowing moment dealing with personal or wartime bleakness, there’s an equally uplifting reminder that we find peace and happiness within ourselves and those we choose as companions.

Book Links:

Amazon | Goodreads

 

To read other author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: K.M. Mackmurdie

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome K.M. Mackmurdie, author of The Inheritants, for an author interview.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

K.M. Mackmurdie

K.M.Mackmurdie has always preferred fantasy lands to reality – and it only took her twenty five years to bring her daydreams to life.
Born and bred in Islington, London, she moved from place to place soaking up snatches of conversation and the body language between furrowed brows, before ending up in Hertfordshire, with a wonderful partner and two highly distracting cats. A local government dropout, K.M. Mackmurdie swapped politics for storytelling and published the first three instalments of her hotly anticipated Inheritant Saga in May 2018.

When not being a tortured artist, K.M. Mackmurdie can be found reading, (duh, right?), cooking up a masterpiece or making a fool of herself on the dancefloor.

Check out The Inheritants now on Amazon Kindle and Ingram Spark. K.M.Mackmurdie’s full debut novel is also available in print.

 facebook | instagram | email | goodreads


The Interview

Can you please tell my readers about your ambitions for your writing career?

My ambition right now is to just keep telling the stories I love and improve my craft. The publishing world can be a daunting place for a debut author and so I want to just keep learning and absorbing as much as I can so that the novels I share are the best they can be.

Which writers inspire you?

I’m very much inspired by a variety of authors, but if I had to pick a top five, I’d have to go with my favourites; Glen Duncan, Neil Gaiman, Lee Child, J.K Rowling and Margaret Atwood.

Tell us about your book?

An urban fantasy, The Inheritants is set in present day London, with the only difference being the descendants of Gods who walk among us. Blessed with special and potentially dangerous abilities, they live under the gaze of the Watchers who ensure that The Inheritant families are contained. None are deadlier than Meredith Earl, who has learnt that using her powers can have fatal consequences.

Yet when her boyfriend is killed and his corpse taken, Meredith will have to confront her past to find him – and the Inheritant families who want revenge.

At its core, The Inheritants is a twisted love story, where old secrets and severed familial ties are resurrected for nefarious means.

How long did it take you to write it?

The novel took about eight months to write and a few more months to edit and publish.

Are you working on any other project(s) right now? If yes, what are they?

Yes! Other than the sequel to The Inheritants, I’m working on a crime novel at the moment, with the working title of The Devil’s Game. In a nutshell, the novel is about a badass female vigilante / private detective, who must work with the police when a young boy washes up on Coney Island’s shore. Who killed Ed Summers and why? Read the explosive new Ash Wheeler novel in 2019 to find out!

Why have you chosen this genre?

The urban fantasy genre is my favourite to read and the only genre I’ve written in previously, so my debut published novel was going to be an urban fantasy. I really like to subvert traditional genres though, so there are some real dark, noir aspects to the novel as well as graphic violence and sex scenes, which really contrast well with the fantastical elements of the novel.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I decided to become a writer when it became clear that not writing was making me feel very unfulfilled and unsatisfied. They always say if you do something you love you’ll never work a day in your life – and all the hard work is worth it for a career that makes you smile.

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I write on a Surface Pro, which is the only laptop I’ve been able to stand for hours on end. It’s really comfortable and I can write on it anywhere – I do have a study but I’m rarely one to sit still. I write anywhere and everywhere, whenever the inspiration strikes!

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

A lot of the time I use music and film. I like to make playlists and research scenes that spark ideas in me or fix challenges I’m having with my plot. I find that I can’t ‘push through’ writer’s block like some other authors do. It’s much more helpful for me to read a novel or do some research and switch off as it were. In the creative arts, it’s important to give yourself thinking time.

What advice would you give to new aspiring authors?

Not to give up, firstly, because it’s very easy to give up and if you do, the important thing is to get over it and try again. I give up on a daily basis!

Secondly though, it’s to be honest about your abilities. There will always be mistakes and things you could do better – writers are their own best critic. Listen to feedback and try to identify your weaknesses and work on them. You can always improve.

Thank you, Katie, for all your insightful answers! 


ABOUT THE BOOK:

The Inheritants

An urban fantasy like no other, The Inheritants delivers adventure and magic with a realistic, gritty twist. Meredith may have inherited her powers from the Gods, but she isn’t the only one….and she soon discovers that the other side fights dirty.

Meredith Earl is an Inheritant orphan with no one left to trust. Her lover Sloane is dead and his corpse missing – now Meredith must find out who took him, and why.

After the tragic death of her parents she vowed never to use her powers again, but to find Sloane Meredith must enter the shrouded world of the Inheritant Families once more, and rediscover who she really is.

Meredith embarks on a voyage rife with love, loss, sacrifice and despair to face an enemy more cruel and vengeful than she could have ever imagined.

Book Links:

Amazon | Goodreads

 

To read other author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Roger Peppercorn

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome Roger Peppercorn, author of On The Devil’s Side Of Heaven, for an author interview.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Roger Peppercorn has suffered for the better part of his life from wanderlust and this need to see the other side of the horizon has taken him to all parts of the world. The people and backdrop of his travels have served as the inspiration behind his characters and storytelling. As a child, his mother taught him to read and write. His father’s collection of Louis Lamour novels provoked the fantastical images in his mind and the romance of the written word. In the seventh grade, his history teacher brought the characters of a bygone era alive. From that point on, Roger began to hone his skills in storytelling. After high school, Roger took a course in creative writing that was taught by a long haired hippy in a Hawaiian shirt. Roger’s grandmother used to tell tales of traveling across the plains in a covered wagon, the woes of having a son sent off to war, and the larger-than-life man she met at Pea Green Hall who later became her husband. His first two novels “On The Devils Side of Heaven” and “The Sometimes Long Road Home” take place on the western slopes of Colorado, in the sleepy town of Fruita, where he grew up. They center on the strained relationships and sorted histories of three characters – Walt, Ronald and Jessica, and violence that erupts around them. Roger is married and is a father of four beautiful children. He currently calls South Dakota his home.

Contact:

Website: https://rogerpeppercorn.com/ 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OfficialRogerPeppercorn 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRogerPepper
Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/rogerpeppercorn/

Can you please tell my readers about your ambitions for your writing career?

To entertain my readers first and foremost. The compliments that has meant the most is ‘such a great story, I just couldn’t put it down and my favorite there is going to be a follow up right?’

I love to tell stories so to have anyone who is willing to read something I’ve written is humbling and flattering.

Money and success would be awesome. It would be great to see the brinks truck back up to the front lawn every day and dump lots and lots of cash on the front lawn. I mean who wouldn’t love that? And if that should ever arrive I’m not going to pretend I would just turn them away out of some artist integrity.

But the reality is at this stage in my life being known as a good storyteller and having the respect of tried and true writers giving a tip of the cap to my stories would mean more to me in the long run and having my wife and kids proud of my work means the most to me. Having people in your life who are closest, tell you what a good read it is, is what gives me the energy to keep writing and telling stories.

Which writers inspire you?

There are a couple of modern writers, James Lee Burke and Dennis Lehane are two of my favorites. Both of them have a style and visceral backdrops and characters. I love the way they paint scenes and write dialogue. I think they may be the best writers of our time.

Tell us about your book?

The book is center on two men and a woman. Walt and Jessica are brother and sister. Ronald is married to Jessica but was the childhood friend to them both.

Walt is a lot closer to someone everyone knows he’s that hot mess in the office but he’s the only one that seems to not know it. An alcoholic whose been fired from being a cop and now is getting by as an insurance fraud investigator. Walt sees the world generally through the prism of an empty bottle.

Ronald has the moral compass of a rock and is a contract killer but oddly it’s not the killing that is an issue for him. It’s being reduced to hitman. He prefers the term human resource manage.

Jessica is the tie between them. Sister to Walt and married to Ronald she is the thing that keeps them connected and from killing each other. She is also the reason they both have moved on from their chosen professions. But is also the reason why they must come together to confront a threat to all of them because of Ronald’s prior bad acts but also because of their own shared violent past.

Ronald’s past begins catching up to him but instead of dealing with it like he would or maybe even should he makes promise not to kill again. Which is how Walt gets drug back into it. You watch both of these guys start morally in very different places and then steadily march towards each other.

Walt erases line after line he swore he would never cross only to see Ronald drawing a line and stepping back from it. It’s fun to watch that play out.

On The Devils Side of Heaven is a fast paced character driven adventure. It’s visceral and is played out in the adobe deserts and the mountains of western Colorado.

How long did it take you to write it?

10 months from start to finish. But like I was just saying it spent about two years in my noggin before I sat down to write it.
The books I didn’t finish I spent anywhere from a few weeks to a few months working on.
The other difference this time is the scenes were so clear and the characters were vivid and three dimensional.

You know, the other thing too is this book here wrote itself, where the other books just stopped. Probably for a variety of reasons, but the plots and arcs just didn’t hold like this one did.

Are you working on any other project(s) right now? If yes, what are they?

Yes, I am working on the follow up now. Which is titled “The Sometimes long Road Home.” It will take place about eighteen months to two years after the first one. I’ve done a lot of research and have about ten scenes laid out. I know where the arcs are and the ending but there are a few details I am still working out. I’m probably around twenty pages into it right now so lots of work to do.

Why have you chosen this genre?

Good vs bad or right vs wrong has always been fascinating to me mostly because there most of the time there are versions of what people think is right and wrong depending on their perspective and beliefs. My brother is detective in south TX. He has said repeatedly the line between police and criminal can be very narrow but with nuanced distinctions. As an example both will look at an unattended cash register and the first thing they both look for is ‘who’s watching?’ While the rest of us are wondering where the clerk is so we can check out and go home.

That similarity has always been intriguing to me and a good storyline in that genre is rich, layered and textured. A good caper story keeps you rooting for the thief not the police. Which is socially wrong but in the realm of entertainment a character like the Punisher is rooted for. Maybe its wishful thinking we have socially to write our own justice or to get away with it.

So for me it all comes down to storylines and perspective.

Which is a long way of saying yes that particular genre has always been my favorite read.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I’ve either been cursed or blessed with an active imagination. Because in my head I’m always writing something. Sometimes it’s watching the interaction between people on the street, or a song on the radio will trigger a scene in my head as its playing. So from that aspect at least for me, it’s always been a lifelong thing.

Actually writing is a different thing. Getting a book written and published has been on my bucket list for a long time. I’ve started two or three times on different themes and story lines, but at some point the story stops or life gets in the way and I set it down with the intention of finishing it but don’t.

The difference this time is the story started to come alive in my head in 2013 and it rolled around for a couple of years until it dominated a lot of my waking time.

Why do you write?

Honestly the motivation is to get the words and images out of my head. I lived with the first book for about two years in my head and dreams before I set down to write it. Most of the stuff I produce that I really like comes out of living with it for a while. Turning it over and over. Wash, rinse and repeat. This book came about because I just wanted to get it out of my head and on the page to read.

I really got serious about writing when I started my blog. I know, I know everyone has one and some of them are really not good at all I leave them up for better or worse because it’s a way for me to gauge how I am progressing and maturing in the words and how they fit together.

Where do your ideas come from?

So this goes back to what I was saying earlier. I see and get ideas all the time from music to the people and things in my environment. For me at least it starts with one scene and then progresses from there.

This book here started by a visit to a friend out in the adobe desert of Loma CO. It was so isolated that it stuck me that only people who are looking to get away from society or maybe the law chooses this place to set down a home. From there I started to see scenes play out in front of me. It would take a couple more revisits to see my folks and time on the road in places like Texas and Florida before the whole thing came together for me.

This next novel I’m working on is called ‘The Sometimes Long Road Home’ came alive from an off handed comment of a friend of mine. The whole story just exploded in front of me.

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

Laptop definitely. I do have a notebook app on my phone and tablet for thoughts, notes or bits of dialogue I’m working on. I wish I could say I have one of those little bedside notebooks and a pen for dreams you see guys rolling out of bed and franticly writing in the middle of the night but pretty much when I wake up I almost never remember what the dream was or if I do what it has to do with anything. And talking into a recorder just seems weird to me not to mention making myself awkward for no good reason.

What are your 5 favourite books and 5 favourite authors?

This is a tough one because there are a lot of authors I enjoy for different reasons. Just leafing through my kindle I probably have a dozen different authors. But if I had to narrow down my favorite authors and by extension the books they’ve written it would be in no particular order. James Lee Burke, Dennis Lehane, Harlan Coben, Lawrence Block, Elmore Leonard.

Sins of the Father, Creole Belle, A Drink Before the War, Stick and Deal Breaker.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I’ve never had a situation where I didn’t know what comes next or where the beats are at. But more than once I have had problems with needing a character to get to a certain place but half way through I realize they would not say those words or take that particular action and have to rewind the scene and start over with how they would act or speak.

There is also the occasional problem where I’ve had a scene and get almost to the end and realize I just ended the story in a very logical way but that’s now what I need to happen. As an example there is a scene that takes place in a taco shop between Walt, Ronald, Marcie (Walt’s high school sweetheart) and some state cops. Without giving it away they walk outside and the cops confront both Walt and Ronald. Now in real life they probably go to jail which is bad because I’m on like page one hundred.

I tried a few different scenarios to end the scene the way I wanted but it just didn’t write believably. What I wound up doing is calling my brother the cop and ran it past him. After a lot of back and forth where he ended every sentence with “it wouldn’t happen that way and they go to jail.” Says my brother the cop

I finally said its fiction and just has to be believable enough to keep the story moving.

He gave me what is in the book but it took a lot of effort to drag that out of him!

What advice would you give to new aspiring authors?

You have to love the process of storytelling first and foremost. Write the stories you want to read and write for your enjoyment and freedom of movement of the mind and expression. Unless you have the magic ticket to literary freedom and success be prepared for a very long road to getting published. Building an audience and a following takes time, energy and some money on your part. But there are a lot of support on social media that can help. Lastly don’t expect anyone in the “bookstore” business to really help out a lot. You are your own best advocate for your work and your brand

Sometimes stories or scenes just don’t write and when it happens take some time for reflection maybe hit the backspace key a few times and either start again or better yet look for those off beat paths that are adjacent to the one you are working on. But never let it stop the story.

Thank you, Roger, for all your interesting answers! 


ABOUT THE BOOK:

With the drop of a judge’s gavel, Walt Walker has finally lost everything. The badge and gun he used to carry and the moral certainty of right and wrong, good and evil that used to keep him grounded. Now Walt, sans gun, gets his badges from an Army Navy store. He spends his days in South Florida, working for a boutique insurance firm as their investigator. He spends his nights in dive bars, trying to forget the mess he has made of his life. Ronald Jacobs always preferred the title Human Resource Manger to Hitman. But now that he’s retired, he can concentrate on living in the shadows as a respectable gentlemen farmer. Far from the reach and pull of his past life. Their transgressions are behind them but a chance encounter and a failed assassination attempt sets the two of them on a collision course of violence and retribution. Hunted by contract killers, the law, and corporate bag men, they are pursued across the unforgiving adobes and the sweeping vistas of the Mesa Valley in Western Colorado. Survival means putting their past in front of them and their differences aside, because in this world the only thing that matters is to cast not others on the devil’s side of heaven, lest you be cast in with them.

Book Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Devils-Side-Heaven-Roger-Peppercorn/dp/198351246X/
Goodreads
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36898756-on-the-devil-s-side-of-heaven

To read other author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com

Author Interview: Justin Enos

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome Justin Enos, author of From Wrath To Ruin, for an author interview.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Growing up in a military family, Justin Enos was lucky enough to get to see a lot of the world as a child. Born in Thailand, he subsequently lived in Kentucky, Maryland, Vermont, California, Germany and Virginia. He hasn’t stopped moving around as an adult either, calling Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Thailand again, and now Portland, Oregon home.

Justin began devouring books at a young age and his interest in writing followed soon after. Never much of a student, he could at least count on his creative writing abilities to gain him some top marks. Fantasy novels were his main love as a teenager and that led to what has now become a long-term interest in fantasy writing. After publishing a couple of short stories in fantasy magazines that no one has ever heard of, he buckled down and began working on his first novel.

“From Wrath To Ruin” is the first in what will eventually be an ongoing series of books. Inspired in part by the Conan novels written by both Robert E. Howard and Robert Jordan, each of Justin’s books will be stand alone stories.

Contact:

Website: https://justinenos72.wixsite.com/mysite
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Justin-Enos-Author-1215967911845266/
Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16792333.Justin_Enos

Can you please tell my readers about your ambitions for your writing career?

Currently working a full time job while I write. Trying to find a balance  between the two is not always easy. While it would be great to be able to be a full time writer, I know that for the vast majority of writers that is not possible.

I already consider my writing career a success simply because I have published my first book! Whether or not my career becomes financially successful or not, I will continue to write as I thoroughly enjoy it and I have so many stories I want to tell.

Which writers inspire you?

Neil Gaiman, George R. R. Martin, Bernard Cornwall and Jonathan Carroll in particular. Each in their own way make me want to be a better writer.

Tell us about your book?

“From Wrath To Ruin” is the first in what will eventually be an ongoing series, though each book will be a stand alone story. The stories follow the adventures of Tijodrin, a man who has been exiled from his homeland and now wanders the world as a mercenary. Though the genre is fantasy, “From Wrath To Ruin” reads more like a medieval tale. It is a gritty, action-filled story with virtually no elements of true fantasy to it, something that will change a bit in further books.

How long did it take you to write it?

About three years, in fits and starts.

Are you working on any other project(s) right now? If yes, what are they?

I am in the process of writing Tijodrin’s next adventure titled “Under A Shadow Of Sorcery” as well as working on some short stories that take place in the same world.

Why have you chosen this genre?

I read a ton of fantasy novels growing up and that lit the early fires of my interest in writing. Though I have dabbled in sci-fi and historical fiction, my real passion for writing will always be in the fantasy realm.

When did you decide to become a writer?

Well its something I have been good at ever since I was a teenager and I have always had a lot of ideas floating around in my head, but it wasn’t until recently that I gave much thought to actually trying to earn a living as a writer.

Why do you write?

That’s easy – because I enjoy it. I enjoy the creation of the worlds, the various characters and their backgrounds, bringing it all to life.

Where do your ideas come from?

Most of my ideas have come to me totally at random, something I have seen or heard that gives me a sudden burst of inspiration. Along with writing, another long-time interest of mine has been architecture and perhaps unsurprisingly I have gotten several ideas from specific buildings. Two examples of this are the Foster Building (now the Renaissance Hotel) and the Cathedral of Learning, both in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where I lived for many years and the closest thing to a hometown that I have. The Foster Building gave birth to The Grim Gate, a fortress that will feature prominently in one of Tijodrin’s later adventures. The Cathedral of Learning became The Spire, around which I came up with an entire world and story line.

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

Definitely with pen and paper. I only commit my writing to a computer once I am in the latter stages of editing.

What are your 5 favourite books and 5 favourite authors?

Never been good at picking absolute favorites in any category so I will just list some books/series that I have really loved.

  • The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. LeGuin
  • A Song of Fire and Ice by George R. R. Martin
  • “Neverwhere” by Neil Gaiman
  • “Land of Laughs” by Jonathan Carroll
  • “The Historian” by Elizabeth Kostova
  • The Thieves’ World series by Robert Aspirin and Lynn Abbey
  • “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss
  • “Gates of Fire” by Steven Pressfield

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

Unfortunately, there are many distractions when you are trying to write and when those get the better of me I find its best to just step away from my work until the creative flow returns. If it persists, I will try to write something, anything, as long as it is not related to my current project

What advice would you give to new aspiring authors?

Write as often as you can, every day if possible. Writing is like any other skill, you can only get better at it by practicing.

 

Thank you, Hunter, for all your straight-forward answers! Great writing advice too!


ABOUT THE BOOK:

In exile from his homeland… As a mercenary, Tijodrin has wandered far and wide, and now his travels have brought him to the great city of Hohvenlor, a city he knows well. He quickly finds himself caught up in a fierce rivalry that threatens to destroy two powerful merchant families and turn the streets of Hohvenlor into a battlefield. Within the city walls, Tijodrin will find danger in many forms. Can he survive the endless plots of the vengeful merchants and the swords of their bloodthirsty henchmen, as well as the lurking daggers of the shadowy assassin’s guild?

Book Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Wrath-Ruin-Justin-Enos/dp/1483598004/
Goodreads
: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35070270-from-wrath-to-ruin 

To read other author interviews, click here.

If you are an author and wish to be interviewed or if you are a publicist and want to get your author interviewed on TRB, then please get in touch through direct e-mail: thereadingbud@gmail.com