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:

Amazon and Goodreads


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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.

Amazon |Barnes and Noble | Smashwords | Kobo | iBooks | 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: 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

Author Interview: Ashraf Haggag

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome Ashraf Haggag, author of Legends Over Generations, for an author interview.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ashraf Haggag is a senior executive with nearly three decades of experience in close proximity to the corporate market. His more recent experience has also taken him to every facet of the hospitality industry.

Haggag has direct experience in many different aspects of business, including sales, marketing, revenue management, and administration. Having worked in Germany, the United States, Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, his global experiences have helped him realize that companies must target new market zones in order to grow and prosper in the international marketplace. He is eager to bring enhanced cross-cultural awareness to today’s business leaders.

Contact:

Website: http://ashrafhaggag.com 
Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16573314.Ashraf_Haggag

Can you please tell my readers a little bit about yourself?

I have spent nearly three decades in the corporate business world and I am currently working as a senior executive in the hospitality industry managing a group of hotels. With direct experience in many different aspects of business, including sales, marketing, revenue management, and administration. Having worked in Germany, the United States, Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, my global experiences have encouraged me to formulate my thoughts into written documents in business, management, history that I see may be beneficial to the younger generation. Eager to bring enhanced cross-cultural awareness to today’s business leaders.

Please tell us about your book?

The deep admiration of the historical legends and masterminds of the various life aspects and how they have helped us grow better understanding of the world we live in was the core drive for drafting the idea of this book. In these Legends, we’ve seen inexplicable abilities that helped us define our existence and human life. Their names are engraved in the sands of time for their work in the welfare of mankind with different inventions that have made our lives easy, enjoyable and successful. The following chapters commemorate the greatest personalities we’ve ever seen who changed the world.

How long did it take you to write it?

From the point of selecting and identifying the idea of the book until the date of completion passing through the following phases; drawing out the book structure, selecting the legends, researching the icons from various sources, drafting my own thoughts around it took a complete six months.

Why did you choose this topic?

When pondering on the various aspects of life it is evident that many fields have been shaped and molded by the great pioneers who had a keen interest to discover something new about the world we live in. These achievements helped the new generation to enjoy and experience their legacy. In this book, I wanted to highlight these achievements and inspire the coming generation.

Which writers in your field inspire you?

Jim Collins

What inspired you to write?

Conveying the accumulative experience that I have gained throughout my academic career and the cross culture environment that I have been exposed to. Passing this knowledge to young generations who I believe are in need of such direction to help them accomplish their goals and enable them to face the everyday challenges that life brings.

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

Yes I am. I am in the process of writing my fourth book which I foresee to have the title “The Bright and Dark side of the Greatest Empires”.

The core idea for writing this book is to give a strong highlight on the evolution and the development of human behaviour starting from the early ages and the tendency of countries to acquire resources, land and economic influence outside their boarders in order to expand their size, power and wealth using military force.

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

Actually neither. My all-time go to is always a PENCIL HB2. This is the tool I feel most comfortable and relaxed with and it helps stimulate my thoughts.

What are your 5 favourite books and 5 favourite authors?

  1. Blue Ocean Strategy (W. Chan Kim)
  2. Built to Last (Jim Collins)
  3. The Automobile Club of Egypt (Alaa Al Aswany)
  4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Steven Covey)
  5. Laws of Leadership (John C Maxwell)

Non-Fiction deals with a lot of facts and real-life study. How do you deal with the all research work?

Once the idea has been selected and identified I have got a few reliable resources that can help me with my research and assist me to draw a complete and accurate image of the subject I need to tackle.

What advice would you give to new aspiring authors in your genre?

Do focus on one or two fields and develop them via intensive research. This will enable you to identify new ideas and new topics that you can write about.

Thank you, Ashraf, for all your interesting answers!


 ABOUT THE BOOK:

Since the beginning of human settlement, a lot of people came up with ideas, philosophies, beliefs, experiments, research, redesigning of thoughts, talents, and surveys to bring myths to reality.
People contributed to various life aspects science, politics, literature, arts, social activities and so many other fields. These genius minds put a keen interest in every phenomenon right from when they were young. The zeal, passion, dedication, hard work and efforts they put into their work helped them discover something new about the world we live in.
In these Legends, we’ve seen inexplicable abilities that helped us define our existence and human life. Their names are engraved in the sands of time for their work in the welfare of mankind with different inventions that have made our lives easy, enjoyable and successful. The following chapters commemorate the greatest personalities we’ve ever seen who changed the world.
They are among the most influential people of today’s world. With practical advantages in various aspects, they have helped us to grow a better understanding of the world and different working phenomenon’s that governs us. Their way of shaping modern day culture is completely unrivaled.

Book Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36586774-legends-over-generations

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: Hunter Trammell

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome Hunter Trammell, author of Bitterhold, for an author Interview.

[scroll-box]ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Author Hunter Trammell

Hunter Trammell is an independent novelist and owner of Outland Publishing. He primarily writes science fiction but enjoys reading and writing other genre’s. When he is not behind a keyboard Hunter can typically found behind his PlayStation or spending time with his family.

You can visit him on Facebook and at http://www.OUTLANDPUBLISHING.com.

Contact:

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/huntertrammellauthor/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/outlandpublishing/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/outlandpub
Website: https://huntertrammellauthor.wordpress.com/ [/scroll-box]

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

I work fulltime and write on the side, as I work to grow my library and reach an audience I will eventually shift into writing full time as that is what I truly love to do

Which writers inspire you?

Dan Brown. I am a huge fan of his works, his methods, ideals, etc. He crafts these worlds that bleed effortlessly into a believable reality. Not an easy thing to do, but given the dedication he has to his works, it is something I admire.

Tell us about your book?

Bitterhold follows a grieving father, Decklan Brady, as he is thrust into a conspiracy involving an ancient artifact and a corrupt galactic regime. He is sentenced to life onboard a Cryogenic reformation colony, Bitterhold. There he uncovers evidence of the Eglar Empire’s corrupt practices ultimately leading to the death of his only son. His quest for revenge opens a much larger can o’ worms that will pit him with the task of saving the universe.

How long did it take you to write it?

It took me a little over a year. I took a pretty long break from it as I had my first child, my daughter Murphy Rhead (named from one of the characters in this book). After a while I dove right back in and finished it up.

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

Bitterhold is the first in a long-planned series, Phoenix Rising. I am currently in the process of writing on the next book in the series, not a direct sequel, but a prequel of sorts that will provide insight to the plot in Book 2. I hope to have Shadow of Aetherius finished by the end of the month!

Why have you chosen this genre?

I have always loved Science Fiction. I love the creation that comes along with it. If I were to write a book centered in say 1950’s New York, I would have a predefined set of boundaries to adhere too. The limitations of the technology, the colors of the fauna, etc. I have created my own universe in Bitterhold and aside from the “laws of the universe” I can build my worlds how I see fit.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I started writing after I tested out of High School. I didn’t finish my senior year and opted to get my GED instead. To me writing was my way to prove to myself that I was in control of my future.

Why do you write?

I love it! I’m a very imaginative person, ideas are constantly flowing into my head. Writing is a way for me to funnel my creativity into an artform and connect with others in a way that I can’t do in person

Where do your ideas come from?

Anything! I’ll see a pattern in the orangepeel texture on a wall and it will look like the outline of an alien. I’ll be talking to someone and they will say something that triggers a series of off topic thoughts that ill lead into the plot of a story. I would say that I am easily distracted and often my mind wanders, but that just means that I am easily inspired.

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

I’ve tried a few different methods, but computer works best for me. Laptop is good, but I prefer a set station.

What are your 5 favorite books and 5 favorite authors?

Books not in ranking order

  • Jurassic Park – Michael Crichton
  • The Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris
  • Thrawn – Timothy Zahn
  • Watchmen – Alan Moore
  • Deception Point – Dan Brown

Favorite Authors

  • Dan Brown
  • Michael Crichton
  • J.R. Tolkien
  • Frank Miller
  • Timothy Zahn

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

Get inspired! Although I recommend staying away from social media while trying to get over writer’s block, I find Instagram can be useful. I follow a few accounts that post science-fiction art. Looking at the environments and creatures these artists have crafted can be very inspiring. But at the end of the day, writer’s block is unique for every person so the only person who can really take you out of writer’s block is yourself

What advice would you give to new aspiring authors?

Write Every day. It doesn’t need to be lengthy, it doesn’t need to relate to your current project. If you force yourself to write every day, and set out a time to do so, writers block will become less frequent and you just might surprise yourself on how quick you’re getting your work done.

 

Thank you, Hunter, for all your interesting answers! I found your advice on Writer’s Block very helpful.


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ABOUT THE BOOK:

In the future, Earth’s civilization has spread across the stars and now humans and aliens peacefully coexist under the rule of the Eglar Empire as it spreads relentlessly across the universe. Crime is almost unheard of and to many the Empire is a Godsend.
But for an enlightened few it is different. While the media distorts the facts, the universe is on the verge of destruction as the Elgar’s get closer to the Aisle of Dominion, an ancient fable that tells of immeasurable power to whomever beholds it.
An attack on an Eglar Militia base forces Decklan Brady, a grieving father of one of the casualties, to embark on a quest for retribution. But as he investigates he discovers that there is more to it than he was led to believe.
Falling foul of the law, Decklan ends up as a prisoner in Bitterhold, a cryogenic reformation colony onboard the Starship Arcadia. There, he befriends Wesley Rhead, the former leader and founder of a militia group known as Phoenix.
Together, the two devise a plan to escape and rekindle the fire of a broken dream. But can Phoenix really bring justice to the oppressed and restore peace throughout the stars? And can Decklan expose the harsh truth of what happens within the Eglar Empire?

Book Links:

Kindle: http://a.co/avugpQS
Amazon paperback: http://a.co/f7Ts8QB
iBooks: https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/book/bitterhold/id1345268963?mt=11
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17486512.Hunter_Trammell

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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: Stacey Salinas

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome Stacey Salinas, author of Philippines’ Resistance, for an author Interview.

About The Author:

Stacey Anne Baterina Salinas is an history PhD student currently attending the University of California, Davis. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Irvine and received her Master’s degree from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, both in American History. Her research focus is on Asian American History centering on the roles of Asian American women and their impact on America’s Civil Rights Movement(s) and contributions to the diversity of the American woman’s experience. She dedicates her late nights of research and writing to the many men and women who fought for her grandparents’ and parents’ native homes in the Philippines. Her maternal grandfather served as a Filipino USAFFE soldier, drafted from Baguio City, who survived the Bataan Death March. Along with her paternal grandmother’s late night tales of her terrifying confrontations with the Japanese as a young girl in the northern provinces of Luzon, their histories of World War II serve as proof of the impacts and legacies of Asian America. Their stories and perseverance helped fuel both her desires and pursuit in writing histories on the humble heroes and innocents unable to voice their struggles and wisdom.


Can you please tell my readers a little bit about yourself?

My name is Stacey Anne Baterina Salinas and I am PhD history student currently attending UC Davis. My research focus is on Asian American women’s history, particularly their intergenerational experiences and their intergenerational contributions to the Asian American identity. I myself am a second generation Asian American woman who found Asian American female role models or historical figures in mainstream American textbooks and curriculum lacking, if not absent. I hope to produce readable historical material that showcases Asian Americans as active, present, and influential so that younger generations of Asian Americans have a history to fall back on, reference, and find role models in.

Please tell us about your book?

Philippines’ Resistance: The Last Allied Stronghold in the Pacific is about the diverse units of guerrilla fighters throughout the Philippine Islands during World War II. Despite General MacArthur’s exit from the Philippines after the American losses and surrender at Corregidor (and in turn the American surrender of the Philippine Islands to the Japanese Imperial Army), the Filipino people were not hopeless nor willing to surrender their homes without a fight. The book provides a broad overview of World War II in the Philippines, the Bataan Death March, the casualties and brutalities the Philippine people endured, but above all focuses on the many unique cultures and individuals who participated in an endeavor to save the Philippines despite the insurmountable odds set against them. Filipinas and other women of color participated not only in the organization of guerrilla units but took on new roles as military leaders, strategists, and therefore challenging traditional gender roles. Chinese ethnic Filipinos and Chinese nationalists fought to save not only the Philippines they had called home but also fought in order to honor their Chinese countrymen and women who experienced the first waves of war brought on by the Japanese Imperial Army in the late 1930s. Overall, the book seeks to promote the contributions of the very colorful, yet lesser well known, underground guerrilla resistance in helping to secure an Allied victory in the Pacific.

How long did it take you to write it?

I was lucky to find the very hands on internship program by the Pacific Atrocities Education by chance as I was sifting through research, teaching, and writing opportunities to fill up my summer break. In April, Jenny Chan (the head of the SF Chinatown’s Pacific Atrocities Education) interviewed me and within a week or two, I was informed as to my topic of research for the organization and with whom I would be paired with (the amazing Klytie Xu) on the writing project. We began researching as early as May during my Spring quarter at UC Davis so as to become comfortable with Pacific War histories. In June I began collecting interview material on guerrilla veterans, by July I was writing chapter summaries, and by August I was fine tuning rough drafts of the chapters with my colleague Klytie and doing the grueling tasks of footnotes, bibliographies, endnotes, and overall formatting (photographs, newspaper clippings, film, posters, etc.)

Why did you choose this topic?

As a graduate student, Jenny was kind enough to trust and allow me to set up the potential outline of the piece, manage the oral histories/interviews with the humble and fearless guerrilla female veteran Mrs. Lourdes Poblete, and above all write on topics that interest my field of research: gender and race. Klytie would arduosly summarize the painful histories of the various atrocities in the Philippines during its occupation by the Japanese Imperial Army (Bataan Death March, Hellships). I would be tasked with breaking down gender roles for women of color who during the war faced a multitude of barriers and threats to their independence, safety, and future. The contributions of women during the war only within recent decades have been uncovered and discussed but primarily from a Western perspective on American or European women, not necessarily women from indigenous or colonized territories like the Philippines. Whereas Jenny narrowed down a broad topic for Klytie and I (The Guerrilla Resistance), Jenny also allowed us to be creative and curious about the topics I was interested in.

Which writers in your field inspire you?

Writers in my field that inspire me are Yen Le Espiritu, Sucheng Chan, Erika Lee, Karen L. Ishizuka, Huping Ling, Mei Nakano, and Susan Johnson. These authors are mainly Women’s Historians, Ethnic Studies, or Asian American Studies scholars. Their styles in writing are approachable, insightful, speak to gender, race, and sexuality and were my favorite authors that inspired to me to continue to pursue graduate school.

What inspired you to write?

I love reading and how the written word can transport you to other worlds, times, or places. Stories, if written well and with heart, can make more visible the perspectives of other people from both the past and present and therefore mentor and teach empathy. I think reading Asian American writer Yoshiko Uchida’s stories as a Japanese American girl in San Francisco during the 1930s and her uprooting during World War II to be sent off to Japanese internment camps (San Bruno’s Tanforan Racetrack and then to Topaz, Utah) really inspired me to look at history in a personal way. That the past is full of human figures with feelings and thoughts similar to mine, not just names on paper who had passed on generations ago, and whose stories speak to issues that still persist in the present.

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

Right now, as a second-year graduate student, I am working on a paper discussing the roles of Asian American women during the Yellow Power/Asian American Movement. I am trying to tease out the barriers that Asian American women faced as women of color during both the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Rights Movement. They weren’t allowed to fully participate in both because gender and racial prejudices, unfortunately, plagued both movements respectively. I also have in mind writing historical fiction stories that reflect the personal struggles that my family, friends, and peers have faced as women of color with long immigrant family histories.

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

I used to love writing by hand. I still write short stories, outlines, and journal entries by hand. But professional work I must admit defeat and opt for the laptop simply because research, notes, and writing papers are much easier to organize with technology.

What are your 5 favorite books and 5 favorite authors?

That is a tough question. If I had to narrow it down it would have to include genres like Children’s Literature, Fiction, History, and Asian American Studies.

  1. Corduroy by Don Freeman.
  2. Asian American Women & Men: Labor, Laws, & Love by Yen Le Espiritu
  3. Immortal by Traci Slatton
  4. On Gold Mountain by Lisa See
  5. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

My favorite Authors:

  1. Yen Le Espiritu
  2. Susan Johnson
  3. A. Milne
  4. Huping Ling
  5. Yoshiko Uchida

Non-Fiction deals with a lot of facts and real-life study. How do you deal with the all research work?

One day at a time. That might sound cliche but it is really nerve-wracking if you immerse yourself in rather depressing material most of the day. Taking breaks, watching a Disney movie, reading fiction or poetry, those breaks really get my mind relaxed before absorbing and writing historical narratives. Researching history is a very liberating and enlightening process but also very intense and rigorous. But if you love the subject matter and it has a personal effect or tie to you, the numerous days at the library or at the desk, going from resource to resource, begins to be a fun habit. Either way, I get to read every day for fun and for work! You really can’t beat that.

What advice would you give to new aspiring authors in your genre?

Just write, and really I mean write, write, write. Practice. Write short stories, practice oral histories and writing out interview questions, immerse yourself in the secondary sources on the topic you really connect with or find interesting. If you love to read, if you love to write, you really can’t lose.

Thank you, Stacey, for all your enlightening answers! 


About The Book:

The people of the Philippine Islands during the early half of the twentieth century experienced various waves of Western Imperialism, two wars of attempted secession from western powers, and two world wars. And yet, the Philippine Islands and its people have received only small subheadings in many American textbooks and histories. The wartime experiences from the perspectives of the Philippine people have gone unnoticed and have become overshadowed by the socio-political dominating legacy of American figures like General MacArthur, leader and historical symbol of the Pacific Theater during World War II. MacArthur’s famous phrase “I came through and shall return” are etched into every facet of World War II historical narratives, textbooks, and monuments that pay tribute to the Allied forces in the retaking of the Pacific from the Japanese. But It is the lesser known people and leaders of the Philippine resistance against the Axis powers whose efforts and contributions allowed for the effective and speedy return of MacArthur’s military forces…

Book Links:

Amazonhttps://www.amazon.com/Philippines-Resistance-Allied-Stronghold-Pacific-ebook/dp/B074LFK9H9/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1512947464&sr=8-1&keywords=philippines%27+resistance
Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36351342-philippines-resistance


For 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: Stacey Salinas

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome Stacey Salinas, author of Philippines’ Resistance, for an author Interview.

About the author:

Stacey Anne Baterina Salinas is an history PhD student currently attending the University of California, Davis. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Irvine and received her Master’s degree from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, both in American History. Her research focus is on Asian American History centering on the roles of Asian American women and their impact on America’s Civil Rights Movement(s) and contributions to the diversity of the American woman’s experience. She dedicates her late nights of research and writing to the many men and women who fought for her grandparents’ and parents’ native homes in the Philippines. Her maternal grandfather served as a Filipino USAFFE soldier, drafted from Baguio City, who survived the Bataan Death March. Along with her paternal grandmother’s late night tales of her terrifying confrontations with the Japanese as a young girl in the northern provinces of Luzon, their histories of World War II serve as proof of the impacts and legacies of Asian America. Their stories and perseverance helped fuel both her desires and pursuit in writing histories on the humble heroes and innocents unable to voice their struggles and wisdom.

Hello, Stacey. Thank you for being here today.

Can you please tell my readers a little bit about yourself?

My name is Stacey Anne Baterina Salinas and I am PhD history student currently attending UC Davis. My research focus is on Asian American women’s history, particularly their intergenerational experiences and their intergenerational contributions to the Asian American identity. I myself am a second generation Asian American woman who found Asian American female role models or historical figures in mainstream American textbooks and curriculum lacking, if not absent. I hope to produce readable historical material that showcases Asian Americans as active, present, and influential so that younger generations of Asian Americans have a history to fall back on, reference, and find role models in.

Please tell us about your book?

Philippines’ Resistance: The Last Allied Stronghold in the Pacific is about the diverse units of guerrilla fighters throughout the Philippine Islands during World War II. Despite General MacArthur’s exit from the Philippines after the American losses and surrender at Corregidor (and in turn the American surrender of the Philippine Islands to the Japanese Imperial Army), the Filipino people were not hopeless nor willing to surrender their homes without a fight. The book provides a broad overview of World War II in the Philippines, the Bataan Death March, the casualties and brutalities the Philippine people endured, but above all focuses on the many unique cultures and individuals who participated in an endeavor to save the Philippines despite the insurmountable odds set against them. Filipinas and other women of color participated not only in the organization of guerrilla units but took on new roles as military leaders, strategists, and therefore challenging traditional gender roles. Chinese ethnic Filipinos and Chinese nationalists fought to save not only the Philippines they had called home but also fought in order to honor their Chinese countrymen and women who experienced the first waves of war brought on by the Japanese Imperial Army in the late 1930s. Overall, the book seeks to promote the contributions of the very colorful, yet lesser well known, underground guerrilla resistance in helping to secure an Allied victory in the Pacific.

How long did it take you to write it?

I was lucky to find the very hands on internship program by the Pacific Atrocities Education by chance as I was sifting through research, teaching, and writing opportunities to fill up my summer break. In April, Jenny Chan (the head of the SF Chinatown’s Pacific Atrocities Education) interviewed me and within a week or two, I was informed as to my topic of research for the organization and with whom I would be paired with (the amazing Klytie Xu) on the writing project. We began researching as early as May during my Spring quarter at UC Davis so as to become comfortable with Pacific War histories. In June I began collecting interview material on guerrilla veterans, by July I was writing chapter summaries, and by August I was fine tuning rough drafts of the chapters with my colleague Klytie and doing the grueling tasks of footnotes, bibliographies, endnotes, and overall formatting (photographs, newspaper clippings, film, posters, etc.)

Why did you choose this topic?

As a graduate student, Jenny was kind enough to trust and allow me to set up the potential outline of the piece, manage the oral histories/interviews with the humble and fearless guerrilla female veteran Mrs. Lourdes Poblete, and above all write on topics that interest my field of research: gender and race. Klytie would arduosly summarize the painful histories of the various atrocities in the Philippines during its occupation by the Japanese Imperial Army (Bataan Death March, Hellships). I would be tasked with breaking down gender roles for women of color who during the war faced a multitude of barriers and threats to their independence, safety, and future. The contributions of women during the war only within recent decades have been uncovered and discussed but primarily from a Western perspective on American or European women, not necessarily women from indigenous or colonized territories like the Philippines. Whereas Jenny narrowed down a broad topic for Klytie and I (The Guerrilla Resistance), Jenny also allowed us to be creative and curious about the topics I was interested in.

Which writers in your field inspire you?

Writers in my field that inspire me are Yen Le Espiritu, Sucheng Chan, Erika Lee, Karen L. Ishizuka, Huping Ling, Mei Nakano, and Susan Johnson. These authors are mainly Women’s Historians, Ethnic Studies, or Asian American Studies scholars. Their styles in writing are approachable, insightful, speak to gender, race, and sexuality and were my favorite authors that inspired to me to continue to pursue graduate school.

What inspired you to write?

I love reading and how the written word can transport you to other worlds, times, or places. Stories, if written well and with heart, can make more visible the perspectives of other people from both the past and present and therefore mentor and teach empathy. I think reading Asian American writer Yoshiko Uchida’s stories as a Japanese American girl in San Francisco during the 1930s and her uprooting during World War II to be sent off to Japanese internment camps (San Bruno’s Tanforan Racetrack and then to Topaz, Utah) really inspired me to look at history in a personal way. That the past is full of human figures with feelings and thoughts similar to mine, not just names on paper who had passed on generations ago, and whose stories speak to issues that still persist in the present.

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

Right now, as a second year graduate student I am working on a paper discussing the roles of Asian American women during the Yellow Power/Asian American Movement. I am trying to tease out the barriers that Asian American women faced as women of color during both the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Rights Movement. They weren’t allowed to fully participate in both because gender and racial prejudices unfortunately plagued both movements respectively. I also have in mind writing historical fiction stories that reflect the personal struggles that my family, friends, and peers have faced as women of color with long immigrant family histories.

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

I used to love writing by hand. I still write short stories, outlines, and journal entries by hand. But professional work I must admit defeat and opt for the laptop simply because research, notes, and writing papers are much easier to organize with technology.

What are your 5 favorite books and 5 favorite authors?

That is a tough question. If I had to narrow it down it would have to include genres like Children’s Literature, Fiction, History, and Asian American Studies.

  1. Corduroy by Don Freeman.
  2. Asian American Women & Men: Labor, Laws, & Love by Yen Le Espiritu
  3. Immortal by Traci Slatton
  4. On Gold Mountain by Lisa See
  5. Anne of Green Gables by   L. M. Montgomery

My favorite Authors:

  1. Yen Le Espiritu
  2. Susan Johnson
  3. A. Milne
  4. Huping Ling
  5. Yoshiko Uchida

Non-Fiction deals with a lot of facts and real-life study. How do you deal with the all research work?

One day at a time. That might sound cliche but it is really nerve wracking if you immerse yourself in rather depressing material most of the day. Taking breaks, watching a Disney movie, reading fiction or poetry, those breaks really get my mind relaxed before absorbing and writing historical narratives. Researching history is a very liberating and enlightening process but also very intense and rigorous. But if you love the subject matter and it has a personal effect or tie to you, the numerous days at the library or at the desk, going from resource to resource, begins to be a fun habit. Either way, I get to read everyday for fun and for work! You really can’t beat that.

What advice would you give to new aspiring authors in your genre?

Just write, and really I mean write, write, write. Practice. Write short stories, practice oral histories and writing out interview questions, immerse yourself in the secondary sources on the topic you really connect with or find interesting. If you love to read, if you love to write, you really can’t lose.

 

Thank you, Stacey, for all your enlightening answers! 


About The Book:

The people of the Philippine Islands during the early half of the twentieth century experienced various waves of Western Imperialism, two wars of attempted secession from western powers, and two world wars. And yet, the Philippine Islands and its people have received only small subheadings in many American textbooks and histories. The wartime experiences from the perspectives of the Philippine people have gone unnoticed and have become overshadowed by the socio-political dominating legacy of American figures like General MacArthur, leader and historical symbol of the Pacific Theater during World War II. MacArthur’s famous phrase “I came through and shall return” are etched into every facet of World War II historical narratives, textbooks, and monuments that pay tribute to the Allied forces in the retaking of the Pacific from the Japanese. But It is the lesser known people and leaders of the Philippine resistance against the Axis powers whose efforts and contributions allowed for the effective and speedy return of MacArthur’s military forces…

Book Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Philippines-Resistance-Allied-Stronghold-Pacific/dp/1947766023/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36286417-philippines-resistance


For 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: Bridget Nash

Welcome to TRB’s Author Interview Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome, Bridget Nash, author of Players.

About the author:

Bridget Nash was a newspaper journalist who received several Associated Press/Oklahoma Press Association awards for both writing and photography, before starting her own small portrait photography business. She now stays home with her daughter, contributing to the news world on a freelance basis.

Players is Bridget’s first novel but ever since she could hold a pencil, she has enjoyed writing as a recreational activity. As a child and a teen, she could often be found outdoors with a notebook and pen, listening to the birds and the wind while making up her own worlds on paper.

When she isn’t writing or taking photographs, Bridget enjoys reading and watching sitcoms simultaneously. Her favorite books are Frankenstein, Jane Eyre and A Ring of Endless Light. Bridget lives in a very small Oklahoma town, along with her husband; her daughter; two dogs, Trevor and Penny; a border collie named Taban; a cat named Taylor Swift; and a fancy rat named Sheldon.

 


Hello, Bridget. Thank you for being here today.

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

There are always stories going on in my head, so, really, it’s just a relief to get them out and have them in book form so I can share them or revisit them myself. I suppose my goal is to just get the stories out but I would be lying if I said I didn’t hope a lot of people would read them. It would be really nice to have a story that a lot of people liked.

Which writers inspire you?

Madeleine L’Engle is a writer whose words always just sort of floated around in my head after I’d finished one of her books. I always thought she had such a magical way with words and that really inspired me. She could always make me look at the world in a different and unexpected way.

Tell us about your book?

Players is a dystopian piece about a young man named Ryan who stumbles upon a mysterious group of traveling stage actors. These actors intrigue Ryan and cause him to question things he’d always taken for granted. He begins to wonder if all the world really is a stage.

How long did it take you to write it?

It took several years to write Players. I started it while I was a newspaper reporter, jotting bits of the story down any time I had to do any waiting (there is actually a lot of waiting around when you’re a reporter!). When I quit my job to stay home with my baby, I continued to jot the story down whenever I could, usually in the middle of the night. I wrote the entire first draft by hand.

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

I am currently working on a sequel to Players. It will continue the story, starting a few months after Players ends. The world was just too big to fit into one book!

Why have you chosen this genre?

“What if?” is one of my favorite questions. Tyranny is one of my greatest fears. I think these two things combined are what make me enjoy visiting dystopia. I had only read a couple of dystopian books before I started writing Players but they really stuck with me. After I finished writing it, I found out there is a plethora of dystopian novels out there and I love the genre. So many what-ifs can turn into so many different stories and warnings for society.

When did you decide to become a writer?

Ever since I learned to write, I have written stories to entertain myself. As a kid, I could most often be found somewhere outside with either a book, a notebook, or both. I guess I’ve always been in the clouds.

Why do you write? 

Simply to entertain myself. There are always story ideas dancing around in my head and they won’t leave me alone until I write them down. Sometimes the story dies on the paper and sometimes it comes to full fruition. Either way, the act of writing sets the stories (and me) free.

Where do your ideas come from?

Usually they come from insomnia. I have a hard time turning off my mind at night. Sometimes I’ll imagine I’m not in my bed but, rather, I’m in a bed in a cabin or in a boat on the ocean or in a stairwell, seeking shelter from the rain. Then I imagine someone else in those places. What are they doing there? Are they alone? Where will they go next? These thoughts just turn into stories.

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

Writing certainly goes faster on a computer and I like the mobility of laptops. I’m getting better at writing fiction on a computer but I feel more connected to the story if I’m writing by hand.

What are your 5 favorite books and 5 favorite authors?

  1. A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle
  2. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  4. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  5. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

If you ask me again next month, my answers might change. Too many good books by too many good authors to narrow down a solid top five.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

Ugh. You just have to push through it and write anyway. But I’m not one to be touting the virtues of writing when you don’t feel like it. I’m not very good at making myself pick up the pen when I’m in a dry spell.

What advice would you give to new aspiring authors?

You won’t get it done if you don’t do it. I know this from experience. Just write the story! I know I just said that I’m not very good at making myself write, but I would have never finished writing any books if I hadn’t, at some point, made myself just do it.

Thank you, Bridget, for all your lovely answers!


About The Book:

Ryan Scribe is eighteen and has it made.He lacks nothing and doesn’t even know anyone who lacks anything.

Ryan Scribe is eighteen and has it made.He lacks nothing and doesn’t even know anyone who lacks anything.

He lacks nothing and doesn’t even know anyone who lacks anything.Then he hears a beautiful actress say, “Truth is often stranger than perception,” and he begins to look at his world with new eyes.

Then he hears a beautiful actress say, “Truth is often stranger than perception,” and he begins to look at his world with new eyes.All it takes is one wrong question and he is swiftly banished from the only home he’s ever known. Forced to join a band of traveling players, stage actors who look like they could have stepped straight out of Elizabethan England, Ryan begins to question his life, his country and everyone around him. Can he really trust a group of actors? Will his questions land him in even more danger?

All it takes is one wrong question and he is swiftly banished from the only home he’s ever known. Forced to join a band of traveling players, stage actors who look like they could have stepped straight out of Elizabethan England, Ryan begins to question his life, his country and everyone around him. Can he really trust a group of actors? Will his questions land him in even more danger?

Book Links:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.in/Players-Bridget-Nash-ebook/dp/B016J9X2CS
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27557254-players


For 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: Jon Budd

Welcome to TRB’s Author Interview Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome Jon Budd, author of The Legend Of The Washo Gold.

About the author:

Jon Budd is an author, musician, and an archeologist. He is also known by his formal name, Jonathan Budd. He grew up in Northern New Mexico playing music and studying ancient Indian ruins. Jon started playing professionally for school dances when he was fourteen years old. By the time he was sixteen, he was performing in nightclubs. When he came of age, he lived and performed in Albuquerque, Houston, and Denver. It was in Denver where he began his university training in archeology. He moved to Los Angeles and recorded his original music album entitled, “Musical Ontology”. This album consists of ten original songs that Jon composed as well as a drum solo he performs. Jon wrote and produced all of the music. He sang all of the songs, played drums, keyboards, most of the guitars, as well as some of the bass guitar. There are some really talented musicians who also recorded on Jon’s album including Andy West (bass), Cornelius Bumpus (saxophone), and Steve Richards and Mike Richards on Guitars. This album is available as a compact disc album as well as individual song downloads at https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/jonathanbudd3. Jon now performs in and around Austin, Texas – the Live Music Capitol of the World!

You can reach him at:

Website: www.jonbudd.org
Email: jonbudd@yahoo.com


Hello, Jon. Thank you for being here today.

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

I want to create something original that I can feel good about. I also want to entertain my readers and make them feel good.

Which writers inspire you?

I admire JRR Tolkien who wrote, “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” because he took me to a faraway place. I also admire Richard Henry Dana Jr. who wrote, “Two Years before the Mast” because he revealed to me that good history is entertaining. Finally, I really admire Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) who wrote, “Tom Sawyer” and “Huckleberry Finn” because of his earthy and ingenious ways of weaving humor into a story.

Tell us about your book?

The title of my novel is, “The Legend of the Washo Gold”. It’s about Hank and Vince who are friends. They work together for the Forest Service near Lake Tahoe in California. Vince is an archeologist and Hank is a Native American Indian Hank is from a local tribe called, “the Washo”. They have an ancient, sacred, landmark known as “Cave Rock”. This place is located on the shore of beautiful Lake Tahoe. Precious tribal treasures are stored there. When one of Hank’s tribal elders learns that raiders have found their way into Cave Rock, he sends Hank down to San Francisco to retrieve what was stolen. Hank learns that there is a curse on Cave Rock and the strangers who have raided the cave may have set things in motion that could culminate in a terrible earthquake just like the one that destroyed San Francisco in 1906. Hank, Vince, and a War Party of Indians must travel to San Francisco and take back what was stolen from the cave before thousands of people perish or get injured from another devastating earthquake. This is their story.

How long did it take you to write it?

It took me twenty years to write this novel. I hope the next one, if there is one, will not take quite as long. I don’t think I have another twenty years.

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

Artistically, this novel drained me. That’s the way it supposed to be isn’t it? I poured everything I had into it. It’s a little painful to think about what my next literary project may be. I’m sure there will be one and I have some ideas, but that’s what they are now, just ideas, nothing firm. However, I am returning to my musical writing and performing. My next artistic endeavor will be bringing forth more original musical compositions and performances.

Why have you chosen this genre?

This genre, Native American Historical Fiction, is what I know. I have a Master’s Degree in Anthropology specializing in Archeology. I have well over twenty-five years working as a professional archeology for the United States Forest Service and the State of Texas where I work now. I have studied Native American Indian culture, religion, and history since I was a boy growing up in New Mexico.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I didn’t consciously make any decision to become a writer. I just had an idea for what I thought would be a good, entertaining story, so I began to write it. I do remember though, a long time ago, while looking for a decent movie to rent at the local Blockbuster Video, saying to myself, “I could come up with a better story for a movie then what I see here”!

Why do you write? 

I think that everyone has an artist inside them. I can’t draw, paint, or sculpt, so I express my personal artist through music and literature.

Where do your ideas come from?

I have a very active imagination. So active, that sometimes it gets me into trouble. I get ideas all the time and from all kinds of different sources. I can however, really act only on the ones that have some meaning for me. Only if I have strong feelings about things.

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

In my experience, writing is a long, painful experience. It’s like giving birth (I’m a man, so I can only guess). The only way that I know how to write is to use a computer keyboard. It’s much easier to edit that way. But, it’s still very difficult for me. I am looking forward to using new technology where you can speak into a microphone and your words are transferred into text.

What are your 5 favourite books and 5 favourite authors?

I have already listed three of my favorites above. Two other authors that I really like include Israel Finkelstein, “The Bible Unearthed” and Francesca Stavrakopoulou, “Land of Our Fathers: The Roles of Ancestor Veneration in Biblical Land Claims (The Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies)”. However, these are very esoteric archeological books that debate the historicity of the Bible. I have a very odd sense of what’s entertaining to me in literature.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I focus on the process and not the outcome. An artist may not have all control over what is ultimately produced. However, they do have control over how much they put into the process of creating. I schedule a time period every day where I write just as hard as I can. For example, I commit to writing just as hard as I can for one hour a day. If you do this every day regardless, in three months you will have a draft of your novel. If an artist commits to the process, amazing things happen over time.

What advice would you give to new aspiring authors?

Take the first step and just begin. Commit, commit, commit. Write as hard as you can for an hour a day. Keep track of the days you write and try to set and break records for consecutive days. Write for an hour about each one of your characters. Who are they? What are they like? Who do they remind you of? That will help you develop deep, rich, memorable characters. Don’t be afraid of failing. You are only beaten when you give up. Never give up. Network, network, network. You can never have too many friends.

Thank you, Jon, for all your interesting as well as deeply insightful answers!


About The Book:

To prevent a repeat of the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, Hank, a modern day Native American Indian, overcomes his doubts about his tribe’s ancient religion and leads a war party to recover a cursed Indian treasure.

Succumbing to the genocide brought down upon them during the infamous 1849 California Gold Rush, the Washo Indians were teetering on the brink of extinction. With the help of a mysterious stranger, they devised an ingenious plan to survive. Many years later, when the secret of their survival is threatened, the tribe appoints a modern day warrior to lead a war party to San Francisco to recover stolen Indian treasure and secure the secret of the Washo Gold.

This novel enables the reader to experience the infamous 1849 California Gold Rush from the perspective of a tribe of Native American Indians who lived through it.


For 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: Michael Lent

Welcome to TRB’s Author Interview Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome, Michael Lent, author of i, Holmes.

About the author:

Honored as a ‘Google Author’ in 2007, Michael Lent’s transmedia writing/experience spans films, fiction and nonfiction books, biographies, graphic novels, animation, video games, and reality television. He got his start in On-Air Promotions at MTV. More recently, Lent wrote the graphic novel i, Holmes (Alterna) adapted into a graphic novel E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops” (Alterna) and Stephen King’s “The Reaper’s Image” for the Audio Theater for Our Troops radio. His credits include more than a dozen graphic novels and comics including Prey (Marvel), Brimstone (Zenescope), graphic novel bios for Orbit including Keith Richards, Stephen Hawking, Stephen King and JRR Tolkien. He has written eight books including On Thin Ice, published by Disney/Hyperion, based on the top-rated reality television series Ice Road Truckers. Research for this project entailed spending winter in the Arctic.

He was a writer on three video games including Vigilante 8: Arcade for Xbox 360 Live. Lent was a producer on five films including executive producer of IF YOU’RE SERIOUS, shot in Fenghuang, China and nominated in 2014 by the Academy of Sound Editors for the Verna Fields Golden Reel Award for Sound Editing. Lent has taught screenwriting at UCLA, University of Miami, Santa Barbara City College, as well as lectured at Chapman University. For 2 ½ years, Lent also taught creative writing at the Chino Mens’ Prison in the UCLA Extension/Artsreach Program. He has experienced a prison lockdown, which often comes in handy in a writers’ room.

Contact Links:

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/michael.lent1
Twitter: https://twitter.com/michaellent2
Quora: https://www.quora.com/profile/Michael-Lent


Hello, Michael. Thank you for being here today.

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

This is one of those questions I used to ask myself a lot in a big picture sense of “I would like to create something that can stand the test of time.” At one point, I quit my job in New York and went backpacking around Europe for five months while trying to write the next great American novel. 47 pages in I was broke and realized I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. But these days I am much more Buddhist in my approach to my ambitions, that is, great joy and sometimes suffering in the smallest moments. So it means a lot to me to find the exact right word or emotion. I enjoy the cadence of crisp dialogue and the rhythm of good storytelling. I try to create characters that I truly care about and feel bad when they’re hurting. I’m trying to earn the privilege and opportunity to keep writing stories, so I feel like if I work hard to craft those small moments, I will connect with readers and tell the best story possible.

Which writers inspire you?

Well, I read a lot which I think is important to any writer so the list of inspirational writers evolves with my current reading list. Six months might be a couple dozen writers and books ago. There are so many writers deserving of our time.

I think Stephen King did a great service to us all when he took time to share his process in his autobiographical book On Writing. I read that cover-to-cover many times over and it got me through some fallow periods. Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of Neil Gaiman and he is wonderful. I write graphic novels, scripts, and non-fiction books. Recently, I reread Art Spiegelman’s Maus series which both inspired and reminded me to dig deeper and write as honestly as possible.

Tell us about your book?

i, Holmes is a graphic novel, a gritty urban detective drama set in 2009. The story is about a brilliant loner, a streetwise 17-year old girl fresh out of juvie who is truly alone in the world. She knows very little about her past except that someone wants to kill her and is willing to take out most of New York. Who she is, in fact, is pretty special, as is the identity of her would-be killer. Through the course of the story the main character begins to open up enough to let others in. The art is by Marc Rene, who I most recently worked with on The Machine Stops series, an adaptation of the E. M. Forster science fiction story. Marc is very, very talented and his style is ideal for this story. Our publisher is Peter Simeti at Alterna. Alterna also published The Machine Stops.

Recently, television producer David Rambo picked up i, Holmes to develop as a television series and has been instrumental in helping to shape the story.

David has helped create some of the best television produced over the past decade including EMPIRE, REVOLUTION and CSI, as well as the upcoming series WILL on TNT. He is certainly one of the most creative people I know, so we are pretty excited and hopeful for what the future holds for i, Holmes.

How long did it take you to write it?

I needed a year to write i, Holmes. The original concept for the story occurred to me very quickly and I got out to a fast start mapping the basic story but then real life intervened with the sudden passing of my sister. John Lennon sang that “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” When I returned to the story a few months later, I discovered that I wasn’t quite the same person anymore, so the story changed a bit. Without that personal tragedy, the process to create i, Holmes would have been much quicker but not as personal.

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

I have a few writing projects in the works. One is a pre-Christian, pre-Viking Norse story that needs an artist. Another is a neo-noir graphic novel about a woman who witnesses a murder and seeks sanctuary in a church with the killers hot on her heels. We’re just beginning to draw this book. I’m also finishing a horror movie script about a boy who loses his family and must go to live with distant relatives who aren’t all that they seem.

I also produce movies. MALEVOLENT is a horror film starring William Shatner, Marena Baccarin and Ray Wise, and TWIN CITIES is an ambitious independent drama coming out in festival.

Why have you chosen this genre?

Actually, I move around and operate in several genres. Basically, I think most writers have a central theme that comes from their own lives that pops up over and over in their work. It doesn’t matter what the genre is, the theme is always the same. Instead of operating in a single genre, theme is the constant. For me, it’s “the Lazarus Man,” the idea of a person leading an auto-pilot existence, essentially dead to their life, but then, suddenly some jarring event occurs, causing them to wake up to the first moment of the rest of their life. How they see the world and what they do next is something I find fascinating. As I said, this theme is something personal: out of college I struggled to find some direction in my life but this struggle was all internal. Outwardly, it looked like I had things figured out. I was working on Wall Street in New York, making a good living, and I had been accepted into law school. But something didn’t feel right. I didn’t want to deal with it, though, because the future seemed so set and all I had to do was acquiesce. One morning, I walked into the executive bathroom at work. In one stall I discovered that someone had strapped a bomb to the toilet. Actually, it was three sticks of dynamite. There was timing device so I never knew whether someone was making a statement or had been interrupted. But that was my Lazarus moment. I quit the job and bought a backpack, one-way ticket to Paris, as well as a Eurorail pass.

When did you decide to become a writer?

When I was in grade school I entered a couple of essay writing contests. “Why I love America,” that kind of thing. That was the start. As an adult I sort of came to writing kicking and screaming. My grandmother had taken in my sister and me as kids. She owned her own beauty shop in the back of our house, working six days a week and also cared for my grandfather who suffered PTSD. She wanted me to become a lawyer and represent IBM. When you see someone with their back to a cliff and fighting against the wind on your behalf, you don’t want to add to their worries. Since my grandmother had done so much for us, I didn’t want to disappoint her. Telling her I was going to be a writer was like saying I planned to juggle chainsaws for a career. Even when I began making inroads into a career as writers she would say, “That’s wonderful — maybe you could be one of those lawyers who write crime novels when they’re not busy.”

Why do you write? 

For a long time, I kept telling myself that there were many easier, more lucrative career options. I think you become a writer after trying those other things and you keep feeling like you’re spinning your wheels and not contributing to the planet unless you get back to writing. Basically, I’m restless doing most other things that aren’t writing. Also, I’m good at researching other endeavors but after about six months, I get tired of them and want to move on. So for a time I might be obsessed with everything that is entailed in landing on Mars but I wouldn’t make a career of it. Luckily, six months is about as long as most projects last.

Where do your ideas come from?

Like a lot of writers I sort of see myself as a sort of detached outsider at least enough to be able to look at things in an overall sense. So things constantly strike me as strange, illogical and interesting. Also, I have always identified with underdogs even though sometimes as a somewhat privileged well- educated Caucasian male it doesn’t seem like I have much right to think that way.

When I was a kid, I read that Robert F. Kennedy had said, “Some men see things as they are and ask, “Why?” But I dream of things that never were and ask, “Why not?” I think this is the basic view of most writers and serves as a springboard for their ideas.

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

It’s a team effort between MacBook Pro laptop, iPhone Notes dictation and my trusty Moleskin reporters pad. I’ll also write on napkins, receipts, gum wrappers and bathroom tissue.

What are your 5 favourite books and 5 favorite authors?

  1. Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy. This book shocked me out of the complacence of my life.
  2. The Road – Cormac McCarthy. I read this book when I became a dad. It made me cry and made me realize the obligation for sacrifice that parenting entails.
  3. LotR – JRR Tolkien. It was the first fully immersive universe I ever read and fell in love with. Edith Hamilton’s Mythology had the same effect.
  4. Hamlet – William Shakespeare. It’s a play, of course, but for me, also formative like LotR. Mr. Harmon, my lit. teacher in high school, was our Virgil guiding us into the world of Shakespeare. He was a classically trained actor who would perform Hamlet’s soliloquies and make the story come alive. Through Hamlet I realized the both burden and complexity of being heroic.
  5. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens. One of the greatest endings of all time.

It’s certainly humbling to list these books and authors and realize how far I must go with my own work.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

In On Writing, Steven King has some wonderful observations about writer’s block and Dennis Palumbo has a terrific book about it called Writing from the Inside Out. I think it’s important to recognize WB for what it is, namely, a lack of inspiration. It’s something all writers deal with from time-to-time. First, I try to keep the well from running dry by reading a lot because its inspirational and gives you a discourse with great minds. Second, contracts and deadlines are important because they keep you focused. To be blunt, a publisher can cancel your contract and maybe sue you to get back an advance if you fail to turn in your work on time. That puts the fear of God in most writers. Even when you aren’t on deadline with someone else, you can make an agreement with yourself to finish something by such and such date. You can go one step further by requesting that colleagues and friends read the result, then give them a delivery date.

The in-process way to deal with writer’s block is through structure. Structure is the scaffolding we stand on for hard to reach places. I rely on four layers of structure as the powerful tools that will get me moving forward again. These are:

  1. Conveying Action
  2. Business of the Scene
  3. Advancing Themes and Conflict
  4. Tone

When I come to a roadblock on a particular scene, I say to myself, “Well, what happens next?” The answer is usually something like, “The cop goes to the apartment building to interview a potential witness.” (Conveying Action). Next, I’ll ask what the cop needs to learn via the exchange. Hopefully, this will be more than just gathering a clue. Hopefully, the scene will spin the story in a new direction and cause the cop to reconsider what he thinks he knows about the situation or even the world. That’s the business of the scene. If the cop is reevaluating his base assumptions about people or if the witness is interesting beyond the information they possess, that can advance the themes and conflicts of the story. So maybe we’re dealing with a reluctant witness. Finally, tone is what makes the scene stand out both contextually and artistically. If the scene is set in a small town in Wyoming in 1952, it’s going to have a look and feel that we haven’t seen much of before now. From my reading I might think about Road to Perdition, In Cold Blood or The Onion Field. How did people live and what was the architecture like back then? If the witness is a single woman about 30 years old living in an apartment building in such a place, what could we surmise about her circumstances? How did cops treat such individuals back then? That’s where tone and nuance come in.

15 minutes ago, I didn’t have a clue about how this scene might be written but suddenly, I have lots of ideas and my brain is popping because I know what has to happen and why. I feel inspired. Structure leads to creative solutions when you’re feeling blocked.

What advice would you give to new aspiring authors?

I love what I do so when I meet aspiring writers at conventions and festivals. it’s wonderful to hear of their aspirations. My message is very DIY because I want to see those aspirations go to the next level. For me, it’s unfortunate to run into an aspiring writer a year later and they haven’t moved their dream forward into reality. Sometimes they are rewriting the same chapters or have abandoned a promising premise to work on something new.

The most important advice I can give is to go past dreaming and get your book scheduled. The idea is that the more you tell people about your project and when it will be done, the more tangible it is. So create a community of fellow scribes at your level and one step above.

As long as something stays inside your head, it is pure, perfect and unassailable. I get that. The critic inside all of us says, “What if it’s no good or a waste of time?” So we keep it locked up ostensibly to protect ourselves from failure by rearranging the idea furniture.

Writing takes on a life of its own ONLY when it makes it out into the world. So I wouldn’t get hung up on making it “perfect,” finding agents, or waiting for publisher responses. Get your story or book out there any way you can, then get started on the next as soon as possible. This way, you’ll engage with a community of fellow writers, readers and give yourself a chance at opportunities like mainstream publishers.

Once you’re up and running with your writing, work on multiple projects so that you’re ready for opportunities when they arise. For example, i, Holmes was one of several several projects that I pitched to my publisher. When Peter Simeti said “yes,” we were ready to go.

Thank you, Michael, for all your interesting as well as deeply insightful answers!


About The Book:

Everyone has a secret. Hers can get her killed and she doesn’t even know what it is.

She was born with no parents and no name. Fighting to survive in a world of danger and intrigue is nothing new to i Rose who lives by her wits on the streets of New York, but after discovering that she’s being targeted as the descendant of someone world famous who she’s never met, i Rose realizes that life is about to become even more complicated.

Book Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IHolmesGraphicNovel/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32994026-i-holmes


For 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: Mark Canniff

Welcome to TRB’s Author Interview Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome, Mark Canniff, author of Dream, Recurring.

About the author:

Mark Canniff was born and raised for the first twelve years of his life in Seattle Washington. The next thirteen years were spent in England. (Beginning in London, then moving to Cornwall, finally settling in Somerset.) He arrived there because his mother remarried after being divorced for about ten years. His step-father was English, asking the family “why don’t you come over to my place?”.

And so Mark’s journey into the paranormal began. Finishing his education in England, obtaining an “A” Level in English Literature (which he feels is about the equivalent to an Associates Degree in the US), his adventure led him to discover an interest in things that go “bump in the night”.

While he hasn’t been on a paranormal ghost hunt, he has personally experienced: demons, haunted locations and many apparitions, plus much more. “It’s not for the faint of heart”, as he would later say referring to his experiences. This fueled a passion to create short stories and article writing. (Realizing that he found his “Calling” in life), he began work on a short screenplay (when he was in the film industry) entitled “The Dream.” Although the script was never produced, it did show him that he had something. So the road to “Dream, Recurring”, his first novel, began.

Currently in the Aviation industry, he sees his future in writing. “This is the first book in a series totaling four stories.” The plan being that each one will have their own screenplay (written by him). Plus much more to follow.

Personally, he has been married to the most amazing woman he knows, since 2004. They have one son. He’s said many times how complete his life feels because of both of them. They are the best thing that has ever happened to him.

You can reach him at:

Websitewww.markcanniff.com
Facebookwww.facebook.com/markcanniff1
Twitter: @mark_canniff


Hello, Mark. Thank you for being here today.

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

Absolutely! My ambitions are to grow into a full-time writing career. Quite simply, I feel this is my calling, I have this strong sense that I can author some fantastic stories that readers will like with messages they will appreciate.

Which writers inspire you?

Dr. Wayne Dyer and Terry Pratchett.

Interestingly they aren’t in my genre (obviously), however those two have inspired me the most. Not only as an “author” from their own work but helped me to constantly drive towards the one thing that I love to do.

Which I think we all have a special gift to give. Discovering what that is can sometimes take years. The funny thing is, for the longest time I wanted to become a pilot. Flying a 747 or a helicopter was a dream of mine. Neither one of those things I could do.

Going from “pilot” to “author” is I’m sure a curiosity. I’m certain there’s a story there somewhere.

Tell us about your book?

“Dream, Recurring” is a paranormal mystery. The short description which I think describes it well is:

“Cynical by nature, a photographer discovers that she’s haunted by a being after she starts having a recurring dream. Revealing a secret that only the dead know – with the entity bent on keeping it.”

How long did it take you to write it?

Okay, so here’s the fun part…

It took a total of 18 years from concept to publication. The genesis of this novel began life as a short screenplay when I was in the film industry. The name of that script was called “The Dream”.

During that time, I let my friends read it and they all really loved it. Then I had a Producer read it (he really enjoyed it too). So much so that he said if I could make it a full-length feature, he would fund the movie. I laughed when he said it, so he repeated it. He was very serious.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t turn it into a full two-hour film at the time. I didn’t have all the pieces together.

Then I thought what better way to bring the story to life than a novel? This was where the idea was really born.

I thought, at the time, if I could do that, I’ll be able to “reverse engineer” it back into a screenplay for film later.

Now that the book is here, I fully intend doing that.

However, little did I realize what that really meant at the time. It’s been an incredible journey of ups and downs as I put the pieces together. Of course, it still isn’t over because it ultimately needs to be turned into a movie. Which I believe will eventually happen.

The actual “writing” of the book began in 2012 when I wrote the first chapter. I still didn’t have the final “sections” together even then. However, in 2014 is when I really had everything that I needed and two years after that was when I could publish it as a self-published novel.

I’ve learned so much during this whole process and I continue to gain more insight into this journey daily.

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

Oh yes! The great thing about creating a story is that you can do with it whatever you want. The one book has grown into a four-part series. All of them will be under the banner “Island River Tales”.

The second novel, which I’m currently working on is called: “When Night Has Fallen”.

When the series is done is when I will focus on the script of the first one. I don’t aim to do any more than that from that set of stories. (From a film perspective.) Because I’ll want to devote my time in creating another novel.

Why have you chosen this genre?

Great question! For me, this genre allows my imagination to wander. I’ve had countless paranormal experiences, starting when I was about six years old (but really “kicked” in when I became a teenager) that it just seems a natural fit.

I like to explore what “could be” and fiction allows me the leeway to do that. So, putting the story in that kind of setting really worked for me.

If you put those two together what you get is a tale that hopefully the reader will enjoy.

When did you decide to become a writer?

Oh wow. Well, I think a part of me has always known. In my younger years, I would write short stories, or outlines to possible concepts that might become novels one day.

However, it wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I became drawn to writing articles, which were about things I felt I needed to say.

What I learned there was the “cadence”. For example, writing three or four pages a day is of very little effort for me. Plus, I always make sure the story is moving forward in that time-frame.

This I learned from writing articles.

Novels became the next “natural” step as I wanted to create something in-depth. After writing the screenplay for “The Dream”, putting two-and-two together was something I absolutely needed to do.

Why do you write? 

I want to tell a tale that leaves you thinking about it long after you’ve read it. There is always a subtle message underlining the book. Each theme is different for every novel.

It would be my hope that as my writing career grows, I’m able to have a body of work that people will want to read more and more.

At the end of the day, if I can resonate with one person, then I will have done my job.

Where do your ideas come from?

That’s kind of a multilayered answer. I pull from my life’s experience, imagination and sometimes even my dreams become the outline for the story. (In the case of the latter, for example, the fourth book in this series came from a “vision” I had while I was sleeping.)

I often feel that there is no “one” source for storytelling. If you are to really find inspiration then you should let it flow. You have no idea how the next concept is going to come.

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

I used to write longhand then transfer to computer but once I started writing novels (I’m currently working on my second), I found that it was better for me to just go straight for the computer.

The writing flows easier for me that way, plus I don’t have to transfer it to the “electronic medium”. It ultimately saves a lot of time.

What are your 5 favorite books and 5 favorite authors?

I love this question. Here goes:

  1. Terry Pratchett: “Mort.” This was my first introduction into the “Discworld” series and I loved it! Basically, it’s about Death taking on an apprentice, whose name is Mort.
    It was a great introduction to the Discworld series. It’s funny, imaginative, tells an incredible fable and kept me thinking too. I think from an “author’s” perspective, he was a huge inspiration in becoming a writer for me.
  2. Dr. Wayne Dyer: “The Power of Intention.” Anything from this man I love but what I really enjoyed about this book was that it introduced me to the concept of “The Law of Attraction”.
    This law has become a guiding principle for me over the years and I have him to thank for planting the seed, as it were.
  3. Maurice Sendak: “Where the Wild Things Are.” This was the first book I ever read. I poured over it again and again. I loved it. I imagined their world, through the eyes of the story and couldn’t get enough of it.
    It showed me what the power of a great book could do to your own creativity.
  4. Anne Frank: “The Diary of a Young Girl.” This was just so powerful. It was hard to read in places but was so inspiring at the same time.
    It impacted my life in many ways. Mostly, it showed me the power of the written word and how it could draw the reader into real life. At a time when I had little insight from “inside” that world, she enlightened me to her experiences. Wow!
  5. Stephen Hawking: “A Brief History of Time.” I loved this. It was easy for me to read and understand the concepts being discussed. I obviously couldn’t get the mathematics but that didn’t matter. Stephen put it in a way for the reader (in this case, me) to explore Quantum Mechanics. I had read the “very large” from Albert Einstein and now I read the world of the “very small”. Totally awesome.
    It was just pure enjoyment from the very beginning.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

Uh… hmm… let me see…

Sometimes I simply do nothing. I walk away for a while, taking a break for as long as I feel. (It’s surprising what “distance” can do to a story.) In instances like that I would make sure that I’m not thinking about it. In fact, the less I do wonder about where I’m headed next, the better it becomes when I do go back.

Other times I push through with only one page at a time. Doing that, helps me to drive my story forward at a faster pace than “stepping back”. Sometimes that’s what’s needed though.

In either case breakthroughs happen and I can drive on. It really depends on how fast I want to go.

They both teach me something about myself, as an “author”. I love that process as much as I enjoy the writing.

What advice would you give to new aspiring authors?

If you are considering a writing career because you feel it’s something you should do, then do it!

Everyone has a good story in them. Relatively few can sit down and do the work.

The best advice I could give is to make sure you are reading too. It is amazing how much you learn from other authors. I would also say practice. Just get in there and write something. Doing that action leads to more.

Once you have an idea, then enjoy it as you see your story come to life. (From concept to synopsis to finally a novel), it is a beautiful process.

Finally, once as you are seeing it develop, switch your thinking to holding the book in your hands. Visualize that so completely that you can feel it there. It’s especially at that point that doors really start opening. Inspiration comes from goodness knows where but you can see it. Maybe no one else can, however you don’t need anyone else for this task in the beginning (for the first draft anyway).

It’s that movement that will really bring the “Author” out in you. Then there’s no stopping you!

I look forward to hearing about the tale(s) that you can bring to life.

Thank you, Mark, for all your interesting as well as deeply insightful answers!


About The Book:

Can there be a mystery that goes back over a hundred years, that only the dead can reveal?

Lucy has been having a recurring dream. Night after night she finds herself driving on a winding road with her best friend Sam. She feels lost as this path seems to lead to nowhere. That is until she discovers a house. Curious, she goes up to investigate, discovering that the place is empty.

The mystery of the dream deepens when she realizes that she’s being haunted by an entity. Why is it attached to her?

Both Sam and her uncover a piece of history that only those that have passed on have kept secret. Why is it so important and does it have anything to do with the dark being?

It suddenly becomes a race against time as they grasp that their very lives might be at stake.

Can they uncover what is really going on in time, before it’s too late?

Is there a connection between the house, the uncovered past and the evil entity?


For 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: Christopher Long

Welcome to TRB’s Author Interview Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome, Christopher Long, author of Something Needs Bleeding.

About the author:

At thirty-six years of age, Christopher Long is a relatively young writer. But when you read his writing, you realise he is older than beyond his years. He has the horror and torment of a million tortured souls in his work.
Dark, supernatural stories are his life blood. His first shocking novella, The Compressionist, is a scary tale about a man that feeds on the very life force of people and has done since the dawn of time. It was published early Spring of 2014.
He writes like a man possessed. Maybe he is? He sure seems older than his years suggest. No one dare go up in his attic to see if there is a picture of his good self that might be changing.
His second novella, The Final Restoration of Wendell Pruce, a tragic tale of a recently retired thespian who finds something very strange in the grounds of his seaside retreat. Was published in the summer of 2014.
His third novella, The Narrow Doors, a tale that proves sometimes you should leave the past buried, was also published. all three of these were released as part of a novel length collection, Christopher Long’s Unusual Things.
His debut novel Something Needs Bleeding, was a ground-breaking novel where he edited the last stories of mysterious horror writer Thomas Singer is a horror tour de force. A further two novels are in the pipeline, or sewer pipe in Christopher Long’s case. The next is early 2017 and we at KGHH Publishing can’t wait.
Christopher has been writing stories since he was first able to hold a pen. Reportedly his first book collection, Tales from the Crib, would scare any nursery school or kindergarten.
It all began for Chris when someone gave him their copy of Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach, and he hasn’t looked back since. If only in fear that someone’s going to hit him with the library late returns fee.
For Chris, stories are a means of escape. Not always to a place your average person or writer would go, but a dark, scary place that Chris feels most at home. The dark places that are in all our minds.
He is happily married to the lovely Samantha, or “Her Highness” as she likes to be called. They live in the midlands of England, which is a bit like Tolkien’s Middle Earth, but with just a few less Orcs! And where Sam refuses to let Chris read her his bedtime stories, as he told her one once and she didn’t sleep for a month.

Hello, Christopher. Thank you for being here today.

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

I did start with ambitions but, I’ve got to be honest, they got in the way of the writing. For a long time, I was really only writing for myself. Then, when I self-published a couple of stories, I waited for the praise. The adulation. I know it sounds really childish and naïve, but I assumed that you wrote a story and people came running to you for more. The minute I realised they didn’t, I found it started affecting any story I was working on. It made me question everything I was doing. That’s why, these days, I’m trying to keep one ambition ahead of all the shiny and distracting ones; just enjoy what you’re writing. It seems to be working for me so far.

That said, I will never turn my nose up at thought of fortune and glory.

Which writers inspire you?

Roald Dahl was definitely the first. When I came across his stories as a kid, they caught me off guard. They were devious and cunning. They could make me laugh, scared the hell out of me and never felt like they were talking down to me. I kept waiting for people to come along and confiscate them at first. He taught me a lot as I read everything of his I could get my hands on. Not just about story, but also about the relationship the writer can have with his readers as well.

Neil Gaiman has definitely been a big influence. Although a lot of that influence can also include me hating him for just good his stories are. Pretty much every story I’ve read of his just feels like this perfect, polished gem that’s come from another world. They’re so insightful, yet so deceptively simple. So perfectly designed to fit in a gap in your head that you didn’t know was there until you’ve put the book down. Damn him.

I recently realised Emily Brontë taught me a very important lesson about writing. The first time I read ‘Wuthering Heights’ I was pretty young and I didn’t understand the idea of an untrusty narrator. So, when Lockwood is taking you into the story, I didn’t understand that he was lying to me and trying to cover over his own fault. She had written him so sublimely that all his passive aggressive nature almost snuck under my young radar. Thank you, Emily. Any time I doubt the value of first person narrative, you remind me why it matters.

Tell us about your book?

‘Something Needs Bleeding’ is, on the surface, a collection of ghost stories by recently diseased author called Thomas Singer. However, as you read each of his stories, you’ll start to find links between them that all hint to a secret Thomas kept until his death.

It wasn’t what I was set out to write at all. I was trying to write a far more standard dark horror comedy, but I couldn’t get my teeth into it. It made me start questioning where my own flavor of horror came from and what it really said about me. Which, in turn, got me thinking about how horror can affect people both as a genre and as an actual event in someone’s life. That was when I saw that the far more interesting story lay not so much in telling a horror story as looking at how we tell a horror story through a horror story. It let me talk about how we express something which has scared us or damaged us through the stories we tell other people.

How long did it take you to write it?

Once I actually got moving on the idea, I think it took me around half a year. Although it felt a lot longer at the time. I remember seeing friends and barely being present when they were talking to me. My mind was forever wandering back to these stories and to the man I was creating to write them.

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

The main thing I’m working on right now is my second novel. I started trying to write it back in 2016 and so far, I’ve got to say, it has been an absolute beast. In fact, early this year, I had to drop the story I’d been working on for months and start something new. It wasn’t easy but the original idea had been restarted so many times that I’d completely lost faith in it. On the bright side, doing that has allowed me to start something very different from anything I’ve written better and, so far, it’s going really well.

I’ve also got to get a couple of short ghost stories ready for a Halloween and Christmas collection for this year and I might be getting a story onto a rather popular podcast. Although, I’m worried about jinxing that one. Also, recently, I’ve set up my own website. Which means I’ve entered the glamorous world of the weekly blog. It’s also got me writing poetry again, which I’ve not done in ages. In fact, recently, my poetry got me some incredibly humbling feedback. Someone wants to put one of my poems up on a canvas print in their house. I still can’t quite wrap my head around that.

Why have you chosen this genre?

This is going to sound really tacky, but there’s a possibility it chose me. I never really set out to be a horror writer. To be honest, for a long time, I wasn’t really much of a horror fan. I read Stephen King’s Dark Tower series and some early Clive Barker, but I never delved into the dark and gruesome torture fiction my friends were into when I was growing up. I was busy with Arthur C Clarke, Terry Pratchett and Raymond Chandler.

I was writing big, sweeping fantasy sagas back, until I stumbled across Fight Club and Hunter S Thompson. Which led to me writing some very dark, strange tales for a while.

The ghost stories really came about because of M R James. I’d seen a TV show where Christopher Lee told some of James’ classic tales pretty much straight to camera and that always stayed with me, but I never dreamt of trying to write one. Not until I was bored on a long car journey about three years ago. I saw someone standing on a motorway bridge and then thought I saw someone standing on the next one. It got me thinking and I ended up writing a story called ‘The Low Road’ that afternoon. I found it surprisingly easy and enjoyable to do. It also got a great response from people who read it

As I started to explore the genre I found the potential to write some great character driven stories. Really good horror stories push characters into unfamiliar territory. They force them to face the impossible. So far, that chance to disturb the equilibrium of flawed character’s lives has lead me to some pretty interesting places.

When did you decide to become a writer?

That happened at primary school. I was reading ‘James and the Giant Peach’ when I became aware of the fact people could tell stories for a living. I couldn’t believe that was an actual way to live as an adult. In some respects, it felt a little wasted on adults. Everyone I knew had parents who were office-bound every morning or worked in a shop. I still remember walking into our classroom one morning and one of the girls in my class asked me what I wanted to be when I was older. I told I wanted to be an author and I’ve never really looked back.

Why do you write? 

I guess it’s somewhere between a compulsion and an addiction for me. I know I hate not writing, if that makes sense. When I finished ‘Something Needs Bleeding’ and sent it off to my publisher, I opened a new Word file. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was about to start, but I knew I couldn’t just sit back. It felt wrong. There are too many stories I want to tell. I can’t quite imagine a day where I get up in the morning and don’t write for a couple of hours.

Where do your ideas come from?

The ideas come from the tiniest of details normally. The whole of ‘Something Needs Bleeding’ started off with me walking home from the pub on the first night they turned all the streetlights off after midnight around here. There was that cold, heavy silence that you only get when it’s truly dark. It really got to me and started the wheels spinning in my head. ‘The Final Restoration of Wendell Pruce’, which is probably my favourite of all the short stories I’ve written so far, came from a nightmare. I woke up with these strange images of an old man trapped in a house that was constantly changing around him and knew I had to use them. I ended up sitting and writing for that whole day. I started when it just getting light and stopped after the sun had set. I was determined to capture that fear and I think it worked pretty well. One thing I will say is they rarely come fully formed. They’ll start off as one thing and just the process of telling them to myself on that first draft will change them into something far more interesting.

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

I have the worst handwriting in the world. Well, it’s probably in the top ten. I used to write all my stuff by hand, years ago. I would scrawl them down on pads or spare sheets of paper. They were these ever expanding bundles of scruffy looking pages. I always thought a computer would ruin the process, until the day I tried to read one of them back. After spending hours trying to decode the smudged hieroglyphs I’ve covered those pages with, I decided I had to start typing stuff instead. It took me a while to get used to it. In fact, I started with poetry before I went to prose. It helped me get the rhythm right, as pretentious as that sounds.

Annoyingly, over the years, I’ve been given some really nice leather notebooks to write in and I’ve not got the heart to tell people those pages will never hold a draft of a story. Ideas for a story, sure? The odd comic book shopping list, definitely. But not a story. Not if I want to be able to read it.

What are your 5 favorite books and 5 favorite authors?

That’s a tricky one. It’s a list that can change from one week to the next. That said, my favourite book is pretty much always going to be ‘Catch 22’ by Joseph Heller. I love the insanity and pain of that book. The dizzying logic of the whole thing. It’s brilliant, hilarious, powerful stuff.

‘House of Leaves’ by Mark Z Danielewski is another one of my favourites. It’s a book that plays with reality and style, but has an ingenious story at its heart.

‘Number 9 Dream’ by David Mitchell is another book I will go back to over and over again. I know a lot of people will say ‘Cloud Atlas’ is better, but this was the first Mitchell book I read and it blew me away. It toys with you and your expectations, but it never feels shallow or like a trick.

‘The Witches’ by Roald Dahl is on the list, without a doubt. One of the perfect horror books for a kid. It’s chilling and exiting and, for me, the best use of witches in any fiction.

‘Neverwhere’ by Neil Gaiman is close to perfect as well. I watched the original BBC TV show and hunted the book down as soon as I could. It has this wonderful array of strange fantasy characters who are out of this world but have their roots sewn into the streets of any major city. It’s such a great mythology. Yep, now I have to hate Neil again for a while. Damn him.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

Very, very badly. I keep writing as often as I can in order to keep The Block at bay, but it can still catch up with me. Take that idea I had for a second novel. I tried any which way to dodge past it, but it tackled me to the ground in the end. If I’m not careful, I get lost in a maze of notes and previous drafts.

What I’m trying to do right now is work around it. So, if I start to struggle with an idea, I set it aside and try something else out for a while. Work on the next blog post, a poem, look over something I need to get written for a future commitment. Sometimes I pick up a really early idea and play with it again for a day or two. That seems to be a pretty decent distraction at the minute.

What advice would you give to new aspiring authors?

Everyone is going to tell you to write and they’re one hundred percent correct. The best way to find your voice and to find what you want to on the page is all held in that process of just keeping at it. Keeping writing. The thing is, though, I think every aspiring author knows that deep down, already.

So, the best piece of advice I can offer you is to find likeminded people. Hunt them down on social media. Or at conventions. Or at writing groups. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been lucky enough to meet some great people. Some really friendly, really open, really creative writers. Reading their work and talking to them about stories has helped me up my own game no end and it’s also helped me to feel like this isn’t just me sitting in a room on my own. Especially when it hasn’t been easy finishing a story or starting one.

So, yeah, that’s my advice. Go find other writers and stick with them. There’s safety in numbers

Thank you, Christopher, for all your impressive answers!


About The Book:

Kensington Gore is a man on a mission. He always aims to give his readers something fresh from the world of horror. Only this time he is offering you something a little different. This time he is offering you a piece of horror history to call your very own. Collected in this volume are the final works of one of the great unsung heroes of horror, Thomas Singer. Singer was a man who truly knew how to terrify his readers with his strange, nightmarish tales. Sadly, though, he never received the acclaim in life he so rightly deserved. Following the mysterious death of the reclusive writer earlier this year, Kensington Gore Publishing author Christopher Long was invited to help edit Singer’s final five bone chilling tales and introduce them to the world. There are many rumours and theories about what secrets these stories may hold. Singer himself selected them from his extensive back catalogue and held them back to be released only after his death. So read Something Needs Bleeding, if you dare. See what you can find hidden in the final pages Thomas Singer had to offer the world. Just be careful you don’t come away with blood all over you.


For 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