Interview with Sue Bentley

An Interview with Sue Bently, author of We Other

Tell me a bit about your writing history so far.

A personal favourite from my other published works – it’s difficult to choose a favourite as I also write sparkly books about magic animals for kids. Very different, to We Other! But if I had to choose a title – it would be A Summer Spell, the first title of this series of books for ages 5-9 years, also written as Sue Bentley.

My first novel – well there were a few turkeys! But I learned a lot from the mistakes made when writing them. I had high hopes for Mooncaste, an historical novel inspired by an iron-age, hill-fort close to where I live. I hand wrote it in three notebook. It was never published, but I did get an agent on the back of that book.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

I work best when writing to commission. A dead-line is wonderfully motivating. My children’s series were written in concentrated bursts of energy, but each book was quite short. I haven’t been commissioned by a publisher for a while. The publishing world has changed a lot. We Other was a much bigger undertaking. It’s a complex novel, aimed at an older readership. I did a lot of research before beginning to write, made notes about the main characters, and wrote a detailed plot outline. I find it works for me to live with characters for a while before diving in – maybe for a few months. But when the urge to write is too strong, I’ll begin. It would be easy to be seduced by doing research, which I love, but I have to force myself to call a halt. We Other probably took around 3 years to write, all told.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I’m lucky enough to have a room of my own, where most of the writing is done. I write directly onto my desktop. I scribble notes on bits of paper, which pile up on my desk. I also take notebooks and research books with me to cafes and sit writing in longhand, which I type up later. I like writing with a pencil. There’s something about the way ideas flow, but I couldn’t write entirely in long-hand. I’m a perfectionist and do a lot of re-writing as I go along, so any piece of paper would soon be unreadable with all the crossings-out and notes in the margins.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I have close writing friends who will read and comment on work in progress. I do the same for them. Over time I’ve developed a good instinct for when a passage is working. I also know when it isn’t right and will re-write as many times as I need to, before finishing a first draft. There are usually cuts and more edits to make before I finally show it to my agent or publisher. And then more to do when working with an editor.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I’ve always loved everything about books, their smell and feel. Opening a new book is such a pleasure – better than a box of chocolates. I enjoy browsing bookshops – especially small independents. Haye-on-Wye, a small town in Herefordshire, is my favourite place to go as it’s full of bookshops, cafes, and vintage shops. But I also enjoy browsing larger bookshops like Waterstones and Foyles. I buy books online too, and can’t resist looking at the shelves in charity shops. I’m also a regular user of my local public library. I’m never without a book in my bag.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from your different life stages?

Historical. I started with these, as I enjoy being lifted out of the every day. But I also like fantasy, magic-realism, gritty dark fairy fiction, gothic and dystopian fiction. I enjoy crime now and then. A good psychological thriller with a fantasy or historical setting can be good. From childhood, I enjoyed traditional fairy tales, some sword and sorcery stuff, anything unusual. The works of BB. A local author who wrote some fabulous books about the last gnomes left in England, rich with details of the natural world, made a huge impression on me as a child. As did Jane Gaskell and Michael Moorcock, when I was growing up. I’ve been inspired by Diana Norman, Tanith Lee and latterly Teri Windling, Holly Black, Stef Penney, Carol Birch, and so many others.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What do you do?

Social Media is a mixed blessing. For authors it’s a great way of bringing your work to the attention of readers and it’s great to keep in touch with other writers and friends. Writing is a solitary craft, which is fine most of the time as I’m comfortable in my own company. I sometimes use social media for research, but it’s easy to become distracted, when you ought to be working. At the moment I manage my own profile, which can be very time consuming. I try to limit posting on FB, Twitter and Goodreads to the evenings, but don’t always succeed. Two or Three hours can go by without me noticing. I’m presently about to have a major overhaul of my website and I’ll then write a regular blog. I’m constantly learning how to make the best use of social media.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! I try to make my questions as interesting as possible, is there anything else you wished I had asked? And tell me honestly… Are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

This Q and A session – the questions were interesting and stimulating – thanks Rosemarie! Yes it takes a while to answer all of them. Makes you think hard – which is no bad thing. Was I tempted to recycle my answers from one interview to the next? Yes and no. Yes – because it would have been less work and some of my answers may have been of interest to readers. No – because it’s a privilege to be asked to contribute to a blog and I’m grateful for the opportunity and the time you’ve taken with this. The least I can do is try to be honest and provide full answers. I hope your readers will enjoy reading this interview. It’s been a pleasure.

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Interview with David Meredith

An Interview with David Meredith

I’m going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite? 

Actually I’d say my favorite is one I haven’t published yet. It was one I started WAY back in 2004 that is mostly complete.  It is a fantasy series based upon Japanese myth, legend, and folklore, rather than the European model that is so prevalent in fantasy literature today. Originally it was a 406,000 word behemoth, but I’ve edited it down to three volumes that are between 95,000 and 120,000 words each. It’s still kind of my baby, so I’ve been holding back on publishing, but I think that time is coming. I wrote most of it while I was living in Japan. It is based on many of my experiences there and borrows heavily from the mythology and folklore of Northern Japan where I spent the bulk of my time. It is probably the one thing I’ve written that is the most personal to me so I’ve been reluctant to release it until I’m sure it’s perfect.

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

Well, I definitely had several false starts, (I think I got 50+ pages into four separate novels before abandoning them for various reasons) and those are probably well and deservedly dead, but they were all extremely important in helping me develop as a writer, especially in terms of learning what didn’t work. However, the piece I mentioned before was the first novel that I actually finished.  It has gone through countless rewrites and now 13 years after starting it, I think I finally have the writing chops to realize my original vision in a way that other people will actually want to read and the knowledge as an Indy writer to promote it the way it deserves. It will definitely be published at some point. It’s just a question of when.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

I probably could, but I don’t think I’d be very happy with the final result. I easily take at least twice as long editing and revising my completed work as I do writing the initial draft. Maybe others are different, but I really need to see that complete final vision to truly understand where it’s working where it’s not and how to tighten it up. I don’t really let ideas percolate, per se. I do however, try to get new ideas down as soon and as quickly as I can, but I don’t like to release until I’m sure a piece is as solid and tight as it can possibly be.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

Especially since I just finished my doctorate degree, I’ve been pretty busy. I usually work on my laptop whenever and wherever I have a couple of free minutes. Home, office, coffee shop, kids’ sports practice, even parked in the car! I can’t afford to be fussy if I want to get anything done.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I impose often on talented friends and family. My wife is my first proof reader, and she offers a lot of valuable insight. Other friends also offer their two cents, but recently I’ve started doing Beta-Trades through Goodreads. I Beta-read theirs. They do mine, and that has been an enriching experience so far. I infinitely prefer Beta-Trades to review swaps, which I really don’t like doing. In trading reviews I always feel compelled to spin a book as positively as possible or risk hurting someone’s feelings. Telling someone their completed masterpiece is awful never feels good. With Beta-Trades on the other hand, I feel like I’m offering valuable constructive criticism that will hopefully make the final product better.  I have a great deal more freedom to be honest, and feel much better about myself in the end as well. Then of course, the feedback I receive is extremely valuable too.  It has been a great way to get a number of diverse perspectives on my work, and see things in a way I might otherwise not have.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

The smell of my dad’s office growing up is a foundational memory for me, so I understand what you mean. I do like physical books. Given the choice, I honestly prefer them, but as time has gone by I find myself reading more and more electronically. My favorite shop though is actually a used book store named McKay’s. They have several outlets here in Tennessee and are all opened in old warehouse buildings stacked floor to ceiling with used books. It definitely has the smell you’re talking about.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from:

I read mostly fantasy for my own entertainment though I have branched out some in recent years. It’s still my strongest inclination and preference. In terms of my own writing, so far all of my fiction work has had some kind of fantastical element to it. I really enjoy the freedom that speculative fiction offers. Most of my reading lately has been required course material for my doctoral program, but some of my favorite authors are Tad Williams, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Robin Hobb. I also like work by Robert Jordan, Liza Dolby, and James Clavell. I still reread Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn Trilogy every couple of years.

  1. childhood? Dr. Suess – Wacky Wednesday (I wore that book out) and the Winnie the Pooh stories by A.A. Milne. I also spent a lot of time at Number 32 Windsor Gardens J.
  2. adolescence? I read A LOT of Dragon Lance and Forgotten Realms novels.
  3. young adult? LOTR by J.R.R. Tolkien and the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn Trilogy by Tad Williams
  4. adult? I really liked Shogun by James Clavell and The Tale of Murasaki by Liza Dalby. They helped me make sense of the Japanese people and culture I found myself immersed in for nearly a decade. Both are great stories, but even better resources for getting into the nuts and bolts of the Japanese psyche in a way that is easy for westerners to understand.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What do you do?

I was not a natural in terms of using social media to promote my writing. I still struggle with it honestly, but make regular use of Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads in particular. It is admittedly however, an area where I still have a lot of room to grow.

If you manage your own profile, please tell me as much as you are comfortable with in regards to your preferred platform and an estimate of time you spend doing it.

After a book is released I easily spent two or three hours or more a day sending review requests (I use Twitter heavily for finding book review sites), working on my Facebook writer page and monitoring sales and promotions. I easily spend as much time and effort on online promotion as I do actually writing the book if not more. I’ve gotten to where I have accepted it as a necessary evil, but I enjoy working on the promoted pieces themselves much more than their promotion.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! I try to make my questions as interesting as possible, is there anything else you wished I had asked? And tell me honestly… Are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

Maybe, “what do you want Aaru to accomplish? What do you want people to get out of it?”

Aaru is first and foremost an entertaining and emotional YA/NA SyFy/Fantasy novel. It is at its core a story about the love of two sisters, and how they struggle to cope as the paradigms of what they’ve always been taught is true and good is challenged and shifted in a monumental way. However, Aaru also explores a number of what I think are fundamentally human questions: What happens when religion and faith conflict with technology and science? Is there a way to reconcile the two? What constitutes a human being or human soul? What would happen to religion and faith if the fear of death was removed from society? How would that change the way individuals choose to live their lives? In a world where people in power can essentially choose who is and is not saved, how should that determination be made? Who should be saved? Is the act of choosing winners and losers, judging who is righteous and worthy vs. who is not in and of itself even moral at all? I suspected that the answers would be a lot messier and more complicated than the utopian realization of John Lennon’s Imagine lyrics and lead to a great deal of conflict as people try to hash it all out. In the end, Aaru doesn’t really answer any of these questions, nor is it intended to, but it does speculate on what the answers of different people from different circumstances and indeed society at large might be. What I want people to get out of Aaru is an intensely emotional experience that stimulates some productive introspection even as they enjoy it as a compelling story about the fierce love of two sisters that transcends even death.

And as to the other question… Sometimes… J

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Interview with Theodore Ficklestein

An Interview with Theodore Ficklestein, author of A Day in the Life

Theodore Ficklestein is an author, blogger and poet. His books include This Book Needs A Title Volumes 1 and 2 and I Killed the Man Who Wrote This Book. His first novel Day In The Life will be published by Gen Z Publishing in 2017. His multiple blogs include This Blog Needs Sports, This Blog Needs Poetry and This Blog Needs Movies.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

I have actually been able to produce content out on a regular basis. I self-published my first book in 2013 and have written three books since then, so I am on pace to write a book a year. The only thing that stops me from writing books at a faster pace is focus on my writing elsewhere, like a blog or social media.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I write in my office and I always write in pen. I try not to put my first draft in digital form. I remember a teacher saying how people are more elaborate in their writing when they actually write it. I tried to type some posts on one of my blogs and felt that there is something to writing it out first. I’m interested if there is a major difference when people write in script compared to print, since script is out of style for most people. I will say that my one requirement when I write is silence. I don’t like to write with music on or while watching tv.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I don’t use beta readers. I have a few family members that I pitch my ideas to in order to get a readers take on it, even then I only summarize the work. The most I give them is the synopsis of the work and see how they respond to it. I never have anyone besides the editor manually look it over. I’m not really crazy about people (who are not the editor) criticizing my work before it is released. People will do that anyway, so I might as well stay as close to my original story as I can.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I have a Barnes and Noble by me that I love to go to. When I visit I normally have an idea on when I want to go because there is a book that I am looking for, but I still go to the literature fiction section to browse afterwards.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from your different life stages?

I like the classics. I find an author and try to read all of their work. If I have not read any of the author, I cover their main stuff first. I like reading the unknown from the classic writers. That is where it is fun for me as a reader and I learn of stories that sometimes the writer never even intended on publishing.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What do you do?

I manage the content I put up on all my social media accounts. I have found a company that helps with finding suitable followers for one of those accounts. I try to put out enough so people know I am doing something, but not too much where it takes too much of my time. It is a balancing act.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! I try to make my questions as interesting as possible, is there anything else you wished I had asked? And tell me honestly… Are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

Perhaps something about where literature is going or a silly question, like if I could go to outer space with any author who would it be? I am tempted to copy and paste some of my answers for interviews, but I answer them honestly and if a bunch of interviewers ask the same question, I give them all the same answer because that is the only answer. For example, a lot of interviewers ask about my reading habits and I tell them all the same answer, classics, because that is what is in my library right now.

A post through Roger Charlie Book Promotions.

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Interview with Emi Louise Croucher (Part 2)

An Interview with Emi Louise Croucher (Part 2), author of The Butterfly on Fire

Did you miss Part 1, where Emi introduces herself? If so, you’d better go back HERE now!

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

The Butterfly on Fire is definitely linked, in some ways, to a draft I started a couple of years ago for what would have been called Serendipity. It was similar in its narrative structure; in that it followed the stories of a few different lives and linked them all up together at the end. I think what stopped me from completing that old draft was the fact that I was trying too hard and ended up making it all too complicated. That, and of course the fact that I hadn’t progressed through my own personal story, and therein didn’t have the same motivation at that point. Once I realised exactly what I wanted to write about and cleared up in my head what message I wanted to send out into the world, it all fell effortlessly into place. I used the older draft as a kind of reference, and some characters are in their in one way or another, but The Butterfly on Fire sort of grew its own pair of wings and really took off by itself (pun instead!). 

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

As above, I am someone who needs to let the idea percolate and I cannot write without motivation. Some of the readers of this debut novel have asked “when is book two coming out? I need to know what happens!?” Unfortunately, I just have no idea. I know I will write a sequel, but until the ideas and the emotions start to flow in the right directions, I don’t feel as comfortable writing. I think a large part of that comes from my protagonist and main characters channelling my inner voice, depending on what different aspect of that character matches my personality.

I admire those who can just start writing without years of pretext, and hope to one day be able to do the same!

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I wrote a large proportion of The Butterfly on Fire at my ex-boyfriend’s house, so I can imagine how problematic it would be to not be able to write anywhere else! Ouch! Sunday mornings would be filled with cups of tea, comedy programmes in the background and the sound of my keyboard clattering away.

The other main location that I found inspiration (and time) to write was on my two hour commute to and from work. That train and bus journey was great for getting out the thoughts and feelings that I had gathered through the day into the book.

Yes, as mentioned above my medium of writing was my small laptop. But that’s not to say I didn’t have tons and tons of paper notes, drawings and hand-drawn maps! In fact, by the time I started editing the novel with E Goulding I had to carry around a full blown A4 folder with all my notes as well.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

In my case I was particularly lucky. I started The Butterfly on Fire whilst I was working at a legal translation company in central London. Within that company there was a proofreading department, and so I approached the lovely E Goulding with my novel when it was about three quarters of the way done. I asked her to give it a read, and if she liked it then would she mind editing it? She ended up becoming a virtual business partner! We then worked together to send specific sections to certain people; friends and friends of friends, when it was ready to be read by the world. One of the main goals we had was to send specific parts to random people (that don’t know me or my story) to see at what point they “worked out” the main part of the narrative. It was great to get feedback from a range of people, as it really brought the book to life. Overall, having a true friend help me edit The Butterfly on Fire will be one of my fondest memories in this entire process.

 I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

My heart is truly torn with this question. On the one hand, I am a millennial. We breathe technology, and I cannot deny the convenience of having a book I want to read on any device, instantly. It’s just so easy! Life should be easy, right?

But then again, nothing beats the smell of a good book. As an indie writer who is self-published, it is a huge honour to have a physical copy of my very own novel. Every time I see it, I just smile! Technology will overtake and outdate many things, but I think the paperback will be on this planet for as long as the human race is.

So I will have to answer this very carefully! I do buy ebooks, and enjoy the ease of reading on my commute. However, nothing will ever get me to digitalise that old copy of Harry Potter that I use to sleep with under my pillow when I was a child.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from:

  1. childhood? J. K. Rowling
  2. adolescence? Cate Tiernan
  3. young adult? George R. R. Martin
  4. adult? Still George R. R. Martin (It’s a long series!)

Judging from the above I guess you could surmise that I too only buy fantasy novels. As much as that’s not my intention, the evidence says otherwise! I guess for me, a large part of why I love reading and writer is the escapology. More specifically the ability to be something other than myself and almost pretend to “be” the character I’m reading about. I would be Hermione Granger, or I would be Daenerys Targaryen.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. The more I think about it, the more I hate it! What do you do?

Again, as a millennial, social media is a necessary evil that we are all brought up with. I admire those people who actively choose against things like Facebook. It must be annoying every time someone asks for your Facebook details!

For me, I have a wordpress blog, and use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (@thebutterflyonfire) to try and promote it. I’m now also on Goodreads, but I’m keeping that in its own bubble for now. I manage them myself and do what I can to keep the pages alive. As a self-published author it’s fully up to me to market the novel, so I have to use social media for that. Whilst this can take a lot of time, I like that I get to keep control of the marketing of this book by doing it myself; as it’s such a personal story that I wouldn’t want to give the work over to someone else.

I spend a good two to three hours a day on checking notifications, coming up with new content and sharing the process of my novel out into the world. Sometimes I spend money on advertising and sometimes I just use word of mouth to get the novel out there as well.

I hope that my social networking is helping towards getting The Butterfly on Fire known in the world, and if not then I need to re-think what to do going forward!

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

I personally try to answer every question in the state of mind and emotions that I’m feeling at that time. I’m a true believer in the notion that everything happens for a reason. So, things that happen may change how we feel, and I see within myself very frequently that I feel differently about things as I get older. This is all coming from the 25 year old me though, and as time goes on I may just rely on the copy and paste buttons when I have toddlers running around and dinner to cook!

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Interview with Emi Louise Croucher (Part 1)

An Interview with Emi Louise Croucher (Part 1), author of The Butterfly on Fire

Don’t forget to look out for Part 2, where Emi answers some of the interview questions you’ve known to come and love on my blog.

Tell us a little bit about the book to start with.

 

I describe it as a fantasy / fiction novel, because there is a clearly defined fantasy narrative, whilst the others are a modern-day, fiction narrative. It follows three lives through certain challenges, like most novels, but it all comes together in a twist that (hopefully) the reader won’t expect.

Now tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a 25 year old woman working in London. I grew up in here, but also worked and studied in Japan for a while. I’m actually a Japanese translator by day, indie novelist by night. I started writing The Butterfly on Fire because I had something important to say, and I wanted to write about it. I am a part of the LGBT community, and so the main theme of the novel is about that, basically. At first I never even imagined I would finish a complete draft, but step by step I kept at it, and here I am.

So, is the book basically just about you?

Yes and no. Certain scenes and parts of the storyline are based on what has happened in my life. Even some characters are based on real people. But it is no way just an auto-biographical novel. Thanks also to my editor, it’s developed into its very own little world. Literally in the fantasy chapters. Each character has been developed to how I wanted them, so it’s not as simple as it being ‘about me’.

What made you think of the three narrative based structure?

Without giving too much away, it kind of developed itself. I had three ‘voices’ that I wanted to represent. Each one of those affiliates to a part of a person. One being the body, one about the mind and the fantasy chapters are the soul. It all just grew from there, really.

Who is your favourite character within the novel?

Really? Am I allowed to even choose as the author? Although, I can imagine most authors would choose their protagonist, but for me that would be slightly strange as it’s based on me. So in fact, I would go with the love interest of the fantasy chapters. Prince Hikaru. Hikaru means light in Japanese, so he’s a real stereotypical, male ‘hero’ character. What I’ve also tried to do though, is modernise the out-dated hero / heroine narrative, and play with what it means to be a ‘hero’ when your lover is a powerful, magical Queen.

Would you have done anything differently, now it’s all finished?

I think anyone would. But generally in life I try and live in the moment and not look back on what I could have done. Sure, some chapters are probably more exciting than others. Some characters could have been developed more. All I am confident in is that the novel tells the message that I want to tell extremely clearly. You wouldn’t be able to read it fully and not see what I’m trying to bring to the table. For me, that is the most important thing. I’m happy with that.

What was the most difficult part of creating the novel?

I think finishing the first draft is where most people give up. Once I had a full blown draft with chapters and everything I felt like half the battle was done. Going into editing with E Goulding was such an exciting step, and it made it all so much more real. It began to come alive with each chapter we went through together. It was so worth completing the first draft to get to that stage.

Who do you feel the book is meant for?

It’s an LGBT novel, so the community and all of its lovely people. As an extension to that, I think the parents and siblings of an LGBT person would be able to relate to it as well. To be honest, any person that loves an empowering story and a bit of a tear jerky would love The Butterfly on Fire. That is parallel to a wonderfully different fantasy narrative that really bounces off of the modern fiction element. Anyone that likes LGBT stories and fantasy then, perhaps?

What other influences helped towards writing TBOF?

Japan was a huge one. There are elements of the Japanese culture and language scattered neatly throughout The Butterfly on Fire. Queen Fubuki does some of her spells in Japanese. The main characters of the modern-day, fictional narrative go for dinner at a Japanese restaurant. Japan has been a powerful and consistent part of my life, so it would naturally be the same in a novel that I create.

Wiccanism is another one. I have always been a spiritual person, since I was young. I have tried to stay faithful to the lore and add a sense of realism to the fantasy side of things by having real Wiccan terminology and acts.

Lastly, I would be a liar if I said my previous boyfriends and fiancés didn’t play their part as well! Lol

How is the publishing process going so far?

So far it’s been a whirlwind of excitement! We are getting some fantastic reviews on our Amazon page, as people are starting to naturally finish the book now. It’s early days because its only been two months since self-publishing The Butterfly on Fire, but we are off to a great start! I couldn’t be happier!

Tell us in 10 words why you think people should read this novel?

It will change how you view a certain minority (hopefully).

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Interview with E. A. Barker

An Interview with E. A. Barker, author of Ms. Creant: The Wrong Doers!

 

E. A. Barker believes he is an average guy in mid-life who has led a mostly average life. His readers may not agree with his assessment. The single biggest difference between him and most other people is his pursuit of knowledge. Throughout his life he never stopped asking the simplest question: Why? E. A. describes himself as a collector of ideas and a purveyor of dot connections. He attempts to present his findings in an entertaining fashion in an effort to encourage people to read—especially men who are reading far too little these days. E. A is an advocate of education for its ability to affect social reform and actively promotes the idea that a global conscience is possible.

COZY DRAGON INTERVIEW

 Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external hard-drive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

(E. A. laughs.) It’s crap! I write narrative non-fiction partially because my ability to write quality dialog is so lacking in my opinion. I am reasonably certain I am at least decent at what I do. Ms. Creant ‘s mission was to challenge the beliefs of the reader so that we might change and grow as humans. This is a niche which I believe best suits my abilities.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to produce a quality book? 

I admire prolific writers who can produce quality works time and time again. For me, it does not come so easily. I suppose my percolation happens during the extensive research phase, which in the case of this book, represented a one year period.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

Wow. Your first sentence supports my working theory that we writers are merely scribes channeling the thoughts of some other entity. This is probably not the place to get all weirdly metaphysical so I will move on to the question at hand. I can write wherever I can make my body comfortable and where there is little distraction or noise. Paper notes always litter my workspace, if not the entire room, until such time as they are compiled by section into my trusty old HP laptop.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I have never been clear on how the literary world uses some terminology. My scientific background tells me to speak of alpha readers first. To me, the process is as follows: 1) I produce a very rough draft which is then read by alpha readers whose sole job it is to blow sunshine up my butt so that I can find the courage to continue. In my case, it was my hairdresser. 2) I then read, revised, re-read, revised . . .  until I realized I was stuck in an endless loop and had to seek professional help. 3) Enter my editor—who I picture in my head as Ilsa of the SS—she is what I believe to be my beta-reader. Laura had no trouble telling me how I had gone off course (content editing); nor did she lose any sleep over pointing out my embarrassing grammatical errors; and I believe she rejoiced in highlighting the literally thousands of typos and punctuation errors. This is what makes her good. Her ability to completely devastate any ego the writer in you had developed, will either force you to be better, or quit. Badly shaken, I chose the former. I made massive revisions which fleshed out ideas, supplied answers, and ultimately resulted in three additional chapters. The most observant of readers might see where I ended the book on three separate occasions. She was recruited by writing a cheque. 4) The gamma reader was my proof-reader who line edited (a.k.a. copy edited) the manuscript prior to publication. She only found another five hundred or so mistakes in punctuation as well as missing words I just could not see when I read those sentences. She was recruited through a negotiated exchange of services and the promise of a signed hardcover.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I LOVE PAPER BOOKS! It is easy to understand people who like digital books though; they can buy books for far less money and could carry their entire library with them at all times. There is a danger that we should be discussing in the digital revolution we are in the midst of. I USE LIBRARIES to source most information. Libraries have always been the keepers and conservators of knowledge. Budget cutbacks combined with limited shelf space are leading many libraries into e-book information technology systems where the librarian will no longer be the curator. Whosoever controls “the cloud” will then control all knowledge. We must continue to encourage a balance between paper and digital books or we risk quickening our fall into a dystopian nightmare.

Oh my! Asking an author if they have a favorite bookstore is leading them to potential career suicide. ANY bookstore that carries or recommends Ms. Creant: The Wrong Doers! is a favorite of mine. I do however frequent a local used bookshop in the Beaches area of Toronto near my home.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from:

  1. childhood? Jules Verne
  2. adolescence? Frank Herbert
  3. young adult? Robert Heinlein
  4. adult? Hemingway? I am now trying to read the greats across previously unexplored genres including poetry—something I would never have done when I was younger.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What do you do? 

Social media is a massive time suck that keeps us from writing. I would like a PA to take it over but I have yet to have a quality unpaid one offer to do so.

This is my approach:

  • Facebook is number one in terms of users. If you are willing to track people down and stay engaged with them, it can be powerful. Therein lies the time suck factor—engagement. Facebook goes out of their way to minimize your reach. Only 3 to 7% of your friends and followers will see some of your posts regularly.
  • Twitter is second in terms of users; limited in terms of post length, but UNLIMITED in terms of reach—all your followers and all selected hash-tags receive your posts, you can tweet @ anyone on twitter and they do not put you in jail for over engagement.
  • I tweet daily and send the tweet to both my facebook profile and my author page. In theory you could do this in 30 minutes per day but you would not have the all important needed engagement with other people.
  • Not long ago, I found statistics which clearly showed you really only need to be engaging on Fridays and Saturdays. This opens the door to time suck savings by posting (a.k.a. updating status) each day, but engaging just on those two days.

Understanding the value of any marketing effort is often difficult to measure in immediate sales—social media is epitome of this. After two years of working social media an average of three hours per day, seven days a week, 360ish days per year, I will tell you its value cannot be measured monetarily. When I attempt to do this, the numbers make me feel foolish.

  • $0.03 is what I have been paid per hour.
  • 30 minutes is invested in each follower.
  • Followers rarely buy your book but about 1% will.
  • You will get 0.1% response from a twitter campaign.

My RATIONALIZATION for continuing at all is I committed to this for two years–one year leading up to this release (the building phase), and one year of promoting the book after release. I assure you there will be a massive scaling down of social media work once the book has its first birthday.

So what are the positives?

  • You gain a handful of digital pen pals from around the world—priceless.
  • A good percentage of initial sales and reviews will come from people you meet on facebook.
  • It is the digital equivalent of flyer distribution and it is free, if you do not count your time.
  • About 50% of blogger interest came through social media channels.

The best alternative to social media marketing is REAL WORLD marketing but you must be an extroverted salesperson to do this, and many writers are not. Some will have costs which can quickly add up.

  • E-mail campaigns have netted the greatest amount of interest thus far with about a 10% response rate. This is literally 100 times better than social media and introverts can do it.
  • Direct mail promotion to independent bookshops and libraries seems to generate interest.
  • Attend book fairs and sell signed copies.
  • Public speaking is always an opportunity to sell books.
  • Pitch indie bookstores and other merchants on buying or displaying consignment copies of your book.
  • Send out review copies to literary critics. Most will not give you the time of day, but just one published positive review from these people can make a career.

Links to: Twitter Facebook

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next? 

Your questions were thought provoking and multifaceted so I could not cheat. We are faced with some stock questions which cause us to reiterate answers. I have yet to copy and paste an answer, but who knows what the future may bring.

😀

Ms. Creant: The Wrong Doers!

This book was created for everyone from young adults to seniors. It was written from a male’s point of view, speaking to men who are endlessly struggling to understand the opposite sex. For women, this is a fascinating journey inside the male psyche. The book gives a young reader a glimpse of the future, with a recommended time-line for key life events. Mature readers, who have already experienced much of what is discussed in the book, should come away with a new found understanding and perhaps even closure. Ms. Creant is a controversial, entertaining, yet informative look at everything which influences human behaviour including: relationships, life, health, biology, philosophy, sociology, theology, politics, genetics—even physics. E. A. Barker shares twenty-four “inappropriate” stories of life with women. The author based these stories of women behaving badly on his real life experiences, spanning four decades of his search for an ideal partner. The lessons taken away from the book will serve to help readers make better choices, become more aware, grow and change—at any stage of life.

Get this novel from a range of places:

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Interview with Mita Balani

An Interview with Mita Balani

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external hard drive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

I have a few relegated short stories, but not a full length novel. Breaking Norms is my first. After finishing the first draft in 2013, four years was too long to take it to the finish line. But I am glad, I did it.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

Writing fills my heart with joy. I always have one or two story ideas running in my head. But with my primary job that pays the bills and mother/wife duty, writing takes the third priority in the list. So I am not sure if a novel a year be possible for me. But for sure more will come out.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I am sure those writers must be beyond devastated if the café closed down. I have written in different places based on circumstances the Public Library, one specific Starbucks near my home and even while waiting in line for something. But I find my creative juices working better when I write using one particular desktop in my office/study room. I use digital medium the desktop or the phone to write.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

Yes, I consider myself very lucky to have a husband who played a role of the first reader and the critique both. I also have other 3 amazing family and friends who read the first rough draft. Their feedback helped to polish the story.

Regarding editor, I chose one online editing service based on online reviews. Paid a hefty amount, but was not happy with the results. So I ended up editing it myself all over again. For my next one, one of my good friends has volunteered to help with editing. I am grateful to have amazing family and friends around.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I love the smell of the new paper books. But in last seven years, I have become fan of e-books just because I can read the e-book on my phone anywhere, anytime. I buy all my e-books on Amazon and paper books for major parts on Amazon as well. I also enjoy listening audio books while driving. I get all my audio CDs from local public library.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind?

I grew up reading the books in regional language (Marathi in India), then transitioned to reading in Indian National language (Hindi) before I read English novels. So my favorite authors till young adults are from that region of India where I grew up. As a child I hardly read for fun. So I can’t really say who my favorite author from Childhood is.
Adolescence: P. L. Deshpande
Young Adult: Gulzar (love his poetry)
Adult: Khaled Hosseini
Favorite genre: My reading liking changed after my young adult time. Since then I enjoy reading soulful and emotional tales with a hint of romance.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job.

Have you chosen someone to manage your profile?
I thought about it initially, but then dropped the idea considering the financial aspect of it.

I am still in the phase of exploring different options. I haven’t spent much time promoting my debut fiction yet due to so much going on in my personal life at the moment. I hope to promote more in near future.
So far, my favorite platform has been Facebook. Before book launch, for about two months, I spent two hours every alternate day, learning/implementing what I learned, making mistakes on the way and learning from those mistakes as well.

I use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and blog once in a while.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

Even though I have been running 103 fever for last couple of days, I answered these questions from scratch. But I am thinking about your question….hmm…I will not be tempted to recycle the answers or will I? 😉

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Interview with Charles McCormack

An Interview with Charles McCormack, author of Hatching Charlie

From your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?

I only have one other published book. It’s a book detailing what to do and the why of doing it in treating couples with one or both spouses in a state of regression, i.e. a borderline mental state. The book, Treating Borderline States in Marriage: Dealing with Oppositionalism, Ruthless Aggression, and Severe Resistance (Jason Aronson 2000), was well received and is still used in training programs in individual and couples psychotherapy.

It is not written for lay people, but I did have lay beta readers to help me write it in a more readily understandable fashion. I have been contacted over the years by people who found the book helpful in understanding their own issues or a family members. For those interested it is available in paperback and on kindle through amazon.

What do you like best about Hatching Charlie?

That it’s raw and it’s real and that it’s a book everyone can relate to. To paraphrase one reviewer: it’s fascinating read and an invitation for the reader to consider his or her own life as they are reading. I particularly appreciate the Midwest Book Reviews critique: “Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, “Hatching Charlie: A Psychotherapist’s Tale” is an inherently fascinating, thoughtful, and thought-provoking read from beginning to end. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections, “Hatching Charlie: A Psychotherapist’s Tale” will also prove to be of immense interest to the supplemental studies reading lists of psychology students as well.” That review, so succinctly delivered, assured me that I had accomplished what I set out to do.

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

Hatching Charlie is my first novel. I couldn’t put it in the drawer no matter how hard I tried. It was inspired by my elder daughter asking me to fill out one of those books for the grandchildren so they would know a bit about me. I liked the idea, I just didn’t like the venue. Then there was my son who, very successful, at an early age, asked me “Dad. Is this [life] it?” I responded that life was about the pursuit of happiness. Though my answer is accurate, my ability to make the case for it then and there was lacking. So those two seeds, planted by my kids years earlier, sprouted and grew until I could no longer ignore them. This book strives to answer the questions “Who am I?” and “What’s life about?” Along the writing, I discovered that the answers to these questions unfold across the years in the changing roles we each assume. For me it was from abandoned boy to young delinquent, to married man, to father, to grandfather and from psychotherapist, to lecturer, to author, to patient, and beyond. Along the way I discovered not only the cratering impact life’s troubles can have upon us but also the fact that it takes great courage to be happy and that most of us are as happy as we can stand.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

I’ll let you know. I suspect I’m the type of writer that needs to let ideas percolate, but I’m not completely sold on this. In fact, I’ve already been asking myself the question, what now?

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I write at home, in my office, and when I’m traveling. I use my laptop but will make notes of ideas on my cell phone. When I write I often enter a trancelike state that is so captivating that I have been guilty of missing several patient appointments when I’ve actually been in my office. I snapped out of the trance to observe a note slid under my door stating, “We were here. Did we have the wrong day?” They hadn’t wanted to knock on the door fearing that I might be dealing with some emergency. In those circumstances, feeling terribly guilty about wasting their time, I make amends by giving them their next session for free. After all, their time is as important as mine.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

Finding Beta readers is as difficult as getting people to review a book. I recruit family and friends but often they either take forever or are rather parse in their commentary. Then there’s the problem of people “wanting to be nice.” They don’t want to criticize, not recognizing that the true gold of a beta reader is the one that will tell you the real deal. As to editors, I had several friends edit and then explored editorial services. I finally hit upon Margaret Diehl because of the reviews garnered for her editing, the fact she had three books on the honorable mention list of the New York Times, and in our early emails demonstrated a dry wit and great integrity, challenging plot logic and so on. She was tremendously helpful in teaching me to develop the characters to she could see them in her mind and in rearranging chapters and suggesting the creation of chapters to ease the back and forth between my life as a psychotherapist and my life personal life. I learned a lot from her.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I use to read printed books all the time. I didn’t find the kindle books as welcoming, although they were easier and quicker to obtain. More recently, having a long commute to work, I started listening to audible books and fell in love with them. Some times they don’t equal what I might have created in my mind but many times they add an element I hadn’t considered. My book, Hatching Charlie, is in audible format as well as kindle and print. I prefer the audible because I narrate the book and that gave me the opportunity to “read it” the way I wanted it to be read. Indeed, I did two versions of the audible book because I realized, while recording it, that I could “hear” the book in a different way that led to me to major edits and rewrites. I then updated the kindle and printed formats to accurately reflect the wording in the audible book. I love it!

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from:
1. childhood? I was a poor reader in childhood. I had to go to summer school. “See Dick run!” was about all I could handle.
2. adolescence? Hardy Boys
3. young adult? Trilogy of the Ring; Watership Down; anything by Anais Nin. Books by D.T. Suzuki on Zen Budhissm; Carlos Castenada; Michael Chilton Pierce.
4. adult? For years I only read books on psychoanalytic theory and practice. Then I stopped reading professional stuff and started writing. Since then I’ve read books for personal enjoyment. The Power of One; The Boys in the Boat; any action thrillers that Arnold Schwartzenager could star in and that don’t involve a lot of character development. In other words, I like escape reading to get out of my own mind.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What do you do?

I manage social media on my own and if I do say so myself I am perfectly terrible at it. My main motivation of late is trying to promote awareness of Hatching Charlie. As an independent author I can’t compete from the top down as they can, so my strategy is to promote my book from the bottom up and hope that people get enough out of it to recommend it to their family and friends, or simply as a support to anyone having a hard time in life and relationships.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

I haven’t been at it long enough to feel that temptation. And, even if tempted, I doubt that I would do it. Even when I give talks each one is freshly written—I never give the same talk twice. I think the reason is I would get bored with myself. In addition, everything keeps moving, keeps changing, and so my answers to questions today will be slightly different from my answers tomorrow.

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Interview with M. N. SNow

An Interview with M. N. SNow, author of The Helper

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

The Helper is my first novel and it was shelved for some time. I originally wrote the first draft, if memory serves, in 2004 or 2005. I then rewrote it a variety of times over the next four or five years. I’d pick it up for awhile and then stick it back in the drawer. After giving up on finding a publisher, say in the year 2010 or 2011, I put it way for good, or so I thought. Then in 2015 I was motivated to comb through it once more, update it and finally publish it in time for Christmas 2016!

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

Writing does not come easy for me. I usually let an idea percolate, but that’s more due to writing laziness, than lack of ideas. My trouble is getting started and staying started. I do have two new novels that I have started and stopped. On one of them I am completely stumped as to how to continue. The second novel is one I will pick back up writing soon, I hope. I also have ideas for another three of four novels floating around in the background.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I write on my PC, and only on my PC. So wherever it is, is where I write. The majority of my novel The Helper was written in a small motel where I was staying after relocating from south Florida back to Superior, WI. I stayed there during the winter while I was looking for an apartment.

However, if an idea comes to me, I’ll grab any writing utensil at hand and scribble it down before I lose it! Unfortunately that happened the other night. I woke up out of a dead sleep at about 3am and had a great idea for a novel. I lay in bed, half-asleep, thinking of it for a few minutes, and even after some thought it seemed like a good premise for a book. I fell back asleep and cannot remember the idea at all!!! So, once again, I put a pen and paper next to my bed so I can write what comes to me when I wake up.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I’ll try to hook up with any beta-readers I can!!! Usually they are friends and acquaintances. If I trust their instincts, and respect their views I’ll ask them to be one of my “readers.” As to an editor, I’ve used people on the website Fiverr, as well as a friend who is a writer and teacher.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I am not an e-reader fan. I’d rather read a physical book. And I’m a public library geek!!! I enjoy independent bookstores, but I love public libraries. And the vast majority of books I read come from the library.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind?

I read in a variety of genres, but Magical Realism/Speculative Fiction would be my favorite, along with certain SciFi and Fantasy books.

As a child I read a lot of biographies—some sports, some general.

By adolescence I was starting to head toward sci-fi and horror. Stephen Kind was always a favorite of mine. I probably read The Stand seven times before I was 25. But also Catcher in the Rye was a biggie for me and The Drifters by James Michener. Voyage by Stirling Hayden really impacted me. Another book that really stayed with me was Valhalla by Jere Peacock—about peace-time Marines after the Korean war. The sections on “red-line brigs” alone was brutal but overwhelming.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What do you do?

I don’t have anyone manage my work for me. What managing that gets done, I do. I don’t blog or tweet. I do have a Facebook page for my book, and of course, I love to have my book reviewed and mentioned in others people’s blogs, websites, etc.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

I haven’t done all that many interviews, so I’m good so far! And the live ones I’ve done, for newspapers, etc, have all had a variety of questions so I haven’t had to repeat myself to much yet. I’ll gladly do it, however, as long as people are interested in asking me questions about my work!

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Interview with Christopher Slayton

An Interview with Christopher Slayton, author of Chaos Company

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

I’m glad you asked! I’ve had a rough draft of my first attempt at book writing still saved in my files and I’m currently finishing it in hopes to have it published this fall! I wrote the first few pages back in 2009 while in college but didn’t feel confident to write a full manuscript for it. The story follows a young man who is forced to become a masked vigilante after his brother, a gun-wielding batman-like hero suddenly dies. I think with the complexity I wanted to put into this story was more than I was able to handle then. I believe that after writing Chaos Company I have what it takes to deliver a complex story within my first manuscript.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

Well, the truth is I know I have a number of stories from start to finish I can’t wait to get to! I even have a dozen of them outlined! I can’t speak for other writers, but inspiration isn’t a problem for me. I try to find it everywhere, from current events and life experience to traveling. The biggest issue for me is time. Until a year ago I didn’t have the time to write, mostly because after working a 40hr/week job, exercising and being social I didn’t have enough to put my ideas down. But now since I work for myself I have the time needed to put my ideas into writing.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I often write on my laptop either in my bedroom or the living room. That being said I have written in other places such as the common area of my former college, and even at my old job while I was on break. Heck, I’ve even written when I was on vacation in Spain lol. To me there isn’t really a special place for me to write. There is however a mindset I like to put myself in through music in order to write. For example, if I’m writing a lot of dialogue I like to be listening to alternative rock or instrumental music, and when it comes to me writing action scenes I find it easier to do so while listening to hardrock or EDM.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

Unfortunately I can’t trust my family to read for me because most of them see critiquing me as them being rude. When it comes to beta-readers I have only one. Her name is Tessa. She’s been a friend of mine for seven years now and I can trust her to not only tell me exactly how she feels about my work, but also provide ways on how I can improve on a story. I trusted her taste in storytelling and her suggestions when I had her take a look at Chaos Company, and I know I can trust her going forward.

Now when it comes to hiring an editor I am very picky on whom I choose. I got lucky with Chaos Company. Before being let go with publisher Desert Breeze Publishing they had already edited my book for me and had spent over five months and two editors on the project. But now that I am on my own again I’ve learned to ask various questions before hiring an editor, and have them edit a chapter of my work before hiring them. That way I know what I’ll be getting from when they are working on an entire manuscript.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I am an e-reader. My mom got me a device years ago and I’ve been using it ever since. That being said, I am a sucker for having a physical book in my hand from time to time. I usually get my physical copies from amazon and the same for ebooks.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from:

1. childhood? – Dr. Suess. His work was and still is a great stepping stone for young readers. I could do without the films made from his work though lol

2. adolescence? – R.L. and the Goosebump books. Especially the choose your own adventure stories. I remember when I choose the wrong page and quickly flipping back to the previous page to try again! I also remember reading the Halo series based on the video game because I wasn’t allowed to play those games as a kid so I thought reading the stories was the next best thing.

3. young adult? – The Alex Rider novels by Anthony Horowitz. That series really got me through high school and inspired me to try my hand at writing, which I would later fall in love with. I read somewhere that Mr. Horowitz wrote a James Bond novel and I can’t wait to get to it!

4. adult? – As a fan of The Walking Dead show and Graphic novels I am currently making my way through the tie-in novels for the comics. The novels are written by series creator Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga who both do an excellent job portraying a dreadful and cruel world in these stories. I’m almost done the second book now and am grateful to have 6 more books in the series to go!

All that being said, I am a sucker for a good action novel. If it has anything to do with spies, bad-ass one man armies, super heroes or epic individuals, I am all over it!

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. How do you manage it?

If I’m being honest I don’t spend too much time on social media. I have a facebook and twitter account so that’s about it. And my facebook is used mostly for personal reasons, which only leaves me with twitter to promote myself and my work. I may put 2hrs towards social media a month because I just don’t have the time for it right now. With my schedule the way it is and how many projects I want to release by next year I have to put social media on the back burner. When it comes to twitter I at times feel like I’m just yelling into a void hoping people catch wind of my words. That is why I tend to stay away until I’m ready to promote more material and announce when I will be making appearances. Hopefully when writing is my official full-time job I’ll be able to be more active with social media. But until then I refuse to be a part of something I believe has gotten out of hand when it comes to making it as an artist. A true artist’s work should be based on their artistic merit and vision and not how many followers they have.

Since you don’t use social media to promote your work, what do you do? What do you do instead?

– I work as a driver for Uber/Lyft and do odd jobs through the website Taskrabbit. Both jobs require me to meet so many new people on a daily basis and to me that’s a potential new reader/fan I can introduce my work to. It may seem like a slow way to draw in a fanbase, but I get to have a one on one conversation with potential readers and fans and I believe that is worth more in the long run. But, with this method only time will tell if it works.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

No. Well, at least not yet lol. When people are kind enough to interview me the least I can do is be as authentic as possible when answering them. Now if someone asks me a question I’ve had before then yes there will be a few points I may repeat from a previous interview. But I do not just copy and paste an answer and I will do my best to never do that in an interview. It’s not fair to the people interviewing, or the people who have read previous interviews I’ve been in.

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