Interview with James Tingle

An Interview with James Tingle, author of Mervano

I’m not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?

Well, I enjoyed writing one called Symmachia that is quite long and unusual and has an odd structure which was challenging to complete but still somehow fun to do. I also enjoyed writing this one, Mervano, as it was light hearted and not too serious and so it was fairly pleasurable to write.

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?

My first one was Head of an Apostle which I did a few years ago. It is out there to read now but I may change it a little at some stage to make it easier to read as it has long paragraphs which some people seem to dislike- have to see!

Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?

I think my writing has gotten a little bit more natural maybe and i think I can now write quite a variety of different things and so I’m not restricted to one genre or one specific voice which is good as that would get tedious both for me and readers.

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 seem to write quite a few but the one mentioned at the start of the interview did take a while, maybe a year and so different books take different amounts of time. I wouldn’t want to take years over a book as it would become too much of a burden and would become a real pain to have to finish.

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 always write in my bedroom, on a comfortable armchair as it is a bit quieter than being downstairs with people wandering about and making a load of racket! I do it all on my laptop as that seems the quickest way but have taken notes in notebooks before in the past before writing it onto a computer, but only occasionally.

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?

Sometimes I get a family member to read a novel I’ve done just to see what they think and other times not…I don’t use an editor and instead do it all myself. Some people will use editors but I like the end product to be exactly as I want it…each to their own!

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 used to live in Manchester and had a few good bookshops there but never get the chance to go nowadays. There was a few good places locally but one closed down a while back and so I’m just trying to read the books I have at home now and save money- I bought a lot of books online years ago and still have many left to read!

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and have your tastes changed over time?

My favourite genre is perhaps modern classics as I like books by Kerouac, Salinger, Fante, Hemingway and Isherwood and the likes but I did read fantasy a while ago and do still like some of that kind of thing now as well as odd, hard to categorize novels by Mark Leyner and people like that who push boundaries in fiction…anything a bit novel!

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 do that much social media really but do post about my books in the Facebook groups every day, trying to post different books on different days so as not to annoy people too much! I message the odd person on Goodreads about new releases to see if they want a free book sending and sometimes do an interview like this which is promotion if not strictly social media.

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 try to write different things all the time and don’t do many interviews but a little bit of repetition is hard to avoid. As long as there is always a good chunk of fresh detail, then that’s fine and is as well as you can do I suppose!

Interview with Mike Russell

An Interview with Mike Russell, author of 3 short story collections and 1 novella (and a novel – shhhh)

Mike Russell was born in 1973. He grew up in the small village of Pulborough in the south of England. As a child, he enjoyed daydreaming, art and writing strange stories. As an adult, he enjoys daydreaming, art and writing strange stories.
Mike has a master’s degree in fine art and is a qualified art tutor.

I’m not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?

I don’t have a favourite. It wouldn’t be fair to the others. I like them all for different reasons. My latest book ‘Strange Secrets’ contains some very mysterious and magical imagery. Those are the aspects of my stories that I like the best. They are the active ingredients.

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 attempted to write my first novel when I was 12 years old. It was called ‘Imagine Infinity.’ I wouldn’t try to resurrect it but its essence is probably in all of my stories. I seemed to know what I wanted to do back then. I just didn’t have the means to do it.

Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?

Thankfully I only started publishing my books after I improved my ability to step out of myself and read my own stories from a different perspective. This came from performing my stories for many years in clubs and bars and theatres and art galleries. You learn quickly in front of an audience. The stories in my first book ‘Nothing Is Strange’ were all performed live many times and honed over a long period of time. Performing my stories helped me to develop a way of writing that is very clear and vivid, creating a vision in the reader’s mind. Once that is established it is possible to take the reader to unusual places.

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?

Ideas do need time to connect with other ideas and to reveal themselves completely. I work on many projects at once, all at different stages of development. Otherwise I would need ten lives to get anything written. I plan to only be a writer in this life.
My published books are three short story collections and a novella:

I also have a novel completed. It should be published later this year with a bit of luck. That’s a scoop.

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 used to need to be in a hermetically sealed space to write. Doors and windows closed, no interruptions. Now I can write pretty much anywhere. That change came I think from myself becoming more mentally flexible, a result of meditation and greater peace of mind. I write initial inspirations on post-it notes. I have pads and pens in every room and every pocket. Last week I awoke in the night with some ideas and couldn’t find the pad that is usually by my bedside so I wrote on my arms and legs. There is always a way.

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?

Jay the StrangeBooks secretary helps with every book in the final stages. I call her the StrangeBooks receiver and transmitter maintainer. If you imagine a machine that magically receives stories from the ether, then transmits them to people all around the world, Jay ensures that machine keeps working. I also have a friend, John Zonn, who has read each of my books before publication. His input has also been invaluable. No one person really creates a book. I didn’t invent the English language or paper, nor did I physically make any of my books. So an author is really just one part of a book’s creation.

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 books too but I’d rather read a scentless good book than a beautifully smelling bad book. In fact I’d rather read a badly smelling good book than a beautifully smelling good book. I buy a lot of second hand books and enjoy searching second hand bookshops. I can imagine what my favourite bookshop would be like but I haven’t found it yet.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and have your tastes changed over time?

I would be happy if genres didn’t exist really. For something to be generic means it is in some way conforming to a stereotype. I like books that cross genre boundaries the best. My books tend to be squeezed into the fantasy genre, which is fine. They can sit comfortably on that shelf but when no one is looking they float up into the air and fly around.

As a child I read a lot of science fiction. I loved HG Wells. Later I moved on to Philip K Dick, who is science fiction on the surface but something else beneath. I like Angela Carter who is termed fantasy, though her twisted fairy tales are almost like anthropology, investigating our society’s myths. I love Kafka, who could be put in any genre: fantasy, horror, comedy, detective… My tastes have broadened over the years but the essence of what interests me in literature is still the same as when I was 5 years old. I search for wonder.

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 joined facebook and twitter and the rest to promote my books. I wasn’t interested in it before then. If you keep your wits about you and remember why you are using it, social media can be a wonderful tool. It is an extraordinary thing to be able to communicate with people all over the world. We shouldn’t take that for granted. Not so long ago it would have seemed unbelievable. I have met some great friends through social media and many more people have discovered my books. Both myself and Jay manage our online presence every day. It’s fun. We host free to enter competitions on our Facebook page. Come and see what we’re up to.

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, Rose! I would never do that.

Interview with H.W. Vivian

An Interview with H.W. Vivian, author of In Hiding

H. W. Vivian is the YA/Sci-Fi/Fantasy author of In Hiding and the War of Rain Trilogy. Her debut novel is entitled Chasers. She also writes general fiction under her pseudonym, Alex Chu. Novels written under this pseudonym include the IndieReader 2015 winner for Best Humor Novel, Days of Amber, and the Suspense/Thriller, Monarchs.

I’m not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?

I would say that every newest novel is my favorite because it describes my latest personal and spiritual growth. So since In Hiding is my latest release, it’s my favorite right now. In another year or so, my favorite will most likely be different!

What is In Hiding about?

My latest novel is about a young girl who believes she was abandoned at a young age. She was brought up inside a nuclear power plant after being found by her “guardian”, who is less like a care-giving adoptive parent, and more like a boss. This “guardian” makes her work to power the nuclear reactors in the plant. When she gets older, she starts seeingflashbacks of her life before she came to the plant, and eventually realizes that what she’s doing is not what she was meant to do. I like to add a philosophical element to my novels, so in essence In Hiding is about the dissidence between what others in society (specifically those in power) tell us we are here to do with our lives, verses what we believe we are here to do. I think this ideal is very prevalent in our modern commercial global society.

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 would say my first rough draft was the one that I published as my first novel, so it’s quite revised and refined. I do have several short stories from my earlier years that are still in the hard drive because I never delete story ideas. So you never know – one of those could be the next novel I publish!

Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?

Honestly I think my writing has remained the same throughout my career. I always aim to write as descriptively as possible, so I suppose that lately my descriptions have been more specific, and I’ve been diving much deeper into character development.

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’m definitely inspired! I can usually finish a novel within 6-8 months. I’m always writing something!

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 only write in my home, because, living in New York City, I get easily distracted by the bustling sights and sounds (not to mention the instability of writing in my place of work or in a public area). I think there’s a special connection between writers and their thoughts when using the pen and paper, so my first draft is always on paper. I then transcribe the words onto a typical Word document, and edit/proofread on that.

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 used to have a beta-reader who has since fallen out of touch… but the very nice advice she’s always given me was that, no matter how weird or awkward anyone thinks of my stories, it is one that I must still share because it is a testament to my existence during the however many decades I’m allowed to live on this earth!

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?

Yes, bookshops (and cafes) are always interesting and alluring to me. I could get lost in a bookshop/cafe for hours! E-reading is a good way to organize one’s home and save space, but physical books (and writing pads) are always my preference.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and have your tastes changed over time?

I like every genre except romance. I don’t know… I’ve just never quite been drawn to them. But I have been pleasantly surprised by some romance novels that friends recommend me.

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 know what you mean. Social media is such a drag on my time! What I do is I just schedule posts in advance, so I don’t have to remember to post something every day. This method has done me well, and I highly recommend it to everybody! I manage everything myself! I wish I had a social media manager, though. Scheduling posts has changed my life, and kept me on-track with my marketing goals!

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 don’t recycle my answers because every blogger I’ve met has been creative enough to ask different questions!

Interview with Derek & Dave Philpott

An Interview with the enigmatic Derek & Dave Philpott, authors of Dear Mr Pop Star

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?

This isn’t a novel; it’s a second instalment of deliberately deranged and very funny letters to iconic rock and pop stars concerning the lyrics to their most popular songs, with equally witty in-on-the joke replies from the artists themselves. We did self publish the first installment many moons ago, but Dear Mr Pop Star is actually our first proper literary endeavour.

(Editor’s note: I think this still counts as a novel, even if it can’t be classified – or perhaps because it can’t be easily classified)

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?

Actually, in our case, this really doesn’t apply. We write letters and then send them off to the pop stars concerned never really knowing how long it will take them to respond, if they ever do. We don’t just fire these letters off; we do so with prior consent from the artists after they’ve informed us that they would like to be involved in the project. Then it’s a case of waiting and hoping that they’re kind and inspired enough to respond.

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)? 

We get our ideas on the fly – we could be in the car listening to the radio, or listening to the in-store radio station in Superdrug, or watching a repeat of TOTP on the telly and a lyric will strike us as ridiculous, or something we can easily misinterpret. Then it’s a case of jotting the idea down as soon we can before it escapes, so we find ourselves with scribbled notes or something hurriedly typed into a document on the laptop. The seed of the letter is then worked up into a more elaborate correspondence, generally just sat in the living room. It’s not a terribly formal process and honestly, because each letter is standalone and there’s no over arching theme to tie in, we’re able just to do it in a more casual manner.

When you write, do you have any sense of other people reading your words?

I have to fight the realisation of that inevitability or else I wouldn’t write a word!

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? 

We self-published our first volume of these letters and so we recruited a small but dedicated army of family, friends and fans of our work to do all the proof reading and editing and to make sure it all made some kind of sense! We were very lucky that so many people were kind enough to give us their time. We even did all the distribution ourselves and hand-wrote address labels.  Looking back it was a mammoth undertaking. We’re relieved to say that this time Unbound, our publisher, is taking this work off of our hands.

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? 

There is definitely something quite special about a physical printed book, the weight of it and the feel of it makes it a bit more of ‘a thing’. We’re incredibly excited to get hold of a copy of the hardback edition of Dear Mr Pop Star, because so much work has gone into the cover design and the typesetting and it promises to be a magnificent thing of beauty. That said, having e-books makes life a lot more convenient and perhaps, for some, not having to carry a paper book around, it might encourage them to be more prolific readers and anything that encourages folk to read more and use their imaginations is smashing.As for where we source our material, we don’t! What we’ve put together is entirely unique; no one has ever done this before and so we’ve just had to play it all by ear.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and have your tastes changed over time?

I’ve always been fascinated by mystery and mythology. When I was younger I read a lot of books about the folklore surrounding the Loch Ness ‘Monster’ and similar cryptids, I still have a deep interested in such things,  I am captivated by the rich ancient history of this country, such as Stonehenge and Avebury stone circles. I also love a good music biography, which I guess is no surprise considering the book we’ve just written.

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?

Oh, Social Media is one of the most important parts of what we do! The wonderful little community of Facebook friends we’ve built up have provided us with invaluable input and insights. Also it’s amazing how many links to pop stars we’ve found just through FB; there’s always a friend of a roadie, a cousin of a drummer, or even a musician themselves who are hiding on there. When we first started writing we made a profile and we were shocked when we reached 100 friends. Then it grew organically via word of mouth as others caught on to what we do. Suddenly we hit a thousand, then two thousand and now we’ve got in excess of 4.5k. friends.  We manage the page ourselves,  because knowing your audience is essential and if they like what you do then they share your work with others. For us authors who rely on crowdfunding to make their work a reality social media is something to embrace.

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

It’s incredibly tempting, especially when you are doing a whole slew of interviews, as we’re doing now being so close to publication, but no! Everyone is entitled to equal time and consideration because every interview goes out to a whole new set of people and we believe in staying enthusiastic and energetic about what we do. We really believe that what we have in our book is pure gold and we’re so very keen to spread the word to everyone.

And finally… If one famous person who you admire were to read this book, who would you like it to be?

Keith Richards.. I think that anyone who laughs that much in interviews realises the absurdity and surreality of the industry he is ‘working’ in.

Interview with Philippa Stasiuk

An interview with Philippa Stasiuk, author of The Wonderful Whippet of Winifred Weatherwax

Writer, rover, animal and plant lover, Philippa has lived in Zimbabwe, where she’s from, South Korea, Mexico, New York, and Copenhagen. She grew up with Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Bichon Frises, Dachshunds and mutts. She now lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with her husband, two daughters and three cats, who have banded together and forbidden the acquisition of dogs. The Wonderful Whippet of Winifred Weatherwax is her first novel.

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?

Winifred Weatherwax is my first novel, but it has many abandoned drafts, mostly those experimenting with different perspectives. I started my story by telling it from the perspective of the dog –both first and close third-person. Eventually, I realized the dog perspective could (and does) work for novels, but not for a mystery – at least not mine.

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?

When crafting a story, I refuse to be rushed. This book took me about seven years to write. Maybe with the next one, I can cut that time in half?

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)?

Right now, I seem to only be able to write on my bed, or at a coffee shop with noise-silencing headphones on. My desk, for some reason, isn’t working. I generally sketch ideas (and plenty of doodles) in a notebook first before braving the blank page of the 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?

My story has to do with conformation dog shows. I found some extremely kind dog handlers through the American Whippet Club who gave me feedback on the rules and regulations of the shows. I still missed things though. I’ve already gotten one irate letter from an offended reader stating that even though they could, dachshunds never go first in the group hound judging. My husband has provided invaluable feedback too. He’s an architect now, but he was a lit major and did his thesis on Herman Melville.

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 bookshops, and was lucky enough to hold a book launch party at Francie & Finch, this magical little bookstore in Lincoln, Nebraska. I struggle with e-books as well. I want to fold down corners and underline and stuff old photos and lists between the pages of my books.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and have your tastes changed over time?

I’ve always loved gothic mysteries – good mysteries of any kind really. “Rebecca” by Daphne Du Maurier and “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman were revelations to me. And I love beautiful writing. “Persuasion” by Jane Austen is a favorite, “Day” by A.L. Kennedy and “Holes” by Louis Sachar. I just read “Lincoln in the Bardo” by George Saunders, which is like absolutely nothing I’ve ever read.

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?

My day job is managing social media accounts so I feel pretty comfortable in that universe. I am, however, almost entirely focused on Facebook. I just don’t have time to do more. Twitter has never appealed to me as a medium so I’ve given up. I also created my own website for the book: https://www.winifredweatherwax.com/ because I like the idea of telling my own story.

Why did you choose Young Adult as your genre, and what makes it, as a genre, so special?

For young teens, discovering that they love being transported to another universe through words is so magical – at least it was for me. And I love the pride children take in telling you what their favorite books are. Because they’re realizing that their tastes are forming their own unique identity.

Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?

Writing, in any form, will always lead to better writing. I’ve freelanced articles, written for newspapers, and been a copy editor and content writer. In every one of those spaces, there’s an opportunity to learn. Generally, dialogue comes much easier for me than exposition.

Blurb

Sometimes, bad things happen to good dogs. Winifred Weatherwax begins summer with a pedigreed puppy – a Whippet named Shumba with Best in Show written in his stars. But when Shumba starts winning, other hounds start disappearing. As more dogs vanish, Freddy and her new friend Eli team up to investigate a mystery that includes dishonest dog breeding, the colorful world of dog shows, a first crush, a nefarious villain, and chicanery more sinister than common dog theft. On her way, Winifred discovers the magical bond between humans and dogs.

Shipping info: The book ships in the US via Amazon, and anywhere in the world via the website.

Interview with Josie Jaffrey

An Interview with Josie Jaffrey, author of the Solis Invicti series, and promoting here her latest novel The Gilded King!

I’m not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?

My favourite tends to be my latest work, because I like to think that I’m constantly improving as a writer (my latest book is my sixth). But if I had to pick a favourite out of my published novels, it would probably be the third book in theSolis Invicti series (a four-book paranormal romance series), The Silver Bullet. It has a really annoying cliffhanger of an ending, and it’s the book in which the emotional conflict of the series is finally fully revealed.

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’ve fully abandoned it, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Like many novelists, I started out writing as a teenager, thinking that I would write a serious and melodramatic piece of literary fiction that said very important things about how I saw the world. As I got older, I realised (thankfully) that it’s much easier to communicate meaningfully when you ditch the pretentiousness and concentrate on entertaining the reader, so now I write fantasy with vampires and zombies, although I’m increasingly moving towards historical fiction.

My first abandoned novels were great training, and I don’t regret the time I put into them, but writing is definitely more fun now I’m not trying so hard to be important.

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’m a mixture of the two. I happily pump out two or three novels a year, but the ideas for those novels have been busy percolating for years while I write other things. I’m plotting twelve books at the moment while working on my latest draft, and I already know what the next seven books I write will be. It’s just a matter of finding the time to get them written!

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 definitely a digital girl. I like to write on a laptop, or on my iPad mini with a little keyboard, but I can write anywhere. My preferred place is somewhere quiet, ideally on my sofa with my cats, but I’ve written entire short stories on transatlantic flights before. The key for me is a calm environment in a safe corner so I can forget my surroundings and lose myself in my imagination.

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?

When I wrote my first novel, my family were among my beta readers, but I quickly realised that it wasn’t a great idea. Family relationships are often a bit fraught, and they’re not the people you want to ask to criticise your work. Parents in particular can rarely read with an unbiased and directed eye – they tend to focus on strange parts of the story because it’s written by their child, and that’s always at the front of their minds.

These days, I have a few book-loving friends who beta read for me, as well as a fellow writer and a bookshop-owning friend, who’s very good at story editing. My husband does a thorough proof read for me as well.

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 actually like both physical and electronic books. Day-to-day I prefer paperbacks, particularly because I can support my favourite bookshop by buying them there (Wallingford Bookshop in Oxfordshire – it’s excellent), but also because I like the feel of a book in my hands. I like to be able to feel how far through a book I am, and get an idea of its length just from the spine width and type size. I find that difficult with ebooks, but I do still love my Kindle for holiday reading because it holds so many books. I get most of my ebooks from Netgalley, but I’ll also get them direct from Amazon onto my Kindle if I’m reading an exciting series and can’t wait to pick up a paperback of the next instalment. That’s something I do fairly frequently – I’m a sucker for a cliffhanger ending!

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 tend to read more fantasy and sci-fi than anything else at the moment, and a particular favourite is dystopian fiction, but I read quite widely in fiction and non-fiction.

When I was a kid, I read whatever was on my parents’ bookshelves, so my childhood was filled with Arthur Ransome and PG Wodehouse.

When I was a young teenager, my mum started reading Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, and then the entire family was hooked. I remember the frustration of having to wait for my dad to finish reading before I could have my turn! That series and Tom Holt dominated my young adult years (together with all the latest commercial fiction releases, which my mum always lent to me) before my reading life became inundated by the truckload of Roman and Ancient Greek Literature that I was reading for school and University (I have a degree in Classics from Oxford).

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I got into Terry Pratchett, and he quickly established himself as one of my favourite authors. I also started reading a lot of paranormal romance (Charlaine Harris, Kerrelyn Sparks) and I found my way to the classic sci-fi and horror of Philip K. Dick and H.P. Lovecraft, respectively. That took me on to Michael Marshall Smith, another favourite.
So, I’ve got a lot of favourites!

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 cope?

I use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. On the first three, I try to post something every day (and frequently fail), and I post a few videos a month to YouTube. My following isn’t impressive on any of the platforms, because I just don’t devote enough time to it. Honestly, I’d rather be writing!

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 don’t recycle answers, but if two people ask me the same question then they often get very similar responses! Interviewers are usually good about coming up with original questions, which make participating in interviews much more interesting for everyone. Thankfully, it also means the majority of the answers they receive contain something new from authors.

Interview with Lauren Baratz-Logsted

An Interview with Lauren Baratz-Logsted, author of over 30 novels!

I’m not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?

Thirty+ books into my career, it’s tough to pick one, but today I’ll say it’s The Twin’s Daughter, about a girl in Victorian England who discovers that her gorgeous society mother has an identical twin who was raised in the workhouse. It’s historical suspense and has romance and murder in it, so it’s the closest to being a same-shelf read with Zombie Abbey, the chief differences being that ZA takes place about 40 years later (in 1920), there are zombies rather than murder, and there’s a campy feel about the whole.

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?

My very first book, Waiting for Dead Men’s Shoes, was reshaped and is available on Kindle.

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?

The 30+ novels I mentioned above have all come out since 2003, so I percolate differently and I’m never short of inspiration.

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 what I call my basement cave. There are no windows in the room but there is a 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’ve never hired an editor – I actually do some freelance editing for others myself! – but I do have a group of writers who’ve met in my home for about two decades and we read/critique each other. Also, depending on the needs of a particular book, I might reach out to certain people for a read.

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’m with you: I’m a physical book person all the way. I get my books from libraries and bookstores. My favorite bookstore – the one I worked in for 11 years – no longer exists, I’m afraid. That said, I’m not against ebooks, which my husband reads exclusively now. Really, whatever gets and keeps people excited about reading, I’m all for 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:

I really don’t have a favorite genre. I’ve written in nearly every genre imaginable for nearly every age group imaginable and I’m pretty much an equal-opportunity reader. In terms of age groups:

  1. childhood? 

The Prydain Chronicles, Lloyd Alexander

  1. adolescence? 

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

  1. young adult? 

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald.

  1. adult?

       Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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.

I’m on Twitter and Facebook, and that’s plenty for me. On Facebook, I talk about writing and reading a lot, but I mostly consider that – for me – to be a place for family and friends. I celebrate and commiserate with others there all the time. On Twitter, however, I’m very different. I consider that to be my more public/general space so while I talk reading and writing there too, I also provide a lot more content on things I’m watching and I engage about politics…a lot. 😊 Thanks for having me!

Interview with Lisa Brown Roberts

An Interview with Lisa Brown Roberts, author of Spies, Lies and Allies.

Award-winning romance author Lisa Brown Roberts still hasn’t recovered from the teenage catastrophes of tweezing off both eyebrows, or that time she crashed her car into a tree while trying to impress a guy. It’s no wonder she loves to write romantic comedies. Lisa’s books have earned praise from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and the School Library Journal. She lives in Colorado with her family, in which pets outnumber people.

I’m not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?

Hmm…that’s like picking a favorite kid or pet! I love each of my books for different reasons, but my first book, How (not) to Fall in Love, will always have a special place in my heart.

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’ve abandoned my early efforts, however I used the main character from the first semi-decent book I wrote as an important secondary character in How (not) to Fall in Love. He became the uncle of my protagonist, and played a major role in the story.

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?

Since my first novel came out in 2015, I’ve published a total of six novels. I never would’ve dreamed I could do that, but I was fortunate to be offered multiple book contracts – but then I had to produce much more quickly than I had prior to being published. However, by nature I’m more of a percolater and a tweaker. I can’t read my books after they are published because I want to revise them – again.

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 can write anywhere. With a family and a day job, I have to use every spare writing minute I can find. My favorite writing space is my sunny home office, but I also write in my car, in doctors’ waiting rooms, libraries, coffee shops, restaurants…anywhere and everywhere. I use notebooks when I’m out and about, but do my main writing on my computer. Sometimes I dictate ideas or dialog into my phone when I’m out walking my dogs.

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 wonderful critique partners I’ve worked with for years – they are all authors. I also have a couple of avid reader friends (not writers) who are great betas. My family doesn’t read my books until they’re in print, and honestly family members usually don’t make good beta readers because they’re too nice and don’t want to hurt my feelings.

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?

We have wonderful bookstores in Denver, Colorado- The Tattered Cover, Denver BookBar, Second Star to the Right, The Bookies, and more. I love print books,, but I also enjoy ebooks and audiobooks. I will use any media to enjoy a great story!

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? Laura Ingalls Wilder, E.B. White, Dr. Seuss, Louisa May Alcott, Mary Norton
  2. adolescence? Paula Danziger, Judy Blume, S.E. Hinton
  3. young adult? The same as I’ve listed under adolescence. We didn’t really have YA when I was a teen.
  4. adult? So many I don’t know where to begin. Here are a few: Kristan Higgins, Anne Lamott, Jill Mansell, Sophie Kinsella, Sarah Hegger, Pamela Mingle, JoJoMoyes, John Irving, Graeme Simsion, Amy Reichert, Rainbow Rowell… I could go on and on!

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 handle all of my own, because I’m reluctant to trust someone else to express my “social media self” accurately. Social media can be a minefield, so I tread carefully.

My favorite is Instagram, because I don’t encounter any drama there like sometimes happens on Twitter and Facebook. Also I love admiring others’ photos, and following all sorts of feeds, like crafts, food, travel etc.

About Spies, Lies, and Allies

Summers are supposed to be fun, right? Not mine. I’ve got a job at my dad’s company, which is sponsoring a college scholarship competition. I just found out that, in addition to my job assisting the competing interns, I’m supposed to vote for the winner. Totally not what I signed up for.

My boss is running the competition like it’s an episode of Survivor. Then there’s Carlos, who is, well, very distracting––in a good way. But I can’t even think about him like that because fraternizing on the job means instant disqualification for the intern involved.

As if that’s not enough, an anonymous informant with insider intel is trying to sabotage my dad’s company on social media…and I’m afraid it’s working.

Much as I’d love to quit, I can’t. Kristoffs Never Quit is our family motto. I just hope there’s more than one survivor by the end of this summer.

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Interview with Will Weisser

An Interview with Will Weisser, author of Ankaran Immersion

Born into a literary family (both his parents are authors and college professors), Will fell in love with science fiction and fantasy literature during the comics boom of the early 90’s and never looked back. Now residing in the fantastic realm known as the Philly ‘burbs, he uses his geek talents to program computers by day, while by night he huddles over unfinished manuscripts, attempting to engineer characters who touch the human spirit. In his scant free time he enjoys practicing martial arts (which he is pretty good at) and playing guitar (terribly).

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?

After at least six re-writes, I published my first novel as The Reintegrators in 2013. While I’m proud of that book and the reader response to it, I’m not sure I would have spent so much time on it given a second chance. On the rare occasion I give advice, I lean toward telling new writers to get more practice writing novels from scratch, rather than re-polishing the same work over and over. I’m living proof you can make any book shine, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best use of your efforts toward developing as a writer.

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?

Some pre-planning is always good, but years would be too much. If I let an idea sit for too long it usually loses what made it special to me, and becomes nothing more than a few uninspired sentences in my notes file. Ideas need to breathe as part of a living story in order to remain interesting.

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)?

These days I do pretty much everything on my Macbook, whether at home or at Starbucks or wherever. I once tried editing on paper, and although it was a neat feeling, once I realized how long it would take to type up the changes I abandoned that process quickly. I’m not nearly patient enough to do twice as much work to accomplish one thing!

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?

My wife reads all my books first. She’s an accomplished reader who finishes 50+ novels a year and she doesn’t hold anything back in her critiques. As much as I wish she would sometimes, I must admit she’s saved me quite a bit of embarrassment over the years. For the next phase I’ve been lucky enough to recruit some pro authors to read pieces of or the entirety of works in progress by swapping my own beta reads for theirs. That said, I know I need more “pure reader” interaction from a variety of sources, too, so I’m working on filling out a list of people who could give me more feedback on the next go-around–those who liked my other books, friends in the scifi/fantasy community, etc. With everyone’s shifting schedules and commitments it’s good to have a long list of betas to pad against dropouts.

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 must admit I don’t go to bookstores too often. My shelves are all full and I barely have time to read anymore, even on my Kindle. Instead I listen to a lot of audio books while driving. It’s expensive, but I need to keep up with what’s current somehow if I’m going to continue this writing thing, or so I tell myself.

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? Too many to name, but one that jumps to mind at the moment is The Phantom Tollbooth. I recently read it to my son, and while the writing doesn’t quite hold up, the wealth of amazing ideas blew my mind as a kid.
2. adolescence? I was a big comics fan in my teens, starting with Marvel and DC, branching off into Image and then into independent and underground comics and cartoons. I did read the occasional novel, too, though. I recall reading Jurassic Park about a year before the movie came out, and the thrill the first time I saw that trailer–wow.
3. young adult? After high school I stuck mainly to science fiction. I read a lot of old classics and old Hugo winners, Asimov, Niven, etc. My favorites at the time were probably Neal Stephenson or Dan Simmons, big, sprawling books packed with really out-there imagery.
4. adult? For a long time I avoided fantasy altogether, with a couple exceptions: I loved Pratchett because he made me laugh, and I really dug Tad Williams’s Otherland tetrology, which though technically sci-fi I understand now was written in the vein of his epic fantasies. Beyond that, though, I associated fantasy with certain rather cheesy novels of the 1980s which were mainly stale re-treads of Tolkien. Then one day a friend told me to read a relatively unknown book called A Game of Thrones, which he claimed was “actually really great.” Beyond actually being great, that series opened my eyes to what a new generation of fantasy writers were doing to move the genre forward. Now fantasy is so positively flooded with new and exciting voices–Katherine Addison, N.K. Jemisin, Mark Lawrence, among others–that it makes science fiction look a bit stagnant by comparison. My science fiction novels excluded, of course ;).

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. Do you manage your own profiles or did you choose someone else to?

I have a pretty lame social media presence. I am most active on Twitter where I share random thoughts sometimes, but I’m not what you’d call a prolific tweeter. I also have a public Facebook page but I don’t update it very often, as Facebook tends not to show your updates to anyone, anyway. My philosophy on social media is that I’m happy to engage with any fans/weirdos who want to contact me there, but actually building an audience on e.g. Twitter would require too much of a time investment which, even if it paid off in the end, wouldn’t be worth it from the perspective of maintaining my peace of mind.

About Ankaran Immersion:

All her life, Eveningstar of the Pure has honed her survival skills against the strand, a nanotech organism which infests most of the planet. And she has always shunned the Tainted, those who replace their body parts with tamed strand to enhance their bodies and minds. But then a gang of child soldiers kidnaps her brother, taking him to the distant Gridlands, past a gauntlet of shape-shifting monsters. In an eternal war between technology and nature—between those who oppose it and those who embrace it—Evie will need to break the law, put aside her distrust for the Tainted, and perhaps even take a few of their tricks for her own if she wants to save her brother.

Website: https://metanautics.net/
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/metanautics
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/willweisserbooks/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/wweisser
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/cNcqbH

Interview with S.D. Grimm

An Interview with SD Grimm, author of Phoenix Fire

S. D. Grimm’s first love in writing is young adult fantasy and science fiction, which is to be expected from someone who looks up to heroes like Captain America and Wonder Woman, has been sorted into Gryffindor, and identifies as rebel scum. Her patronus is a red Voltron lion, her spirit animal is Toothless, and her favorite meal is second breakfast.She is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Agency, her office is anywhere she can curl up with her laptop and at least one large-sized dog, and you can learn more about her upcoming novels at www.sdgrimm.com

Thank you so much for having me! I’m excited to be here!

I’m not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?

I tend to love the novel I’m working on at the time most. And I love all my novels for different reasons. The epic feel in the sword and sorcery series with a world that was so much fun to create in my Children of the Blood Moon series is so fun, but what I love most in it is the character relationships. And in Summoner, Cody—oh my gosh, I love Cody—and his growing relationship with Allie is my favorite. I guess I love the characters the most. 

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?

Mine is actually a middle grade novel. It’s not the genre I’m currently writing in, but there might be a day I dog it back out. For now, though, it’s fine where it is.

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?

Both? I generally let ideas percolate for a year or more, but that’s because I have SO many that I simply can’t keep up with them. Last year I wrote two novels, and the year before that, I wrote three. This year I hope to write four. And I pull them all from the little greenhouse of growing ideas in my mind palace.

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 vary between spaces. The couch, loveseat, bed, dining room table, moving vehicle while someone else drives, and occasionally my actual desk. I use my laptop most often.

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 a group of beta readers and critique partners that I can call on for early readings. And, yes, many of them are family members who will tell it like it is.  And hiring an editor was a process of auditions in a way. But now that I am a freelance editor as well, I have many connections in that field.

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 favorite way to read is with a hardcover book. I love the feel, the smell, the sound of a turning page. But since being introduced to e-readers, I would say I do most of my late-night reading there. And there’s this amazing little bookshop downtown called Serendipity Books. It’s entrance is through a dark alley (well, the one I like to use). How perfect is that?!

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?

My favorite genre is hands-down YA fantasy and sci-fi.
1. childhood? C.S. Lewis and Jack London
2. adolescence? Richard Adams
3. young adult? Brian Jacques
4. adult? Too many! Maggie Stiefvater, CJ Redwine, Cornelia Funke, and Mary Weber.

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. Since 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 [and whether you like doing it!].

I love IG the most. I use FB to connect mostly with friends I’ve met all over at writers’ conferences and things, whom I don’t live near. I use Twitter, but feel buried a lot. Instagram is my favorite because pretty pictures plus words. I spend waaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy too much time on SM sites responding and liking and posting and checking. So it’s something I’m trying to time manage better, TBH.

About Phoenix Fire:

After spending her life in foster care, Ava has finally found home. But all it takes is a chance encounter with hot nerd Wyatt Wilcox for it to unravel.

Now, things are starting to change. First, the flashes of memories slowly creeping in. Memories of other lives, lives that Wyatt is somehow in. Then, the healing. Any cut? Gone.

But when Cade and Nick show up, claiming to be her brothers, things get even weirder. They tell her she’s a Phoenix, sent to protect the world from monsters—monsters she never knew existed. It’s a little hard to accept. Especially when they tell her she has to end the life of a Phoenix turned rogue, or Cade will die.

With Wyatt’s increasingly suspicious behavior, Ava’s determined to figure out what he’s hiding. Unless she can discover Wyatt’s secret in time and complete her Phoenix training, she’ll lose the life, love, and family she never thought she could have.

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