Another chat with author Marjorie Young

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Marjorie is an incredibly talented woman, spiritual counselor and a lover of a good story and anything mystical. She is an award-winner for her book series The Boy with the Golden Eyes, yet she is one of the most humble people I have had the pleasure of coming across. She lives in Seattle, and calls Japan her second home. 

An excellent book for readers of all ages

Marjorie Young has managed to blend a fantasy adventure and real life lessons in a manner that is always entertaining

The incredible world of the author’s creation comes vividly to life

These are just some of the reviews for her award-winning series, and they are well-earned and justified. I’m honored once again to have Marjorie make time to sit down for an interview. We discussed her series and any advice she may have for new writers.

 

 

1.Hi Marjorie, When we last spoke, you were close to finishing your amazing and award-winning series ‘The Boy with Golden Eyes.’ How was it received?

Book Six, entitled ‘The Tainted Throne’, was presumed to be the final entry in the series…but as I was writing it, I realized that a seventh installment was required, which came as quite a surprise to me! Meanwhile, the latest work did bring many vital matters to a conclusion though most likely a rather unexpected one for many readers. I’ve received so much positive feedback, especially concerning a resolution that urges them to reflect upon the real meaning of ‘victory’ or ‘defeat.’ And there has been rejoicing that another book is to follow.

2. Of all the wonderful characters in the series, which was your favourite to create and write about?

Oops! That’s like asking a parent to name their favourite child! Obviously my hero, young Rupert dominates the saga and I believe I’ve created someone memorable in him. He is superbly gifted in so many ways, but replete with imperfections as well. One advantage to creating a series is that characters have room to grow. It may sound odd, but those populating ‘Golden Eyes’ seem ‘real’ to me. I can see, hear, and occasionally even smell them! Each not only possesses his/her own vivid existence, but brings the others more into clarity through their complex interactions. I love Drego’s brazen boldness, Lira’s confidence and sweetness, Morley’s gallantry and easy humor, Liam’s sanity and wisdom, Zara’s demand for feminine equality, Komo’s steely yet tragic sense of honor, and so on.

3. You had plans to create a spin-off of “The Boy With the Golden Eyes” called “The Lira Chronicles.” How is that going?

Yes, I have begun book one of The Lira Chronicles and I’m enjoying the process thoroughly. It is very much its own thing…and there are few elements of ‘fantasy’ to be found, which may surprise fans of my first series. ‘Golden Eyes’ was a fantasy/adventure due to Rupert’s extraordinary spiritual and mystical gifts, abilities that his sometimes mentor Shomila shares in abundance. However, Lira, though remarkable in her own right, does not possess these particular talents. Instead this saga focuses on her arranged marriage with the crown prince of Castilan, and therefore is steeped in the world of dark political intrigue. At times it proves unsettling to absent myself from the ‘occult’ realm of my previous work, but it is also refreshing to have both feet firmly ‘grounded’ in the world of the ‘Chronicles.’ As a psychic medium, who has undergone many extraordinary experiences since early childhood, it is appealing as well as challenging to see the world through a new perspective.

4. You’re a big fan of self-publishing. What advice would you give to anybody wanting to self-publish?

Yes, I relish the fact that the author retains complete control of his or her work, which is vital to me. Of course, there are minuses involved. Nevertheless, it is essential that writers design a strategy to get the word out once their books are published. Even traditional publishers largely

leave it to authors to publicize their work. While I’m not a great fan of social media, it is a useful tool for getting the word out. I limit myself to Twitter, mainly because the posts must be brief lol! I spent time building a following and it has paid off. Directly and indirectly through Twitter, I have had contact with film producers and a major book publisher in China who were very interested in my series. Unfortunately, (as well as maddeningly) agreements fell through at the last minute. But despite any disappointment, this still demonstrates that social media can indeed bring attention to self-published authors and remains an essential element for every author’s work.

One other piece of advice is to enter contests aimed at indie writers. I did so for book one on a whim, placing ‘Golden Eyes’ in the Los Angeles Book Festival in the Young Adult category. Much to my astonishment…it won! It subsequently was chosen runner-up in the Paris Book Festival, and also received kudos in London and New York. Clearly, it is a plus to label a book/series as ‘award-winning’ and I hope every author will give competition a try.

5. As someone who is successful, what would you say are the pros and cons of self-publishing?

As mentioned above, the main appeal is that self-publishing allows the author control of their work and to get it out fairly quickly to the world. (I would find it maddening if a publisher made changes to my story, for example). Meanwhile, finding a publisher can be a long and frustrating ordeal (usually requiring a search for a literary agent first…in and of itself a major challenge), and even if one is successful, the book may not appear for several years. Of course, if a traditional publisher believes in a work, they may publicize it, arrange for book signings, and the like, all of which is very positive…but such perks are largely reserved for authors already well established. Naturally, writers should consider all their options and seek out an agent/publisher if that seems their best route. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ approach…just the most suitable for oneself.

6. As a writer, what would you choose as your spirit animal, and why?

An odd and interesting question! ‘The Boy with Golden Eyes’ features a remarkable mastiff hound and a magnificent golden stallion, both playing a major part in the story. But if there’s a ‘spirit animal’ to the tale, it would have to be a red fox called Kara. She is featured in book one as Rupert’s dearest childhood companion and later reappears in distant lands and under mysterious circumstances, to continue to guide her friend. Having lived in Japan for many years, I recalled their folklore concerning foxes, or ‘kitsune’ in Japanese, as intelligent beings possessing paranormal abilities that increase with age and wisdom. Kara comes to represent an element of the unknown to Rupert (no one else can see her) causing him to follow where she leads.

As an aside, I should mention that I am a passionate champion of animal rights (as is Rupert) and I adamantly believe they and their natural world should be cherished and protected by all.

7. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Alas, since my older and young self are very much alike, I wouldn’t have any special counsel to offer the earlier version of me lol. But one piece of advice I’d give to every fellow writer

would be to never limit yourself. I always greatly resented the supposedly wise adage to ‘write what you know!’ Yes, that’s fine if that’s your inclination. But if all authors confined themselves in that way, we’d never have science fiction or crazy thrillers, for a start. I’m fairly sure Stephen King never encountered a psychic teen who decimated her senior prom, nor did Isaac Asimov likely travel to outer space. Imagination is vital for any author. Never allow anyone to label or categorize you…whether as a writer or as a human being.

8. Do you use real people as inspiration for your characters?

Originally, ‘The Boy with Golden Eyes’ began as a bedtime story for my great-nephew Sam, who was only seven at the time. Thus, many of my hero Rupert’s characteristics were inspired by Sam…his brilliance, fascination with the world, marvelous looks, and so on. As time went on, Sam continued to influence Rupert, including his astute contributions for plot twists as we brainstormed the story. Naturally, my personal experiences with the mystical/psychic realm figured heavily into Rupert’s outlook as time went on. At the same time, my hero emerged as an entirely independent being as well.

The character of Lira, now featured in her own spin-off series, was originally shaped by Sam’s younger sister Lucie. Her self-confidence, beauty, and clarity of mind influenced the fictional creation. By the way, Sam appears as ‘Rupert’ on all six book covers and Lucie will similarly grace ‘The Lira Chronicles.’

I do personally relate to Rupert’s elderly and enigmatic mentor Shomila who seeks to pass on wisdom from the mystical realm, just as I have with Sam and Lucie…with what measure of success is open to debate, lol.

My beloved Komo, the stoical warrior with a tragic past, is in many ways a tribute to the superb Japanese samurai films that fired my imagination and influenced me in countless ways…eventually leading me to make Japan my second home.

9. What does your writing schedule look like?

I write either in the morning or early afternoon. I find it an engrossing yet draining process, so I limit myself to no more than two or three hours each day. As has been the case from the start, I begin each session with absolutely no idea what is to come. Though my six books have been praised for their intricate plotting, I find that the story/characters emerge almost independently…graciously revealing what is unfold. Odd, perhaps, but true. I hear J.K. Rowling outlined all seven Harry Potter books before beginning the first chapter of book one. That’s quite unimaginable to me! But creating the journey without foreknowledge continues to be a truly exciting and fruitful ‘experiment’.

10. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I’ve been fortunate that the reviews I’ve come across thus far have been very positive. But it’s important to keep in mind that everyone is entitled to their opinion. As far as I know, no work ever received a unanimously glowing reception…including those by Shakespeare, Picasso, or Mozart! Therefore, it’s good to take naysayers in stride as they might also prove to have interesting things to point out. Still, the goal of being true to one’s self remains paramount while bringing about something that resonates with your spirit. Each writer is entirely unique and only you can give life to your conception and summon up your own universe, which is a very precious privilege indeed.

 

Thanks again Marjorie for taking the time. It’s our third interview and I just know it won’t be the last!

 

I urge you to check out Marjorie’s work if you haven’t already. You can keep up to date with her, and of course her wonderful characters at:

http://www.theboywiththegoldeneyes.com

Twitter: @psychicmarjorie

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Writer Interview: P. J. Benney

P. J. Benney

 J. Benney grew up in Essex, England and still resides there today. Luckily he managed to ignore the lure of spray tans and reality TV and instead became interested in art and literature. He attended the University of Roehampton in London and graduated in 2013 with a BA in Creative Writing. Since graduating he has worked in marketing, and as an indie publisher, quality assurance for a design studio, and is currently working in medical recruitment screening locum doctors for work within the NHS. Almost as strong as his love for creating worlds and characters that his readers delve into and get lost in, is his love for coffee. Any coffee. No seriously. As long as there’s coffee around the man is a happy chappie. Luckily in between his busy schedule of work, writing and keeping himself caffeinated, he was able to squeeze me in for a quick interview.

 

INTERVIEW

1. What are you working on right now?

I’m currently in the process of finishing the eighth and final draft of my comic-fantasy novel Déjà Moo. It’s a project I’ve been working on ever since my first year of university in 2010, and I went onto develop the novel for my final project before graduation in 2013. I won Roehampton’s novel writing prize for the opening chapter, so somebody must have liked it! Another three years on and I’m almost finished.

2. Can you tell us a little something about it? 

Déjà Moo is a comic-fantasy heavily inspired by some of my favourite writers – Jasper Fforde, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman to name but a few. Set in an alternate, present-day London, Déjà Moo follows a reclusive witch named Cynthia Panettiere and a celebrity cattle trader named Daniel Wesley. After Daniel’s prize-winning mascot Lily disappears during a live TV broadcast on the day of his retirement, he crosses paths with Cynthia, also planning to shut down her own business after her warlock boyfriend Errol vanishes. The two realise that Lily and Errol’s disappearances may be connected to a larger conspiracy against both Daniel and the secretive magi population of London. Cynthia and Daniel’s investigations are continually dogged by journalists desperate to broadcast the scoop on Daniel’s company, while Cynthia is desperate to keep the witching world out of the press. Not so easy, when they find out that the city’s top reporter has more than a few tricks up her own sleeves. It’s really about the battle between publicity and privacy.

3. Tell us, why do you write? Where do you draw your inspiration from? 

In terms of Déjà Moo, that actually started out as a joke. We were tasked in one of my first creative writing classes to write something set in London, and I didn’t like the brief so I ran with the most absurd, ridiculous idea I could come up with to protest and irritate my tutor – what if Hyde Park was maintained not by gardeners or lawnmowers, but by grazing cattle? As it turns out my tutor had a sense of humour and gave me a decent mark, so I continued to write other stories set in this same world, and tie them together.

Generally speaking, though, I have no idea where my ideas come from. Many of the themes in my novel sort of appeared without me planning or even noticing them until several drafts later – I’m sure a psychiatrist would have a field day with me. I don’t believe in “inspiration” as some kind of lightning bolt that strikes you. I think that people that want to have good ideas must work hard for them. Sometimes you might be walking down the street, and a billboard, or an overheard conversation, or a memorable passer-by might form the crux of a good story in your head. But it’s nothing if you don’t put in the time and hard work to develop that idea. It’s like a job – you’ve got to show up at your desk and put in the hours.

4. When I write, I require Jaffa cakes (and lots of them), do you have a writing must-have? 

Coffee. Black coffee. White coffee. Coffee with soy milk. Sweet coffee. Coffee with cream. Mocha, latte, cappuccino, coffee ice cream, coffee chocolate. Even those little coffee beans covered in chocolate. It’s all good. I also must write with music. Some of my favourite singer-songwriters are David Bowie, Amy Winehouse, Regina Spektor, Nick Cave and Kate Bush.

5. What is your favourite book? 

The first one that comes to mind is The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. It was astounding, vivid, and moving. People write off time-travel and romance as fluff, but the book takes difficult subjects – genetic illnesses, miscarriage, childhood and parenthood – and makes them more easily digestible through the lens of fantasy/science fiction. I still get emotional remembering the character of Ben, living with HIV, always asking his time-travelling friend Henry if he’s still alive in the future.

6. Which author’s career, alive or passed on, do you admire most, and why? 

Emily Bronte. She wrote one book before her death – Wuthering Heights – and it remains, in my opinion, one of the most powerful works in the English language. She was a visionary. Charlotte was more prolific and reserved, Anne more overlooked and understated, but Emily wrote with the most unbridled passion of the three sisters. And those rumours that Emily had written a second manuscript, so shocking and outrageous, that Charlotte threw it into the fire? That’s a story in itself! She shares her birthday with Kate Bush, who was inspired to write the famous song, and I share my birthday with both of them. Maybe I’ll have to write something inspired by them too.

7. Tell us something about yourself…an annoying habit or party trick perhaps? Can you speak a foreign language or have a hobby?

I experience synaesthesia, not so much a condition but a harmless brain phenomenon where the sensory areas of the brain have their wires crossed, so to speak. I hear colours and taste words. For example listening to the music of Amy Winehouse elicits a kind of green soundscape in my mind’s eye, while Nick Cave’s music is brown, black, sepia. The colour teal makes me ill because it brings to mind the smell of burnt plastic. Very rarely have I tasted things like cherries and mint while reading books. It also helps me to structure my writing because my brain sort of automatically colour-codes scenes, characters, locations. I’ve read that lots of artists and musicians have it – Stevie Wonder can purportedly see in colour.

8. Do you have a blog, website or social networking account people can go to if they wish to learn more about you or your work?

I’m on Twitter @pjbenney – that’s my favourite distraction. I always try to share useful links and tips as well as progress updates. Love chatting to other readers and writers too. Use the hashtag #dejamoo to find the best bits!

If people want to know more they should head over to www.dejamoo.co.uk where I’ve already posted a few announcements and teasers for my upcoming book, including an article about working with the designer who did my book cover. Some time next week I’m hoping to interview my editor for a bit as well!

9. What are your writing plans for 2016? 

My first priority is completing and publishing Déjà Moo on Amazon for Kindle. The eBook is going to be priced at around £2 and will be available by the end of September. What’s more, I’m planning to serialise the book for free online at the same time. So if you’re not sure you want to buy, a new chapter will be released at www.dejamoo.co.uk every week. You can either wait for weekly installments or buy the complete book straight away! Second will be cracking on with the third draft of my sequel, entitled Bovine Intervention, that picks up a few months after the events of Déjà Moo. Lastly I’ve got a novella about parallel universes I’m toying with that ties into Déjà Moo. I might release that towards the end of the year if I can wrap it up nicely. I’m not short of ideas!

10. And now, for the most important question of all: Jaffa cakes – love them or hate them?

Love them. I like to bite the cake bit off, then eat the jelly separately.

To keep up with P. J. Benney and his work please follow the links below:

Twitter: @pjbenney

Blog: www.dejamoo.co.uk

It was a real honour to interview this author; he’s not only talented but has such a unique imagination that allows him to create some fun and interesting ideas, worlds and characters. Thanks P. J. Benney  🙂

Writer Interview: Lynne Hale

Lynne Hale

Lynne was born in Malaya and cruised back to England, sleeping in a hammock, slung from the rafters of a troop ship. She spent her first birthday at sea and it was during the voyage that she learnt to walk. After they arrived in England, they found a beautiful home a short stroll away from a river, and from the end of their road they could see the Liver Birds across the water. Lynne became fascinated by the shore line and found crossing the river Mersey by ferry a real treat. Lynne has always had a love of animals, and their next home was in Shrewsbury right on the banks of the Severn. This meant their garden was often waterlogged, but Lynne adopted a huge toad as a pet and would pick it up and carry it with her. She even caught flies and slugs to feed it on before returning it to its ditch each night.

Lynne met her future husband at work and at lunch time the pair would often go and sit at Day’s Lock on the Thames and watch the boats. They dreamed of some day owning one. They were married, and Lynne was pregnant with their first child when her husband converted a long wheel base Land Rover so they could head off for a three-week adventure across Europe to explore the lakes and mountains.

Their love of adventure and travel was passed down to their daughters. When their daughters were young they wanted to go on holiday abroad, but the family couldn’t afford it. However, the ever resourceful Lynne and her husband found a cheap all-inclusive boat and train trip to Amsterdam and watched the joy on their children’s faces as they explored the streets and canals. A few years later they managed a proper family holiday and went camping at Interlaken, staying between the two lakes where they had the most spectacular views of the Jungfrau Mountain. Being adventurous, the family chose to ride different forms of public transport to explore the countryside and discover stunning waterfalls, rather than drive.

As I mentioned Lynne loves animals and has many pets who are actually the inspiration for the animal books. The Intrepid Pony Escapes is about her pony Intrepid. She’s had many dogs and her large lurcher is the star of her book Lurching Through London. She’s also had cats, guinea pigs, gerbils and hamsters.

Just as interesting as the adventures Lynne has had, are some of the jobs she’s had. Her first job was as a destructive tester of cloth. The samples came from all over the country, and she’d use a rain machine, Velcro tester and a lab to test the material. On her first day she was handed a packet of paper knickers with instructions to do a burn test in the lab. At first she thought it was a newbie prank. Whilst working at the lab, Lynne earned a Science TEC Level2.

Lynne has had a really interesting life and in my opinion that can sometimes create the best and most imaginative of writers. With so many pets to care for, a husband, two beautiful daughters and five grandchildren, Lynne is always busy. So I was honoured when she agreed to sit down and interview with me.

INTERVIEW

1. What are you working on right now?

The sequel to The Intrepid Pony Escapes, it will probably be called The Intrepid Pony Bolts.

2.Can you tell us a little something about it? 

Zoe is frightened by her new pony’s unpredictable bursts of speed, particularly when he takes off towards a busy road. While she battles with her pony and tries to work out why he gallops off conflict arises between two riders. To make things worse, a close friend becomes seriously ill, shortly after her parents split up . How can Zoe cope with all the conflicting emotions, support her friends and enjoy riding her pony again?

3.Tell us, why do you write? Where do you draw your inspiration from? 

All my stories are loosely based on my own life. I used to read pony books and think my life was more like a novel than those unreal plots.

4. When I write, I require Jaffa cakes (and lots of them), do you have a writing must-have? 

When I write I lose track of time. I don’t require anything but my husband keeps my thirst quenched with coffee. However chocolate doesn’t last long if its within range of the keyboard.

5. What is your favourite book? 

Just one book? The pony book must be The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell.  Sahara by Clive Cussler tops my adventure list and Looking Good Dead by Peter James for crime.

6. Which author’s career, alive or passed on, do you admire most, and why?

Jane Austen. Genteel women were supposed to write letters and useful communications, but not novels. She wrote wonderful romances with wit and described her characters so well you could see them. Her work has withstood the test of time, but still delights her readers. I admire the way she must have written everything by hand with a quill pen. One page would take so long that I would forget what I was trying to convey.

7.Tell us something about yourself…an annoying habit or party trick perhaps? Can you speak a foreign language or have a hobby? 

For the last seven years my husband and I have explored the canals and rivers of England in our narrow boat. It’s a wonderful way to see our country and its abundant wildlife. Coots, herons, swans and Moorhens populate the busiest canals. Sometimes a kingfisher flies ahead of the boat, its wings a vivid flash of blue. Towns look different from the water. So far we have moored in London at little Venice, and close to the sea life centre in Birmingham. We have been through long tunnels and over high aqueducts.

This year we hope to continue our water wanderings somewhere in the north of England. The biggest challenge will be crossing the Pennines with 83 locks in 24 miles and tackling the longest tunnel in England which boasts of being at the highest elevation whilst being the deepest underground.

8.Do you have a blog, website or social networking account people can go to if they wish to learn more about you or your work?

Intrepidpony.blogspot.com is my blog. The blog mainly focuses on our narrow boat trips. I also have  a Facebook page under the name of LottieLurcher

9. What are your writing plans for 2016? 

Another of Lottie Lurcher’s adventures. It should be ‘Lurching through Wales’ but I fancy doing ‘Lurching Down the Trent’ first.

10. And now, for the most important question of all: Jaffa cakes – love them or hate them? 

I hate them – even though I love chocolate.

 

To follow Lynne and her work please follow the links below:

Facebook: LottieLurcher

Blog: Intrepidpony.blogspot.com

Twitter: @lynnehale14

It was an honor to interview Lynne, she’s had an interesting life and it’s always fun to interview writers from all walks of life. Even if some of them are crazy and don’t love Jaffa Cakes! Thanks Lynne!  🙂

Interested in checking out Lynne’s work? Then the Intrepid Pony Escapes  can be bought from her using pay-pal by emailing intrepidpony@btinternet.com Lurching through London can be bought from her using pay-pal by emailing lottielurcher@btinternet.com

 

Writer Interview: Briana Hansen

Briana Hansen

Briana Hansen

Briana currently lives in Los Angeles, CA but grew up in Indianapolis with her older brother, who is now a lawyer. She is a huge dog lover and often sits for people’s dogs. In fact whilst I interview her she has a mini Australian Shepherd sitting at her feet. Briana has a chosen-sister who’s her best friend. She adores and admires her, least of all because she went to the Naval Academy and is a jet pilot (along with her husband). Briana herself isn’t married but lives with her wonderful boyfriend. She doesn’t have children yet but is hoping to get her own mini Australian Shepherd soon. As we interview she tells me a lot about the wonderful people in her life, and how interesting they are. But as we talk more about her I discover that she is very interesting herself. She has had some pretty cool jobs. She’s been a Party Princess and a dress up character on Navy Pier. She was a professor at Xavier University, after graduating the same University. She has a degree in Philosophy, Politics and the Public. As well as writing, she produces and acts too.

Now Briana pursues comedy full-time, lives for fun and makes the most of anything fun that is thrown her way. She lives on a shoestring budget (and on a prayer). She has a passion for athletics and is obsessed with yoga.

I was lucky to book some time with her in-between dog sitting and the other hundreds of things she’s up to.

INTERVIEW

1.What are you working on right now?

I’m finishing off my third book called “30 Things I Learned Before 30,” which will be out April 1. I’ll be doing a ton of marketing for that book, which is a creative endeavour unto itself. But I also continue to write, produce, and act in a bunch of different comedy projects all the time.

2.Can you tell us a little something about it?

I can tell you I’m nervous about it. There are parts that are embarrassing and vulnerable and, the more I edit it, the more I try and convince myself that I shouldn’t even go through with the publishing. But I think that’s the nature of art, especially how you feel about your own artistic endeavours. So I force myself to push forward. I think we put too much pressure on our art always being “perfect” but it’s the pursuit of perfect that makes us better and allows us to evolve and grow. So even though there are major parts of the book I’m hesitant about sharing since they no longer seem relevant… I’m still doing it. I figure I really believed in them at the time I was writing it and if there’s a slight chance it might be entertaining or fun for someone else, it’s worth keeping in.

3.Tell us, why do you write? Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I have to write. It’s a compulsion. My body starts getting pissed if I’m not expressing myself creatively. I’d better be in the midst of some other wonderful, major creative project if I’m going to get away with not writing. Writing is my home base. It’s how I both relax and get excited. It’s how I get out my thoughts and feel any sense of control over this world. It’s how I can manage my perspective and check in honestly with myself. As long as I have a pen and paper (or a computer if we’re getting heavy duty) my over-active imagination is calm and my spirit is happy.

4. When I write, I require Jaffa cakes (and lots of them), do you have a writing must-have?

Yummy for you! My writing must-have is, as silly as it sounds, quiet. I can write in public if the ambient noise is overpowering everything, but I typically put on headphones to drown it out. I get distracted by conversations and find people so fascinating, I often just will people-watch rather than focus on the task at hand. I need non-lyrical music if I’m going to get in the zone. Mostly, too, because I want to hear the voices in my head and not be distracted by those around me. I also love incense and good smelling oils and such.

5.What is your favourite book?

Oh, too hard a question! Truthfully, “The Art of Happiness” by the Dalai Lama had a profound impact on me. But there are so many others that impact me differently. Most recently, Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic” and I can’t put down Laura Hillenbrand’s “Unbroken” (even though it’s often very graphic and very depressing).

6. Which author’s career, alive or passed on, do you admire most, and why?

Kurt Vonnegut. He grew up in Indianapolis (like me) and I love his extremely conversational and surprisingly hilarious style. He was also extremely prolific and made a point to say that not everything he wrote was great. I think there’s something really human about that. It takes the pressure off making everything you produce your magnum opus.

7. Tell us something about yourself…an annoying habit or party trick perhaps? Can you speak a foreign language or have a hobby?

I play saxophone well. I haven’t played in a while since I now live in an apartment and don’t want to disturb my neighbours, but I’m looking into options for a sax-mute (that I can afford) so I can do that more. It’s a form of creative expression that I have no intense investment in. I just get to get lost in the music and the moment without judgement or worry. I speak conversational Spanish, which usually surprises people. And my only party trick is that if you show me a picture of a cute puppy or a dog in a sweater, I’ll very likely cry because I’m overwhelmed by the cuteness. My boyfriend’s parents had a heyday with this particular trait yesterday for a good hour. We were looking at poodle mixes and mostly puppies and I couldn’t handle it and- oh god- I’m starting to cry again just thinking about it.

8.Do you have a blog, website or social networking account people can go to if they wish to learn more about you or your work?

Facebook: Briana Hansen                                                                                                                           Website:www.brianahansen.com                                                                                                                Instagram: @thebrianahansen                                                                                                      Twitter:@thebrianahansen

I try and keep all or some of them always updated with my work.

9.What are your writing plans for 2016?

Oof. Survive? I’m finishing off this book then will solely focus on marketing it. I write for a comedy show called “After Dark with Julian Clark” so I’ll be whipping out some sketches for them throughout the year. Julian is also my writing partner. We wrote three pilots at the beginning of this year, so we’re working on getting those out there along with some other pilots I’ve written and produced. He and I are working on a feature as well that will hopefully be done in the next month or two. Meanwhile, I’ve been tinkering with a couple more ideas for short form books, so I’d like to have a draft of another book before the end of the year AND have done a major rewrite and edit on one of my existing book drafts so maybe I can even publish one more before the year is out. Basically, my writing plans are overtaking my sleeping plans.

10.And now, for the most important question of all: Jaffa cakes – love them or hate them?

I’ll be quite honest with you… I’ve never had them! I had to Google them to know what you were talking about. BUT! After looking at them, it seems to be like they’d be right up my alley and I’ll have to see if I can find them somewhere and give them a little taste. Maybe they’ll have the same inspirational spark on my creativity they do on yours 🙂

To support Briana and her work, please visit the links below:

Facebook: Briana Hansen                                                                                                                           Website:www.brianahansen.com                                                                                                                Instagram: @thebrianahansen                                                                                                      Twitter:@thebrianahansen

It was a honour to interview Briana, she is down to earth, hard-working, talented and a real joy to chat with. Thanks Briana 🙂

 

 

 

Writer Interview: Jonathon Mcluskie

Jonathon Mcluskie

Jonathon is twenty-five and has grown up in Manchester, UK. He studied at Wellacre Technology College and received over ten GCSE’s at grade A-C. With a thirst for knowledge, he went on to study History, English Literature and Classical Civilizations at Eccles College, and then on to the University of Central Lancashire. Whilst studying he worked as a part-time bartender and is now a warehouse worker, a job that requires hard labour. He has a passion for rugby and American football. He has a beautiful sister who lives in Thailand with her husband, where they both teach English. Jonathon lives with his six-month old Cocker Spaniel, named Toby, who he describes as a cute trouble-maker.

INTERVIEW

1.What are you working on right now?

Right now I’m working on the sequel to my first book, Fractured Realm: A Fight for Justice. As well as a sci-fi novel, I’ve always had a deep love for the sci-fi genre, reading a great variety of books, from futuristic detectives, to all out space battles with slaughter on a grand and bloody level.

2.Can you tell us a little something about it?

The working title to my second book in the Fractured Realm series is, Blood from Distant Shores. It carries on from my first book, which to those few who have read it, ended with a great many loose threads. While bringing clarity to some of these cliff hangers it also introduces a great number of new characters and continues the story. I’m hoping to have it done by the end of the year.

3.Tell us why do you write? Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I started writing three, four years ago. I was on holiday in Thailand, backpacking up in the northern province of Chiang Mai. I had just finished the last book that I had taken with me and found myself stuck with no means of entertainment as I couldn’t find any book shops that had books written in English and my IPod had been destroyed during a slip on some rocks. So I thought why not try and write my own book, it would be a new challenge and I felt I had read enough books that I could give it a good go. I draw my inspiration from the annals of history, I studied classical civilizations and modern history at college, before continuing my studies at the University of Central Lancashire. History is filled with many tales of heroism and treachery, with numerous colourful characters and legends.

4.When I write I require Jaffa Cakes, (and lots of them), do you have a writing must-have?

My writing must, would have to be….chocolate hobnobs and a hot coffee

 5.What is your favourite book?

My favourite book would have to be Storm of Iron, by Graham McNeill

 6.Which author’s career, alive or passed on, do you admire most, and why?

I would have to say that my favourite author is Graham McNeill, for one he’s written my favourite book. Secondly, because almost every novel he’s written has had such an impact upon me. Most of his work is fantasy or sci-fi based and centred around the Game Workshop universe. Yet each piece he’s written has gripped me and gotten me so emotionally invested in the characters and story he’s telling that I have those genuine moments of shock which force me to close the book, leave the room, run a cold shower and cuddle myself and cry as I weep for the loss of a character.

7.Tell us something about yourself…an annoying habit or party trick perhaps? Can you speak a foreign language or have a hobby?

I have a few hobbies, I play in a five aside football league on Wednesday’s, we take it seriously, but it’s also a nice excuse to have a catch up with some old friends. A guilty pleasure of mine is martial arts films, anything with Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung or Donnie Yen is a must see for me. I speak a little bit of Thai, as well as French and German.

8. Do you have a blog, website or social networking account people can go to if they wish to learn more about you or your work?

I happen to be in the process of setting up my own blog, as for social media, I have a twitter account which anyone is free to follow @McluskieJ

 9.What are your writing plans for 2016?

My writing plans for 2016 are to get the sequel to my first book published, whilst also making significant head way with my sci-fi novel.

10.And now, for the most important question of all: Jaffa Cakes – love them or hate them?

How can you not love a Jaffa cake, the spongey base, the bitter dark chocolate cover, complimented by the sweet orange jam hidden beneath.

To follow Jonathon and his work please use the link below:

Twitter: @McluskieJ

A footballer, rugby player, warehouse worker, speaker of Thai, French and German – is there anything the man can’t do? And now talented author. For all these reasons it was an honor to sit down and interview Jonathan. Plus he has excellent taste in junk food 🙂 Thanks again Jonathan!

 

Interviewing an Author’s Assistant: Kate Tilton

Kate Tilton

KateTilton2

 

Kate Tilton has been in love with books for as long as she can remember. A relatively new voice in publishing, Kate has been serving authors behind the scenes since 2010. Founder of Kate Tilton’s Author Services, LLC, Kate works as an author assistant, social media manager, and speaker with the mission of connecting authors and readers. Kate is the creator and host of #K8chat (Thursdays at 9pm Eastern on Twitter) and has appeared on popular media such as Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, The Book Designer, Kobo Writing Life and Rafflecopter. A cat-lover and fan of many geeky things, Kate can likely be found curled up with the latest Doctor Who episode, plotting world takeover, or connecting authors and readers in any way she can.

This wonderful lady found time (somehow) to sit and interview with me.

INTERVIEW

1.What exactly is an Author Assistant? What are your main responsibilities?

An author assistant is an individual who provides service for an author or authors exclusively. Unlike personal or virtual assistants, author assistants specialize in working with authors.

Basically my job is to provide the author with more time to write and spend with their family by doing tasks that need to be done, but not necessarily by the author. For example it is vital for authors to maintain an up to date website but an assistant can do this, giving the author more time to do what only he/she can do, write!

2.Is there a certain type of writer that may require one, or is it someone any writer could benefit from having?

An author assistant can benefit any writer who has reached the point of feeling overwhelmed. If you have work piling up and can’t get it all done without sacrificing important things like sleep, writing time, or family time then it’s probably time to consider hiring an assistant. If you are willing to delegate your work and have enough funds to invest in hiring an assistant, an author assistant can get you back on track with your writing career.

3.How did you get into this field?

I was browsing my Twitter feed while driving home for Christmas break when I saw a tweet from one of my favourite authors which said she was thinking of hiring an assistant. I responded asking if the assistant could be virtual and the rest is history.

4.Would you say you have to have a big love of books and literature in general in order to be an Author Assistant?

I would. An author assistant is someone who works with authors exclusively so it makes sense that we’d all be book and author lovers. If you happened to not be into books (gasp!) you could become a virtual assistant or office assistant. What separates author assistants from those fields is our love of books, authors, and publishing.

5.To an author looking to hire an Author’s Assistant, what advice would you give them? How can they be sure they get a legitimate service, and where should they be looking?

When looking for an author assistant there are a few factors to consider:

  • Price. Like most service-based occupations the more experience an assistant has the more you are likely to pay, but you can find talented assistants at any experience level. A student may work for as little as $5 an hour (with college credit) while an experienced author assistant may charge $25-$60. Compared to a marketing consultant who may charge $150-$300 an hour, an author assistant can offer cost-effective help at any budget level.
  • Personality. Working with an author assistant IS a partnership. Your assistant will be there to help with any and everything so make sure you enjoy their company and can communicate well with one another.
  • Professionalism. Make sure the assistant is professional, check their website and social media. Are there lots of errors or poor formatting? Look for the assistants who pay attention to details and have clean, professional websites.
  • Skills. Most assistants can guide you in the services you may need but no one knows your book and needs better than you, the author. Take a few minutes to research the skills of each assistant and look for those that match your needs.
  • Experience. As if you were hiring an employee for your company look for recommendations, current and past work experience, and book acknowledgments. It’s also a good idea to check the author assistant’s references, just to be on the safe side.Once you have decided to hire an author assistant you need to find the right assistant for you. Ask your author friends for recommendations. Have they worked with an assistant before? Check out resources like The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide, AuthorsAtlas.com, and my own site here: http://katetilton.com/author-assistants/. Follow the above advice to vet your assistant choices, taking care to make sure your potential assistant offers the services you need and feels like the right person to have on your team.

6. What is your favourite book?

VICIOUS by V.E. Schwab! It’s my all time favourite book, followed closely by A Darker Shade of Magic by the same author.

I gush about A Darker Shade of Magic here: http://katetilton.com/july-2015-k8approved-books-reviews/    VICIOUS  here: http://katetilton.com/vicious-ve-schwab-review/

7. Would you ever become an author yourself?

I do have two sections in the latest The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide set to release in January 2016, which technically makes me an author. I don’t have great aspirations to create an author career for myself but I don’t rule out the possibility of other work. After all my goal is to help as many authors as I can so a book or two on marketing or social media might not be a bad idea!

8. You’re a talented and professional Author’s Assistant, but can you tell us three other facts about yourself?

Sure!

  1. I’m a huge cat lover which will come as no surprise to those who follow me on social media.
  2. I grew up in a small village called Stark located in New Hampshire. With a population of under 500 people and limited internet access, reading was my escape into new, bigger worlds.
  3. I take pride in excellence in all things so for many it isn’t a surprise that I graduated college with a 4.0 GPA but what may surprise you is I studied a combination of art, business, and criminal justice, not English!

 

  1. If you were going on a space mission and would not age nor return to Earth for 30 years, which three celebrities (from any field) would you take with you and why?

 

Hmm, picking three is hard! I guess if I had to I’d pick:

  1. Brian Clark of Rainmaker Digital. Brian is one of the smartest online entrepreneurs I know. It’d be so cool to be able to learn from him one-on-one after learning so much already from his New Rainmaker and Unemployable podcasts.
  2. AD Starrling author of the Seventeen series. AD is one of my favourite people to be around, our trip to New York was too short!
  3. Vic Mignogna American voice actor with roles like Tamaki from Ouran High School Host Club and Ed from Full Medal Alchemist. Vic is one of my favourite voice actors and he happens to give the best hugs ever.

10.And now, I ask everybody this question, and I think we can all agree it really is the most important question of them all: Jaffa Cakes – love them or hate them?

 

 

I…have never had a Jaffa cake 😦

 

To keep in touch with Kate, please follow the links below:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn | Pinterest Goodreads | Tumblr | Youtube | Shelfari | Wattpad | DeviantArt

It was a real pleasure to interview Kate and get an insight into the life and role of an Author’s Assistant. Thanks Kate!

KateTilton

Writer Interview: Erin McFadden

Erin McFadden

Erin Mcfadden 1

Erin is the author of the young-adult paranormal series, Descended from Myth, and the adult fiction thriller, Whimper. In between spending time with her family, creating new writing projects, and adding chocolate and caffeine to everything Erin managed to squeeze me in for an interview.

Erin lives in Northeast Indiana, in her hometown, and is lucky enough to be surrounded by her wonderful family. Her husband is a high-school administrator and together they share two beautiful girls, ages 8 and 1, and a spoiled Doberman Pinscher. Erin has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology and also studied Psychology. She used to work as a probation officer and jailer and presently works at night as a police, fire and ambulance dispatcher. Due to the nature of her work she feels there are a million stories she could tell. However, and I don’t blame her, she prefers to write fiction where she can escape reality. Erin has a real passion for writing and her career and education have schooled her in human nature, which certainly shows in the multi-faceted characters she creates. Erin loves family-time especially going camping and hiking, visiting museums, cemeteries, science centres and libraries, and also travelling. She is an unabashed geek and loves science-fiction, anything paranormal and conspiracy theories.

INTERVIEW

1. What are you working on right now?

I’m currently working on Talent, book two in my young adult series Descended from Myth.

2. Can you tell us a little something about it?

My series revolves around the mortal descendants of the mythological Muses, known as Talents and the Brotherhood of Guardians, their sworn protectors.

3. Tell us, why do you write? Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I write because I love the escapism of it. I can become someone else or go anywhere my imagination leads. It’s also immensely satisfying to pour my daydreams into the brains of others. How strange and wonderful is it for other people to know and love my imaginary friends? I draw my inspiration from my own subconscious. Most of my stories come from vivid dreams I have had. I wake up and type out notes before I lose the movie running through my head and then build from those ideas. If I’m very lucky, I’ll have the dream more than once.

4. When I write I require Jaffa Cakes (and lots of them), do you have a writing must-have?

My writing must have is a computer. I’m in love with the idea of beautifully decorated notebooks full of handwritten notes. However, my handwriting is so illegible I can’t always understand what I was trying to describe and my brain gets too far ahead of my hand. Typing is cathartic too. When the scenes get intense I can really pound away on the keys and the rhythm keeps me in the moment. Snacks and a cold drink are vital for a writing session of any duration! If I’m fighting writer’s block, then I have to have frozen fudge bars. They’re essential to the entire process.

5. What is your favourite book?

I dread being asked to name a favourite book or author. I can’t pick one! I can’t even narrow it down to ten without intense deliberation. I love books and my favourites change depending upon my mood.

6. Which author’s career, alive or passed on, do you admire most, and why?

At the risk of sounding extremely shallow, I would have to say I am inspired and envious of J.K. Rowling’s writing career. She is the superstar of modern authors. Yes, it would be marvellous to encourage reading amongst the masses and be adored by millions of readers. What author hasn’t daydreamed of the day his/her novel is made into a series of movies and entire theme parks are constructed based on the story lines? It isn’t a realistic fantasy to think I could attain even a fraction of her success, but who says fantasy has to be realistic?

7. Tell us something about yourself…an annoying habit or party trick perhaps? Can you speak a foreign language or have a hobby?

I don’t have any annoying habits, not a single one. Okay, I may have a slight problem with sarcasm and a desperate need to get the last word in almost any conversation, but it’s a family trait so blame my grandparents. They started it.

8. Do you have a blog, website or social networking account people can go to if they wish to learn more about you or your work?

Absolutely!
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/McFaddenWrites
Twitter: @ErinMcF_Author Amazon Author Central: http://www.amazon.com/author/erinmcfadden
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/McFaddenWrites/

9. What are your writing plans for 2016?

In 2016 I hope to release a new stand-alone fantasy novel I’m tentatively calling “Confessor” that will involve angelic beings. I’m also considering working on either the sequel to Whimper, my viral outbreak thriller, or the third book in the DFM series. If time permits or I win the lottery then I’ll do all of the above!

10. And now, for the most important question of all: Jaffa Cakes – love them or hate them?

As for Jaffa cakes, I am willing to try almost anything if they dip it in chocolate first. I’d ask for a care package, but it sounds as though you need to hang on to all three boxes in case of emergency.

To follow more of Erin’s work please use the links below:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/McFaddenWrites
Twitter: @ErinMcF_Author
Amazon Author Central: http://www.amazon.com/author/erinmcfadden
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/McFaddenWrites/

It’s been a pleasure to interview Erin, with such a crazy schedule it’s a wonder she had time to even fit me in! But I’m sorry Erin, unless you are all alone in the midst of a zombie apocalypse with nothing but a toothbrush and safety pin for survival, I will not be sharing any of my Jaffa Cakes. I will however agree to buy you a box when you visit the UK. Maybe two if they’re on offer. I’m cheap 🙂

Eric Mcfadden 2

Erin has kindly allowed me to share some quotes from her fantastic book, Whimper, and I know you’ll be intrigued to read the whole thing!

1. “Do you think the vaccines they’re giving are contaminated, Elliott? Would you like to fucking find out? Because I figure you’ve got a matter of hours before you’ll have conclusive evidence to support your theory.”

2. Zoe was the only thing that made me feel alive while I was busy dying. But humans are so damn fragile. What if I was the next to bleed? What if I killed her right along with the rest of the world?

3. It isn’t safe to stay here while everyone we know and love dies out there either! No help is coming unless we do something. The fact that I’ve got breasts isn’t going to stop me from doing whatever the hell I can to get help here faster. Got it?”

4. She scared me a little, this hellion who was determined to save me and the rest of the damn world in the process. Where did the mad passion come from? Why this determination to be involved when most people would gladly stay safely hidden away?