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Author Interview: Jim Murdoch

Jim Murdoch has kindly agreed to be my first interview of the new year so here it is.

Tell us about your latest project.

At the moment all my time is being taken up with promotion of an ebook entitled The Whole Truth, an omnibus edition of my first two paperbacks, Living with the Truth and Stranger than Fiction. Here’s the basic blurb:

Jonathan Payne is a jaded bookseller at the end of a wasted life which has been spent in a dull north England seaside town. He could be an everyman, but seems to have missed the boat somewhere. He’s both distastefully pathetic and oddly sympathetic. A passive character, he has been happy to read about life without experiencing either great joy or great despair. If Death were to knock on his door it wouldn’t trouble him greatly.

The knock comes. Only it’s not Death. It’s the truth. Literally. The human personification of truth.

Truth proves to be a likeable, if infuriating, character with a novel mode of expression: “glib dipped in eloquence and then rolled in a coating of irony,” to quote one reviewer. He knows everything and has no qualms revealing intimate details of lives of the people who cross his path while he’s with Jonathan. He’s quite indiscriminate. The same reviewer described him as “one of the most endearing antagonists I have come across.” Comparisons with Peter Cook’s devil in Bedazzled are not unreasonable.

Jonathan learns what he’s missed out on in life, what other people think and the true nature of the universe which is nothing like he would have expected it to be. At the end, having learned far more than he ever wanted to know, he finds out that it’s usually never too late to start again. Only sometimes it is: no Ebenezer Scrooge or George Bailey-esque turnaround for poor Jonathan.

I also have the paperback edition of my fourth novel, Milligan and Murphy coming out before the end of the year so I’ll need to start promoting that too soon. It’s a novel based on the writings of Samuel Beckett, specifically his novel Mercier and Camier.

What’s your favourite genre to write and what’s your favourite genre to read?

I don’t consider myself a genre writer, in fact in my naiveté I assumed that most writers weren’t. It’s only since I’ve been online that I’ve realised how mistaken I was. Until I started reviewing books on my blog I read twentieth century literary novels almost exclusively – during my twenties I went through a phase of only reading books by Nobel Prize winners. My aspirations were always to be a literary novelist which meant punching above my weight, especially at the start, but my third and fourth novels definitely fit the bill. Not so sure about the fifth.

The first two books are really unclassifiable however this quote from the author Kay Sexton talking about the first novel probably nails it:

“[T]his is one of those novels that bookshops must hate: not ‘hard’ enough to be spec fic, not ‘weird’ enough to be fantasy, too realistic for the humour section and yet too humorous to shelve easily with the lit fic. And that, I suspect is going to prove to be its charm; for those who do read it, it’s a singular take on the world, and it will either resonate with you or leave you cold. […] But I can recommend that you try it — if you like distinctive fiction that rings no bells and blows no whistles but creeps up on you with its absurdities, this book will satisfy you, as it did me.”

She did slightly better with the sequel:

“I tried to come up with one of those pithy one-liners that you are supposed to use to encapsulate a project for the movie industry (which is popularly supposed not to be able to cope with more than a sentence of information at a time) and what I decided on was Alan Bennett meets Douglas Adams! […] I loved it.”

When and why did you start writing?

I didn’t write when I was very young. Apart from one poem, in Scots, when I must have been about eight. It was about a public hanging of all things. I have no idea where that came from but I’m afraid I don’t have a copy so I can’t give you a taster. During my primary school years the poetry that we concentrated on was in the Romantic tradition, sometimes with and sometimes without the capital r, the likes of Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, Wordsworth, Walter de la Mare, John Masefield. But when I moved to secondary school (I’d be about twelve at the time) I started submitting poems to the school magazine and every year I would get a handful published. It was here that I was first exposed to poetry that wasn’t quite so pretty, specifically the war poetry of Wilfred Owen, but the real change for me came when I was sitting in a cold classroom on a dreich Tuesday afternoon. Our teacher handed out roneoed copies of Philip Larkin’s poem ‘Mr. Bleaney’. We groaned en masse but as she started to open up the poem I found myself captivated. There were no similes, no metaphors, no alliteration, no onomatopoeia, no babbling brooks, no blokes sitting in fields full of daisies. Suddenly I realised what poetry was; all the rest was window-dressing and for the next twenty years I wrote poetry almost exclusively. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-thirties and in crisis that I thought to try something else. And that something else proved to be two novels written back-to-back in about three months.

Why do I write? That’s like asking me why I breathe. In 1997 I wrote this poem:

The Art of Breathing

To find room for the new
you have to let go of
the old

so to learn how to write
I had to forget how
to breathe

and for a time I thought
I had to write to keep
breathing

which makes such perfect sense
but only if you’re a
poet.

20 November 1997

I believe that the need to be creative is something natural, something we all have. Some people paint, some write music, others dance or crochet and others write. I define a writer as a person whose natural response to life is to write about it. I didn’t discover that need until I passed puberty but then that’s often the time when we start to come into our own as rounded individuals. I don’t write to tell stories, to entertain. I’m not interested in making a name for myself. If I found myself alone on a desert island I’d still write.

I no longer draw any distinctions between the kinds of writing I do. The material dictates the form. I began as a poet but poetry, at least the poetry that I find myself capable of writing, has its limitations. Since I completed those first two novels I’ve written another three, two plays, a ton of short stories and I’ve even dabbled with flash fiction. But in my heart of hearts I’m still a poet before anything else.

Have you released any of your poetry to the public?

I’ve only published one poetry book, This Is Not About What You Think. It’s a collection of poetry covering just over thirty years arranged in such a way that it moves from poems about childhood through to old age, a sort of seven ages of man. You can read the whole of the first section of the book on my website here along with some other poems. There are some audio and video readings here and in the right hand column of my blog there is a list of poems and stories available online that I update whenever anything new goes up anywhere.

What’s your perfect writing day like?

Being a writer these days is far harder than it used to be especially if you’re foolhardy enough to go it alone. Yes, it’s a great time to be a writer because getting into print has never been easier, but being read has never been harder for a lot of reasons. Even those who have written something that they’ve managed to get accepted by a traditional publisher are not immune and only the big names like Thomas Pynchon and Cormac McCarthy can afford to keep their distance from their adoring fans. The rest of us have to roll our sleeves up and wade out into the social networks and try to get noticed. I could be writing now but instead I’m doing this interview, my second today as it happens. Not that I’m complaining. As long as the questions are interesting I’m happy to prattle on about my writing all day long but while I’m doing that I’m not doing any new writing. So my perfect writing day would simple be to write and not have to worry about checking my inbox or Facebook or making sure that I’ve responded to all the comments on my blog or kept up with the books I have committed to review. It would be nice just to get up and have nothing to do bar write. I’ve written two lengthy blog posts about this recently, one on boredom and the other on intuition, but the thing that comes out of both of them is that a writer really needs space to be creative, literally time to be bored and when was the last time you could afford that luxury?

What’s one piece of advice you could give to other writers in this new day and age of self publishing and ebooks?

Be professional. I used to be an IT trainer a good few years back. One of my trainees once she’d finished her qualification used to help me out preparing assessment materials. She was keen and efficient but sloppy. The thing is, whenever I pointed out her mistakes, her response was always the same, “It’ll do. Give me something else.” Er, no, it wouldn’t do and I always ended up fixing her work before I could use it. Never take an “it’ll do” attitude towards any aspect of your work. Perfection is unattainable – don’t go the other way – but never settle; if it’s not good enough and you know it’s not good enough do something about it before it gets pointed out to you.

What are you planning on doing next? What else are you up to?

I’m not a big planner. Not as far as the writing goes. I know what books I’m planning to release next – after Milligan and Murphy I’m aiming to put out a collection of short stories near the end of 2012 called Making Sense – and I know what books I have to read and review before the end of the year but as for what I’m going to write next I’m just allowing nature to take its course. I have an idea that I can’t seem to be able to rid myself of but I have no clue if I’m up to the task in hand. Like most of my books I have no story but that’s not so weird: the film director Mike Leigh never starts out with a script, just a concept, and Harold Pinter would often begin with just a voice in his head – no context and maybe not even a gender – and that would be his jumping off point. I get that. When I got the idea that blossomed into Milligan and Murphy I had just crossed the St Andrews Suspension Bridge in Glasgow when I heard the words, “Milligan and Murphy were brothers,” and the rest, as they say, is history. So I’m in no rush to start my next novel or whatever it turns out to be. I’ll be living with it for a good three years – prolific I am not – and that’s a long time to be stuck flogging a dead horse. No, I’ll know when the time is right. It’s only nine months since I completed Left, my last novel.

You can find Jim’s books at the links below:

FV Books
Smashwords

If you want to find out more info about Jim himself you can check out his blog, website or follow him on either twitter or facebook.

Author Interview: L. A. Tripp

My latest interviewee is L. A. Tripp

Tell us about your latest project.

I’ve got a brand new series I’m super proud of! It’s unlike anything I’ve written before. It’s more of a comedic adventure called All Jacked Up. We follow a young man, Jack, that is just starting out on his own. Single, getting a job, finding his own place, and dealing with the inevitable craziness of his parents, new friends, new co-workers, and the like. Jack strives to make a life for himself, yet tends to fall flat on his face, time and time again. Jack allows us to laugh at ourselves while we laugh at him . . . and mourn for him. This is intended to be a long term series that readers can enjoy for years to come.

What’s your favourite genre to write and what’s your favourite genre to read?

Favorite to read is romantic suspense, ala J.D. Robb. The In Death series is my all time favorite. My favorite to write is anything where I can explore the wonders of sex between a man and a woman. Although, Jack does not have a life full of sex.

Would you still write if there was no financial need to, and if not what would you do instead?

Yes. I never realized this in school, but I’ve written stories for a long time. I wrote my first couple of short stories before high school. I love to write, to create worlds and characters, to create and change the pace of the story. I’d also be doing something else I’m currently doing . . . helping others get their voices out there, too.

Would you ever consider publishing the first things you wrote or would they be too amateur for your own liking?

In their present form, no. Once edited and brought up to my current standard, maybe.

Are there any of your characters you particularly relate to, if there is, who and why?

Yes. The main character (Troy) for my debut series (Woe to the Rich!) was based, in part, on me. The main character in my non-fiction book IS me. And, I definitely took some elements of myself for Jack, too. Which elements I won’t say. You’ll have to read the books to find out, haha.

What are you planning on doing next/What else are you up to?

Next. An extremely busy holiday season. Through a combination of my own books and other authors I’m working with (through my pub company), I have 6 books that are due out in the next 3 months. So, next on my plate is getting all of these projects wrapped as well as keeping the plates spinning on future projects, that are also already planned. As far as what’s next for my own writing, that would be developing Jack and his series, plus a few stand alone stories along the way.

What made you decide to become a publisher?

For one, to help myself. For another, to help other authors. For a 3rd, to ultimately change the way the game is played in publishing. To change the paradigm and rock the world of the Big 6.

You seem to be helping others a lot, is that purely in a publishing capacity?

No, I also help direct them in their marketing efforts and pass along whatever tips I can in this field. Plus I like to build relationships with them and see who they are, as people.

 

For anyone who wishes to find more info on Jack and his adventures you can do so here

Author Interview: Pam Logan

Pam Logan has kindly allowed herself to be interviewed for today’s post.

Tell us about your latest project.

“How Do You Say Goodbye?” is a 130,000 word General Fiction Drama.

With a death sentence of an inoperable brain tumor, Samantha Collins tries to come to terms with the meaning of life, her belief in God, her battle with sobriety and her hope of it all ending on the beach.

As Sam’s life dwindles away, memories of abuse, mistakes and bad choices haunt her by way of terrifying nightmares. She relives her tumultuous childhood, remembering the beatings her brother received and the sexual abuse her sister endured so that she wouldn’t have to. Sam’s escape at an early age led her to a life of alcohol dependency as she partied her way into her adulthood.

Now, almost forty years later, she rides her Honda Goldwing across the country with her passenger and trusty companion, MyLo, a wolf-like dog, on the back as she says goodbye to the people she loves. Laugh with her as her best friend and confidant, Johnny Styles, jumps into characters of his favorite movies. Cry with her as she meets up with her old friends, Cody, Leeny, and Mac and reminisces about the past.

While she can’t decide if she should make new friends, her good-natured banter with the fearsome, domineering, Judge Styles, Johnny’s father, opens up a whole new world for her. In an incredibly short time, she becomes part of a family she could never have imagined.

Learn how one life can touch so many and have such a drastic impact on those around her.

Sam’s life sounds like it’s been a very full life, did you make everything that happened to her up entirely or is some of her life inspired by either other things you’ve read or watched or perhaps even the lives of other people?

Sam’s life is not based on anyone in particular, but I suppose her actions and reactions are inspired by things I have seen or heard. She just took on a life of her own as I wrote, but after the book was done and a friend of my sister’s read it, she thought Sam had a lot of the same qualities as my sister. I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back now, I can see the resemblance, even though her life was nothing like Sam’s.

What book do you wish you had written?

I don’t know if you mean a particular book that was already written by someone else that I could take credit for, or possibly a subject that I could have written about. There is nothing already written that I wish was mine, but I do hope to someday be one of those authors that a new writer looks up to. If you mean a topic that I could have written about, not yet. I have a lot of ideas in mind and hope to accomplish all of them before it is my time to say “goodbye.”

You say you have a lot of ideas in your mind, do you write your ideas down somewhere or rely on your mind to pull them to the surface when you want to start the next book?

I don’t write them down. I keep telling myself I should, but for some reason or other, it doesn’t happen. I hope I can remember them when the time comes.

What’s your favourite genre to write and what’s your favourite genre to read?

This was my first book and I guess it would be considered Drama as it is very emotional. I enjoyed writing it; I laughed and cried right along with the characters. I do like books like that, but my favorite is mystery, thriller type. Dean Koontz books dominate my book shelf.

What started you writing if you remember, and why do you write now?

When I was young, I kept a notebook with poems, some copied and some I wrote. It also contained just random thoughts and short stories. Life got in the way and the notebook got lost. Recently I tried to write a song and failed at that. I began thinking of my Mom and a few family members that passed away and wondered how they must have felt, knowing the end was coming soon. With those thoughts in mind, my character, Sam, came to life and completely took over; I enjoyed spending time with her and her friends. When the book was done, I missed her and her friends so much, I had to start another book.

You imply that Sam and all the people in her life are real enough to spend time with, do you see them as characters you’ve created or in another way?

I don’t think I created them; I think it’s more like I discovered them. As I delved into Sam’s life, they were just there, waiting patiently for me to get to know them.

What are you planning on doing next/What else are you up to?

My next book, “Life Goes On” is a continuation of the first, but is more of a mystery, thriller. Johnny finds himself in more trouble than he can handle.

You can find out more about Pam and her first book as well as read samples and reviews at her website.

To buy the book there is either the ebook or the paperback.

Author Interview: Allison Bruning

My featured Author for this slot is Allison Bruning,

Tell us about your latest project.

Currently I am working on book one of the Heritage series called Elsa. Elsa takes place in 1904 Marion, Ohio. The series is loosely based on the life of my great-great grandmother. Franklin Thaddaus Raymond plans to marry Elsa Beatrice Russell but must do so before his fiancee arrives back in Ohio. Elsa doesn’t know Franklin has a fiancee. The young couple must overcome several obstacles including family secrets, medical issues and Franklin’s secret life. Will Elsa ever learn the truth? A truth that could tear her young marriage apart or make it stronger.

I have recently published book one from the Children of the Shawnee series called Calico. Calico tales place in pre-revlotuionary war Kentucky and Ohio. Below is a brief description:

“A man whose heart appears pure shall deceive you. The power he holds over you leads you to evil. You shall denounce the ways of Our Grandmother. Another man comes, whose pure heart beats for you alone, and who has a pure spirit devoted to Our Grandmother. He shall defeats the evil and sets you free.”

A prophecy has been cast against her. In a harsh world deep within the western frontier of Ohio and Kentucky, Calico Marie Turner must learn to survive among the Shawnee and the trust the one man who hates her the most, Chief Little Owl Quick as the Wind.

The Children of the Shawnee series traces the lives of twin sisters, Rose and Calico. Books 1, 3, and 5 tell Calico’s story. Books 2,4,and 6 tell Rose’s side of the story. Calico’s portion takes place with the Shawnee Native Americans and traces the struggles they faced. Rose is raised in France as a Madame Royale, the first princess of the dauphin, Louis Ferdinad de France. She is rasied next to Louis Auguste who eventualy marries Marie Antoinette.

You’ve set a lot of your books in Ohio so far but in the past, is that because of family links or do you have other reasons to favour Ohio as your setting?

I have found much of my fodder for books through my family connections in Ohio. I am a direct descendant from one of the first families that settled in Ohio before it was a state. When I was a child, I was fascinated by the family stories my mother and grandparents use to tell me. I began to conduct genealogical research on my mother’s side of the family when I was nine years old. My research has never ended. I continue to discover new and interesting stories about my family. One of the family stories had provided the inspiration for my new series, Heritage.

What’s your favourite genre to write and what’s your favourite genre to read?

I love to write historical fiction, paranormal and women’s fiction. I tend to read adventure, historical fiction, paranoramal. My speciality is in Native American history and culture.

You like reading Woman’s fiction but don’t like writing it, is there a particular reason?

My novels have always had strong female leads. I do place romance scenes in them but try not to stress them. I do this because I want the focus to be on my heroine’s journey. My female leads often struggle with family or personal issues.  I want my readers to see a situation, whether historical or not, through the eyes of a female. Often history is written from a male’s perspective. I strive to challenge my readers to see history through the female’s point of view. “Calico” is a good example of this. Society has always heard about the Shawnee female captives, how they were mistreated and tried to run away. In Calico, I strive to show my readers not all white women were captives. There are historical records of women who, after they were rescued from captivity, ran back to the Shawnee. Why? Because women who had lived with Shawnee had more freedoms than they did living in 18th or 19th century white society. In “Calico”, Calico is refuses to be rescued by Daniel Boone and his colleague. She tells them she is not a captive. Society also forgets not all white women were captives. The daughters of the French fur traders intermarried with the Shawnee all the time.

Would you still write if there was no financial need to, and if not what would you do instead?

Absolutely. Writing is my passion.

Which do you prefer, paper books or ebooks and why?

Paper books. I love to feel a book in my hand.

What are you planning on doing next/What else are you up to?

I plan to keep on writing. My husband and I are buying a Victorian home that was built in 1882. We plan to renovate it and turn it into a Bed and Breakfast. We also want to open up a bookstore/gift shop.

I am also the executive director of the Kentucky Young Writers Connection. I love teaching children and adults how to express themselves within the written word. The publishing world is changing all around us and I think new authors need to know how to navigate in that world.

Is there some advice you’d like to give other new authors about your journey so far?

Never pay to have your work published and never pay for an agent. If you are writing historical ficiton, get out there and dig deep in your research. Try to see life through the eyes of your character. Not all characters are going to see the same event the same way nor are they gong to react the same.

Author Interview: K. S. Brooks

Our intrepid Interviewee is Kat Brooks today.

Tell us about your latest project.

My two newest books were released in the same week back in August.  I definitely didn’t plan it that way!  One is “Mr. Pish’s Woodland Adventure,” which follows the adventurous Jack Russell Terrier – Mr. Pish – on an expedition through the forest.  It’s all full-color photography and information presented in a fun way to get kids (and adults) interested in exploring what’s outside their doors.  It’s the third book in my series promoting Outdoor Learning and Literacy.  My other book is “Night Undone,” a character-driven suspense drama featuring the recurring anti-terrorist Special Agent Kathrin Night.  It’s the second book in the “Cover Me” series which features Agent Night after her career-ending injury.  She now has to deal with forced retirement, a real relationship, and figuring out how to get back into the industry she was born to be in – covert ops.

Writing books for children and writing about anti-terrorist Special Agents are obviously two very different genre’s of book, do you enjoy writing such differing subject matters or find it difficult to balance the two?

I started out writing action-adventure thrillers.  The research and writing mindset is intense.  I welcome the lightness of the children’s books, and the opportunity to showcase my photography.  It’s a gentle, happy creative process, which is a great break from the dark world of an incredibly serious single-sighted Special Agent.

Do you have any quirks to how you write?

I write in marathons.  I get in a mindset and I go.  Nothing else gets done when I’m doing that.

Your writing seems like it can be quite sporadic, do you find it difficult writing to deadlines or just don’t set yourself any?

I give myself ridiculous deadlines.  I’m trying to turn out at least 2 published books a year.  The only reason I stop writing is to do the marketing after a book is released.  I’m almost done with 1 other children’s book, and I was hoping to finish my action-adventure thriller as well – which would have given me 4 this year.  Frankly I’m disappointed with myself because I probably won’t get all 4 in print this year.

Are there any of your characters you particularly relate to, if there is, who and why?

Oddly enough, no, I don’t really relate to any of my published characters. They’ve morphed into something more than me.  I share some of their same basic beliefs, but the similarities end there.  I’ve been working on a vampire novel on and off for about 14 years now (ugh, I didn’t realize it was that long until right now) – and honestly – I relate to that main character more than any of my others.  Which is kind of a frightening thought.

What’s your perfect writing day like?

A perfect writing day would go like this:  Wake up – instantly, the writing in my head begins.  It’s actually more like it never stopped – I was just asleep while it was going on without my knowledge.  Have coffee – write on the laptop.  Don’t stop writing until I walk the dog (Mr. Pish), during which time I’m writing in my head.  Back to the laptop…write until I need to stretch, only stopping momentarily here and there to take Mr. Pish out and get a glass of water or tea.  Make and eat breakfast, lunch and dinner while writing in my head.  Write on the laptop until I’m exhausted, go to bed, write in my head while I’m falling asleep.  Wake up in the middle of the night writing in my head.  This would all be COMPLETELY perfect if there was a staff available to do the cooking and cleaning.  I’d still want to walk Mr. Pish.

What are you planning on doing next/What else are you up to?

I’m working on the sequels to “Postcards from Mr. Pish,” “Mr. Pish’s Woodland Adventure,” “Lust for Danger,” and “Night Undone.”  I’ve got an anthology that I wrote with Author Newton Love that we’re marketing to publishers, and I’ve got that vampire novel started, along with a couple of other projects on the backburner.  There are always at least 4 books being written in my head at any one time.  Good thing I’m ADHD.

You say you’ve written with another author, did you work on the same story/stories together or just put together a collection of stories you’d written separately?

It’s a collection of stories, poetry and flash fiction that we’d written separately.  We’re currently shopping it around to e-book publishers.

Was working with another author a good experience and one you would like to repeat?

Newt is a great guy to work with, and he’s a great author, so it was a wonderful experience.  I’d do it again in a heartbeat…with Newt.  I’ve had some bad experiences with other writers – people blatantly plaigiarizing me – so there’s a big trust hurdle that needs to be overcome before I could work on a project with someone else.   I’m lucky to know Newt, and I’d say to other writers if you have someone talented and trustworthy like Newt who you can bounce ideas off of and collaborate with – hold onto that person and make sure you let them know how much you appreciate them!

If you’d like to find out more about Kat, you can visit her website or follow her on facebook and twitter, likewise for more info on Mr. Pish, you can visit his website or follow him on facebook or twitter.

For more info on the books you can visit the Amazon author page here.

Author Interview: Jennifer Wilck

Jennifer Wilck is my guest author for today.

Tell us about your latest project.

My latest project is Skin Deep, which is published by Whiskey Creek Press and coming out in November. It’s a contemporary romance. Here’s a quick blurb:

The last thing Valerie needs, after escaping an abusive marriage to an alcoholic and rebuilding her life, is a broody, secretive, standoffish man. But that’s exactly what she gets when she becomes a makeup artist on the set of a hit sitcom and draws the attention of the series’ star.

John Samuels hides a terrible past—a life of abuse and neglect. A successful acting career and the affection and support of cast, crew and friends, does nothing to convince him that he is anything other than an unlovable monster.

Will he learn that the life he’s been living has been built on a lie or will he be doomed to repeat the sins of his father?

Do you have any quirks to how you write?

Well, I think it’s perfectly normal, but apparently, my definition differs from the rest of the world’s! Smile I’m very secretive about my writing.

My husband knows that I’m writing, but I don’t let him read anything until it’s published, and even then, I leave the room when he reads anything of mine.

Even my parents didn’t know I was writing a book until I showed them the letter from my publisher offering me a contract. That made for some awkward moments, but luckily for me they were so excited that they didn’t give me a hard time. I guess I don’t want to show anyone anything until I’m sure it’s good. Although I now have a critique partner, Jan, who is awesome and she reviewed and edited Skin Deep for me after I’d finished writing it and before I submitted it to publishers. It was my first attempt at using critique partners and now I show her everything I write.

How do you find the whole publishing process, in a season where things are changing and self-publishing is rapidly becoming more favourable are you still happy to be traditionally published?

I’m finding the publishing process fascinating. Although I write because I love it, rather than with the sole goal of being published, it’s always been in the back of my mind, and to go through the process is a lot of fun and a tremendous learning experience. I am very happy to be traditionally published, because I think it’s really important to have extra eyes view your work, provide editing and formatting help, cover art, etc. It’s very difficult to do that yourself, at least, it would be difficult for me. No matter how many times I look something over, I still miss things because I’m too close to it.

For other people who don’t want to self-publish yet or are unsure what would be the advice you’d give them to help them get published?

Just to be persistent. Don’t give up and be willing to explore many publishing options. You might not want to take advantage of all of them, but the more you know, the better equipped you are to be in this industry. And be nice to everyone you meet on social media, etc. It’s a small world and you don’t want to burn any bridges or get a bad reputation by something you say.

Are there any of your characters you particularly relate to, if there is, who and why?

My characters are fictional, although I try to include a little something of me or from my life in each story. For example, in Skin Deep, the family goes to the Meadowlands Racetrack over the Thanksgiving holiday. That’s their tradition and it was my family’s too. It kind of makes me sound like a degenerate, but it was a lot of fun looking at the horses and trying to guess who would win—I have a lot of fond memories from doing that and I tried to include those in this book. I like strong male and female characters who each have vulnerabilities but who can compliment each other and support each other when needed.

Would you still write if there was no financial need to, and if not what would you do instead?

Absolutely! I write because I love it! Publishing is a bonus, but I write my stories because I have characters talking in my head and I need to write them down. I love the stories I write and I hope others do too, but if I don’t get them published, that’s okay. It’s very fulfilling and satisfying to see a story through from beginning to end.

What are you planning on doing next/What else are you up to?

I’m currently writing another contemporary romance, but this one has a Jewish theme. It takes place during the holiday of Purim and has to do with hiding one’s identity or true self. If I can ever finish editing it, I’m hoping to submit it to publishers in the spring.

It sounds like you do a lot of self editing even if you do get some help, is that something you hope you’ll do less as you publish more or do you think you’ll always spend as much time editing yourself?

No, I’ll always edit my own things in addition to having others look at it. I think you have to. No one person is perfect and books benefit from many different editors.

If you want to find out more about Jennifer then check out her website.

Author Interview: Helmy Kusuma

Helmy Kusuma has kindly agreed to do an interview today.

Tell us about your latest project.

There Is Hope, which is a short sci-fi about post-nucleo-calypse world. I wrote this in the middle of finishing my second novella. A little break once in a while works wonders.

So far you have shorts and Novella’s published, do you intend to ever write a novel or prefer to stick to shorter works?

I have a plan to write longer, but the idea might dictate differently. I fell in love with Peony by Pearl S. Buck. I want to write that kind of story.

Do you have any quirks to how you write?

If you consider a well-fed stomach a quirk then a quirk it is. I can hardly think, let alone fantasize, with all those lil’ devils growling inside.

What’s your perfect writing day like?

Sun peering over the clouds after a mild rain, a slightly damp breeze, pungent smell of wild flowers, a glass of water and classical music playing on the background. That is the perfect setting for my perfect writing day. I don’t mind about the count of words.

You seem quite relaxed in your approach to word count per day, do you set yourself any deadlines or keep a relaxed approach to your writing in every aspect?

I guess I am relaxed to the point of lazy. Sometimes I set a deadline, only for it to be missed later on.

Well, I am very new to this kind of thing, so it might change in the future…but I don’t see it coming any time soon. Teehee!

What book do you wish you had written?

‘Inverta’. Huh you say. I intended, originally, to write ‘Inverta’ some six months ago, but inertia got hold of me, so it is currently still a wish.

What are you planning on doing next/What else are you up to?

Taking a bath. Oh, you mean after finishing my second novella. Let me see…I would like to write ‘Inverta’, of course, and in between writing it I will probably finish several short stories and have started a new business.

You sound like you have several ideas that you can move on to when you are finished with your current project, do you keep a record of your ideas for a later date or just start whichever idea is in your mind when it is time to start something new?

When the idea is bugging me enough, I will start writing right away, else I will usually do some sketching and noting. Later, when the idea is more developed, I create a folder and a doc for it.

If you want to check out any of Helmy’s work you can do so at the following links:

Mementoes of Mai:

There Is Hope:

A Flash of Inspiration: Collection of Very Short Stories by Indie Authors:

You can also find more information on his own blog, or follow Helmy on facebook or twitter

Author Interview: Paul M. Schofield

My interviewee for today is Paul M. Schofield.

Tell us about your latest project.

The latest project is finishing the first sequel to TROPHY, my first novel. The story of the New Victorian Empire continues on in TROPHY: RESCUE. Additional new characters have complicated the plot and added new twists and turns to keep the action and thought provoking ideas churning along.

What book do you wish you had written?

I wish I had the command of language and the insight to develop characters the way Jane Austen did in Pride & Prejudice. It’s an absolute masterpiece in nuance and dialogue.

I’m curious that although you say you’d like to write like Jane Austen you write Action and Sci-fi, do you intend to try other genres and see if you can one day master a book like Pride & Prejudice or are you likely to stick to just the one genre?

There is an old saying: “Jack of all trades, master of none”, and I would prefer to master at least one genre. Although I admire Austen’s writing I know my strengths run to action and description. I also love science, the hobby of amateur astronomy being particularly fascinating, so I guess I’m locked into the sci-fi, action-adventure genre for now. Writing is an ongoing challenge. One famous author stated we never master our craft but remain apprentices. I want to be the best I can be, sticking to what I write well, making the words live in the minds of my readers.

Are there any of your characters you particularly relate to, if there is, who and why?

Of all my characters it would have to be Martin. He’s an average kind of guy that’s thrown into a terrifying situation but ends up making the best of it. He’s also an outdoors-man and has a love for animals, something I can relate to. He never gives up.

What started you writing if you remember, and why do you write now?

I’ve always been creative and had a love of nature. Years ago we wrote and played our own music in a rock-band. I’ve had a career of architectural design and dabbled in some poetry. In 1991 I took a creative writing class and started the ideas for Trophy. It lay dormant in a drawer until a year and a half ago and then I really put some effort into it. I write now because I love it. There is something quite satisfying about sharing a story and your deepest ideas.

You imply writing is not your only career, are you a full time writer currently and if not do you wish to be?

My career as a designer continues in part-time mode. Alas, bills must be paid and I like to eat and support my family. Full time writing, even making a modest living from it, would be a dream come true. I don’t know how many hours a full-time writer puts in, but I try to write at least two hours per day, usually in the morning.

You took a creative writing class, would you say this has improved your writing and recommend it to other aspiring authors?

I took the class when I wanted to start writing. If you are in that position, by all means, take the class. It’s a good way to get your feet wet and see if you like it and have the discipline to carry it through. If you are already writing connect with other authors, attend seminars, read and study about character development, point of view, description, elements of style, etc. Have others, paid or otherwise, edit your work. Never publish without professional editing of some sort.

What are you planning on doing next/What else are you up to?

Completing the Trophy Saga will take a few years. Included are two sequels and two prequels along with the original book, five books in all at this point. I have the basic ideas, titles, and direction for them, but they will take unforeseen twists and turns. That is the fun of writing … where will it all end?

You say you have the basic ideas, titles and direction for your next few books, do you plan them out in advance in detail or just dive right in when writing?

My original instructor gave me a valuable piece of advice: Always know what your ending is. In that way you can always write toward it and never be plagued by writers block. I know what all my endings, titles, and general lines of action are. I work around very loose outlines that might cover a few chapters at a time. Then I can dive right in and follow my thoughts like a flowing river, but always to the same planned ending.

You can find out more information about Paul at his website and at the Book Junkies Library.

 

Author Interview: Kimberly Menozzi

Kimberly Menozzi kindly agreed to do my interview for today.

Tell us about your latest project.

Well, the US edition of my debut novel, Ask Me if I’m Happy was released in June this year, along with the novella prequel, Alternate Rialto.

Ask Me if I’m Happy is a love story, set in Bologna, Italy, which has been very well received by readers. It’s the story of Emily Miller and Davide Magnani, who meet by sheer chance due to a train strike in Italy, when Emily is leaving the country after the dissolution of her marriage. Their immediate friendship quickly grows into something much more substantial, much to their mutual surprise. Unfortunately for them, they share a connection they never anticipated, and the secrets and half-truths which grow from this connection wreak havoc on their relationship.

Alternate Rialto is the story before the story, focusing on Emily’s experiences ten years earlier in Venice after meeting Jacopo Spadon (her ex-husband in Ask Me…) for the first time. It shows how some of the points in Ask Me… come about, but it stands alone quite well. It’s a much shorter read than Ask Me…, and it’s darker in tone, too.

Both stories show a side of Italy which many ex-pats tend to overlook — it’s a beautiful place, but it’s not perfect. I like to explore that side of the country since I live here and see it in all its flaws and its glory — frequently at the same time.

What made you decide to publish your two current books in June?

Well, Ask Me if I’m Happy was originally published in November of 2010, but the publisher and I parted ways shortly thereafter (long story). When it was decided to put out a US edition, I had already been working on a novella form of Alternate Rialto for the previous publisher. It just happened that both books were ready at about the same time — one had already been edited and was ready to go, after all — and I thought it would be okay to put both out almost simultaneously.

In retrospect, it perhaps wasn’t the best call on my part, but I’m happy to say both titles have sold reasonably well. Ask Me… outsells Alternate Rialto easily, though, which surprised me. I would have thought the lower-priced option would sell more copies. Not that I mind! I think a fair number of readers pick up Alternate Rialto after they’ve read Ask Me… anyway. In spite of Emily being in both stories, they are rather different reads, and I believe they’re equally enjoyable each in their own right.

You’ve mentioned writing both longer books and shorter ones, is there a length you find easier to write?

I find writing long much easier than writing short. I’m quite verbose on the page — just as I am in real life, I suppose — and that doesn’t always translate into a short, concise read. It’s very, very hard for me to write short. Add to this the fact I’m a huge fan of epic novels and heavy reads, and, well… I reckon it’s only natural I’d prefer to savour the subject at hand when I’m writing about it.

When and why did you start writing?

I started writing my first stories when I was eight years old. It was how I entertained myself at school when I’d finished my lessons and was waiting for the next subject to begin. Plus, I just had so many stories in my head, I needed to get them out on paper!

My first real attempts at writing full-length stories came in high school, when I started my first novel. I was seventeen, and I worked on that novel for nearly five years. I still have it, and I do honestly believe that if I were to rework and revise it, it might be worth exposing to the light of day. Who knows?

Do you have any quirks to how you write?

More than I can say, and probably more than I’m even aware of. I like to be completely alone, with music blasting, so I can just disappear into the part of my consciousness where the stories are. I admit that I talk to myself a lot, when I’m alone — or act things out to be sure of the choreography, even if I won’t describe it — because I hear the characters in my head a lot of the time. They’re always with me.

What inspires you?

Everything. Literally, everything. Inspiration turns up in the strangest places: people, places, songs, films, events I witness while walking to work or around town — it comes to me in odd ways.

What are you planning on doing next/What else are you up to?

Right now, I’m working on a project called 27 Stages, which is a novel set in the world of professional road cycling. I’m a cycling enthusiast, and I was inspired to write this while watching the 2009 Tour de France because I was captivated by the team politics on display between Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador when they both rode for Astana. (If you don’t follow cycling, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about, here.) Everything about the sport intrigues me, and there’s so much that the casual viewer doesn’t realize is going on during a race. The training, the tactics and, as I mentioned before, the politics are incredibly fascinating.

So I’m constantly researching, notating and scribbling tidbits of information while I watch races and behind-the-scenes videos. I’m nearing the finish, I think (there are at least ten chapters left), and so far, based on the “buzz” I’ve gotten back from folks who have read the excerpts I’ve shared of the rough draft, there’s reason to be excited about the book. I’m told I write men well, that the team scenes are believable and best of all — I’m able to make cycling accessible to people who don’t know anything about it. With luck, I’ll have it out in the spring of 2012.

You say people have told you that they think you write men well? Do you think characterisation is your strength as a writer or something else?

I think characterization is one of my strong points, if only based on what others have said about my work. As far as writing men well, that was pointed out by several male readers, including one who appreciated that I hadn’t portrayed Davide (in Ask Me…) as a stereotypical sex-obsessed male. He’s intelligent, thoughtful and sensitive, but he definitely has a healthy desire for the fairer sex. However, he’s able to control himself and behave respectfully toward women — even if they’re practically throwing themselves at him. I give them full emotional lives — they aren’t all spouting sports terminology or relying on brute strength to get them through situations. They’re complex creatures — every bit as much as women are — and I work to portray them as such.

The other strong point I have is in creating atmosphere. One of the things most readers have commented positively — very positively — on is the sense of place they feel when they read my work. I try very hard to set the scene and then put the reader *there*, whenever I can.

If you want to check out any of Kimberly’s work you can do so at the following links:

Ask Me if I’m Happy:

e-book (UK)

e-book (US)

Paperback

Alternate Rialto:

e-book (UK)

e-book (US)

Paperback

You can also find more information at her own website, or follow Kimberly on both facebook and twitter

Author Interview: Aman Anand

My next author is another uk based one and you may well recognise the name as I reviewed one of his books a few months back. Here’s his interview.

Tell us about your latest project.

I am currently working on an ongoing series of short stories called the G.C.P.U. (which stands for Global Crime Prevention Unit). The plan is to release each issue fortnightly and for the length of each issue to be between five to seven thousand words. So far I have released the first three parts of the first story arc, which is called The Kindle Murders. Eventually, I will bundle each story arc into novellas and give the reader two ways of following the series.

I came up with the idea because I think an aspect of the indie publishing revolution that has been overlooked is form. Writers now enjoy a freedom that they have never been afforded in human history. Whether you want to write an 8,000 line epic poem or a short story about the debt ceiling in America, there is now a medium for you to release your work, you are no longer confined to the economies of printed books. And as the e-book audience continues expanding exponentially, many writers will find a market for their work.

So the G.C.P.U. is an attempt at experimenting with form, adapting some of the practices normally associated with comic books and television shows. So far, the feedback has been positive and I am really enjoying working on the project.

You mention being able to experiment because of the Indie publishing revolution, how do you feel about the changes to publishing and ebooks in general?

I think the changes we have seen in the past few years liberate writers from the gruelling submission process and those dreaded slush piles.

Most importantly, it grants the writer complete freedom in terms of both subject matter and the form their work takes.

However, there is a fear that over the next few years there is going to be a flood of self-published work and it may put off readers from going down the indie route. However, as long as we ensure our work is well-edited, I think that this fear will prove unfounded.

How do you make sure that your own work is well-edited?

I have two friends, both of whom are English graduates like myself, proofread my work. But now that I am writing more regularly it feels unfair to continually burden them with my work so I will be looking to hire an editor or a proofreader.

When and why did you start writing?

I began writing when I was fifteen – back then I wanted to be the next great songwriter. I still have the album of lyrics I wrote that particular summer. They are pretty atrocious – hopefully they will never see the light of day!

What lead you on from song writing to story writing?

My primary interest was storytelling and there were limitations to what I could achieve within a pop song. I also did not read as much as I do now and at that point music was a far bigger influence than literature was. I also found that I was a lot better at writing than I was at songwriting, not that that would be difficult given how bad the songwriting was!

What’s your favourite genre to write and what’s your favourite genre to read?

In terms of writing, I am torn between literary fiction and sci-fi. I would argue that the best of both genres fulfill a similar function, but the former delves into the past (and on occasion, the present) while the latter casts light on what our futures could be.

In terms of reading I mostly read literary fiction, but at present I am reading a lot of non-fiction to help me research a few projects I am working on.

What inspires you?

Many, many things. This was a problem for the longest time, but I had a breakthrough with my novel 2032. The novel functioned as a black hole that allowed me to absorb a kaleidoscope of influences; from great writers to football commentators, from inaugural speeches to cooking recipes.

I’m not sure I will ever have that much freedom in a project again, hence the reason I am working on quite a few projects simultaneously.

Working on more than one thing at once can be difficult for some people, how do you juggle them all?

Apart from with 2032, which contains a wide variety of styles and themes, I find that I end up feeling guilty if I am only working on either a science fiction or a literary work. But when I work on them simultaneously my writing is both stronger and more prolific.

What are you planning on doing next/What else are you up to?

Here is a little list of my current projects:

1. I am working on a series of flash fiction collections about each of the seven deadly sins and the seven virtues. There will be seven flash fiction stories in each collection, with the subject matter varying significantly between each flash fiction story. I recently released the first collection Lust and will soon be releasing Pride.

2. I have been working on a big science fiction/fantasy project for the best part of ten years. Earlier this year I finally started writing it and am now 18,000 words into the first draft of the first book. I hope the have the first book out by November.

3. Finally, I am working on a literary fiction project that is partly an offshoot from the final chapter of my novel 2032. It will concern a wealthy American family and will be set in the first decade of the 21st Century.

If you would like to check out some of the books Aman mentions, here are the links:
2032
U.K. Customers – http://amzn.to/oAMvzi
U.S. Customers – http://amzn.to/ot2oeU
The Kindle Murders: Part One
U.K. Customers – http://amzn.to/p7TBNV
U.S. Customers – http://amzn.to/qQKjCY