Category: Author Interview.

Hello everyone!
I have had the pleasure of chatting with fellow author, Cassidy Taylor about her writing experiences. And –– as we all learn from our own and others personal narrative, I hope you will all enjoy and learn as much I did when asking these questions. With out further delay –– I introduce to you Cassidy Taylor.

 

Cassidy Taylor Author Photo

Lets start off with you telling us a bit about yourself and how you got into this business of writing books?

I was one of those kids that was always writing, but I never thought of writing as a “real” profession. I studied in the Creative Writing program at UNC, but when I graduated, I got a job, got married, and had two kids before I returned to writing. I finished the first-draft of what will become my first novel during NaNoWriMo 2015, and connected with my publisher, Fantasy Works, through #Pit2Pub in early 2016.

I see on your website http://cassidytaylor.net that you have a new book, The Runaway Queen coming out soon! This line from your synopsis has me totally hooked…

With danger lurking around every corner, Ruby must summon the courage to face her enemies and fight for a throne she never wanted, a king she doesn’t know, and the queen she never knew lived inside of her.

Can you tell us a little more about the story? A sneak peak at the cover perhaps?

The Runaway Queen is the first in a series titled The Mondragon Chronicles. The cover is still in the works, but that line really sums it up. Ruby Mondragon is a young girl thrust into a position of power that everyone else wants but she fears. The story follows her as she decides whether to give up or to stand up and fight.

Do you have any favorite authors or books? Have they influenced your writing in anyway?

I feel like everything I read makes me a better writer. I grew up with Harry Potter, and would say that those books have been the most inspiring. I also love anything by Marie Lu and Alexandra Bracken.

I love to ask this question. If your book became a movie, who would you choose as the main cast?

Although I’m a visual person, I’m not a big movie buff and don’t know a lot of actors. On my Pinterest board, I did find inspiration for Ruby in the model Alia Jolie, and for Aodhan in actor Luke Pasqualino. You can find my Pinspiration board here: http://pin.it/RJ7SdB4

Much of my everyday experiences make it into my writing. Can you share a tidbit of your fictional writing that’s actually a real part of your experiences?http___www.pixteller.com_pdata_t_l-480709

To answer this one with a question of my own, who hasn’t wanted to run away from their responsibilities and hide in the mountains with a handsome king?

Have can people discover more about you and your work?

Website: http://cassidytaylor.net (join my newsletter!)
Blog: http://cassidytaylor.net
Facebook: http://facebook.com/cassidytaylorauthor
Twitter: http://twitter.com/cassidy_writes
Instagram: http://instagram.com/cassidy_writes
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/4883579-cassidy

Whether you are traditionally published, self-published, or somewhere in-between marketing your work can be a challenge. What marketing strategy has worked well for you?

http___www.pixteller.com_pdata_t_l-480692I haven’t had much to market yet, but I’ve been working on building relationships with readers and other authors. I try to be genuine and available across all platforms, and look forward to seeing how this translates once my book is out.

Who have been your biggest supporters in your writing endeavors? Go ahead, give them a shout out!

My parents! I have two kids and a full-time job, so my mom has started taking the kids for a few hours on Sundays to give me a good solid chunk of writing time. And my six-year-old daughter is my biggest cheerleader. She’s always asking about my word count, and is equally as excited whether I wrote 250 or 2,500.

From what I can see you have one book out and another on the way. Can we expect more books in the future? Will you stay writing in the same genre or try something new?

The Mondragon Chronicles is planned as a trilogy right now, so that will be on my plate for a while. After that, I have a couple of YA dystopian ideas, and a sci-fi story that have been trying to get my attention for a while. Only time will tell!

 

It’s my pleasure to introduce to you a writer and teacher, Kim E. Morgan!

So, Kim, tell us a bit about the writing workshops you lead? I know there are a few different types.

Kim white borderThank you so much for the invitation to talk about my work. I love to talk shop about all things writing.

As an adjunct of North Idaho College, I teach creative nonfiction and plan to offer courses in self-publishing. My teaching and life philosophy is that we are all born storytellers. We move, we breathe, we live. We express ourselves with stories. My foundation for creative writing includes these three practices: the practice of memory, imagination, and compassion.

Soon, I plan to develop online courses for writers aspiring to publish their work, using my website as the platform for these mini-lessons. I also offer free courses through the Community Library Network in my area, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

 

These courses include:2015 Large group photo

“Write Now!” – a series of Literary Workshops

Writing by the Lake – Writing from Your Core

Finding Ancestors – Our Ancestors, Our Stories

Writing for Keeps – Creative Nonfiction

Is there a link to where a person could enroll in one of your workshops?

My website is the hub of all information like that, at www.kimemorgan.com. I would recommend those interested, to contact me or join my newsletter for updates on the availability of courses.

You’ve mentioned to me that you have a fiction book coming out soon! Congratulations! Can you give us a short synopsis? Where can readers buy it?

Redemption2June 2216. Fifteen-year-old Marie-Joëlle Peone faces the greatest challenge of her life when she defies the corrupt world of Global Advanced Programs. She doesn’t know that GAP controls her fate in ways she can’t possibly imagine. What Jo does know will test the very fiber of her existence.

Jo Peone can’t remember her life before the visions. She grew up in a world of half-truths, but somehow knows she caused her parent’s separation. Her father calls her a Spiritkeeper, but she doesn’t know what that means.

​She’s angry, defiant and out for revenge in the world of 2216, a world where she doesn’t belong and everything she knows turns out to be a lie.
​But Jo’s life is about to change. Recurring migraines trigger her visions with greater frequency. Her psychic ability readily develops beyond her control, and the visions become otherworldly.

As she exposes her parents’ deception, Jo finds herself drawn into a diabolical conspiracy involving a shadowy group and the atrocities of Jove’s science. Her power increases, but forces her to decide who will live or die. In the end, the final betrayal could shatter Jo irreversibly. The final hour leaves her at the mercy of 2216 science and the elusive Jove.

You can find in on Amazon at https://goo.gl/PI18g8

I see you have one non-fiction book published. What inspired you to switch to fiction?

I teach writers to explore topics they feel inspired to write, as I often do. I’ve tried my hand at poetry and academic writing as well, some of which has been published and won awards. But all my life I’ve longed to write and publish fiction. And here I am! JOVE’S LEGACY is hot off the presses! Dreams do come true.

I’m always curious of how much of an author’s real life makes it into their fiction books. Are any of your characters based on real people?

I suspect all of the characters in JOVE’S LEGACY reflect something or someone in my unconscious mind. My main character, Marie-Joëlle, is the projection of my true self in her quest for redemption. She is my voice in many ways, speaking truths, as I never could.

What have you found surprising about self-publishing a book?http___www.pixteller.com_pdata_t_l-371555

The giant learning curve to self-publishing, marketing, and selling books! My enormous respect for indie writers has increased with each challenge I meet along the way.

How can readers discover more about you and your work?

Website: http://www.kimemorgan.com/

My Blog is my Journal: http://kimemorgan3.blogspot.com/

Friends Facebook: https: http://www.facebook.co/kimemorgan3

Author Facebook: https: http://www.facebook.com/authorkimemorgan/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Kimemorgan3

Did you always dream of being a writer? Tell us about some of the other things you’ve done.

Yes, I’ve dreamed of being a writer since I was thirteen years old. But there have been many things I’ve done before I became one. I think my greatest accomplishment so far is motherhood. My two sons make me very proud. I’ve even used our conversations together, from the dinner table, as dialogue in JOVE’S LEGACY. My thirty-two years of marriage to my husband, John, is also outrageously amazing. I never could have done so much without him.John and Kim Morgan

Rounding out the list of my very full life: I’ve worked with incredible people on empowering-charitable projects, worked in finance, and hold a career as a professor at two post-secondary institutions… and somehow have managed to write a book.

Can you tell us about one of your favorite books/authors? What do you like about their work? Does it influence the way you write?

I lean toward the modernist writers, particularly Flannery O’Connor, John Steinbeck, T.S. Eliot, and William Faulkner. Given the wide-range of literature I’ve taught, these and others influence my writing. However, I love commercial fiction. I stumbled on Steve Berry and bought every one of his books. Go figure. At the risk of dating myself, I ravenously read historical fiction, before it was even a genre in the early ’70’s! I thrived on history and Christian scholarship, but give me a steamy romance any day. Outlander, well, that says it all. I’m hooked forever on Jaime and Claire.

Last but not least… give us your favorite quote from your upcoming book!

“Rage is a granite wall we hide behind; crack the stone and light emerges.
––– Jo Peone, JOVE’S LEGACY

 

At a random outing to my local Chapters bookstore, I met author, Adam Dreece. Being that this store is one of my more avid haunts; it was the store manager who introduced me to Adam. She told me that, Adam, was one of the most engaging self-published authors she’d ever met and that this guy is going somewhere.
Looking at his book display in the store, Adam, stood dressed in a dapper steampunk-esque vest and monocle. The table was arranged with accolades to his latest books, complete with professionally put together banners. I was impressed immediately at his dedication and obvious passion for his stories.
Today, I have the privilege of sharing with you, a peek in to the inner workings of this indie author.
So – I introduce to you, Adam Dreece.

 

Adam, you’ve just released your fourth novel in The Yellow Hoods series. How many books are left before the series is complete? And when can we expect them to be released?

The current story arc is going to wrap up in Book 5. However, in Book 4 I’ve laid the groundwork for book 6 (possibly 7 as well). There’s one more piece of The Yellow Hoods storyline that I want to do before I wrap things up, which will likely be 1-2 more books.

 After that, I’m planning on doing more books in the same world. More on that when I get closer to it.2015-11-09 14.20.53

Having read the first two books in your series, I admire how you’ve combined both the steampunk and fairy tale genres together. Can you tell us a bit about the storyline of this series, and what inspired you to write it?

 The story is really one about coming of age, not just of the Yellow Hoods trio (Tee, Elly and Richy), but of ideas that shape society. The story reveals two secret societies, the Tub and the Fare, and how they’ve succeeded or failed at exerting their influence over the past few decades.

 Our fairy tale stories and rhymes are their real world events, whether that’s Santa Claus represented as two brilliant inventors in their twilight years, Nikolas Klaus and Christophe Creangle, or the Tub which is lead by a butcher, a baker and a candle-stick maker.

 For those unfamiliar with steampunk, or those that know it well, I call The Yellow Hoods an ‘Emergent Steampunk’ series. Rather than feeling like you are walking into a Victorian Clockwork world, you start with a small mountain town. All the elements of invention, and the history of the world as well as where its going, are woven into the storyline itself.

 As for inspiration, well my daughter gave me the nudge to write the first story, Along Came a Wolf. I was stuck writing something else, and she suggested I take a silly bedtime story I’d told her once and give it new life, and I did. From a world perspective, I first visited Steampunk back in 2000 when I wrote a Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game supplement for a contest being run by Wizards of the Coast, but it failed to get submitted correctly. Part of that world I’m currently reusing in my free online serial, The Wizard Killer.

What advice do you have for new writers who are just starting out?

COVERMASTER-Book 1-MasterRecognize that there are two great fears: Finishing and Judgment, and find a way to conquer them. It’s hard to declare something finished, that you are going to move on. I see so many people take a redwood of an idea, and whittle it down to a toothpick. Learn to let go and move on. For every story you complete, you will become stronger and better, and you will have better ideas and be able to execute them even better.

 And then comes the Judgment. You need to get early feedback (beta readers) and listen to what they have problems with, and look at their proposed solutions as more hints of what may have bothered them. Their concerns are real, though their solutions are rarely the right ones. It’s hard to get feedback, to listen to it, because while we are fierce in creativity, we are all sensitive to words that affect our sense of worth. All I can say is that the difference between being an author versus being a writer, is putting your work out there and learning to let the arrows harm you as little as possible, and learning to let the praise touch you.

There’s a world of potential marketing avenues out there for indie authors. Do you have any marketing tips or strategies that have worked well for you?

Connecting with people genuinely and directly on Twitter has worked. Genuinely means without automation. No automated thank yous, no automated anything except maybe scheduling some tweets regarding blog posts that people might find useful. Another thing is not blasting your following with ads, because you will quickly get muted.COVERMASTER-Book 2-Master-V2

 Offline, meeting people directly at expos like CalgaryExpo has been amazing for me. Building a fan base is a grassroots thing, and you do it by earning one reader and fan at a time. You have to get out of your shell, put on the author hat, and meet people because no one will be better at convincing them to give your book a chance than you.

Do you have a favourite author or book? What was so memorable about their works?

You know, this is the first time during an interview I actually remembered to mention this book, it’s Good Omens by Neil Gaimen and Terry Pratchett. The characters and their contrast still sticks with me, and the humor. I loved that book.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Website: http://TheYellowHoods.com
Blog: http://AdamDreece.comPromo - focus on Book 1
Facebook: http://facebook.com/TheYellowHoods
Twitter: http://twitter.com/adamdreece
LinkedIn: http://ca.linkedin.com/in/adamdreece
Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/adamdreece
Indigo – http://smarturl.it/IndigoAdam
Amazon – http://smarturl.it/AmzAll
iBooks – http://smarturl.it/iAdam
Kobo – http://smarturl.it/KoboAll
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/AdamDreece
Book Trailer: AdamDreece.com/booktrailer

I know that writing hasn’t always been your profession. Can you tell us a bit about what you did before you became a full-time writer, and why you made the change?

Book 3-MasterWhen I was in high school I started doing two things, writing stories and programming. Okay, and playing lots of Dungeons and Dragons, so three things, but they were all inter-related. From there, programming and writing stayed with me.

 For 25 years I did nothing with my writing, and for the past 20 years, I’ve been in software. Specifically, I quickly went from being a software developer to a software architect. I’ve been the write hand on projects as big as $100 Million (I can’t say that without thinking of Doctor Evil), and have worked for Microsoft and in Silicon Valley.

 The drop in oil prices and the sudden scarcity of contract positions for me gave my wife and I an opportunity. We decided that my first year as an author had gone really well, and that it was worth making some life changes to allow me to go full time, and I did. A lot of the skills that I developed as a software guy have paid huge dividends for me, such as being able to strategically think, to look at the end result and figure out how I might get there, and being able to work really damn fast and well.

Can you tell us a bit about your cover design? Who designed it? What inspired you to choose those images?

The initial cover we had when we launched at CalgaryExpo 2014 wasn’t what everyone’s used to seeing. We listened to the feedback from the potential readers and customers. We were then faced with a decision, do we seek out someone who can create the cover that we really want, or do we keep going with what we have? That’s when we found Xia Taptara, and he’s been doing the amazing covers ever since.

 For each of the covers, I’ll send Xia an idea or two, capturing a particularly moment or feeling of the book, and he’ll send me back a few concepts. They always blow me away.

When I look back at the novel I’ve written, I find bits and pieces of my own life that have made it in to my work. Can you share with us a bit of your life that has made it in to your stories?

Wow, there are several. The map itself is littered with several. But probably the one that is absolutely the most personal is Mounira and dealing with her pain in book two. I went through 15 COVERMASTER-Book 3-Mastermonths of horrible scar tissue pain years ago, which was improved to became liveable chronic pain. I understand what it is to have hot, raw pain that wants to consume you. I know how it can eat away at who you are, what you want and more. And putting that into an eleven year old kid, someone who was so filled with joy and innocence, I wanted to walk with her through that journey of taking the demon that was pain and absorbing it, making it a strength rather than her enemy. I have a lot planned for her in the future, I hope I get to go there with her.

Other than being able to write books at a fantastically fast pace, do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

I really miss table top role-playing, but when I’ve tried to return to it, the complexity isn’t there for me. I played a miniatures game called Heroclix for a while and miss it too, I don’t have the time or friends to play it with these days.

 As for unique talents? I’m told listening is one, and my style of writing is another. But then again, what do I know?

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

There’s nothing as empowering as taking that risk for a dream, stepping off that cliff and seeing if you can fly. It’s terrifying and exhilarating, but more than anything, it reminds us that our ideas are worthy and powerful.

 

Hi Eric! As you may have noticed from my website, I like to interview writers. From what you’ve told me, you like to write sci-fi fantasy stories, but also write some business and finance works as well. I’m happy to chat with as fellow writer like yourself, but I’m not going to ask you about your writings today.  Instead, I’d like to pick your brain regarding your passion for helping writers figure out the business side of being an author.

Before jumping into the main questions, can you tell us a bit about your experiences that lead you to want to help writers?

I have always had a passion for writing and storytelling but like many prospective authors I felt that writing for a living was just a pipedream and I went to school for business instead. My love of books and the overwhelming fines I had racked up at the local library led me to become a manager of a bookstore. Over the past few years I have had the opportunity to speak directly with many authors and gain priceless insight into their mind. My experiences have led me to speak with authors just starting out, as well as, others like Larry Correia who have achieved the hallowed, NYT bestseller status.Eric Headshot

As I stepped into this larger store 6 months ago the requests to do author signings and questions about how to publish a book has grown exponentially. From my countless conversations with new authors it was apparent that many authors lack the experience, resources, and knowledge to get their books to their readers hands. I realized that it was selfish for me to hoard the knowledge I had gained through my unique ability to directly interact with successful writers.

I decided to put more of my effort into understanding and overcoming the struggles of new authors. It then became my crusade to help my fellow writers understand the business of books so that they can see the fruits of their labor.

I can name off a long list of struggles, writers go through when trying to publish and market their books. What do you see as being a major reason why a lot of authors fail to get the exposure they are seeking for their books?

This is a bit of loaded question so I will give you a short and long answer for it.

Short: Supply and demand…

Long: Writers often are creative people who would prefer to not have to get their hands dirty with the business side of things. This is why the industry model has been one driven by writers, agents, publishing houses, and bookstores all playing the same role for decades. Writers need agents, who need publishers, who need bookstores, and bookstores need writers, who need… I think you get where I’m going with this.

This model has recently, if you can call almost a decade recent, been altered drastically with the advent of the e-reader. Due to the lowered cost of print self-publishing partnered the ease of e-book publication the market was taken over by people who may never have written a book in the old system. With the a few hundred thousand new titles flooding the market agents have a test market to cherry pick budding authors from. They choose the authors who have the quickest and most likely chance of selling X number of books. By removing the middleman from the equation many authors are left with a voice but no microphone.

The author is forced to pick up the slack and market themselves. The fact that many authors have worked their entire lives on the right side of their brain they lack the experience and business acumen to become the marketer they need to be in order to get their message out there. The writer in today’s over saturated market has to build their own platform so they can stand out to readers, agents, and publishers.

Can you suggest a few things, which you think, a successful store book signing has?

The first thing I would suggest is that the author have a built in audience. Without a built in fan base it is likely that anyone who is shopping the store will not think you are very interesting if nobody has shown up to see you. People think they are missing something if there is a crowd.

Another thing you should have is an engaging topic you plan on discussing. It is great to start by reading a passage from your book but the people who’ve traveled to see you want more. They want to know what the passage meant to you. Let them in on your secret thoughts that led you to write the book. Sharing this content will help the person have a deeper connection to you and your book. These people will sell your book for you.

The last and most important thing you should have is candy. People love chocolate and it may just sweeten the deal and encourage them to purchase your book.

If people would like to find out a bit more about you and your works where can they find you?

Twitter: Twitter.com/EricAyles

Facebook: Facebook.com/WhatAylesYou

LinkedIn: LinkedIn.com/in/WhatAylesYou

Website: WhatAylesYou.com

In your experience as an Assistant Store Manager for a large US bookstore, what advice do you give authors wanting their book on the shelves? Is it the same advice for both indie and traditionally published authors?

Indie:

The primary piece of advice I can give you is to make sure your book is returnable. The management and staff at a bookstore love literature and also love helping new authors get their book to people. With that said they are also running a business that they need to ensure is profitable. If the book is non-returnable then it is not likely the bookstore will be able to carry the book. Some independent bookstores may allow you to do a consignment where you sign an agreement that you will purchase back the books at retail cost.

To my knowledge Lightning Source is the only Print On Demand (POD) publisher who allows you to set up your book as returnable. Keep in mind that this option costs more for the author and there is no guarantee that you will recoup the cost if it doesn’t sell. The author typically has to pay the shipping or destruction cost.

Traditional:

More often authors who have gone the traditional method for publication typically have returnable books so my primary advice is different…

Get your book on Edelweiss.

This website allows publishers to put the book up for bookseller, reviewers, and other industry professionals to download for free. There are over 74,000 people in the bookselling industry who have accounts on this site. These are the people who can and will be the champion of your book. If they like your book they will order it into their store and handsell it to your readers. Partnering this with a well defined social media strategy and you have a great chance of success.

Can you give us an anecdotal story about an author who’s come in to your store? Maybe they were a great example of what to do right – or wrong.

Hmm…That’s a hard one too.

I would prefer not to conjure up the thoughts of failed book signings and although Ronda Rousey and Greg Gutfeld come to mind, I think a more pertinent example would be Andrew Welsh-Do you reviewHuggins. He is a local author of the book Slow Burn and has done a few signings at my prior store. With a Twitter following of only 3,000 he can always pack the store with people. He is brilliant at marketing himself and relating to his followers. When you talk to him you can tell he genuinely appreciates his fans and enjoys connecting with them. This is why I have witnessed him have a successful signing on a Tuesday and do equally well at the Ohiana writer’s festival on Saturday even though it is just a few miles away.

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions! I’m glad to have gotten the opportunity to connect!

My best wishes for all your endeavors Eric! Katherine

It is my pleasure to introduce you all to Catherine Armstrong, author of the Historical Fiction novel The Edge of Nowhere.

So tell us Catherine, is this a first novel for you or have you written others?

The Edge of Nowhere is not only my first, but my first strong attempt at fiction. Though I’ve written for years, I wasn’t sure I had the imagination to write fiction. And then this story got stuck in my head and wouldn’t leave. Since then, I’ve written a YA novel and have started three other novels that are in various stages of completion.

C.H.ArmstrongI’ve always found Historical fiction fascinating. My favourite title in this genre is The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill. Did you find that writing a fiction book that stayed true to historical events difficult? How did you do most of your research?

LOVE that book! In the United States, it’s sold under the title of Someone Knows My Name! But to answer your question, staying true to the historical events depicted in The Edge of Nowhere was fairly easy for me for two reasons: First, because the Dust Bowl lasted a full ten years, so there was a fluidity of timeline to work with. Second, because I grew up on the stories of hardships from this era. While it’s a work of fiction, The Edge of Nowhere was actually inspired by my own family’s struggles during this time, so I grew up hearing about the poverty and sacrifices. As a result many of the events depicted actually happened either to someone in my own family, or to another. I think the fun thing for readers will be trying to discover which elements of the story are fact-based, and which are a product of my imagination. And, frankly, some of the answers may surprise them.

Your book cover is very nice. Can you tell us a bit about who designed it and why you chose those images?

Thank you – I admit that I’m really happy with it! The cover was designed by Steven Novak, of Novak Illustration, and was a combined effort of the design artist, my publisher and myself. The inspiration, though, definitely came from the artist. The two things I love best about it are the background and the woman. If you’ll notice, behind the woman on the front cover is a background image that depicts the devastation of the era. Everything you see is a landscape covered several feet deep in dust and dirt, which is very true to the history of the era. The dust storms would sweep in and cover everything in dirt, much like a Minnesota snowstorm buries the landscape in snow. It was very similar, and that’s really what the main character does – constantly. As soon as Victoria overcomes one battle, she has to gear up for another. I love that we were able to find an image of a woman whose entire demeanor says, “Give me a second to regroup, then come at me! I dare you!” Incidentally, the main character was loosely based on my own grandmother, and I guarantee that’s exactly what she would’ve said: “Come at me – I dare you!” She was a strong woman who backed down for nobody.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Website: www.charmstrongbooks.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/catherinehedrickarmstrong
Twitter: @C_H_Armstrong
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/charmstrongbooks

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/ch_armstrong/

Amazon Author Page: Coming soon
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/+CHArmstrongbooks/posts

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14251172.C_H_Armstrong

Did you always dream of becoming a writer? How you pursued other careers in the past?

Yes. I’ve always written because it’s always been the one thing I felt accomplished at doing. With that said, though, I always thought my first book would be a work of non-fiction because, until recently, it was what I mostly wrote.

I have a degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and have almost always pursued jobs related to writing. I’ve been fortunate to stay home to raise my children these last 19 years, but I’ve used that time writing for non-profits and charities, and most recently for a local magazine.

Give us a quick synopsis on your upcoming novel The Edge of Nowhere.

The Edge of Nowhere is based during the 1930s Oklahoma Dust Bowl and tells the story of a young woman’s struggle – first as an orphan and then after the death of her husband. The Dust Bowl and The Great Depression have just begun to gear up when Victoria’s husband dies, leaving her with a farm that cannot produce, a mortgage she cannot pay, and nine children she cannot feed. To provide for her family, she does (arguably) reprehensible acts in order to secure the basic necessities for her family. It really begs the question, “Is there anything at all a parent won’t do to provide for her children?”

While it’s not a “romance,” it’s definitely a love story. It’s the story of Victoria’s love for her deceased husband and their children and, in return, their children’s love for each other.

As a writer myself, I think about this all the time. If your book ever became a TV show or movie, who would you cast as the main characters?

I think Deborah Ann Woll would be perfect for the role of Victoria. She not only looks the part (height and stature), but I think she has the acting chops to go from a somewhat naïve young woman to a kick-butt, get-out-of-my way, leading character.

I haven’t given a lot of thought to who would be good as the peripheral characters.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned so far in publishing a book?

I’m surprised at how incredibly fun it is! My publisher, Penner Publishing, has made nearly every step of the process fun. Sure, it’s a lot of work, but the pure fun is not something I expected. That, and the friendships – I’ve made some incredible friends along the way with other authors going through this same process alongside me.

Is The Edge of Nowhere written as a series? Can you tell us what your working on next?

No – it’s completely stand-alone. With that said, I enjoyed writing about the era and may return someday to tell the stories of some of Victoria’s children. Currently, though, I’m in the process of searching for an agent for a Young Adult novel I recently wrote about a homeless family. It’s a piece I’m really proud of and I hope to find a home for it soon. Beyond that, I have a couple of other manuscripts in the works, but none are really far enough to give much information on them.

One last question . . . Tell us a bit about the person you feel supported you most in your writing career.

I wish I could name only one person. At the top of my list is my husband and children, who have been so incredibly patient while I ignored literally everything around me to get this book in the hands of readers. Beyond that, I’ve had no end of support from my extended family and my “Facebook Family,” as well as many residents in the town of El Reno, Oklahoma (where this novel is set) who have been with me and encouraged me every single step of the way throughout this process.

Banner6-1

I’m pleased to introduce to you all, Ben Starling; a lover of marine conservation, a skilled athlete is the sport of boxing, and an author with a just released short story.

Ben, can you tell us a bit about your new short story? Are there any themes of boxing and marine conservation in this tale?

Thank you for interviewing me, Katherine. My short story Something in the Air has just been released on Kindle. While it’s true that there’s boxing and a marine theme in my upcoming novel that will be released in 2016, in this new short love story, the focus is on a returning soldier, a veterinarian and an urban environmental concern.

Here’s the blurb:SITA FINAL COVER - KINDLE LO OCT
Daniel thought war was tough. That was till he fell in love.
What if it’s true that you can never really go home? Returning from a soul-crushing war, Daniel Dragan is determined to put the past behind him. But with his beloved uncle dead and the town’s economy in a slump, there may not be much to keep him in San Prospero, California.
That is till he is startled by veterinarian Willow Dixon at the roadside lookout above their hometown’s new factory. A desperately needed job offer there may offer Daniel the chance he needs – but all is not as it seems at the factory and Willow, determined to save the inhabitants of her animal sanctuary, wants the factory’s operations stopped. Sometimes the road home is neither the one we expect. Nor the one we left behind…
You can find it on Kindle at http://bit.ly/ampgdell

Are you choosing to self-publish, or is this book being published by a traditional publishing house? Why did you choose to go this route?

I am looking forward this Autumn to indie launches of several short stories set in the same world as my upcoming novel. This novel is also a love story – and an indie launch as well.

Independent publishing is one of the most exciting changes happening in any industry these days and is largely an online phenomenon. It’s morphing at lightning speed and no one knows what will happen next. It’s fascinating – and a fun challenge!

And one of the nicest things about online publishing is the interactive component – reading and writing have become a two-way street as readers and writers reach out to each other over the internet and around the world. Traditionally, writing was a very lonely occupation. It’s a great time to be a writer!
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
I can be reached at www.ben-starling.com and at all of these social networks – I look forward to connecting with you.

 Twitter  Facebook  Twitter  Goodreads Facebook Pinterest Instagram Google+ Tumblr YouTube Bloglovin Email Email

From what I’ve read about you online it sounds as though you’ve lived a very interesting life. Tell us a bit about your passions, other than writing.

Well, of course, I love boxing. People tend to think of it as a bit of a brutal sport, but I enjoy it for the technique and the strategy of the game. If you can include strategy in your plan – defensive parries, counters to your opponent’s every move, footwork that is active rather than reactive… it opens up a lot of possibilities. I retired from competition a few years ago and now lift weights, swim and hike to keep fit.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’m a freelance editor, working on business plans, articles published in specialist magazines and some fiction. After so many years of working on other people’s stories, it felt like the right time to create an original one of my own.

Do you have any advice for people just starting out writing?

If you haven’t already, read The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. Also any creative writing book by James N Frey is a good investment. Read them all. He is one of the best teachers of structure I’ve come across.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book(s)?

That’s a difficult question. What I wanted to achieve was to touch the reader across a range of major emotions: love, despair, excitement, humor, hope, acceptance…to name a few, while also being unpredictable. Twists and turns. Pain and joy.

I suppose what surprised me most was that all the spreadsheets, post-it notes and brain-storming sessions my long-suffering editor insisted upon have produced a novel that I’m very happy with. Spreadsheets for creativity? It sounded crazy. The tunnel was long and dark but I got there in the end! Just about sane.

I love to ask this question! If your book were turned in to a TV show or movie, whom would you cast as the main characters?

Ah, I’d love to see the charismatic Anne Hathaway as the heroine! The hero would be Chris Hemsworth. Or Channing Tatum. Either would be fantastic.

Are there any authors out there that inspire you? What is it about them or their work that helps drive you to write?

Maeve Binchy. Great structure. Great style. I read her work first just for the joy of it, but there is also so much to learn from her. She is one of the master storytellers of our time.

BEN blue_actors headshot sq_AUG2015Is there any thing else you’d like to add?

Something in the Air is the first short story (others coming soon!) in a series. You can find it on Kindle at http://bit.ly/ampgdell

Something in the Water, a novel, continues the journey in this series and will be released on January 21, 2016.

If you’d like to stay in touch and be notified of other new releases, please visit: www.ben-starling.com/contact

Thanks for interviewing me, Katherine. I look forward to reading your work too.

Short Bio: Ben Starling is passionate about marine conservation and boxing, both central themes in his upcoming novel. He is Oxford’s only ever Quintuple Blue (varsity champion five years running), was Captain of the university boxing team, and coached and boxed competitively. Ben graduated from Oxford University with a Master of Arts and an M Phil. He was born in the USA but has lived in the UK since childhood.

 

Let me introduce you all to Gordon Wilson, a resident of Mason, Michigan, an independent author, and real person I met on Twitter. So far, Gordon has published one book titled Firetok. Can you tell us a bit about Firetok and what inspired you to write this book?

Firetok is about a person who has really lived a rough life in part due to his ability to see things and events outside of the norm. He fights his abilities, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a destructive relationship and bad decisions. Eventually he finds himself in situations which suddenly make sense of his unacceptable abilities. The discovery leads to a rebirth of self with the help of a somewhat mysterious man and a dog. So the story has what may be considered supernatural elements. To me it is more about discovery of self and a conscious rebirth or awakening outside of societal norms.

The inspiration well, I don’t know if I should admit this but I firmly believe there is more to life than meets the eye. I see things all the time which make me think, I wish I could do something about that. I wish I could right that wrong, take matters into my own hands. While writing Firetok I did just that. Call me a virtual vigilante.

Reading some of your recent blog posts, I see attempts to coin a new genre, Inspirational Horror? Tell us a little about what inspirational horror is, and what draws you to this type of genre?

Inspirational HorrorI started reading articles and interviews while trying to understand genres in general. You are right, I have discussed it in detail in my posts. I was really puzzled to learn how in most circumstances a supernatural element in a story will get you classified in the horror genre. This was a huge surprise. I thought of horror as chainsaw massacre, hockey mask kind of stuff. It has become so much more. So to boil it down, Firetok was this inspirational tale of people really coming out on the other side of situations which were quite awful. The supernatural elements and the dark subject matter push it toward horror, yet the overall message is that of hope, perseverance and positive change. Inspiration. Horror. Inspirational Horror. I searched around and found virtually no instances of it so I jokingly coined the phrase in one of my articles.

What have you found to be the most difficult about writing?

It’s not the writing at all. It is everything else around it. I can write all day if I have the time. It’s promotion. I am not a self-promoter, while I can promote someone else without limit. I have never been comfortable bringing attention to myself. It’s the whole “getting published” thing. The whole “query” thing. The list of things I don’t even know I don’t know yet. What I have found in the process of trying to learn how to write is that you don’t just write a book. Writing is merely the tip of the iceberg, trying to figure out what to do next is where it gets difficult.

From what I’ve read online, I can’t tell if you write full time or not. If not, what do you do? Do you have future hopes of writing full time?

I do not write full time. I have spent nearly my entire adulthood in the construction industry and only in the last couple years have moved over to the music business. It took a couple years of working pretty long hours and writing in the cracks between to put Firetok together. Writing full time has been a dream but I will admit it is a passion thing with me. At this time I cannot even imagine how that would work. Don’t get me wrong, I am open to the concept. In the meantime I spend my days helping my wife run the School of Rock in Ann Arbor Michigan, a dream job in itself.

cowboy

I see that you’ve posted many new blog posts lately. Are you ramping up your following for a new project you’re working on? Or going hard promoting your current book and writer interests.

None of the above. Firetok is something I did years ago. I am not actually promoting it at all. I read through it now and see everything I could do better. I felt I needed to learn more about all the other stuff I mentioned before I move forward with another book. Hopefully I have learned and evolved quite a bit as a person and writer since that time and my current work will reflect it. My blog is really a notebook of topics I have studied, researched or read during the process of exploration. I have had personal experiences as well as many things I have learned which make it into the blog. My wife and I have a two hour commute to work each day we typically talk the entire way. Many, many times my blog posts are essentially notes from these conversations. One day we were talking about figuring out Twitter and how to use it. I put it out as a blog post and people went nuts for it. So I was never really trying to do anything with my blog until I discovered people wanting to read it. Now I am promoting the blog itself and have been overwhelmed with the response and support I have received. So to be honest I am promoting my own education and sharing the fruits. Building a following, that sounds like a great idea.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Website/Blog : http://www.firetok.com/

Medium: https://medium.com/@gordona_wilson
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Firetok

Twitter: @gordona_wilson
Lnkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/GordonWilsonA
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/GordonAWilson/
Amazon Author Page: https://www. amazon.com/author/gordonawilson

Instagram: https://instagram.com/gordona.wilson/
Book Links: http://www.amazon.com/Firetok-Gordon-A-Wilson/dp/1478334800
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/GordonAWilson

You strike me as a person that not only likes to write, but read too. Name a few of your favourite authors or books, and what strikes you about their work.

I read all the time. Lately I have been devouring articles on writing itself and genre while I figure out where I fit in it all. I do love Mark Twain. The dialect and old style way his stories read to me now, really take me away. When I was younger I read about every Stephen King book I could get my hands on. I am looking forward to the release of your book.

Tell us a bit about your book cover? Who designed it? Why did you go with that image?

I did the cover art myself. The font was something I actually painted on paper then digitized to get it where I wanted it. Firetok is a giant Great Pyrenees dog which is what you see as the base image. I wanted it to be surreal except for his eyes which I believe I achieved. There are some scenes in the book where he gets involved in some gruesome action which involves blood. I felt the overall image of the book cover reflects contradictions I was trying to do with the story. The dog looks happy and harmless yet it kind of looks like he could be covered in blood? You get the idea, and like I said earlier, there is more to life than meets the eye.

Other than writing, do you have any other unique talents or hobbies?

I would not say unique. My recent changes in lifestyle have allowed me to get back into music in a way I never thought I would. I play guitar and sing with a group of other guys my age and actually work a lot with kids where I have been able to help them achieve their goals. It is not unique but definitely rewarding. I love horses and dogs and try to be around one or the other of them as often as possible.

 

Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview Gordon. Best of luck to your in life, and in your writing.

 

 

The Storyteller’s Daughter was your first published novel. Tell us a bit about this story and what inspired you to write it.

The novel tells the story of a teenage girl named Skye MacNamara who learns that the parents she has always known are changelings, that she herself is descended from a line of seannachies (the ancient storytellers of the Scottish Highlanders who have been said to have almost mystical abilities), and that her real mother has been trapped in a story for the past 15 years. Skye’s task is to try to rescue her mother, which she can only do by learning what it means to be a seannachie.

I began writing The Storyteller’s Daughter while I was finishing up my Ph.D. dissertation, which has a strong focus on memory and how our identity is made up of stories—stories that we tell, stories that we have been told, stories that we find in the world around us. One of the novels that I studied was Alistair MacLeod’s No Great Mischief. There is a single line in the novel where MacLeod refers to seannachies. I’d never heard of them before, and I was riveted by his description of the way “they would ‘remember’ events from a Scotland which they had never seen, or see our futures in the shadows of the flickering flames”. That single line inspired a chapter in my dissertation, but it also inspired my novel. I had the good fortune to live in Scotland for a few years while I did my degree; those experiences combined with my childhood in the prairies to create the setting and background for my story.

Are you currently working on any new projects?

I am currently in the process of turning my dissertation into a book, which will be published by McFarland. The book will look at representations of memory and identity in the works of four Canadian authors: Alistair MacLeod, Michael Ondaatje, Jane Urquhart, and Margaret Atwood.

I’m also working on a sequel to The Storyteller’s Daughter: Where the Story Begins. It picks up just after the last novel ends, and finds Skye and her friends facing new conflict as a consequence of some loose ends that were left at the end of their last adventure. It’s given me an excuse to delve even deeper into Celtic and Gaelic mythology, and helps let off a little steam after a day of immersion in critical theory!

When you were a kid, did you dream of being a writer?

I have always thought of myself as a writer. Even when I’m not working on stories or essays, I always have a pen near at hand. I have written dozens of journals, tons of poetry (bad), and zillions of skits and anecdotal stories that are intended to point out the absurdity of my daily life. I have always dreamed of being a self-sustaining writer, but I’m also teacher. I love teaching students how to express themselves, how to articulate their thoughts more effectively, and to appreciate the power of stories and narrative. Teaching and writing go hand-in-hand for me; I wouldn’t want (or even be able) to give up either.Cover

Do you have any advice for new writers thinking of publishing a book?

Hmmm… I’m still looking for advice in this department myself. But from what I’ve gathered, I’d recommend that new writers start by reading as much as you can about publishing, both traditionally and independently. Make contacts—through blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, all those kinds of social media. There is a lot of really helpful information, and a lot of authors who are willing to share their experiences. The other thing I’d recommend is to take a deep breath and slow down—don’t rush into anything. Take your time, especially if you want to make writing and publishing a regular thing!

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Website: www.sharondawnselby.com
Blog: https://sharonselby.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thestorytellersdaughter
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sharondawnselby
Lnkedin: https://ca.linkedin.com/pub/sharon-selby/32/3a5/859
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00LFJDTDA
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8367008.Sharon_Selby

Who is your favourite author and what strikes you about their work?

This is a tricky question. I love Terry Pratchett’s work: his novels are incredibly clever, hilarious, poignant. His characterisations of Sam Vimes and Granny Weatherwax resonate very strongly with me. I love Death, too. There is always something for me, whatever the mood or situation, in his pages. I’ve read all of his novels dozens of times. If I could write satire, I would aspire to write it like his.

Of course, I love a lot of authors and have had dozens of favourites over the years. My recommended reading list for anyone who makes the mistake of asking is huge. But Pratchett is my go-to guy when I’m reading just for me.

Celtic Tarot CardsTell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

My cover art was done by the incredibly talented Vanessa Kalyn. She read my book and came up with a number of different possible images. I chose the image of the three girls for the cover because I love the way she captured each girl’s personality so clearly yet so simply, and I feel like there’s a strong sense of the dynamic between them. Vanessa’s artistic style is incredibly unique, and the image just pops. It’s so different from every other cover I’ve seen. I still remember the first time I saw it—I couldn’t stop smiling!

Other than writing, do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

Reading and writing seem to occupy a lot of my time. However, I love to swim (I was a lifeguard for years), and I want to start camping again. I used to do a fair bit of that kind of thing, but haven’t for years. I also love to do things with my hands—a friend of mine taught me to do beadwork, and I LOVE that. I like to draw as well (though I’m not very good at it), and would love to learn to paint but I just don’t understand colour.

Give us a memorable quote from your book meant to intrigue and tantalize us.

I took a step closer then stopped, undecided. She was a lonely, eccentric old woman who’d known me all my life. My parents had trusted her. I trusted her. Part of my brain was prepared to follow her, but the rest of my brain was gibbering unintelligibly in all-out panic. Everything she said sounded right, but it all felt wrong. I knew how a mouse that has wandered across the path of a ferret must feel. At that moment, I didn’t care if I never saw any of my stuff ever again. All I wanted was to get out of there, alive and with all my usual bits still attached.

“I just remembered something…” I mumbled. Then instinct took over and I turned and ran for it.

As I dashed from the steps back to my car, I was certain that I felt her breath on my neck. I fumbled with the door handle on the passenger’s side and scrambled into the car, slammed the door, hit the locks and scrambled across to the driver’s side. Only then did I look back, and I half expected to see Mrs. Schnout pulling a full-on Cujo, slavering and crashing into the door behind me. Instead, she was still standing in front of her open door, hunched and squinting, watching me.

What other books are similar to your own? What makes them similar to your own?

Books that blur the line between reality and fiction have a lot in common with mine—you know, the idea that there is a huge part of the world that we know nothing about where amazing things are happening but we don’t realize it because we aren’t looking for it. Stories that bring gods and mythical creatures into this world, and focus on a heroine who is stubborn and independent but also vulnerable in a variety of ways, like Nicole Peeler’s Jane True stories (though her stories are way sexier than mine!). My narrative tends to focus on adventure and challenges to the individual, rather than on romance, which makes it a bit different from a lot of stories.

Bertram

 

 

A fellow Canadian writer! Nice to meet you! Through some of the chatting we’ve, you’ve told me that your book is not yet published. Can you tell me a bit about this project your working on?

The current manuscript is a YA thriller called Pretty Wicked. It’s about Ryann Wilkanson, a fifteen-year-old serial killer living in a small town in Colorado. Her father is one of the town’s police officers. Ryann uses him, his fellow officers, and her experience at the police station to study how to get away with murder. Even as a small child, Ryann knew she was different. Instead of concerning herself with toys and games, she was secretly studying infamous serial killers who she refers to as The Greats. The story is told in first person by Ryann, as she plots murder, incites chaos, and tries to thwart the cops in her small town Dungrave.

I have two complete novels, and am currently working on a third book as well.

Are you thinking of self-publishing or traditional publishing to get your book out there, and why?

I’m currently querying agents, but am not opposed to self-publishing. It’s a great option for authors. The publishing industry can be very tough and it’s nice to know that writer’s have more options to get their work out. Ideally, I would like to be a hybrid author. It seems to be a nice mix of both avenues.

Do you write full time or have a job as well?

I have a part-time job as an Educational Assistant. Before that I worked as a Youth Outreach Worker in the Vancouver area. Both are excellent fodder for stories about teens. I have the ability to test out ideas on potential readers and get direct feedback, which has been extremely helpful.

Do you find that things in your daily life find their way in to your novel?

Of course. I don’t see how they couldn’t. The subconscious is a powerful thing and even when I don’t knowingly use things from my life in a novel, I’ll catch something later when I’m editing. If something I’ve experienced fits and will enhance my story, I have no problem putting those details into a book. Characteristics and certain nuances of people I’ve met and places I’ve been definitely influence my work.

Are you reading anything right now? How is it?

I’ve been going through a lot of friend’s manuscripts right now as they are also querying. The last published novel I really loved was by E.E. Cooper. It’s a YA suspense called Vanished. It was really well written and fun. The book is dark and twisty, but contrasts nicely with flecks of humor.

I commend you for starting your author platform before your book is finished. What social medias can people discover more about you and your work?

I am on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. I am in the midst of building my website www.kellycharron.com, which will be up and running this week.

Facebook author page-
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kelly-Charron/462957423875068

Twitter-
https://twitter.com/KellyMCharron

Goodreads-
https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/21131117-kelly

I love to ask this question. If your book became a TV show or movie, who would you cast to play the main characters of your book?

Nicola Peltz is the perfect Ryann. She stars in Bates Motel as the beautiful but troubled Bradley Martin. I actually wrote Ryann with her in mind. Interestingly enough the role of her nemesis, Sergeant Estevez, also stars on Bates as Sheriff Alex Romero, played by the talented Nestor Carbonell. Stephen Moyer from True Blood could easily play her dad, Detective David Wilkanson. Ryann has too many friends for this game, but I would say that Austin Butler from the Carrie Diaries would be a great Lucas.

Did you always dream of being a writer?

It has been a dream for many years. I used to carry blank notebooks and fancy pens around and pretend I was a famous journalist and interview my family members when I was six and seven years old. I wrote a few stories, complete with illustrations, around nine and ten year old. But, I didn’t give it serious consideration until my mid-twenties. I was too insecure and overwhelmed to write, so I read every Writer’s Digest and Craft book on writing that I could get my hands on for a few years before I wrote my first book.

What’s been one of the most surprising things you’ve learned writing and trying to get your book published?

That writing is mostly rewriting and editing, and that you often need another set of eyes to help see things that you are no longer capable of finding in your own work. On the publishing side, I was surprised to learn that most authors write an average of 6-10 books before they get picked up by an agent and publish their first novel. I also discovered that there is no such thing as security in publishing. I was under the misconception that once you were published with one book, you had an ongoing contract with that house. I’ve learned since that it is often a succession of different contracts and that you can be essentially let go at any time. I have read about a few authors who were released mid series. It’s a scary thought, but I love writing too much to let any setbacks inhibit me. If I had, I guess I wouldn’t still be querying my second novel. You just have to be open to the stages of publication and learn what you can in each.

Do you have a favorite author? What strikes you about their work?

Successful published friends aside J, I love Anne Rice, Stephen King, Nova Ren Suma, and Maggie Stiefvater. Wait that was four. There are too many amazing authors. What stands out most about Rice and King is how prolific they are, but more than that is their ability to write widely across genres. Each of the mentioned authors take risks in their work. They choose subjects and ideas that are at times controversial and they tell their stories through narrators or points of view that aren’t always likeable or conventional. These are the most interesting stories to me.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you for asking me (a yet to be published author) to be a guest on your blog Katherine! You’re so lovely, and I had a blast.

 

 

Let me first say, I’m honored to have the opportunity to interview such an accomplished author such as you. You’ve published twenty-five books to date in genres such as Mystery, Memoir, Historical Fiction, and Biography. You actively make author appearances and teach at Michigan State University as a guest assistant professor on the subjects of writing, popular literature, and Jewish-America literature. You have dozens of published essays, articles, and stories in an array of publications. I could write a book filled solely with your accolades. So, once again, thank you for taking the time chat with me and share your experiences with those who read this.

Thanks for inviting me!

Out of your twenty-five published books, do you have a favorite? Having looked at your many titles this could prove to be a difficult question. Perhaps tells us about your favorite fiction, and non-fiction books you’ve written.

That’s always a tough question, but I think I’ll stick with just one if that’s okay: no. 19, My Germany is a favorite for many reasons. It combines mystery, memoir and history so it represents my writing and publishing across genres. Then it’s a book that challenged me a lot because I wasn’t sure for a long time how to structure it, and it actually was a number of different books before it found its final form. I also have intense memories of doing research for it in Belgium and Germany.My Germany

Beyond that, it’s put more miles on me than any other books of mine in terms of book tours, including two sponsored by the U.S State Department that took me across Germany. And I even learned German so that I could travel intelligently there and eventually do some of my readings from the German translation—and that was mind-blowing! The book changed me in many ways, both in writing it and afterwards, and I met lots of fascinating people including my German BFF who’s promised she would meet me in any city in Europe when I visit. Last time it was London.

Finally, as the son of Holocaust survivors, I never expected to go to Germany or write a book about it. A long answer, but it’s a layered book. 

Are you working on any new projects? Can you tell us about them?

I have at least half a dozen books in different genres started, which means I’ve got anywhere from a page or a vague outline to as much as 40 pages written, and some involve working through a shelve of research books before I start writing–but I’m taking a break right now because I’m a little burned out. Writing my suspense novel Assault With a Deadly Lie was tough. It’s about police militarization and it demanded something new from me. I’d been writing mysteries with these characters but I had to kick everything up a few notches from “Whodunit?” to “OMG–What the hell is going to happen next?” That demanded lots of planning and writing at a higher pitch. I also had to do new kinds of research about guns and go to a shooting range and go shooting with friends who are well-trained in firearms.Assault with a Deadly Lie

I’d ask if you have any advise for new writers starting out, but see you’ve written whole books on the subject. What’s one insight you’d like to pass on to the next generation of writers?

Be patient with yourself, and that covers a lot of territory. Take the time to learn your craft and learn the business and don’t be overwhelmed by other people’s success or envy or the latest publishing noise. We all have our own paths and some of them are wonkier than others. Learning your craft also means being as well-read as possible in any genre you choose to make your home. When you write, you’re joining a community of writers, and most of them are no longer living—don’t discount writers who aren’t contemporary, they might have a lot to teach you.

Are all your books self-published? Or did you go with traditional publishing houses on some? Would you recommend your method of publishing to others?

Most of my books are traditionally published, ranging from huge presses like Doubleday to boutique presses like Leapfrog. But the choices are wide open for everyone starting out now and there are so many guides to publishing, I think writers need to do research as to what the best plan would be for their specific project—for instance is it a hot enough property and do they have a platform that might interest an agent (in which case try agentquery.com). Every book is different, every writer is different, nothing is predictable.

I read that you have a background in theater. Can you tell us a bit about your experiences?

I double majored in English and Theater in college for a while and it helped me get over some shyness (even though I’m an extrovert). Acting in a wide variety of plays was tremendous preparation for all the hundreds of talks and readings I would end up doing down the road once my work started getting published and recognized. Here’s where patience is part of the arsenal. You can’t do a good reading unless you practice, you’re prepared, you choose your excerpt wisely, and you treat the event as what it is: a performance. Too many authors don’t take readings seriously enough. I love doing readings, and enjoy teaching people in workshops how to do them.

Have you ever been approached to have any of your stories made in to a movie or TV show? Choose one of your fiction books and tell us who you’d cast as the main characters.

The Germay MoneyOh yes. I’ve had my work optioned and had people try to do plays from some of my stories and a movie from one of my books. Luckily nothing happened because the final results would have been, well, disappointing. The German Money is an intimate family drama about the children of a Holocaust survivor arguing once she’s died. Set mostly on the Upper West Side, it would be a perfect indie film and I’d cast Mark Ruffalo as the screwed-up brother, Laura Linney as the cold sister, Jason Isaacs as the older brother escaping his past, Carla Gugino as the woman he left behind, and Olympia Dukakis as the elderly neighbor.

Name a book you’ve read that you found notable. What about it grabbed your interest?

Here are some very recent reads. Midnight’s Furies is about the partition of India into India and Pakistan and gives you a rich history of that terrible, chaotic time, going much deeper than what most of us know. The French Intifada explore the dark history of France’s colonial rule in North fracas and helps explain what’s happening in France today with its Muslim population. Sinclair Lewis’s Kingsblood Royal is from the 1940s but it’s a surprisingly contemporary-feeling portrait of white racism in the north in the story of a man who discovers he’s actually black and his family has hidden this from him. The Blue Hour is an amazing biography of one of my favorite novelists Jean Rhys. All four books told great stories and were very well written—two absolute requirements for me no matter what I read. Oh, I also finally read Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd, the only major novel of his I missed back in the day and was surprised at how funny it was, and how beautiful.

Other than writing, do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

I’m good at languages, speak French and German, picked up Flemish and Italian when I needed to, and am currently studying Swedish. I’m also taking voice lessons for the first time and my teacher says I have “a nice middle range” for a baritone.

How can readers find out more about you and you work?

Website: http://www.levraphael.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/levraphael

Twitter: @LevRaphael

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Lev-Raphael/e/B000AQ07HK

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/lev-raphael/72/759/ab8

Readers can always contact me via my web site.

Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. It was a pleasure chatting with.

Katherine Dell