Author Interview – E.P. Stavs

Author of the Shendri Series

Joining me today is the American author E.P. Stavs, Author of the YA fantasy Shendri series. The third installment of which will be released on March 16th. She also has a Bluebeard retelling that will be included in the charitable anthology “Villainous”, coming out March 29th.

Welcome Erin, I am a fan of your Shendri series; I thoroughly enjoyed Book One: The Marked Princess, (you can find my book review here,) and I am looking forward to reading the second book: The Searching Songbird. News that number three The Unclaimed Wolf is releasing soon is so exciting. To start us off please tell us about your the Shendri series.

Erin: The Shendri Series is a fast-paced, young adult fantasy series that follows the adventures of four young women bearing the mark of the Shendri. While there’s an over-arcing storyline to the series that ties the four books together, each heroine is given her own, unique story (and romance) as the journey progresses.

Helen: I must admit it is an enjoyable read, and I love the covers, such vibrant colours. With four heroines to choose from, do you have a favourite character?

Erin: I have a couple of favourites, really. Josselyn, the hellcat Shendri and MC of “The Marked Princess” is pretty special to me, partly because she’s the character who put the entire series in motion. Before I knew anything else about the series, I knew it would have her. Aside from sentimental reasons, I also love her strength and sarcastic, don’t-mess-me nature. She was a lot of fun to write. One of my other favourites is Maya, who readers will meet in Book 3, “The Unclaimed Wolf”. She’s just so unique and awesome and I love her.

Helen: Writing feisty characters must be great fun. Tell us a little about your work in progress, you have few projects on the go, haven’t you?

Erin: As I recently finished the first draft of the series’ finale, I’ve put that aside for a while to rest and gotten back into a novella I’ve been working on for a while. While I can’t say too much about it yet, I will say that it’s pretty different from my previous work. The setting is modern day Seattle, there’s zero fantasy or magical creatures, and some of the language is a bit stronger than my usual YA novels (Although, I’m still not into writing sex scenes. I’ll leave those for everyone else, heh.)But, it does carry my signature flow and pacing, so I’m hoping fans of The Shendri will enjoy this , as well. And if not, at least I’m having fun writing it!

Helen: That is so amazing. I think switching genre is very brave. How do you come up with the ideas for your books?

Erin: Music, usually. I love to lie in the dark with a steady flow of music in my ears and just feel the stories and characters as they flow through me. It’s also my go-to method for dealing with writer’s block.

Helen: It’s great you have a technique to combat writer’s block. Aspiring authors take note! You are also a great reader aren’t you? What have you read recently?

Erin: So, anyone who follows me on Twitter (@estavs) or Instagram (@e.p.stavs) probably knows what a huge book nerd I am, and since joining the Writing Community last April, I’ve read and reviewed approximately 60 indie books. Many of which I’ve recently started featuring on my Instagram site. Some recent favourites include Eva Alton’s “Witch’s Mirror”, Carol Beth Anderson’s “The Vine Eater”, Anya Pavelle’s “The Garden of Stone Houses”, Allison Martine’s “Move on, Melinda”, and, most recently, T.M.Kohl’s “The Warriors of Bhrea: The Lost King”. But these are only a handful of the many awesome books I’ve read this year alone. So much talent!

Helen: I agree, we are fortunate there are so many fantastic authors keeping us supplied with amazing books. Thank you so much for joining me today. It has been lovely chatting with you, just one last question, having read so much, who is your favourite author?

Erin: While it’s almost impossible to pick a favourite author (I mean, I’ve been reading since I was four…), the author who’s had the biggest impact on me is Melanie Cellier. I started reading her young adult, fairytale re-imaginings on Kindle Unlimited well before I’d gathered the motivation to finally write a novel of my own. I loved the way she wove bits of familiar tales into a fantastical world all of her own, with each story effortlessly flowing into the next. When I finally finished my first book and started thinking about which route to try – traditional or indie – I couldn’t help but look her up to see who she was published through. And then, to discover she was an indie author? It absolutely blew my mind and changed my perspective on self-publishing completely. Here was a woman with an extensive catalogue of beloved books, all of which had at least a few hundred reviews to their title, and she was indie! It was that realization that pushed me toward indie myself, and I’m so glad I did!

About E.P.Stavs:

Erin Stavrides grew up in various parts of Upstate New York, where she became a regular at the public libraries, checking out book upon book upon book. Not even bedtime could stop her from reading, thanks to a handy flashlight kept close by.

Erin married her husband, Michael, in the Fall of 2007, and the couple moved across country to Seattle, Washington soon after, where Erin worked as a math teacher. When baby girl number one came along, however, she decided she’d had more than enough teaching to last a lifetime and decided to be a stay-at-home mom, instead. Five years and two daughters later, she finally found the time and motivation to follow through on her ultimate dream – writing books of her very own.

When she’s not reading, writing, or mom-ing, Erin enjoys taking long walks with her headphones on, playing Age of Empires 3 with her husband, and taking that first sip of coffee in the morning. So good.

You can reach E.P.Stavs via social media on:

Twitter
Instagram

and purchase her book via Amazon:

The Marked Princess, Book One of the Shendri Series
Link to Paperback on: Amazon US | Amazon UK
Link to ebook on Amazon US | Amazon UK

The Searching Songbird Book Two of the Shendri Series:
Link to paperback on: Amazon US | Amazon UK
Link to ebook on: Amazon US | Amazon UK

The Unclaimed Wolf Book Three of the Shendri Series:
Link to ebook on: Amazon US | Amazon UK

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Author Interview – Sloane McClain

Author of Holding out for a Hunter

For today’s author interview I am joined by the American author Sloane McCain. Author of the Pendragon series and now the first book in the Hunter Chronicles Holding out for a Hunter.

Welcome Sloane. I am a fan of your Pendragon books so I am excited you branched out to tell us more about the Hunters. To start us off please tell us about your latest book.

Sloane: I just released my fourth book in January 2021 (earlier this month). It’s titled Holding Out For A Hunter, and is the first in The Hunter Chronicles series, a companion series to my Sons of Pendragon. This new series deals with Hunters. They’re Halflings, half-human, half-fairy. When they reach their late teens or early twenties, they develop their powers. They use them to fight evil and capture creatures bent on mayhem and destruction that have been sent by the Dark Fairy. The Good Fairy pay them very well for their help.

While Sons of Pendragon will be limited to seven books (unless I go into the next generation), the Hunter Chronicles can have as many books as I can think up ideas for.

Helen: I must admit I couldn’t put it down. I love your characters and the world you’ve created. Tell us about the genre you write and why.

Sloane: I write romances with strong fantasy and paranormal overtones. It’s my favorite genre to read (though I read medieval, Scottish, Regency, and contemporary books) because I love the HEA—Happily Ever After endings. When the world is crazy, I want something that doesn’t give me any nasty surprises at the end. I like being assured that no matter how rocky the road, the end is going to be a good one.

Helen: And your characters are so lovely, certainly not perfect, as you’ll find out in Holding out for a Hunter. Max’s idea of being romantic just made me laugh. How do you come up with the ideas for your books?

Sloane: Nearly everything has the potential to give me a story idea. A photograph or painting. Songs. A conversation. So many things. Anything that makes me think, ‘what if?’ Sons of Pendragon came out of my love for King Arthur and wishing he’d at least had children. The Hunter Chronicles sometimes come from the song that I use for the titles. Like Holding Out For A Hunter. The sequel, which I hope to release in March, is titled I Belong To The Hunter, a play on the Caro Emerald song, I Belong To You. In that instance, the song didn’t inspire the story, but it seemed to fit the story.

Helen: I can’t wait for I Belong to a Hunter, but I hope there is Pendragon book number 4 coming soon! You can find my book review of Book One Dragon’s Grace here. Do you you find you plan out your books or do they just flow naturally?

Sloane: I’m definitely a panster. I’ve tried outlining a couple of times, but my characters laughed at the attempt and went in their own direction. For me, writing is like watching this moving play out in my head and trying to write down what’s happening as quickly as I can. Luckily for me, I seem to be able to hit the pause button when I have to stop for work or to let my dogs in or out.

Helen: There seems to be two camps about whether silence is golden while working. I’m a fan of listening to music when I write (or edit!). Do you like to listen to music while you work?

Sloane: Yes, I often listen to music while I write. I have a station I’ve made on Pandora called Straight No Chaser. It plays music by them as well as other groups that I like:  Michael Bublé, Pentatonix, Imagine Dragons, Celtic Thunder & Celtic Women, American Authors, Secret Garden, and several others. I have rather eclectic taste in music.

Helen: It’s what works that is important and music can be just as inspiring as the written word. Tell us, do you have a favourite character from your books?

Sloane: My favorite character is a recurring secondary character named Stiabhan Iorworth. He’s full-blooded Sidhe. In human terms he’s around thirty to thirty-five. Though several centuries removed, he’s an uncle to many Hunters. He has recently begun to take an interest in their lives, coming to help them in their battles. He loves a good fight. He’s learning idioms and slang, card games like poker, and driving a vehicle. He’s enjoying helping his relatives which helps him in turn take his mind from the tragedy in his personal life. Some of his scenes add some comic relief to the stories. Like one in the third Hunter’s book, where he goes to a beauty salon. You’ll just have to wait to read it to find out what happens. LOL!

Helen: He sounds like a great character to have fun with, and I can imagine many humorous scenarios and misunderstandings! Most writers are also great readers. Which book have you read most recently?

Sloane: Your book is one of the most recent. I loved it! Also, Hidden Magic by Elena McDougal. I would recommend them both.

Helen: I am so glad you enjoyed Sentinals Awaken. I am looking forward to releasing my second book in the series, Sentinals Rising on March 17th, so exciting times. It has been lovely spending time with you, Sloane, thank you so much for sharing a little bit about yourself and your novels. To finish us off, if you didn’t write romantic fantasy, what genre would you like to write next?

Sloane: If I didn’t write romances, I’d probably write straight fantasy. I actually wrote a YA one while I was in college, but it’s not very good. I would love to write mysteries. I think that would be fun. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have the right mindset for them. At least so far, my attempts have been horrible. So I’ll stick to romance.

About Sloane:

Both of my parents loved reading and instilled in me a love for reading and writing. That was one thing that I could count on them saying yes to buying me–a new book.

Besides writing and animals, I love reading (TBR pile is outrageous), photography, cross-stitch, and anything with Henry Cavill or Jason Momoa in it. And don’t even get me started on Dean Winchester of Supernatural.

I spent my early years in West Virginia, where my father taught college. When he retired, the family moved back to his home state of South Carolina.

I currently live in South Carolina with two very spoiled rescue dogs. One tries to lick people into submission and the younger one believes he’s still a lapdog at 95lbs.

You can reach Sloane via social media on:

Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

and purchase her book via Amazon:

Holding out for a Hunter, Book One of the Hunter Chronicles
Link to ebook on: Amazon UK
Link to ebook on Amazon US

Dragons Grace Book One of the Pendragon Series:
Link to ebook on: Amazon UK
Link to ebook on: Amazon US


As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Author Interview – Rosalyn Briar

Author of A Sea of Pearls and Leaves

Today I have the pleasure of chatting with Rosalyn Briar. Author of the fairy tale retelling A Sea of Pearls and Leaves.

Welcome Rosalyn. Thank you so much for joining me. To start us off please tell us about your latest book.

Rosalyn: My most recent release is a dark fantasy fairy tale retelling called A Sea of Pearls & Leaves. It is a retelling of the Grimm’s Fairy Tale “The Three Snake-Leaves,” but with a twist.

Helen: It is a lovely story, and I must admit I didn’t know the fairy tale until I read your book. For me, it was a new story which was lovely. You can find my book review here. Tell us about the genre you write and why.

Rosalyn: I write dark fantasy and it’s usually some sort of fairy tale retelling. I have always loved fairy tales, folklore, and mythology, so dark fantasy allows me to play with those themes while adding magic and a dash of horror. 

Helen: Such fun! and you get to rewrite the heroes and villains how you want them. Who do you prefer writing about, the good guys or the bad guys?

Rosalyn: Although I certainly love my heroes and enjoy writing them, there is definitely a special place in my heart for villains. I think this is because when reading books or watching movies, I am usually rooting for the villain, especially if they have unique powers or strong motivations. The next book I am planning actually has a hero-to-villain arc or a “fall to evil” arc for the main character—so essentially a villain origin story. I look forward to diving into how a villain comes to be.

Helen: The art of writing is so complex, so much to think about! Do you prefer writing over editing?

Roslayn: I actually enjoy editing more! I can edit with smaller chunks of time, which makes it easier for me to do with my kids around. Writing, I need long spans of time alone, which are hard to come by. I also enjoy how editing really brings the story together and how each little “layer” of edits can improve the story.

Helen: I think with editing a rough idea becomes more polished. In the excitement of getting words on the paper, grammar goes out the window. When you correct everything the ideas and phrases become so much stronger and it feels so good when the story flows naturally and you know the reading experience is so much better. You have young children, so I bet you are a natural storyteller, but how do you fit in the writing?

Rosalyn: Since I have young children, it can be difficult to write during the daytime (especially this year since I’m helping my oldest with her e-learning for Kindergarten). So, I wake up early to do my writing and get the words down!

Helen: That must be really early! I am a night owl, I must admit I write more late at night. One element of self-publishing I love is designing the book cover. Tell us how you came up with the cover for your book.

Rosalyn: For A Sea of Pearls & Leaves, I wanted the cover to pay homage to the original tale “The Three Snake-Leaves.” So, I knew I wanted a snake and for the cover to have a watery feel. I sketched out the image of the cut up snake with leaves growing out of it and sent that to my cover designer, and they definitely brought the cover to life!

Helen: It is gorgeous and very striking. I love the colour scheme. Thank you so much for chatting with me. Last question, I promise. If you didn’t write fantasy, which other genre tempts you to write a book?

Rosalyn: I would love to write mystery/thrillers. I have always been a fan of reading them and enjoy the twists and turns and secretive characters. Maybe someday, if I feel confident enough, I’ll write one, but writing those takes a lot of skill when it comes to plotting and outlining.

Rosalyn Briar is a former teacher who is married to her high school sweetheart. Together, they have built a beautiful life and have two fearless daughters. Rosalyn is obsessed with gothic fairy tales, scary movies, sun dresses, traveling, and reading books. She is the published author of The Crown of Bones and A Sea of Pearls & Leaves, both of which are fairy tale retellings. Rosalyn is also the host of #NovelBuilding, a daily Twitter question with monthly themes for fellow writers to connect. When Rosalyn isn’t writing or reading, you can find her playing dress up with her two princesses or exploring the woods for wildflowers.

You can reach Rosalyn via her Website or via social media at:

Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads

and purchase her book via Amazon:

Link to ebook on: Amazon UK
Link to paperback on Amazon UK

Link to ebook on Amazon US
Link to paperback on Amazon US

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Author Interview – Rebecca Lange

Author of Joining Hearts for Christmas

As we welcome in 2021, I wish everyone a safe and happy new year.

My first author interview of the new year is with German author Rebecca Lange. Author of many novels, the most recent of which is Joining hearts for Christmas.

Welcome Rebecca, thank you so much for joining me today. To start us off please tell what genre you write and why.

Rebecca: My last book release was a regency romance novella. “Joining Hearts For Christmas” is a light-hearted Christmas love story and was to try out that genre and have a book out for Christmas. I never thought I would write regency anything, but this year I read two books by new authors that made me fall in love with the time and characters, and so I thought I would give it a try as well. It was a pretty last-minute thing and not planned at all, but it somehow worked out. It always amazes me how a simple thought or idea can turn into an actual book.

Helen: I agree, all you need is a spark and the creative juices start flowing and before you know it you’re half way though a book. The key of course is to finish it, so congratulations on releasing Joining Hearts for Christmas. So if Regency romance is new for you, what genre do you normally write?

Rebecca: I write clean Young Adult Fiction, Christian Fantasy, and Historical Fiction. Although I target pretty intense topics in my books, it is important to me that my stories are clean and suitable even for teenagers. I don’t particularly appreciate reading books that include sex and explicit violence or foul language. Violence can’t always be avoided with specific topics, but it doesn’t need to be super descriptive. Foul language and sex aren’t necessary for a book, in my opinion. There are less offensive words to use, and well, my imagination is pretty good, so I don’t need a sex scene described to me. I love swoony, clean, heart-flattering romance, but hot and steamy is not my thing.

Helen: Where do you get the ideas for your novels?

Rebecca: It depends. Sometimes from a book I read, a movie I watched, but mostly just from a thought that pops in my head and slowly develops into more. I am not a planner, but lately, I have had so many new ideas that I had to make notes not to forget certain details while finishing other projects. Since I am currently writing a book and started a second one, other ideas come alive in my mind and occupy my brain. It gets a bit overwhelming and exhausting at times, but I love how I can picture scenes and where I want the story to go. 

Photo credit: Aaron Burden (Unspash)

Helen: With so many ideas bubbling, what are you currently writing?

Rebecca: I am writing two right now. One is close to being finished and will be my next release. It is called “Grandfather’s Will.” Here is the blurb to give you an idea of what it is about:

After billionaire Henry Woodruff loses several family members in a horrible accident, Rebecca McNeil and her siblings are now the only relatives left he can trust. Although they never desired to be put into his will, he has no choice but to make his grandchildren the official heirs. Henry has every reason to believe that the tragic plane crash was not just an unfortunate accident but a planned murder. Feeling that his children were somehow involved, he has to come up with a plan.

Fearing for his grandchildren’s lives, Henry moves them from Edmonton to Valemount to keep them safer and more protected. When Rebecca nearly dies after a vicious attack, Henry hires two mounties to keep an eye on her and her siblings. Before long, everyone realizes that the shy young woman is the main target. Keeping her alive and unharmed turns into a full-time job. As if the everyday fight against someone wanting to murder her isn’t enough, Rebecca faces a battle with her past demons. Not wanting to get hurt again, she fights the growing feelings towards one of her protectors and puts up a wall to guard her heart. Will she be able to let go of the past and find her happily ever after?

Helen: Sounds intriguing. I look forward to seeing it released. What are your favourite characters to write? Heroes or villains?

Rebecca: I like both, but it is easy for me to get attached to my characters, and when that happens, and I think about changing the story a bit, it becomes almost impossible for me to make a character I already like bad. It is funny how they become real for us authors. However, when I create a villain, I can hate them fiercely if they attack my main character/s, even though I know it is silly since I made them all and the situations.

Helen: As you write different genres, do you find you have to do a lot research?

Rebecca: It depends on what the book is about. Some require a lot more research than others. For example, for my Regency novella, I had to research England and Wales a bit, so I had an idea where I wanted my story to take place. Most of the story is set in Wales, Monmouthshire, to be exact. One of the people who read and reviewed my book told me that they live pretty close to Monmouthshire, and apparently, I described things in a way that she and her sister thought I had already been there but never have.

My new novel takes place in Canada, and so again, I had some research to do to find the right areas for my story to take place. It is interesting. For my third Heavenly Bodyguards book, I had to do quite a bit of research since the story included conspiracy, mafia dealings, and murder. I researched different ways of how to kill a person, sedation, and all that. It was frightening, yet interesting to learn of illegal things like Rohypnol and Black Mamba venom and what it does to people. Since part of the story is taking place in and around the White House in Washington, I also had to check out the White House floor plan and surrounding areas to make things work for my story. I try to make things as accurate as possible if I can.

Helen: That sounds time consuming, but it is so important for our facts to be correct so we don’t jar a reader out of the story, especially when the setting is a real place. One of the fun parts of self-publishing is choosing a book cover. How do you decide what will be on the cover of your books?

Rebecca: When I first started self-publishing, I just chose one of my pictures of nature. For my first Heavenly Bodyguards book, I chose a photograph of a mountain in Scotland since the story is set in Scotland, and I thought that worked well. I then used pictures from KDP, which they offer for free, and I liked them. Still, during the last two years, I not only asked friends to help me choose a good cover that attracts and speaks to them, but I did a lot of research on cover images. I found out that there are websites where photographers post their pictures or artwork. You can use them for free without having to worry about copyrights. So, my current covers are chosen with the help of friends and from those websites. Some of the pictures are simply incredible.

Helen: Along with writing a new book there is also editing. Which do you prefer?

Rebecca: Writing, even though I have come to appreciate the hard work of editing, after learning so much about it and seeing how difficult and time-consuming it is. It does feel good, though, when your story is edited and ready to be published.

Helen: Most authors are also great readers. Which book are you currently reading?

Rebecca: I started “Marked” by Stephanie Whitfield. It is the second book in her series, and I really liked the first one already, so I am excited to see how the story continues.

Helen: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. As a final word, and as a self-published author, what advice would you give new authors?

Rebecca: I would tell them to go for what they love and not let anything stop them and listen to those around them and the suggestions they might make. Finding a traditional publisher or agent is an excellent goal to have, but if they can’t find one or can’t handle rejections any longer, I would tell them that there are other ways to get their work out there without having to pay tons of money. I find publishing houses that take your money upfront a rip-off, but that’s just me. I still have my acting lessons in mind in which we were drilled not to pay an agent upfront or to redo headshots because they wanted you to use “their suggestion.” I know it works for some, but I don’t have that kind of money to pay thousands of dollars to have my book published, only hoping I could make up for it in sales. Self-publishing is a great way to keep your work your own, but it also comes with difficulties like facing editing and marketing.

Rebecca is a mom of two boys (13 and 15 years old), has been married to her husband for over 16 years, and is currently living in Germany. She was born and raised in Germany but moved to the US after meeting her husband in Scotland at a wedding. (That in itself is a super cool and crazy story.)

Her love for writing started early. Even as a child, she enjoyed writing stories. As a teenager, escaping reality took place whenever she had a good book in her fingers, her own stories, or watched romantic movies. She has a vivid imagination, so it is easy for her to disappear into a different world. She avoids specific genres because of her imagination, but she is still grateful that she can picture things so vividly. She is a hopeless romantic but likes it when the books she writes or reads (or movies she watches) have a bit of everything.

She writes Young Adult Fiction/ Christian Fantasy and Historical Fiction. Still, her readers will also find drama, heartbreak, romance, humor, suspense, lots of sarcasm, and sass (a must for her since she is fluent in both), inspirational thoughts, and faith in her books.

You can reach on Rebecca via her Website

and purchase her book via Amazon:

Link to ebook on: Amazon UK
Link to paperback on Amazon UK

Link to ebook on Amazon US
Link to paperback on Amazon US

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Author Interview – Emily Noon

Author of Aurora’s Angel

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, and received lots of lovely books in your Christmas stocking. I must admit I have a few to keep me busy in between all the editing I need to do!

I was fortunate enough to chat with Lambda Literary award winner, and author of Aurora’s Angel, Emily Noon before Christmas and here is the interview.

Welcome Emily. To start us off please tell what genre you write and why.

Emily: My first love is fantasy. Probably because some of my fondest childhood memories are of my mother reading me stories of magical worlds filled with ancient gods, strange monsters and questing heroes having epic adventures.

Helen: Parents are so important for encouraging a love of books at an early age. My mum was an avid book reader too, and I was just as fortunate to be introduced to a wide range of genres. Tell us about your book, Aurora’s Angel.

Emily: Aurora’s Angel is a blend of action, adventure and romance centred around shapeshifters set in Nordarra, a world of my creation. I’ve been told it reads like a cross between epic and urban fantasy and that the immersive world building combined with great characters/plot makes this an enjoyable read, even for people who don’t usually like fantasy. It won a Lambda Literary Award. The audiobook was recently released and is narrated by Abby Craden, who did a fabulous job bringing the story to life.

Helen: Congratulations on releasing your Audiobook version. I have yet to venture down the audio route. There is so much involved in writing a novel, tell a little about your writing process. Are you a planner or a pantser? Preferring to make it up as you go.

Emily: I wish I was a planner because that would be so much quicker. I’ve sat down and planned entire books, from start to finish, complete with all the subheadings only to find it was like trying to work with something lifeless. If I don’t allow my imagination to explore the ideas that pop up, the creative process dries up and writing grinds to a halt. I learned that the hard way. So now I start writing with a rough idea of where the story is heading, but also explore the images and fragments of dialog that pop into my head. I’ve been astounded how often seemingly random pieces have ended up slotting perfectly together, like I’d been handed pieces of a puzzle and I just had to figure out where they fit into the big picture.

Photo credit: Iroji Iwata (Unspash)

Helen: I agree, I write in a similar way. It is magical when it all fits together. Did you need to do much research for your book?

Emily: I get hung up on getting tiny details perfect so I have to watch myself. I can easily get carried away with too much research. For instance – there is a small passage in my novel where I mention dogs being raised with the sheep they are meant to guard so they’ll imprint and form a strong protective bond. I spent hours reading and watching videos about that!

Helen: It’s easily done. It’s surprising what you find yourself looking up, just to make sure you get the facts right. So, tell us, do you prefer the writing or the editing?

Emily: I find great joy in the creative process of writing, of letting my imagination run wild. That’s the fun part. It’s like playing with clay to see what shapes I can create. I find editing satisfying on a different level. Once the first draft is complete, then starts the process of shaping the rough draft into the polished product. Its painstaking work but I love seeing it get better with every round of editing.

Helen: And, finally, tell us a little about the environment you like too write in. Do you put in silence, gazing of into the distance or surround yourself in music?

Emily: Creatively it can be helpful to play music that fits the theme/mood of the scene I’m working on and can even be a source of inspiration. For example: I chose the name of one of my main characters, Aurora, after I saw the music video called Runaway by the artist Aurora. The haunting tune, the breath-taking scenery and the powerful image of a young girl running alone in a snow-covered forest, fit so well. The lake that features in the song inspired me to write a scene in which two dragon-shifters flew over it in the moonlight, while performing an intricate aerial mating dance.

Helen: That sounds gorgeous, and I can’t wait to read your book, which is currently sitting in my tbr pile. Thank you so much, Emily, for spending time with us today. We wish you all the best with your book: Aurora’s Angel.

Emily Noon always liked reading fantasies with a dark twist and if there was a romance between strong main characters to sweeten the deal, even better. After years of working in libraries while in secret creating magical worlds and lightly torturing her characters before giving them a happy ending, she decided to let them loose on the unsuspecting world. Her debut novel, Aurora’s Angel, won a Lambda Literary Award.

You can reach on Emily on social media:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

and purchase her book via Amazon:

Link to ebook on: Amazon UK
Link to paperback on Amazon UK
Link to Audiobook on Amazon UK

Link to ebook on Amazon US
Link to paperback on Amazon US
Link to Audiobook on Amazon US

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Author Interview – Deonne Williams

Author of Fae Song

This month, I am talking to Deonne Wiliams, author of the magical novel Fae Song.

Fae Song is a a beautifully written book. Deonne has created a wonderful world, with characters that are so clearly drawn and true to their foibles. A book of gentle magic and music and yet an undercurrent of conflict runs beneath it all, so all is not as peaceful at it seems. I read Fae Song back in the summer and you can find my book review here.

Welcome Deonne. To start us off please tell what made you start writing.

Deonne: I had way too many stories popping into my head, so I just started writing them down.

Helen: That sounds like there must be a second book in the offing, I am so glad we will get to visit Shae and Gwynn again. Why did you choose to write Fantasy?

Deonne: I have always written fantasy because it lets me change the world my characters live in, create new kinds of beings and different sorts of magic. I have found that my writing also fits well into Young Adult categories as I have neither the desire nor the ‘skill’ to write more steamy types of things.

Helen: Yes, you have a gentle, descriptive way of writing which is truly immersive, and very enjoyable. As you build your world do you need to much research?

Deonne: Since I write fantasy, classic types of research such as fitting something into historical context is not a requirement. I do often research languages though when I’m looking to create a word or term for something in my world.

Photo credit: Gill Dollar (Unspash)

Helen: You live in Florida, so nice balmy weather. Where is your favourite place to write?

Deonne: I would prefer to write on the shaded porch of a beach house but that isn’t currently something I have available. In practice, I prefer to write at my desk on my laptop.

Helen: Wouldn’t we all? The sound of the sea swishing in the background, a soothing backdrop for creativity. I can almost smell the salty waves! So unfortunately, no beach front, when do you find the time to write?

Deonne: It is often tough to find uninterrupted time, so most of my writing is done in the wee hours of the night.

Helen: I must admit, I tend to tend to write late into the night as well. I love your cover, simple but elegant, what made you choose it?

Deonne: So far I have only chosen one but my deciding factor was that I didn’t want my book to have a cover that looked like every other fantasy cover out there with either someone swinging a sword or tossing fireballs.

Helen: Thank you so much, Deonne, for spending time with us today. We wish you all the best with your book: Fae Song.

Deonne lives on the sandbar known as Florida. She is happily married to Rory and blissfully owned by a stunning mare named Kay Kay and a demanding over-familiar tuxedo cat named Ritz.

You can reach on social media:

Amazon Author page 

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Email

and purchase her book via Amazon:

Link to ebook on: Amazon UK
Link to Paperback on Amazon UK

Link to ebook on Amazon US
Link to paperback on Amazon US

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Author Interview – Jordan Bell

Author of Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution

I’ve always thought encouraging children to engage and learn more about our world is very important, and today I am chatting with the Australian author of Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution, Jordan Bell.

Welcome Jordan. To start us off please tell us a little about your book.

Jordan: My first published book was Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution, a book which takes the real science of evolution and explains it in a way that primary school kids can understand. Fully illustrated in colour, it’s a chapter book that helps kids understand how the diversity of life, in all its glorious creativity, came to exist. Unpacking the concepts of inheritance, variation, and selection, the reader joins twins Sophie and Matt on a science adventure to understand evolution.

Helen: What made you want to write about STEM topics and for young children at that?

Jordan: I write Children’s STEM, for kids in the upper primary years – because the ideas in my books aren’t introduced by the school system until high school, but I think that’s too late! Kids are absolutely capable of understanding scientific theories if they are presented in the right way, and it’s crucial to their developing worldview that we get real science into their brains early. I deeply believe that we need a scientifically aware and well-educated citizenry to face the challenges of the future – I think my books contribute to this need.

Helen: How do you choose what to write about? Which topic are you tackling next?

Jordan: After I published Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution, I asked my readers what topics they’d be interested to hear more about. Overwhelmingly, with the Australian bushfires in the news globally, they said they wanted an Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Climate Change – so that’s what I’m focussing on now. Coming up in the future will be a Guide to the human body, and a Guide to the universe.

I’m currently at the end of an initial draft of Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Climate Change. Once I finish this draft and polish it, it will be sent to a climate scientist for review, to make sure all of the scientific detail is spot on, and then I’ll look at another round of edits from feedback from beta readers.

Charles Darwin

Helen: With such specific topics, and the need to get your facts spot on, how much time to you spend on research?

Jordan: I research extensively. My general science knowledge is strong, from my undergraduate science degree and my wide-ranging reading, but to make sure I’m really getting the science correct, I read widely and deeply into the specific topic I’m tackling. Each of my books is also peer-reviewed by a leading scientist in the field to make sure there are no errors of fact. When you’re introducing big ideas to little minds, it’s a sacred trust, and I take that responsibility seriously.

Helen: I would think that is a lot of work, how do you fit it all in?

Jordan: I work full time and I have a 7-year old, so it’s a case of “making time”. I’ve recently hatched a plan with my husband to take our daughter to school two mornings a week, so I can have an hour of writing time before work on those two days. I think about my work a lot, and do some research when I have free time, but actual “fingers to keys” is just those two hours a week at the moment. It’s been very productive already though; in the last three weeks I’ve added 2000 words to the manuscript, as well as re-read everything I’ve written so far (16,000 words) and given it a light edit.  

Helen: With such a busy life, I would suppose you have to plan everything to find time to write, but are you still a planner when you write? Many writers are called ‘pantsters ‘ as they write freeform.

Jordan: Definitely a planner, although my work doesn’t always follow my plans. I usually start by roughing out chapters with a short summary of what will happen in each one, eg “In the first chapter, Matt and Sophie are on a fieldwork weekend with Aunt Jodie; she has taken them out camping while she assists in sample collection with Dr T. Sophie and Matt are curious about the purpose of the work, and so around the campfire at night, Aunt Jodie and Dr T explain the key components of climate change science to the twins.” But often, a piece of work that I think I can manage in a chapter ends up taking two or more chapters to explain, as I’ve underestimated how much there is to say!

Helen: I can imagine! I bet you had fun choosing your cover design, such a myriad of possibilities.

Jordan: My illustrator, Gabriel Cunnett (https://gabrielcunnettillustration.com/) came up with the concept – the three main characters reading together, but transported to a pre-historic setting, as they used their imaginations to “travel” in time. I loved the job he did in bringing the characters to life in such a vibrant way.

Helen: I agree, I think most children would be drawn to your book. One final question, do you have any advice for other aspiring writer’s out there?

Jordan: It’s practically a cliché, but, “write a lot, and read a lot”. Read widely – both within your genre and outside it, you never know when new ideas and inspiration might hit. And show other people your writing, and be open to their feedback – it’s painful and scary but can push you to grow and develop. What’s in your head doesn’t always make it to the page, so having a trusted second pair of eyes on your work can help you round out what needs to be explained.
I also often listen to a meditation before writing, I like this one that helps you unlock your creativity: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=AcQ86xP5PNw but there are lots of others out there. I think getting centred and calm helps me focus on the work in front of me and not get too distracted by everything else that is happening in my life.

Helen: Thank you so much, Jordan, for spending time with us today. We wish you all the best with your book: Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Climate Change. You can find out more about Jordan and where you can purchase her book here.

Jordan is a psychologist and educator, with a passion for science communication. She has a PhD in Educational Resilience, but is also a nerdy parent who loves reading to her daughter. When she couldn’t find enough children’s fiction with a strong STEM message to help her daughter learn about the world, she wrote Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution. She believes that understanding the theory of evolution is an important key to scientific literacy for our developing citizens. Jordan prefers writing in her local café with a pot of strong tea, so the COVID19 lockdown was a challenge, but she’s adapted her writing routines for the moment. She loves reading science fiction and long walks in nature. Jordan is currently working on her second book, Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Climate Change. Follow her at www.auntjodiesguide.com or https://www.facebook.com/AuntJodiesGuides/ for more information or for cool science links. She’s also on Twitter @AuntJodiesGuide

Author Interview – Preston Allen

Author of The Coven’s Son

To get you in the mood for the witching month of October, and to gently lead you to All Hallow’s Eve, today I am chatting with the author of The Coven’s Son, Preston Allen.

Welcome Preston. To start us off please tell us a little about your book.

Preston: The Coven’s Son is set in a world where all witches’ first born child is a female who siphons magic from her mother during birth, which explains why the word “witch” is so commonly associated with only women. But, Dev’s first child is a male who she named Oak and their coven discovers secrets that were held from the world when researching ways to control Oak’s out of control abilities..

Helen: Oak certainly faces some challenges and I thoroughly enjoyed your unique take on a witches’ coven. I will be posting a book review in due course, so watch this space!

Have you got the writing bug? Are you working on another novel?

Preston: My current WIP is an adult tongue in cheek dark comedy about what happens after you die. Think of the waiting room from Beetlejuice. I poke fun at death while also creating a detailed view of the afterlife without holding back from descriptive, gory details. Although, its release depends on the success of The Coven’s Son!

Helen: I wish you every success with The Coven’s Son as I hope we get to read more of Oak as well as other characters currently bubbling in your imagination. Talking about characters, which character do enjoy writing the most? Heroes or villains?

Preston: I love villains and the ability to make them a bit more over the top than the average person. You get to make them appear the way we all want to express ourselves if our society wasn’t so uptight and judgmental. Writing their visual descriptions and painting a sinister picture in someone’s head just creates a movie scene in the mind of the reader.

Helen: I love all the concoctions the witches make and the descriptions of the still room. Did you have to do a lot of research to come up with the ingredients for the spells?

Preston: A LOT. The Coven’s Son has so much historical accuracy and easter eggs hidden in it. I made sure that no matter what area of the book you want to google, you will most likely find some sort of link to history. I am also planning a trip to NYC for the future to do location research for my next book.

Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash

Helen: You created a complex world of witches with a unique spin. Where did you get the inspiration for your book from?

Preston: I love visiting oddity shops and metaphysical stores. There’s so much visual stimulation to create stories from. Everything around me gives me ideas. In The Coven’s Son, there is a huge section based entirely off the title of an arcade machine I saw while in a gametime, it sparked an idea that had my mind spinning with ideas.

Helen: I can imagine that would be a trove of wonderful prompts. Speaking of prompts, how did you come up with the design for your book cover?

Preston: I woke up from a dead sleep at about 3 a.m. knowing exactly what I wanted the cover to look like. I had to get up and scribble it out so that I didn’t forget. The cover was re-done three times by two different illustrators before I approved the final version. It is a scene directly from the story.

Helen: Thank you so much, Preston, for spending time with us today. We wish you all the best with your book: The Coven’s Son. You can find out more about Preston and where you can purchase his book on his website here.

Author Interview – Eva Alton

Author of the Vampires of Emberbury series

Today I am chatting with the author of the Vampire of Emberbury series Eva Alton. Eva has published her debut novel Stray Witch and the second novel in the series Witch’s Mirror which recently launched on October 22nd, and you’ll be glad to hear there is a third, Witch’s Masquerade in the works.

Welcome Eva. Tell us more about your novel.

Eva: My first novel, Stray Witch, was published in May 2020. It tells the story of a woman who doesn’t know she is a witch. She is running away from a previous marriage and is offered a job by a clan of old-fashioned vampires who live under a graveyard.

Helen: You describe your characters as clueless and quirky, so I take it that your vampire novels are something a little different to other books out there?

Eva: My books are a mixture of paranormal romance and magical realism. Even though I write about witches, vampires, and magic, my take on the subject differs slightly from most urban fantasy novels. I like to make fun of conventions and traditional vampire lore, exploring what it might mean to be a vampire living in our modern world. I also try to explore deeper issues (such as past mistakes and abusive relationships in my first book) and give my prose a lyrical touch.

Helen: I believe you succeeded. I read Stray Witch and thoroughly enjoyed it. You have a lovely mix of light and quirky, if I may use the term, characters who we can relate to, and yet there is an underlying thread of seriousness as well. (You can find my review of Stray Witch here.)

Which character do enjoy writing the most?

Eva: I love writing Clarence, my vampire main character. He has lived long, travelled the world and, in my opinion, has a very interesting past.

Helen: I think we all love Clarence, and can’t wait to find out more about him. I believe you put him through the wringer in your next novel! Tell us how you first started writing.

Eva: I have been writing since I was a little girl. I used to take part in writing competitions as a child and I won many times, too. That gave me the confidence to keep writing, and to this day it has been one of my favourite things to do!

Photo by Freestocks on Unsplash

Helen: As your setting is the real world with a touch of the paranormal, and a world most of us would recognise do you still need to do research for your novel?

Eva: I do more research than one would think. The only drawback is that I tend to get lost in my research, when one thing leads to another, and get nothing written. For example, while writing my second book, Witch’s Mirror, I spent vast amounts of time researching life in England in the Georgian era. This included reading novels set in that time, history books, etc. It was really fun, but also very time-consuming.

Helen: I can’t wait to read Witch’s Mirror. Readers it’s available on amazon now, so go and check it out!

Tell us a little about how you work, Eva, when preparing to write are you a planner or a pantser?

Eva: I like to have a clear plan before I start to write. Usually there is a small thing which sparks the idea for a story, but from then on I try to make an outline and stick to it, though I don’t always succeed.

Helen: We’re drawing to close now, and I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me. Before you leave, tell us a little about what you are working on now.

Eva: Currently I’m editing the third book in my series, Witch’s Masquerade (expected launch spring/summer 2021). In this book, stray witch Alba must travel to a secluded spot in the Pyrenees and seek for a long-lost spell, which is her only hope of defeating death. But I won’t tell you whose!

The second book in my series, Witch’s Mirror, is coming out around Halloween 2020. In this book Alba travels to Italy to explore her witch roots, but her plans go slightly awry and things start to spiral out of control…

Helen: Thank you so much, Eva, for spending time with us today. We wish you all the best with your new release in October, Witch’s Mirror. You can find out more about Eva and her Vampires of Emberbury series on Eva’s website here.

If you haven’t read any of Eva’s book yet then I recommend you start with the first book in the series Stray Witch. You won’t regret it.

Amazon Links:

UK: ebook
UK: Paperback
UK: Audible

US: ebook
US: Paperback
US: Audible

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Author Interview – Cully Mack

Author of the Voice that Thunders series

I recently had the opportunity to chat with British fantasy author Cully Mack. Cully has written one novella and four novels in the Voice that Thunders series and she has kindly agreed to tell use a little more about A Vow that Clashes which is due out at the end of October 2020.

Welcome Cully. Tell us more about your latest novel.

Cully: My current book is due for release in October 2020.  It is the fourth book in the Voice that Thunders series and is called A Vow That Clashes. 

It runs on a parallel time frame to A Fire That Whispers (#3) and focuses on Gabe and two of his close friends.  Each of them has made vows.  Their challenge is to either keep or break them while saving the people from an Immortal Watcher with his army of giants and hybrid creatures seeking to destroy humanity. 

A Vow That Clashes

When a vow demands sacrifice, who will pay the price?

Far behind Gabe is his innocence, destroyed when a Watcher slaughtered his clan.  Now considered a chosen one, Gabe strives to understand his magic and his calling.  He desires nothing more than to find his sister but is besieged by hybrid abominations intent on extinguishing mortal life, his most of all. 

His allies: a cunning thief, an Immortal, and a Fire Wielder stand fast with those seeking sanctuary underground.  It’s a trap.  The god of deep mines and solver of secrets is coming… A perilous maze of tunnels, their sole hope of escape.

As vows and destiny collide, Gabe faces a devastating choice: abandon the people and his allies or forsake his beloved sister.  

The fate of the world rests on his decision, for the Watchers know a greater adversary approaches, a possessor of flesh.  The clash between darkness and light has never been more dreadful. You can find out more here.

Helen: It sounds action packed and I can’t wait to read it. I read the first book A Voice that Thunders (you can find my review here) and thoroughly enjoyed it. I must make sure I take the others down off my bookshelf and read them ready for this new release.

Tell us a little about how you first started writing.

Cully: I began writing because my mother joined a creative writing class and I asked if I could go with her.  I loved it so much; I quit my job and went back to university to study English Literature and Creative Writing.  I haven’t looked back, and what I’ve learned most in my life is to follow your dreams.

I always loved the fantasy genre, and I have a keen interest in mythology.  I decided to merge the two and created the Voice that Thunders series.  Myth absolutely fascinates me (the older the better- think pre-Egyptian, Greek and Roman).  Yes, those titans, gods and beastly monsters were known to older civilizations in Mesopotamia and I feature them in my books.

British Museum

Helen: Yes, there is an ancient Egyptian flavour to the first novel with sacrifices and gifts to the gods. So fantasy is your genre of choice for your novels?

Cully: I write epic fantasy. Think epic battles with Immortals and beasts of all kinds, throw in some elemental magic, huge plot twists, portals and unique worlds, intense romance and an ever-growing amount of characters trying to save their world. If you like character-driven fantasy, you’ll love my books.  I warn you now; I don’t go easy on them…

Helen: You have some great characters in your novels, Mirah, Gabe and Nate to name a few. Which characters do you enjoy writing the most?

Cully: Gosh, that’s possibly the hardest question I’ve ever been asked.  I love writing cocky, confident males, which is why I have a few of them.  Ammo is a skilled at pretty much everything and a complete risk taker.  He often makes me laugh with his cocky attitude and flirty banter.  Zeev is always out for a laugh, nothing fazes him, and he loves winding up one of the female characters. 

I think most of all I love writing Tur.  He is complex, comes across as aloof at first, but he is one hell of a man as his story develops.  Nothing and no one will move him from what he believes in and my god, I really test him.  Confidence oozes out of him in droves.

Heroes or villains? Love them both.  Love villains who turns good the most.

Helen: With such a rich world, how much research did you have to do before writing your novels?

Cully: I research tons.  I’m very interested in mythological texts from Ancient Mesopotamia where many feature gods and mythical beings.  Mesopotamia was the birthplace of civilisation and many peoples lived side by side.  Depending on the culture, some saw the gods as a positive thing, others negative.  It makes for great conflict when you can reimagine gods, hybrids and giants interacting with humanity.  

In the Voice that Thunders series, I’ve tried to capture an essence of their cultures, what it was like thousand of years ago, and set it in a framework loosely based on some of their customs and beliefs.  My series is filled with ancient myth, the kind that is buried in soul waiting to be reawakened. 

Because my work is influenced by Mesopotamia, I also research quite a bit of geography, landscape, flora, fauna and wildlife etc. to create a vivid world.

I also research people, behaviour and psychology.  For example, one of my antagonists is a complete narcissist.  I did a lot of research to get a sense of how he thought, how he might speak and behave.

Helen: And I think it paid off. When reading your novels, your world building paints vivid pictures, colourful and rich. It’s almost like it is another character. Being such a stickler for research I imagine the way you write is very planned. Do you have an outline that you stick to?

Cully: For The Voice That Thunders, I used the Hero’s Journey as a guide for my two sibling protagonists.  I kind of had it in the back of my mind when writing.  So, yes there is a loose structure, e.g. inciting incident, meeting the mentor, call to action, refusal of the call and so on. Although the order of these differs for each character.

But otherwise, I’m a total Panster! I’m a discovery writer.  I tend to know certain plot points, for example, I knew Mirah needed to reach Hermonial because I wanted to write a character who was close to my antagonist. 

My start point was her on the ship, so I just started to write her journey and added conflict along the way.  I love how characters grow and overcome the challenges they face.  Being a discovery writer, my characters often surprise me and lead me into territory I wasn’t expecting to go.

Most of my twists come from writing myself into a hole and then figuring out how to fix it.  There are quite a few big ones in my books which my mind would never have imagined if I’d sat down and tried to think it up.  Some people might think this tactic is insane, but for me, it keeps my writing fresh.  I remember my English Professor saying; I love how your writing is so unpredictable, how do you do it?  I answered, it’s because I have no clue what’s going to happen until I write the words on the page.

Helen: I try and plan a basic outline, but then the story takes over and goes in directions I never originally intended. When it comes down to the nitty gritty of writing which do you prefer writing or editing?

Cully: I love both aspects.  I love being creative and getting ideas down on the page, but I also enjoy perfecting it in redrafts. My editing process has changed over the course of my books.  I don’t edit as I go anymore.   I used to edit at the end of each chapter.  Now, I leave gaps if I need to spend time researching and go back and fill this in on redrafts. 

Helen: I must admit I enjoy editing more than I thought. The story really begins to shine when you polish your phrasing. Every time I edit I learn something new. What advice would you give new writers?

Cully: Don’t quit!  It’s really hard sometimes.  Writing can be isolating, and sometimes you wonder if anyone even reads/enjoys your work.  Reviews help a lot.  A well-timed review has saved my sanity more than once when I’ve been second guessing myself.  

Hold on to your dreams!  Believe in yourself and stay true to your vision.  So much will come your way and try to shake you, hold on.  Quitters never make it.

If I was to start over, I’d start with a shorter book, a stand-a-lone or a prequel and get myself known a little before plunging right into everything.

Helen: Great advice! We’re drawing to close now, and I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me. Tell us a little about how you work. Do you listen to music as you write, or do you prefer silence?

Cully: I listen to epic score music.  Artists like Two Steps from Hell and Epic Score.  I find the music very intense and emotional without distracting lyrics

Helen: and just to finish tell us about what you like to read. What is your favourite book?

Cully: I love Empire of Storms by S J Maas.  It’s not the best for writing style or technique, but I love the characters she creates and the plot.  The way Maas balances them both and draws you into the world through tense conflict and romance, is why I love this book.

Helen: Thank you so much, Cully, for spending time with us today. We wish you all the best with your new release in October, A Vow that Clashes. You can find out more about Cully and her Voice that Thunders series here:

Link to books on Amazon:

A Voice Like Thunder:
UK: ebook US: ebook
UK: Paperback US: Paperback

A Vow that Clashes:
UK: ebook US: ebook
UK: Paperback US: Paperback

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

If you haven’t read any of Cully’s book yet then I recommend you start with the first book in the series A Voice that Thunders. You won’t regret it.