Author Interview – ES Fein

Author of A Dream of Waking Life.

Join me as I chat with ES Fein about his psychological thriller which released on May 6, 2022. Interested in lucid dreaming and existential discussions? Then check out his podcast.

Helen: Welcome Eric. I am so happy to be speaking to you today about your new book. It sounds so cool, and definitely a little mind bending!

Eric: A Dream of Waking Life is a philosophical, psychological thriller that tells the story of one man’s journey through space, time, and mind to not only discover his true identity but also the love of his life—a woman who keeps slipping through his fingers and into another reality. A thought-provoking meditation on the thin line between what is real and what is not, A Dream of Waking Life will leave readers questioning how far they would go to understand the nature of their own existence and how much they would sacrifice for love. 

Helen: Oh, that sounds deep and very intriguing. As is your cover. Can you tell us a bit about it?

Eric: The cover represents the three predominant dreams/worlds/realities (part of the grand mystery of the story is the uncertainty of what is real) that the protagonist is stuck in. I wanted the cover to appear as if these realities are blending into one another. The two figures standing and looking at the large tower, called “The Tower of God” in the story, are the main characters. You will also notice a small figure in the sky watching over them. I won’t say who that is. You’ll have to read the story to find out!

Helen: It is an interesting cover, you want to flip it around and inspect the alternate view to see what is different, because it is not a true reflection. What made you write such a complex and thought provoking book?

Eric: I wrote this book as a reflection on my lifelong experiences with lucid dreaming, existential confusion, bipolarism, thousands of psychonautical trips using DMT and other potent psychedelics, and the most important thing in existence: love.

Helen: I’ve never even heard of lucid dreaming, so colour me interested. I’m definitely going to be checking that out, when I find the time lol! I’m knee-deep in editing at the moment and my deadline is looming. You have some great reviews for your book already, and ‘unputdownable’ is the clear message. What genre does this book fit into?

Eric: I predominantly read and write scifi. A Dream of Waking Life isn’t pure scifi, but it definitely fits into the category. I love scifi stories because they are constantly forcing readers to wonder about reality and ask the big questions of existence: Who are we? Why are we here? What’s the purpose of reality? What the heck is going on?

Helen: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, it is such an achievement. What made you first put pen to paper and write a book?

Eric: I’ve been writing and telling stories for as long as I can remember. I remember in preschool, I used to have kids laughing and jumping in excitement as I made up wild and zany stories about what I had gone through on my way to school. The other kids called it “Eric story time,” and it felt as natural as breathing to me.

Helen: When writing do you prefer silence? or do you surround yourself with music?

Eric: Always! I listen to jazzhop or lofi hip hop when I write.

Helen: Is there anything random you would like share about yourself?

Eric: I was born without a right pectoral muscle. It used to cause incredible depression and self-hatred, even leading me to attempt suicide several times when I was young. Now, at 33, I see it as a blessing that has taught me how to accept imperfection and find beauty in all forms.

Helen: I am so sorry to hear you had to deal with such issues, but really happy that you found your way out and have embraced who you are and can appreciate all that is around you, and that you channelled your emotions and creativity into writing. What is the most useful piece of advice you have found about writing?

Eric: The author, Robert Heinlein, said in a book of writing tips something along the lines of: “Throw it all up! The only way to write is to throw up everything until it’s a complete mess. Once it’s all out, then you can go back and sift through the barf to find the actual story you’re looking for.”

Helen: Thank you Eric, for spending time with me today, I’ve loved chatting with you. Just to close out, is there any advice you would like to share with any aspiring writers?

Eric: Don’t expect to succeed in the traditional sense. If you aren’t writing because you enjoy writing, this will almost undeniably be a heart-breaking experience for you.

About the Author:

Reader, author, and purveyor of top-shelf science fiction, speculative fiction, and fantasy. My favorite subjects to read and write about include transhumanism, esotericism, cosmological ontology, existential ontology, Eastern philosophy, hard sci Fi, soft sci Fi, time travel, space exploration, psychological exploration, pansexualism, religion, mythology, space opera, experimentation with entheogens, and more. I like strange characters dealing with strange situations. Check out some free short stories on my site:

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You can preorder A Dream of Waking Life from Amazon:

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my epic fantasy Sentinal series. As a new threat against Remargaren is discovered, only one man can wake the ancient guards who can protect them, only he doesn’t know how. Start the adventure and stay for the journey. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and keep up with progress on my next books are published.

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Author Interview – Edith Pawlicki

Author of Trials of Fire and Rebirth

Today I am chatting with epic fantasy author, Edith Pawlicki, about her new novel Trials of Fire and Rebirth, which is a standalone novel in her Immortal Beings world and released, June 14th, 2022.

Helen: Welcome Edith! Congratulations on the release of your new book! I’m so excited to be chatting to a fellow epic fantasy author. Tell us a little about your latest book.

Edith: Trials of Fire and Rebirth is a standalone in my Immortal Beings world. The whole series is epic fantasy, but this book is much more intimate than the first two – it focuses on the complicated histories of an young immortal who cannot remember her past and a powerful god who is ashamed of his. Of course, their mysteries and regrets are tied together, and both come to the fore as they deal with a very unpleasant mortal cult.

Helen: I love your cover, the imagery is very clever, especially the person within the butterfly. But you have chosen to have two covers haven’t you?

Edith: The Kindle cover reflects book’s magic, which is based on color. Karana, the God of Destruction, has red and white magic, and An Ning, the Peace Bringer has black magic. Butterflies are tied to redemption and rebirth in my mind, and when I saw this premade art with the butterfly and the person inside, I thought it matched the themes of the book and the interior motif. I edited it to be red and black and added the white smoke, hopefully evoking fire!

The physical book cover shows Karana, the God of Destruction, and An Ning, the Peace Bringer, with one of their pet Bulgae (aka a firedog). The series marker is actually a red ink stamp, the material is scanned and color-edited rice paper, and washi origami paper is behind the artwork. This is a character-driven epic fantasy – thus the artwork – and a pan-Asia influenced world, so I tried to echo the style of antique Chinese epics.

Helen: Both covers are lovely! How did you come up with the title?

Edith: All the titles in the Immortal Beings series follow the — of — and —- format, to tie them together. For this book, the God of Destruction is dealing with fire, the Peace Bringer is dealing with rebirth, and both of them go through some really wretched situations – trials! – together.

Helen: What inspired you to write this book?

Edith: Recent world events had led me to ponder objective versus subjective truth, and I realized that since the magic of the Immortal Beings is shaped by belief, it would be a great way to explore the way they interact and influence each other. There’s a temptation to assume everything is either true or false, but the power of the human imagination is such that if enough people deeply believe in something (i.e. that paper printed with faces and numbers is valuable) it becomes so. And yet, it’s also possible for thousands of people to believe something and yet it remains a lie that is dangerous to humanity as a whole. Anyway, I set this story up with a character who was facing her own internal contradiction (gender dysphoria) and a human cult with theirs (burning people alive to reincarnate), and set off to find the lines between truth and lie, denial and acceptance.

Helen: Oh my, what an interesting and deep concept. You would need some resolute characters to shoulder such heavy burdens. Tell us about them.

Edith: This book started with Karana; he’s a side character in the first two books, and I became intrigued by his contradictions. He embraces his bad reputation, and he has done terrible things, but he’s genuinely kind and clearly regretful. I wanted to understand him better and also give him a path to redemption. Since he starts as a deeply cynical character who’s running from his mistakes, he had to be balanced by An Ning, an optimistic character with an over-developed sense of personal responsibility. She is strong and compassionate character – a joy to write. Since Karana was in the middle of condemning a mass delusion with the cult, I wanted An Ning to have a “delusion” of her own, something deeply personal that had no effect on others but hurt her when denied. I saw an interesting way to explore gender identity within the magic system, so that just clicked, contrasting and complementing the cult arc.

Helen: They sound amazing and so rich. You’ve created a complex world. What genre do you typically like to write?

Edith: I write speculative fiction with a strong focus on characters and romance. The Immortal Beings fiction is epic fantasy, my YA series is light sci-fi set in a nuclear winter. Characters and relationships (romantic or not) are really what fascinate me, and when I first started writing, I actually leaned into romances. However, I found it really difficult to keep the tension high for a whole novel because I have no patience for angst or miscommunication! I realized that when I start with a speculation, a conflict that is larger than the characters, and then grab an internal conflict that echoes it, I have no problem keeping the tension high for a whole book, and I enjoy it more! Why I do fantasy instead of an adventure or a mystery… well, I don’t know! It’s just the way my brain works!

Helen: Thank you so much for chatting with me today. I wish you all the best with your books. Just to close, if I asked your characters why we should read this book, what would they say?

Edith: If you asked Karana, I think he’d tell you the book was none of your business! He’s pretty standoffish. But if you asked An Ning, she’d say you should read the book because it’s terribly romantic and because it shows that it’s never too late to change – redemption is always there for those who choose it and that we can all be more ourselves.

About the Author:

Edith Pawlicki lives in Connecticut with her husband, twin sons, dog, and two rabbits. She fell in love with words in fourth grade and finds writing necessary to free the worlds and characters in her head. When she isn’t busy being a mom and author, she enjoys cooking and crafts. In addition to the Immortal Beings series, she has also written a YA science fiction novel, Minerva.

You can order Trials of Fire and Rebirth from Amazon:

UK: eBook

USA: eBook

Papaerback preorder -release 16th September 2022.

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my epic fantasy Sentinal series. As a new threat against Remargaren is discovered, only one man can wake the ancient guards who can protect them, only he doesn’t know how. Start the adventure and stay for the journey. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and keep up with progress on my next books are published.

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Author Interview – Laura Quinn

Author of Thicker Than Water.

Today I am chatting with historical fiction author, Laura Quinn, about her debut novel Thicker than Water, which is an investigation into family ties and a sweeping saga of betrayal, lies, and loss on all sides et against the abckdrop of the First World War.

Helen: Welcome Laura! First congratulations on writing a novel and now publishing it. Such an amazing feeling to publish your first book. Tell us a little about it.

Laura: Titanic meets Boardwalk Empire in this historical fiction set against the picturesque shore town of Cape May, NJ, at the onset of World War One. Siblings Danny and Shannon Culligan are trapped under the thumb of their alcoholic father. Danny’s been in love with his childhood sweetheart, Jennie Martin- a wealthy cottager from Philadelphia- for as long as he can remember while her cousin, Hugh, is smitten with his sister.

As the foursome struggles to surmount the class differences between them, the nation is plunged into the Great War, changing all of their lives forever. Danny is drafted into the Army and Hugh enlists in the Navy- defending the home front as a lieutenant at Cape May Section Base Number 9. While Jennie works tirelessly on the Liberty Loans campaign in Philadelphia, Shannon finds herself ensnared in a rum ring operation as the temperance movement ebbs closer to its goal of Prohibition. A sweeping saga of betrayal, lies, and loss on all sides, Thicker Than Water, marries the historically accurate world building of Ellen Marie Wiseman’s The Orphan Collector with the emotional resonance of Renee Rosen’s works.

Helen: I love writing Fantasy novels because I can make it all up, but you have written a historical novel about real places and real events. This must be so much more challenging. I have been really fortunate to read an early copy, and I loved it – (you can read my book review here) – Your attention to detail is phenomenal. How much research did you have to do for your book?

Laura: I spent two years in research and development before putting pen to paper. With regard to historical events in narrative, I tried to stay as close to source material as possible throughout. A NJ resident myself, making sure the details were accurate was a matter of utmost importance to me from the beginning. Writing about a pandemic while living through one was particularly difficult. My research and outline for TTW was completed prior to the COVID-19 lockdowns. There were times in the last two years where I strongly considered changing these chapters (or eliminating them completely from a reader-sensitivity standpoint). My only hope is that I did justice to those lives impacted in both outbreaks.

Helen: You have chosen quite a dramatic cover, with the monotone colours and the stormy seas. Is there a story behind how you came up with your cover?

Laura: The cover and paperback interior design were done by Elite Authors. As a debut author, I  had many questions and the staff were wonderful to work with. I had some very clear ideas when it came to the cover, and shared samples of photography I’d found on iStock and Unsplash that I felt conveyed the tone of my novel. Without getting into spoilers, I can tell you that a crucial scene occurs in the midst of a nor’easter storm coming ashore. The event goes on to impact all four main characters in different ways, some of which are explored in Thicker Than Water, the others in the two sequels planned.

Helen: It’s great news that there is more to come! Let’s talk a little about how you write. Do you have a specific writing space where you like to work?

Laura: Oddly enough, at my dining room table. I like to spread out, so my “workspace” has plenty of room for me to lay out reference materials on one side of me and notes on the other. The room also has large windows and gets a lot of natural sunlight, so it’s a cozy environment. The back window faces my kids’ play area in our yard, so I can keep eyes and ears on them, too, from where I am. You can usually find our tabby, Tigger, snuggled somewhere close by.

Helen: Writing companions are the best! My cat Alfie is usually the same, curled up nearby. When not writing what do you like to do?

Laura: I enjoy many hobbies outside the bookish variety. Spending time with my family is my favorite, even if it’s just shuffling the kids to-and-from one of their activities. I love watching them perform, be it on the ballet stage or the soccer field. I also love gardening, and just planted my annuals for this season. We can learn so much from nature. It always inspires me.

Helen: Most writers are great readers, do you have a favourite book?

Laura: Little Women. I read a junior edition when I was in third grade for my first book report and fell in love with the story. My late grandmother gifted me a beautiful hardcover to commemorate the event. I’ve read it several times over and it holds an honored place on the coffee table in my living room.

Helen: How lovely! I love it when a book has a story to go woth it, evoking special memories. Thank you so much for spending time with me today. Good luck with your launch and congratulations again on the launch of your debut novel. Just to finish, do you have any advice for other aspiring authors?

Laura: Get it down. Whether handwritten in a notebook, typed up on a laptop, or texted from your phone when you can’t sleep. Tell your story. Be authentic and don’t hold back.

About the Author:

Laura Quinn currently resides in southern New Jersey with her husband, two children, and spoiled tabby cat. When not writing or consuming copious amounts of coffee, she enjoys hiking, the beach, and spending time with her family. Thicker Than Water is her debut novel, with two additional books planned to round out the Culligans’ saga.

You can order Thicker Than Water from Amazon:

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

Papaerback preorder -release 16th September 2022.

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my books which are available in eBook, paperback or hardcover: Book One: Sentinals Awaken. Book Two: Sentinals Rising. Book Three: Sentinals Justice. Book 3.5: Sentinals Recovery. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next book releases.

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Author Interview – Rachel Stanley

Author of the paranormal A Grim series.

Today, I am chatting with Rachel Stanley about her paranormal fantasy A Grim series. Rachel is revealing her cover for the third installment A Grim Ending today!!! I’m so excited to be part of her cover reveal!! Isn’t it gorgeous?? Can’t wait to dig into her thoughts behind the cover!

Helen: Welcome Rachel! I’m so excited to be sharing the cover reveal for your next book! A Grim Ending. Why don’t you start us off by introducing yourself?

Rachel: Hi! My name is Rachel Stanley, it’s lovely to meet you all. I’m a UK based author living in the Northwest of England. I live with my husband and our two cats – Cooper and Watson, who actually feature in my first series of books. I’ve always been an avid reader; I fell in love with fantasy when I was a child and my best friend’s brother lent my The Belgariad by David Eddings. I never returned his books because I loved them so much! I actually wore them out because I re-read them so often. Don’t worry, I now have them on my kindle so that I can re-read them whenever I want. I have tried most other genres but nowadays I tend to stick with fantasy – if there isn’t a vampire or werewolf, witch or wizard in it, it probably isn’t for me. Ironically, my books have none of the those in them! What else do you want to know? I love to travel, and I love animals. I aspire to see as much of the world as possible before I die and there are still some animals that I want to see in the wild. I’ve been lucky enough to tick off some major ones though – bears, whales and even otters! 

Helen: Oh I’m a fan of David Eddings, espacially his Belgarion/Mallorean series, I just love his characters. Definitely a character driven series entwined with a quest! and they are all so relatable! I think Emperor Kal’zakath is my favourite, or maybe Silk, or no maybe…! But enough of that, tell us a little about your current work in progress!

Rachel: I’m currently editing A Grim Ending. It’s the final part of a trilogy that focusses on Emma and Blake. Emma is so normal that even her own mother has been known to accuse her of being boring and Blake is… well, Blake is her soulmate. He’s also the Grim Reaper! Although he would be furious if he knew that I’d described him as such because his title is the Keeper of Souls. It’s difficult to tell you too much about A Grim Ending without giving away snippets of the two books that precede it – A Grim Affair and A Grim Haunt. Suffice it to say that poor Emma suffers some more in A Grim Ending! But I hope that even though all three books have dark undertones, I’ve kept the storytelling quite light. 

Helen: I loved the first book, you can find my book review here! Must get around to reading the second before The Grim Ending releases! Tell us about your covers, they are so vibrant and to the point!

Rachel: The cover of all three of my books is dominated by a scythe, as you would expect, right? A Grim Affair has ice crystals on the cover. This was done purposely because Blake is cold throughout the book. He’s been on his own for nearly a thousand years and he’s bored and lonely. That’s made him… ah… shall we say a little bit disconnected. In comparison  A Grim Haunt has rising water on the front. This is representative of one of the scenes in the book. You’ll need to read it to find out exactly what happens though! And A Grim Ending has flames on it. Again it’s representative of one of the key elements of the story. I think A Grim Haunt it my favourite though. 

Helen: I love to hear the thoughts behind the designs! What made you start writing this series?

Rachel: I get asked this question all the time! I started writing A Grim Affair because of a dream. In the dream a man – Blake – is stood watching a second man who has a 50:50 chance of dying. I couldn’t get the dream out of my head. I kept wondering who Blake was, what he was doing, how he knew that the second man had a 50:50 chance of dying etc, etc. I started writing the story down just so that the ideas would get out of my head. At the time I was really busy in my day job and A Grim Affair served as a way to switch off. In the end I got so far into the story that I figured I might as well finish it and that I might as well publish it. I didn’t spend years searching for an agent or a publisher. One Sunday afternoon, when I’d finished, I simply uploaded it to Amazon. And then I realised what I’d done and went back and had it properly edited and I bought an actual cover. Lol. I did everything wrong!

Helen: They look so pretty together! Such a beautiful blue! And you write fantasy because…?

Rachel: I’m a fantasy writer because it’s what I love to read. Also, you get to make up stuff and no one can tell you that it’s wrong! 

Helen: Tell us a little about your protagonist and why you wrote about her.

Rachel: As I said before, my protagonist is Emma, someone who’s so normal that even her own mother has been known to accuse her of being boring. I wrote Emma that way on purpose because I wanted to read about someone like me whose world was turned upside down by abnormal events. Emma is tall, a traditional British pear with long, red hair, hazel coloured eyes and a smattering of freckles across a nose. She works as a vet nurse and has a little house that she shares with her fur babies (Cooper and Watson). She’s fiercely loyal to those she loves but a little aloof with everyone else, and she likes nothing better than being in her own home baking or gardening. She’s not entirely like me (my mother-in-law, who’s a keen gardener like Emma, cringes when I say that I’m going to do some gardening!), but she’s a lot like me.

Helen: If I asked Emma why we should read your books, what would she say?

Rachel: Emma would probably tell you to read all of the books in A Grim Series because she’d hope that by doing so you’d start to understand Blake a little better.

Helen: And she would be right. Your series is amazing! Who is your favourite character to write?

Rachel: My favourite character in A Grim Series is Abaddon. Well, she’s not the one that I love the most because that would be Emma and Blake, but she’s such fun to write. She’s an angel who is connected to Emma and Blake’s back story. You’ll have to read the series find out exactly how she’s connected, and whether she’s a hero or a villain, but she’s such fun to write because she’s so outrageous. She’s extremely liberal and is always coming out with the most outlandish remarks. Also, because she’s an angel, she can look like whoever she wants to look like and it’s good fun coming up with new bodies for Abaddon to ‘wear’.

Helen: Characters that give you flexibility and freedom are the best to write, because you never know where you might end up! Do you plan your books or do you let them take you where they will?

Rachel: I’m a pantser. I wish I was a planner because I often write myself into holes that my husband has to dig me out of, but I just can’t do it. When I started A Grim Affair, I literally had one scene in my mind. Some way into the book, I worked out the ending of the series but I had no idea how I would get there. I’m often surprised by my own characters. They go rogue on me all the time! 

Helen: Mine do as well! I always seem to end up places I wasn’t expecting! Do you find yourself doing a lot of research for your books?

Rachel: I refer you to one of my previous answers, lol! The great thing about writing fantasy is that you get to make stuff up and no one can tell you that it’s wrong! Before writing A Grim Series though, I did do quite a bit of research into grim reaper mythology, and that influenced several aspects of the story. I intend to write an article that will be at the back of A Grim Ending to share some of what I learned. It’s fascinating stuff! I always liked mythology as a child. It’s no wonder really that I became a fantasy writer. I also make sure snippets of information are correct. As an example, the prologue of each book in A Grim Series is set on a specific day in the World War One. I did several google searches to make sure that what I was describing was as authentic as I could make it. 

Helen: It is surprising as a fantasy author how much research does come into it, and you find yourself researching the strangest things!! How do you fit your writing into everyday life?

Rachel: So, this is one of the hardest things about being a writer, finding the time. Personally, I work long hours during the week so I never try and write on a weekday. That leaves me with the weekend. I’m an early bird so I always write on a Saturday and Sunday morning before my hubby gets up. It doesn’t give me much time each week, but it’s enough.

Helen: I know the feeling! We’re almost at the end, it has been lovely learning more about your books. Tell us something random about yourself.

Rachel: Hmmm, something random about me. Well, I used this with my day job team the other day and they were surprised so perhaps you’ll be surprised to know that I have two tattoos. Neither of them see the light of day all that often because being a UK based author I tend to be covered up. It’s no joke that it rains A LOT in the UK. 

Helen: Now we want to know what those tattoos are!! You can’t leave it there!! But we are at the end of time together and I have so enjoyed chatting with you. Good luck with the release of your final installment The Grim Ending. I love the cover, even more so now you pointed out the elements! Just to finish, what advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Rachel: Just do it. If you want to be a writer, be a writer. It’s that easy. It’s also quite hard. It’s hard finding the time and it’s hard being disciplined enough, but it’s worth it. Even though I’ve not yet made it to giddy heights that JK Rowling has, there’s nothing quite like knowing that someone is reading your work. And when – if – they leave a positive review… well, that’s an amazing feeling. 

About the Author:

Rachel Stanley

Rachel Stanley lives in the Northwest of England. She has always wanted to write stories but only found the time to put pen to paper after a dream about a Grim Reaper. True story!

She’s spent most of her adult life working as a project manager, despite her degree being in psychology. Her degree comes in handy though, helping her to understand people and their different motivations. Rachel loves people watching!

Rachel lives with her husband, David, and their two cats, Cooper and Watson, who feature in her “A Grim” series. She loves to travel and intends on seeing as much of the world as possible in her lifetime. Much of her writing is actually done when she is on one of her trips (at home or abroad). She can often be found at the side of a lake, or sat on a rock in the middle of nowhere, adding to her latest work of fiction.

Family is very important to Rachel. She firmly believes that without them she wouldn’t be where she is now.

For all the latest news:


Amazon Author page

You can preorder A Grim Affair from Amazon:

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

and Book Two: A Grim Haunt:

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my books which are available in eBook, paperback or hardcover: Book One: Sentinals Awaken. Book Two: Sentinals Rising. Book Three: Sentinals Justice. Book 3.5: Sentinals Recovery. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next book releases.

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Author Interview – Ceara Nobles

Author of Sparks and Shadows.

Today, I am chatting with YA Fantasy author, Ceara Nobles, about her novel Sparks and Shadows which releases today!!! Congratulations Ceara! Sparks and Shadows is the first book in the Rising Elements series.

Helen: Welcome Ceara! To start us off, tell us about your new novel.

Ceara: Sparks and Shadow is the first book in the Rising Elements series, a modern, action-packed YA portal fantasy featuring Fae mythology, magic, and slow-burn romance.

Seattle is full of monsters, and I’m the only one who can see them.

 I’ve spent the last 17 years (AKA my whole life) pretending I can’t see the monsters who disguise themselves as humans. I may not have a place to live and my best friend may be moments away from getting in too deep with the city’s most dangerous drug lord, but I’m rolling with the status quo. 

That is, until I save my arch enemy’s stupid life and find myself in a warehouse full of monsters. 

Next thing I know, I’m in Monster Land (AKA not Seattle) and up to my ears in monsters, magic, and inevitable mayhem. If I want to get home, I have to join a band of revolutionaries and stay alive long enough to get back through the portal before war breaks out. 

This’ll be a cinch. 

Helen: Congratulations on the release of your novel! Such a special feeling! This is such a lovely cover! Can you tell us how you came up with the design?

Ceara: This cover was so fun to make! You’ll see Everly, my main character, on the cover. Elements are a huge part of the series, and Everly’s magical element is fire, so we chose warm colors to go along with that. Most of the story is set in the mystical land of Thios, a city built into a massive forest in Faery, so we had to incorporate trees onto the cover. I wanted the cover to match current cover trends but also be meaningful to my story.

Helen: Is there a story behind the title?

Ceara: Funny story about the title. Originally, I had chosen the title SPARK OF FATE. I loved the title, researched the heck out of it to make sure there were no other books using it, and commissioned the cover from my designer. I even announced it and did a cover reveal on my Instagram page. Then I realized another author had published a book IN MY GENRE with the exact same title a few weeks before I announced mine. I was heartbroken! But I knew it would cause too much confusion to have two books with the same title in the same genre, so I brainstormed some other options and came up with SPARKS AND SHADOW. I have fallen in love with it, and I think it fits the series much better than my first one!

Helen: Oh, what a shame and how frustrating after all that work! I am so glad you found another title you love just as much and I think it works just as well if not better! What made you write this book?

Ceara: This book was born from my love of Ireland. We went on a family vacation there a few years ago, and I fell in love with the moss-covered forests and fae mythology. I also have a deep love for the Pacific Northwest, specifically the Seattle area. I combined the two, and SPARKS AND SHADOW was born!

Helen: Sounds like the best inspiration! Is YA fantasy your favourite genre to write?

Ceara: I write YA fantasy, and I love it! SPARKS AND SHADOW is a portal fantasy, and I love the idea of marrying the real world and a fantasy world. It makes my job really fun, and I get to combine the best of both worlds. I love imagining the possibilities of a fantastical world, creating new magic systems and societies and species. 

Helen: I agree, part of the joy of writing fantasy is the creative freedom to make up whatever you want. How does writing fit into your everyday life?

Ceara: I have a 2-year-old, so writing whenever I want just isn’t going to happen. She’s in preschool 2 days a week (soon to be 3, and I can’t wait!), so I head to a local coffee shop on those days and work there for the day. Something about the change in location really gets me into the headspace to work! A good iced chai always helps too. 😉 My husband also takes her two evenings a week and gives me three solid hours to work. Overall, I’m able to work about 20 hours a week.

Helen: How wonderful, supportive hubby’s are the best! Do you have time to fit in any hobbies?

Ceara: I love traveling! Between my hubby and I, we have family in three states, and we spend a lot of time traveling between them. I also love visiting new places, so we usually take at least a few trips per year. Besides that, I love long hot baths with a good book and thrifting!

Helen: You are very busy! Is there anything anecdotal you would like to share with your readers?

Ceara: I have to shout out to my husband! We have dubbed him my “creative director,” and he’s actually the inspiration behind my publishing company’s name: Riverside Press. When the idea for Sparks and Shadow first came to fruition, it was on a solo camping trip with my hubby and I. We spent an entire afternoon sitting in folding chairs by the river, plotting and brainstorming the first version of my story. He’s always there to support me, whether by brainstorming ideas with me or taking our toddler for the day so I can catch up on my deadlines. I wouldn’t be able to do this without him!

Helen: That sounds perfect! Thank you so much for chatting with me today. As we reach the end of our time together is there any advice you would share with new writers?

Ceara: It sounds cliche, but my best advice is this: you CAN do hard things. Writing stories and sharing them with the world is terrifying and difficult, but it is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. As for the publishing process? It’s not as hard as it sounds. Just learn as much as you can and keep failing until you figure it out! 

About the Author:

Ceara Nobles

Ceara Nobles is a Utah-based author of romantic suspense and fantasy novels. She graduated from the University of Utah in 2016 with a B.A. in Computer Animation, then realized she hated it. So she decided to pursue her true love of writing instead. She spends her days writing sales copy as a copywriter… and her evenings writing exciting stories as an author. And she loves both! When she’s not busy writing, you can find her snuggling her new baby girl, road tripping with her hubby, or shooing her cats off her laptop.

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You can preorder Sparks and Shadows from Amazon:

UK: eBook | Paperback

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As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my books which are available in eBook, paperback or hardcover: Book One: Sentinals Awaken. Book Two: Sentinals Rising. Book Three: Sentinals Justice. Book 3.5: Sentinals Recovery. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next book releases.

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Author Interview – CK Sorens

Author of Afflicted.

Today, I am chatting with YA Fantasy author, CK Sorens, about her latest novel Afflicted; the second installment of the Trimarked series which releases on March 1st, 2022 and is currently available on preorder- keep reading to check out the preorder thank you gift Carrie has lined up for you!

Helen: Welcome Carrie! To start us off, tell us about your latest book.

Carrie: Afflicted is the second book in the Trimarked Series and follows Ember, whose powers have grown in the five weeks since the end of the first book, Trimarked. Nicu, her Fae guardian, has kept her secret from the Fae to protect her from imprisonment, but his loyalties are torn. So far, her unintentional bursts of power have been minor, and ignored. But as a powerful Witch upsets the fragile allyship between human, Fae, and Witch, Ember considers consciously using her chaotic abilities. If she chooses to access her powers, will Nicu keep his promise, or will he side with his kind? When the choice is to protect her friends or save herself, Ember may discover the answer.

Helen: That sounds amazing! You have such a vibrant cover. What was the inspiration behind the cover design?

Carrie: My cover was designed by the talented Natalie, the driving force behind Original Book Cover Designs. It shows Ember on Witch lands. One of the taglines for this book is “Fighting is her best feature,” and we wanted to show she’s ready for the fight to come with the clenched fists and red sweater. The red is also to show that this girl is ready to be bold, to fight for what’s important to her, once she figures out what that is.

Helen: This is the second book in your Trimarked series, how did you come up with the name of the book?

Carrie: Afflicted’s title came, in part, from one of my antagonists. The Queen can spread her over-large soul across the bodies of other people, effectively turning them into mind-controlled drones. When they’re under her control, they’re afflicted.

Afflicted has a second meaning, though, from astrology. When planets are afflicted, they’re in opposition to each other, two bodies on opposite sides. In this novel, so many chess pieces move around. Everyone seems in opposition with the other until they’re not. They are constantly shifting.

Helen: Oh, I love the dual meaning behind the title. That is so interesting and makes your series even more intriguing. Do you typically write fantasy?

Carrie: I write YA fantasy because fantasy is what got me through middle and high school. I enjoy reading and writing stories where young people are coming into their own. All their lives they’ve been told what to do for their own good, and now it’s time for them to figure out which parts of that they want to take with them, which they want to experiment with, and what they want to throw away. In fiction, YA characters are thrown into incredible situations without any experience to back them up in their decision making process. It’s not so different from real life. Sometimes, that pile of college applications is just as scary as facing down dragons. YA fantasy is not only a great escape, but also validation that hard things can be done through perseverance, faith, and a little bit of help, whether it’s from authority figured or magic.

Helen: Tell us about your protagonist and why you wrote her/him?

Carrie: In Afflicted, the main character is Ember Lee. She wasn’t just born in the wrong neighborhood (Fae), she also has a Witch for a dad and a human for a mother. A human with magical capabilities is unheard of, as they don’t have the ability to sense or use magic. The mages see Ember as a ticking time bomb. The humans see her as a reminder that magic has invaded their space, which had been ‘normal’ before they were forced to coexist.

I wrote Ember because she’s struggling in many of the same ways I struggled. I had more friends and a greater support system growing up, but many of my choices were ones I made because of those very systems. When the consequences of those choices weren’t what I wanted, I got out. That burned a lot of bridges for me and caused a lot of tension within that support system. So, at the time I began writing this story a decade or so ago, I truly felt on my own. Her experiences came from a dark part of my life, and I’m finding through conversations and reviews that it’s one many people can relate to, bringing me community once again. It’s a full circle, and I have the experience of creating and sharing Ember to thank for that.

Helen: I think that makes Ember even more engaging as she faces circumstances which drive difficult choices. If I asked Ember why we should read your book. What would she say?

Carrie: Oh, I love this question. Honestly, Ember would say:

“Don’t. Like I need one more person in my life watching me.”

Because of her status, she has a regular, though not constant, Fae guard, Nicu. The Witches give her more space as long as she keeps her weekly meeting with Devi to be checked up on. The humans, at least, steer clear of her for the most part, but they’re also the ones more likely to bully her. There’s another group of mixed-race kids and runaways called the Halfers. She should fit in with them because of her mixed parentage, but they think she brings in too much attention, and they hate the fact that her mother didn’t abandon her like their parents abandoned them. They put up with her because their leader trades with her, but that’s the extent of their patience.

But we as readers don’t have to listen to her, do we? 😉

Helen: LOL! Love it. Like me, you are a Realm of Darkness participating author. What made you write a novel for an paranormal fantasy anthology?

Carrie: The next book I have coming out is going to be in the anthology, Realm of Darkness, a collection of 40 paranormal and fantasy romance novels at all different steam levels. Even though this would take me out of my current series, which is not a romance, I joined for the opportunity to learn and to get to know more indies. Being in the set has fulfilled both of my hopes, and I’m really excited to take these lessons forward, and to be able to grow my indie tribe with these talented authors.

Realm of Darkness Anthology

Helen: I am so excited to be part of this anthology, it has been a great experience, and I can’t believe the launch is only in October. It has come around so quickly! You can preorder the anthology here for the insane price of 99c/99p! You can check out some of my other posts as I spotlight the authors as they reveal their covers!

Thank you so much for chatting with me today. It’s been such fun getting to know you more, Carrie. As we reach the end of our time together is there anything you would like to add?

Carrie: Afflicted is up for pre-order now, and will be live on March 1st, 2022! If you pre-order, I have a couple gifts lined up for you. If you pre-order an ebook, I’ll send you a character art bookmark collection and a Trimarked temporary tattoo and sticker. If you pre-order a paperback, you’ll receive the same gift, PLUS a ebook copy of Afflicted so you can get started right away. The details are outlined on my here.

About the Author:

CK Sorens

C.K. Sorens started reading and writing young, carrying the love of the written word with her through college and beyond. Trying out a few professions, she always came back to her love of writing.

C.K. lives with her husband, their three sons, and their dog, Pippin. She enjoys warm days at the beach, day hikes, and sitting on the patio with a small fire.

For all the latest news:

Linktree to social media sites

You can preorder Afflicted from Amazon:

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my books which are available in eBook, paperback or hardcover: Book One: Sentinals Awaken. Book Two: Sentinals Rising. Book Three: Sentinals Justice. Book 3.5: Sentinals Recovery. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next book releases.

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Author Interview – Angela Cairns

Author of Touch.

Today I am chatting with Women’s fiction author, Angela Cairns, about her latest novel Touch, which is an inspiring story of self-discovery, wounded heroes, and second-chance love

Helen: Welcome Angela! To start us off, tell us about your latest book.

Angela: My current book is titled Touch – it’s the first in the uplifting Ellie Rose women’s fiction series. If you like inspiring stories of self-discovery, wounded heroes, and second-chance love, you’ll adore this story, with romantic leanings and a hint of medical memoir.  Books two and three are queued up and ready to be released called Dilemma and Bloom, and there is a prequel novella already released, called Paradise, which charts Ellie’s early life and love for Brett in Australia.

Physiotherapist, Ellie Rose who is devastated by the tragic loss of her soulmate. Unable to endure the stifling sympathy of friends and family she leaves for the quiet countyside of Essex where she knows no one. After suffering too long in an awful job, she decides to establish her own holistic health clinic. She finds solace in healing others and in her wonderful dogs, but wonders if she’ll ever reclaim her own happiness.

 Ellie can’t release the pain lingering in her soul. Until a new neighbour with his own grief opens the door to loving again. Can she find the courage to let go of the past and live life with passion again?

Helen: This does sound like an amazing journey as well as a bit of a heart-wrencher. What was the inspiration behind the cover design?

Angela: The cover to Touch has been through several transformations and I love working with my American cover designer Shannon Kuzmich. We finally settled on a watercolour style of a reflective girl walking on a beach. It suits the mood of the book and is one of the scenes from the story. I love the colours and the mood. I’ve had some beautiful bookmarks made by artist Carolyn Carlin, who has used the floral design from the girl’s dress and picked out the main colours in the bookmark ribbons.

Helen: It’s a lovely cover and the idea behind the bookmarks sounds amazing! How did you come up with the title?

Angela: The back story to the title is linked to the main character’s profession as a physio and her beliefs that touch therapies are important in healing and well-being. As a physio myself, this reflects my own beliefs. But it also alludes to the loss of her soulmate and his touch and learning to trust again.

Helen: What a lovely story behind the title. It’s so nice when then is real meaning behind the title. Why did you write this book?

Angela: I’ve always written stories and done a lot of non-fiction professional writing. My first published stories were a series of audio relaxation visualisations called Play, Pause, Unwind with original soundtracks from composer Simon Ramet. Then came my anthology of short stories Seasonal Produce. I began writing Touch because the idea for the story had been nagging in my brain for a while and I also wanted to explore some of my beliefs about wellbeing and recovering from loss in a fiction form.  I also write hundred word stories as part of a writing team, for a local radio station, which are then produced and narrated by actors as part of a show.

I’d love to help people journey with hope through the ups and downs of life.

Helen: That must be amazing to have your work narrated on the radio. Do you typically write Women’s fiction? What are you currnetly working on?

Angela: I write Women’s fiction which is mostly set in a contemporary world. The Ellie Rose series will span through from 1986 to current times. Initially a three-part series, I’ve fallen in love with my characters and their world, so it is destined to become a saga. My latest project is my first historical novel set in 1910. It was inspired by my grandmother’s photo archives and in part her stories about growing up that I listened to as a child. It’s a fascinating time for women as the suffragist and suffragette movements are gaining strength and I wanted to link her experiences as a dressmaker’s apprentice and her love of music into the story. It’s set in Portsmouth UK where she lived for over a hundred years.

Helen: How wonderful that you have such a close connection and can use personal memories in your book. It sounds a really interesting premise. What inspired you to start writing?

Angela: I was inspired to write by my love of reading. As a child I inhabited amazing worlds and met wonderful people inside the covers of books. I had a head full of stories I wanted to write down and I think it is a wonderful privilege to be able to walk alongside readers and see your books take life in their enjoyment. As a child, The Wind in the Willows, Winnie the Pooh and any horse book I could find, Black beauty, Flambards (the site of which, I coincidentally live near now and actually exists.) you name it I read it. As an adult, I love reading  Joanne Harris, Anita Shreve, Susan Howatch, Marion Keyes and indie author Julia Blake. I also love crime fiction and forensic crime, P.D James, Kathy Reichs, Ian Rankin and indie writers, Stella Oni and Caroline Noe.

My writer’s group with The Writers Company and their imaginative and creative courses continue to be my anchor and my compass.

Helen: Gosh, I can really relate, I used to love the Flambards! If your Main Character could speak, why would she tell us to read your book?

Angela: Why would my main character Ellie Rose say you should read my book? Well because life can be tough and sometimes you just need to put everything down at the door, get comfortable and let someone else soothe away the aches and pains.

Helen: Let’s chat a little about your writing process. Are you a pantser or a planner? Do you write free form, or do you have a framework you stick to?

Angela:  All my ideas are hand-written in notebooks, although the text itself is typed. I’ve tried all kinds of writing software but at the end of the day I fare best with word files for each chapter, a main text document and a gorgeous notebook and pen. All my friends buy me amazing notebooks which I open with reverence – there is nothing better than a virgin page and a fountain pen!

Helen: Do you listen to music when you write, if so, what do you listen to and why?

Angela: Sometimes I listen to music, but mainly I write in quiet in a spare bedroom that used to be my son’s room. It is light and airy, with a view of my neighbours gardens and the sky. If I need music, it’s when I take a break to have a wild dance around the kitchen. Dancing music of choice; Santana, Samba Pa Ti; Black Box Ride on Time; Chumbawumba, Tubthumpin’. I also love belly dancing, so anything by Shakira or some of the traditional Raq Sharqui music.

 I do a lot of my thinking out on walks with the dogs, I have Gordon Setters, or on long drives. A lot of my characters names are constructed from interesting place names I see when I’m driving.

Helen: I think every writer is a great reader! What is your favourite book and what do you love about it?

Angela: Virtually impossible to choose a favourite book, but if I was going to be marooned on an island with only two books I’d take Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. It’s an inspirational piece of spiritual poetry prose that looks at the very nub of life itself. I’ve bought it at least seven or eight times, because every time I lend it, it never comes back. Then it would have to be Joanne Harris’s Chocolat – I love the world, because it reminds me so vividly of when I lived in France, the characters are colourful and fascinating and there is just that hint of magical realism that she does so well. I could escape into that world and be endlessly happy.

Helen: Great choices! What books have you recently read that you would recommend?

Angela: Recent books I would recommend are from the indie publishing world, because I’ve been delving into that recently to support my colleagues. Ezekial Factor by Caroline Noe. Cracking dystopian crime novel with a snarky detective, a feisty terrier and an AI colleague who ends up teaching the main character a lot about being human. Anything by Julia Blake, but I love The Book of Eve that had a modern-day Great Gatsby vibe to it. I also loved the retro /paranormal/romance series by Mckenna Dean which starts with Bishop takes Knight and I’ve binge read all of Helen Starbucks mystery/crime novels- she writes the best male leads and feisty heroines.

Helen: Ooh nice, I’ll have to check them out! What is the most useful piece of writing advice you’ve received?

Angela: The most useful piece of writing advice I received came from DBC Pierre who wrote Vernon God Little  – “Write in a reckless fever, re-write in a cardigan.” And that’s me, I’m neither a plotter nor a fly by the seat of my pants writer (pantser). I start with a story arc and a basic idea of where I’m going. Then I research the time period, thoroughly, I try to find real characters/events to influence my fictitious ones and make them authentic and relatable.

I quite like the notion that I’m a gardener, i.e. I start with a seed, water and tend it, then see what grows!

Helen: A lovely idea! It’s been such fun getting to know you, Angela, as we reach the end of our time together could you tell us something anecdotal about yourself.

Angela: Something anecdotal – hmmm, just a saying that I’ve found helps to keep me sane … “Don’t push the river – it flows by itself.” A healthy amount of planning and goal setting is great, but so is a healthy amount of good humoured acceptance and flexibility. I’m an acupuncturist as well as a physio and I practice T’ai Chi and Yoga, so I’m all about striving for balance.

Helen: Thank you so much for chatting with me today. I wish you all the best with your next book. Just to close, what advice would you give new writers?

Angela: Every first draft needs rewriting to tighten up the pace of the story and deepen the character portraits. When I have done the best I can, I have a lovely team of beta readers who generously read the fledgling story and pick up any flaws they see. Then it’s off to a professional editor, for more tidying up and polishing. You must love the process, if you’re going to produce good work.

About the Author:

Angela Cairns

Still a working clinician – Physiotherapist/Acupuncturist I began writing with a collection of relaxation stories set to original sound-tracks called Play Pause Unwind I felt we were long overdue a physiotherapist heroine to join the ranks of fictional doctors, nurses and psychologists and so I wrote Ellie Rose – clever, compassionate and determined, a heroine to take to your heart…

I live in Essex, in the UK with my husband. I have two grown-up sons and a clan of Gordon Setter dogs.

For all the latest news:


You can preorder Touch from Amazon:

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my books which are available in eBook, paperback or hardcover: Book One: Sentinals Awaken. Book Two: Sentinals Rising. Book Three: Sentinals Justice. Book 3.5: Sentinals Recovery. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next book releases.

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Author Interview – Helen Rygh Pedersen

Author of Waking Ursa Minor.

Join me as I chat to Helen (This could get confusing with two Helen’s but we’ll do our best!) about her debut novel Waking Ursa Minor, the first book in her Riverda Rising epic fantasy series which releases on February 22nd! It is available on preorder now!

Helen: Welcome Helen! To start us off, tell us about your new book.

Helen RP: Waking Ursa Minor is the first book in my epic fantasy series, Riverda Rising, as well as being my debut novel. The paperback and ebook versions are available on 22nd February, (pre-order is available now on most major retail sites) and I am hoping to release a hardback version around May and who knows, maybe even an audiobook.


As Gesland swelters in extreme heat, Serakela watches the nomadic clans make their way across the plains on their annual pilgrimage and resigns herself to the monotonous life of servitude at the institution which raised her. But Serakela is not the orphan she always believed herself to be. On the night a crazed assassin tries to kill her, her heritage is revealed catapulting her into an island-hopping fight for survival, and the search for the fabled Stone of Riverda.

The sundered islands of Riverda are dying. The earth magics that protected and sustained them before the Rivening are unbalanced; dwindling in some areas whilst stifling others. As time runs out and tensions rise, countries teeter on the brink of war, starvation and extinction. A way to save them has just arisen from the realm of rumour but Brother Okrafkus of the Separamus cannot allow this to happen.

Not only will Serakela’s quest lead her to her long-lost family, rumour has it that she who wields the Stone will restore the islands of Riverda to their former glory. Rumour also has it that in doing so, she will unleash the evil that split them. 

Helen: This sounds amazing! Congratulations on releasing your first novel. It is a very special feeling! What was the inspirarion behind the cover design?

Helen RP: The wonderful Franziska Stern of Cover Dungeon Rabbit did my cover and all I can say is she did a wonderful job. A huge thank you goes out to her for all her hard work and for putting up with me throughout the process.

It was quite hard to come up with a cover as the book takes place over various different islands, each with their own distinct culture and aesthetic. I’m also not a huge fan of characters on the cover of books so that was very important to avoid, even if it goes against current trends.  

I can’t actually say too much about the cover’s meaning, I’m afraid, as it does contain certain images of items/characters/ places in the book that I don’t want to spoil for the readers, but I love the way Franzi managed to get the books darker undertones into the cover.

Helen: This being your first novel, is Fantasy your first love?

Helen RP: I write fantasy, or to be more specific, epic fantasy with a darker side. I’ve always loved fantasy since I really got into books at about 9 years old. I love that you can go absolutely anywhere, you aren’t bound by the laws of nature and physics of our world. I also like how a lot of fantasy harkens to a pre-industrialised, almost medieval setting, as I’ve always been fascinated with history and how people lived. The combination of magic, mythical beasts and historic settings…what more do you need?

Helen: I couldn’t agree more! An irresistable combination. What made you first start writing?

Helen RP: According to my mother, I have been telling stories since before I could even write. They gave me a notebook at nursery which I filled with strange symbols and squiggles: stories that I could recite perfectly to anyone that asked. This continued when I learnt the real alphabet and I actually have a lot of my early writing. If you are at all interested, please check out my “Quotes of Christmas Past” challenge on Instagram from December 2020.

Creative writing (in our English classes) was my favourite class at school and I am very sad that it disappears from the curriculum the older a child gets.

Waking Ursa Minor actually started with a “novel” I wrote when I was 11 years old involving a plane crash where the teen protagonists find themselves on an island called Utopia. I am very pleased to say however that only two things remain from the original book; a character name and one event which I won’t mention as it contains spoilers.

Helen: How wonderful that you were able to evolve your original novel into your debut. Such an achievement. If you didn’t write fantasy what would you like to write?

Helen RP: Easy, historical fiction. When I was younger, I was obsessed with ancient civilisations and wanted to be an archaeologist (a small part of me still does, but I think it might be a bit late now). I’ve always been inspired during or after museum visits, my fingers literally itching to write. The only problem is I wouldn’t know which era to start in!

I do also like books which blend the historical and fantastical, such as Barbara Erskeine’s and Kate Mosse’s novels. So maybe that’s a route I can go down too.

Helen: Who is your favourite character from your book?

Helen RP: This is such an interesting and difficult question. I suppose an author should say the protagonist but I loved writing Okrafkus. He was so much fun and he has so many layers, that I am still uncovering. I also really like Cheskia for her sheer determination to survive.

Helen: When not writing, do you have time for other hobbies?

Helen RP: When I’m not writing and looking after my two young children, I of course love reading, but also enjoy crafts. I knit, I sew, and more recently I have fallen down the rabbit hole of making yarn and cloth from stinging nettles.

I also enjoy going for walks in the countryside, which in rural Norway is literally on our doorstep.

I’m currently having a little break from drawing and painting as creating my own picture book, A Whiff in the Woods, as fun as it was, rather took it out of me. Although I have drawn my own maps for the Riverda Rising series.  

Helen: You are keeping extremely busy!! You said you read. What is your favourite book?

Helen RP: My favourite book and the one that really got me into fantasy is The Hobbit. I have a beautifully illustrated edition and it doesn’t matter how many times I read it, I am always transported back to sitting on the floor at 10 years old, hanging on every word the teacher (who I didn’t like very much) read. I was absolutely transfixed!

Helen: Thank you so much for chatting with me today. I wish you all the best with book launch. Just to close, what advice would you give new writers?

Helen RP: Get that first draft finished, just write it. Don’t stop to think how awful it is and try to edit it, just write the damn story. You can fix it later.

Don’t tell yourself that other writers are better than you, that no one wants to read your book. All writers had to start somewhere and I can promise you that there is someone out there, possibly even a whole fandom who want to read what you have written.

Lastly, don’t be lonely. The best thing I did to give my writing the kick up the bum it needed was to find like minded people through the writing community. It doesn’t matter that I live in a remote village in Norway, I have writing friends, mentors, and cheerleaders across the globe, and trust me on this journey you are going to need them!

About the Author:

Helen Rygh Pedersen

Reading and writing are two things Helen Rygh-Pedersen has been heavily involved with from a young age. She could always be found with her nose in a book or with a notebook in hand, especially on long car journeys as her family moved from place to place.

She graduated from the University of Exeter with a BA in French and Italian and after a brief career teaching languages in the UK, she moved to Norway with her family. It was here that she really reignited her passion for creating worlds. She dipped her toe into the publishing process by first releasing her dystopian short story, Heifer, and a picture book which she illustrated herself, A Whiff in the Woods, before taking the leap with her debut novel. Waking Ursa Minor is the first book in her Riverda Rising epic fantasy series.

When she isn’t writing she can be found spending time with her family, sewing and knitting or catching up on the latest fantasy series.

For all the latest:


You can preorder Waking Ursa Minor from Amazon:

UK: eBook

USA: eBook

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my books which are available in eBook, paperback or hardcover: Book One: Sentinals Awaken. Book Two: Sentinals Rising. Book Three: Sentinals Justice. Book 3.5: Sentinals Recovery. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next book releases.

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Author Interview – Nellie H. Steele

Author of Trouble, the fourth book in the Supernatural mystery Shadow Slayers saga.

Join me as I chat to Nellie H. Steele about her latest book Trouble which launches today! Congratulations Nellie! And find out what else she is working on.

Helen: Welcome Nellie! To start us off, tell us about your latest book.

Nellie: I’ve got a LOT going on with current offerings!  In the next few months, I’ll be releasing Book 4 in my Shadow Slayers saga along with the first books in two new series!

The first one to make its debut is Trouble and it is really appropriately named.  The Shadow Slayers are experiencing Trouble from all sides!  They’ve just come off of a life-changing experience when they travel to an alternate universe and just as things seem to be settling down, the dam breaks and a flood of other issues hit them. 

The Shadow Slayers are a great team to write and I’m really excited for people to continue exploring their universe.

Helen: You sound extremely busy! Once you start writing a series and your characters become like family, it’s wonderful to be able to return and write more in the world you know so well. What was the inspirarion behind the cover design?

Nellie: This cover couldn’t be more perfect for this book.  It has both literal and figurative meaning.  The broken mirror with Celine trapped inside symbolizes her life breaking apart with the amount of difficulty she experiences. 

It also has a quite literal meaning.  There is a scene in the book in which a mirror shatters to pieces after the Slayers glimpse an image of Celine dancing in a red dress.

Helen: It is a most unusal cover. How about the title, is there a story behind that?

Nellie: The story really hits the Slayers with trouble from every angle imaginable.  They’re drowning in problems in this book, so the title fits really well.  It also ties well to the ending of the book.  I won’t say any more but when the title was proposed, I latched on to it immediately because it felt so fitting.

Helen: I love the stories behind covers and titles. It gives the readers a little more colour and depth! Although Slayers is a fantasy series, you don’t just write fantasy do you?

Nellie: I’m literally a split personality.  I can’t seem to pick a lane.  I enjoy an eclectic range of genres to read, so it makes sense that I’d also enjoy writing a range.

Currently, I write cozy mystery, supernatural suspense/magical realism, adventure and historical mystery.  I’m about to debut another cozy mystery series and a second series which is close to adventure but with a twist. 

I didn’t really expect to expand into this particular genre (which is still a secret and will be revealed in the coming months), but I’m a “pantser,” and my characters take the lead.  I didn’t expect them to go in this direction!

Helen: Oooh how exiting … a secret … follow Nellie to make sure you hear first! What else are you working on in 2022?

Nellie: In true split personality style, I’ve got two WIPs right now.  I’m working on the third Maggie Edwards Adventure.  In this installment, Maggie is traveling to Scotland for a relaxing vacation.  She’s received an invitation to spend some time at Dunhaven Castle with Cate Kensie (of the Cate Kensie cozy mysteries).  What should be a fun, relaxing time will turn into anything but!  Look for Maggie’s next adventure later this year.

I’m also working on Book 5 in the Cate Kensie mystery series.  Cate’s just gotten an eye-opening in Book 4 with some of our Shadow Slayers characters hopping into her series and causing quite a bit of chaos.  She’ll continue to experience some issues from her new discoveries while she solves a decades old murder!

Helen: I’m glad I am not the only one with multiple projects on the go! Do you prefer writing or editing?

Nellie: Writing by a mile!  I don’t mind re-reading and tweaking my work, but sometimes trying to parse through a heavy edit to be sure word choice is spot on can be very tedious!

Helen: Pantser or planner?

Nellie: Pantser.  My characters take the lead and often, they take the story into a direction I did not expect.  This happened a few times.  One of my characters in my Duchess of Blackmoore historical mystery series I had intended to die early on in Book 1 (maybe by Chapter 5).  He’s still going strong in Book 2.  I guess he had other ideas.

I’ll also debut a new series later this year that I did not expect.  I wrote another cozy mystery series and, while writing, had an idea to write a prequel to explain the backstory of some of the supporting characters. 

One full novel later, these characters will now become the main characters for another new series.  I fully expected to write a short story, but my characters had other ideas!

Helen: Which characters do you enjoy writing the most and why?

Nellie: I enjoy writing most of my characters, each for different reasons. One of the most fun characters to write is my Shadow Slayers villain, Marcus.  He gets to say and do things no one else can.  Writing his snippy dialog and no-holds-barred actions can really be exciting.

Helen: He sounds like fun to write. What is the most useful piece of advice you’ve received about writing?

Nellie: Write daily, no matter what, no matter how hard it is. I’ve heard this from several other authors as well as writing coaches.  There’s a sense that writers have a creative spirit and only write when the mood strikes them.  There’s always a reason to put it off for another day.  I’ve worked hard to build a good writing routine that is incorporated in my day-to-day life.  It’s really helped me push past any sticky plot points.

Helen: Thank you so much for joining me today. Just one last question to close us out. Let’s finish with you telling us something random about yourself.

Nellie: I’m an avid animal lover and I have 14 rescue pets.  I can’t say no to a furry face (obviously, lol).  Right now, I’ve got 8 cats and 6 dogs.  I often incorporate them into my stories.  For example, Cate’s dogs are based on two of my teddy bears (Kylo and Finn).  And in the new cozy series, the cat Cassie and Lily adopt is based on my own one-eyed wonder, Percy.

About the Author:

An Indies Today finalist for Best Book of the Year 2020 with Cleopatra’s TombNellie H. Steele made the leap from science to art with her first book, The Secret of Dunhaven Castle.

An animal enthusiast, Nellie often features a version of one of her fourteen rescue animals in her stories, though the fictional pets are usually better behaved than her own fur-babies!  A literary split personality, Nellie’s work ranges from cozy mystery to supernatural suspense to riveting adventure.

She lives in the South Hills of Pittsburgh.  When she isn’t writing or engaging in animal care, she enjoys teaching Statistics and Data Science at a local university.

Check out all Nellie offers at or at her blog, Nellie’s Book Nook, available at!

For all the latest:


You can purchase Trouble from Amazon:

UK: eBook

USA: eBook

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my books which are available in eBook, paperback or hardcover: Book One: Sentinals Awaken. Book Two: Sentinals Rising. Book Three: Sentinals Justice. Book 3.5: Sentinals Recovery. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next book releases.

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Mailchimp to receive marketing, updates, and other emails from the site owner. Use the unsubscribe link in those emails to opt out at any time.

Author Interview – R.K. Nixon

Author of the children’s book Nani Gets Lost

Join me as I chat to children’s fantasy author RK Nixon about her latest children’s book and how she got into writing.

Helen: Welcome Rosemary, please tell us about your new book.

Rosemary: Nani Gets Lost was released in December 2021. It is about Nani and her friends, Doggy and Gnome, they go to the supermarket to get food for a picnic. Nani loses her friends at the supermarket. The story teaches children what to do if they get lost.

Helen: The cover is so cute. I suppose it was quite easy to decide on the cover and the title?

Rosemary: The front cover is Nani, Doggy and Gnome together. The book is about the three friends so I wanted the front cover to show them all together. It was designed by my illustrator, Carla Vize-Martin.

As a children’s book, the title needed to be simple, easy to say and describe the story.   ‘Nani Gets Lost’ explains what the story is about and is appealing to children. It’s a simple sentence but it took a lot of attempts to find the right words in the right order.

Helen: It is quite amazing how sometimes the simplest things take the longest to create. What inspired you write this book?

Rosemary: I wrote this book for my youngest daughter. It is about her toy Rabbit, Nani. Emily takes Nani everywhere, they get up to a lot of adventures together; so I wrote one of those adventures down for her. I’ve always loved making up stories. I started writing one for my oldest daughter when she was born. I wanted to write her a story that I could read to her and it snowballed from there. It was wonderful feeling being able to hand her her very own book that was written for her. I enjoy writing children’s fantasy, although one day I would like to write an adult historical drama.

Helen: What a great feeling that must be. Congratulations on publishing your book! It must be so exciting introducing children to the wonderful world of reading. Where do you get the ideas for your books? What are you working on now?

Rosemary: I get my inspiration from my daughters and husband. They are always playing imaginary games and creating new worlds, they often come out with something that sparks my imagination. Usually I write around my children’s hobbys; whilst I’m sat waiting for them to finish. Sometimes ideas come to me when I least expect it so I have a page on my phone where I can write them down so I don’t forget them. My current WIP is the second book in The Alexander Adventures. It is about a mischievous pixie that causes havoc in Orchantia, the realm of the fairies.

Helen: Tell us about your writing space. Do you listen to music while you write, or is silence your preferred environment?

Rosemary: I often have music playing in the background. I have an eclectic taste in music, so it can be anything from classical to rock but often I pick calm music if I am writing.

Helen: And do you have a writing nook? Somewhere you can squirrel away and focus on your writing?

Rosemary: I like writing on my couch, next to the window so I can look at the view to give me a bit of inspiration. It gets the most sun, so it’s always warm and it looks out over the fields, if I’m lucky I get to see a family of deer walking along. 

Helen: Sounds lovely! Do you have the chance to read much? Who is your favorite author?

Rosemary: I love reading historical novels, I would love to write a story like that one day. I have to confess I have got out of the habit of reading (there’s just not enough time in the day!) so I haven’t read anything for a while. I really enjoyed the Cousins Series by Philippa Gregory.

My favourite author would have to be Roald Dahl, I grew up reading his books and now my children are reading them. There are a few authors that inspire me; Roald Dahl, Julia Donaldson, J. R. R. Tolkien, but it is my family that keeps encouraging me to keep going.

Helen: We are drawing to a close now, please tell us something random about yourself.

Rosemary: I have a cookie bite hearing loss. I’ve had it since I was born but only found out about it when I was 30. I now have fancy hearing aids which I can play music on which is amazing. 

Helen: Technology is so clever these days. You have a built in radio! It’s been lovely meeting you, Rosemary. Just to finish with, what advice would you give to other aspiring authors?

Rosemary: ‘Don’t give up. If you believe in your work it will happen.’ Indie Author, Lee Hall. Just write. Put your ideas down on paper, worry about the editing once your story is written.

For more information:

Author Website



About the Author:

R.K Nixon

R.K Nixon has written two books; The Aquarius Stone (published, 2020) and Nani Gets Lost (Published, 2021). She grew up loving books, especially fantasy and now writes her own. Up until December she worked as a Speech and Language Therapist, so she understands the importance of stories for developing children’s language skills and imagination. She lives with her two very energetic girls, Emily and Charlotte and her husband, Mel,  who is a child at heart. It can be a very noisy house at times but they are always giving her lots of fun ideas for new stories.

You can purchase Nani Gets Lost from Amazon:

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my books which are available in eBook, paperback or hardcover: Book One: Sentinals Awaken. Book Two: Sentinals Rising. Book Three: Sentinals Justice. Book 3.5: Sentinals Recovery. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next book releases.

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