Author Interview – Rachel Hobbs

Author of The Stones of Power series

I am so happy to be chatting to fantasy author Rachel Hobbs today. Her second fantasy novel Soul Strung launches on November 2nd, and if you haven’t read Shadow Stained yet, you should! Welcome Rachel. Let’s start with you introducing your new novel.

Rachel: The book I’m working on right now is Soul-Strung, the second book in the Stones of Power series. Soul-Strung is the direct sequel to Shadow-Stained, my debut adult dark fantasywhich launched last year. In Soul-Strung, we pick up the story around a month after the events of book one. Ruby is living Callien city, where she’s been trying to build a new life for herself in the wake of past catastrophes. Always the opposite, Drayvex is leaving trails of devastation. Saydor, having narrowly escaped with his life, is back in the power game, and boy does he know how to play it. As we know, Drayvex now has one very clear, very human weakness. And it’s only a matter of time before Saydor discovers that she survived. But despite Drayvex’s dogged attempts to hunt the demon down, Saydor has been one step ahead. So Soul-Strung starts with Drayvex turning up on Ruby’s doorstep out of the blue, armed with this devastating confession and a crazy plan – secure the stone of time and kill Saydor in the past. It’s the first time she’s seen him since Shadow-Stained, and his presence is the equivalence of a demonic hurricane ripping through her new city life. Buckle up, this is going to be a bumpy ride!

Helen: I am so excited to read Soul Strung, as you well know I love Drayvex, even though he is a terrible demon lord, he does have a soft, well a softening centre! What about the cover? What can you tell us about how you came up with the design?

Rachel:Both Shadow-Stained and Soul-Strung have my demon-human duo, Ruby and Drayvex, on the covers. Ruby and Drayvex have a complicated relationship, and it just gets more tangled and polarizing as the books go on. I wanted to reflect that on the cover of Soul-Strung. The biggest difference in the two covers, though, lie with Ruby. This is a deliberate reflection of her personal journey, of the changes she undergoes between the first and second books. On Shadow-Stained’s cover, our heroine has her back to Drayvex and the threat he poses to her. On Soul-Strung, she’s facing Drayvex head on and ultimately, the darkness he represents. She’s not the victim she once was. She’s a little stronger, a little wiser, and she’s no longer scared of the big bad Demon Lord. The question is though, is she facing down his darkness, or is she inviting it in? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Helen: Sounds amazing! I hope she is inviting him in. He needs some of his sharp edges smoothing! How did you come up with the title of the book?

Rachel: I wanted something suggestive of being trapped. Strung is a great word, as it evokes visions of being tied to someone or something against your will. A loss of control and freedom that’s forced upon you, but at the same time, not entirely torturous. With these vibes in mind for book two, Ruby and Drayvex are living with the consequences of that impulsive decision at the end of book one. Consequences that just seem to unfold and unfold. Yes, he saved her life. But not even Drayvex could know what the price of this would be, as no demon before him has ever put a piece of their soul inside a living, breathing human. At least, they didn’t leave an instruction manual!! Does he come to regret going to such lengths? Now isn’t that the question.

Helen: With such strong characters in your book, who did you prefer writing? Ruby or Drayvex?

Rachel: I’ve always gravitated more towards the villains than the heroes in stories. Give me a character with grey morals and a big personality, and I’m yours. I’m a sucker for a good anti-hero, and I think this is a big part of why I find Drayvex so much fun to write. It’s just so much more interesting when the protagonist is a terrible person! I must admit, I feel like I do sometimes really push those anti-hero boundaries with Drayvex. He’s a villain masquerading as an anti-hero. He’s unapologetically demon in all the worst ways, and yet somehow, he manages to get away with murder time and time again. I was told pretty early on that Drayvex’s one redeeming quality is his affection for Ruby. This made me laugh, as when you put it like that, it sounds pretty bad! But I couldn’t agree more. When I first released Shadow-Stained into the world, I wasn’t sure how well he was going to be received. But it seems like the sly devil is doing pretty well for himself. Everyone loves a rogue.

Helen: I think part of it his struggle to understand what is happening. We sympathise as he attempts to understand human emotions, emotions he shouldn’t be experiencing! Which part of the writing process do you prefer? Editing or writing?

Rachel: I used to think I preferred editing to writing. I’m one of those writers who favour having written the book to the act of writing itself. Writing has never been easy for me, and when I’m in a bad cycle, I struggle day after day, after day and I don’t enjoy it. But on those good days, writing from scratch feels like flying. There’s nothing more freeing than taking that tangle of thoughts and words and emotion inside your head, and shaping it into something entirely new that has a life of its own. Having now taken two books from initial concept to a living, breathing story, I’ve come to realise that when I’m writing, I prefer editing. When I’m editing, I’m dreaming of writing. So now I see the pattern, I’m trying to teach myself to enjoy the process as a whole. Both writing and editing have their place. They’re both part of the journey, so I may as well try to enjoy the whole ride!

Helen: It’s been lovely chatting iht you, good luck wiht the launch of Soul Strung. Just to close us out, tell us something random about yourself.

Rachel: I played clarinet in my school orchestra in my teen years. We travelled the world, played in Prague and Barcelona, and Lake Garda. From carparks to grand halls, we did it all. Music was one of my chosen escapes back then, and it was so easy to lose myself in these big booming pieces that blew me away. Being part of a bigger whole kept me whole. Well, that and stories. I was quite young when I first joined, so some of my memories of these beautiful places are stronger than others. But I’d like to back one day with my partner and see them again with fresh eyes.

You can find my book review of Rachel’s first book Shadow Stained here.

About the Author:

Rachel Hobbs lives in South West Wales, where she hibernates with with her bearded dragon and her husband. By day she is a dental nurse at a small local practice. By night, she writes.

​Her debut novel SHADOW-STAINED is the first in a dark fantasy series for adults, inspired by her dark and peculiar experiences with narcolepsy and parasomnia. She’s since subjugated her demons, and writes under the tenuous guise that they work for her.

​Fuelled by an unhealthy amount of coffee, she writes about hard-boiled monsters with soft centres and things that go bump in the night. ​

You can find more about Rachel via:

Author website

Twitter

Instagram

You can purchase Rachel’s books from Amazon:

Shadow Stained

UK: eBook | Paperback | Hardback

USA: eBook | Paperback | Hardback

Soul Strung Pre-order until Nov 2nd 2021 (Pre-order the paperback and a claim a free piece of character artwork.)

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

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

Author Interview – Forest Wells

Author of the Blood of an Alpha

Blood of an Alpha, by Forest Wells releases today, October 10th, and I am excited to be chatting with the author about his books and all things writing. Welcome Forest. Let’s start with you introducing your new novel.

Forest: My new release is a novella called “Blood of an Alpha”. In this one, Toltan’s pack faces serious trials when they lose their alpha, and the new one is an arrogant fool. As things get worse, Toltan will find himself facing hard choices that could decide the fate of the entire pack. This one is actually a prequel to my first novel, “Luna, The Lone Wolf”, and has two other short stories that dig deeper into events we hear about, but never get much detail on. I had hoped to have it out by June or sooner, but it took a little longer than expected.

I am also working on a sci-fi called “Fog of War” that follows the one human and two holdren (alien foxes basically) crew of a Scorn heavy starfighter. If it helps, think of it as a fighter bomber with better weapons and armor. Anyway, just as 40 years of war with the alien nation of Marcalla looks to be ending, a new threat that may not be new at all looms over the horizon. The crew of Gold 1 will charge back into the flames of war as they always have to defend their homes and loved ones, but they may not come out unscathed this time. That one I didn’t expect to have out before September, and that was if things went perfectly. FYI; things NEVER go perfectly for me.

Helen: That was one of the lessons I learnt when publishing my first book. Things always take a lot longer than you expect, and you should give yourself plenty of time to get everything done. Setting unrealistic deadlines just puts unnecessary pressure on yourself. Congratulations on publishing your book, you did it! Was there a special meaning behind the title you chose?

Forest: Not really. In the first novel, Toltan talks to Luna about “Your blood. My blood. The blood of all wolves. The blood of an alpha.” When I look at the three journeys we follow, that theme felt central to all three. The characters all have “the blood of an alpha”, and their journeys touch that blood in different ways. As for the sci-fi, it just feels right, though it took me a while to find it. There’s a fair amount of doubt, or “fog” if you will,  hanging around the characters. The title tells people that combat is a part of the story, but there’s more to it than just war and space battles, which is why despite what it looks like, it’s actually not a military sci-fi.

Helen: Who is your favourite character from your novels so far?

Forest: That would be the holdren Sundale from the sci-fi, but I still don’t know why. I only know that I love spending time with him any time I can. Especially when I get to dig deep into his mentality and emotions. I don’t know what else to say about that really.

Helen: You have two books out now, which genre do you prefer to write?

Forest: I tend toward sci-fi and fantasy because… I enjoy it? I’m not sure what else to say. I’ve always enjoyed Star Trek, Babylon 5, Starcraft, Narnia, Dragon Age, Dragon Heart, and so it’s fun for me to create my own worlds. I will say that I have an eaiser time creating worlds rather than playing in the real one, so that too is a factor. I get to set my own rules, and then play within them to tell the story I want to tell.

Helen: Creating new worlds is what I love about writing fantasy. Have you always wanted to write?

Forest: I was always writing, even as a kid in elementary school, but I didn’t realize what it was. Then 9/11 happened, the muse woke up, and I’ve been writing ever since. The stories won’t leave me alone, so I write them as best I can.

Helen: Strong emotional reactions tend to be a catalyst for many writers. Having awoken the need to write, how did you come up with the ideas for your books?

Forest: In the case of “Blood of an Alpha”, the two side stories are, well, side stories that couldn’t be told in the original novel because they weren’t part of Luna’s journey. One of them was in an original draft of “Luna” actually, but I realized that because it left Luna’s perspective, it damaged the story too much so it had to go. Similarly, the original draft showed us how Luna’s pack came to be where they are before he was born, but it was too slow and took too much time to develop before he ever got to meet Luna, much less begin his journey. But I didn’t want to just shelve those pages never to use them again. So I expanded those set-up page into its own story that is now “Blood of an Alpha.” But the last half or third of it is actually the original start of “Luna, The Lone Wolf”.

In general though, my ideas mostly come from random thoughts or feelings. My sci-fi was born because I was tired of the “heroes” we were getting. They were always misfits, downtrodded, broken (one way or another), worn-down, unrespected, unlikable, arrogant, or straight up criminals. I wanted a hero like that line from the original “Duck Tales” TV show; “Real heroes just do their job.” I couldn’t find one, so I set out to make one. Not sure if he stayed true to that as he evolved, but that’s how it started.

But it tends to be purely random. A writing contest makes me think of a different angle on werewolves, my desire to see wolves protected gave birth to a story about a wolf who learned how to face and evade hunters (it evolved into what became “Luna, The Lone Wolf”, but that’s how it started), looking at dusty Zoid models made me think of some long forgotten weapon depot that someone finds, things like that. My personal is how a line from Shrek gave me an idea. “You’re a GIRL dragon. I mean… of COURSE you’re a girl dragon.” Suddenly, the old fairy tales of a princess locked in castle guarded by a dragon made sense. From that came a story about a dragon with her own journey to take. And that’s all you’re getting on that one for now. Sorry. 😉

Photo by Andrew Ly on Unsplash

Helen: I love that you are interested in wolves for themselves and that interest drove you to write the book, and of course, any book with dragons has to be good! How does writing fit into your daily life?

Forest: I write when I can, think when I can, and be perfectly fine with not doing a thing for a protracted period of time. Experience has taught me that I do worse when I force things, not better. So I’ve learned to use distractions to center myself so I can write at will more often, but I’ve also learned to let things be. Thus far, sooner or later, the words come back to me.

Helen: Are you a writer who prefers back ground noise or silence? Do you have a playlist you use when writing?

Forest: Heh heh, that’s a VERY long list. But sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. Music can help me get into a scene better sometimes, and other times I need the silence to really process the, “okay, how does this NEED to go?” thoughts that make it all work. As for the music itself, it’s a long mish-mash of tunes, soundtracks from games/movies/TV shows, and other instramentals that fit the feeling I need to conjure at any given moment. Whether it’s League of Legends, Assassin’s Creed, Mass Effect, Ace Combat, Rambo, Star Trek, Babylon 5, Fox Amoore, or Two Steps From Hell, if it fits a mood I need, it will be played at some point.

Helen: How much research do you need to do for your books?

Forest: As much as I need. That sound like a cop-out, but it really isn’t. Mostly because I’m not sure how to exactly quantify it. I look up what I need for the needs of the story. My first novel just needed some research into wolves, most of which I knew because wolves have always been a passion of mine. The sci-fi… whew. That thing has sent me digging into technology, science, and tactics like nothing else. But I never dug more than I needed, and I think it’s served me pretty well so far. I have enough to tell the story and build the world enough for the reader to enjoy. Now for “Luna”, my written notes were pretty minimal. For the sci-fi, I have 30 pages of notes JUST about my alien foxes. So it depends on the needs of the story a bit too.

Helen: That’s not a cop out at all, each book is different. The trick is not to get lost in the research, but it sounds like you have that under control. Talking of control, do you find yourself planning your books, or letting them evolve as they will?

Forest: Oh total panster. There is no plan. I have at most a general idea of how a story will end (though that doesn’t always remain in tact) and a few highlights along the way, but zero idea how I’ll get there. So in many ways, it’s more like I’m reading my work that writing it. It can be fun in that way, but also annoying when it’s clear the story knew things but didn’t bother to tell me. The story knew the real back-bone to “Luna, The Lone Wolf”, I could see it in the evolution of the story, but it didn’t let me see it until a few months before publication. Similarly, the uniforms for my sci-fi military always had a sash sewn into them. For years I thought it was purely decorative. Then the story finally admitted that it’s also an emergencty air supply. May not last long, but even five minutes can be enough to get to an air tank or be rescued. It always knew, but it didn’t tell me. Panster.

Helen: What is your favourite book and why do you like it so much?

Forest: It’s not so much one as a series. Jane Lindskold’s Firekeeper series really got me energized about writing canine characters, as well as fantasy in general. But the main thing is that she is an expert at weaving intricate and detailed plot lines that are totally separate, only to have them crash together for the climax. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do that, but that doesn’t keep me from enjoying the read.

Helen: If you didn’t write in sci-fi or fantasy, then which genre would you like to try and write in next?

Forest: Oddly enough, I actually have an idea for a murder mystery. I’ve loved shows like NCIS, The Rookie, Columbo, and others, and I wouldn’t mind giving it a try someday. No idea if I ever will, but still. It would be a fun challenge to write.

Helen: That sounds intriguing, I hope you get the chance to write it. We’re nearing the end of our chat now, tell us something anecdotal about yourself..

Forest: I got the chance to do a reading at a VERY small bookstore up in Joshua tree. There weren’t many people there, and I only sold one book, bit it still felt like a worthwhile trip. To this day I don’t know why, but I do know that it was one of the first times I really felt like a published author. Kind of like being on the other side of the signature table. It’s also been a reminder for me to not be too proud about my appearences. Especially as a new author, but even if I ever do “make it big”, I hope I never get so proud as to say no to such a venue. After all, it’s where I came from. I hope I never forget that.

Helen: I bet that was the best feeling ever! Thank you so much for joining me today. Just to close us out, what advice would you give to new writers?

Forest: Well that could take an hour. Lol. You’re going to hear A LOT of “do this, don’t do that” as you develop. At least 50% of it won’t apply to you or your story. But as you get better, you’ll learn which ones to heed and which to ignore. Like the popular GIF says, “The code is what you call guidelines than actual rules.” Until then, be a sponge. Absorb any little tib-bit and fragment you can into your ball of clay that you use to create. Don’t be afraid to stash freelancers and other resources for future reference. I’ve sat on a few for years until it was time to call on them. It was worth the stash. Also; you DO NOT have to write every day, but I recommend you try it first. Even if you turn out to be one of the many who can’t write like that (despite what you’ll hear, there are plenty of highly successful writers who don’t), the attempt will help you develop your own tricks and ways to help your write more often than you normally would. Writer’s block IS a thing for some, but it can also be an excuse for others, so be wary of which it is for you. There is no such thing as an “aspiring author”. You write. You’re an author/writer. Own it. The terms are inerchangable and do not need a quantified beyond, at most, “published or unpublished”. And finally; I don’t care how Steven King or any author you name writes. You will NEVER be them, and they will NEVER be you. Write like YOU, and you’ll be fine.

About the Author:

Forest Wells is an author with dysgraphia, but those things don’t go together, which is why he did it anyway. He specializes in stories that focus on the emotions and personal journeys characters face regardless of the genre he’s writing. All of which is fueled by his deep passions for all things wild canine, sci-fi and fantasy, and really any well told story. When he’s not writing, or helping with his parent’s Girl Scout troops, you’ll find him watching his favorite NFL and NHL teams, watching E-sports, or gaming himself. Assuming he’s not caught up in the biggest of all procrastinating tools: Twitter. His first novel Luna, The lone Wolf was released in April of 2019, but he had a few short stories and poems published in anthologies before that. He currently lives in his home town of Thermal, California.

You can find more about Forest via:

Author website

Twitter

You can purchase Forest’s books from Amazon and other vendors:

Blood of an Alpha

UK: paperback

USA: Paperback

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

Author Interview – Adam Perry

Author of the All Posssible Orbits

Today I have the pleasure of meeting Adam Perry, who released his latest novel All Possible Orbits yesterday. Welcome Adam! Tell us about your new book.

Adam: Of all the books I’ve had rattling around in my head over the years, ALL POSSIBLE ORBITS is the one I’ve always wanted to write. A lot of people have dysfunctional families, but I’ve always noticed the surprise and laughter from telling close friends about mine. Theirs is that sort of laughter that floats just above their underlying shock and horror that these people really exist. From telling stories about my family for most of my life, I knew the good bits, so to speak. What I needed was a framework. Luckily, it fell onto the page one day while I was stuck in another story. I thought about my cousin who my relatives, for a moment, thought had tried to commit suicide by shooting himself in the shoulder with a rifle.

As it turned out, he had been cleaning the gun, gotten into a fight with his girlfriend who snatched the gun away from him, and accidentally fired a round through his right shoulder. As terrible as that was, what struck me is that the lie was concocted on the spot and that anyone in their right mind would believe someone would shoot themselves in the shoulder with a rifle as a means of committing suicide. Just the sheer mechanics of pulling it off versus the better than average chance of survival make this a ridiculous idea.

While I was thinking about this, the first sentences of the first draft hit the page. Once they did, the flood gate opened and all the stories I had wanted to tell seemed to pour out and create their own framework around the suicide of the protagonist’s brother. He did not choose to shoot himself in the shoulder as he was 100% committed to not surviving the act.

The novel is very personal for me. Even though the characters are only partially based on some real people, I found it very cathartic to write the piece. It was great, remarkably cheap therapy.

Helen: It is amazing where ideas come from. The art is recognizing the story within the spark and being able to capture it on paper. I love the colour combination used on your cover, tell us how you came up with the design.

Adam: My cover art was created by Mississippi artist, Drew McKercher, who also designed my website. We’ve known each other a while having played in lots of bands around the same handful of venues in town. A painting of Miles Davis that he put on his Instagram really caught my eye and I asked him to create the cover. The four elements I asked for were the camouflage shotgun, the skinning tree, the skinning rack, and a bucket with either a deer hoof or antler sticking out.

In the story, this tree is where the protagonists brother commits suicide which is the act that sets the story in motion. Its also representative of a traumatic moment in the protagonist’s childhood where he shoots and kills his first deer. In my own life, the camouflage shotgun belongs to my father and the skinning tree is behind is house in Roxie, Mississippi.

Helen: The frame hanging from the tree is quite a desolate image, suggesting this story is addressing some deep emotional issues. How does the title fit with the book?

Adam: The title inspired the work. I was taking a nap one afternoon and had the tv on low playing some Discovery show on Black Holes. I was sort of floating in and out of consciousness and heard Physicist, Michio Kaku, say the words “All Possible Orbits.” It turned over in my brain a couple of times and I liked the way it flowed. I wrote down the title on a piece of paper and went back to sleep. A few days later, the germ of the story started coming together and I wrote the first three chapters very quickly. After that, I knew I was onto something.

Helen: I often hear song lyrics which spark ideas. What made you write this book? It sounds like it wasn’t an easy story to write.

Adam: Like most artists, I created it as way to channel pain and trauma. My childhood was not that great and like the protagonist, Tucker Merril, I was sort of the odd man out. I didn’t like to hunt or fish. I didn’t particularly care for sports. I wanted to be good at something but none of the things I found interesting were valued by my father. Luckily, I had a supportive mother and stepfather who encouraged me to do what made me happy. Over the years, my father and I had our ups and downs but we’ve ben in a good place for the last several years. When I started writing ALL POSSIBLE ORBITS, I was writing it with the idea of what that relationship might have devolved into had we not put in some work to right the ship.

Helen: I’m so glad you were able to resolve your differences. Any relationship worthwhile takes effort and time. Who was your favourite character to write?

Adam: Tucker’s Aunt Puddin’ is my favourite. She has not one redeemable quality which makes her a lot of fun to write.

Helen: She sounds like one formidable lady! What genre would you classify your book as?

Adam: Well, it seems that I work in Literary Fiction which, as I understand it, is the same as Commercial Fiction without the high sales figures. I prefer to classify my work as “Southern Gonzo Fiction.” Southern because that’s the world I’m most familiar with. Fiction because I feel called to work in the field of escapism. And, finally, there’s Gonzo. Obviously, the link to Hunter S. Thompson is undeniable. Certainly, the drugs, guns, and violence figure prominently in my work. What I love most about Hunter’s work and, what I try to bring to mine, is that feeling of speed. Reading Thompson gives me a rush and I want to give my reader that feeling of a near out-of-control downhill run where any grain of sand might send you skidding over the rail to a terrible death.

Helen: This is your third novel. What made you first start writing?

Adam: Reading. Simple as that. Some of my earliest memories are being read to by my grandmother. I loved that feeling of having words create a world inside my mind.

Helen: I couldn’t agree more. Who or what inspired you to start writing?

Adam: I’ve read so many great authors but the stories that inspired me first were Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Those were my first adventures. They spawned a need to create adventures for my toys so that it gave them a purpose.

Helen: They were both amazing movies for their time. It is quite sad that they seem so dated now, but when you think how old they are, much has changed since they first graced the big screen. How do you get new ideas for your books?

Adam: They come to me in all different ways. However, one of my closest friends is convinced that I have to get angry about something and let it stir up my brain before I get down to work. There’s probably some truth to that.

Helen: Emotions are important in being creative, so I’m not surprised. Tell us a little about your writing process. Do you plan you books, or let them evolve as they will?

Adam: I’m a pantser when I start a project. I tried to write to an outline once and it made my writing feel the way a paint-by-numbers painting looks. That being said, once I’ve finished my first draft, I build a loose outline just to keep my thoughts in order.

Helen: Do you prefer writing or editing?

Adam: I love writing. That free- flowing feeling doesn’t always happen but when it does it’s just the best. It feels the same as group improvisation in music where everyone is keyed into the same channel; an open conduit to something outside of ourselves. Editing is a whole different animal. I enjoy it as well because it allows me to indulge myself in rounding out all those rough edges. I spend a lot of time in the editorial process. Some people find it tedious but I’m a tinkerer by nature, so I sort of perversely enjoy it.

Helen: Tell us about a typical day of writing. Do you find it hard to fit it in your daily life?

Adam: I schedule myself a few hours in the morning to write before work. I’m lucky that my job is flexible, so I have a lot of room to get my words in for the day. I don’t write on the weekends or on vacation. Those are times for living and recharging.

Helen: It is nice you can separate the two, sometimes writing can just take over. Do you have a special writing nook which helps the creativity flow?

Adam: I have an office, but I rarely write there. Most of my writing is done at a coffee table in the living room. It’s closest to the tv so I have access to You Tube if music becomes necessary.

Helen: Do you find music helps you write or do you prefer silence?

Adam: I only listen to jazz while I’m writing, if I listen to anything. I prefer the fifties and sixties Blue Note stuff. I love lots of different styles of music but, if there are lyrics, I’ll get pulled into that instead of writing.

Helen: I must admit I have a similar problem, I can’t listen to the radio, because all the talking, the adverts or news are distracting. Most writers read, do you have a favorite book?

Adam: That’s always a tricky question and it changes all the time. Probably the most influential book for me was Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser. It’s still one of my all-time favourites. The novel revolves around Harry Flashman who I would nominate as the top anti-hero in the English language. I was made to read this book as punishment while grounded in ninth grade for throwing a party. The grounding worked out about as well as the “reading as punishment” idea.

Helen: What a great punishment! Having embraced books from an early age, what was the last book you read?

Adam: I’ve been reading Joe Hill lately. I fell in love with his novel, Horns. When I read it, I called a friend and told him I’d run across the next Stephen King which is when he informed me that Joe Hill was King’s son. That apple certainly did not fall far from the tree. His book, 20th Century Ghosts, is on my nightstand right now and has been a lot of fun so far. Also, I’d recommend another book of his short stories called, Strange Weather.

Helen: I didn’t know he was Stephen King’s son either! Who is your favourite author?

Adam: Hunter S. Thompson. Hands down.

Helen: If you didn’t write literary fiction, what genre would you like to try?

Adam: I’d love to take a swing at writing a real horror novel. My novella, SALIGIA, was sort of horror but more dark comedy. I think it would be a real challenge to feel like I broke any new ground in that genre, but if I did, I’d be as pleasantly surprised as anyone.

Helen: I have had such fun chatting with you. It has been great meeting you. As we draw to a close tell us something random about about yourself.

Adam: One of the best jobs I ever had was working as a repairman for Gibson Guitars Warranty Repair Division in Nashville. I did everything from simple adjustments to major restorations. During that time, I restored a Les Paul for myself that was going to be scrapped. Down the road, I had to sell it when I owed money to the IRS. Ten years later, my wife and I located the guitar in South Florida. She managed to talk the gentleman into selling it to her and she gave it back to me as a Christmas present. Needless to say, it’s here to stay.

Photo by Gabriel Barletta on Unsplash

Helen: What a lovely story. Thank you so much for joining me today. Just to close us out, what is the best piece of writing advice you’ve received and what would say to new writers?

Adam: Elmore Leonard said it best when he said, “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” Sage words.

My advice would be: Write as often as you can. Read as much as you can. Enjoy the process and don’t get consumed by the tasks of handling all the other bits and pieces of making writing your life. Certainly, all those moving parts and pieces are important, but your main job is to write. Do that with joy and enthusiasm because that’s really the pay off.

About the Author:

Born in 1974, Adam Perry is an American novelist who describes his work as ‘Southern Gonzo Fiction.” He was raised in the rural south and became the first member of his family to graduate from college with a Bachelor’s Degree in History in 1998. While attending college, he worked as a professional musician performing across the Southeast. He moved to Nashville in 2001 where he was a luthier for Gibson Guitars Warranty Repair Division. Since 2010, he has written in his spare time self-publishing the novel, BOXING GORILLAS and a novella entitled, SALIGIA. His latest work, ALL POSSIBLE ORBITS, is set for release on October 4, 2021. He lives in Brandon, Mississippi, with his wife, Rebecca, and can be found most days arguing plot points with his bearded dragon, Gonzo.

You can find more about Adam via:

Author website

Goodreads

Instagram

You can purchase Adam’s books from Amazon:

All Possible Orbits

UK: eBook

USA: eBook

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

Author Interview – R.L McIntyre

Author of the Warrior of the Isles series

Today I have the pleasure of meeting R.L McIntyre, the author of the recently released Curse of the Gods; the first book in her new YA historical fantasy series. Welcome Rachel! Tell us about your new series.

Rachel: My latest book is a YA historical Fantasy that releases September 21st, 2021. This series spurred out of me researching my heritage. As you can guess from the last name McIntyre my family is American Irish. I wanted to learn more about Irish culture and the history of the land. This spurred many late nights reading various myths and eventually I fell in love with the myth of Cu Chulainn. He was like an Irish Hercules in a lot of ways. My research led me to seeing the history of the time which is where the legendary warrior Calagus was pulled from. He was another warrior that led this grand battle against Romans in Scotland. Reading all this spurred the premise for Curse of the Gods.

         Curse of the Gods is a genderbent retelling of Cu Chulainn mixed with real history of Scotland and Ireland at the time historians believe Cu Chulainn would’ve lived if he was real. My story follows Seanait, my Cu Chulainn, and her journey to return to Ulster before her prophecy to save the land starts during her seventeenth year. With her best friend Eion at her side, she fights Romans, Gods, and meets a mysterious fae Prince who changes her world.

Cillian, my fae prince, is modelled after Cu Chulainn’s fae lover. Cillian is the seventh Prince in the first Kingdom of the Faelands, Amanthia. As a member of the Royal family he is supposed to fight for the crown against his siblings, but he has other plans. He dissents and disappears into the human realm where he meets Seanait. But as the title suggests both characters have destinies ‘cursed’ on them by the Gods. This first book in the series explores the beginning of their tales leading into the next book Echoes of Destiny which should release November/December 2021. Echoes of Destiny follows even closer to the myth of Cu Chulainn so there is even more coming in this mythical world of ancient Scotland and Ireland.

Helen: Sounds like an exciting adventure with plenty going on. You never know what is going to happen when the gods have their fingers in the pie! Tell us about your cover, it is very striking.

Rachel: I have two covers! One is for my paperback version on Amazon and the second is for my hardback version on Barnes & Nobles. My paperback cover came first. It was inspired by Seanait herself. She is by far one of my favorite characters and it’s not just me. My beta readers and editor also loved her. So, she had to be the focus of the cover. This cover is Seanait with her power, a riastrad, activated. Her hair is ablaze, and she has her Gae Bolg (spear like weapon) in hand ready to fight the world and the Gods. I love this cover because it brings to life Seanait in all her powerful glory. She is a warrior and I really wanted that to come across but even more than just being a fighter, she is also feminine. I love mixing the feminine and masculine in characters because we’re all a mix of both.

My second cover follows the same flow and idea as the first, but it has a more artistic flare to it which I love. I love black covers. It makes the images pop off the page and I wanted to emulate that idea. This cover still features Seanait and her Gae Bolg but it also shows a detached version of her. You only see her red hair.

Helen: Curse of the Gods in the first in your YA historical fantasy series, but you have written other books, are they all fantasy?

Rachel: I write mostly fantasy. It’s what I loved to read as a kid and I still read the genre today. Anything with magic, dragons, prophecies always pulls me in. I’m also partial to anything in medieval or ancient times so I often write a lot in this time period. Although, I’ve dabbled in some more modern-age fantasy. I was and am still a huge fan of Lord of the Rings and Tolkien. He probably inspired me the most and helped me fall in love with the genre. I’m also a big believer that reading should be a form of escapism. It always has been for me and fantasy worlds help me to escape so I enjoy being able to create my own worlds and share them with readers.

Helen: I agree, I love new worlds, and the sheer escapism of fantasy and how you can let your imagination run riot. Speaking of ideas, how do you come up with new ideas for your books?

Rachel: It depends. Some ideas have come from dreams while others have come from history or what if ideas. There are other ideas that come from music. There are tons of songs that I’ve listened to and wondered what the story of the characters would be. It often leads me to some free writing of ideas. Some of them get turned into full length books while others are just fun pieces I work on from time to time.

Helen: What are you currently working on?

Rachel: My current WIP is the second book to Curse of the Gods. I’m hoping to finish it soon so I can start the revision process and beta reading. However, I also tend to hop between WIPs when I write. The world of Curse of the Gods is going to widen in book two and the spin-off series that come after. So, I’m currently jumping between these books at the moment. But my main focus is still book two.

Book two takes Seanait on the journey to fulfil her destiny. This book follows more closely to the well-known parts of the Cu Chulainn myth so there is epic battles, more faeland politics, and of course Seanait and Cillian need to reconcile. There’s a lot that is going to happen so I’m super excited to share it with the world. The two spin-off series will follow Cillian in the aftermath of the second book and the second series will catch up with Evander, the Roman with powers similar to Seanait. I’m super excited for both but they both have a long way to go.

Helen: That sounds amazing, and I’m sure your readers will love the fact there are more spin-off series to come. You have some rich and powerful characters in your books. Do you prefer to write heroes or villains?

Rachel: I love morally grey characters! They could be villains or heroes, but these characters always speak to me. The world isn’t black or white, so I enjoy characters that imbue that sense of reality. Although, if I had to choose it might be villains. Understanding why people might do something terrible is fulfilling. I like having those answers. Also, I have a background in psychology so I enjoy being able to use that to really understand my villains.

Helen: With all the history and rearch you had to do for Curse of Gods, did you find yourself sticking to a plan, or did your characters try and take over?

Rachel: Oh I am a plantser. I generally have a rough idea of some scenes and the order I want them in but how characters get there and the events in-between come to me when I write. I’ve tried writing intricate outlines and always end up tossing out half of it. For me it stifles my creativity so I like having a rough idea of the plot but the rest comes as I go. It makes it a surprise for even me and allows my characters to write themselves.

Helen: When not writing about your amazing characters, what hobbies do you have? That is if you have time!

Rachel: I’m a huge fan of volleyball. I used to play and now I get the awesome job of coaching high schoolers. The fall season is definitely a highlight of my year.

Helen: Thank you so much Rachel, for joining me to chat about your books. It has been lovely meeting you. Just to finish, one more question: If you didn’t write fantasy, what genre would you like to write?

Rachel: I write mostly fantasy with romance subplots. I’ve never considered myself a romance writer, but I’ve been considering Paranormal Romance recently. Not sure when I’ll give it a try as I have a couple of other projects I want to get done first. But I’ve gotten great feedback from my editor that makes me think I can write romance better than I think. It’s something I’ll like to try at some point.

About the Author:

R. L. McIntyre is a fantasy writer of books for teens and adults. She was born outside of Philadelphia and lived there for most of her life. When not writing she spends most of her time coaching volleyball or playing with her adorable writing buddies four rambunctious cats. You can find out more about her and her cats on her website rlmcintyreauthor.com.

You can find more about Rachel via:

Author website

Instagram

Goodreads

Bookbub

You can purchase Rachel’s books from Amazon:

Curse of the Gods – Book One of the Magelands Eternal Siege

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

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

Author Interview – Jonathan Taylor

Author of Heir to the Empire: The Next Generation

Today I am talking with author Jonathan Taylor about his new release. Welcome Jonathan, Congratulations on your new release! Please tell us about your new uban fantasy novel which released on September 15th, 2021.

Jonathan: My current book is called Heir To The Empire: The Next Generation. There are two potential lawsuits I am risking with this title, which I hope I can counter with countersuits and then an out-of-court settlement that allows me to still use that name. I introduce it as an urban fantasy coming-of-age action-adventure story. The protagonists are officer cadets enrolled in the best military university on the continent. They have to learn to work together and with others while dealing with their curriculum, as well as facing against a terrorist threat.

Helen: Lets’s hope artistic license is approved! Is there a specific meaning behind your cover design?

Jonathan: My cover is meant to seem dangerous and inviting at the same time. It depicts a mountain range in the background with dark building outlines in the foreground. It alludes to where two of the most consequential and meaningful scenes of the book take place, where main and supporting characters come up against and deal with the ultimate obstacle, the threat of death.

Helen: The colours are beautiful, so rich and vibrant. What made you begin writing, and then to write this specific story?

Jonathan: I wanted to be a writer for a long time, but it took me a long while to come up with a concept I could trust and believe in that would make for an interesting story. I had a few in mind ever since I finished high school, and I’ve been refining and expanding upon them for years until I found the one for my current book. I loved just how versatile it could be, all the stories that it allowed me to tell. I’ve been turning it in my mind for a while, and then, two years ago, I was satisfied enough with how it was shaping up that I wanted to have it written down.

Helen: Congratulations on completing your book, and then publishing it as well. Did you find you had to do a lot of research to write your book?

Jonathan: My approach to research is a bit more abstract than that of most authors. I actually do a lot of research or learning in private, not connected to any other activity, depending on whether or not I find out about anything that arouses my interest, and my interest can be aroused by a whole slew of sometimes bizarre curiosities and happenings. Consequently, I have a wide array of interests and a substantial database in my brain. When it comes to using information for my book, the question often isn’t “What do I need to find out?”, it’s “What can I already say about this?”, or “What part of what I already know can I use to flesh this particular aspect of the story out?” When I do in fact research specifically for my book, it’s usually very brief, and on something very specific, like the symbolism behind names.

Helen: A head full of ecletic information and trivia is a must for authors! Who knows where the next idea will come from. When you wrote your book did you have the story all planned out, or did you find the plot going places you never expected?

Jonathan: I’m definitely a planner, I need to find a framework for my ideas before I let them flourish. Within that framework, however, there is plenty of room for improvisation. My process starts from a short description of what I want the book to be about. That description could be a sentence or a paragraph long. From that point forward I go into cycles of expanding and dividing. From the initial paragraph, I get a phrase that describes each act, then expand upon each act, then divide it into story beats, then expand each beat before dividing them into chapters. I’ll usually have three main points or sentences per chapter, and that is where I allow myself to go free form, expanding those points until they reach a chapter in length.

Helen: Heir to the Empire is an urban Fantasy coming of age novel, if you didn’t write fantasy, what genre would you like to write?

Jonathan: I’ve been single for (much) longer than I’m willing to admit, and in the mean time I’ve turned to erotic roleplay to spice up my private life. When you think about it, erotic roleplay is collaborative erotic fiction, a field where you get instant feedback on almost anything you try. Through experimentation, trial and error, I’ve become quite good at captivating my audience, and received my fair share of compliments, and I think writing erotica would suit me. If I find another author and we were to write collaboratively, say a chapter at a time or a page at a time, I think that would make for some fun books.

Helen: I’ve always thought collaboration on a book must be far more difficult than writing it on your own. You’ll have to let us know how you get on if you choose to collborate. What about when you are not writing. How do you fill your time?

Jonathan: Whenever I do have time for hobbies, it’s usually through external circumstances, i.e. something else is preventing me from spending as much time as I would need to take care of the writing process. Whenever that happens and I have anywhere between ten minutes and an hour and a half to burn, I’ll usually pull out my phone and indulge in a fighting game, or spend some time on YouTube. What I watch on YouTube varies quite dramatically, depending on what recommendations I get. It could be a review, could be a video essay, could be something educational (I grew up on documentaries and stuff that is even similar to that still hooks me), could be a gameplay video, could be humour, could be memes, could be some combination of the above, or something entirely different. I also try to schedule time to work out, whatever form that may take, but my success in that field is a bit more mixed.

Helen: There is access to so many different types of media nowadays, all at your fingertips. With so much choice, do you still find time to sit down and read?

Jonathan: I don’t think you define recently as “the last 12 months”, but that is how far back I want to go for my answer. The books that stood out for me in that time are A Sea Of Pearls and Leaves, by Rosalyn Briar, the as-of-yet-incomplete Outcrossed series, by River J Hopkins, and The Witcher saga, by Andrzej Sapkowski. I also did reviews of each of these books, and a few others, on my YouTube channel, and those contain my thoughts on these books in more detail. In short, Rosalyn has an amazingly fluid and immersive writing style, which, coupled with sympathetic and relatable characters, makes for a very engaging read, River is exquisitely adept at blending pop culture and mythology and various other interests she holds dear into creating a rich setting with layered plots and immersive storylines, and Sapkowski managed to create a varied and rich world that comes to life in almost every way such a world can come to life, while also reasoning how those who have to exist within that setting manage to do so. If you like your time and money, there are few ways to spend them better than reading these books.

Helen: Finding time to read can be challenging, but I think it is important for writers, and aspiring writers to read as much as they can. To understand and experience the craft and to see what works and what doesn’t work for them.

I appreciate you spending time with me today, congratulations again on your book launch. Just to end with, what piece of writing advice have you received that you would like to share with other aspiring writers?

Jonathan: Around the time I started writing, text-to-speech videos of various AskReddit questions and answers became very popular on YouTube, and they were a guilty pleasure of mine. One of those videos, about useful pieces of advice, gave new writers the advice that they should write 200 words a day, at least. You can and are welcome to write a lot more, but when you write, ideally every day, you should set your floor at 200 words. Doesn’t seem like much, but it’s enough to build a habit, and eventually 2000 words a week will just be a breeze to you. That is also the advice I give to new writers, set yourself a minimum, and then dare to raise it whenever you need to.

About the Author:

The boy who would become Jonathan Taylor was born in Bucharest, Romania, to white-collar parents from blue-collar backgrounds. Growing up, his up-bringing was mostly formal, he stuck to what his parents set out for him and generally at least tried to stay out of trouble. He did well enough in school to be able to attend a leading technical university in Germany, but his creative drive, stirred in his youth by the works of Jules Verne, HG Wells, and Isaac Asimov, remained as active and eager as ever, and after graduating, he has become quite a bit more capable of indulging it. He now writes in order to allow his constantly stirring mind to settle.

You can find more about Jonathan via:

Twitter

Instagram

Youtube

Deviantart

Youtube channel (2nd)

Tumblr

You can purchase Jonathan’s book from Amazon:

Heir to the Empire

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

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

Author Interview – Christopher Mitchell

Author of the Magelands Eternal Siege series

Join me as I chat to Christopher Mitchell about his epic fantasy series the Magelands Eternal Siege, which is now eight books long. I have read the first book The Mortal Blade and it was amazing. You can find my review here. Welcome Christopher, it is lovely to meet you. Congratulations on the release of your latest installment, Red City. Tell us about your wonderful series.

Christopher: I release around six books a year, and am usually in the process of drafting one, while editing another, and releasing a third at the same time. My most recently published book was Red City, Book Eight of the Magelands Eternal Siege series, and it was released on Friday 10 September 2021. The Eternal Siege series, when complete, will consist of four interlinked trilogies, followed by a four-parter, and Red City is the second volume of the third trilogy (the ‘City’ trilogy). It follows on directly from Book Seven, and picks up the threads of the main characters. Like the previous series, it centres on the members of a single family – the Holdfasts, and every book has at least one Holdfast as a main character. In Red City, that honour falls to Kelsey Holdfast, the youngest daughter of the family. The main theme of the book is the possibility of redemption. Two old characters are re-introduced, both of whom have done some terrible things in the past, and both start off with every intention of trying to redeem themselves. One succeeds, while the other one fails, and the novel ends with the catastrophic consequences of that failure.

Helen: The life of a writer can get extremely complicated, and releasing six books a year is phenomenal. I have to say I am a fan of your covers they are absolutely gorgeous. Tell us about how you first came up with the concept.

Christopher: The cover of Red City is a character portrait of Kelsey Holdfast, complete with a little image of her dragon in the top corner. Each book of the Eternal Siege series has a portrait of one of the main characters of that novel on the cover. This came about due to the acquisition of the first cover, for Book One – The Mortal Blade, which was produced by MIBL Art. It fitted perfectly with the character of Aila, a demigod assassin and shape-shifter, and that choice governed the types of covers that would go with the rest of the series. MIBL have done a fantastic job with these covers, producing some beautiful artwork, and I think Red City is a great example of that – it encapsulates exactly how I pictured Kelsey in my head!

Helen: They are very distinctive covers, and you definitley recognise them as yours. How about the book titles? Is there a story behind those?

Christopher: The names of the books in the Eternal Siege series follow a set of patterns, and for the City trilogy, each book had to have ‘City’ somewhere in the title. The use of ‘Red’ covers several meanings – for instance, the sky of the City is red, rather than blue. The city is plunged into a chaotic civil war during the course of the book, and red also stands for the bloodshed that results. It also stands as a warning; as both sides in the war stoop lower to gain victory, the survival of the city itself is at stake.

Helen: Your series is epic fantasy, what made you choose that genre?

Christopher: I chose the epic fantasy genre originally as it seemed to me to be the best way to express the ideas that were rattling around in my head. I pictured a blank canvas, one that I could paint with whichever colours I liked, free from the restraints of following a prescribed  framework.

Helen: I must admit the freedom of creating your own world is what tempted me to start writing fantasy. I started writing quite late in life, and after being a lifetime bookworm, I started to write my own stories. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Christopher: I’m not sure there was a time in my life when I wasn’t thinking about stories. I started writing my first books when I was about twelve years old, then moved on to write role-playing games for my sister and friends to play. I sweated and toiled over a couple of novels in my late teens and early twenties, which, if  I look back on them now, were pretty awful, but it was all part of the long, slow process of getting there in the end. I almost gave up on many occasions; constant rejections can be tough, and wrote almost nothing in my thirties except for factual reports for my day job, and essays for my post-graduate degree on Greek Tragedy.

Helen: I think resilience has to be a key trait of any writer, and an innate belief in yourself, that you can complete your story. Was there anyone in particular who inspired you to write?

Christopher: When I hit forty, my wife kept asking me – ‘when are you going to write a book?’ So, one evening, when a friend of hers was round visiting, I retired to my little study and thought ‘alright; let’s give it a go.’ The notes I wrote out that night became the basis of the worlds where the Magelands book are all set; all the basic precepts were put in place, and three months later, I started writing the first book. If my wife hadn’t pushed me at that vital point, then there is a very good chance that none of the Magelands would exist. She had faith in me, and that is exactly what I needed.

Helen: Thank goodness she did! Considering you have plans for many more books in this series, how do you keep coming up with new ideas?

Christopher: Create an interesting world with complex characters, then the ideas will take care of themselves. Drop any notion that characters are good or bad – everything is grey. If in doubt, add in some dragons.

Helen: Dragons solve everything! What is the most useful piece of writing advice you’ve received, and from whom?

Christopher: Drop adverbs when writing dialogue. Instead of writing ‘she said excitedly/sorrowfully/wistfully’, use the dialogue itself to transmit the appropriate feeling, and trust the readers to work it out for themselves. This simple piece of advice led to the cutting of over a thousand words from my first book! It was given by a lecturer in creative writing, at the only session of hers that I attended. The lecturer didn’t know what genres her students were writing, and she called fantasy ‘pathetic’ in front of the class. I didn’t return.

Helen: That is good advice, and one I try to follow as well. Shame she wasn’t a fan of all genres of writing, her loss, I think. With writing and releasing your books at such a phenomenal rate – your books are not short! – I am amazed at how fast you write. How do you fit your life around your writing?

Christopher: For almost a year, I have been in the fortunate position of writing as my full time job, so I fit it in nine-to-five. Prior to that, it was hard, I won’t deny it. I used to cram writing into any free time I had – evenings, weekends, holidays. I’d come home from my day job, tired out, then help put the four kids to bed, and then have to get myself back in front of the keyboard, no matter how much I couldn’t be bothered.

Helen: When you are in your writing zone, do you prefer silence, or do you have a favourite playlist running in the background?

Christopher: I have tried, but it’s too distracting. The only book where, somehow, it worked out, was Book Four of the Magelands Epic series – Sacrifice. For some reason that I’ve never fathomed (and have never been able to repeat), I was able to listen to music while I wrote much of that. It was a mix of lots of different artists, but with loads of Beatles and Lana Del Rey (my favourites). There’s a certain Moby track that kept coming on, and every time I hear it now, it reminds me of writing Sacrifice.

Helen: I would imagine with such a complex world that your books are set in, you must be a planner, just to keep everything straight as you write?

Christopher: I like to think of myself as a planner! I spend a lot of time building the worlds for the books, and painstakingly crafting the character arcs, usually starting at the end and working my way back. However, if I’m honest, much of the ‘plan’ evaporates into mist as soon as my fingers make contact with the keyboard. Characters keep saying and doing things that continually surprise me, and I have to pause and think again. It can be fun to compare my original plans with the finished article, and I often wonder ‘how on earth did I get from here to there?’ One thing that almost always survives is the ending that I started with, but the route there certainly has its twists and turns.

Helen: Characters do have a tendency to take over. I imagine that Corvie Holdfast was particularly troublesome. Outside of writing do you have any favourite past times? or hobbies?

Christopher: I love writing so much that it’s also my hobby! I go for long walks up hills with my wife (and the kids occasionally). Living in Scotland means that there are always hills and old castles to visit.

Helen: That sounds wonderful. An inspiration for your next story no doubt. When you sit down to read book, what do you like to read? What book are you currently reading?

Christopher: I am reading All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days by Rebecca Donner. It’s a factual book about an American woman in Berlin before and during the Second World War – Mildred Harnack. She was the leader of an underground resistance movement opposed to Hitler and the Nazis, and showed immense courage and compassion.

Helen: Thank you so much, Christopher, for spending the time with me to talk about your books and your writing process. Congratulations again, on the release of your latest book, I look forward to reading the rest of the series. Just to end with, what advice would you give aspiring writers?

Christopher: Keep writing. It sounds simplistic and maybe even patronising, but there is no magic trick to get round the fact that any writer has to practise, and probably fail, for long, long hours. Persist; keep at it; force yourself to sit in front of the keyboard and get on with it, even if you can’t be bothered – especially if you can’t be bothered. There is no other way.

About the author:

Christopher’s first memory is of Elvis dying. His gran told him it was because he’d eaten too many cakes, and Christopher believed her. She also told him that there were fairies at the bottom of her garden, and he believed that too.


He counts himself very fortunate to have a supportive wife and four beautiful children. He loves deserts, which is too bad as he lives in Scotland, but the mountains, glens and lochs more than make up for it.


His other love is Greek Tragedy, especially Euripides, and he also reads history, science, fantasy, and pretty much anything about the Beatles…

You can find more about Christopher via:

Author website

Instagram

Twitter

Goodreads

Bookbub

You can purchase Christopher’s books from Amazon:

The Mortal Blade – Book One of the Magelands Eternal Siege

UK: eBook | Paperback | Audiobook

USA: eBook | Paperback

Red City – Book Eight of the Magelands Eternal Siege

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

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

Author Interview – Luci Fer

Author of What Happens On Tour

Today I am chatting with Luci Fer, who joins me to talk about her humourous romance What Happens on Tour which releases tomorrow August 15th! Welcome Luci, congratulations on your new release and thank you for joining me to talk about your novel. To start us off, tell us about your book.

Luci: The Tour series is about an up and coming Australian music band who venture on a regional tour. Having started at the record label at the same time, Lead Musician Braxton Carson and his band have forged a solid friendship with Photographer Charlotte (Charlie) Bancroft. The entire group is thrilled to learn that they will be traveling together on Tour in the upcoming weeks.

The band ventures on a road trip around their country to connect with fans in remote areas, rather than just playing for the big city stadiums. It doesn’t take long for the Tour to show the close bonds they all share as friends, while also uncovering the undertones of romance between the two leads.

After just a few stops on the Tour, we learn that not only do Brax and Charlie have very similar interests, they also have an unspoken longing for each other. Their rather comical similarities and differences guarantee a hysterical and eventful trip ahead.

A night of drinking and mayhem with the band reveals Brax’s true intentions for Charlie. After an awkward conversation, the sizzling spark we’ve sensed intensifies when Brax takes what he feels is his only shot of getting the girl.

True feelings ignite and humour unravels as the band learns of the shift in the relationship status. When a catastrophic chain of events unfolds, Will Brax and Charlie fight for their love or crumble under the intense scrutiny?

Helen: It sounds like an intense read. How did you decide on the cover?

Luci: The story, while a comedy at heart, also explores the personal and professional growth of the lead characters, being the band, their agent and of course, photographer Charlie. Charlie’s backstory plays a pivotal part in the plot across all 7 books. As writers we create the image of our characters in our minds, while developing the story. I happened to be scrolling through instagram back in 2018 when I first wrote this and stumbled across a woman who embodied everything I saw in my character. As the saying goes, you don’t know unless you ask. So I approached her and explained what I was doing. Becca Medlin, my cover model who can be found on Instagram under @beccamedlin kindly agreed to be a part of the story and I am eternally grateful for her kindness and support. She embodies the same spirit my character does, and while beautiful in her own right, her heart is nothing less than extraordinary. And of course the magic would never have happened without the incredibly talented girls at Books and Moods who worked tirelessly with me to help understand the vision.

Helen: It is wonderful when you can find such a close connection between your cover and your story. I am glad you asked because your cover is amazing. Tell us about the genres you write becuase it not only humourous romance is it?

Luci: I am a romance novel writer, but the sub-plots vary as I do like to explore and push myself. I have a four part series that is a heavy erotica, a thriller and of course Tour series which is a romantic comedy.

Helen: What made you write this particular book?

Luci: What Happens on Tour was the fourth story I wrote. I had finished two books in my first series, and was deep into a standalone that was dark romance. I came to a chapter towards the end of this book where I was using real life experience, nearly losing my mother and writing it from her perspective in a coma, and before I realised it, I found myself getting sucked into a vortex with it and seeking ways to balance the heaviness I was experiencing. A passion of mine had always been to travel to music festivals and concerts, or road trips with my friends so I drew on these experiences and combined my two loves. It became the perfect balance I needed to give both books the justice they deserved.

Helen: Balance is very important. Writing emotional scenes can be draining, especially when they pull on personal experiences. We are lucky you were able to combine your love of music with your love of writing. What made you first start writing?

Luci: My mother was a writer and poet. Growing up she worked as a children’s story teller and I was often fascinated by her creativity. By my teenage years I knew that I wanted to follow in her footsteps. Finishing highschool I studied at University theatre and the arts. My passion was to be a playwright and director. One of my now adapted novels was originally written as a theatre production for a University assessment back in the early 2000’s. I was inspired by my mother and my love of theatre. I have always been a little dramatic at heart, thus the pen name.

Helen: With such a creative background, it must be easy for you to come up with ideas for your books?

Luci: I have an overactive imagination. I work full time in a highly stressful yet rewarding job, and as a result I struggle at times to switch off. I have been known to wake up at random hours of the night to pen an idea that has come to me, because I can’t sleep until I get it off my chest.

Helen: Which do you prefer, Writing or Editing?

Luci: I don’t know that anyone ever truly loves editing, especially Manuscript Developmental edits which is what I have undertaken with Tour. But to see the finished work makes it all worthwhile. As the writer, our perspective is often biased, since it’s difficult to keep from becoming your own reader. As a writer it is easy to be captivated by your passion in your work and therefore lose perspective on how your message will resonate with your audience. My editor has taught me that this often translates to us not realising whether something that works for you will also work for the audience. She’s helped me to engage with my target audience while also bringing out my author voice. I have a better perspective as a writer and greater insight as to what will work for a reader.

Helen: Did you have to spend much time researching for your books?

Luci: My first series I wrote, I spent a year researching and evolving those characters as there were so many complex elements to it. Tour series, I have been fortunate to have assistance from some industry insiders – family members who are performers, and incredible artists who have agreed to work with me and be on the covers of other books in the series. I also draw from my real life experiences so each of my stories has an element of me as a person in them. 

Helen: It sounds like your research was really interesting. Who was your favrorite character to write?

Luci: He is always the audience favourite and that is Chester. He is everything my best friend is to me – lovable with a hint of mischief but a heart of gold. He also tends to take over my creative process because his voice is so powerful. easy, Stewart, the main protagonist. He is such a complex character in many ways, with a quick temper. He also has an agile mind that can read situations quickly, and a very dry, roguish sense of humour. I really enjoyed developing him.

Helen: And your favorite character from your book?

Luci: Mark, from my Tour series. He has a depth to his soul that I recognise and appreciate in a lot of my friends. I have incorporated many of their traits into this character.

Helen: Have you ever been given a piece of advice about writing that has helped you with your writing process?

Luci: During the editing process I become extremely hypercritical and my editor continually reminds me, it’s okay to do so. The hypercriticality pays off and you have to trust in your editor to guide you the right way with it.

Helen: How do you fit writing in your daily life?

Luci: My day typically starts at 3am to let me get caffeinated before I spend two hours editing. I then do a very long day at work before picking up writing on my wips at night.

Helen: I couldn’t get up at 3am. That is a no from me. I don’t know how you do it! Being so organised with your time, how are you with writing? Are you a pantser or a planner?

Luci: Ultimately, I know where the story is going, and how it will end. But as much as I do try to plan, I am definitely more of a pantser. Particularly with tour due to the comedic element to it. Much of the shenanigans are based around my real life group of friends and our acquired taste of crazy.

Helen: Does music play an important part in your writing process?

Luci: I don’t listen to music while I write, I do need silence in order to focus on the words and the flow of the story. That being said, I do have music that inspires my works and each has their own playlist on spotify for my readers to enjoy.

Helen: Do you have a favourite place to work?

Luci: Outdoors. I am blessed to live away from the city surrounded by beautiful mountains and forests. My favourite place to write is out on my deck with the serenity of nature. It reminds me it’s okay to slow down sometimes and enjoy the process.

Helen: Sounds perfect! I am jealous! Most authors are prolific readers. Tell us what you like to read and who your favourite author is.

Luci: I love all the works of Bertolt Brecht and anything Theatre of the Absurd. The irrational or fictive nature of reality and the essential isolation of humanity in a meaningless world is fascinating to me. I am currently reading Regrets and Revenge by Zavi James. It is the second book in her Foster family series. Zavi’s creative genius is unparalleled. I would recommend Serpentine by Jonathan Kellerman, but before starting it is important to know there are over 30 books in this series.

Helen: Do you have an all time favourite book?

Luci: Forget you had a daughter, by Sandra Gregory. Caught in a situation due to misfortune and trusting the wrong people, it shows one woman’s struggle to learn from her mistake but not let it define the person she is. It can feel like we’re alone. It can seem like you’ve let everyone down and it can be easy to tell yourself that everything was riding on you. But forgiveness is the greatest gift we can give to ourselves. We aren’t robots, we are humans and we do make mistakes, it is a beautiful journey of self forgiveness.

Helen: When not writing, (and if you have the time!). Do you have a favourite pastime or hobby?

Luci: I love the theatre and the arts, and my best friend’s partner is an incredible performer. We all love to support and watch his shows. And it goes without saying, my best friend is a huge part of my life, not a week goes by where we don’t do something. In fact it was the very road trips he and I have taken together over the years and our love of exploring new places around our country that Tour was born from. As our group always says, “No Shady beaches.”

Helen: Your friends sound wonderful, it’s great that you’ve been able to draw from your own experiences for your writing. Have you ever performed yourself?

Luci: I was a dancer for 16 years, not ballet or ballroom. I chose Scottish dancing because I wanted to own a pair of swords. It requires a huge level of trust in your ability to be able to move over those swords without causing injury to yourself.

Helen: It’s been lovely meeting you, Luci. Thank you so much for spending the time with me. I usually finish with a question to help aspiring authors, what advice would you give someone setting out to write?

Luci: Pen the story first, then go back to it. Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to edit at the same time because it is easy to lose your natural story progression if you are weighing yourself down with all the elements of composing a story.

About the Author:

Brisbane, Aus 

▪️ PA @csinbo

▪️ Sold Series on @galatea.stories

▪️ Tour Series publishing 2021

▪️ Carefree and slightly crazy

▪️ The Road to hell is paved with works in progress. 

▪️ Social Media:

IG Author_luci_fer

Facebook AuthorLuciFer

TikTok Author_Luci_Fer

You can purchase Daisy’s novel from Amazon:

What Happens On Tour

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

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

Author Interview – Daisy Wood

Author of Full Circle

Today we meet historical novelist Daisy Wood, who joins me to talk about her historical novel Full Circle. Welcome Daisy and thank you for joining me to talk about your novel. To start us off, tell us about your book.

Daisy: My current book ‘Full Circle’ was published on January 30 2020, just as the world was going into lockdown. It is historical fiction, set in 1886, and concerns a family whose small estate called ‘The Willows’ nestles quietly just outside the town of Mere, in Wiltshire, close to the river Nader in the West Country of England. The estate’s main produce is the growing of Flax, but it also boasts a small Dairy Herd, Goats and Sheep, growing all of its own vegetables. It is, you might say, self-sufficient….and idyllic… but, it holds a secret from the past within is walls, that if revealed, could destroy the present family, and all they hold dear.

Helen: It sounds the dream location, deep in the English countryside. A beautiful estate and a long history hiding many secrets. Why did you choose such a simple cover when you could have chosen an idyllic country scene?

Daisy: I wanted a plain cover, as the story encompasses so many emotions, hate, avarice, vengeance and love. To express this in a cover would be impossible, so I graduated the colour to try and represent these emotions. The colour I chose is also symbolic of the main protagonist in many ways, including his eyes.

Helen: It sounds like a complex and twisted story in contrast to the simplicity of the cover What about the title? Are there any hidden meanings?

Daisy: The title is multi-faceted, ‘Full Circle’ portrays life’s cycle…what we start with…and then finally end with. The ring in itself represents the title, as its style is a never-ending Celtic vine, which depicts both the cycle of life and love itself. Our lives I believe are made up of many such circles, as likewise within the book these circles exist, one of kindness repaid, one of hate avenged, one of love rekindled.

Helen: Full Circle is a big book, not only in content but in length. Kudos to you Daisy, for completing such a challenging project. What made you write this book?

Daisy: I have always loved reading from an early age. I also had a passion for making up stories. I would get told off in ‘composition’ for not adhering to the word count. (Hence the length of my book.) I never knew when to stop…. I had this book inside me from the age of 20, which was when I started to write it, completing around 10 chapters on my works typewriter, as I would stay in at lunchtime to type what I had written, but then my life took a different path. I thought about it many times throughout my life, but it was many years later when both my parents had passed, while clearing out a cupboard, I found the typed and hand-written pages at the back, in the same brown envelope I had left them in. My Mum had kept it. It was then I decided, when I retired, I would finish the story. It took me three years to complete (including research) then two years to publish. I dedicated the book to my parents.

Helen: I am so glad your mother kept your manuscript. That is a wondeful trait in mothers, they keep everything. I’m sure my daughter will roll her eyes when she has to dig though all her stuff in the attic, whilst reminiscing over most of it, hopefully! What inspired you to write?

Daisy: My inspiration…that came from my love of reading. In my office books would be passed around like sweets at a children’s party, but it was one book that set me one my path. ‘Devil Water’ by Anya Seton. The story still resonates with me, and it set me to thinking that I would like to write one. Not on the scale of her book, but one that I had had in my head for a while. As I wrote each new chapter, I would let the other girls there read them, and comment. It was from that, the Italian part of the book came to life from a dear Italian friend that I worked with then, Marisa. I also put a dedication to her in the book.

Helen: You write historical fiction, what made you choose that genre?

Daisy: All my life I have had a love for History, how they lived, what their lives were like then. It fascinates me, and always will, but the 1700’s, especially the later part of that century, always drew me in. It was just after the start of the Industrial Revolution, in 1760, but where people still worked the land. Oh, it had its poverty, especially in the large towns, but nothing like the type people experienced when they migrated in their masses to the cities to work in the factories. I hope I have been able to convey some of this in my book, as I have tried to keep as true to the time as possible in my writing.

Helen: I would imagine that you had to spend a lot of time researching to make sure you reflected the era correctly?

Daisy: I did an immense amount of research on that era, most before I started to write, but quite a lot as ideas unfolded and took hold as I wrote. I wanted to try and depict to the best of my ability what life was like then. This included dress, food, education, birthing, the role of women, and the hierarchy of the servant household, as well as money, wages, and travel, but most importantly the language they spoke. Words were not abbreviated then, and being set in the West country I also looked to the dialect there of that time. There were also the customs of that era, in what was acceptable, and how to address people. I found a whole other world. All this is reflected in the Bibliography. 

Helen: It sounds like you almost wrote another book! History is such fun but it can lead you down a rabbit hole! Who was your favourite character to write?

Daisy: That’s easy, Stewart, the main protagonist. He is such a complex character in many ways, with a quick temper. He also has an agile mind that can read situations quickly, and a very dry, roguish sense of humour. I really enjoyed developing him.

Helen: Tell us a little about your working process, do you prefer writing or editing?

Daisy: I’m afraid there is only one answer to that question – WRITING  It took me forever to edit my book before I sent it to the publishers, you re-read so many times you get word-blindness, and even then, there are still some mistakes you miss.

Helen: Having completed your lifetime project, are you tempted to write another book?

Daisy: My current WIP follows on from my first book. I have introduced new characters, as well as expanding on some of the old ones. The theme throughout the second book still concentrates on the family, its values, and the bond that ties them together. It is that tight bond, which allows them to overcome the perils, resentment and hostility that surrounds them at every turn, especially when the arrival of a step-brother, threatens to destroy the stability they have fought so hard to achieve over the past two years of turmoil.

Helen: I think it’s wonderful that you are writing another book. You said you were retired, so I imagine you have the luxury of writing whenever you want to?

Daisy: Yes. For me that’s easy as I am retired and my time is virtually my own. There are times when I can sit in the morning and everything flows. Other times I find that early evening, when I can squirrel myself away to my room, and I have had jotted down many new thoughts, or characters who have spoken to me during the day, that I am at my most productive.

Helen: Sounds perfect! Most authors are prolific readers. Do you have a favourite author?

Daisy: I don’t have one. Every author is prolific in their own right, just as no two readers have the same story in their head after they have read a book. Each person’s interpretation is unique, just as each book is. That is why books will never fade. I read a book once by Carlos Ruez Zafon ‘Shadow of the Wind’ in which he talks of the ‘Cemetery of forgotten books’ I loved the idea of that.

Helen: Thank you so much for chatting with me today, I have enjoyed learning more abut you and your books. Just to finish, what advice would you give aspiring authors?

Daisy: There is only one thing I would say… ‘Never give up on your dream’ even when things around you seem so insurmountable, that is the time when you are at your most creative. For me, setbacks only made me strive harder for what I wanted. Don’t let anyone tell you ‘you can’t’ because ‘YOU CAN!!!

About the Author:

I have lived in London for most of my life, and started writing this book when I was 20, but then life took a different path and it was left. Many years later, after my parents passed, I found my work hidden at the back of a cupboard where it had lain for nearly 50 years – my Mum had kept it. Having time on my hands now, I decided to finish the story, which took two years to complete, never dreaming it would be published. I still seems surreal to me, and often I look at the book and ask myself, did I really write this!?

You can find more about Daisy via:

Instagram

Twitter

Goodreads

You can purchase Daisy’s novel from Amazon:

Full Circle

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

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

Author Interview – A. R. Grosjean

Author of The Peterson Estate

Joining me to talk about her novels is the multi-genre author A.R. Grosjean, author of the newly released The Great Dark Witch which is the sixth book in the Peterson Estate series. Welcome Amber. Congratulations on the launch of tyour latest novel, and thank you for joining me. Tell us a little about your novels.

Amber: The book I just finished writing/editing is called Peterson Estate 6: The Great Dark Witch. It was released on April 23, 2021. This book is different from the others in the series because the MC is evil. John will become the Great Dark Witch and his goal is to open up Hell and set the demons and bad spirits free. Basically, bring Hell on Earth, literally. The only person who is strong enough to stop him is trapped in Hell and she’s Emily Peterson. He was born and lived in England hundreds of years before Emily was even born. This is his story and how he became the Great Dark Witch, and how his battle with Emily was foreseen by angels who created him.

My current WIP is called Murder Through Time. It is a science fiction thriller with time travel and murder. Have you ever heard of a serial killer who only killed one person? The idea came to me about 20 years ago and it was on my to-be-written-list for a long time. I finally caught up to it and began writing it this year. The MC is Marcus from the year 2244. He was sent back in time to detain a suspect. He was given the case because of his history with the suspect—they grew up together and were old partners. The suspect was framed and now the real killer is loose and aims to kill the woman Marcus needs to protect. The murders have caused what’s called time quakes which threatens to rip time apart—past, present, and future. If Marcus fails to protect Billie, he may not have a home to come home to. I’m planning on releasing this book between July and August, 2021.

 

Helen: Your series sounds intriguing, and now I want to find out why Emily is trapped in hell! How did you come up with the titles of your books?

Amber: With Peterson Estate 6, the title just made sense. The series title was already there, and that was had changed a lot over the years as I continued writing. Long story lol. Since the MC was going to become the Great Dark Witch, it made sense to give it that title.

Murder Through Time is the WIP’s title. I wanted something that said time travel without saying time travel but also wanted a ring to it. I went through a lot of different titles before I came up with this one, over the years. Sometimes the title is the hardest part and sometimes it’s the easiest. This one happened to be one of the hardest because each title was sounding corny to me. Then this one hit me and I liked it.

Helen: It’s nice when the titles just make sense. What was the inspiration behind these books?

Amber: Murder Through Time was one of those books that stuck with me over the years. I was taking a break while sitting under a bridge and I saw a skeleton hand sticking out of some rocks. Of course, that was my imagination, it was a twig, but it inspired a story that wouldn’t escape my mind, even with my bad memory. When a story stays with me like that, I HAVE to write it.

With Peterson Estate 6, I wanted to show how strong Emily Peterson is by showing how strong her counter part was. It really was the only way. And he did deserve his side of the story being told, I guess lol. I’m sorry but I’m on Emily’s side here lol.

Helen: When did you start writing? Was their a specific trigger that made you put pen to paper?

Amber: I was bullied growing up and still live with some mental abuse as an adult. It was hard going to school and living at home. When I was 11 years old (a year after trying suicide), writing came into my life and touched me in a way nothing ever did (before my husband), and it literally saved my life. It gave me a place where I finally belonged and explained why my imagination was the way it was. It explains other things too lol. But once I picked up that pen, I haven’t put it down. Not for long anyhow. I did take breaks along the ways to raise my kids but now they are grown and I’m not letting anything stop me from writing what comes to me.

Helen: Writing can be an amazing release and support, when life proves to be difficult. I am glad you found it in a time of need. You write fantasy and sci fi, would you put your hand to any other genres?

Amber: I write in most genres lol. The first time I attempted Horror, I was trying to write like Stephen King because he was my mother’s favorite author. I wanted to be her favorite author. I thought if I wrote something she would like, she’d have to like my writing. Didn’t work that way and I am glad. I had to learn that there’s nothing I can do to make someone that should like me, like me. I’m not going to keep wasting my time on that kind of stuff anymore. I’m going to be me—if no one likes it, their loss not mine. But as it did turn out, there was too much romance in the story to be under the horror genre. It ended up being rewritten although the horror elements in the story did remain. Just made for an interesting read. That was Cursed Blood which was renamed Cursed Blood: Bloodline Curse (and its sequel)

Helen: How did you come up with your cover designs? I must admit I like the cover for Murder Through Time; it is very atmospheric and seems apt for the story.

Amber: I’m learning all about cover design right now so I can make my own. I’ve been talking to other designers who really helped me. I was told this……Know your genre and the audience first. Go to Amazon’s top 100 for other Indie Authors in that genre and audience and look at those. Choose the image, colors, and font style based on what you see. Never use more than 2 different fonts because too much isn’t good. And remember, out of all the images that are out there, it is possible that other writers are using them too so play around with them. Subtle changes can make all the difference between your cover and someone elses using the same graphic. Or hire someone else to do it (either by trade or financial payment).

Helen: Covers are so important. You have such a short timeframe to grab a readers attention. It is the only way to make your book stand out. I am jealous of the fact you are going to design your own covers. I just don’t have the artistic ability or the time to do it myself! Staying with Murder Through Time, who is your favourite character?

Amber: Originally, Billie was going to be my MC in Murder Through Time, then it changed to Marcus. Of course, there are 4 POV characters in the story—Marcus, Billie, Ryan, and Charles. My favorite has to be Marcus right now. He had a bad childhood and became a detective to save lives and help people. Then he has to bring in Ryan because he’s a suspect in Billie’s deaths. He says he was framed. And then they are thrown into another time because of a time quake, so now Marcus has to save Billie before she becomes a victim again. It is a complex story but I’m truly enjoying this story! The twists keep running at me and I’m taking it in with so much awe. And Marcus is such a hunk.

Helen: It does sound like like a story which will keep the reader engrossed. Where do you get the ideas for your books?

Amber: The Peterson Estate series just hit; I was 12 years old so I don’t remember the exact inspiration other than the fact I love castles. Same with Mother of the Dragons although I was much older lol. Cursed Blood and its sequel, Spawn of the Curse were inspired by a nightmare which was triggered by my real life (I thought I was cursed). Murder Through Time was inspired by the moment under the bridge when my imagination got the best of me (it happens). Fairytale’s Truth was inspired by my granddaughter and youngest daughter. Stolen was inspired by a book on writing that had ideas in it. I just took the ideas a little further. It was also rewritten from Stolen Identity (some of it was changed and it was made clean). And I’m still being inspired.

Helen: Which characters do you prefer to write about ? Heroes or villains?

Amber: Heroes for sure but I could end up changing my mind later down the road. It would take a special villain to like him/her lol. I’m a happy ending type of woman so yeah. Heroes take chances, they fight for what they believe in, they are extraordinary even when they don’t have powers. I love a good hero.

Helen: Let’s talk about your writing environment. How do you fit writing in your daily life?

Amber: Every day is different. Some days, I can’t write because the day is just too short. Other days, I’ll spend most of the day working on a book. I don’t have a day-to-day job so I’m lucky about that part because it does give me more freedom. But I also have “chores” to do at home so that takes the front burner. I am a mother and grandmother too. When the kids come over, I can’t write. Sometimes I babysit for one of them and sometimes one will stay over all night—can’t work on my writing on those days. So, each day does vary.

Helen: So, on those days you can write, do you prefer to work in silence or do you surround yourself in music?

Amber: I’m one of those types of people who will type what they hear so I cannot listen to music while I write. I can watch a little TV sometimes, so go figure. I don’t know why I can tune the TV out but not the music lol. Of course, I tend to dance in my chair while I listen to music too so maybe that’s it. When I am marketing, planning my posts for the week, I listen to music. I like some rock, pop, country, etc. I love variety, just like in my writing.

Helen: Do you find yourself spending a lot of time of research?

Amber: That’s hard to say because each book is so different. I have one book that I put the brakes on for a little while because there was so much research to do. Of course, that one is nonfiction so the research is vital. There’s another book that is fiction that has a lot of research to make it work and it’s on the list to be written as well. I know nothing about trains and wanted the story to be more believable so it’s on hold for the moment. Once I get ready to write that book, I’m giving myself extra time to work in all that research but it’ll be a couple years before I get to it.

Helen: Do you find yourself planning every stage of your book, or do you like to let the story take you where it will?

Amber: I like to allow my characters guide me while writing so I am a pantser 100%. I do stop to write things down in my notes though. And even though I am letting the characters guide me, I generally know the big picture. Of course, many times the characters will throw me a loop and everything that I thought I knew would be totally changed. They throw me a twist and my eyes bulge out of my head and I’m like, I did not see that coming, in a pleasant excited way lol. I love twists! And I think my characters know that.

Helen: Do you have a special place where you like to write?

Amber: At the moment, I have a room where I can write. I call it an office space; my roommate calls it the den lol. Either way, it’s my space to write. I have a desk and a little space on the wall for all my crazy note taking. I write on my laptop but I have notebooks everywhere, where I keep my notes and stuff. And I do prefer night time but my daily life is different so as I said before, I write when I can so that varies between mornings and early evening, and even sometimes in the afternoon lol. But I do prefer to write at my desk because everything is handy for me.

Helen: You are such a prolific writer, is that what you prefer over editing?

Amber: I prefer writing, for sure, but I’ve learned to respect editing over the years because through editing, my writing has become better. The first draft is the story you’re telling yourself so it’s going to be packed with errors, missing pieces, and a lot of over-used words. Through editing, I can make a good plain story into something wonderful. But I love the writing process, diving into the story with uncharted territories, and learning about the characters. I get so involved that I lose time lol. So, I really do prefer writing before editing.

Helen: I know it’s like asking you to choose between your children, but do you have a favourite book out of those you have written?

Amber: For the longest time, my favorite book I’ve written was Peterson Estate because it had been with me for so long. But now, Fairytale’s Truth is my favorite because I see my granddaughter in the MC, Maria. I wrote her based on my 4-year-old granddaughter. The story is so magical and it pulls you in like no other fairy tale that I’ve ever seen before. And it’s not a fairy tale, it has fairy tale characters in it.

Helen: Most writers are also great readers, can you share what you are currently reading?

Amber: I’ve been rereading a lot of favorites because of the pandemic, I think, with so much out of my control. I am reading Creating Characters from the editors of Writer’s Digest. I needed to make my characters better so I thought I would reread these books on writing to relearn what I already knew, improve my writing. And I can feel it’s working because Murder Through Time is so much better than I would have written it before reading that book. Creating Characters talks about names, the personalities good and bad, making your character larger than life with imperfections, etc. It talks about POV in different styles too which is why I have more than one POV character even though there is only one MC.

Helen: Thank you so much for joining me today, it has been a pleasure chatting with you. I wish you all the best with the launch of your book. Final question, I promise! What advice would you give other writers?

Amber: Hang in there, don’t give up. No matter how bad it seems, it will always get better. Keep reading, keep writing. Don’t listen to those who tell you—you can’t make it as a writer. I’ve seen too many writers succeed so you CAN make it as a writer. It won’t happen overnight but it can happen. If you are writing your first book, begin getting to know the market before you’re finished writing that book. Start manufacturing word about that book now. Make business accounts on social sites and stir the pot so to speak now. You want to be friends with other writers. Don’t compete with each other, support each other.

About the Author:

My name is Amber aka A.R. Grosjean. I’ve been writing since I was 11 years old. I grew up on a small farm in Monroe, Indiana and moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana my junior year in high school where I continue to live with my husband. We’ve been married since 1996. We have 3 children who are now grown and 4 grandchildren. For my full bio, please visit my website where you can also sign up for my bi-weekly newsletter. Thank you!

Social Media Links:

Website
Instagram
Facebook

You can purchase Amber’s novels from Amazon:

The Great Dark Witch

UK: Paperback | eBook

USA: Paperback | eBook

Canada: Paperback | eBook

or if like me you haven’t had the opportunity to start this series yet you can find book one, Birth of a Witch, here:

UK: Paperback | eBook

USA: Paperback | eBook

Canada: Paperback | eBook

If you are interested in Amber’s recommended read: Creating Characters:

UK: Paperback | eBook

USA: Paperback | eBook

Canada: Paperback | eBook

Author Interview – Meredith Stoddard

Author of the Once & Future series

Joining me today to talk about her historical fantasy novels is the author Meredith Stoddard, author of the Once and Future series. I am so excited that the fourth book of her series releases today!!! Make sure you go and check out Nothing Good Gets Away! (Links below).

Welcome Meredith and thank you for joining me. Congratulations on the release of the fourth book in your series. Tell us a little about your novels.

Meredith: My latest is called Nothing Good Gets Away. It’s the fourth in my Once & Future series which is contemporary fantasy. It follows Sarah MacAlpin a folklorist who is trying to trace the origin of a  folksong that her grandmother taught her when she was a little girl. But when she starts pulling that thread it starts to reveal some family secrets and explain the trigger for her mother’s mental illness and eventual suicide. She’s helped along the way by a colleague from Scotland, who she falls in love with. But he is also embroiled in a cabal of neo-Jacobites who are trying to restore the Scottish crown to the Stuarts. They think Sarah is essential to their plans. When we catch up with Sarah in book 4, the revelations of the first three books have made her re-evaluate all her plans for the future. All she wants is to get away and live a quiet life somewhere, but there are some powerful forces working against her. This series has a folklore, magic, intrigue and romance. If readers like a Discovery of Witches or Outlander, they will enjoy this series.

Helen: This sounds really intriguing. And big news! If you haven’t read Meredith’s books yet, the ebook of Book One: The River Maiden is currently free to celebrate the launch of the fourth book in the series-so get it now! I love a historical fantasy. How did you come up with the title?

Meredith: The title for this book comes from a letter that John Steinbeck wrote to his son as fatherly advice on teenage romance. In the letter he talks about two kinds of love; healthy and uplifting versus unhealthy and possessing or draining. He tells him to be patient with the object of his affection because if it is meant to be, it will be. He tells him, “Nothing good gets away.” Those two kinds of love are very much a theme in this book, so it seems fitting. But out of context it can also sound like a threat which fits this book too. I love the equivocal nature of it.

Helen: That sounds very trusting, not sure fate is always that kind. But then, sometimes, no matter what you do, no matter how difficult you make it for yourself, you end up where you’re supposed to be anyway! That’s what my MC finds out! What made you write this book?

Meredith: This series is very much about the question of fate versus free will. While Sarah’s situation is extreme, I think we’ve all had occasions where people tell us we should be doing one thing, and we might want to go in a different direction. A lot of us have to balance the expectation of our family or community or society with our own desires and plans. That push and pull can be hard to balance and sometimes it requires compromise. Even if we don’t feel it to the level that Sarah does, finding that balance is something that many people struggle with.

Helen: Very true! And most of the time we don’t realise we are being manipulated by society or social norms as they are so ingrained. What made you first put pen to paper? Was it a specific event or person who who inspired you to begin writing?

Meredith: My grandmother. She’s a terrific storyteller, and memory keeper. When I was a little girl, I would spend weeks at her house, and she would tell me stories about the generations of our family that came before us, and other families in the little town where she lives. And then I would go out into her garden, which is glorious and walk around with my imagination full of my own stories. It was a magical way to spend my summers. I got hooked on stories and making my own stories. She’s also an incredibly strong and determined person. She’s pretty amazing. 

Helen: She sounds absolutely amazing, and it’s so wonderful that she is able to share so much about your family and instilled in you a live or storytelling. I always think a love of reading and the storytelling skills are passed down to us from our parents and grandparents, those who have the most influence on its when we are young, and it’s lovely to see it action. I’m not surprised a sense of history permeates your writing, but you blend in fantasy as well, where did that come from?

Meredith: I try to follow a theme more than a genre. All of my fiction is folklore inspired. I usually let the story pick the genre. That can lead me to write historical fiction, fantasy, women’s fiction. I even have an idea for a horror book. The common thread is always folkore. In the case of the Once & Future Series, I was reading a lot about Grail lore and Arthurian legends. I started to ask myself what would happen if the future part of the “once and future king” happened now. What would that look like? So, that led me to fantasy. I have some historical fiction pieces that are inspired by legends of the North Carolina coast. 

Helen: So I am assuming there are a wealth of ideas in the world of folklore to inspire your books?

Meredith: I am fascinated by folklore and oral traditions. It’s easy to go down a rabbit hole of stories that have been passed down for generations. That’s where I find inspiration. What is the grain of truth in a story? How would that story look if it happened today? What actually happened as opposed to whatever embellished version has been passed down. There are so many rich and interesting traditions to explore.

Helen: So, book four is out, is there a fifth? What are you working on now?

Meredith: I have a couple of books in the pipeline right now. Of course, there will be a fifth book in the Once & Future Series to follow the one that is releasing this month. I also am revising a women’s fiction novel that is a spinoff of the fantasy series. It’s about a woman who returns to her hometown after inheriting her family home. She is a marketing consultant who has been working almost non-stop for years. She is asked to lend her brand management skills to help revive her family’s dying church. But she is conflicted because she’s an atheist. She also has some past trauma that makes her resist trusting her instincts, which leads her to make some choices that don’t leave her happy or fulfilled. On top of that she has a tense relationship with her mother. I’m actually very excited about it. The main character’s interior voice is snarky and irreverent. It was a fun book to write. 

Helen: Let’s change gears for a moment, tell us a little about how you write. Do you plan everything or do just let the story evolve?

Meredith: I am a big time planner. In my previous career I was developing training classes for a software company, so I got very used to outlines and planning. I have to be able to see where a project is going. That bird’s eye view keeps me on track and makes for less revision time. I love Save the Cat Writes a Novel and use their beat sheets to sketch out the plot. Then I expand that out into a scene-by-scene outline. I’m not a slave to it. There are plenty of detours and re-plotting breaks along the way. There is still room for discovery, but I like to start with a plan.

Helen: Sounds like a good plan! How does writing fit into your daily life? How often are you able to write? Do you write everyday?

Meredith: This is a challenge for most writers isn’t it? It’s always been a challenge, but the pandemic has certainly made it worse because everyone is suddenly at home with me all day. I’m a mom of two teenagers, who are currently in remote school, so a lot of my time is spent making sure they get to class on time and get their work done. I use sprints to write in short bursts whenever I can fit it in; evenings, weekends, while the kids are in class. Luckily, right before the pandemic started, we built a finished shed behind our house that serves as my office. It’s great to have my own space, and I have the best walk to work through my garden. 

Helen: It sounds divine. I keep saying I going to move so I can have a writing nook and a library. One day maybe. So, you have your writing den, do you listen to music while you write?

Meredith: Absolutely! The main character in my fantasy series is trying to get a PhD in ethno-musicology. It would be hard to write her without music. It’s also is such a great way to get in the mood for writing, and to shut out distractions. I make playlists for certain characters, relationships, and settings. I even share some of those playlists with my readers. Sometimes they make suggestions to me of songs that should be added to the playlists.

Helen: Don’t you love it when your character’s voice becomes real? They have their own opinions and they are not shy about telling you. Out of all your books, who is your favourite character?

Meredith: That is a tough question. Obviously, I have a soft spot for my main characters. But occasionally, there is a magical thing that happens with certain secondary characters who show up and just shine and surprise me. One of those in my fantasy series is Ruaraidh (pronounced ROO-ree) Ballantyne. He’s the half-brother of my main character and doesn’t show up until the third book. I knew he would come along when I started writing the series, but when it finally happened, he just bloomed. He’s a hiking guide and mountain rescue volunteer in the Scottish Highlands. He’s a tall, sun-kissed smart-ass who drives an ancient Land Rover, and rescues my MC on occasion. I love all my characters, but when this guy shows up I just have to smile.

Helen: He sounds great! I’m smiling as I listen to you describe him. I am definitely going to have to go and check out your series! Thank you so much for joining me today; I have loved chatting with you. I wish you all the best with your next book and your book series. Just to close us out, can you tell us what you are currently reading?

Meredith: I’ve been rereading a lot of favorites because of the pandemic, I think. with so much out of my control, now that I am done writing book 4 of my fantasy series, I’m getting into researching book 5, so there is a lot of nonfiction about Gaelic folklore like The Gaelic Otherworld which is an anthology of Gaelic folklore around fairies and the supernatural. It is giant brick of a book, but it’s full of all kinds of legends that I’m sure will inspire more books and stories. I’ve also been using Natasha Sumner and Aidan Doyle’s North American Gaels as incentive to get my work done. I got it for Christmas and told myself I wouldn’t start reading it until I was ready to research book 5. I’m such a nerd about folklore that this is a real treat for me.

About the Author:

I have known since I was a little girl sitting at my Granny’s kitchen table listening to her recount the stories of our family, that I wanted to be a story teller. Naturally, as with many folks, life/bills/mortgages/children got in the way for a while. Now after more than a decade writing training and sales material in the corporate world I find myself with the freedom to return to the kind of story telling that I have always enjoyed. So, I’m turning my attention the stories that have been in my head for as long as I can remember. Some are historical fiction, some are non-fiction, some are just plain romance, but I hope they are all entertaining. Here are my bullet points:

– Wife and mother of 2 amazing children
– Nuts about all things knitting, crocheting, felting, or otherwise fiber related
– Former corporate trainer and instructional designer 
– Grew up in suburban Virginia, but the child of Tarheels
– BA in English from UNC-Chapel Hill
– Also minored in Folklore at UNC, and still passionate about all things folklore
– Avid Instagrammer, reader, genealogist, history nerd and shower singer
– Opinionated

Social Media Links:

Website
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You can purchase Meredith’s novels from Amazon:

The River Maiden, Book One

UK: Paperback | eBook

USA: Paperback | eBook

Canada: Paperback | eBook

Nothing Good Gets Away, Book Four (for those of you already reading the series!) Release date: April 20th, 2021.

UK: eBook

USA: eBook

Canada: eBook