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
Instagram
Twitter
Facebook

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

Author Interview – Darrah Steffen

Author of Rise of the Dragon Queen

This Easter Monday, I am chatting with fantasy author, Darrah Stefffen, about her recent release Rise of the Dragon Queen.

Welcome Darrah. Congratulations on publishing your first novel which was released on March 13th of this year; you must be so excited! Please tell us a little about your book.

Darrah: Rise of the Dragon Queen is my first book. It is set in an alternative realm on a planet called Ethota. This world has developed life that we would consider fantastical. The main population called the Elvateth have enhanced senses, and some have the ability to control the elements. In the story, the creatures of old have vanished. The dragons are endangered and the country of Dragonia is being ruled by a tyrant, persecuting magic users. A Resistance has formed to fight against the King. When her sister is kidnapped, Jennica embarks on her own journey to save her. She must align with unlikely allies to bring her sister home, but as she does so an ancient threat arises to take over their weakened country.

Helen: What a complex story; it sounds action packed. What sparked the idea to write this book?

Darrah: I originally started writing this book as a form of stress relief when I was in college. I went to school in a very science heavy field, but I always enjoyed being creative. So being in a science heavy field, it was stressful to not have that creative outlet. So I started writing. This book came out of that. It was based on an idea that I had been playing with over a long time. I created this world way back in elementary school with my two best friends during recess games. 

Helen: Such a complete opposite to the day job! How did you first find that creative spark? To be able to write a book and finish it is an amazing accomplishments. So many books are begun but never finished. I have a couple languishing on my computer that I must get back to! What started you off writing?

Darrah: When I was a kid, I had a hard time reading and writing. I wasn’t testing dyslexic, but it was close. Because it was so hard, I hated it, but I loved telling stories. To try and get me interested in writing, my parents and teachers had me write stories. The caveat was I could only use words I knew how to spell. To tell the stories I wanted to tell, I had to learn new words, learn to spell things. I thought it was a fun adventure. That has followed me throughout my life. I still love learning new words and telling stories.

Helen: Congratulations on overcoming some challenging obstacles. It is so great that you were able to find a way to still express yourself and grow your creative side. Your creative side was obviously determined to be heard! You have built a fantastical world for your novel, how do you come up with ideas?

Darrah: I mentioned earlier I went to school for a science heavy field. I have a Master’s degree in the Geosciences and work in Paleontology. So, one of the big things that help me when coming up with ideas for stories is asking “What if” questions. I try to think about what if the world had two moons or how dragons would exist or what if magic existed in our world. 

Another way that I get ideas for stories is through dreams. I have gotten migraines with auras since I was nine. The aura I get is called “Alice in Wonderland” Syndrome where I see lights and shifting sizes of objects. When I sleep with this migraine, I get very vivid dreams and nightmares. Some of these dreams have inspired story ideas.

Photo: Sharon McCutcheon from Unsplash

Helen: I am so glad you have been able to adapt what could be a very dehabilitating experience into a positive one. I love the nod to your paleontology background with the cover! With a combination of science and creativity in your life, how do you write? Do you have to plan everything or do you let it flow?

Darrah: I tend to be a plantser. I have a loose framework to guide me. These would be more of the large plot points. I generally say the ending and mid points. Then I let the story flow between these points. I really like the organic way the story develops in those in between parts but found that having at least those concrete goals helps writing go smoother.

Helen: Which characters do you prefer to write, heroes or villains?

Darrah: I really enjoy writing the strange characters. I like writing the characters whose motives are unknown or a little fuzzy. I like writing the characters that are just a little out there. They are unpredictable and can surprise even me as I’m writing. 

Helen: Tell us a little about your writing environment, do you prefer silence or do you surround your self with music?

Darrah: I love music. I play two instruments – the trumpet and the piano. So music has always been a large part of my life. Music helps inspire me while I write. For every story I am actively working on, I have a playlist that helps me get into the mindset of the characters or the themes of the book. For example, the “theme song” of the main villain of Rise of the Dragon Queen is Castle by Halsey. 

Helen: Love it. I tend to have a specific album playing when I write. I am currently brainstorming ideas for a new novel that was sparked by an Olly Murs song. The lyrics just resonated and off I went! If you didn’t write fantasy are there any other genres that tempt you?

Darrah: I would like to try some hard science fiction next. I love writing fantasy. I love magic systems and fantasy creatures, but I also love space and technology. So eventually I would like to try out that hard science fiction.

Helen: Thank you so much for joining me today, it has been a pleasure chatting with you. I wish you all the best with your new novel, Rise of the Dragon Queen. To close us out, tell us about what you are working on next.

Darrah: Now I am working on the sequels to Rise of the Dragon Queen. The second book, Keepers of Knowledge, is currently in edits. I am also working on the first draft of the third book in the series. 

About the Author:

Darrah Steffen is a Kansas native, now living in North Dakota with her husband, her dog Willow, and her cat Jasper. Rise of the Dragon Queen is her first book. She loves to write worlds with weird and new creatures.

Darrah is trained as a geologist and paleontologist – which plays into her worldbuilding. When she is not writing, she works as a fossil preparator. She is also an avid board gamer, enjoys playing music with her husband, and cuddling with her pets.

Social Media Links:

Author Website
Instagram
Twitter
Facebook
Youtube

You can purchase her novel, Rise fo the Dragon Queen on Amazon:

Link to eBook on Amazon US/Amazon UK/Amazon Canada

Link to Paperback on Amazon US | Amazon UK/Amazon Canada

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