I am joined today by author Andrew King to talk about his debut thriller novel, Cold Blood. which released April 2nd, 2021. Welcome Andrew. Please tell us a little about your novel.
Andrew: My book is called Cold Blood. It’s about a detective in Victorian England covering for the fact that his wife is a serial killer.
Helen: What made you call your novel Cold Blood?
Andrew: Originally the title of the story was The Vampire Detective but I thought that was a bit too on the nose so I decided to change the title to Cold Blood as a reference to the phrase “to kill in cold blood” meaning to kill without remorse.
Helen: It sounds appropriately chilling! What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
Andrew: This particular story had two inspirations, the book The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and the killings of jack the ripper. I first read the first in English literature taught by David Dalrymple and the second in History taught by Mrs Bugler both of whom have been thanked in the acknowledgements of the story.
Helen: Your book sounds really intriguing, part historical and part fantastical. Did you do a lot of research for your book?
Andrew: I don’t do a lot of research, honestly. I wrote the story and looked through it trying to find things that stand out as inaccurate and checked if it was. most of my stories have less of a focus on realism.
Helen: What inspired you to first start writing? Was there anyone in particular that lit that spark in you?
Andrew: I began writing when I was 14 after a, particularly long day meaning the main thing that made me start writing was boredom. I decided to continue writing after I showed a few people because I realised how much I enjoyed entertaining people. In the beginning, there wasn’t a particular person that inspired me to write mostly because I didn’t take it too seriously but the closer to cold blood I got and I talked to more writers I found more people that inspired me, If I had to say now it would be Myria Candies, author of Black Hollow, The Bitter Taste and White Embers.
Helen: Congratulations on finishing your first novel, and now you’ve written a thriller, what’s next?
Andrew: I plan on writing a mix of genres but this book is historical fiction because of its main inspiration, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Both stories are set in 1886.
Helen: How do you get ideas for books?
Andrew: Most of my ideas for stories, of which I have 21, come either from reading other works of fiction, like Cold Blood was, or general observations of the real world like my current WIP, Cup of Sleep, which was inspired by all the people saying they couldn’t survive without coffee.
Helen: Oh my, that’s great to hear. Tell us more about your latest work in progress, Cup of Sleep. That sounds like a really fascinating premise.
Andrew: My current work in progress, as mentioned in the last question is called Cup of Sleep. the basic plot is that a coffee company has taken over the world and has made sleep illegal so people need their coffee to stay awake. the main character finds a product called a sleep pod and must hide it from the government because the punishment for sleeping is death. the two main inspirations being all the people saying they couldn’t survive without coffee and how boring I thought 1984 was.
Helen: Every writer has a different way of writing, and favourites elements. Writing thrillers I suppose you have an interest in writing villains. Do you prefer writing Heroes or villains?
Andrew: I definitely prefer writing villains, I like seeing how people react to the evil things they do, both the reader and the characters in the story as we don’t know how we’ll react to something until it happens.
Helen: Tell us about your writing environment. Do you have time to write every day?
Andrew: I don’t find fitting writing into my everyday life difficult because I am a student in college. for the most part, I have one lesson a day and that lesson is two hours long meaning when I get home I have plenty of time to do both work and writing. I do listen to music, I write on my computer and have youtube open on a different tab. The main people I listen to are Dodie Clark, Anna Akana and The stupendium. there is no writing-related reason I just love their songs.
Helen: What is the most useful piece of writing advice you have received?
Andrew: I would have to say that the most useful is not to edit as I write that was given by the previously mentioned Myria Candies. This is because doing that will prevent progress as you constantly look at the same section without writing any more.
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 next book. Just to close us out, can you tell us what advice you would give other authors?
Andrew: The main advice I would give is simply to start small, it was a problem I had when I started writing that I would try to make everything much bigger than it needed to be for example my first story being part of a five-book series, I didn’t have the skill to write a series yet I was trying anyway.
About the Author:
Andrew King is a self-published author whose main goal in life is to entertain others; we will see how successful that is. Born in Manchester, Droylsden to Edward and Sarah King I first began writing when I was in Secondary school at the end of a particularly long day. I wrote many stories in private until the year 2020 when, during lockdown, I decided to try and publish one. Cold Blood was born.
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!
Joining me today is Clemy Warner Thompson, author of young adult fantasy book From Within the Light.
Welcome Clemy. You are about to do your cover reveal of your next book, Even in the Darkest Times and I am so excited you gave me a sneak peek to share with your readers. (If you can’t wait – scroll down!!!! I love it!) But in the meantime, please tell us a little about your current book.
Clemy: My current book is From Within the Light. It is a contemporary fantasy story, that follows Cassie and her brother Dillen. Their lives are thrown upside down when they discover that their friends and their family are not who they thought they were. The stale lives that the two of them have lived are left behind them, as they go on the run from the Darkness that is hunting for Cassie’s energy. Only she has the power their enemies need to eradicate the curse that has consumed them since their fall to earth. Cassie is pulled into the world of angels and demons and their painful, yet unknown, Fall to earth. All angels that have survived since the Fall need Cassie’s hidden power to unveil their locked memories.
Helen: That sounds amazing, how did you come up with the title?
Clemy: I have never struggled in creating my titles. I always have a rough idea of what I want it to be, and then it changes ever so slightly with the finishing of the story. Originally I had planned to do another trilogy (that would be my third in total) and they were to be named:- From Within the Light, There is Hope, Even in the Darkest of Times.
Since drawing to the end of this book, I have decided that two books are enough to round off the story I am trying to create. I may in the future branch into other books and other stories, with some of the lesser known but interesting characters, but for now I am happy with the title of From Within the Light and Even in the Darkest of Times for my WIP.
Helen: The names sound perfect, and work well together as part of a duology. And then there is the cover. How did you come up with the design?
Clemy: This is a difficult question to answer. In honesty, I explain the premise of my book to the person I choose to design the cover and then see what they come up with, though I always have some kind of idea of what I’m looking for.
I have had mixed reviews about my covers which has swayed me more recently. Most of my readers love the covers, but they feel they don’t match the genres or topics of the stories inside. I like my covers to show the battles between Light and Darkness but not in a traditional way. I use shadows and silhouettes and lights to highlight areas of energy that battle the Darkness throughout. I am new to using colour in my cover designs, and I am hoping that the bursts of blue and red I include in my cover for Even in the Darkest of Times is well met by my readers.
Helen: It is difficult to know the right way to go, I had to give up some of my ideas for covers because they just wouldn’t work on a thumbnail. Online previews use tiny images of your cover so you still need it to resonate and you need to make sure the reader can recognise the book or its genre. Not so easy as it sounds! Do you only write fantasy?
Clemy: Since I started writing, I have always chosen fantasy as my genre. I love everything about it. The books, the films, the TV series, and all of the wonderful characters and worlds that draw you in. I have struggled with certain times in my life and I feel that I used writing as a way to keep me centred, now it is a flourishing hobby (when I get time).
Helen: I must admit that I love fantasy as well; it is my favourite genre. Congratulations on your cover reveal, and thank you for sharing it with me. It looks fantastic! I can’t wait for it to be released. Your readers will be glad to hear this, the second book is already in the works.
Clemy: Yes! I am working on the sequel to From Within the Light, titled Even in the Darkest of Times. It follows on directly from the first book in this duology, and once again follows both Cassie and Kale in their individual challenges and struggles.
I have been working on this book for nearly 4 very slow progressing years. I seemed to lose connection to the characters at a certain time in my life and so I took a step back, and returned to it when I felt It was time. In doing so, Even in the Darkest of Times is turning into my best book so far.
It is a paranormal romance novel at its centre, but at the forefront it is a new adult fantasy novel, with elements of magic and contemporary scenarios.
Helen: Tell us what you like read. What are your favourite books?
Clemy: It has to be Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick. I loved it. I also loved Fallen by Lauren Kate. As you see there is a similarity between the two. I love reading about angels and I love a good paranormal romance novel.
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 cover reveal and the launch of Even in the Darkest of Times. To close us out, being an Indie author, what advice would you give to other aspiring authors?
Clemy: First of all, don’t give up. It is hard being a writer, physically and emotionally. Handwriting manuscripts can take its toll on your hands and wrists, always find the most comfortable position and writing style for you. Use a computer or laptop if that’s easier. Use your phone if you’re out and about and think of a great idea.
Don’t stress when things don’t work out how you planned. Stories can take turns anywhere, the characters can end up doing what they want to do and not necessarily what you, the writer, wants them to do. Most importantly, don’t stretch yourself too far. The dreams of being a famous writer and being well known in the world for your writing can be a daunting prospect. Some people can’t cope with the title of famous when it’s found, others feel inadequate when they don’t find that title. Own being a writer, at any stage.
I started writing on my thirteenth birthday and I have never looked back. I ‘ve had time off from writing, sometimes years, but I always end up back to it. Something about the worlds I think of and the characters I design, they call to me when it’s been too long since I added anything to their stories.
I work 5 days a week in a retail environment, and writing is mostly my hobby. I have had poems published by Young Writers and in the Cleanteen Anthology, Wonderstruck, but all my novels are self-published. In the future, I would like to be able to walk into a shop and pick up a copy of one of my books, but whether that is to happen I’m not sure. The first step towards that is to find an agent!
Joining me today is the author, Jaimie Schock, author of the science fiction novel Visions of Iotan which will be published today, March 20th, 2021.
Welcome Jaimie, to start us off please tell us about your brand new book Visions of Iotan.
Jaimie: Visions of Iotan is a stand-alone science-fiction novel featuring a gay protagonist, a talking capybara, an evil priest, and bison-sized benevolent aliens. The story follows Cillian, a nurse whose daughter accidentally kills an alien child. From prison, he is given a chance to take his family on a trip to another planet, and he agrees. This decision sends them on a journey rife with danger, from which they might never return.
Helen: First of all congratulations on the launch of your novel, it is such a special day when your book goes live. Visions of Iotan, can you give us a little background on how you came up with the name.
Jaimie: “Iotan” is the name of the planet they visit (in the Iota Horologii system), and “Visions” refers to hallucinations that Cillian ends up experiencing.
Helen: This is a science fiction novel, but you don’t just write sci-fi do you?
Jaimie: I write adult fantasy and science-fiction, always with LGBTQ+ and disabled characters. Though I am currently working on a high fantasy, I am open to writing other genres such as horror and YA.
Helen: It’s great to see inclusive novels being being written. There is definitely demand for them. Do you have a favourite character in the book?
Jaimie: My favorite character from Visions of Iotan is an alien nicknamed Rapunzel. It starts off as just a worker on the ship, but soon enough it performs a valuable role in the story. It helps Cillian and his family substantially. I also really like the name. My second favorite character is a trans woman named Zoe, who is the resident doctor on the ship. She becomes a friend and colleague to Cillian, as well as a voice of reason when things start to go bad.
Helen: I know you are just launching your book, but are you working on anything else? Do you have another work in progress?
Jaimie: My current untitled work-in-progress features a lesbian bard who plays the flute. She is assigned to a mountainous country named Centralla. When a child is murdered, the country descends into a civil war that gets worse and worse as time goes on. The Bard must balance a burgeoning relationship with a witch while helping to diffuse the conflict.
Helen: Sounds very interesting. I love stories with bards for some reason, more I think because they travel and tell stories, spread the word and entertain just like we do! I look forward to it being available! How does writing fit into your daily life. I am sure you have demands pulling you in all directions.
Jaime: I’m disabled and haven’t worked in an office setting since 2013. The moment I stopped traditional work, I began writing novels. I have written eight books and begun a ninth in that time. I write during weekdays predominately in the afternoon. I like to save the evenings and weekends for spending time with my husband, friends, and family.
Helen: Congratulations on being so prolific, most authors are lucky to finish one book! It’s easy starting, it’s the finishing that’s challenging! Tell us a little about your writing progress. Do you plan out your books or do you pantser, and write as you go?
Jaimie: I’m a pantser. I write chronologically without chapters (and put them in after a few revisions). I rarely know what’s going to happen when I begin. I wrote my entire series this way, along with Visions of Iotan and my new project.
Helen: It has been lovely chatting with you, Jaimie. Thank you so much for spending time with me and I wish you every success with your new book. Just one last question. What advice would you give other Indie authors?
Anna: Just write. Whether you plan your whole story ahead of time or start with just a basic idea, the most important thing is to write your heart out. If and when you start querying your piece, don’t lose hope if you get a lot of rejections. For my first story, a fantasy series called The Talisman War, I queried more than 100 agents and more than 20 publishers and got rejected by every single one before getting a publishing deal directly.
About the Author
Jaimie is an author, editor, and journalist with more than a decade of professional experience. I have been published in newspapers and magazines as a journalist, and my novels have been published via a small press. I am married and living in Northern Virginia. Though I have an extensive career, I am disabled with PTSD and chronic illness. I try to incorporate my life experiences into the fictional pieces I write while delivering complex and diverse characters. My pronouns are she/her, and I am proudly a member of the LGBTQ+ community.