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 – Belinda Kroll

Author of The Last April and Haunting Miss Trentwood.

Joining me to talk about her Teen/YA historical fiction and fantasy novels is the author Belinda Kroll, author of The Last April and Haunting Miss Trentwood. Welcome Belinda and thank you for joining me. Tell us a little about your novels.

Belinda: The Last April is about spontaneous, fifteen-year-old Gretchen, who vows to help heal the nation from the recently ended Civil War. On the morning of President Lincoln’s death, Gretchen finds an amnesiac Confederate in her garden and believes this is her chance for civic goodwill. But reconciliation is not as simple as Gretchen assumed. When her mother returns from the market with news that a Confederate murdered the president, Gretchen wonders if she caught the killer. Tensions between her aunt and mother rise as Gretchen nurses her Confederate prisoner, revealing secrets from their past that make Gretchen question everything she knows about loyalty, honor, and trust.

The Last April is an entertaining, thoughtful novella of Ohio after the Civil War, meant to encourage readers to reflect on themes of fear and hope in uncertain political times. Read this award-winning book if you enjoy sassy and resourceful young women, books about Civil War civilian life, or snippets from newspapers of the era.

Haunting Miss Trentwood is about witty, secluded Mary, who is adjusting to life with her aunt after her father, Trentwood, passes away and returns in ghostly form. Despite the urging of her spectral father, Mary continues to live in their aging home with only her aunt and their servants for company. But their quiet manor house carries secrets even from Mary and Trentwood. When Hartwell, a London lawyer, arrives at their doorstep claiming someone in the house is blackmailing his sister, Mary stumbles into a mystery that forces her to revisit memories and rethink her future. As Mary and Hartwell seek the blackmailer, each learns about the importance of opening one’s heart to trust and betrayal. 

Haunting Miss Trentwood is a cozy gothic written from varied perspectives. Readers will be entertained by bright dialogue and encouraged to reflect on the universal themes of dealing with parents and disappointing relationships, and learning to love again. Read this if you enjoy ghosts with an attitude, sheltered young women finding their place in the world, charming Beta heroes, and characters who write letters to each other.

Helen: Your books sound really interesting. I love novels that teach us something about the time period it is set in, and then to add a little fantasy into the mix as well, magical! How did you come up with the titles of your books?

Belinda: The Last April was my first attempt at historical fiction with the tiniest splash of mystery for kids who haven’t gotten to their Civil War history units yet. I gave the book this title after asking a friend’s 5th grade classroom to vote on a couple different options. They chose this title because it felt mysterious and hinted at something disastrous. I like the title because it’s the “last” April for many reasons: the last month of President Lincoln’s life; the last April of the Civil War; the last April where Gretchen felt like a child.

Haunting Miss Trentwood
is pretty straightforward. Gideon Trentwood is haunting his daughter, Mary Trentwood. It’s set in 1873, so she would be referred to as Miss Trentwood, sometimes even by her own family.

Helen: I love them fact that the kids contributed to picking the title. The best way to make sure your book resonates with your target audience. It is obvious you love writing about history, so I suppose it’s not stretch that you chose to write historical fiction, but you added a fantasy twist as well. Tell us why?

Belinda: I write historical fiction and historical fantasy. When I say fantasy, right now that means paranormal, but I hope to release a magical fantasy novel in the next couple years. Historical fiction has always held my attention because so much of what we deal with today, people were dealing with back then, too. It allows me to make commentary on contemporary issues through the added benefit of teaching a little something about history, even if my story is made up. The ghosts and magic are just for fun, and boy are they fun.

Helen: I love writing fantasy as well. Let’s talk about your writing process. Do you plan your stories or do you let your characters lead the way?

Belinda: I’m a plantser, ha. I write to discover the plot and characters as I go along. I usually handwrite draft zero, and when I type it into the computer, I’m doing light editing and keeping track of the scenes in a separate document. These scenes become my outline and allow me to look at the big picture to determine where the gaps and inconsistency exists.

Helen: How does writing fit into your daily life? How often are you able to write? Do you write everyday?

Belinda: I bite off tiny chunks, as close to daily as possible. I work full-time and have two small children, so the only way I’m able to get any writing done is by focusing on small, frequent writing sessions. I recently gave myself a goal to write three sentences a day. I stole this idea from Mary Robinette Kowal, and so far, it’s worked for me. I almost always go beyond the three sentences when I do put pen to paper, and even if I don’t physically write that day, the point is that I’m keeping the story top of mind so when I do get back to it, I don’t have to invest so much time with reacquainting myself with where I left it.

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 your are currently reading?

Belinda: I’ve been rereading a lot of favorites because of the pandemic, I think. with so much out of my control, I wanted to go back to fiction that I knew I liked and would satisfy my reading craves. Emerald House Rising by Peg Kerr is one of the first fantasy books I read as a teen and I loved (and still love) it for a couple reasons. The book follows a Heroine’s Journey arc where the main character is ripped from everything familiar, builds a new support network and develops a sense of strength and power through teamwork and delegation, and returns to reclaim her place in her family through masterful compromise and seeking a resolution for the greater good. The heroine and hero have a purely platonic relationship with no expectation of romance because they have their own relationships. The magic system is unique and a great commentary on the benefits of seeking out people who think and feel differently from you. It ends with a promise of a changed future, but doesn’t spell it out for the reader, so you’re left to imagine it for yourself, which I also love. This author is unique as well; she wrote this super tight narrative which won awards and got great blurbs from some big name authors at the time, and then stopped writing to focus on her family. I noticed she’s begun blogging again, so I hope she’ll release another book someday, having benefited from living what seems like a full and rewarding life out of the public eye.

About the Author:

Belinda Kroll writes YA historicals about secrets and the strong females who unearth them. In addition to being an author, she is a user experience design professional, hobbyist photographer, and lindy hopper. She is obsessed with eyeglasses, Korean dramas, home renovation and cooking shows, and petting every dog that allows her to do so. She lives with her family in Ohio. Visit her website at https://worderella.com.

Kroll is also the author of non-fiction and children’s storybooks under the name Binaebi Akah. She releases journals and planners for creatives and caregivers at her Etsy shop, Bright Bird Press, which is also the name of her publishing company under Embark Enterprises, LLC.

Social Media Links:

Website (or http://belindakroll.com)
Instagram
Etsy
Facebook

You can purchase Belinda’s novels from Amazon:

The Last April

UK: Paperback | eBook

USA: Paperback | eBook

Canada: Paperback | eBook

The Haunting of Miss Trentwood

UK: Paperback | eBook

USA: Paperback | eBook | Audiobook

Canada: Paperback | eBook

Author Interview – Clemy Warner Thompson

Author of From Within the Light

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.

You can find The Star on Kobo, Smashwords or Lulu.

About the Author:

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!

Social Media Links:

Instagram

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

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Author Interview – Jen Lowry

Author of Love Over Pizza

Joining me today is the American author and educator, Jen Lowry. Author of sweet romance/young adult and middle grade novels.

Welcome Jen. You are one busy lady! You write a blog, a podcast, you have a YouTube channel, you stream on Twitch and you write novels in multiple genres! I don’t know how you fit it all in! But you do, and you have just released your latest sweet romance novel, Love Over Pizza. Tell us a little about your new book.

Jen: Love Over Pizza, a sweet romance set in small town North Carolina, was published in January!

This is the blurb: Pepper Pines is back in Jackson, North Carolina, and settling in after graduating college. Her classroom is just the way she envisioned it, but her social life isn’t. Pepper’s best friend, Jessie, convinces her that Cupid’s Connection, a popular online dating site, might have her Mr. Right. Luca Giovanni is trying his best to run the pizza shop his parents left him and be his sister, Angel’s, keeper. Angel signs Luca up to Cupid’s Connection without him knowing because she feels he’s ready for love but just doesn’t take the time away from his business to date. Both find out what really matters, how to let go and lean in, and discover that pizza is better shared with those you love. 

Helen: What made you choose Pizza? Is that a favourite of yours?

Jen: When I first met my character, Pepper Pines, she had this intense love for pizza and could eat a slice a day! The line popped out during chapter one, and I knew it must be the title, “Pizza over love any day,” was what she told her best friend, Jessie. Well, let’s just say things happen when love and pizza are involved!

Helen: Isn’t it great when the title just leaps out at you? Sometimes it can be one of the most difficult elements of a book to pin down. It must be difficult when you write in so many different genres.

Jen: I’m a multi-genre author so love to write all types of books for a wide range of readers! I’m a children’s book author all the way to adult contemporary fiction. I’ve written mainly sweet romances, fantasy, and now am excited to see The Sunday Killer, my first police procedural thriller hit the stands later this year with City Limits Publishing!

Helen: Congratulations on your latest book, and in a different genre as well. When did you first start writing?

Jen: My earliest memories of writing are when I was in 8th grade! Middle school sweet romances like those of Sweet Valley High invaded my thoughts and that was my first attempt at writing! It was set at UNC Chapel Hill. The thirty-page books were all about first love on a college campus. Funny that I ended up going to a rival college later in life, NC State, and my son is now a Tar Heel!

Helen: What inspired you to write?

Jen: When I read A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks as an adult my heart soared with the possibilities and the dream of this author life. I will forever call that book one of my favorites because it led me on my writing journey and helped me find my way back to what I so loved but walked away from.

Helen: You mentioned a new book you are working on: The Sunday Killer, tell us a little about it.

Jen: My current novel, The Sunday Killer, follows lead detective, Heather Moody, she has to solve a series of harrowing crimes turned cold cases in small town, NC.

Helen: Quite a departure from your sweet romance novels, do you enjoy writing villains?

Jen: I just love my heroes! Villains are fascinating and can led us on some twisty rides, but there’s something aboutthat hero that battles it out for the win that I love!

Helen: With so many things going on, how do you fit in your writing.

Jen: I’m a full-time literacy coach and English teacher at a high school and a homeschool mom in the evening so it can get tough! I make sure that I’m writing something and researching or reading a novel in the genre I’m writing every day, even if it is just for 20 minutes. When teacher breaks or the summer hits, it’s ON!

Helen: Love it! Let’s talk about your writing process. Many authors work in silence, others like to listen to music, how do you work?

Jen: When I was working on The Fae of Averlee, I was addicted to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack and Irish instrumentals. It was so inspiring to me and transported me to another place. I only listen to instrumentals as I write. Trust me, if the lyrics were there, I would be singing along!

Helen: That sounds inspiring. It would definitely fit a fantasy novel. With a range of genres, you must spend a lot of time researching as well as writing?

Jen: TONS! I love to research. I’m reading within my genre, researching online events of the time, whether historical, setting, or time period related. Because I write almost all of my books set in small towns of North Carolina and was raised in one, my experiences often shine through the pages!

Helen: It does make it easier when you can leverage your experiences. Do you plan everything out upfront, or let the story take you where it may?

Jen: When I first started writing, I was a pantser all the way. Over time I have developed my own method for crafting my novels that I call The Monarch Method. I love butterflies! Now, I have a loose structure I follow that helps me to outline yet have the freedom to honor the page at the same time!

Helen: Tell us! Out of all your books, do you have a favourite character?

Jen: Oh, no! Another tough one! I must say Sweet Potato Jones because she was the first traditionally published book on the shelf and started my whole author journey!

Helen: It has been lovely chatting with you, Jen. To wrap up, tell us what you are current reading, and who your favourite author is.

Jen: I’m reading Cover Your Eyes by Mary Burton. In home school, we are reading The Wind in the Willows. In class, we are reading To Kill a Mockingbird. I’m usually reading more than one book!

If you like crime thrillers, I would highly suggest Lisa Regan’s Detective Josie Quinn series and Gregg Olsen’s The Bone Box! I’m just getting into the thriller world and loving each new discovery within the genre. This might be a place I take root for a while!

Victoria Bond is one of my favorite authors! She wrote a series called Zora and Me for Middle Grades about Zora Neale Hurston! I can always talk about this for hours on end, as well. I have a list!

About Jen Lowry:

I’m just a small town girl with a big heart for Jesus! 

I was raised in the small town of Maxton, NC! Even though I moved close to the big city of Raleigh, there is no place like my hometown. 

I’m Southern, no doubt about it. I want that to seep through the pores of any novel I write. I desire to be authentic in my voice and stay true to the characters that the Spirit guides me to write. See, I believe with all my heart there is power in words. That power can reach nations, and I pray that my writing has that opportunity!

I believe our youth should be provided with fiction that has a riveting story that draws them in, but keeps it clean from beginning to end. 

Social Media Links:

Website: https://jenlowrywrites.com/

Youtube

Twitter

Instagram

and purchase her book Love Over Pizza, via Amazon:

Link to ebook on Amazon US | Amazon UK

Link to Paperback on Amazon US | Amazon UK

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Author Interview – Havelah McLat

Author of Short stories and Flash fiction

Joining me today is Havelah McLat. Author of short stories and a lover of flash fiction.

Welcome Havelah. Now, I know you love writing short stories and have a few posted for free to various websites as well as your own website. What started you off writing?

Havelah: One of my oldest siblings got me into writing. It all started when I asked her to write a story with my fairy characters, and she did. At that point, that’s how my writing journey began. I started off with short fairy stories less than a thousand words and now I like to write longer stories. 

Helen: What made you choose short stories? I always struggle to keep to a word count; my novels tend to be getting longer!

Havelah: When I first started writing stories, I was finding my style and voice. I was a newbie writer and knew very little about writing. One thing about short stories, they help you develop better in writing and learning about different skills in general.

Helen: You’ve written fairy tales, what else do you write about?

Havelah: I like to write a variety of genres. I’ve written stories that are fantasy, or inspirational, and sometimes historical fiction. I like to write fantasy because it gives me freedom to be creative and have fun. Especially with fairy stories.  

Helen: Tell us about your writing space. You mentioned you have a large family, it must be difficult to find peace and quiet to write.

Havelah: In my room, on my bed. But now I’m trying to break that habit and write at my desk more. I feel the need to sit on a chair and desk in front of me and write that way and have a candle next to me. Sometimes if the weather is nice and cool, I would write outside. But most of the time, I write in my room, alone. I prefer drafting or revision. I guess it depends on what story I’m doing. I’m not too good at editing. Especially when it comes to grammar and tenses. 

Helen: Do you plan your stories or let them take you where they will? I imagine for a short story you have to be more concise?

Havelah: I’m in the middle. I usually know if the story is going to be long or short. I don’t always know how everything is going to be, but often I know how the story will go. I tried one time doing outlines for one story, but I decided to let the story play out and see how they unfold in the process. Every writer did things differently, which is okay. I don’t mind it all. In fact, it is kind of fun.

Helen: I’m glad you have a cosy corner. I love candles too. Do you prefer silence to write? Does the help you concentrate?

Havelah: I do like to listen to music. Uh, I have a list of songs I randomly listen to when I write. Some are up-lifting, fantasy instrumentals, Christian songs, and country songs, and Folklore by Taylor Swift. They have a way to keep me motivated and give me inspiration for stories. 

Helen: Which type of characters do enjoy writing the most? Villains or heroes?

Havelah: I honestly don’t mind doing both. There is one in my recent draft I finished. He is my first antagonist I’ve created. It was a fun yet challenging experience. I don’t want to say much because I don’t want to spoil any. You might read it in the future 😉 

Helen: I bet you are a big reader, most authors are! What do you like to read? Are you reading anything right now?

Havelah: I recently read two books The Wing Thief and Sing Me Forgotten. Both fantasies, but one is a retelling of the Phantom of the Opera, gender swap, and the other is a fairy adventure. They are both great stories and I highly recommend them. 

I am currently reading The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Montron, a historical fiction, and Wonder by R.J. Pallacio. By the time this is post, I’ll probably have finished them both and will be reading other books on my TBR list. Always a never-ending list of books to read :D. 

Helen: You are a prolific reader! Tell us how do you get ideas for new stories?

Havelah: Every project I do is different. Some will be inspirations from Pinterest pictures or watch movies and books. Half of the time, they are inspired by real life. Other times, I like to try and think up stories for fun.

Helen: Thank you for your time today, Havelah. It’s been lovely talking with you. Just to bring us to a close, tell us why you’d decided to give away your children’s short stories for free.

Havelah: I felt writing short fiction was a good way to begin my writing career. I self-published on Smashwords for a start, because I wasn’t sure anyone would be interested in buying ebooks, I want to provide the ebooks and in return for a review. 

I do have three self-published eBooks all available on my website, or you can get them on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and iBook. They are short and fun to read for young children, but adults are more than welcome to read them too. All of them are free. In return, I would appreciate a review. I also published a flash fiction The Whole of the Moon in There is Us an Anthology and Catharsis in LitStream Literature Magazine. You can visit havelahmclat.com. Please don’t forget to sign up for a newsletter for monthly guest blogs. If you want to be part of the guest blog, contact me and we will work out the schedule.  

About Havelah McLat:

My name is Havelah McLat. I’m an author of children’s collection stories and have published one story The Whole of the Moon in There is Us Anthology and flash fiction Catharsis in Litstream Literary Magazine.

I lived in a small town on a farm. I come from a family of seven siblings and two parents. I like to take care of chickens, and help around the house. When I’m not doing those things or writing, I like to draw and listen to music, or ride a bike or take a walk and read a book, and sometimes watch YouTube videos to learn more about publishing industry.

Social Media Links:

Website

Twitter

Instagram

Author Interview – Jamie Krakover

Author of Tracker220

Joining me today is the American author, Jamie Krakover. Aerospace Engineer by day and author of a Young Adult Sci-Fi novel, Tracker220 by night!

Welcome Jamie. From reading your bio, I’m amazed you even have time to write, so Tracker200 is a very special book, tell us a bit about it.

Jamie: My book, Tracker220 is a Young Adult Sci Fi that released in October 2020. It is about a society where everyone has tracking chips in their head and can access anything or anyone in the blink of an eye. But that technology is also heavily monitored and the authorities know everything you do on the network, everyone you talk to, and everywhere you go. The story starts shortly before 16 year old Kaya Weiss’s tracker glitches and she has to deal with the consequences of having a device that doesn’t play by the rules. After discovering what the authorities do to people with glitchy trackers, she has to choose if she wants to continue on with the technology and deal with being treated like a lab rat or embrace her life and explore her Jewish identity without the confines of the tracker but give up on the only tech she’s ever known.

Helen: What an interesting premise. Technology is consuming our lives, how far we are prepared to trust it will no doubt continue to be debated. Is there a special meaning behind the book title, Tracker220?

Jamie: The tracker part of the title comes from the tracking chips and tracker network in the story. The 220 has a special meaning in the story that I won’t spoil, but I picked 220 because it’s my birthday.

Helen: Can’t wait to read it, you’ve peaked my interest! What made you decide to write a novel?

Jamie: I’m not one of those authors who always knew she wanted to write. In fact I hated writing. In first grade they used to send home story starters and I’d sit at the kitchen table and cry because I thought all my ideas were dumb. Then in high school I took a science fiction English class and they assigned the book Ender’s Game. It was the first book I’d been assigned that I enjoyed enough to read ahead. From there I dove into more sci fi and fantasy. I read Harry Potter, and found another series called The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. After I read that series I started playing with the meanings of names and symbolism and writing some stories. Then I got an idea that just wouldn’t let go and made me write the whole thing down. That manuscript is sitting in a drawer but when I was editing it, I got the idea for TRACKER220 which grabbed hold and never let go.

Helen: I love it when I idea insists it be written, though I find it does interfere with the day job and I have to tag a day onto a long weekend to get it out of my system. I suppose with your day job, it’s not surprising you write Science Fiction?

Jamie: I write MG and YA sci fi and fantasy. Mostly because that’s what I read, but also because I’m an aerospace engineer and it allows me to leverage my STEM background and infuse some of it into my writing

Helen: It is brilliant to find an author supporting women in STEM, and writing books that encourage girls to go into a STEM career. With the recent Women’s International Day on March 8th, I believe it is so important to demonstrate by example, and encourage young women to follow career opportunities in the sciences. With such a busy life, how on earth do you fit your writing in?

Jamie: This is a tough one. I work full time as an aerospace engineer and have a toddler so that doesn’t leave much time for anything else including sleep. Nap time on the weekends is usually when I get the most writing done. Sometimes I’ll write in the evenings after bedtime. Pre-covid I used to meet up with some local writers to write once a week in the evenings. I miss those tag ups it was great for my productivity and to work through plot bunnies.

Helen: Yes, writers group are a great support, and meeting up is irreplaceable for bouncing off ideas and solving plot problems! Speaking of ideas, where do you get your ideas for novels?

Jamie: As a STEM nerd, I love the question “what if”. What if I never got lost again? That’s the question that started Tracker220. But what if leads me down a lot of interesting paths and is how most of my stories start. And I just keep asking what if until I dig deep enough to find an interesting conundrum.

Helen: As an engineer, how does your creativity flow? Tell us a little about your writing process. Do you like to plan or write free form? Do you prefer writing or editing? It seems authors tend to prefer one process or the other.

Jamie: I’m a plotster. I like to outline on a chapter level but I usually only write a sentence or two about what I expect to happen then I let the characters do the rest. I have pantsed my lastest WIP and it was a complete mess so my current WIP is back to some semblance of an outline. My engineer brain needs some organization in the chaos.

Hands down editing. I hate the blank page. The blinking cursor mocks me. I find it so much easier to mold something even if it’s bad then to work from scratch. I love taking the words on the page and shining it up until it’s something amazing.

Helen: For some reason I am not surprised! In Tracker220, who is your favourite character?

Jamie: Oh this is like asking me to pick my favorite child (luckily I only have one in real life). Let’s see I love my main character Kaya for her determination and her artwork because I always wished I could draw better than I do. I love Bailen for his tech skills and his sweet nerdiness. I love Peyton’s sass. She’s super fun to write and I love watching her walls crumble. And Jake I love because I have a soft spot for siblings.

Helen: Another creative piece of the self-publishing puzzle is the cover art. You have a striking cover; how did you choose the design?

Jamie: I honestly had no clue what I wanted my cover to be, but I knew I wanted a girl and something with a brain and some neurons and the tracking chip. Beyond that I was lost. I did a lot of searching stock images, and when I found the one that ultimately became my cover I instantly knew it was the right image. I worked with Jennifer Stolzer my amazing cover artist and gave her some incoherent babbling about a tracking chip and some neurons and a few other details and what she created was my beautiful cover after a few minor tweaks. It’s really stunning and I’m so happy she was able to decipher my nonsense.

Helen: It has been lovely chatting with you, Jamie. To wrap up, tell us what you are current reading.

Jamie: All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban. It’s a locked room thriller where six teens are locked in a room with a syringe and a bomb and they have to pick one person to poison with the syringe or they all will die. I’m not quite 100 pages in but it’s already pretty intense.

About Jamie Krakover:

Growing up with a fascination for space and things that fly, Jamie turned that love into a career as an Aerospace Engineer. Combining her natural enthusiasm for Science Fiction and her love of reading, she now spends a lot of her time writing Middle Grade and Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Jamie lives in St. Louis, Missouri with her husband, Andrew, their son, and their dog, Rogue (named after the X-men not Star Wars although she loves both). When she isn’t being a Rocket Scientist by day and a writer by night, she can be found catching up on the latest sci fi TV, books, and movies as well as spending time on Twitter (maybe a little too much time :-P). And no, the rocket science jokes never get old!

Through Snowy Wings Publishing, Jamie is the author of Tracker220 (October 2020). She also has two female in STEM short stories published in the Brave New Girls anthologies and two engineering-centered nonfiction pieces that published in Writer’s Digest’s Putting the Science in Fiction.

Social Media Links:

Blog

Twitter

Instagram

Goodreads

Bookbub

and purchase her book Tracker220, via Amazon:

Link to ebook on Amazon US | Amazon UK

Link to Hardcover on Amazon US | Amazon UK

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Author Interview – Nonku Kunene Adumetey

Author of I Celebrate My Skin

Joining me today is the author of the children’s picture book, I celebrate my skin, Nonku Kunene Adumetey.

Welcome Nonku. What a delightful book, ideal for young children, with a great message. Tell us a little about your book.

Nonku: I celebrate my skin, is a children’s picture book that teaches them to love and embrace their skin tone. It also teaches them to embrace others. 

I Celebrate My Skin is an inclusive children’s book about self-discovery and self-love. Focusing on celebrating and embracing skin tone diversity, I Celebrate My Skin is a fun and meaningful book you and your family will want to pick up again and again. The book includes modern illustrations that weave in a touch of traditional elements, playful language, and interactive fun activities at the end.

This family book will teach young children:
•That their skin is worth celebrating
•That all skin tones are beautiful and worth celebrating
•That their skin is functional and can do so many things
•That diversity and inclusion are strengths

Helen: What made you choose to write a picture book?

Nonku: When we celebrate our birthdays, job promotions, any success in life we go all out and do what we want unapologetically. I chose celebrating your skin because we also need to love and celebrate who we are unapologetic. Going all out in loving yourself for me is truly success. 

Helen: A great topic and a message we all need hear right now. What or who inspired you write this book?

Nonku: My family, my kids inspired me to write the books and then grief of losing my father inspired me to write. I chose children’s books because I want to inspire my children’s and other young children out there to love themselves and enjoy seeing themselves in books. 

Helen: Family is so important. Are you working on anything right now? What makes you choose what to write about?

Nonku: I am working on a couple of titles for next year’s release. They about celebrating yourself and embracing who you are with a different twist. I am telling my story; I am building and empowering my inner child. My ideas are truly my story, personal what I am feeling or what I experienced. I’d like to write little encouragement books, I am not sure what genre those would be. I love to spread positive vibes.

Helen: You have a young family which must keep you busy, tell us a little about your writing process.

Nonku: I write mostly at night, for a while I would start writing or working on edits at midnight. I am a bit of a Panster, lol! love to free form and not follow a rigid plan. It helps me relax and not stress if things go a different way

Helen: Me too, I am a night owl. Thank you so much for spending time with me. To end our chat, what advice would you give other aspiring authors?

Nonku: Do not be shy to ask for help from seasoned authors. There is so much information out there and honestly, it is impossible to learn it all. Sometimes you have to go through the process to learn different things. Also, more importantly, be patient with you self and your work. 

About Nonku Kunene Adumetey

Nonkululeko Kunene Adumetey (also known as Nonku) is a loving wife and devoted mother of two happy toddlers. Her children both love singing, storytime, and tasting home-cooked cuisines. When Nonku tastes delicious food, she hums a blissful tune, which she never realized until both her children started humming along. 

Nonku was born in the Kingdom of Eswatini, where she lived until she was 16. She left to complete high school in Canada and later moved to the United States to pursue her college education.

Her passion is to inspire her children and all children to celebrate who they are, understand their differences are beautiful, know their diversity is a strength, and believe their voices are should be heard.

Her hero is her late father, Themba Micah Kunene, a man from humble beginnings who worked tirelessly to provide a full life for his eight children. Her father’s unconditional love, wisdom, selflessness, and work ethic inspire the core of Nonku’s principles and life mottos. One of his favorite mottos was “umtsentse uhlaba usamila”, a saying about a strong grass that gets deeply rooted during its early stages of development. The essence of this saying embodies the core of early intervention and teaching young minds early so that they grow up strong and informed about the world. This is what inspires Nonku to write children’s book, to inspire and empower young minds for a greater future. 

Link to ebook on Amazon US | Amazon UK

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Author Interview – Jaimie Schock

Author of Visions of Iotan

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.

You can find out more about Jaime Schock on:
Website
Publisher
Amazon page

and purchase her book Visions of Iotan now.

Author Interview – Anna J. Walner

Author of Garkain, Book One of the Uluru Legacy

Joining me today is the author, Anna J Walner, host of the Author’s Library YouTube channel and author of the YA fantasy Uluru Legacy series. The first book of which, Garkain, will be released on June 25th, 2021.

Welcome Anna, to start us off please tell us about your book Gharkin.

Anna: I began with the story of my adoption and built from that. Amelia is a girl who searches for her past, and once she finds it, she discovers that the truth is far more unbelievable than she ever imagined!

Helen: That is so brave, to write from your own experience, though I’m sure what Amelia eventually discovers did not happen to you! It must have been difficult at times to write about a topic so close to your own heart. Is there a special meaning behind the book title, Garkain?

Anna: Garkain is the aboriginal name for the creatures of the night. The boogeymen in the Outback. But we come to find out that everything we knew of vampires has changed; evolved over time. They still must drink blood, but they live normal lives almost like you and I, with the exception that they drink blood, their skin darkens in the sun, and they have a unique gift when the human constraints of the mind are removed. 

But it’s not a special meaning, I just picked an Aboriginally accurate term for them. I tried to incorporate the Aboriginal culture where I could. Uluru is the Aboriginal name for Ayers Rock. 

Helen: I love it when I learn something new from the books I read. What genre did you to choose to set your book in?

Anna: I write Fantasy. I think in a way, when I write I get to escape into the same world my characters do, which is nice. I enjoy writing it as much as I enjoy reading it, and I hope that come across to other readers.

Helen: Which character do you enjoy writing the most and why? Heroes or villains?

Anna: I enjoy writing strong female characters. In either form. I think it’s nice to see a strong young woman in the central role, and Amelia is just that. She’s a leader.

Helen: So…is Amelia your favourite character?

Anna: Yes! Amelia, hands down. Although there’s a character that we’ll see in the second book who’s running a close second . . .

Helen: I’m glad to hear you have a second book coming. Tell us a little about your writing process. Do you like to plan or write free form? Do you prefer writing or editing? It seems authors tend to prefer one process or the other.

Anna: I am a combination of the two. I have a plan of where I want to start and finish, the rest of the storyline is in flux. The characters really drive the direction of the story. I love writing, but I’ve also come to accept editing as a necessary evil and now I look forward to those finishing touches.

Helen: And you have a young daughter; how do you fit your writing in?

Anna: I write at night when my daughter sleeps. It’s the only time I have free! But I wouldn’t have it any other way!!

Helen: The independent author’s life is all about fitting writing around work and everyday life. We get good at finding those brief moments to create and to read! Reading is as important as writing to authors. What have you been reading recently?

Anna: Triad by Brittany Weisrock and Awakening by Jennifer Pezzano. I do my best to support the Indie Author community. We write some good books!!

Helen: There have been some amazing Indie author books released this last year. My ‘to be read’ list keeps growing! And thanks to you and your Author’s Library YouTube channel readers can find out more about their favourite independent authors as you post regular author interviews as well as marketing advice. You can check out Anna’s Author’s Library YouTube channel here.

It has been lovely chatting with you, Anna, just one last question. What advice would you give other Indie authors?

Anna: To be patient. Be patient with yourself, with the creative process, and with the book. Define what success means to you and realize that being an independent author means wearing a lot of hats. Learn from your mistakes, but never give up!

About Anna J. Walner:

Anna is a mother, and a published author. I’ve always had a passion for writing, spending my life obsessed with literature. As an author, my creativity has grown. I not only read the stories I love, but I create them too.

She began this quest for her daughter. The Enrovia Series is written for her, with her in mind. From there her ideas continued to form and grow. The first book of the Uluru Legacy series is currently available for Preorder and will be available 06.25.2021.

Award Winning Author – Literary Titan Golden Award 02/2021

Breaking news: Readers Favorite 5 star Silver Award announced March 10th, 2021.

You can reach Anna J. Walner via social media on:

Twitter
Instagram
Website

and purchase her book Garkain, Book One of the Uluru Legacy now on pre-order via Amazon:

Link to ebook on Amazon US | Amazon UK

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