Author Interview – Luci Fer

Author of What Happens On Tour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Helen: What made you write this particular book?

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

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

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

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

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

Helen: Which do you prefer, Writing or Editing?

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

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

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

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

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

Helen: And your favorite character from your book?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Helen: Do you have a favourite place to work?

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

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

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

Helen: Do you have an all time favourite book?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author:

Brisbane, Aus 

▪️ PA @csinbo

▪️ Sold Series on @galatea.stories

▪️ Tour Series publishing 2021

▪️ Carefree and slightly crazy

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

▪️ Social Media:

IG Author_luci_fer

Facebook AuthorLuciFer

TikTok Author_Luci_Fer

You can purchase Daisy’s novel from Amazon:

What Happens On Tour

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

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

Author Interview – Daisy Wood

Author of Full Circle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author:

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

You can find more about Daisy via:

Instagram

Twitter

Goodreads

You can purchase Daisy’s novel from Amazon:

Full Circle

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

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

Author Interview – Bertha Raw

Author of The Raven

Join me as chat to Bertha Raw about her debut YA fantasy novel The Raven which released on March 1st, 2021. Welcome Bertha, and thank you for joining me to talk about your novel. To start us off, tell us about The Raven.

Bertha: The Raven, that’s the title of my current book. It’s about this girl, Camille Stark that lived in a void–not literally, her life was empty and she knew something was wrong with her. She was different from everyone else but didn’t stop to think about it. She took full advantage of her weirdness and made life out it.

She was wayward and did all sort of things. Her adopted parents loved her but they hated her lifestyle, so her adopted mother forced her into going to a boarding school for troubled kids.

Getting to the school, Camille realized that the school wasn’t for troubled kids but people with magical powers. She thought she’d seen it all and had enough of the fable fairytale the Headmaster told her, and decided she was going to sneak out but didn’t because she needed answers.

She started asking questions but no one was willing to give her the answers she wanted. She started to question everything including her existence because she didn’t know who to trust.

Her mission change when her adopted parents suddenly became missing. She set out to find them with the help of new friends but came back empty. Camille realized someone was playing a game and they didn’t know how dangerous she could be especially when she just found out she was the granddaughter of one powerful warlock and a mad demon.

Helen: How did you come up with the cover? It is very atmospheric with the brooding ravens watching.

Bertha: I spent months trying to create the perfect cover, and I couldn’t find the one I loved. I changed the cover three times before I found the cover I wanted. The cover features ravens on the tree and a school, it’s black and white. The ravens represents Camille because she is a Raven. And the school represents The Vale, the boarding school that changed her life forever.  The black and white symbols everything else in the story. I chose the cover because it explains everything in the book.

Helen: Although this is your first YA FAntasy novel, you don’t just write fantasy novels, do you?

Bertha: I’d like to think that I’m not genre specific. I’ve written many genres like Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance, Action and Adventure, Crime Thriller, Sci-fi, New Adult and Young Adult.

I write base on inspiration. I’m always scared to start a book because I don’t know if I’m confident enough to finish it or do justice to the specific genre but I do it.

My favorite genre to write is Young Adult paranormal because I started writing with that. 

I was thirteen when I wrote my first book and I think it was because of the movie I saw then, and I love it.

Helen: Having the ideas is a great start, it takes discipline and hard work to finish a book, and then being very brave to release it! What made you begin writing?

Bertha: I was very lonely with no true friends in highschool. I went to a boarding school and I hardly ever watch TV at home, so whenever we go back to school after vacation, my roommates would talk about the movies they watched at home and they’d ask me if had seen those movies. Not to feel out of space amongst them, I’d make up my own movie and tell them all about my imagination, they didn’t even question it. Once I realized that they love all the movies I tell them, I found myself writing them down, planning my next movie. And that’s how I started writing.

Helen: Congratulations on finishing and publishing the book. Which type of character do you enjoy writing the most?

Bertha: Villains. I love writing about villains because I think they are misunderstood. I like to dive into all my characters backstory, to write about what made them who they are and the reason they became what they are.

Everyone has a story, good or bad. I like to tell the good version even though they are bad, I like to tell people there’s more to them then they think even if they end up disappointing everyone.

Writing about Heroes are boring, I prefer Anti-Heroes. People that don’t care about anyone else but themselves. I always portray my characters in a way where people are going to hate to love them.

Helen: Most indie authors are juggling writing and life. Tell us how you fit writing into your daily life.

Bertha: It’s kind of hard because I’m still a student, a sophomore in College, and I try to write everyday except weekends, my weekends are mine. I write immediately I wake up and before going to sleep if I know I’m going to have a busy day. But writing is fun. 

Helen: Tell us a little about your working process, do you enjoy listening to music whilst you write?

Bertha: I love writing in silence but sometimes I listen to music, mostly music scores. When I was writing The Raven, I created a playlist and would listen to them over and over again as I write. It depends on the mood of the chapter, if I want to write a sad chapter, I listen to Novo Amor, his voice makes me cry because it cries emotions that I can’t understand or explain. I listen to music scores when writing an action scenes. I just listen to Billie Eilish every other time because she’s my favorite.

Helen: Thank you so much for chatting with me today, just to finish, are you working on anything new?

Bertha: It’s a dark romance, and it’s the first time I’m writing one, so I’m taking my time to explore my characters because my hero is a villain without superpower, actually I’m having a hard time because I’m used to writing villains with powers. 

About the Author:

Bertha Raw is a writer, and Author of the the new novel The Raven. She has spent the last decade reading and writing novel across all genres. Her lastest novel is her first published work.

Bertha loves and works out of her home, spends her free time exploring the world and catching up on history and culture. linktr.ee/Bertha_Raw

You can find more about Bertha via:

Instagram

Website

Goodreads

You can purchase Bertha’s novel from Amazon:

The Raven

UK: eBook

USA: eBook

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

Author Interview – Katharine Ann Melton

Author of Behind The Mirage

Fantasy author Katharine Ann Melton released her debut urban fantasy novel Behind The Mirage on October 12th, 2020, (the day after I released my first novel. Almost book twins! )Welcome Katharine, thank you for joining me to talk about your debut novel. Tell us about Behind The Mirage.

Katherine: My book is Urban Fantasy.  It is about an assassin that is given the most important job of her life: enter modern day Greece and assassinate Zeus to stop him from destroying mankind.  If that isn’t hard enough, she has to juggle an unwanted proposal from Oberon her king, the threat of war and the realization that Zeus was responsible for the death of her parents.  When she crosses into the human realm, she realizes that she isn’t the only one hunting Zeus.  She is quickly confronted with uneasy alliances, vengeful gods, unsolved murders and the occasional malevolent portal to another world. 

Helen: How did you come up with the name of your book?

Katharine: The title of my book ‘Behind the Mirage’ started out as a different name.  I started writing the book over 20 years ago and it went through so many changes.  Character names, traits, locations.  The original title is closely related to the final title, but I just didn’t like the original.  To me, it felt like I didn’t put to much thought into it.

Helen: I love the cover, how did you come up with the design?

Katharine: Since the book’s location is Greece, I wanted to make sure it was presented in the cover so the reader will be automatically transported there.  I wanted my main character on the cover, but I didn’t want her face to be shown because I want readers to create her features in their mind.  The cover turned out better then I had ever imagined.  I believe it really showcases what the book is about.

Helen: It truly is a lovely cover. What made you choose to write this novel?

Katharine: Writing has been a part of my life since I was very young.  I am not really sure what made me start, I just had so many stories to tell in my head that I needed to get them on paper.  I would start out by writing scenes, maybe write a sentence or two about just different things.  My mom has kept everything I have ever written since I could write.  It all started as a hobby, never thinking I would actually write a book.  I used to write screenplays, and then I wanted to turn one of them into a novel and that’s how the book started out.

Helen: Congratulations on finishing and publishing the book. Which character did you enjoy writing the most?

Katharine: I of course enjoyed writing my main character because I wanted a strong female lead that knew how to handle herself in different situations.  A personality that the readers could relate to.  I also enjoyed writing Hades; God of the Underworld.  He is very sarcastic, he only helps when it benefits him, self-assured, blunt.  I enjoyed writing his personality. 

Photo by David Ramírez on Unsplash

Helen: The Greek gods and myths are a great source of ideas and characters, how else do you find ideas to write about?

Katharine: This varies.  I have gotten ideas by just looking at an object and developing a story around it.  I have ideas from reading other books too, and even tv shows. 

Helen: Tell us a little about your working process, do you enjoy listening to music whilst you write?

Katharine: I do.  It is a mix from pop, to old school hip hop, to classic rock.  Sometimes I will listen to a song while I am writing a scene because it helps me to visualize the scene better.  There are most times that I write with the tv on too.

Helen: Thank you for chatting with me today, it’s been great learning about your novel. If you didn’t write urban fantasy what genre would like to try and write?

Katharine: If I didn’t write Urban Fantasy, I would like to try writing horror or sci-fi.  I have started working on other projects because I never run out of ideas for stories.  One story is horror/sci-fi that I write when I have writers block in my current project.  I also would like to write a thriller novel.  I believe you can write whatever genre you want; don’t limit yourself to one.

About the Author:

I grew up in Northern California and moved to the Washington DC metro area about 13 years ago. When I am not searching for new locations for my books, I am spending time with my friends and family. My book Behind the Mirage is the first book in a new series.

You can find more about Katharine via:

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook 

Website

Goodreads

You can purchase Katharine’s novel from Amazon:

Behind The Mirage

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

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

Author Interview – C.A Bleu

Author of The Trinity Ring

Joining me today is YA fantasy author C.A Bleu who released her debut fantasy novel The Trinity Ring on June 1st! Welcome Cindy, congratulations on publishing your first book. Such an achievement; I am so excited for you. Please tell us a little about your novel.

Cindy: Zara Trinity was ready to find her place in the world, but she never thought she would have the power to change it. 

Her eighteenth birthday brings betrayal and family secrets to the surface that threaten to overwhelm her as she learns to wield her new powers.  

Losing her mother at a young age Zara was raised by her guardian Aaron. As the leader of the Protectors of the Trinity, Aaron had sworn an oath to protect her. He regretted his role in the secrets he kept, but knew it was necessary for the prophecy. 

Being hunted by Dimitri, an assassin she never expected to have feelings for leads Zara down an unexpected path. Holding the fate of Humanity in her hands will she be strong enough to withstand the tests ahead?

Helen: The Trinity Ring is your debut novel. What made you put pen to paper and write a book?

Cindy: I have worked in hospice over 15 years and about 6 or 7 years ago I decided to start journaling as an outlet. I kept feeling that I just needed to write, but I never thought I would actually write a book…I began writing about life, but gradually it changed to this story… over the years and after many edits it has evolved to The Trinity Ring. 

Helen: Congratulations on completing your book. Writing can certainly be an escape from the daily pressures. You have a unique cover. How did you come up with the deisgn?

Cindy: For my cover I reached out to a local University of Tennessee art student. She read my book and then did an original painting of Zara Trinity.  Bri Mckamey photographed her painting and created my book cover. She is still in art school at UT and this is her first book cover she has done. 

Helen: How wonderful. Original art makes your book even more special. It is a lovely picture. Which character did you enjoy writing the most?

Cindy: Great question! I actually think I may have enjoyed writing about Dimitri the most. I think there is so much that he goes through that really connects all humanity. Grief, faith, self doubt these things know no boundaries. Both Dimitri and Zara go through a lot of change and self growth throughout this story and I think many people may be able to relate to some of it. 

Helen: I saw from your bio that you work full time, and you are working on a second novel which is great news! How do you fit writing into your life?

Cindy: This is tough sometimes. I often write early in the mornings before the rest of the house begins to wake.  Usually it is on the weekends and I love to sit on the back porch when writing. 

I am a hospice social worker, I began with journaling…I never set out to write a book…let alone publish one… but it was my niece and daughter who one day looked at me asking why I wasn’t going to publish. As I looked at them I realized I had written about a strong female character battling self doubt and trying to be brave. How could I not show the women in my family the same courage. So for them, and myself, I decided to take the leap and publish. I wanted to show my daughter and niece that through our fears we can show our greatest strength. 

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Helen: How do you come up with the ideas for your books?

Cindy: This is the first book I have written and in this process the words just flowed. If felt like this story just came to life and needed to come out.  The final printed book has many changes from my first draft, but getting that first draft out seemed to have a mind of its own as if poured out of me. Many parts of this book came from my own personal feelings and experiences having lost my mother at a young age as well. 

Helen: I think what we experience in life must come though in our writing, you of course inherently write what you know, but it also colours other aspects as well. A long time ago I did a degree in Politics and International Relations, and I have a feeling that may influnce my world building! We just spice it up with a LOT more action and adventure! Thank you so much for chatting with me today. As a debut author just completing a book, what advice would you give to aspiring writers.

Cindy: I would tell new writers to just keep writing. Someone out there needs to read what you have written. Self-doubt creeps in, but just remember that your story will likely touch someone else out there in a time and place that they need to hear it. We are writing for a reason…whether it is to positively impact someone else’s life or to allow someone a way to escape the day-to-day routine.

About the Author:

Currently living in East Tennessee, I love being surrounded by the mountains and being in nature in general. After growing up in Ohio, I moved to Tennessee to play soccer in college. With my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work I have been working in hospice these past fifteen years. As an outlet for self care, many years ago I decided to start writing. Journaling a few minutes each day gradually turned in to so much more. I never planned on publishing a book and likely may not have taken that step if not for the encouragement from my family and friends! Keep shining your light everyone!

You can find more about Cindy via:

Instagram

Goodreads

You can order’s Cindy’s novel from Amazon and find it on Kindle Unlimited:

The Trinity Ring

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

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

Author Interview – Emily Michel

Author of Memory of Wings

I am joined today by author Emily Michel who releases her fantasy novel Memory of Wings on August 3rd! Links to the pre-order are at the end of this post. Welcome Emily. Congratulations on the forthcoming release of your book. Please tell us a little about your novel.

Emily: A Memory of Wings (coming August 2021) is an enemies-to-lovers paranormal romance. Shax tries to escape his past as Lucifer’s best assassin after the Gates to Heaven and Hell explode, casting down to Earth all of the angels and demons caught in the blast. But then he runs into the one that got away, Guardian Angel Kheone. After rescuing her from the falling body of her friend, he finds himself searching for the killer. Shax questions his nature as a demon and faces a choice between love and saving his own skin.

Helen: What an exciting premise, it definitely sounds like a novel I would pick up. What made you begin writing?

Emily: I began writing stories in elementary school but had the joy of writing stripped from me by all the essays in high school and college. When my husband deployed in 2012, I used creative writing as a way of acknowledging and processing my feelings. It took seven more years, but I turned that story into three novels, which I self-published.

Helen: Congratulations on finding the joy of writing. I agree with you that writing is a cathartic experience. The fact that we also create amazing books is a bonus we get to share with other readers. Your preferred genre is paranormal fantasy isn’t it?

Emily: I’ve mostly written paranormal romance (five books out of seven drafted), probably because I was heavily inspired by Anne Rice, Laurell K Hamilton, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I find it fun to create these hidden worlds. I’ve also drafted a contemporary romance that I’m considering changing into a paranormal and a fantasy romance.

Helen: Seven books drafted and five of them published is an amazing feat. Did you plan the whole series or did it just sort of happen?

Emily: Oh, I’m definitely a pantser, though I have learned the wondrous utility of the Beat Sheet. I pantsed my way through my first five books then discovered Save the Cat! It helped me revise books 4 & 5 — a contemporary romance that I couldn’t fix at that time and what became A Memory of Wings. I approached my next two books (a fantasy romance and the sequel to AMOW) with beat sheets in hand, and the drafting was much easier. It’s like having a road map with the important stops marked on it, but how I choose to get to those stops is still very much freeform.

Helen: Save the cat! is an amazing book, for those writers out there, you can find the links on my recommended writing tools page. Tel us a little bit about how you write. Do you like music or silence?

Emily: I love listening to music as I write. I have multiple playlists depending on what I’m writing that day. There’s usually one overall playlist for each series, sometimes a secondary playlist for a specific book. I also have mood music: music for fight scenes, love scenes, sad scenes, sex scenes, etc. Then when it’s time to edit, I choose instrumental music. Sometimes classical, sometimes more “new age”. My playlist for A Memory of Wings features a lot of music from the TV show Lucifer and music by Klergy. 

Photo by Duncan Sanchez on Unsplash

Helen: It’s been great finding out about your novel, thank you for joining me. Congratulations again on the forthcoming release of Memory of Wings. Just to close us out, can you tell us what advice you would give other authors?

Emily: Keep writing and keep learning. Writing is a skill, and as with all skills, you can learn to do it better. The more you practice, the better you will get. Set aside regular time to write, not necessarily everyday if that stresses you out, but frequently and guard that time. Read inside and outside your genre. The more you read, the more you see how other authors put together stories, both the good and the bad. I’ve used some favorite books to help me determine how to structure a story. The structure behind Devil’s Claw & Moonstone, my second book, was based on an amalgamation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Voyager (Outlander 3). 

About the Author:

Emily Michel spent most of her life as a military family member. She has called many places home, including Germany, Belgium, and Kansas. After nearly twenty years traipsing around Europe and the US, she settled back in her home state of Arizona a few years ago with her husband and kids. 
 
When not writing, Emily reads, walks, hikes, and pets her feline overlords. Emily is the current President of Saguaro Romance Writers, a chapter of Romance Writers of America. She also volunteers for the PTA, but do not accuse her of being a PTA Mom. She’s cooler than that. Maybe. 
 
In 2019, she self-published her Magic & Monsters trilogy, a steamy witchy romance, and is currently working on a new angel/demon romance set in Kansas City. Please buy them. Her two teenage boys eat a lot of food.

You can find more about Emily via:

Author Website 

Instagram

Twitter

Facebook

You can pre-order Emily’s novel from Amazon:

Memory of Wings

UK: eBook

USA: eBook

Canada: eBook

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

Author Interview – Katherine D. Graham

The Vow that Twisted Fate

Today I am talking to author Katherine D. Graham who releases her fantasy novel The Vow that Twisted Fate on July 9th. Links to the pre-order are at the end of this post. Welcome Katherine. Congratulations on the forthcoming release of your book. I am so excited to be talking about your book as I have been reading an ARC. A Book Review will follow soon! Please tell us a little about your novel.

Katherine: The Vow That Twisted Fate follows young Queen Arlena as she seeks to defend her world from an evil Sorceress’ pending invasion. After evil was banished 500 years before the story takes place, the world became innocent and pure. A portal opens in the sky in this story, revealing the banished evil sorceress Maedra in a parallel evil dimension. Arlena must call a legendary company of Dwarven warriors forward in time to help her face the enemy they previously faced to kill, but can Arlena defeat evil without becoming evil herself?

Helen: This sounds amazing, I am thoroughly enjoying what I have read so far. Arlena certainly has her hands full, not only with other royals belittling her ability to rule, but also also with that reluctant love interest! With so many ideas within the story, how did you decide on the cover design?

Katherine: I am very fortunate in that Jesh Art Studio, who designs most of my main covers, is gifted at listening to me talk about what I love about my book and comes up with the actual concepts for me. With The Vow That Twisted Fate I knew I wanted to reflect the parallel dimensions and heroine/villain on the front, and Jesh’s team brought it together beautifully.

Helen: How did you come up with the title for the book?

Katherine: I actually first had the idea for this book in a dream, and a line I remember vividly from the dream was a line that turned into the title “The Vow That Twisted Fate”. It is the vow that the ancient Dwarven company made with Arlena’s ancestor that allows them to travel through time to help Arlena change the fate of her world.

Helen: I believe Epic Fantasy is not the only genre you write in.

Katherine: I write a few different genres within fantasy. High/Epic Fantasy is my primary genre, but I also write some Paranormal Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, and Court Intrigue

Helen: How did you first start writing? What inspired you to write fantasy novels?

Katherine: I have been writing since I was a child (with crayons and construction paper). Words and stories just seem to spill out of me (telling or writing), whether I want them to or now. While I’ve written my entire life, my husband Jikyo is truly the person who inspired me to pursue my dream of becoming an author. When I received my developmental edit back for The Vow That Twisted Fate a few years ago I was so overwhelmed and devastated by the level of work it needed, that I put it down and didn’t write again for a few years. If Jikyo hadn’t convinced me that it was worth pursuing again, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Also my sister Fu, who is my ongoing muse. She keeps me on track and is my sounding board for new ideas.

Helen: Tell us a little about your writing process. I believe you have to squeeze your writing in around your busy life!

Katherine: As a working mom, I typically write in spurts. I will write a piece every free second (during naps, lunch breaks, midnight hours once everyone else is a sleep) until it’s finished, and then take a few weeks off to recover before launching into another piece. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November is my primary writing month, where everyone who knows me knows I’ll be doing some serious out-of-the-house writing, typically at a 24-hour breakfast restaurant.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Helen: It is so wonderful being able to return to cafes to write. Just the aroma of coffee starts the mental juices working. Being so busy do you have to plan your stories?

Katherine: I am 100% a pantser. I capture an idea, and then draft out the story (typically by hand the first time on paper). After that, I go backwards and  ‘plot’ my story against “The Hero’s Journey” to make sure I didn’t skip any key pieces (and fill-out the story if I did).

Helen: It always amazes me how we Indie Authors fit writing into our lives. I think that is the beauty of writing, you just have to put pen to paper, or finger tips to keyboards because the story must be told! Which type of character do you prefer to write?

Katherine: This is a really tough question! It honestly depends on the story. While I love the complexity of challenge of writing a well-rounded villain who can make readers question which side they should be on, I also enjoy writing heroes.

Helen: Who is your favourite character to write?

Katherine: Honestly, I don’t know if I can pick a single one. Each one represents such a unique part of the world. The most fun to write, though, was a side-character from the company of Dwarven warriors named Geor. He is a lively, witty addition to a serious good vs evil book, and I never knew what to expect from him until it was happening.

Helen: Love it! What environment gets you in the mood for writing? Your chosen playlist or silence?

Katherine: I typically write to whatever is in the background (kid’s TV, for example), but I do listen to music when I’m alone. I usually make writing playlists with a variety of music types to fit the different characters and scenes and just play through that. I have everything from German Folk music and JRock (Japanese rock) to Dubstep and Gregorian chants on my playlist.

Helen: Quite a mixture! Is there a new project in the works? What are you currently writing?

Katherine: I am currently writing the first book in a duology called Starfire Express; a portal adventure fantasy about a young woman who boards the wrong train on holiday and finds herself on a train full of magical and mystical creatures taking a tour through other dimensions. She finds herself in the centre of a Fae rebellion against Dragon overlords.

Helen: Wow! You have a great imagination. How do you come up with the ideas for your novels?

Katherine: Many of my stories start as dreams. Lately, though, many of my stories have been rapidly-expanding from existing ones (side characters who deserve their own book, for example).

Helen: Which do you prefer, writing or editing?

Katherine: Definitely writing. Maybe it’s because I’ve been an editor for so long, but I know that the editing journey could go on forever (if we didn’t draw a line in the sand somewhere), and the pantser in me loathes the waiting and revising and waiting again. In the end, though, it’s nice to see all the pieces fall together, and my editors are AMAZING!

Helen: Where do you prefer to write? Do you have a writing space where you are most prolific?

Katherine: I love writing in nature, but real life is more practical. I often find myself writing in my recliner. Sometimes, when I have time away, I find myself writing with my sister Fu over a pancake dinner at a restaurant (pre-pandemic) or in the car at a taco drive-thru restaurant (currently).

Helen: Most writers are great readers. What have you recently read?

Katherine: There are so many good books out this year! I am reading Heavy is the Head by Katrina N. Lewis. Luna Reyes and the Emperor of Light (middle-grade fantasy) by Daniel Pagan Murphy, StarDust (science fantasy) by Nicole Wells, and Argent Blade (dark epic fantasy) by Luke Courtney are some of my recent reads that have been truly phenomenal.

Helen: I agree. There are some amazing books being released. My ‘to be read’ pile is growing. Who are your favourite authors?

Katherine: J.R.R. Tolkien and Amelia Atwater-Rhodes are my favourite traditionally-published authors. Nicole Wells, Luke Courtney, and Andrei Saygo are some of my favorite indie authors.

The Fellowship of the Rings from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series is my favourite traditionally-published book. I try to read it annually. The comradery, adventure, rich world-building, and intense plot never ceases to amaze me. I always find something new about it with each re-read.

Helen: Thank you for joining me today, it has been great talking about your new novel. Congratulations again on the forthcoming release of A Vow that Twisted Fate. Just to close us out, can you tell us what advice you would give other authors?

Katherine: Be open to improvement/change, and don’t take genuine constructive criticism personally. Writing is an art; the quality improves with each book you write.

Thank you so much for the interview, Helen! You are an amazing author yourself. It is the support of the amazing indie author community and our wonderful readers that has made my writing journey one well worth taking, and I cannot express my gratitude enough.

About the Author:

Katherine D. Graham is a fantasy author, developmental editor, and Top-10 Reedsy Reviewer from Tennessee in the USA.

Her debut Epic Fantasy novel, The Vow That Twisted Fate (July 2021), is a 5-star Indie Reader Approved novel and one of five fantasy finalists in the 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

She is also the author of the Splitting Worlds series, with novellas Splitting Dusk (December 2019-email subscriber exclusive), Down Falls The Queen (June 2021) already published and the novella Down Falls the King (December 2021) available for pre-order now.

Katherine is happily married to her high-school sweetheart and Hero. They have two sons and three adorable fur-daughters.

Katherine love reading, writing, swimming, traveling, grilling out, and playing video games. Japan is her happy place.

You can find more about Katherine via:

Author Website 

Instagram

Twitter

You can pre-order Katherine’s novel from Amazon:

The Vow that Twisted Fate

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

Canada: eBook | Paperback

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

Author Interview – Heather Pruitt

Author of The Anelthalien series

Today, I am talking to fantasy author, Heather Pruitt, author of the Anelthalien series. I am excited to announce that her second book launches today! Congratulations Heather, and welcome! Please tell us a little about your series

Heather: Earth Quaking is the second book in my fantasy series AnelthalienEarth Quaking continues the story of four teens who were brought to the land of Anelthalien by mysterious necklaces. The first book, Anelthalien, sets up the story, and Earth Quaking really dives into the action. The four main characters start encountering their enemies, struggling with this strange land, and begin to question if they can trust one another. The theme of Earth Quaking is trust: who can you trust, what can you trust, and how do you know who or what is trustworthy?

Helen: Congratulations on the release of your second novel; you must be so excited. Tell us why the book is called Earth Quaking.

Heather: The title Earth Quaking contains so much meaning that echoes through the layers of the story and characters. The four necklaces that take the four main characters to Anelthalien are each connected to an element and an elemental spirit. In Earth Quaking the earth necklace, element, elemental spirit, and the character wearing that necklace are all brought to the forefront of the story. Each of those also deal with some kind of problem that causes them to “quake” in some way. That “shaken” theme overflows into all the other characters as well. Their relationships are splintered; some are broken, but some are only temporarily shaken.

Helen: Sounds very deep! It sounds like each character will have a lot to overcome. You write fantasy, but your deep christian beliefs play a part as well so don’t they?

Heather: I love writing fantasy because it helps me step outside of myself, eagerly and easily learn lessons, and then step back into reality and recognize how much I need those lessons. With fantasy I can go battle an evil queen but then return and apply the courage I learned. I can sit and listen to the wise mentor but then return and recognize that his lessons helped me in my relationships. Christian fantasy takes it deeper–it teaches me to open my eyes to who God really is and reminds me God really can do anything.

Helen: I am sure your readers would like to know if you have more books in the pipeline. What are you currently working on?

Heather: My current WIP is the fifth book in the Anelthalien series. Like Earth Quaking, it focuses on one element and the characters tied to it. The book is packed with action and secrets that start unraveling. It dives so deep into hard questions and paralyzing emotions. I love writing it so much even though it has made me cry and worry about my characters more than any other book so far.

Helen: This is probably one of the most difficult questions an author faces, but who is your favourite character from your series?

Heather: I have two favorite characters in Anelthalien for two very different reasons. Kindle, the main character whose perspective the story is from, is very dear to me because she is so much like me and I learn about myself from her. Tad is my other favorite character because he shows how so many of us are defined by what others think and say about us and also that those conceptions are absolutely not who God made us to be. His character shows that God has placed deep in each of us a specific purpose. Tad starts out feeling so worthless, but his journey through Anelthalien gradually instills in him a sense of purpose. His growth is very encouraging. 

Helen: Just to finish with, who do you prefer to write? Heroes or villains?

Heather: I enjoy writing heroes and villains because in Anelthalien the heroes and villains are like two sides of one person. Certain heroes and villains share personalities, and the more I write, the more I realize that being a hero or villain has less to do with the personality type and more to do with the choices each character makes. I like writing both because it shows me that we are all one choice away from being a hero or a villain.

Helen: Thank you so much for joining me today; I’ve enjoyed chatting with you. I wish you every success with your new novel Earth Quaking, and look forward to the next.

About the Author:

H.A. Pruitt is the Christian fantasy author of Anelthalien, and lives with a rowdy herd of guinea pigs and a sarcastic husband. H.A. Pruitt never intended to be an author and would have been happy to keep her vast imagination to herself, but God decided she would be perfect to write and illustrate the story of Anelthalien that he has given her. Now her mission in all she writes and does is to listen to, obey, and glorify God.

You can find more about Heather via:

Author Website 

Instagram

Facebook

Youtube

You can purchase Heather’s novel from Amazon:

Anelthalien:

UK: eBook | Paperback | Hardback

USA: eBook | Paperback | Hardback

Canada: eBook | Paperback | Hardback

Author Interview – David Hopkins

Author of The Dryad’s Crown series

Join me as I chat to David Hopkins, author of the Dryad’s Crown series of novellas as he releases the third installment. You can find A Red Moon over Rhyll on pre-order on Amazon. Welcome David! Please tell us a little about the Dryad’s Crown series.

David: The Dryad’s Crown is a high fantasy series. It has dragons and fey and goblins and dark gloomy forests and all the things we love about fantasy. But ultimately, The Dryad’s Crown is about Silbrey, a person who deals with her traumatic past, the loss of her husband, her relationship with her children, and her strange connection to nature. It’s a big story. There’s a lot to explore. The series will consist of ten novellas. The third book, A Red Moon Over Rhyll will be available on Tuesday, June 29th through Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. It’s available for pre-order right now. (See links at end of interview).

Helen: Ten novellas is an enormous undertaking, congratulations on the release of the third installment. Your covers are very delicate and nature orientated, tell us how you chose the design.

David: I’m fortunate that my wife April is a graphic designer. She’s designed the covers with licensed art by Julia Dreams on Creative Market. Since we’re on a schedule to release these novellas every three months, we needed something that looks good, which can be put together on a deadline and works as a series. The covers don’t give away anything plot wise. Instead, they establish an earthy aesthetic—and could also look like a collection of fairy tales. Each cover features small touches that distinguish them and have meaning within the story. For A Red Moon Over Rhyll, the bees are significant. I wanted the covers to have an original appearance and be easily identified. April did that very well.  Also, I didn’t want the exterior cover art to compete with the interior illustrations of Daniel Decena, which are absolutely stunning. Daniel has his own style, so the covers needed to not go off in a different direction.

Helen: The covers are beautiful. You have set yourself quite a goal to release a novella every three months. What made you write this story?

David: I’ve been writing fiction for the better part of two decades, but I’ve never told a story with such an epic scope, not like this. For me, that’s part of the appeal of The Dryad’s Crown. By the end of it, you’ve witnessed Silbrey’s life. This massive character arc, a story of wonder and hope and beauty, an amazing heroic adventure. As the author, I’ll be with you to the very end—and we’ll experience it together.

Helen: Have you always written high Fantasy?

David: I’ve been all over the place as a writer. Visit my website (https://thatdavidhopkins.com), and you’ll see for yourself! For many years, I wrote comic books and graphic novels in a variety of genres. Every book was something different. Emily Edison was an all-ages superhero story. Karma Incorporated was a story about con artists. Astronaut Dad was the coming-of-age family drama and historical fiction. I was determined to prove how versatile the comic medium was. Shifting genres felt like, at times, a sacred mission and at other times, an indulgence. Beyond comics, I also worked as a journalist, writing magazine features. I co-wrote a memoir about a burlesque dancer from the 60s. My short story collection is a smattering of different genres. And my last novel was an apocalyptic satire. To any fans, I have to apologize. You enjoyed something I’ve written, and then I’m off in a completely different direction. It’s made me a much better writer, but it’s not a good way to “build your brand.”

I was at least a little consoled to see Neil Gaiman make a similar confession in the introduction to The Neil Gaiman Reader: Selected Fiction. He worked in comics, in journalism, and as a novelist. I’m no Neil Gaiman, but at least, we’ve both been guilty of similar crimes. 

For the foreseeable future, I write high fantasy. That’s my favorite genre to read and watch. It’s the one that comes most naturally to me. Going forward, I hope to stay on task—and build my reputation as a fantasy writer. I have plenty of stories to tell.

 

Helen: You must be writing at every moment! Do you prefer silence or music playing in the background.

David: For The Dryad’s Crown, I’ve been listening to a lot of Sam Lee (https://samleesong.co.uk/), especially his new album, Old Wow, which is just amazing. In particular, the song “The Moon Shines Bright” is the unofficial theme for the series. If I could license it for a book trailer or audiobook, I absolutely would. It is such a sad, tender, and wise song. The world offers no plans or promises. Our time is not long. Cherish it. The lyrics connect the cycles of plant life, particularly trees and flowers, with that of a person’s life—and in that way, it feels a bit dryadic without being too direct.

Helen: I must admit I have a playlist when I write as well. Though I’m often so deep in the story that I don’t realise it’s finished, so silence works for me too! Authors tend to read a lot, do you have a favourite book?

David: For an author who has had a difficult time settling on a single genre, Moby-Dick is a good choice. Yes? It straddles several genres and defies easy definitions. I discovered the novel late in life. When I first read Moby-Dick, I liked it and then I hated it and then I loved it. This peculiar novel does that to the reader. From time to time, the story just occupies my thoughts. It’s had an effect on me. I spent a lot of time just in awe of what Melville created, the world he built for his audience. It’s not a fantasy novel, and yet, it absolutely feels like one to me.

Helen: Thank you so much for spending time with me today. I wish you luck with the launch of third book on July 13th. Just to finish, do you have any book recommendations for our readers?

David: Anything by Ursula K. Le Guin. She’s always at the top of my recommendations. She’s definitely a writer for writers. Her style has a grace and brilliance—like Joan Didion, but not as showy. As far as books I’ve read recently, The Unbroken by C.L. Clark is the best novel I’ve read this year. It’s stunning. Powerful. Entertaining. Hugo worthy! I can’t say enough good things about it. Other books I’d recommend would be: A Master of Djinn by P. Djeli Clark, The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman, Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner, and the Galaxy Run series by Sam Renner.

About the Author:


Sign up for David’s newsletter at thatdavidhopkins.com

David Hopkins writes a little bit of everything. His work includes the novel WEAR CHAINMAIL TO THE APOCALYPSE, the short story collection WE MISS ALL THE GREAT PARTIES, and the burlesque memoir THE WILD AND WAYWARD TALES OF TAMMI TRUE. David has been a regular contributor to D Magazine, Smart Pop Books, and Fanboy Radio. He has written op-eds for the Dallas Morning News and Chicago Tribune, comic books and graphic novels in a variety of genres, and even a few D&D adventures.

IndieReader described WEAR CHAINMAIL TO THE APOCALYPSE as “a black humor-filled romp through the end times that starts with a bang and doesn’t relent, mixing in moments of suspense and pathos.” Also, from the review: “Overflowing with personality and told in a distinctive voice, the book details a creatively imagined post-apocalyptic world one would want to spend more time in.”

You can find more about David via:

Author Website 

Instagram

You can purchase David’s series from Amazon:

Book One: A Slow Parade in Peneryn

UK: eBook

USA: eBook

Canada: eBook

Book Two: A Hidden Burrow Near Barcombe

UK: eBook

USA: eBook

Canada: eBook

Book Three: A Red Moon over Rhyll Pre-order (Launch 13th July 2021)

UK: eBook

USA: eBook

Canada: eBook

Author Interview – Sky Sommers

Author of Ash Crooked Fates

With the launch of her novel retelling the Wizard of Oz story, I am joined today by author Sky Sommers who released Ash Crooked Fate on June 20th! Welcome Sky. Congratulations on the release of your book. I thoroughly enjoyed your retelling of Cinderella from the viewpoint of the evil stepmother, it was brilliant, laugh out loud at times, and really made you think about how stories and history can be twisted by the person telling the story. You can find my review of Cinders here. But on with the intervew! Sky, please tell us a little about your new novel.

Sky: Hi, Helen and thank you for having me! Ash: Crooked Fates is a retelling of the Wizard of Oz based on 2 books – Baum’s and Volkov’s. It’s a young adult fantasy with a few adult chapters mixed in (nothing too untoward, no overt sex scenes or anything). A villain from the first book (well, more like an antiheroine), Melisandra aka Mellie, who keeps shoving her kids to live with strangers goes to Oz because, after all, she does want a happily ever after. With the wizard. And their youngest daughter Ellie who is supposed to be 3. Except due to peculiarities of time in different dimensions she turns out to be 17. While Ellie traipses along the yellow-brick road with the Cowardly Lion (who is really Beast’s son) and the Brainless Scarecrow (who is her guardian angel), she doesn’t know her companions are really there to find Tinman who is a long lost fae prince. All sorts of adventures befall on the travellers, including the poppy field and the flying monkeys and as Ellie keeps pining after Tinman, her dark angel is pining after her. So, a love triangle with a slow burn romance. I swear I didn’t intend to write Cinders as a quick hook-up, Embers as a rekindling romance and Ash as a slow burn one, it just happened.

Helen: I love the way you look at these stories from a different perspective, and inject humour and an insight into why people behave the way they do. The cover is gorgeous, such beautiful colours, tell us your thoughts behind it.

Sky This is a custom-made cover. My cover artist Rusham is amazing and his work ethics are just out of this world! He researched the successful genre covers and we decided the 17yo girl needed to be up front and personal on the cover because the story is mostly about her voyage, finding herself and finding her family. The Emerald City had to be in the background at the end of the yellow brick road. The red dots were a last-minute addition to refer to the poppy field incident. I didn’t want to crowd the cover with men, as there is a love triangle developing in the story, but if I would have had 2 men and 1 girl on the cover, then it could have been misinterpreted as a reverse harem story, which it isn’t. I didn’t want to put the girl’s parents (the protagonists in the adult part of the story) there either, the cover would have been too crowded.

Helen: And the title Ash Crooked Fates, how did you decide on that name?

Sky: Ash is the 3rd and last book in a trilogy (although quite possibly not the last book in the Magic Kingdom series) and I had fun for a while figuring out the Cinders-Embers-Ash titles. The subheading had to be about Fate – not going to air spoilers, but there’s a Goddess – and lives of quite a few characters are not going according to the plan they had in their heads, hence Crooked Fates in the multiple.

Helen: This is your third retelling, is this the only genre you write in?

Sky: Fairy-tales, YA and adult fantasy (grown up themes, but no erotica, mostly fade-to-black, actually), but also branching out into speculative fiction.

Helen: How do you come up with the ideas for your books, and the twists that all make such great sense once you put them all together?

Sky: I usually start hypothesising what could have happened next, after the happily ever after or after ‘the end’. Or I read a fairy-tale and spot the HUUUUGE gaps (like in Thumbelina) and I just have to go and fill them. Or just yesterday, an author friend posted a quiz about fairy-tale names, I conjured Yumiko Blackwood out of my pen name Sky Sommers and on a dare, I wrote a flash fiction piece called Yumiko and the Battlefrog. Inspiration is everywhere, you just have to look and wonder.

Helen: Tough question now – Out of all your books, who is your favourite character?

Sky: My fave character – that’s such an unfair question, Helen!!! They are all my babies. If I have to choose a favourite child, it would have to be Marina, the Goddess of Luck and soon also Fate, who ended up in the Magic Kingdom as the local witch and lived to be 66 only to be returned the day after she left Earth into her 25yo body. Because I can make her say the most outrageous things and everyone would just think she’s sassy. She’s probably my bossy, insane, kooky alter ego.

Helen: Sorry, I had to ask! Us readers want to know these things! Easier question then (hopefully!) What are you currently writing? Tell us about your WIP.

Sky: Which one of them? I have at least three:  a short story I’m writing as a thank you for my Ash ARC readers called To Cure a Curse (a Belle&Beast retelling) and let me tell you, Belle did try to fix Beast’s curse because the kiss didn’t work and it all backfired rather spectacularly on the entire bloodline. The 2nd is This Time Around, a speculative (scifi-ish) fiction, where I have to fix a few plot holes about cloning and timeline-lines. And the 3rd is a romance between a Goddess and a light angel seeking forgiveness that will be book 1 in the Goddesses Saga (of 10 books), which will first appear in the Dark Realms Anthology (we have 35 authors and books!!!) in October 2022.

Helen: That all sounds so amazing, and keeping you very busy! I am beyond excited about the Dark Realms Anthology as this will be the first book I’ve written outside my Sentinal series. Though I currently have two ideas and can’t decide which one to use! With so many projects how do you fit writing into your daily life?

Sky: I have Tuesday evening to write. And Monday and Thursday and Saturday and Sunday evenings – when I’m on a roll, I can’t help it and my hubby & kids have learnt to live with it. Mommy needs a hobby to keep her sane.

Helen: What about your writing environment do you listen to music or prefer silence?

Sky: I used to all the time. Now I only listen to music when I get stuck and then the lyrics and sometimes the beat of the rhythm suggest avenues I haven’t noticed before.

Helen: If you didn’t write fantasy books, would you write in a different genre and if so what would you like to write?

Sky: I will and I am, in fact, writing in speculative fiction next – This Time Around, a book about cloning in post-Brexit London in year 2101 is out in October 2021 (up for pre-order).

Helen: I know most authors also read a lot. Do you have a favourite author, or book?

Sky: Jenny Crusie, hands down – she writes romcom with killer dialogue and unforgettable plots. I’ve been gifting her ‘Bet Me’ book and getting my friends hooked on her books for years. Years!

My favourite book is Jenny Crusie’s Bet Me – it’s got an unlikely romance between a gorgeous hunk and a homely actuary who have killer dialogues, super awkward family meets and exes who just don’t let up. It’s a fun romp that I keep re-reading every few years, makes me laugh every time, although I know what’s coming and it is also inspiration for writing dialogues in my own books.

Helen: What are you currently reading?

Sky: Currently, beta reading Unwish by Lynda Simmons, it’s a LOTR-reminiscent YA epic fantasy – us indie authors have to stick together and help each other out whenever we can. Also reading Jen Kropf’s A Soul As Cold as Frost – because I loved her short story in our Enchanted Water charity anthology and I want to know how the future Captain Hook fares. Also reading Wishes by Starlight because I want to know what happens to Jacque Stevens’ Elya from Letters by Cinderlight. And just a tad of regency romance by Bree Wolf called How to Live Happily Ever After – her books are entertaining period-true historic romance and that takes my mind off my plot holes.

Helen: Wow, not only writing multiple projects, also reading mutliple books, all at the same time! Out of the books you’ve recently read which would you recommend?

Sky: Oh, this is a great question, I always recommend the authors I love (see my Bookbub and Goodreads page, if you don’t believe me). Recent reads and loves: Alice Ivinya’s Enchanted Melody; Lyndsay Hall’s The Fair Queen; Esme Rome’s The Rose Kiss was one of the most original Belle&Beast stories I’ve read in ages (and I’ve read tons); Jacque Stevens’ Letters by Cinderlight was a lovely Russian royalty themed Cinderella crossed with Match Girl, and K.A.Last’s Dance of Wishes was a unique retelling of a rare fairy-tale of 12 dancing princesses. The closest book that reminded me of my favourite author was Anne Harper’s Fake It Till You Make It, it was absolutely hilarious. I can go on, do stop me.

Helen: It’s been a pleasure chatting with, thank you so much for for joining me. Congratulations again on your new release Ash Crooked Fates. Just to close us out, can you tell us what advice you would give other authors?

Sky: Write every chance you get, if it is 5 minutes, 55 minutes or just 1. A creative writing course instructor who works for The Guardian said something along these lines to me and it stuck.

About the Author:

Sky was born to Estonian-Russian parents and for most of her life has lived and worked as a lawyer in Tallinn, Estonia, with brief escapes to Finland and the United Kingdom for work/study and to all but the top and bottom continents in search of her muse.

Her debut e-book in 2012 was about ancient goddesses running amock, trying to get their wilted powers back. She then proceeded to indie publishing her own ebooks and paperbacks and found her way from myths and legend via the Angelic Agency to fairytales retold for young adult and adult audiences. So far, Thumbelina has been updated for suspicious adults, a more sinister version of Cinderella was released on 21.12.20 and an adult Red Riding Hood retelling is about to be released on 21.03.21. A Wizard of Oz retelling and several short stories are in the works.

All her books are linked by some character or another and she loves making you choose at the end – by letting you pick an ending to read – one for the optimist and a slightly different one for pessimists (well, except in the Cinders-Embers-Ash trilogy because only Douglas Adams could pull off a trilogy in 5 parts). She lives in a house with a small garden with her husband and mostly one, but on occasion plus four kids.

You can find more about Sky via:

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You can order Sky’s novel from Amazon:

You can purchase Book One Cinders here:

Link to book on Amazon UK: eBook

Link to book on Amazon US: eBook

Link book on Amazon Canada: eBook

And Book Two Embers here:

Link to book on Amazon UK: eBook

Link to book on Amazon US: eBook

Link book on Amazon Canada: eBook

Or Book Three Ash Crooked Fates here:

Link to book on Amazon UK: eBook

Link to book on Amazon US: eBook

Link book on Amazon Canada: eBook

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