Author Interview – R.K. Nixon

Author of the children’s book Nani Gets Lost

Join me as I chat to children’s fantasy author RK Nixon about her latest children’s book and how she got into writing.

Helen: Welcome Rosemary, please tell us about your new book.

Rosemary: Nani Gets Lost was released in December 2021. It is about Nani and her friends, Doggy and Gnome, they go to the supermarket to get food for a picnic. Nani loses her friends at the supermarket. The story teaches children what to do if they get lost.

Helen: The cover is so cute. I suppose it was quite easy to decide on the cover and the title?

Rosemary: The front cover is Nani, Doggy and Gnome together. The book is about the three friends so I wanted the front cover to show them all together. It was designed by my illustrator, Carla Vize-Martin.

As a children’s book, the title needed to be simple, easy to say and describe the story.   ‘Nani Gets Lost’ explains what the story is about and is appealing to children. It’s a simple sentence but it took a lot of attempts to find the right words in the right order.

Helen: It is quite amazing how sometimes the simplest things take the longest to create. What inspired you write this book?

Rosemary: I wrote this book for my youngest daughter. It is about her toy Rabbit, Nani. Emily takes Nani everywhere, they get up to a lot of adventures together; so I wrote one of those adventures down for her. I’ve always loved making up stories. I started writing one for my oldest daughter when she was born. I wanted to write her a story that I could read to her and it snowballed from there. It was wonderful feeling being able to hand her her very own book that was written for her. I enjoy writing children’s fantasy, although one day I would like to write an adult historical drama.

Helen: What a great feeling that must be. Congratulations on publishing your book! It must be so exciting introducing children to the wonderful world of reading. Where do you get the ideas for your books? What are you working on now?

Rosemary: I get my inspiration from my daughters and husband. They are always playing imaginary games and creating new worlds, they often come out with something that sparks my imagination. Usually I write around my children’s hobbys; whilst I’m sat waiting for them to finish. Sometimes ideas come to me when I least expect it so I have a page on my phone where I can write them down so I don’t forget them. My current WIP is the second book in The Alexander Adventures. It is about a mischievous pixie that causes havoc in Orchantia, the realm of the fairies.

Helen: Tell us about your writing space. Do you listen to music while you write, or is silence your preferred environment?

Rosemary: I often have music playing in the background. I have an eclectic taste in music, so it can be anything from classical to rock but often I pick calm music if I am writing.

Helen: And do you have a writing nook? Somewhere you can squirrel away and focus on your writing?

Rosemary: I like writing on my couch, next to the window so I can look at the view to give me a bit of inspiration. It gets the most sun, so it’s always warm and it looks out over the fields, if I’m lucky I get to see a family of deer walking along. 

Helen: Sounds lovely! Do you have the chance to read much? Who is your favorite author?

Rosemary: I love reading historical novels, I would love to write a story like that one day. I have to confess I have got out of the habit of reading (there’s just not enough time in the day!) so I haven’t read anything for a while. I really enjoyed the Cousins Series by Philippa Gregory.

My favourite author would have to be Roald Dahl, I grew up reading his books and now my children are reading them. There are a few authors that inspire me; Roald Dahl, Julia Donaldson, J. R. R. Tolkien, but it is my family that keeps encouraging me to keep going.

Helen: We are drawing to a close now, please tell us something random about yourself.

Rosemary: I have a cookie bite hearing loss. I’ve had it since I was born but only found out about it when I was 30. I now have fancy hearing aids which I can play music on which is amazing. 

Helen: Technology is so clever these days. You have a built in radio! It’s been lovely meeting you, Rosemary. Just to finish with, what advice would you give to other aspiring authors?

Rosemary: ‘Don’t give up. If you believe in your work it will happen.’ Indie Author, Lee Hall. Just write. Put your ideas down on paper, worry about the editing once your story is written.

For more information:

Author Website

Instagram

Twitter

About the Author:

R.K Nixon

R.K Nixon has written two books; The Aquarius Stone (published, 2020) and Nani Gets Lost (Published, 2021). She grew up loving books, especially fantasy and now writes her own. Up until December she worked as a Speech and Language Therapist, so she understands the importance of stories for developing children’s language skills and imagination. She lives with her two very energetic girls, Emily and Charlotte and her husband, Mel,  who is a child at heart. It can be a very noisy house at times but they are always giving her lots of fun ideas for new stories.

You can purchase Nani Gets Lost from Amazon:

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook

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

If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my books which are available in eBook, paperback or hardcover: Book One: Sentinals Awaken. Book Two: Sentinals Rising. Book Three: Sentinals Justice. Book 3.5: Sentinals Recovery. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next book releases.

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Author Interview – Mark Piggott

Author of The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart

Join me as I chat to Mark Pigott about his latest release and all things writing. Welcome Mark! I am so pleased we’ve finally had the chance to catch up. I read your book The Last Magus back in 2021, (you can see my review here) and thoroughly enjoyed it. Marcus is a worthly MC!

Helen: To begin with, Mark, tell us about The Last Magus.

Mark: The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart is my latest novel. Marcus Gideon, left for dead at a crossroads, is saved by a modern magical miracle—a clockwork heart. This second chance gives him the opportunity to discover his forgotten past while forging a new future as the apprentice to a Magus. The Magus were legendary warrior-wizards, the sacred guardians of magic on Attlain, until a failed rebellion forced them into hiding. As the apprentice to The Last Magus, Marcus Gideon takes his destiny into his own hands, combining the strength of a warrior with the power of a mage. The story takes you from his rebirth and apprenticeship to assuming the mantle of a Magus and training at the Basilon Magical Academy. He makes friend, allies and enemies along the way in this first step into a fantasy steampunk world of machines and magic.

Helen: I just love the cover, it is so fantastical and atmospheric. How did you come up with the design?

Mark: Since this novel focused on one main character, Marcus Gideon, I wanted to represent him and his powers on the cover. I also wanted to touch on the steampunk aspect of the story with the gears and mechanical frame. Through my contact with other independently published fantasy authors on social media, I discovered a great cover artist, Anna-Lena Spies (@eerilyfair_design on IG) and she worked great with me, even though we communicated only through email (She’s in the Netherlands). She deftly showed the power of a Magus, summoning a magical weapon from thin air. I plan to have her do all my covers to ensure consistency across the series I intend to write.

Helen: I’m so glad there are more stories to come in the series and I can’t wait to see what you come up with for the covers! What made you write this particular story.

Mark: I grew up as a child of the nuclear age, living through the Cold War, wondering how the world would end. You had so many post-apocalyptic movies and books in the 60’s through the 80’s, so much so that it overwhelms the mind. I wondered what would happen if the world ended by magic? That’s where this story came from. I imagined magic returning to the world, in such a force, that cities and countries would fall, people and animals would change form, and the world would start anew. But I also didn’t want a pure fantasy world, so I thought about my new favorite genre . . . steampunk. What if I combined magic and machines and built a world around that idea. It may look and act like a “Tolkien-esque” world, but it is one of magic and machine where the two mingle and merge into one.

Helen: Steampunk fantasy is so cool, with all the inventions and ‘new’ technology at your fingertips, your imagination is your limit really in what you could come with. What made you choose to write fantasy?

Mark: As a young teen, I loved comic books. I started creating my own comic book characters and stories. I even drew a little. I wanted to be the next Stan Lee or Jack Kirby but my artistic skills didn’t pan out. I went the writing route instead. I joined the US Navy as a Navy Journalist, but I wrote mostly news releases, feature articles, and press releases. It was during that time that I started developing my writing skills and developed my story into the Forever Avalon series. I can also say my time playing Dungeons and Dragons helped me with world building, character creation, and developing a story. All of that was part of the game so it helped me in my writing. I am a full-time writer, both personally and professionally. I work as a writer-editor with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. My job is to try to make the complex writings of government rules and regulations more readable and clearer for everyday people. At night, I work on everything for my novels, from social media posts, marketing, and writing whatever work in progress I have.

Helen: You are very lucky that you are able to write for your work, keeps your writing juices flowing! Aside from translating indecipheral regulations, what else can you tell us about yourself?

Mark: I am a 23-year veteran of the U.S. Navy. I deployed on four aircraft carriers, including aboard USS Enterprise (CVN 65) when 9/11 happened. We were on our way home, at the end of a six-month deployment, as we watched it happen via satellite TV. You could feel the ship turning around as we moved on station, waiting for the chance for a little payback, as it were. The Enterprise was first to launch strikes against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan. It was during this deployment that I wrote my first novel, Forever Avalon, as a way of dealing with the separation from family and war.

Helen: First, thank you for your service. Second, those experiences at sea must have given you so much material for your books! No wonder you like to combine the wonder of technology onto your novels. You must have had time to read as well. What is your favourite book?

Mark: The Elric of Melnibone series by Michael Moorcock. It was the fantasy book series that inspired my own writing style, going beyond the norms of fantasy to find something new. I loved the dark gritty character in Elric and villains he faced, simple but intimidating, and the conflicts he faced in each and every story. Plus, the new mythologies created in this world were sheer brilliance, a first-rate study in fantasy world building for any writer.  

Helen: I haven’t read that series, I must go and check it out. Thank you so much for chatting with me today. To close us out can you share a little about your plans for 2022?

Mark: I have two books being released in 2022 (no dates yet): Corsair and the Sky Pirates, a steampunk historical fiction bringing the war between Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison to a new level of adventure from Revolutionary Press; and The River of Souls, a fantasy novella showing love can cross time and space from Curious Corvid Publishing.

You can also find Mark at the Katsucon 2022 anime convention, February 18-20 at the Gaylord Convention Center, National Harbor, MD. Where he will be signing and selling his books during the three-day event.

About the Author:

Mark Piggott at the Willamsburg Festival

Mark Piggott, a native of Phillipsburg, N.J., enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1983, beginning a 23-year career.

He served on three aircraft carriers and various duty stations as a Navy Journalist before he attained the rank of Chief Petty Officer. He retired from active duty in 2006.

His first novel, Forever Avalon, was published in 2009, followed by his second novel, The Dark Tides, in 2014. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series from Austin Macauley Publishing, was released in 2020. He is currently working on the fourth book in the Forever Avalon series, The Prometheus Engine, and a new fantasy/adventure series, The Last Magus.

He and his wife, Georgiene, live in Alexandria, Virginia. They have three children.

For all the latest:

Website

Instagram

You can purchase The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart from Amazon:

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

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

If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my books which are available in eBook, paperback or hardcover: Book One: Sentinals Awaken. Book Two: Sentinals Rising. Book Three: Sentinals Justice. Book 3.5: Sentinals Recovery. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next book releases.

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Author Interview – J.L Kodanko

Author of Storyteller

Today I am chatting to Jenifer Kodanko from the writing team of Jennifer and Luke Kodanko who are the authors of fantasy book series The Hurricane Chronicles of which the first two books Storyteller and Intruder are now available.

Helen: Welcome Jennifer. So excited to meet half of a writing team. Tell us how it works!

Jennifer: My pen name is J.L. Kodanko, and the initials stand for both mine and my husband’s first names. (Jennifer and Luke) Our writing is a joint effort and we truly make a phenomenal team. I usually have the seed of an idea, and my husband helps flesh it out into a full story. I dream up the characters, and he helps round them out into credible people. Together we work on the plot and scheme up all kinds of twists and turns and schemes to make it the most enjoyable reading experience possible. 

Helen: Sounds like a perfect writing team! So what books are you working on?

Jennifer: My current fantasy series is called The Hurricane Chronicles. It’s a Young Adult Fantasy series that follows Reka of the Agiles. Our tagline is “She knows all the legends, but she doesn’t know her own story.” The series has two books published, and there will be two more before it is complete. By the end of Storyteller (book 1), all the players have been assembled. By the end of Intruder (book 2), we understand that things are not as they seem in the drought ravaged land of Orosea. And in the final two books, we will see the culmination of this story, where our heroes will hopefully triumph over evil, as long as I do my job right!  

Helen: I have Storyteller on my physical TBR list. I am looking forward to starting your series! The cover is gorgeous, how did you come up with the design?

Jennifer: Reka sits around the fire with her traveling acrobatic troupe and tells them stories in the evenings. Through them we learn about the world of Orosea, and the problems that have been plaguing it. So choosing a cover with a dynamic fire was a shoe-in, and the sword is meant to evoke the warrior that she encounters in her travels. He will be a critical part of her story! This was our first attempt at designing a cover, and a year later I’m still thrilled with the results! 

Helen: I love it when the cover supports the story. Tell us what made you write this particular story.

Jennifer: Three years ago, my husband challenged me to write a book-any book, start to finish. I chose to write a historical romance. It’s not going to win any awards, but it proved to me that I could, in fact, write an entire book. After that we started playing around with ideas for the premise to a fantasy series. We found our inspiration in Mayan mythology and I started writing. Six months later, I had a complete manuscript! I let a few friends read it and they loved it, and we started getting serious about publishing it. We chose to go the self publishing route because it allows us to retain all of the creative control over our work. Also, we can publish as quickly as we can write the books, which is immensely satisfying for both us and our readers!  

Helen: Why did you choose to write fantasy?

Jennifer: I write fantasy because I learned from Star Trek: The Next Generation that you can tackle really big issues if you place the story in a fantastical setting. Fantasy has a way of putting people at ease, because no one feels attacked and everyone likes escapism. Then, once you’ve drawn readers into your fictional world, you can talk about things like courage, equality, honesty and integrity. Fantasy breaks down the walls that society builds, and I truly love that about the genre. 

Helen: That is a great way of looking at it. When you think of your writing journey, what is the best piece of advice you’ve recieved?

Jennifer: This is specific to writing, but my mantra these days is “done is better than perfect.” I’d rather take a crack at something, give it my all, and then move on before I can spiral out into endless revisions and tweaks and adjustments. Looking back on the two books I’ve published, I’d change word choices and even some aspects of storytelling. But overall, I’m still really happy with the books I’ve written. I strive to improve with every book, and as a reader, I always enjoy watching an author grow in their craft. I’d rather have ten good books finished and published than one almost-perfect-but-it-needs-one-more-pass manuscript that no one else ever sees. For me, so much of the enjoyment of writing comes from hearing how people enjoyed my stories. If I don’t publish them, I’ll never get to share them with others. By and large, our readers have been immensely kind and supportive of the fact that writing is an endless learning curve. 

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

Jennifer: It depends on the season I’m in. Sometimes I can schedule out 3-4 hour uninterrupted blocks each day to write, and that is glorious. Other times (like right now), I write for an hour in the mornings, fit in a little more throughout my day, and then another hour after the kids are in bed. That last hour is usually also brainstorming plot points and character arcs with my husband. It’s a bit piecemeal, but I’ll take writing time however it comes! 

Helen: I’m the same. I think most writers have to fit writing into pockets of time, but sometimes, when I have a writing urge, I just have to take time off work because I can’t concentrate until I have got my thoughts on paper! How about music? Do you listen to music when writing or do you prefer silence?

Jennifer: I almost always listen to instrumental music when I’m writing. If I’m really stuck on a scene, music is one of my foolproof writer’s block busters. I’ve used Marvel Avengers soundtracks heavily in my writing of The Hurricane Chronicles-the scores are just so epically inspiring! 

Helen: Which do you prefer, writing or editing?

Jennifer: 1000% writing. I see the value in editing, and I do it because my books are so much better after that effort. But writing a first draft is…magical. Everything is possible. The story is yet undiscovered. My characters are still raw, vague ideas in my mind. And I get to watch it all unfold through my fingertips. It’s glorious. I wish all writing could be just writing, and no editing! 

Helen: So, if you didn’t write fantasy, would you try another genre?

Jennifer: I’m trying my hand at contemporary romance. It’s a whole different beast, and although I’ve written several different things, I feel like I’m just starting to get a handle on it. Emotional stories that aren’t plot driven are MUCH more difficult to write! But I’m a diehard romance fan, so it’s worth it to me to learn how to do it.

Helen: Thank you so much for joining me today, it has been great chatting with you. Last question, what are some of your favourite books that you’ve read recently?

Jennifer: I recently finished The Folk of the Air series by Holly Black, and I wholeheartedly recommend the entire series. That said, The Wicked King was my absolute favorite. The writing was top notch, I fell in love with the characters, and the entire plot was just so clever. Also, I’ve read An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir and her worldbuilding was masterful. I need to get back to that series! If you’re looking for a lovely, simple fantasy romance, Radiance by Grace Draven was an absolute delight. And I’ve read A Court of Mist and Fury so many times I’ve memorized some parts, so I guess that deserves a mention as well. 

About the Author:

Jennifer Kodanko

My first memory of a writing assignment should have been a signal to me that I would end up writing epic fantasy stories. I was tasked with a two paragraph story in second grade, and I filled two pages, front and back! My next memory of writing is a fun little story in sixth grade called Molly and the Terrible Day. It was a cast full of anthropomorphized kitchen items; the star, Molly, was a chipped cup (perhaps a Beauty and the Beast reference?). The villain was a blender, and the kitchen item in distress was a birthday candle. I printed it out (by hand!), bound it, and even gave it a hand drawn cover. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I eventually ended up becoming serious about writing stories, since I was obviously a child prodigy.

High school and college gave me enough writing assignments about horribly boring things that I never had time for creative writing. Then I got married and started playing around with words again. I wrote a decorating blog for seven years, but then I started having kids, and time (along with sleep, and clean clothes) became a scarce and oh-so-precious commodity. Fast forward a few years, with a husband who never stopped encouraging me to write, and I finally just sat down and started writing. And the rest, as they say, is history.

For all the latest:

Website

You can purchase Storyteller from Amazon:

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

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

If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my books which are available in eBook, paperback or hardcover: Book One: Sentinals Awaken. Book Two: Sentinals Rising. Book Three: Sentinals Justice. Book 3.5: Sentinals Recovery. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next book releases.

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Author Interview – Morgan Gauthier

Author of Wolves of Adalore

Welcome to 2022 and my first Indie Author interview of the year. Morgan and I met on a recent Author live session on facebook, the recording of which you can find here. Morgan is a fellow Epic Fantasy author. Wolves of Adalore is the first book of the Mark of the Hunter series and Morgan revealed her cover for her second book in the series, The Red Maiden, yesterday! Congratulations on such a gorgrious cover Morgan!

Helen: Welcome Morgan. Tell us about your latest book, The Red Maiden.

Morgan: The Red Maiden is my current project, and it will be published April, 10, 2022. This is the second book in the Mark of the Hunter Trilogy and E-Book Pre-Order is Now Available on Amazon.

Cover Art done by the amazing @artzzofkae

Synopsis:

Separated and on opposite sides of the continent, Salome and Crispin continue to amass an army to face their sister while avoiding other enemies set on killing them before they get close to Northwind.

In the Isles of Myr, Salome meets her mother’s kin while facing the ugly truth of her family’s past and her potential future as a magic wielder.

Trapped in the cutthroat Kingdom of Pulau, Crispin makes a deal with the pirates of the Shadow of Death to get him off the island and returned to his companions. But their service comes at a price.

Fully aware of her siblings’ survival and whereabouts, Niabi is left to face her past and embrace the darkness growing within her. With usurpers coming for her throne and traitors in her own court, Niabi readies herself for war.

Helen: Sibling rivalry, sounds intense! The cover is quite powerful. How did you come up with the design?

Morgan: The cover was specifically designed by @artzzofkae. She will be redesigning the first book’s cover as well as creating the cover for the third book in the Mark of the Hunter Trilogy. I commissioned character artwork from her as well and the pictures turned out better than I could have ever imagined. 

When talking with my artist, I told her I wanted Salome and Niabi on the cover because they’re our two main characters. One the heroine, the other the villain. I wanted strong women as my protagonist and antagonist, and I’m beyond thrilled with seeing them on the cover.

Helen: It is gorgeous. What inspired you to write the Mark of the Hunter series?

Morgan: I often get asked the question of what inspired me to write Wolves of Adalore and The Red Maiden. I was 14 years old when I started writing this story and it all stemmed from my love of fantasy fiction (especially The Lord of the Rings) and my interest in medieval history. But the one major problem I was finding in the books I got my hands on were the female characters were either the “damsel in distress” or the “token love interest” and I didn’t identify with either trope. I wanted to read about a girl who wasn’t perfect, wasn’t the heroine that made every right decision, but the girl who took control of her destiny and saved herself.

As I got older, I found myself fascinated with the villains in stories (Hello, Cersei Lannister!). What happened to mold them into the villain? And I realized that the villain doesn’t see themselves in that wicked light. They are normally the heroes of their own stories.
So with those concepts in mind, I wrote the Mark of the Hunter Trilogy. Both the protagonist and antagonist are women. And they are pretty badass women if I say so myself.
I wanted girls to read a book that showed they didn’t need to wait for a man to save them or slay the dragon that hunts them. They could slay the dragon and save themselves.

Helen: That is a wonderful story. How did you first begin writing?

Morgan: At eleven years old, I remember watching The Lord of the Rings and being enamoured with everything epic fantasy offered. I decided I wanted to write a story of my own that would stay with readers the rest of their lives. 

As an avid reader, I read a lot of fantasy books that featured strong males as the hero and had any female character as either the damsel in distress or a one-dimensional love interest. I decided I wanted to write a story that highlighted females as the protagonist and antagonist. I wanted to create characters I could relate to, and other little girls could look up to.   

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

Morgan: I really enjoy villains. But I also really enjoy morally grey heroes and villains because I believe we as people have both light and dark inside us. I find morally grey characters more relatable and villains who have the right motives but the wrong way of going about accomplishing their goals to be interesting to read about. A well-written villain will have you questioning if they are actually the bad guy of the story or not.

Helen: Who is your favourite character from your fantasy series?

Morgan: A lot of people have asked me this question and I never give them an actual answer. I feel like it’s almost like choosing my favourite child. BUT. I would say I really enjoy the villains in my books. Some of them have righteous motives but go about achieving those goals in the wrong way. Some of them are deliciously wicked and are hell-bent on wreaking havoc on their enemies. I find villains to be more interesting to read about (and at times, secretly root for).

Helen: What is your preferred genre? You don’t only write fantasy, do you?

Morgan: I write Young Adult Fantasy. I love the adventure, romance, and endless creative possibilities that fantasy offers. The gorgeous worldbuilding and the memorable characters are some of the aspects that stood out to me as a child and spurred me into reading and writing fantasy.

I have dabbled in, and published, a Contemporary Romantic Comedy entitled Aloha, Seattle, and I’ve thought about writing another book in that genre when I have the time. 

Helen: If you didn’t write fantasy, would you consider more contemporary romance books?

Morgan: I have dabbled in Contemporary Romance and published my first Rom-Com November 2, 2021. It is entitled Aloha, Seattle. I enjoyed the process of writing such a fun, light-hearted, and loving story and would definitely be interested in writing another one in the future.

Helen: Which books would you recommend from your recent reads?

Morgan: What a tough question! I have read a lot of great books this year in the Fantasy, Romance, and Mystery genres, but these are some of my favourite Fantasy reads in no particular order:

1.       On These Black Sands by Indie Author Vanessa Rasanen

2.       The Prison Healer and The Gilded Cage by Lynette Noni

3.       Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo

4.       These Hollow Vows by Lexi Ryan

5.       Daughter of the Pirate Queen Duology by Tricia Levenseller

Helen: Who is your favourite author?

Morgan: My favorite author hands down is Agatha Christie. I LOVE her Hercule Poirot mysteries. Death on the Nile, Murder in Mesopotamia, Appointment with Deathand The Mystery of the Blue Train are some of my all-time favourites! If you’re looking for great whodunnits, then look to the Queen of Mystery!

Helen: We’re approaching the end of our time together. I really appreciate you joining us today. Tell us something random about yourself.

Morgan: I LOVE Gordon Ramsey. I watch all of his shows. I look up his recipes and don’t even come close to duplicating them. My husband is an amazing chef and I get really excited when he tries new recipes!

I also really hate heights. I won’t even get up on a six-foot ladder. 

Helen: I must admit I am not a fan of heights either! Thank you so much for spending some time with me today. Just to finsh do you have any advice you would give aspiring writers?

Morgan: I would give a new writer the same advice my husband gave me when I thought about quitting before I had finished writing my first book. I was a new mom of a one-year-old and pregnant with my second child. I was frustrated that I never seemed to be able to get any writing done so I told him I was just going to give up on being a published author. The words he spoke that night in our cramped condo have stayed with me and fuelled me over the years. He said, “Even if it’s just five minutes a day, write for those five minutes. Soon, five minutes will turn into ten minutes, one sentence will turn into a paragraph, and sooner or later, you will have a finished book. Don’t give up on your dream.” That was four years ago, and I’ve written/published three books and will begin my fourth in a couple of months. If you want it, you can achieve it.

About the Author:

Morgan Gauthier

Storytelling is in Morgan Gauthier’s blood; She can’t seem to turn her brain off at night and some of her best ideas have come to her in the shower.

Born to two book-loving parents, Morgan was raised on a healthy diet of The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Nancy Drew, and any fantasy book she could get her hands on. She started writing her own stories at eleven years old and hasn’t looked back.

Wolves of Adalore was her first self-published YA Fantasy title and since then, she has published a Contemporary Romance (Aloha, Seattle) with the second YA Fantasy installment in the Mark of the Hunter Trilogy (The Red Maiden) coming in April of 2022.

Morgan Gauthier lives in East Tennessee with her husband and best friend, Brad, with their three children, Remi, Archer, and Roux (who are 4 years old and younger!). If five people wreaking havoc in the same house wasn’t enough, Morgan also has three dogs, Potter, Skye, and Bubba, and one grumpy bird named Titus.

If Morgan isn’t writing or reading, she can be found binge watching Netflix shows, attempting to cook like Gordon Ramsay (not even close to his level), and practicing archery.

You can find out more about Morgan via:

Website | Facebook | Instagram

You can purchase Wolves of Adalore from Amazon:

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

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

If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my books which are available in eBook, paperback or hardcover: Book One: Sentinals Awaken. Book Two: Sentinals Rising. Book Three: Sentinals Justice. Book 3.5: Sentinals Recovery. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next book releases.

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Author Interview – Katie Zaber

Author of the Ashes and Blood

As we approach Christmas, I am so happy to meet fantasy author, Katie Zaber, author of the Dalya series. You can find Book one Ashes and Blood for free this christmas week, and the second book for 99c so grab your copy now!

Helen: Welcome Katie.Tell us about yourself. What inspired you to write?

Katie: I’ve always been creative, but never took up writing until I was recovering from surgery, was on a lot of meds, and let my imagination loose. Once off the meds and healed, I edited the story, building and rearranging, working through drafts until I was happy.

Helen: What inspired your book/series?

Katie: The song, Lord of the Dance. Somehow, it was stuck in my head and my imagination took over. I pictured a king singing the song—a much more sinister version—while destroying a village of people who disobeyed him. At first, the story was going to be about him and how his reign ends, but I didn’t want to tell it from his perspective. That’s where Megan comes in.

Helen: How do you come up with your book titles?

Katie: When I write a book, I usually have a broad idea of what I want to call it, but I usually decide when I’ve finished the first draft. Almost like a parent meeting their new born. They might have an idea of what they want to name the child while pregnant, but that can change when they see the baby face to face and realize he isn’t a Jim, he’s a Stephen. Kind of like that.

Helen: Tell us about your writing space. The place where you capture your amazing ideas.

Katie: I sit in front of a walnut stained secretary desk with a hutch holding an array of keepsakes. Albums, picture frames, my Snoopy collection, souvenirs, and nostalgic knickknacks line the shelves of the hutch.

My work space is a wonderland of post-it notes in three different colors: pink, neon-yellow, and green. On the right corner of my desk, shoved between the monitor and notary stamp, is a yellow, mini-spiral notebook that contains book outlines, plots, and ideas. Little sticker tabs separate the notebook into different sections. The tabs not in use are floating on the surface of pamphlets and lists of login information to accounts I hardly visit.

A leather bounded diary with nautical embellishments, complete with anchor bookmark, holds random thoughts and sketches. A mechanical pencil can be spotted, hiding between the yellow notebook and leather diary. Its extra parts—erasers & extra graphite are strewn about the entire desk.

Between the post-it notes there are three hacky sacks. There’s also a rectangular leather box with a brass kaleidoscope made to look like it was used on a whimsical pirate ship.

It’s a happy mess.

Helen: Sounds amazing, and the ideal place to wrangle your ideas into words. Do you have a writing routine or do you write when inspired?

Katie: I try to stick to a schedule, but that normally doesn’t happen and I end up writing when inspired.

Helen: What was the hardest scene for you to write? Which scene was your favorite to write?

Katie: Intimate scenes. They are my weak spot. I feel like I can never get them exactly right.

My favorite ones are when I’m describing something for the first time. When I introduce the reader to a new environment, object, or food, my goal is for the reader to feel the mist and sun on their skin. I want them to see in minute details what the character is looking at and taste the juice running down their cheeks as character bites into fruit.

Helen: What’s next for you? Do you have a book in the works?

Katie: Right now I’m finishing up DNA—Demons N Angels, a book about a woman named Evie who mysteriously gets pregnant. After a DNA test proves that her husband is not the father, her life becomes complicated.

People become possessed around Evie, telling her to kill the baby or protect it at all costs as she tries to rebuild her life after a heartbreaking divorce. Throughout the book, she realizes that her child might be a celestial being, but isn’t sure if it’s angelic or demonic.

It’s almost done, and I hope to have it on sale midsummer. You can read the first five chapters here for free.

I’m also working on the third book in the Dalya series, title is undecided. It’s roughly 20,000 words, and I hope to have it out this fall.

Helen: If you could live anywhere, in this world or fantasy, where would you live?

Katie: I’d love to live on a winery in southern Italy. The architecture is breath-taking and I love the small villages with cobblestone streets, knowing your local artisans by name and buying locally from them. There’s something really romantic and peaceful about that small village lifestyle that I hope to one day experience.

Helen: What is your favorite meal?

Katie: I’m a steak and potatoes kind of lady, but the steak needs a decadent brandy cream sauce and buttery garlic whipped potatoes.

Helen: Coffe or tea? Wine or beer?

Katie: A good cup of black tea with a little bit of sugar and milk is my go to in the morning. If I drink coffee, its half milk, and I don’t count the how much sugar. I love moscoto and fruit wines.

Helen: Describe yourself in three words.

Katie: Curious, Spaz, Sensible

Helen: Thank you so much for joining me today, just to close us out can you share some of your authors who ahve influenced your writing?

Katie: There’s a few. I’d say Margaret Atwood, J.R.R. Tolkien, John Conroe, Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne, Karen Marie Morning, Jennifer Estep, Laini Taylor, and Chuck Palahniuk are some of the biggest influencers. However, I’d like to think I’ve absorbed a little bit from every book I’ve read.

About the Author:

Katie Zaber

Katie Zaber knows the best way to decide who is cooking dinner is with a Nerf gun fight in the living room. Her boyfriend is an exceptional cook. When she isn’t baking, reading, or going to wine tastings, she’s busy planning her next trip to Six Flags Great Adventure or Long Beach Island, New Jersey. As a child, her parents would read stories about Atlantis and other fictional places that she dreamed of exploring, fueling her love of history, adventure, and fantasy. These days, she finds herself captivated by her many projects and enjoys quiet nights at home.

You can find more via:

Amazon Author Page | Website | Goodreads | BookBub | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Blood and Ashes synopsis:

A mystical tree captures the attention of Megan and her friends, morphing the surrounding environment, transferring them to an exotic planet with bloodthirsty creatures. Saved from the deadly beasts by hunters, Megan finds herself stuck in a rural town still maimed by the plague. A chance encounter with a familiar face gives Megan and her friends some security during their adjustment to this new world. While settling into promising lives, they are attacked and stalked by planet Dalya’s humanoid inhabitants, who focus solely on Megan.

One dark night, after a magical attack, the Fae King’s knight is sent to fetch Megan for a reason she can’t possibly guess. When she wakes up a prisoner, she learns that there is much more to this strange place, and it is oddly more like home than she ever would have expected.

The more Megan learns about the strange world of Dalya, the more she realizes that finding a way home is insignificant compared to everything else at stake.

You can purchase Ashes and Blood from Amazon:

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

Book 2: Below Dark Waters

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

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

If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my books which are available in eBook, paperback or hardcover: Book One: Sentinals Awaken. Book Two: Sentinals Rising. Book Three: Sentinals Justice. Book 3.5: Sentinals Recovery. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next book releases.

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Book Review Alert: Reign of Darkness by Ariana Nash

Reviewed: December 7th 2021
Released: November 25th, 2020
Genre: MM Dark Fantasy

Book two of the Prince’s Assassin series

“Know your place, Nikolas.”

“Under the heel of your boot, Your Highness?”

After a terrible inferno destroys the Caville palace, and with the people of Loreen turned against him, Prince Vasili is left with no choice but to flee his ancestral home, leaving his brother Amir to proclaim himself King. But Vasili’s life isn’t the only one left in ashes. King Amir has not forgotten Nikolas Yazdan—a lord’s bastard son and Vasili’s favorite pet. With forbidden power in his veins, Amir has become more than Niko can fight alone.

Thrust together with Vasili once more, Niko must travel south, to a land of pirates and thieves, of mystery and magic. A land of opportunity for a manipulative prince and his reluctant assassin. But just as Nikolas begins to believe Vasili might be worth fighting for—that Loreen can be saved with Vasili on the throne—the dark flame trapped in the royal bloodline unravels its ancient bonds. One prince must control the unrelenting power desperate for its escape. The other must die.

Niko thought he knew which prince he could trust, but he’s been fooled before and as Vasili’s true motives are revealed, Niko finds himself at the mercy of Prince Vasili once more. Only this time, there’s more than love at stake. The fate of the world rests on Niko discovering the truth about the flame, about the cursed Cavilles, and his place in their doomed destiny.

***Reign of Darkness is the second book in the Prince’s Assassin series. The series should be read in order, beginning with King of the Dark.

Read My thoughts…

Book Review Alert: King of the Dark by Ariana Nash

Reviewed: December 5th, 2021
Released: July 10th, 2020
Genre: MM DarkFantasy

“Your love is worthless, it’s your hate I need.” ~ Prince Vasili Caville 

When King Talos Caville surrendered the war to the elves, soldier Nikolas Yazdan vowed never to serve the royals again. He said the same to the prince who tried to buy his loyalty, and learned that the Caville princes don’t take no for an answer.

Whipped for his insolence, Nikolas is also forced into slavery in a palace full of vicious, brutal royals. Prince Vasili is the worst Caville of all. Malicious and cruel, the prince is more viperman, and someone inside the palace wants him dead. Nikolas would kill the prince himself if not for one thing: Julian, the prince’s personal guard and Niko’s light in the dark. If Nikolas doesn’t submit to Prince Vasili and discover who is plotting against him, Julian will suffer.

But there’s more wrong in the palace than just the prince. The king is on his deathbed, the ferocious elves are creeping closer to the great city of Loreen, and madness stalks the hallways. There’s poison in the Caville court, and if Nikolas doesn’t discover the real reason Prince Vasili tried to buy him with a bag of coin, the palace, the city, and everything he loves, will be lost forever. Read My thoughts…

It’s Launch Day!! Sentinals Recovery

Sentinals Recovery: Book 3.5 of the Sentinal series, is now live!!!!

I am so thrilled to share my latest book with you, especially as I never planned to write Sentinals Recovery. But I couldn’t physically fit Birlerion returning to Greenswatch in Sentinals Justice, and I had to write about Birlerion and his Darian, it was the least I could do for the poor man!

5 Star Goodreads are already being posted!!

“Unputdownable.”

“I’m glad that Helen could not fit this in to Sentinals Justice as this story dedicated to Birlerion was exactly what I needed.”

“…ensnared, and lost in the world of Remargaren from the very first paragraph. A beautiful read.”

Sentinals Recovery is a novella set in the world of Remargaren. It occurs immediately after the battle at Oprimere. Although this is a complete story, the reader would benefit from reading the first three books in the series.

Birlerion is recovering from the near fatal injuries he received in his second, epic battle with the Ascendants. He returns home to Greenswatch to recuperate and finally meet his Darian stallion, Kin’arol, who has been waiting, somewhat impatiently, to bond with him.

Only Kin’arol is not there. Someone has stolen him. For such a distinctive horse, he has vanished into thin air.

Though not fully recovered, and still hampered by his injuries, Birlerion sets off, accompanied by his brother Versillion, to recover his horse. Not even Assassins, belligerent Terolians or the harsh Terolian desert will stop him from bonding with Kin’arol, though his failing body might.

Purchase Sentinals Recovery here:

Thank you!

The Sentinal Series

Novella o.5: Sentinals Stirring (Free novella if you sign up to my newsletter.)

Book One: Sentinals Awaken

Book Two: Sentinals Rising

Book Three: Sentinals Justice

Book 3.5: Sentinals Recovery (Novella)

Author Interview – R&C Christiansen

Author of theTainted Love Trilogy

Today we meet contemporary romance author husband and wife team, R & C Christiansen, who write tough love, emotionally powerful novels, not always with a happy ending.

Helen: I am so excited to chat with you about your Tainted Love series. You have been sharing such great snippets of your books on instagram recently that I can’t wait to dive in. I haven’t read them yet, I’ve been holding off, knowing these are going to be an emotional rollercoaster, which I’m not sure I am quite ready for but well worth the read. Tell us about your series.

R & C Christiansen: My latest release, Hush, is part of a five book collection called the Tainted Love Series. The first three books were originally a trilogy that is now rolled into one book with three parts titled Tainted Love: The Complete Trilogy. It’s dark romance, friends to lovers, and the storyline gets deeper and darker with each book eventually ending with a HEA. 

Then there is Whisper: A Tainted Love Story which is a tragic non-HEA love story that’s set around two side characters from the original series. It depicts a couple who struggle to come to terms with their past as they push forward in a world they don’t seem to belong in. 

Last, I wrote Hush: The Final Tainted Story, about the younger brother of the MC in Whisper. He is a mute man who can’t read or write, and his story ends tragically also as we learn that he is in love with his brother’s wife and has no way to express nor act on it. Again, it is non-HEA and is bound to cause a variety of emotions as Cliff’s struggles are heart-breaking. I do have a trigger warning across the entire series because the subject matter demands it, but in truth, I wrote each book delicately knowing there is a thin line between dark romance and outright darkness. 

Helen: This series is about tough love in tough situations. What made you write it?

R & C Christiansen: In the beginning, I had wanted to create a realistic dark romance that centered around real everyday issues people face. I wanted to show that love isn’t always perfect. It can be messy, painful, unpredictable even, but it’s something worth fighting for if two people are meant to be together. The trilogy itself represents all that and more. It’s the story of a couple (Whiskey & Vixen) who battle each other’s demons together and for each other, yet they both come from opposite sides of the spectrum. In the end, it was my fans that asked me to write the other side of the story when it came to the side characters who had no way out of the ‘darkness’ and that is how both Whisper and Hush came about.

Helen: You have such powerful characters in your series, who was your favourite character to write?

R & C Christiansen: That’s a hard question to answer because each character is so unique and strong in their own right. I’d have to go with Ken from Whisper, only because he’s more villain than hero, yet his love for his wife and brother is unparalleled when it comes to the other characters.

Helen: Tell us about your writing process. Do you listen to music or do you prefer silence when you are writing?

R & C Christiansen: Hell yes! I find music is a huge part of writing, it can inspire the feelings I need to harness in order to create the emotion I’m aiming for. Each of my books have playlists in Spotify, and both Whisper and Hush have a playlist included in the book. My current inspirations have been In This Moment, Creed, Palaye Royale, and Linkin Park. My favorite of the bands has to be In This Moment because my God, Maria Brink’s voice is out of this world. If I could compare her to one of my characters, she’d be Vixen from The Tainted Love Trilogy. She’s absolutely incredible. 

Helen: I must admit I have certain albums I listen to when writing. And then of course, afterwards I always think of the charcters when I hear the songs. Do you find it easier to plan what you write, or are you a pantser, and let the book go where it will?

R & C Christiansen: I’m a pantser all the way. My novels are mainly written in first person, present tense, so I have the ability to jump inside my character’s minds and act out their scenes on paper. I let them take the lead and tell me where the story is going. My husband and co-writer says the characters are my alternate personalities and sometimes I think he’s right. 

Helen: I must adnmit I am the same. I don’t write first person, but I do get into my characters heads to see what they see. I love the immersive aspect. Most writers are great readers; who is your favourite author?

R & C Christiansen: If we are talking traditionally published, I’d have to go with Tara Sue Me. Her Submissive series was phenomenal and I own every one of her books in paperback. If we are talking about my favorite Indie author, I’d have to go with two. One being Janet Olson who is a YA romance author and her series, New Beginnings is incredible. The second I would mention is Monique Edenwood, her Black Oak dark romance series has it all and I’ve read all of her books to date and am in awe.

Helen: Thank you so much for joining me today, just to close us out can you share some of your favourite books?

R & C Christiansen: Oof! That’s a long list. But to keep it short, I’d have to go with Jayne Lockwood’s Closer Than Blood series and Nicci Harris’s Our Thing/Cosa Nostra/ Her Way series. Both series are dark romance, the first being slightly taboo and the other leaning into the mafia world. 

About the Author:

R&C Christiansen is a proud Canadian husband and wife team, although Mrs. Christiansen does the majority of the authoring and Mr. C does the mentoring & proofreading. Together they write dark/erotic romance novels and enjoy reading the same genres when they have time. When the Mrs., is not busy authoring, mothering, or wife-ing, she likes to indulge in a glass of wine, kick back, and think dirty thoughts hoping to inspire the next story within.

You can find more via:

Amazon Author Page

Instagram

You can purchase Tainted Love from Amazon:

UK: eBook | Paperback | Hardcover

USA: eBook | Paperback | Hardcover

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

If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my books which are available in eBook, paperback or hardcover: Book One: Sentinals Awaken. Book Two: Sentinals Rising. Book Three: Sentinals Justice. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next book releases.

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Author Interview – Ally Aldridge

Author of Ocean Heart

Today we meet British fantasy author Ally Aldridge, who released her debut novel Ocean Heart in December 2020.

Helen: Welcome Ally. Congratulations on the release of your first novel Ocean Heart. Why don’t you start by telling us a little about it.

Ally: Ocean Heart is my debut novel.  It’s a YA Fantasy novel about a teen discovering she’s a mermaid with uncontrollable powers, set in my hometown.  

Ocean Heart is book one in the Soul Heart series.  I’ve drafted Sky Heart, book two, and working on a prequel to the The Soul Heart series. 

The Soul Heart Series will feature a different shifter type in each book enabling readers to discover them all.  

Helen: I love that you’ve based your books in Suffolk where you live. It adds a local element which readers love. How did you come up with the cover design?

Ally: As Ocean Heart is set in the modern world I wanted the cover to have a magic feel but not be mistaken for high fantasy.  Mariah doesn’t fully shift until way into the story so I didn’t want her to be depicted as a mermaid.

I wanted it to be clear the MC’s a young girl.  The red dress underwater is from a very important kissing scene in the book.  

I gave all my ideas to my designers, and she asked me a ton of questions to make sure she knew what my book is about and things I like.  I have a thing for silhouettes so she incorporated into the design. 

The end design blew me away. I was in love with it, and it was everything I dreamed of and more. 

Helen: Covers are so special, and the process of clarifing what you want the cover to depict is so important. Like you, every time I’m blown away with what my designer comes up with. There are so many elements to writing a book, what made you first start writing?

Ally: I started writing at a young age. I fell in love with the characters in the book and didn’t want their stories to end.  So, I wrote them more adventures. And, more adventures.  Then, I made my own characters, worlds, and never stopped. 

Helen: That is so wonderful. Books are so inspiring and when you find characters you love, you never want the stories to end. What is your favourite book?

Ally: I really love the werecat shifter series by Rachel Vincent.  It was the first low fantasy series I read and it sucked me in.  I loved having fantasy in the real world.  It inspired my Soul Heart series. 

Helen: I have a feeling I know the answer to this question! But which do you prefer? Writing or editing?

Ally: I prefer writing, and wish I had more time to invest in it.  I usually write in the evening once my kids are asleep.  This isn’t ideal, as sometimes I need this time to do other things, or I’m too tired at all. 

I loathe editing.  I go over & over my writing, picking holes, second guessing myself.  My editor is worth her weight in gold. She gets what I want to achieve, calls me out on mistakes in a way that makes me laugh, and helps me pull my words together.  

Helen: It is difficult to write after a full and busy day. I try and slip in 30 minutes at lunch or before work, doesn’t always work though! When you write are you a pantser or a planner? Do you know what you intend to write?

Ally: I try hard to be planner because I hate the mess at the end, but I never manage much more than a brief outline.  I then discover the characters and details as a write.  

I sometimes have to stop writing to research.  For example, when my character visited a city hospital I needed to use Google Maps to explore the location.  I also needed to look up oil lamps, and other random things.  Even researched things that have probably put me on a watch list.  

Helen: Ah, yes. What we writers have to research can be quite an interesting list. Talking about lists, I have ideas bubbling for new stories all the time. What about you? How do you come up with ideas for your books?

Ally: I get inspired all the time. Sometimes I’ll be inspired by a phrase, or another story.  Songs and art inspires me too.  I’m always thinking “What if?” And noting down ideas for future stories in my plot bunny vault.

Helen: Thank you so much for joining me today, but before you leave, Ally, I’m sure your readers want to know. What’s next? Is there a new book on the horizon from Ally Adridge?

Ally: Yes, book two is called Sky Heart. It follows Kiely getting over a breakup. She makes some bad choices, gets attacked by a werewolf, joins the reapers, and learns to forgive and move on. It’s darker than Ocean Heart but still YA. Sky Heart is fully written, and just finished the first round on Betas. It needs a few professional edits before it is released into the world but it will be releasing in 2022.

I am also currently working on New Moon, which is a prequel to The Soul Heart Series.  This book follows one of the mums in the series, but throws back to her teens in the late 90s to early 00s.  It will have some magic and romance, which is a common theme in my stories.  

About the Author:


Ally was born in London, but grew up in Suffolk which is where most of her YA Fantasy novels are based.

She is happily married to her high school sweetheart, and together they are raising two  cats, their son and daughter.

When Ally is not writing (or at her day job), she loves spending time with her family at the local beach, in the forest or watching way too much Netflix.

Ally loves a cup of tea and has been known to order one on a night out.

You can find more about Ally via:

Author website

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook

You can purchase Ally’s books from Amazon:

Ocean Heart

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

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

If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my books which are available in eBook, paperback or hardcover: Book One: Sentinals Awaken. Book Two: Sentinals Rising. Book Three: Sentinals Justice. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next book releases.

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