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Author Interview: Peter Cawdron!

Hi, Peter!
Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed.
Before we begin, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself?
I was born and raised in New Zealand but spent my late teens and early twenties living in the USA, attending college in Emporia, Kansas, before traveling to the UK and living in Scotland. Eventually, I returned Down Under and settled in Australia. The vast majority of my novels are set in the US because I loved living there. I love museums. I’d love to take my family on a grand world tour of some of the great museums like the Smithsonian and the British Museum.
Brilliant, thanks!
So, what inspired you to become an author?
I’ve always loved writing. While in high school, I was sent out of my English class for talking and told to write a two page apology. Honestly, who can write a two page apology for anything, let alone something as trivial as getting overly excited with a few friends? My friends both wrote, “I’m sorry for talking in class” over and over again, slowly filling one page and then another. I couldn’t do it, so I wrote a screenplay. The first page had the opening credits, and listed actors, directors, special effects companies, sound and lighting, etc. The second had a single scene where a boy was forced to apologize to his teacher. Then came the closing credits. At the end of the class, the teacher was still fuming at three petulant boys, but her frown soon broke into a smile when she read, “The Apology.”
That’s brilliant! 
Who has been your biggest supporter(s)?
There’s always my wife and kids, but really the biggest supporters are the fans. Being an independent writer is insanely difficult. Writing is the easy part. Getting someone to read what you’ve written, that’s the challenge. And then to grow as a writer from feedback. None of that would be possible without fans.
What advice would you give to other authors?
Don’t underestimate the need for professionalism in your writing. Never be satisfied with a first draft. Revise, revise, revise. Write as a reader, not a writer. Be critical of your own work, in a positive way, and always look to learn from others. Oh, and patience. You’ll need a lot.
‘Write as a reader, not a writer’ – Fabulous advice!
Where is your favourite place to write?
In a chocolate shop. My daughter plays the flute in a youth orchestra that rehearses each Saturday afternoon for a couple of hours, so I get to sit in the chocolate shop across the road and write to my heart’s content while sipping on a cup of dark hot chocolate.
 
Dark hot chocolate?! I’m going to have to try that!
What has been your favourite thing to write so far?
Funny you should ask. Writing about my favourite things is easy, but the things that have helped me to grow as a reader have been writing about concepts outside my comfort zone. I’m easily excited about the concept of First Contact, and have written several books about plausible contact with an extraterrestrial species, such as Anomaly, Xenophobia and My Sweet Satan, but it’s been when I’ve been challenged to write about other concepts that I’ve grown as a writer.
Last year, I joined a facebook author group called The Future Chronicles that has released a number of indie anthologies from Telepathy to Zombies and Steampunk. Those pushed me to expand my writing both in terms of content and style, and I’ve since published two novels on zombies, one of which was selected by Kindle Scout for publication.
So another tip for writers… diversify if you want to grow.
Can I ask, if you don’t mind, what you’re currently working on?
In line with my previous answer, it will come as no surprise to hear I’m working on a story about vampires, but they don’t sparkle in the sunlight. It’s a science fiction thriller more than a horror story, and should really get the blood pumping, if you’ll pardon the expression.
Interesting! I’ll be looking out for that!
Finally, is there anything you would like to say to your readers or prospective readers?
Yes, thank you for supporting independent science fiction. If the only avenue I had was traditional publishing, I wouldn’t have written half the stories I have, and I doubt any of them would have been published in book stores, so independent writing has been a lifeline, allowing me to grow as a writer instead of stuffing incomplete manuscripts in a drawer.
Brilliant! Thanks, Peter!
To learn more about Peter Cawdron, please visit the following links:
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Author Interview: James Morris!

menandarcher copyHello, James!
Before we begin, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself?

I was born and raised outside of Chicago, went to college in New York, and then moved to Los Angeles to break into the entertainment industry as a writer. I had a lot of awful survival jobs; made my share of mistakes and learned a lot about myself; met and married my wife. But I’m a work in progress.

Brilliant, thanks!
So, what inspired you to become an author?
I always wanted to write, even from when I was a little kid. A few years ago, I worked as a TV writer for a few dramas, and then I segued to novels, and I enjoy the process very much. It’s a much different form than screenwriting, sometimes a little lonelier, but more fulfilling in that the words are your words; it’s a direct communication between writer and reader.

Interesting perception!
Who has been your biggest supporter(s)?

My wife, easy. No question.

What is the hardest thing about being an author?
I think it’s the fact that no one is ever waiting on what you are writing: the world keeps moving, regardless of what you’re doing. You have to have a strange mix of humility and ego to think that what you type away in those dark hours will have any resonance with readers in the light of day.

Great answer!
What advice would you give to other authors?

Any road that is subjective, such as the arts, is going to be tough. You think of the sciences or math, and there are absolutes, or paths to take to achieve your goals. College, internships, and so on up the ladder. Not so with writing. It’s a crazy endeavor with no path. Everyone kind of makes their way up the hill in their own way. Writing and being “successful” are sometimes two different things. I’d say develop elephant-thick skin, while having the soul of a poet, and hope you don’t go crazy.

Great advice!
Where is your favourite place to write?

I work at my desk, but the good thing about writing is that it’s portable. I can go to a café, or write on an airplane, or noodle over ideas while in bed.

Can I ask, if you don’t mind, what you’re currently working on?
I’m working on a New Adult story (though I’m not a fan of placing labels on things) that takes place in a world…well, you’ll have to see. I may place it in the Kindle Scout program, if people don’t think I’m getting greedy!

Finally, would you like to say something to your readers?
Just a generous, tearful thank you. I write for readers; I write things so that they’ll be read, experienced – to give a reader a ride. It makes all those doubts and lonely hours worthwhile!

Brilliant, thank you!

To find more about the great James Morris, please visit the following links:

His Website
His Twitter account
His Amazon author page

James’ book ‘What Lies Within’ is out TODAY!
To buy the book, click here.
My review can be found here.

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Author Interview: Linda S. Prather!

Hi, Linda! Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. 

Before we begin, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself?
Wow, I could take up all day just on that question. I’ll be sixty this year—OMG, did I really say that? I live in Lexington, Kentucky with my fiancé, my Shitz Tsu, and we are raising his seven year old grandson, Chaz, who has more energy than the energizer bunny. My regular profession (ha, ha, the one that really supports me) is as a court reporter. I’ve worked with and in the judicial system now for about 18 years. I love metaphysics, and taught meditation, dream analysis and self-hypnosis for several years at EKU University in Richmond, Kentucky. I became a paranormal investigator in the early 2000s and love things that go bump in the night. If I’m not reading, writing or dealing with family, I love to visit old cemeteries or really old houses and spend the night with the hair raised on the back of my neck.

Wow! I don’t even know how to respond to that! You certainly lead an interesting life!!
So, what inspired you to start writing?

My imagination. I’ve actually been writing since about the age of 8. I won my first award for an article written in third grade that impressed the teacher so much she sent it off to a magazine and they published it. I truly wish I could find the information on that now and I’d love to have it. When my sons were young instead of reading bedtime stories the three of us would make up our bedtime story and continue it each night.

Brilliant! I wish I could create my own stories!
Who has been your biggest supporter(s)?

My sons, Charles and Steven. My fiancé, Coby W. Fuson, my grandchildren, Chaz Fuson, Caitlynn Prather and Maya Prather, and many, many authors online. I would say that New York Times bestselling author, Mel Comley, and Mum, have kick started me and kept me going when I was down or simply procrastinating on my next project.

It’s so lovely to hear that you have such great support!
What is the biggest problem you’ve had to overcome as an author?

There were actually two. The first was becoming a public speaker as I would throw up before every book signing or program I did. The second, and one I’m still struggling with now that I’ve overcome my fear of being in the public, is online promotion. Selling to people I don’t know, have never met, and have no clue what they would like or wouldn’t like. I will say, though, that I’ve made some wonderful friends online. I’m not a pushy person so I could never be a car salesman, but if I believe in something it isn’t too hard now for me to promote it. I have a much easier time promoting other authors that I love than myself.

I can see how online promotion could be difficult!
Have there been any books or authors that you feel have particularly influenced you?

I’ve always loved mystery. I was a big James Patterson and Dean Koontz fan. When I discovered Kay Hooper it convinced me that I truly needed to write what I knew, which was a combination of my love for mystery and the paranormal. Working in the judicial system was often frustrating when criminals would go free on technicalities. And I hate crime. Thus emerged the Jacody Ives Mysteries and the Catherine Mans Psychic Suspense, and now the Jenna James Legal Thrillers, a combination of my loves and dislikes. There’s not a lot of paranormal about the Jenna James series at the moment, but in the future Loki Redmond will be a main player and the Choctaw customs and beliefs, as well as Loki’s love of New Age things will play a part.

Ooo, interesting! I’ve just read the first Jenna James book and can’t wait for the next! Especially after hearing that!
What advice would you give to other authors?

Keep writing and don’t ever throw anything away. My first Catherine Mans book, Bet you can’t Find Me, was something I worked on many years ago and shelved because I didn’t like my main character. One day I pulled it out, revamped her to someone I did like and wrote the book in a week. Take your bad reviews with a grain of salt. Yes, it’s your baby, but just like in real life not everyone loves your babies or thinks they’re beautiful. That, of course, is easier said than done, but if you can do it you’ll have a much easier time ignoring the ones that aren’t helpful, and paying attention to the ones that really are helpful. Make sure your product is the very best it can be by choosing good editors and cover artists. Keep plugging, keep writing and believe in yourself.

Brilliant advice!
Can I ask, if you don’t mind, what you’re currently working on?

Oh, this one makes me laugh. The second Jenna James Legal Thriller, 6 novellas and one full-length novel in the Catherine Mans series, and a romantic suspense that I promised a publisher I would submit about a year ago.

Wow! You’re certainly busy!
Finally, is there anything you would like to say to your readers or to new readers?

A heartfelt thank you. Most authors need to make a living if they want to continue writing, especially if they want to write full-time. But behind every artist is a need for someone to see their art, read their book, and express their views. It’s like the actors who need applause. Even the ones that don’t go on to become famous will always remember that moment in the spotlight. It feeds your soul and makes the sun shine just a little brighter.

Brilliant. Thanks, Linda!
To learn more about the amazing Linda S. Prather, please visit the following links:
Her Facebook page
Her Twitter profile
Her Amazon author page
Silly interview can be found here.

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Author Interview: Sophie Weeks

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Hi, Sophie!
Before we get started, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m probably the oldest person you’ll ever meet who will freely admit I don’t know what I want to be “when I grow up.”  It’s not that I’m lacking in goals-far from it!  I’ve written three books, and I want to write so many more.  But I hate the idea that people can only be or do one thing.  One of my favorite classical composers, Camille Saint-Saens, was also a philosopher, poet, playwright, astronomer, and naturalist.  I like people like that, who defy the cocktail party question, “What do you do?”  If I could have a list like that, I’d also like to be a philosopher, fashion designer, activist, musician, scholar, chef, and ballroom dancer.  I may not have the talent to do everything I like professionally, but I’m strongly in favor of passionate amateurism.

Brilliant! Thanks.
So, when writing a new story, where do you start? Beginning? End? Title?

I usually start at the beginning or with some particular scene that really intrigues me.  Books are hard to start, but once you get them in motion, they’re constantly revealing new possibilities.  The biggest thing for me is to be able to hear the characters’ voices in my head. I work really hard to create a strong, distinctive voice for every character-once you do that, writing dialogue becomes a delight.

 Interesting!
What advice would you give to other authors?

The best advice I could give is to cast a wide net in gathering your influences.  Reading books in your genre is great, but you never know where you’ll find something that enriches your work.  It could be in a popular science book or a biography of someone you admire, or it could be in a song or a painting or a film.  Being a novelist is like working on a mosaic.  You’re snatching up little pieces of material to arrange in a fresh, creative way.  So if you’re gathering the same materials everyone else in your genre is using, you won’t get somewhere new.  It’s the chance conversation at the farmer’s market or the unusual historical detail that helps you make something unique and distinctive.

Great advice!
Are there any books or authors that you feel have influenced you particularly?

Scarlett Thomas is a big influence.  She writes very plainly, but explores lots of huge, juicy ideas in her work.  That combination of vivid thinking and transparent prose is very appealing to me.  She’s also written a non-fiction book on writing craft called Monkeys with Typewriters that I found extremely helpful.  I also read a lot of older authors-L. M. Montgomery has a wonderful way of story-telling that defies a lot of current expectations in a way I really like.  Where, after all, is the “tension” in Anne of Green Gables?  The beginning problem is resolved within about half a dozen chapters.  We keep reading just because we want to spend more time with Anne.  In terms of fantasy literature, I love a lot of authors who write at the margins, trying to do strange and wonderful things with their books, like George MacDonald or Charles Williams.

What has been your favourite thing to write so far?
My favorite thing is always the last thing because as I grow and become a better writer, I become cranky with the faults in my earlier works.  So my favorite book is always the one I’m writing right now.

Who has been your biggest supporter(s)?
I have a dear friend who has always been a wonderful cheerleader for my stuff.  She used to work in theatre as a director, so she has an unbeatable sense of dramatic structure.  She also doesn’t mind getting texts that just say, “I need to tell you a story.”  

Can I ask, if you don’t mind, what you’re currently working on?
I’m currently working on a high fantasy novel, which is something of a departure for me.  I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with “swords and sorcery” type stuff.  I loved Tolkien when I was younger, and I love magic and elves and all kinds of nonsense, but I never really thought I would be able to comfortably write something like that.  A lot of the conventions just didn’t seem to work with my story-telling style, which relies heavily on small, everyday detail.  Plus, the classic hero’s journey is often so linear and driven by external motivation.  But I hope I’ve found a way to take what I need and let the rest alone in this story.  It’s about a young sorceress queen who is apprenticed for many years to a dragon.  Her country is in bad shape, and she feels trapped by the fate that’s been woven around her.  I try to really explore the isolation and helplessness she experiences because of the magical gifts she possesses.  

Sounds interesting!
Finally, is there anything you would like to say to your readers or just in general?

If I have anything useful to say to anyone, it’s to never settle.  Never settle for a half-love or a half-dream or, worst of all, a half-life.  The thing that distinguishes extraordinary people is not some innate gift that you don’t have.  It’s persistence and refusing to listen to those who doubt them.  That’s it.  Every single person can do amazing things if they’re willing to put their whole self into it.

Brilliant. Thanks, Sophie!
To learn more about Sophie and her work, please click the following links:
Her Website
Her Facebook profile
Her Amazon author profile
Her Goodreads profile

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Author interview: Mark Gillespie

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Hi, Mark!
Before we get started, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Mark Gillespie and I’m from Glasgow, Scotland.  My background is in music.  I used to work as a bass player all over the UK and Ireland doing gigs and sessions and whatever paid the bills.  Then I came to writing.  Anything to avoid the insanity that is a ‘proper job’.  As of this summer, I’ll be leaving Scotland and relocating to Melbourne, Australia. 

That’s a big move! Good luck with it!
So, what is your favourite thing about being an author?
 
You get to gather all your hang-ups, enthusiasms, frustrations, hopes, fears and darkest secrets together and then dump them onto an unsuspecting reader.  It’s a strange kind of therapy.

Great answer!
When writing a new story, do you start with the plot or the title?

The plot.  If the title is there at the beginning that’s great, but it doesn’t really matter.  As long as it shows up eventually otherwise that would just be awkward. 

What made you want to become an author?

An ever-so slightly overactive imagination.

Who has been your biggest supporter?
My wife, Ide.  She’s the greatest person in the world.  She understands, encourages, and supports me through everything.  I say the same thing to her that Sly and the Family Stone said to the world: ‘Thank You (Fallettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

Aww, that’s so sweet!
Do you have any regrets about becoming an author? 

No.  Well, the money sucks.

Can I ask, if you don’t mind, what you’re currently working on?
I have two short stories on the go and one piece of flash fiction (about 750 words).  I’m also on the third draft of a novel that I started back in 2013, inspired by the London riots of 2011.  Lord knows when all these things will be finished.  I turn up to write everyday but still I take a long, long time to get it done.  

Brilliant. Thanks!
Finally, is there anything you would like to say to your readers or just in general?

You’re awesome!

Great!

To learn more about the great Mark Gillespie, please click the following links:
His website
His twitter account
His amazon author page

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Author Interview: Kathy Shuker

Kathy Shuker photoHello, Kathy! Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed.

Before we start, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m an author of character-driven mysteries and have published two so far: ‘Deep Water, Thin Ice’ – set in Devon – and ‘Silent Faces, Painted Ghosts’ – set in Provence. They aren’t crime or ‘whodunnit’ books but they do have an element of suspense and intrigue in them. Originally I trained as a physiotherapist, then a back injury forced a career change and I worked as a freelance artist for a number of years. Now I still maintain my interest in art as well as a love of music and languages. I play (badly) the guitar, octave mandola and fiddle and of course I love reading.

Brilliant, thanks!
So, what has been your favourite thing to write so far?
It’s impossible to choose! I love whatever I’m working on at the time – even though the early drafts often seem shapeless and I wonder when – and if – it’ll all come together.

What advice would you give to other authors?
Write what you want to write. There’s a lot of pressure out there to write in a certain way or for a particular market. I found out when I was painting professionally that if you don’t follow your own star and see where it leads you end up with weak, emotionless work.

Brilliant advice!
Who has been your biggest supporter(s)?

Lots of people have been wonderful – even people I have never met – but it’s my husband who’s had to cope with all the ‘I can’t write’ days! Poor guy.

Is there anything you regret about becoming an author?
That I didn’t start sooner, but hopefully the life experience has informed and improved the work.

Are there any authors or books that you feel have particularly influenced you?
It’s hard to say how much I’ve been influenced but I particularly like the writing of John le Carré – wonderful characterisation with no wasted words – and I loved ‘The Go-Between’ by L.P.Hartley and ‘Snow Falling on Cedars’ by David Gutterson.

Can I ask, if you don’t mind, what you’re currently working on?
I’m writing another mystery, set in Cornwall: a divorced woman returns to the village in which she grew up, married and had her children and where her nine-year-old daughter disappeared six years previously. She thinks she’ll be able to put it behind her but the mystery of that disappearance comes back to haunt her.

Sounds interesting!
Finally, is there anything you want to say to your readers or just in general?

I’d like say thank you for taking a chance on an unknown writer and for taking the trouble to give feedback. To be told that someone stayed up till the early hours reading your book is just the most wonderful feeling.

Brilliant. Thanks, Kathy!

To learn more about the wonderful Kathy Shuker, please visit the following links:
Her Website
Her Facebook page
Her Amazon author page

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Author interview: Susanne McCarthy

[Before I begin the interview, I just want to say a quick Happy Valentine’s Day to my followers. As a special treat, today’s author interview is with a romance writer! Have a great weekend!]

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Hello, Susanne! Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed.

Before we start, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a Londoner – though I haven’t lived there for many years, it’ll always be a part of who I am. We lived in Shropshire for many years, but when we retired five years ago we moved to South Devon, where my husband is from. We live about twenty minutes’ walk from the sea, which I love.

I’m very much a dog person – over the years we have had five Afghan hounds, all rescues, as well as several Yorkshire Terriers. I am currently owned by a delinquent Border Terrier called Hollie.

Devon is ceratinly beautiful!
So, what inspired you to start writing? 
I’ve told stories since before I could write them down. At school I won several prizes for creative writing, including a national RSPCA competition. I probably began writing properly in my late twenties – I met a woman who was a concentration camp survivor, who was convinced that Von Ribbentrop was living in the quiet leafy avenues of Forest Hill. My first thought was, “Wasn’t he hanged?” – my second was, “What if…?” I began to weave a story in my head, and just had to write it down.

Then other stories began to come, demanding to be written – they bug your brain until you get them downloaded onto paper. I really wanted to write crime or thrillers, but I found that every one of them turned into a romance. So in the end I decided to scrap the other stuff, and just write the romance.

How interesting!
When you’re writing a new story, where do you start? Beginning? Middle? Title? 

The first of my books which was accepted by Mills and Boon (A Long Way From Heaven, published in 1985) came from watching Casablanca and Cheers over Christmas. I woke up one morning with the opening line in my head, “Well well, if it isn’t the merry widow,” and it went from there. The title is a mis-heard song lyric.

Most of my stories come in the same random way. Sometimes it’s a character – A Married Woman came from a pic of a girl in a magazine. Sometimes they grow out the bits that don’t fit in another story.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging about being an author?
Yes. I’m slow. Verrrry slow. I often find myself spending ages trying to think of just the right word, and I frequently go off and play computer games or check my Twitter/Facebook pages when I should be writing. I’ve read all the advice about how to speed up, but I remain slow.

Facebook and Twitter are the biggest distraction out there!
Are there any books or authors that you feel have particularly influenced you?
 
Not influenced, perhaps, but there are many I have loved. Georgette Heyer saved my sanity when I was teaching, and hating it. Terry Pratchett saves my sanity regularly when all the world seems a bit mad. When I began writing for Mills and Boon, Charlotte Lamb and Susan Napier were particular favourites.

What advice would you give to other authors? 
Write. Just write. Oh, and read.

Can I ask, if you don’t mind, what are you currently working on? 
My last book for Mills and Boon was published in 1999. I have taken a long gap since then, doing other things, but doodled around with a few stories. However, Mills and Boon didn’t want them, so I decided to try publishing them direct through Amazon. My first was a short historical western, Rogan’s Game, my second a classic Mills and Boon-type romance, Christmas Secrets.
I am just putting the finishing touches to the third, the Summer Scandalent , and working on the fourth, Chasing Stars. This one is based on a billionaire’s superyacht, sailing the Mediterranean – I’ve never read a romance set on a superyacht!

A superyacht sounds awesome!
Finally, is there anything you would like to say to your readers, or just in general? 

I wish I had a £ for every time someone’s asked me, “Why don’t you write a proper book?” Why should we apologise for reading or writing romances? So they’re fantasy, wish fulfilment – so what? Most women lead very busy, stressed lives, full of responsibilities – they’re entitled to a little fluff.

The motto on my Website, Facebook and Twitter page is from Lenny Bruce – older readers may remember him as a very rough-edged New York born satirist and social commentator. He said, “There are never enough I love you’s.” If it’s good enough for Lenny… (though the grammar may be a little questionable!)

Brilliant. Thanks, Susanne!

To learn more about the lovely Susanne Mccarthy, please visit the following links:
Her Website
Her Facebook
Her Twitter – @McCarthySusanne