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Hi everyone!  Are you ready to learn a bit more about Mr David (Dave) Maine?  You are?  That’s great!  Sit back in a nice chair with your favourite drink, get comfy and let’s see what Dave said in our recent interview.  Awaaaaay we go!!

 

So, Dave, I’m very interested to find out why you chose to switch genres for your new book The Gamble of the Godless

Well, to everyone else it’s a switch, because my first four published novels were mainstream literary fiction. But to me it’s more of a homecoming. I grew up reading fantasy and SF—my older sister got me into it and I’ve been at it ever since. In high school I devoured books like Lin Carter’s Callisto series, and Paul O. Williams’s Pelbar cycle. After college I was reading Melanie Rawn and Katherine Kurtz, and of course had already gone through Tolkein and Terry Brooks and Stephen R. Donaldson. I’ve always had this weird schism in my writing, with the “literary” stuff and the “popular” stuff at odds with each other; it just happened that my literary stuff got published first. But as far back as 2005 I was showing my fantasy novels to my agent, and he was getting excited about them, he was saying, “We have find a way to publish these.”

In other words, I’ve been writing fantasy for years, just as I continue to write literary novels even now. Next year my fifth literary book, An Age of Madness, will be published by Red Hen Press in California. And sometime before that, in all probability, I’ll be releasing the sequel to The Gamble of the Godless.

So you enjoy writing fantasy? Will you continue to do so in the future?

Yes! And yes!

Fantasy, as I said, was my first love, along with science fiction of the “space opera” variety. Writing The Gamble of the Godless was an exercise in pure fun. I got to create a wildly varied cast of characters, most of whom are not human, and send them out into this alternative world populated with creatures and species whose approach to life is, to say the least, unfamiliar—both to my hero and to my readers. Then I got to throw in magic, and then, of course, a deadly threat to the entire known universe! Oh and there’s a pantheon of gods too. How could I not love all this?

As for continuing in the future: The Gamble of the Godless is just Book I of The Chronicles of Avin. There are two further volumes already finished, and number four is half-written in my head. So there’s plenty more in the pipeline.

Do you have a total number in mind for the series? Four, seven, ten?

Yeah—but it’s a secret.

Harrumph. How about a title at least?

The Rime of the Remorseless.

Catchy! I don’t suppose you can give us any hints about it?

Nope! But let me say this, because it’s important: every book in the series will be a self-contained story. I’m not doing this Game of Thrones thing, where you read a thousand pages just to be left with a cliffhanger that you have to wait six years to resolve. You’ll be able to pick up any book in the series, read it, enjoy it, feel satisfied with it and move on. Obviously it will add to your experience if you start at the beginning and get to know the characters and so on. But in terms of plot, in terms of knowing what the heck is going on, I have no desire to string readers along for years.

I don’t mean to pick on George RR Martin, he’s awesome. But people forget, even The Lord of the Rings took decades to complete—The Hobbit came out in the ’30s sometime, and maybe the first book of the trilogy. Then there was the war, you know? I think he finally finished the thing in the ’50s. Don’t quote me, but it was something like that.

And now, let’s go back to where and when it all began.  How did you begin your career in the world of writing?

I was the sort of kid who, if he read a story, he would want to write one, and if he saw a movie, he’d want to make one, and if he heard a song he liked, he’d want to hum his own. I read a lot of comics and tried to draw them. In junior high I got a secondhand movie camera. So I was one of those so-called creative kids. I say so-called because I think kids are naturally creative… I had a short attention span and jumped from idea to idea, but sooner or later I always went back to what I’d been doing before. I’m still kind of that way, actually.

As for when it started—in the third grade I had a teacher named Mrs Christensen who did the most remarkable thing ever: she assigned every one of her students to write for 20 minutes every night, at home. We each had little blue books and had to write until the time was up. Sometimes she assigned a topic, sometimes not. After 20 minutes we were to stop, and if we were in the middle of the sentence we were to just leave a dash, like —  And then the next day she’d read through them and leave comments and hand them back. I loved it. Other kids didn’t. You want to know something? I’m pretty sure she’s the reason I’m a writer.

After that there was no stopping me. For a long time I was obsessed with Star Trek, so I wrote a Star Trek parody called Scar Trek, featuring Captain Jerk and Mister Schlock. And other stuff too, like post-apocalypse stories in high school. It was the late ’70s so people were thinking about that kind of thing. I loved Harlan Ellison’s “A Boy and His Dog” and Roger Zelazny’s Damnation Alley.

Describe your perfect place to write.

It’ll be a snug room with a lot of bookshelves and a big desk. Also a rocking chair, which is where I’ll be sitting, next to a window that will look out on some greenery, trees and shrubs, a scrap of lawn. Nothing too industrial or jarring—a rural setting. There will be birds flitting around, and enough sky that I can see storm clouds rolling in above the treeline. The room will be done in teal and dark blue, the furniture will be stained dark, and there will be stereo and a couple guitars.

Who and/or what has been most inspirational in your life on a writing level and also on a personal level?

My wife Uzma Aslam Khan is a tremendous inspiration both as a writer and as a person. She is the most principled person I know, and it shows in her work. She writes beautiful, artful, demanding, rewarding novels that will transport you.

In college I had a teacher for a semester named Mary Robison, a well-known writer, who influenced me hugely as far as looking at words and sentences and recognizing when they were good, when they did the things I wanted them to do and when they didn’t. A lot of writing teachers focus on character motivation and fuzzy stuff like that. Mary just talked about the sentences. “Here, where you say the aliens ‘sloshed through the door’—I like that, I like the word ‘sloshed’ there.” She helped me realize that everything starts with the word choice, and it’s pointless to talk about other stuff until you’ve focused on that.

Growing up, my parents and sisters and brother all gave me lots of encouragement, but the person who stands out is my Aunt Margaret, my godmother. She was a crusty Irish former teacher who never gushed about anything, but in her reserved way she let me know that she thought I was something special.

A little more of the personal stuff – given you live on a beautiful island do you ever want to leave and actually go on holiday somewhere else?

Well, sure. Wherever you are, you know, there are good points and bad points. Hawaii is beautiful but it’s rather isolated. Sometimes I just want to spend some time tromping around a city with a little more verve, or I should say with a verve that’s unfamiliar to me. Sometimes I like to experience different types of wilderness too, like deserts or pine forests.

Where is your favourite holiday destination?

That’s a tough one. Generally speaking, it’s wherever I find myself at the moment. Bangkok has astonishing food, Kathmandu has jaw-dropping temples, and northern Pakistan is the most ruggedly beautiful wilderness I’ve ever seen. I’m also partial to deserts—the Sahara in southern Morocco, the Sonora in Arizona, the Thar in eastern Pakistan. But if I had to pick just one place to go for a week, it might be Istanbul. It’s such an astonishing city, with layer upon layer of history, of east-meets-west, of architecture, art, food…

As a youngster and now as an adult have you and do you have pets?  If yes, what kind were/are they and do you have a favourite?  Tell us, what is the happiest memory you have of said favourite pet?

Growing up our family had a somewhat neurotic coonhound named Rocky. He was the runt of the litter and a little jittery. As an adult, though, I grew to love cats with a passion. An Abbysinian-tiger mix named Abbie allowed me to take care of her for many years. She was a sweetie, though also a little neurotic maybe. But hey, she was a cat. I loved her very much. She was extraordinarily loud, which I guess Abbysinians are famous for.

Probably my fondest memory was looking through the window of my house one day in 1991 and seeing her playing with a woman who was going to be staying with me as a house guest. I was in grad school and had agreed to put up this person, a new student, for a few days while she looked for a place to live. Two years later we got married. I’ve always thought that Abbie, who was not a particularly outgoing cat, gave me the go-ahead by welcoming my Uzma into our lives.

Now, a little opinion piece if I may.  E-books have broken out of the starting block and seem to be gathering speed. 

I’ll say!

What are your thoughts on e-books  and how their emergence has changed the way we read?  Do you like this technological development and step into the future? 

To take your second question first: whether I like it is irrelevant. Other people like it enough to buy it, so it’s a done deal. Personally, I have some reservations about books that you need to constantly upgrade, books that you’ll need new software to read every 18 months. With paper books, you can set one aside for fifty years, pick it up again and read it. Try doing that with a Kindle! But then, I feel the same reservation about computers, and I seem to have been outvoted.

As for how they’ve changed our reading habits, I don’t know, because I don’t have an e-reader. I do however have students with them, and they all claim that they read more than they used to. They say it’s easier to access books, to buy books, to take the Kindle or Nook around with them instead of a bulky hardcover, so they can just read a few pages while waiting for the bus or whatever. Is this true? It’s tough to say, but who am I to say that they’re lying? And let me tell you, it’s difficult to get angry about any innovation that actually results in people reading more.

And, last but not least, why did you decide to publish “The Gamble of the Godless” as an e-book?

To be honest, it’s a bit of an experiment. If eBooks are the wave of the future, then it’s self-defeating to be a Luddite and deny their existence. There are inarguable advantages for everybody: they’re cheaper to produce than conventional books, they don’t consume paper or trees, they can be sold at a lower cost to consumers with an equal profit to writers, and so forth. Sure, I could shop around and try to convince a publisher to take Gamble of the Godless, and then watch as they sold it to readers for ten or twelve bucks. Why bother? This way I can sell it for 2.99, make a liveable royalty, save a few trees, save readers a bunch of money and—I hope!—bring them back for Book II. Seems like a win-win for everybody, no?

Thank you, Dave, for giving us an insight to your life – thanks for taking part in this interview.

So, readers, did you learn something new about Dave today?  I most certainly learnt a lot.  How gorgeous was the story about the cat?  And Dave is right isn’t he, as long are more people are reading it doesn’t really matter which format it’s in.  A teacher who makes homework each night 20 minutes of writing sounds like a good one to me.  And that perfect writing place sounds perfect!  I could go on with my observations but let me just say this was a great interview!  Thanks again, Dave!  I look forward to reading The Gamble of the Godless.

Want to hear more about Dave, stay tuned, an author profile will be coming your way soon.  In the meantime visit him at:  http://davidmaine.blogspot.com/

 

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A little while back I interviewed Tristan de Chalain, author of Wolf’s Paw. During that interview Tristan posed some questions to me and I said I would answer them. I must here give my sincere apologies to Tristan for not answering these questions sooner.

I have included the original question I asked, Tristan’s answer and then my answer to his questions. I hope you all enjoy.

Are any of the characters and/or storylines based on real people and/or events?

I have certainly used characteristics of people I know to flesh out my main characters and family stories, suitably dressed up inform various characters and their experiences, but no, there are no exact copies of any real people. I suppose, because I’m a Plastic Surgeon and I’ve made Neill proctor one as well, there might be a supposition that I’m producing a poorly disguised Walter Mitty- esque facsimile of myself, but that isn’t the case. I’ve kept to the Plastic Surgery theme because it’s something I know well and I believe that there is a lot to tell of in the field and because it suited my plotline. Did you find the cases described believable? Interesting? OTT? Most of them were exact copies of real cases I’ve operated on.

Mandythebookworm: Absolutely I found the cases to be both believable and interesting. I have no doubt there are some weird and wonderful things that go on in this field and stories people could tell which no one would believe and would think they were over the top. That’s what makes it interesting!

The relationship between Neill Proctor and his wife Sharon is very strained and stressful at times. Why did you decide to make this such an important aspect of the story?

As I said, my original motivation for writing was to help me process stuff. Moving to the US as a fellow myself, we met a number of other young doctors and surgeons in similar situations and the stress really was quite enormous. This appeared to be a fairly common experience. We would gather socially and swap war-stories and it is these shared experiences that, suitably blended, form the basis of Neill and Sharon’s experience and the superficial explanation for their fraught relationship – this was an essential component of the “Glass Wall” of the original title. As an immigrant, one would feel cut off, isolated, present, but not really part of the society around one. (That this was a stressful time for people in this situation can be attested to by the fact that in our group of about 8 or 10 couples, two ended in divorce and one couple abandoned their fellowship and left early) In Neill’s case, the toxicity in their marriage was amplified by his previous torture and abuse, which he dealt with by denial and putting up a brave front while developing an increasing burden of rage within. Effectively, he remained emotionally distant, holding Sharon at arm’s length.

I wanted verisimilitude, and I think it makes them a more believable and even sympathetic couple of characters. Do you think it worked?

Mandythebookworm: Tristan, I can say their relationship was completely believable. I bet this sort of thing happens to many couples right across the world. I imagine it would be a very difficult and stressful time for both parties and if they have children each child as well. Having said that I must say my comment above is more for the moving aspect and trying to feel comfortable in a new environment. As for Neill’s past and how it affects the relationship, well I just can’t even imagine what that would be like for Neill or Sharon. You did a great job of showing both sides.

Was it hard to write from both Neill’s and Sharon’s point of view?

Yes, definitely, so much so in fact that I’m not sure that I’ve successfully differentiated them. Do you think that they each have a recognizably distinct and different “voice”? Do they seem different or do they come across as a poor blend of one another?

Mandythebookworm: I do think Neill and Sharon have distinct and different ‘voices’. I was very impressed how you were able to get Sharon’s story and feelings across. You must have a great insight into the female’s mind. I really thought Sharon’s story was well thought out and it came alive on the page.

Revenge is the driving force in Aaron Ryan’s life. Do you think his need for revenge is warranted? Does it make him a more likeable character than if he were to carry out his actions without revenge being the reason why?

I felt that Ryan needed a credible reason for his actions. He wasn’t to be some formulaic psycho serial killer. He is a sane, rational man with a precise, logical reason for his every action. He kills people for a living and he’s good at it, but in the end it is just a job. It’s part of the essential amorality of the organization he works for that it is regarded as simply another component of his skillset. Would you have liked him more as a ruthless undirected killer, or is he more sympathetic as a principled man on a self-appointed mission? Certainly I think he earns some kudos for the way he deals with the odious Dr.Knight, while yet remaining unmistakably the baddie.

Mandythebookworm: I must admit there were times throughout the book I was very sympathetic towards him and then I would think to myself, wait, no, you can’t be like that, he’s killing people! I think it would be easier for him to exact his revenge given his line of ‘work’ and perhaps that is why he wanted to kill them rather than use another method of revenge. I don’t know, I was a little bit torn but then in the end I saw him as a killer with a mixed up mind. His past definitely had a lot to do with his present way of thinking and I guess it is these kinds of people who need mental help rather than being locked up in a gaol.

To read the full interview with Tristan click here

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Teresa Geering is the author of The Eye of Erasmus, a story of finding love in different times….literally. Please enjoy the following interview with Teresa.

THE EYE OF ERASMUS QUESTIONS

Can you please explain the significance of the title?

This may sound very naïve Mandy but when I began writing, I had no idea Erasmus was a philosopher. The name just popped in unexpectedly as I was writing.
The Eye of Erasmus (watching me work?) just seemed to fit the bill.

The character names are quite unusual, in a good way. How did you come up with these names?

Truthfully speaking I have no idea. It was as if someone was helping me write the story – perhaps their story – and making suggestions for the names. I was extremely pleased with them though.

The main character Erasmus travels through time for love and he goes through changes to his personality. Did you specifically use this as an avenue to highlight how love can change someone?

Not specifically – no – but love changes our attitudes in all so many ways. The hardest man/woman can mellow with a love interest 🙂

Shasta takes care of Hesper like he is her own which showed her caring nature. Would you think this is a positive or negative trait to possess?

I would like to think we all have some positive traits within us somewhere Mandy. Whether we show it to humans or even animals!

Hesper is known to have some mood swings – was this used as a way to show how children adapt to certain situations, behave around certain people and generally show his character as a child instead of a man?

Aha… I think Hesper’s attitude and mood swings fitted in with his forthcoming actions within the book. (Best not say too much here)

I love the character of Merlin. Why did you choose him to be a cat?

Actually I can blame that on my cat who regularly lays beside me as I write. His real name is Lossy but friends persisted in calling him Merlin as he is mostly black. I do try to incorporate animals, birds etc into my books where possible. As a Wicca I love all things to do with nature
.
Liana is a soothsayer. Why did you decide to include the character of Liana in this story?

Well Shasta is clairvoyant and psychic. The story takes us at times to the market place and in times of old there was always a soothsayer there casting teeth. (Similar occurrences in “The Ides of March” come to mind.)

Who is your favourite character in The Eye of Erasmus and why?

Easy peasy. I would say Erasmus himself, as he is based on a couple of colleagues I work with. Erasmus is them to a ‘T’ in all respects.

What age bracket would you say is your target audience?

Initially Mandy it was aimed at young adults but so far it’s only been read by adults. References were made to the Harry Potter books and it seems to have spanned all age groups with good reviews.

Will we be seeing any of the characters from The Eye of Erasmus in any future works?

Absolutely …. I’m working on the fourth book now and I have several ideas for the other characters up my large sleeve. 🙂

…[to read the full interview please click here]…

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Many thanks to Tristan for taking part in this interview and many many thanks to Tristan for his patience with me as time has been quite busy of late and I haven’t posted this interview as quickly as I would have liked.

Readers, please enjoy the following answers. Tristan is the author of Wolf’s Paw (which I shall be reviewing shortly) and the following gives an insight into the book and also Tristan as author and person. Enjoy 🙂

WOLF’S PAW QUESTIONS

The title “Wolf’s Paw” is a telling symbol throughout the book. I loved the idea of this symbol and how it was used. Please explain for the readers the significance of the title and how you came up with the idea to use this symbol throughout the novel.

I had originally conceived of this story as one, essentially, about the experience of alienation that an immigrant feels in first entering a high-tech society such as that which the Proctors find in Atlanta. I wanted this to be distinct from the more usual, dirt-poor, blue-collar, have-to-hustle-to-survive immigrant story, since that was never my experience to portray and I was writing, ultimately, to help process my own experiences. The original title was therefore “The Glass Wall”.

Having created Neill and Sharon, I needed a strong antagonist and Aaron Ryan was born. Of course, he had to have a fatal flaw and his was a life based on self-deception. There never was any medical malpractice, no abuse of his stepmother Dot, but in Ryan’s world, everything must be rationalized. Perhaps he believed that his animal paw lucky charm really was that of a wolf, but perhaps it was just one more self-deception, which finally caught up with him. On another level, as a simple literary device, it provided a graphic symbol and allowed me to tie the loose ends of the plot together, bring the past in Angola up to speed with the current events in Atlanta and link, at least psychologically, Ryan’s back story with his later avocation.

The back stories for both Aaron Ryan and Neill Proctor are intriguing and quite an important avenue to understanding those characters and how they present in their later lives. Which back story did you enjoy creating the most and why?

As you’ll be aware, I was born in Canada, but moved to South Africa when I was about six and lived there until my thirties. I lived and travelled pretty much all over SA and got to know the country well, so although Neill Proctor is most definitely not an autobiographical creation, I enjoyed creating him the most because I could incorporate so many of the experiences and stories of SA that I had come across, into his life. In the original version, Neill’s back story alone was close to a novella length in its own right and one of my early readers commented that he felt like he’d wandered into a Wilbur Smith novel by mistake.

Aaron Ryan’s life in Shiprock was drawn from the time I spent working on a Navajo reservation in the four corners area near Shiprock and trying to accurately or realistically produce his formative years was much harder. My least favourite part of the book, because I don’t think she rings true, at least in her shortened, amended format ( again, she used to be MUCH more detailed), is Ryan’s mother Linda, who takes him to Shiprock in the first place and then dies relatively young.

Are any of the characters and/or storylines based on real people and/or events?

I have certainly used characteristics of people I know to flesh out my main characters and family stories, suitably dressed up inform various characters and their experiences, but no, there are no exact copies of any real people. I suppose, because I’m a Plastic Surgeon and I’ve made Neill proctor one as well, there might be a supposition that I’m producing a poorly disguised Walter Mitty- esque facsimile of myself, but that isn’t the case. I’ve kept to the Plastic Surgery theme because it’s something I know well and I believe that there is a lot to tell of in the field and because it suited my plotline. Did you find the cases described believable? Interesting? OTT? Most of them were exact copies of real cases I’ve operated on.

You are a plastic and reconstructive surgeon. Did you enjoy being able to include your profession in “Wolf’s Paw”?

Yes, definitely. See Above and Below.

…[to read the full interview please click here]…

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As I said a few posts ago, The Poison of a Smile is due to be released shortly but in the meantime I have a preview interview with author Steven Jensen and hopfeully after you read the answers you may just be inclined to seek out a copy of this book when it becomes available.

And so here we go, the preview interview:

After reading the first four chapters I’m intrigued. What can I expect from the rest of the book?

The nature of The Poison of a Smile has changed in recent months. Alatiel has become more and more important to me, as the perfect symbol of the themes I’m trying to express. Initially, art was highly important to the book; now it’s ‘merely’ an adjunct to a discussion of obsession.

Gabriel Holland is a haunted man. Alatiel and Gabriel have a shared history, and her shadow looms over his entire life…so why is he so willing to embrace Death once more? The Poison of a Smile is the story of his blighted past, his poisoned present, and his uncertain future…

Can you please explain the meaning behind the title?

Many of Poison’s chapter titles were inspired by the work of the surrealist René Magritte. I love the chosen titles of his paintings…I find them enigmatic and interesting. Sometimes I’ve used these titles directly – The Scars of Memory, The Enchanted Domain, The Treachery of Images, for example – and, on occasion, I’ve invented my own or combined Magritte’s titles: The Poison of a Smile is one such combination. The book’s title suggests deception, a lure to snare the unwary, a contradiction and fractured personae; all these things are the very essence of The Poison of a Smile.

The beginning of The Poison of a Smile is written in a female voice; why did you decide to write it this way? Was it hard to do so?

Alatiel began life as ‘Catherine’, the antagonist of my short story The Lost Girl. This tale was a contemporary one, and the backdrop was the underground Goth scene. Seeing as my natural passion is for Victorian novels, it occurred to me that I could recast Catherine as a Nineteenth Century anti-heroine and give her a bigger stage on which to play. Given the style of the books I grew up with, it wasn’t too difficult to write in a very prim and formal manner – as my character Helena Graham – and then have her ‘voice’ changed irrevocably when she is possessed by Alatiel. My favourite part of The Poison of a Smile is when this dramatic, insidious change occurs: everything that is wicked delights Helena-as-Alatiel, and she takes pleasure in the most exquisite, sinister expressions. This was captivating to write, and flowed easily.

Art features a lot already in The Poison of a Smile. Do you have an interest in art?

I’m very interested in art but my passion far outstrips my talent. Like Wilde, I’m more of a dilettante than an expert. I’m only a novelist by default, not by choice: ideally, I’d prefer to paint or compose music. Unfortunately, I paint like Mozart and play piano like Toulouse-Lautrec.

More seriously, while I admire fine art, I’m equally as interested in the artists themselves, and this fascination reveals itself in The Poison of a Smile. There are such great stories – great inspiration – for a writer in the history of art and artists: Caravaggio, a killer capable of the most beautiful and sacred work; Dali, the madman who ventured further and further down the twisted road of his surreal imagination; Rossetti, Romney and Waterhouse, each obsessed with a single face, repeated time after time in their portraiture. Their motivation was enigmatic and this leaves me free to imagine, effectively to ‘create’, when I think or write about their artistry. Behind every great work of art there lies a story, a myth we are at liberty to invent anew. For example, there is precious little in the histories to suggest that Antonio Salieri caused Mozart’s death, yet the dramatist Peter Shaffer wove the sublime Amadeus from just a few mildly suggestive strands. Given enough talent, any writer can create something new and wonderful from the tales told of great men and women.

A little way in there is a story within the story about Alexandre and Alienor. I personally think it sounds like a great story, something I would definitely read. Would you ever consider expanding on it, perhaps making it into a novel?

The episode is based on a Native American legend. It relates how two lovers kill themselves and, after death, their cries to each other are lost to the wind and they don’t recognise one another’s names anymore. This terrible, tragic and poignant state is hinted at in Susan Hill’s renowned ghost story The Woman in Black – two spirits, mother and child, haunt the same location but there is no happy reunion; hence, the vengeful, vain and hate-filled haunting. A haunted place is sometimes a wasteland of forlorn and wretched hope.

I think that, in general, good ghost stories are basically simple. They depend on the creation and maintenance of atmosphere; as such, brevity is key. Many of the best ghost stories are novellas and that, I feel, is telling. The author Colin Wilson wrote about Sheridan Le Fanu’s stories: ‘They are the kind of ghosts one might hear of in ancient ballads’; that remark suggests to me that good supernatural fiction is analogous to songs or poems. Ghost stories have a kind of rhythm in their structure – the whole subject, real and fictional, is based on the idea of ‘returning’ in any case – and the finest of these tales haunt the mind in much the same way as an effective chorus or stanza remains in our memories long after we have experienced them. Essentially, a ghost story is a spell cast over the reader by the author; traditionally, spells are ‘words of power’, songs or poems. It’s just a matter of arranging the right words in the right order, but with a non-linear quality to the lines. We imagine that a song flows or that good, poetic and resonant prose has a kind of ‘aromatic’ quality, an ethereal something which drifts, smoke-like, between and around the lines spoken, written or read. Poets, composers, and writers are the heirs of magicians.

Describe your book in one word.

Prismatic.

Describe your book in ten words.

What if the one you love longed for your death?

When can we expect The Poison of a Smile to be released?

The book will be published in the fall (October or November), and will be available from Amazon, Smashwords and other outlets, in print and e-book formats.

Preorder enquires can be directed to:

stevejensen@hotmail.co.uk
timroux@nightpublishing.com

Any last words you would like to share?

I would like to thank all those kind people who supported and encouraged me, at Authonomy and Inkpop. Thank you too, Mandy.

Steven Jensen:
http://spauljensen.wordpress.com/

Night Publishing:
http://www.nightpublishing.com/

Many thanks to Steven for participating in this preview interview. Steven, I wish you all the best for the future and fingers crossed your sales go through the roof 🙂

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Many thanks to Helen for participating in this interview. I loved reading the answers as much as I loved reading the book. Please enjoy the following interview where we get an insight into Helen herself, as well as her book, and her humour shines through 🙂

MAJOR PETTIGREW’S LAST STAND QUESTIONS

After reading the book I believe the Major stood up to a number of things; some which had been brewing for a while, others that were thrust his way. What do the words “Last Stand” in the title refer to?

The title of my book came early and unbidden. I think it represented a lot of issues that were in the back of my mind and it helped keep me on track whenever the writing process seemed complicated and uncertain. The fact that it seems to refer to more than one thing is somewhat deliberate. Obviously it does refer to a last chance at love; more than his physically heroic stand at the end. However, I feel strongly that life is a continuing series of chances – and who is to say when our last chance has come and gone?

I have seen a couple of different covers for your novel, which one do you prefer and why?

You are trying to get me into trouble with this question! My individual publishers and their marketing departments get to choose the covers they think will represent the book in their marketplaces. They asked my opinion and I was happy with all so far. I love the vintage Life Magazine image used in both the US and UK markets, while the Australian tea cups and folkloric icons design is very friendly and inviting – and both designs have been equally bestsellers. Book design is a field unto itself and I’m thrilled to have had excellent design teams assigned to my novel.

Who is your favourite character in “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” and why?

I love to claim that my favourite character is Roger, the Major’s obnoxious son. People love to hate him and I slyly accuse them of finding Roger a little too familiar to be comfortable! I can tell you that my parents did not take kindly to my own offer to buy them a phone with bigger buttons. Don’t we all have to watch out for our personal ‘Roger’ moments?

Are any of the characters based on real people and any of the places based on real places?

The landscape is very real to me. Even though the village and town are imaginary names, the shape of a village lane, the long stretch of a seaside promenade – these are visions of ‘home’ that live in the forefront of my imagination. I try very hard to make up people. I dislike the idea of taking a real person and simply changing hair colour or name to disguise them. I would find this lazy and if I feel a character approaches too close to someone I know, I will work hard to change direction. At the same time, nothing is really new, is it? I think all imagination is made up of small shards of experience, recombined in a new pattern.

…[to read the full interview please click here]…

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Some readers may remember Jon and his post about the Wounded Warrior Project which featured here a few weeks ago. Now Jon is back participating in an interview with yours truly. Please enjoy the following interview:

DERELICTION OF DUTY QUESTIONS

Agent Fox is the main character in “Dereliction of Duty”. What do you see are the similarities between yourself and Agent Fox?

When I finally got serious about writing Dereliction of Duty, I wanted to write a story that broke from the stereotypical soldier stories you see on TV and in the theatres. I wanted to write a story about a real soldier, not a superhero so I went with what I knew best. I tried to use my own personality and feelings when I created my main character and all of the other characters.

We read how Agent Fox being in the army has affected his family life, how it has taken a toll on his marriage and relationship with his son. Why did you decide to include this in the story?

Although sad, being a soldier is probably the toughest profession on marriages and families. After 20 years in the Army, I only know a handful of friends who still remain married to this day. A story about soldiers, military life or war that does not touch on that aspect of military life is not believable. I thought it was an important aspect to include to add a little more realism to the story.

Are the characters and events in “Dereliction of Duty” based on real people?

Yes! I based every character in the story off of a real person that I met or somehow came in contact with during my career. A lot of the events are based on real events but may not have happened the way they did in the story. I took a group of unrelated yet real events and people and brought them all together into what I believe is a fun and exciting story. On that question, I have received repeated questions from reporters asking if it was a true story, so I guess I was able to make it believable enough to convince the people who reported on the stories I touched on.

…[to read the full interview please click here]…

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Carrie King is the author of The Life in the Wood with Joni-Pip, an adventure the whole family will enjoy full of talking animals and jumping in time. As an adult I enjoyed reading this book and will be keeping it around to read to my children if/when I have them. There is also a picture book of the same title which is filled with gorgeous pictures Carrie has illustrated.

A big thank you to Carrie and also to the team at Bothy Books, in particular Martyn, for inviting me to read, review and interview; it has been a great experience.

And now, drum roll please, here is an interview with author Carrie King.

THE LIFE IN THE WOOD WITH JONI-PIP QUESTIONS

“The Life in the Wood with Joni-Pip” is set during the Second World War, why did you decide on this particular time to base the story?

It was my Mother’s era, she was studying and training to be a Nurse and she talked about it a great deal. She told me how ‘during the War’, there was this amazing solidarity among the people of Britain, where everyone helped everyone. I grew up in the Sixties, so the War was just a memory then but I loved listening to her talking about the things she got up to! Even though it was the worst conflict ever in British History, it sounded as if, in places, it was the best concord ever in British History. She said that harmony disappeared not long after the War ended and as ridiculous as it sounded, she missed it!

…[to read the full interview please click here]…

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David Simpson is the author of “Post-Human”, which I just finished recently and really enjoyed reading. It’s set in the future and there is a battle between good and evil. I have been fortunate in that David agreed to partake in an interview with me and this is what I bring to you today. The interview itself is a great read and I have to thank David for the answers he has provided, informative and entertaining. Thank you, David!

POST-HUMAN QUESTIONS

For those who are yet to read the book could you please explain a little about the title “Post-Human”?

Post-Human has a double meaning in the book. On the one hand, “post-human” describes the condition of the vast majority of the solar system’s population; they have taken control of their evolution, having achieved perfect beauty, immortality, and synergy with computers and, therefore, can’t really call themselves human any longer.

On the other hand, this is a book in which nearly everyone in the solar system is wiped out early in the story, so most of the plot takes place in a time that is literally “post-human.”

…[to read the full interview please click here]…

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Lisa Lipkind Leibow’s debut novel Double Out and Back is a roller coaster of a read and a fantastic one at that. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Lisa’s novel, I was loathe to put it down, the story captivated me. Thank you, Lisa, for such a great read and for participating in this interview.

DOUBLE OUT AND BACK QUESTIONS

The title Double Out and Back is a great one, it alludes to the roller coaster of life. Can you explain the title a bit for our readers? Are you a fan of roller coasters yourself?

A double out and back roller coaster is one that travels “a circuit which heads out and then returns to the station, progressing over a number of bunny-hops, and then traveling out again and returning finally to the station.” You’re exactly right that it’s symbolic of the ups, downs, and second chances we all encounter as we go through life. I don’t want to spoil the plot for those who haven’t yet read the novel, but there are also some other links to “double out” and then going back for further action.

…[to read the full interview please click here]…

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U.L. Harper is the author of The Flesh Statue, a debut novel that will leave you with many discussion points bound to come up in conversation around the dinner table or what have you. Thanks must go out to U.L. for participating in this interview and providing answers that expand on some issues in The Flesh Statue, coupled with some personal questions to give us an insight into U.L. the author and U.L. the person.

I give you, ladies and gentlemen, U.L. Harper:

THE FLESH STATUE QUESTIONS

The title The Flesh Statue intrigues me. I understand it represents Langley’s grandfather and also to me flesh means alive, statue is a non-moving object, thus I think it also represents people standing still, not doing anything about their lives and/or not making a stand against authority/society. How I am going, on track? Can you explain the title a bit more for us?

Well, the flesh statue is simply what Langley thinks his grandfather looks like when he finds him dead. His grandfather is sitting there like a statue made of flesh. The flesh statue.

…[to read the full interview please click here]…

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Gary William Murning is the author of If I Never, a fast-paced debut novel leaving the reader wanting more. I am currently reading If I Never and getting to the end of it now I must admit it’s hard to put down. I was thrilled when Gary accepted an interview. The answers he has provided are very informative and engaging. So, I bring to you the interview with Gary William Murning:

If I Never Questions

Who is your favourite character in If I Never and why?

I like them all for very different reasons, of course. George for his sheer nastiness (wonderful to write), Price for the way he grows through the novel, Carla, again, because her selfishness was a delight to write, Richard for his innocent need to protect his mother… but, I suppose, ultimately, Tara is my favourite character. I like her particular blend of strength through vulnerability. Even though I wrote her myself, I sometimes reread the passages concerning her and get the feeling that there’s even more there, quietly buried between the lines. I like when a character does that to me.

Are any of the characters based on real life people?

The really boring but, I’m afraid, honest answer to that is, no. These characters exist only in my head and on the page (oh, and now in the heads of my readers, of course!) However, all writers are inevitably inspired by the things they see and experience themselves — so it’s probably safe to say that certain aspects of my characters exist in some of the people I’ve encountered over the years.

How did you come up with the cover for the book? Sometimes when I look at it I see a man hanging, is that the impression you wanted to create or do I have it completely wrong?

Actually, I didn’t come up with the cover — that’s not my job. How it works, with my publisher, at least, is that a meeting is held between my publisher and the designer and initial ideas are discussed. Three quite different mockup designs are produced and they are then shown to me. Most publishers don’t do this. By and large, the author is stuck with whatever cover the powers that be decide upon. With Legend, however, I was asked for my thoughts. I looked at the three designs and had a very clear favourite — and, thankfully, we were all in agreement!

I’d never actually thought of the young man on the cover as “hanging”, but now that you mention it I can certainly see what you mean. For me, it represents a young Price contemplating his life’s future landscape. The way the background bleeds through him, for me, suggests the inseparable nature of the two… the impact the world and those around him have upon Price.

Would you change anything in the novel now?

Apart from a few typographical corrections and a little editorial work, no. Most people, thankfully, have grasped that I quite deliberately broke a number of writing rules with If I Never. There is a structural roughness to it which, before publication, I was really tempted to tidy up — even though it was my intention. I wanted to suggest the unrelenting nature of life — the way it quite often piles problem upon problem, twist upon twist. I knew that some people just wouldn’t get this so… it was really tempting to chicken out. Now, however, I am really pleased that I didn’t. The vast majority of people can see very clearly what I’ve tried to achieve and seem to approve.

How did you come up with the name Price for the main character?

You know, I’m not sure! It just popped into my head, I believe, and seemed to fit. It’s really strange, now that I think of it, but I very rarely have to work that hard at finding names for my characters. They nearly always arrive with an appropriate moniker!

What made you inflict Price with anosmia?

Well, as you know, there’s another aspect to the story that I wanted to complement. We won’t mention any details, so as not to spoil it for future readers, but I wanted to find a new way of playing with the idea of two people being “made for each other”.

There is a bit of a moral issue surrounding Claudia, what would you do if you were Price?

Under his circumstances, probably just what he did. Price had to learn that there’s only so much we can do for other people — sometimes we need to hand over responsibility and focus on ourselves and those closest to us. This was meant to reflect that — and whilst it was very tempting to keep him on the front line with this particular part of the story (a part of me still thinks that there is much more going on with Claudia than meets the eye!), I knew he had to hand it over… he also had to trust a friend, too. Not something he, I think, found all that easy, in this instance!

Is the setting based on a real place; is there the Italian Gardens, Lovers’ Leap, et cetera?

It is based on a real place — an amalgam of real places, actually, with lots of fictional meddling! Redburn is actually based on a place in the north-east of England called Saltburn. The Italian Gardens, in a slightly different form, certainly exist, though Lovers’ Leap doesn’t.

Tara’s mother seems quite accommodating, is this a bit of wishful thinking of how a mother-in-law should be in your mind?

I don’t think so, no. I would never want to write a stereotypical representation of “the mother-in-law”, so it’s probably true that I’m inclined to shy away from anything bordering on that! However, Tara is someone who’s had some pretty difficult things to contend with over the years. Her mother, naturally, is well aware of this and when she sees how happy, relatively speaking, Price makes her, she wants it to work. There are enough obstacles without her adding more, I imagine her reasoning to be, and so she makes Price as welcome and comfortable as possible — to the point of overcompensating, at times! Plus I think she genuinely likes Price.

Will we be seeing any characters from If I Never in any future novels?

I very much doubt it. There are, quite deliberately, a number of sequel setups in If I Never, but my aim with these was to simply suggest the various paths their lives might take — the uncertainty of it all. A full-blown sequel would weaken the concept but… never say never, right? I suppose they might turn up again one day.

Writing Questions

How long did it take you to write If I Never?

The actual writing process took about ten months, but this one had a pretty long and drawn out gestation period. I lived with Price and Tara in my head for quite a while before knuckling down.

Was it a scary process to get your first book published?

Actually, yes, it was! It was extremely exciting, too, of course — I’ve been submitting work for years with many close calls, so this was a dream realised, you know? — but I never expected it to be quite so nerve wracking! It’s the whole thing of having your work out there, of having complete strangers reading and commenting on it. As it’s turned out, I’ve had very few negative comments/reviews, but waiting for those first reactions… yes, very scary indeed!

Where is your favourite place to write?

I always write in the same place these days — in my office/bedroom, looking out on the road on which I live and the hills in the distance… all of which is today, incidentally, covered in about 14 inches of snow! (We’re having a record-breaking snowy/icy spell here in the UK this year… makes me glad I work from home!)

Are there any future books currently in the making?

My second novel, Children of the Resolution, is finished and has been delivered to my publisher. No firm publication date on that one, yet, but August/September this year has been mooted. I’m also halfway through a fairly epic piece called As Morning Shows the Day which will hopefully hit the shelves towards the back end of 2011. As well as this, I have another novel (tentatively titled Out Of Season) in the early stages of development (i.e. I’m thinking about it!)

When did you start to write?

I’ve written from a very early age, though way back then I rarely completed anything. I’ve been writing novels for… something like 23 years! Sounds terrible, I know, my only just having had my first novel published after all that time but, sadly, that’s all too often the way. You write, you get helpful, encouraging comments, and you keep writing. You make friends along the way, they guide and inspire you, you come close numerous times always believing that it’s never going to happen and then, one day, you get an e-mail out of the blue that results in a publishing contract! Incredible, really! I just don’t know where those years have gone but I can certainly say that all the hard work was worth it.

General Questions

What are you reading now, how are you liking it?

I’m currently reading Jack Maggs by the (Australian!) author, Peter Carey. I read Oscar and Lucinda many years ago and quite enjoyed it but was put off by The Tax Inspector. Consequently, I hadn’t tried any of Carey’s other work until I spotted this one and thought it sounded interesting. And I have to say I’m really glad I did buy it. A thoroughly enjoyable and wonderfully written novel.

How many books would you read in a year?

Not as many, now, as I once did. Somewhere in the region of thirty, on average, I’d say.

What do you do in your spare time when you’re not writing?

When I’m not doing anything writing-related, I like to read, naturally, watch a good movie, annoy friends and eat.

Who would you most like to meet and why?

If this is the “ultimate fantasy” kind of question, where I can meet dead people, I’d probably have to say Elvis Presley. Not too long ago I had the opportunity to interview Marty Lacker, one of Elvis’s bodyguards and his best man, and I find the whole story of how someone could be so talented and, yet, live such a strange, self-destructive private life quite fascinating.

Any new year’s resolutions this year? Name one.

I never do New Year’s resolutions.

Favourites

Who/what is your favourite:

Author? — I have many but if I have to name one I’d probably say John Irving.
Book? — Again, I have many but… either Ken Kesey’s One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest or Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Or The Catcher in the Rye! (Sorry, I’m a dreadful cheat!)
Character in a book? — Easy. Owen Meany from John Irving’s novel A Prayer for Owen Meany. Or Melony from Irving’s The Cider House Rules.
Genre to read? — I usually lean towards literary fiction but like anything that’s good. Can’t beat a good thriller. Tom Rob Smith’s Child 44 is a recent favourite.
Quote? — “It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking Thirteen…”
Movie? — The Deer Hunter.
Film star? — Al Pacino.
TV show? — QI.
Holiday destination? — Currently, anywhere that doesn’t have snow!
Animal? — Mountain gorilla.
Band? — Probably Soft Cell.
Song? — Early Morning Rain — the Presley version.
Meal to cook? — If I’m cooking it, I ain’t eatin’ it!
Drink? — Tea.

And last but not least, what one question would you ask yourself in an interview and what would the answer be?

That’s really tough! I suppose I’d ask myself something profound and incredibly analytical like “what did you have for your tea today?” That’s why I’m a writer and I leave the interviewing to far more able people like you! (The answer, incidentally, would be minced beef and dumpling followed by chocolate cake — neither of which, of course, I cooked/baked!)

Thank you again, Gary, for this great opportunity.

No, thank you, Mandy — it really was my pleasure and I always appreciate being invited on to other people’s blogs. It’s extremely generous. I really appreciate it.

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For more information about Gary you can head to his website:

http://garymurning.wordpress.com/

You can also catch Gary on Goodreads at:

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2985311.Gary_Murning

And to buy his debut novel If I Never click here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/If-I-Never-Gary-Murning/dp/1906558140/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1243705405&sr=8-1

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I am hoping to conduct interviews with authors as my blog progresses. I actually have one in the making at the moment with Gary Murning, the author of If I Never, and it should be available shortly so be sure to check back and see what Gary has to say.

All interviews that I post will be interviews I have conducted personally with the authors, all questions will be asked by myself and all answers will be given directly by the authors. There will be no cut and pasting from other interviews, no copying answers out of books, this will be the genuine thing.

I look forward to hosting these interviews and hope you as the reader get something out of them. It really is a fantastic age when we can contact authors directly and speak to them about the novels they have produced, get inside their minds a little, get up close and personal with them. I really appreciate any opportunity that comes my way.

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