Author Interview: Rita Lee Chapman

It is my pleasure to welcome author Rita Lee Chapman to Coffee With Architects of Worlds Afar.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi, I’m Rita Lee Chapman from Queensland in Australia.  I have written three books: Missing in Egypt, a romantic travel mystery; Winston – A Horse’s Tale, one for horse lovers from teenagers upwards and Dangerous Associations, a crime mystery.

2. When did you start writing?
In school I used to write long essays but during my working life my writing mainly consisted of business letters and letters home to my family in the UK.  Although I started a couple of books (on a typewriter) I never finished.  It wasn’t until I retired that I finally wrote my first book.

When I am not writing I enjoy playing tennis, swimming and walking along our beautiful beaches, river and lakes.  We have an old boat we take out on the river and we entertain quite a lot.  I love champagne and chocolate.

3. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
My favourite character is a horse!  Winston, from Winston – a Horse’s Tale, tells the story himself.  This was also the easiest book for me to write – it just flowed.

 4. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
I often write when it is raining and it is too wet to go outside!  I like peace and quiet and prefer mornings.  I usually hide myself away in my study.

5. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Just do it!  Now that you can self-publish your writing won’t stay buried in your computer – you can publish it yourself through Amazon and CreateSpace.  Unless you try you’ll never never know!

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
Books

2. Summer or winter?
Definitely summer, I hate winter.

3. Car or motorcycle?
Are you kidding?  Motorcycles are cold, wet and death traps.

4. Ebook or physical book?
Physical – ebooks are much hard to read.

5. Staying in a hotel or going camping?
Hotel, every time.

6. Working in a group or working alone?
I like to work alone.

7. To find true love or to win the lottery?
Definitely true love.

8. To speak using ONLY rap lyrics (from songs released in the 21st century) or to speak using ONLY quotes from Austen’s books?
Quotes from Austen’s books –  I hate RAP.

9. Going without internet access for a week or going without watching any movies/television shows for a week?
I’d rather go without movies/TV – you can always read.

10. Misunderstanding everything that is told to you or being misunderstood every time that you speak?
The former – you could muddle along in your own world.  The latter would be too frustrating!

11. Losing your ability to speak or losing your ability to hear?
The ability to hear – you can always lip read.

12. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
I couldn’t live without chocolate!

Thank you for joining us, Rita!
Readers: want to connect with Rita? You can find her on Goodreads and Facebook. Also, be sure to visit her website.

Missing in Egypt is available for purchase at Amazon and Smashwords.
Winston – A Horse’s Tale is available for purchase at Amazon and Smashwords.
Dangerous Associations is available for purchase at Amazon and Smashwords.

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Author Interview: P.I. Barrington

Guess who’s in the virtual studio today? It’s P.I. Barrington — author of The Brede Chronicles.

229454_1876746210912_6647608_n1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
You know it’s funny but for decades I stopped doing art and creative work, thinking that it was foolish and a waste of time. I had other things on my mind—like a career in the music industry. I’ve said this before but I directed all of my energy toward that goal. As a child (I’m dating myself here) I saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan and determined to meet Paul McCartney though not as a screaming, hysterical woman. I grew up and worked at his record company (the big round one) and did meet Paul and his lovely wife Linda and we had private meeting with the President of the company. My one regret is that I didn’t get a photo because I let the photographer leave. It doesn’t matter though. I did what I wanted. There was so much unbelievable history in that building and the ghost of the music would stop me at times and I would have to just stand on the stair landings and just think about where I was and who had been there before me. It was very haunting at times.

*     Where are you from?

I’m a California Girl—I thought I was! I’ve lived there my entire life and always loved it. I was Southern California’s biggest supporter and probably biggest promoter. I’ve always been in love with the California Mystique; all the Hollywood film and music especially! A friend gave my sister the book “Hollywood Babylon” and it was a Babylon from the silent films through the current ones. Instead of being repulsed, it fascinated me. There was no law at times and there are a few times I’ve still felt that way! A friend of mine told me there is an updated version of that book but I haven’t had time to research that.

*     Do you have any hobbies?

As I said, I pushed them aside for career reasons. I’m not quite back to painting and sketching yet (I had a cardiac arrest in March last year and have had to deal with health problems) but I have gone back to hand embroidery and of course writing. I also am a rabid gardener and a secret archaeology and ancient history obsessive. I plan to try and get back into art as soon as I feel ready! I plan to learn to crochet; I never learned it and my grandmother got so frustrated she told me I was too stupid to learn how to do it, lol! So, I’m going to give it another try!

*     What do you do for a living?

As of right now, I write full-time. Which is a blessing let me tell you! Finally I’m at a place in my life where I am free to give about 97% of my time to it. I’ve done a lot of jobs. I was a mural painter for a child care facility, I worked in radio as an on-air talent I worked in the music industry, sometimes in the film or TV industry. I was a photojournalist for a newspaper for a short time. Since the cardiac arrest, I’ve rearranged my priorities and I’m not so career-driven or sensitive over what people say or try to categorize me.

*     What did you study in college?

My major was “Communications” and it was such a waste of time. If I’d stopped to think about it for two seconds, I’d have been a history professor and archaeologist and I’d have tagged along on some digs. I’d be an Indiana Jones or Lara Croft though not pretty like her, lol! I pretty much love all historical eras but ancient studies (like my beloved Egypt) would have made my life complete!

*     Give us a few fun facts about yourself.

Let’s see…I was one of the first people to wear peacock blue nail polish in the 1980s and was told that “it just isn’t done” by a co-worker! I have ADD which makes me obsess over trying to organize everything, starting at midnight before I go to bed.  I got to do some unbelievable things that even I couldn’t believe! One was going in to a music studio with a band and an engineer and the engineer said to me “Okay what’d you want me to do? How do you want this to sound?” All I could do at that instant was to think “My God, Patti, you’re sitting in a famous studio and you’re a producer!” I felt like that commercial where the top of people’s heads explode and colored smoke comes out! There were so many moments like that which were, I don’t know, sort of magical.

2. When did you start writing?
I was three years old when I learned if you put letters and words together they make a sentence! In third grade I had to write a first person (as the American Flag) about the care of the flag and its due respect. It was some contest that I really didn’t care about and I thought it was a totally silly thing to do. I won the contest which was district wide and we were identified by numbers. I should have known then I couldn’t get away from it. Once I started writing fiction I couldn’t stop. I submitted a proposal to my first publisher (Desert Breeze Publishing) and it was published as a trilogy. That was the Future Imperfect trilogy (Crucifying Angel, Miraculous Deception, and Final Deceit) and people seemed to like it. That really kicked off serious writing for me. Plus DBP’s cover artist, Jenifer Ranieri, gave me some drop dead gorgeous covers!

3. Why did you start writing?
I think that I’ve always loved words and what you can do with them. Finally I had some time and decided I’d try to write seriously and see if I could do it. I wanted to write fiction since I’d always had to write as a journalist. I’ll tell you a secret: I never considered journalism “real” writing. It was reporting facts, giving news to people who needed it or wanted it. But for me fiction was real writing. You conceive an idea, write it, develop characters and their relationships and trials and tribulations. You want readers to connect with them in some way.

4. Tell us a little bit about your book’s title.
Well, this was a result of my own ignorance really. I loved the concept of a series of chronicles, a charting of characters’ lives and their detours in getting there. And that word chronicles said that to me. I’d read a book in high school, can’t remember the actual title now but it had that word in it. Lately, I’ve been very impatient and so rather than read another series of novels I thought I’d just watch a movie to see how it was done. So I started cheating on research. There was the film at that time entitled The Chronicles of Riddick with Vin Diesel. I’d heard his name but really never had time to watch his movies let alone any other actor. I tried to watch it but could never make it through the first twenty minutes. I hated the aliens; well the other people like aliens, their ships, basically everything. I tried like eight times to watch that damned movie. Finally one day I sat down and told myself I wasn’t going to take my eyes off that film. I watched all of it (loved the one scene with the big cats on planet Crematoria & loved that planet name too) and when the final few moments of that film came up I was sputtering like a dying car engine. I was so surprised at the ending all I could do was shake my head in astonishment! I kept telling my mom (in the kitchen making coffee) “Oh my God! What a complete idiot I am! I never saw that coming, I never watched more than the first twenty minutes! I can’t believe it!” Since most of my books end with cliffhangers of course I loved it. And I didn’t realize that it was the second film of that storyline. When I saw Pitch Black, I loved that film for several reasons. One, the gorgeous film making where the sunlight is so bright it looks black and white and the opening scenes which were great and set the stage for the film’s pace and last I loved the chemistry between Diesel and Radha Mitchell. And it ended with a sad surprise as well. I think I love that movie the best.

*     How did you arrive at your book’s title?

As I’ve said, the word chronicles both continues a storyline and expands it so that new storylines can be brought out while keeping most or some of the original characters and bringing them into the story fold per se. So again I cheated and used The Brede Chronicles for my story line and title.

*     Were there other titles which you were considering?

No, I pretty much settled on that early. I knew there would be another book at least and wanted to leave the path open for more books.

5. Does your story have a moral?
Um I guess that love wins out in the end no matter what you try to do to prevent that. That’s a human thing and Alekzander is half human. He truly hates that part of himself because he thinks it’s a weakness or his alien half does. That’s his struggle throughout the novel; Elektra’s is that she can’t stop being what she is—a human. They’re almost always at cross purposes but they always in each other’s lives, like it or not. I know that sounds like a typical romance but it’s really more dark and gritty than it sounds.

6. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
God, they go in and out of the story and they grow all over the place like vines, lol! I guess Elektra because she’s both fun and fun (for Alekzander) to make fun of all the time. She just won’t give up no matter what and she has a great back story!

*     What makes them so special. What makes them stand out to you?

Don’t kill me but I really love my characters. I create them out of nothing (don’t worry I don’t have a God complex) and then they develop lives and personalities of their own. That alone makes me love them. I love Elektra and I hate/love Alekzander and I love Colin a lot. I love Zander and his horrible attitude too.

*     Which character was the most fun to write?

Believe it or not Zander. I hated him but I loved writing him because he’s even more icy cold than Alekzander! He can make people fear him with just a look. He’s terrifying for someone so young.

7. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
If I’m on deadline, I’ll set a schedule in the morning and just keep writing until I have to stop. If no deadline, I’ll just keep plugging along until I get stuck or can’t think any longer!

*     Do you listen to music as you write?

Never! You have to concentrate on one or the other and it distracts me because I’ll always, always opt to listen to music.

*     What is your preferred writing time? Morning? Afternoon? Late at night?

Late afternoon to late at night (midnight or so). By then I’m awake enough to write.

*     Do you have a specific location that you go to when you want to write?

My desk wherever and however it happens to be. Now I finally have an office, my desk is there.

*     Do you prefer writing outside or indoors?

Indoors, definitely. It’s like trying to read on the beach for me. I can’t focus on anything but the waves, gulls, the scent of the ocean.

*     Do you like to write in public places, or do you seek out isolation?

I like to be isolated as much as possible. If I’m out with other people, again, I just get distracted. My desk is the only place I have peace and quiet and can write intensely.

*     Do you set daily goals for yourself (in terms of a word count)?

No, not usually. Normally I write until I am worn out or stuck for the next plot point. Then I’ll quit for the day or until I come up with the next idea or chapter.

8. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
That question makes me laugh! I’ve tried every type of outline you can imagine including writing out random notes on index cards and then tossing them on the floor and trying to come up with a story idea! All I ever got was a mess at my feet and total chaos I tried to call a story. I’ll only outline if I have a specific concept for a plotline or plot point to remember it. I write linear.

9. What is your favorite book genre?
This should come as no surprise but I love ancient history such as A God Against the Gods by Allen Drury. I love Middle Eastern historical too.

*     Which do you prefer to read in?

Ancient Historical (see above)

*     Which do you prefer to write in?

Futuristic low-tech sci-fi is what I write. I can make up worlds or bring this world ahead as what I think it might be or should be or as I don’t want it to be without all the dry technical exposition.

10. What are you currently reading?
I am reading nothing at the moment. I cannot concentrate on writing if I’m reading something else. I DO however read textbooks on certain subjects. Especially if it’s related to my current works.

11. What is your favorite book?
MAD magazine would probably be the one I’d call my favorite along with The Happy Sadist. MAD in its original format and writers.

*     Why is it so dear to you? What is it that you like about it? The plot? The author’s style?

I had a large family when I was born, aunts and uncles galore! So the input was varied and most of the time funny. I learned a lot about entertaining people from them, each with their own sense of humor. My youngest uncle who was about eight years older than me would give me MAD when I was about nine and by that time, I’d be screaming with laughter! And The Happy Sadist? I think the title speaks for itself!

12. Any project in the works?
Yes. Always! I have a sci-fi romance in the works, a futuristic epic on intergalactic relations with a romance or two thrown in, and a crime thriller set in the old west believe it or not. Oh, and a fantasy set in an alternate Earth.

13. How long does it usually take you to write a book?
Again, it depends upon deadlines. Three to six months or up to a year if there are distractions such as health or moving. Once you master how to do it, it happens fairly quickly. Also I write linear so I’m either opening up a document and writing to the end of whatever page or writing along a time line.

14. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’?
I think there are several key components to a good story. One is plot. If you don’t have a plot or don’t know how to write one you don’t have a story, excluding stream of consciousness and or some literary writings. Second, your characters must connect with your readers in some way, for good or for bad; they just have to resonate with readers. The third is obstacles. That means your characters have to overcome major (and minor) obstacles that are in their way or that in some way are blocking their progress and many times their own safety or that of a loved one. If you can master those three you should have a good story.

15. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
They may hate me for it but I always tell new and even established writers to be their own worst critic. Be hard on yourself and your work and then others don’t have to be.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
Both

2. Dogs or cats?
Dogs

3. Summer or winter?
Both

4. Cake or ice-cream?
Ice cream

5. Nights out or nights in?
Nowadays it is nights IN.

6. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
PAST.

7. Travelling by car or travelling by airplane?
CAR. I am terrified of flying.

8. Working in a group or working alone?
I work alone.

9. To find true love or to win the lottery?
Lottery. Love is overrated.

10. Reading or writing?
Writing! I’ve read everything.

11. To speak using ONLY rap lyrics (from songs released in the 21st century) or to speak using ONLY quotes from Austen’s books?
Rap lyrics. Tupac Shakur was a poet. Seriously.

12. Spending half a day locked in a coffin (there would be a hole for air, of course) or spending two days trapped at the bottom of a well?
Neither. Both are horrifying.

13. Finding yourself caught in the middle of a hurricane or finding yourself caught in the middle of a snowstorm? (Note: in both scenarios, you’d be outdoors and have no access to shelter.)
Hurricane. That’s why they use the word in rock love songs. Scorpions’ Rock You Like a Hurricane

14. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
No chocolate. Yes C.O.F.F.E.E

15. Being two inches tall or being two stories tall?
I read this answer in a book: Each is good for some things and bad for others.

Thank you for joining us, P.I.!
Readers: want to connect with P.I.? You can find her on Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook. Also, be sure to check out her website.

Author Interview: Lyra Shanti

Today I am joined by fellow South Floridian, Lyra Shanti–author of the book series Shiva XIV.

lyra2 0101.Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a novelist, singer-songwriter, poet, and playwright who lives in South Florida.  Having grown up in Bellingham, Washington, I’m a nature and animal lover with a ferocious love of epic stories of every genre, but especially sci-fi and fantasy.

At first, I was drawn to writing songs, even at the tender age of 7 years old. Then, it was playwriting, and eventually, musicals (that I co-write with my insanely talented partner and spouse, Timothy Casey.) It wasn’t until much later that I began writing novels, but there’s no stopping me now!

2. Why did you start writing?
I truly feel like I wouldn’t be able to keep inside all the stories and thoughts in my head if I didn’t write them all down; I’d probably explode! I don’t think I had a choice, so it was inevitable. It was just a matter of time before I had the courage to try, especially when it came to novels, which I really didn’t have the confidence to try until my thirties. Now, I can’t imagine not writing them.

3. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for your novel?
When it came to attempting the first book in my Shiva XIV series, I had no idea what it would be. I stared at the blank page, completely unaware of what would take form. Then, I suddenly got hit with the vision of a priest figure, holding up a newborn baby at an altar. I began writing whatever came to my brain, and what followed was the embryo for the messianic, interplanetary story of Ayn. I soon realized that I needed to map out what would happen, and all the details followed. The notes I started taking and the huge amount of storyboarding took me on a journey I never thought possible. I am now about to release the 3rd book in the series, and have finished writing the 4th, and it has been one of the most fulfilling, wonderful things to have ever happened in my life. I honestly can’t imagine a life without Ayn and the other main characters of Shiva XIV; they’ve become an integral part of my being.

4. Tell us a little bit about your book’s title.
Shiva XIV refers to Ayn’s kingly title. His royal ancestors are all The Shiva, and he is the fourteenth one. He is also the one the priests have prophesied to become their savior. Now, it may seem like my book is about the Hindu God, Shiva, but it’s not. I certainly knew about Hindu myth and religion, but I didn’t set out to write about it. The title just plopped into my head, as if it were always meant to be there. The world of Shiva XIV is like a far distant, other dimensional reality, slightly the same as our world, but rather different as well.

5. Does your story have a moral?
Yes, it does, though I don’t think it hits people over the head with it. There are themes of self-discovery, science vs religion, and most recurring, the theme of nature vs man’s greed. I think I try to subtly layer morals within the story, but in a way that the reader doesn’t feel overwhelmed or annoyed by it.

6. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
I love a lot of my characters, but Ayn comes to mind first and foremost. He is very much a part of my own soul. He is raised very secluded and sheltered, so he really has no idea about the world in the beginning, though he learns as he goes. He has a very innocent and pure heart, and yet, he’s been given a huge burden early on. He’s deeply hurt by his past, but he keeps going, no matter what. I love how emotional and giving he is, despite how much he goes through. He could become bitter and closed up, but he keeps being his open-hearted self.

I also really love Axis, who I hesitate to reveal much about. I will say, though, that he’s extremely fiery and fun to write.

7. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
I don’t have a set regiment, but I do like to have music on, if I can. The best way for me to get out my thoughts is when I can get lost in the world I’m writing. Music can help create the environment needed. I prefer to be left alone during a writing session, but I’ve learned to adapt to whatever the situation. One can’t always have a perfectly quiet surrounding, so I just do my best to tune out the noise or interruptions. I don’t require anything in particular, though I write better at night. I just try to do it as often as I can, following no particular rules.

8. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
Totally for them. Without storyboarding out where I’m going, I’m lost. Having said that, I also believe in allowing yourself to go with your instincts when needs be. There has to be a balance, I think. You need to follow your muse wherever it wants to go, but outlining the major plot points is absolutely helpful, especially for more epic stories, like in a series.

9. What is your favorite book genre?
I prefer fantasy and science fiction, both to read and to write. I like going to far off places and dreaming about worlds that don’t exist, save for in our minds. I like other genres, but I’ll always come back to fantasy/sci-fi.

10. What is your favorite book?
I have a few favorite books: Siddhartha (I am a HUGE Hermann Hesse fan,) Lord of the Rings, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Harry Potter series, Illusions, Clan of the Cavebear, The Sword of Truth series, and probably more my mind isn’t remembering at the moment.

11. Any project in the works?
I am in the process of editing book 3 of Shiva XIV (Riddle of the Gods) for release this autumn, but I am done writing the series. I have a prequel planned, but before I do that, I’m going to write a few other novels. I plan on finishing a book I started about an artist and his quest to be sane and good enough for his true love. I also have another series in the beginning stages – a young adult fantasy with dragons and wizards!

12. How long does it usually take you to write a book?
It varies, but I suppose a 1-3 years. I wrote each book of Shiva XIV very quickly – about a year or so each – but it may take longer for other books. It’s the editing that takes forever!

13. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’?
Likable, intriguing characters for starters. Without main characters that are enjoyable to read, who wants to keep reading? Then, one must have an environment that feels real and authentic. It doesn’t have to be heavily detailed, but it has to feel like a real place. After that, there has to be some kind of adventure and growth, and ultimately, an ending that makes the reader feel like they’ve been taken somewhere for a reason. It can be a cliffhanger, but it has to feel like the characters went somewhere and learned from it. But ultimately, if you like the characters enough, you’ll pretty much follow them anywhere.

14. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Never give up, no matter what. Don’t worry about what other people think or if the story is perfect, just write. You can always edit and perfect it all later on. Just get it out there and don’t stop!

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
I love them both!

2. Dogs or cats?
Both. I love ALL animals… except maybe roaches, fleas, and mosquitoes, but they’re bugs. They don’t really make good pets.

3. Summer or winter?
Definitely winter! I can’t stand the heat, which is a cruel joke, considering I live in one of the hottest, most humid and sunny places in the world! I prefer snow to sun, and I love the winter holidays. If I had my way, it would be autumn and winter all year long.

4. Cake or ice-cream?
Both, though I’m lactose intolerant, so the latter can be a little challenging at times.

5. Nights out or nights in?
Nights in. I’m a total homebody who is addicted to pajamas.

6. Living in the city or living in the country?
Country, but with the city in reachable distance.

7. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Telepathy. I have no need to move stuff with my mind. I can get up and get the thing. I’m not lazy like a Jedi.

8. Making a phone call or sending a text?
Definitely text. I hate talking on the phone.

9. Staying in a hotel or going camping?
Hotel, thanks. I’m not a camping person. I love nature, but I think I’ve established I do not like bugs.

10. Being Spiderman for a day or being Batman for a day?
Neither. I want to be Apollo or Perseus. Comic book heroes are cool and all, but yeah, I’d rather go Greek.

11. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
Wow, hard choice. I think being able to speak to all humans everywhere would be a tad more useful. I’d love to talk to animals though.

12. Going without internet access for a week or going without watching any movies/television shows for a week?
No internet?! I’d probably die. It’s not an option.

13. Losing your ability to speak or losing your ability to hear?
I would rather lose my voice. I could type. I’d deal. But being deaf must suck, especially for a musician, which I am.

14. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
Oh, gods, without chocolate, there would hardly be any point in living! I’ll omit coffee, thanks.

15. Being two inches tall or being two stories tall?
Haha! That question made me laugh: Attack of the fifty foot Lyra monster!

Thank you for joining us, Lyra!
Readers: want to connect with Lyra? You can find her on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, and Amazon. Also, be sure to check out her website.

Author Interview: Doug Oudin

Doug Oudin–author of Between Two Harbors: Reflections of a Catalina Island Harbormaster and Five Weeks to Jamaica–is with us today!

author1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Doug Oudin. I am a former harbormaster from Catalina Island, California. My career on the water spanned more than three decades, the majority of the years serving as harbormaster.

I currently live in Grants Pass, Oregon, am married to my darling bride of 38 years. We have two sons, Trevor (37) and Troy (28). Both sons followed my path of seamanship and now work in the marine industry, Trevor as a licensed captain, and Troy as a Marine Engineer. I am very active in retirement, writing, playing volleyball, softball, golf, and fishing.

I am from a large family, with seven brothers and sisters, but we grew-up in relative poverty and both of my parents passed away when I was fifteen. My other siblings were in their teens or younger. I managed to work myself through several years of college, eventually earning an Associate Arts Degree in Liberal Arts. During those college years, I concentrated primarily in English, and learned to love the art of writing.

During my years on the Island, I earned my Captain’s License, securing a 100 ton Masters through the Coast Guard. I also became active in a fisheries restoration project, helping to develop and operate a grow-out station for the fledgling White Seabass Restoration Project, overseen by Hubbs Sea/World Research Institute in San Diego, California. That project has helped to re-establish and enhance white seabass populations significantly. I continue to serve of vice-president of the Catalina Seabass Fund, a non-profit foundation.

2. When did you start writing?
I started writing professionally in 1988, penning a weekly column in the Catalina Islander Newspaper, and submitted my article, Between Two Harbors, for twenty-one consecutive years. I also wrote an article for the southern California Log Newspaper, The Catalina Connection, for about two years. After retiring in 2010, I began my second career as an author.

3. Why did you start writing?
I wrote my first book, ‘Between Two Harbors, Reflections of a Catalina Island Harbormaster’, immediately after retiring. I had always wanted to write a book, but my job as harbormaster required too much time and dedication to the job, but after retiring, began writing. I finished and published my first book a year later. Soon after publishing, I started my second book; ‘Five Weeks to Jamaica’. It is a seafaring novel, based very loosely upon a trip that I made in the mid-seventies from San Diego to Jamaica. During that trip, I saw, experienced, and heard other sea-going stories along the way, and from those experiences, I used my creative process to develop a story line, a cast of characters, and a plot for my work of fiction.

4. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for Five Weeks to Jamaica?
The idea for ‘Five Weeks to Jamaica’ was spawned from that trip I took in the mid-seventies to Jamaica. I paid $500 for the trip, a bargain under any circumstances. Using the experiences I shared aboard the boat, and drawing from the colorful characters that were my shipmates, I began to develop a storyline that I thought could become an interesting and exciting book. Throughout the next thirty-some years, the project jelled in the back of my mind, until after I published my memoir, and saw how well it was received. Shortly after publishing my memoir, I began writing my novel, and completed the initial draft within a couple of months. During that time, after finishing the first draft, I started remodeling my new home, and for about a year, I put the manuscript into a cupboard and focused on my home renovations. Once the house was completed, I pulled the manuscript off the shelf and began a rewrite. I had thought a lot about the book while I worked on my house, and realized there were several things I wanted to change in the story. Some of the characters took on new roles, the general theme stayed, but storylines both grew and were eliminated. It was a fun process, and I finished the rewrite in about three months, and then began the publishing process.

5. Does your story, Five Weeks to Jamaica, have a moral?
While there are four primary characters in the book (Kurt, Madison, Larry, and Marcos), there are several others that become key figures along the way. Among my favorites (beyond the top four), are Tiona (an unpredictable tease), Jeffrey Smythe (the smarmy British 1st Mate), Guillermo (the self-assured redneck), and Sanford (everyone’s buddy, who boards the ship rather late in the voyage). In creating these characters, it was my intention to weave their interactions with fellow passengers into the story in a believable manner, and set the stage to reflect how it actually is when spending several weeks at sea. I didn’t really set out to create a moral for the story, but in essence, the moral is that life, and particularly the quest for change, and/or adventure, does not always fulfill, or meet expectations. A life-changing event can often send a person to places they might not expect, like, or especially want.

6. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
For me, the writing process is one of focus. I can write anywhere that I can make myself comfortable, usually near a window where I can look out and change my perspective. I loved sitting in front of my window gazing out over the ocean while living on the Island. Now that I am in Oregon, the surrounding hills, trees, flowers, and green landscapes capture my imagination and tickle my creative process. I become immersed in writing, letting my fingers flow over the keys as my thoughts seek the right words to use. Manic is the word my wife uses to describe my writing technique. While I’m writing, I tend to shut out my surroundings, and if interrupted, it takes me a moment to ‘come back to earth’ and refocus on reality. There are times when I will sit at the computer for hours, typing away and creating pages of script. At other times, a scene, or maybe even a line or a paragraph will pop into my head that I want to incorporate into the story, and so I make brief notes, sometimes only one word, to help me remember that thought when I next sit down to write.

7. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
I don’t really follow a physical outline, but I do adhere to a general mindset of where I am going, and how I intend to get there. There are times when I stray from this path, and ‘shift gears’ toward something else, but for the most part, I stick to the general ‘outline’ that is in my thought process. I am most productive when writing about intense situations; dangers, storms, personal drama, anything that quickens the pulse and generates feelings. Things slow down a bit for me on the keyboard when I need to incorporate research, details, facts or insights. ‘Write what you know’ is an axiom that I try to follow, and so I am most comfortable when writing about those life experiences that I have lived, witnessed, or encountered.

8. What is your favorite book genre?
I enjoy reading, primarily fiction, but not exclusively. My reading passion started soon after graduating from high school. Among my favorite books and authors are; Atlas Shrugged, The Old Man and the Sea, books by Wilbur Smith, James Ramsey Ullman, Steinbeck, Grisham, Stephen King, and Clive Cussler. I am currently reading another Wilbur Smith tale; The Delta Decision (which isn’t his best work, but is still an enjoyable read). My favorite genre is adventure, and Wilbur Smith stands out significantly among adventure writers.

9. What is your favorite book?
I think my favorite book in recent years is Wilbur Smith’s, ‘Hungry as the Sea.’ It stands out as his best work, in my mind. It is a gripping tale of adventure and drama at sea, pitting man against nature in an unbelievably challenging environment. Smith writes with passion and clarity. His characters come to life, and his style and writing techniques bring reality and believability into the storyline. He creates a captivating plot, and weaves intense drama and excitement into his scenes. In this book, in particular, I found myself so engrossed in the story that I could feel myself tensing, my breath laboring and my senses reeling. The story takes place at sea, in unbelievably difficult conditions, which is something I can relate to personally, and I can attest to the realism and intensity of the passages.

10. Any project in the works?
Currently, I have two projects in the works. One is a fanciful effort to create a rhyming story of several hundred pages that I most likely will never attempt to get into print. It’s just something I wanted to do.

Another project that I’ve begun, but has a long way to go, is an autobiographical work about my early life. My memoir from Catalina covers thirty-two years of my life as an adult, but begins in my early thirties. My younger life, before moving to Catalina, followed a bumpy and not always easy road. I have five surviving siblings, and each of us has endured a difficult journey. We have discussed the idea of creating a family history, and I have started on my own personal reflections. I’m not sure if this might turn into a printed form, or merely become a journal to have for future generations.

11. How long does it usually take you to write a book?
Both of my books took just under a year to write, then another year to get into print; editing, proofreading developing book covers, etc.

12. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’?
What makes a story good is a difficult question to answer in a simple manner. Some books are good simply because they are entertaining. Others are good because they inspire, or because they inflame, or a host of other reasons. For me, a good book is simply good reading, regardless of its genre, theme, plot, characters, or purpose. Basically, a good book is one that engages me, keeps me interested, and gives me enjoyment. Writing style and technique is important, but there are many styles and techniques used by different authors, and I like anything that works. Word usage plays a large role in making a book entertaining. I do not like works that stray too far out of the mainstream. While in college, I was required to read a variety of unorthodox works, and I found I don’t like to read oddball stuff. Nor do I like Old English. Call a rose a rose, and if you need to add to its aroma, then make it smell good. A good book is one that I enjoy, and I really don’t care if it gets panned by ‘the experts’; entertain me and it’s good.

13. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
My advice for aspiring writers? If you enjoy writing, go ahead and write. In all honesty, you should not expect to ‘make it big’ in the industry, but if it makes you feel good, go for it.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
Mmmm. Books during the summer, movies during the winter, usually. I love a good book, and I think that usually, a book is better than the movie. A few exceptions come to mind; ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ was a great book, and a great movie. A few others come to mind as well; ‘The Godfather’, ‘The Perfect Storm’, ‘Unbroken’, among others.

2. Dogs or cats?
Not a huge animal lover, but probably cats, although through the years I have lived with a few dogs that were very special to me.

3. Summer or winter?
Summer, hands down, no comparison. As a man of the sea, the ocean is much more inviting, forgiving, enjoyable, and everything except awe-inspiring during the summer months. You can have snow, cold, wind, and short days. I’ll take all the rest.

4. Cake or ice-cream?
Ice cream, except for that rare and delightful combination of the two.

5. Car or motorcycle?
Car. I owned a motorcycle for a couple of years when in my twenties. One day I was cruising along a two-lane highway, traffic was moving nicely as I went through a green light. Looking across the lanes, I spotted two great looking girls in short skirts crossing the intersection. As I gazed, I glanced up and saw that the traffic had suddenly stopped in front of me. I applied the brakes but realized that I could not stop in time to avoid the car in front of me. I swerved to the left, into the oncoming left-turn lane of opposing traffic. A car was turning in front of me, and I could see him slam on his brakes. His eyes locked onto mine as we approached each other, until the point that my front tire bumped into his front fender. I was very lucky that he saw my motorcycle swerve into his lane, and he reacted so quickly. I decided at that moment that I either needed to stop looking at girls, or stay off the motorcycle. I sold the motorcycle that weekend and have owned cars ever since. I’m glad though, to have done it for a while.

6. E-book or physical book?
No comparison. Won’t ever go technical.

7. Living in the city or living in the country?
No comparison. After living for thirty-two years in a tiny island community of 150 people, the ‘big city’ of Grants Pass, Oregon (population 30,000, and home now), is even too big, despite my vegetable garden, fruit trees, large lawn, and a view of the Rogue Valley.

8. Making a phone call or sending a text?
Does my old flip-phone without a screen or built-in camera answer this question clearly?

9. Staying in a hotel or going camping?
It’s a copout, but give me the hotel near a beach, a forest, a lake, or a golf course where I can spend all of my time, other than sleeping; and then roll back the sheets and turn the light out.

10. Reading or writing?
Give me a good book and I’ll turn off the computer.

11. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
Mmm, do I see similarities here? It would be great to speak multiple languages, and also to be able to communicate with a dolphin or a zebra. I suppose it would be better for me, and for them, to communicate with people.

12. Going without internet access for a week or going without watching any movies/television shows for a week?
No big deal either way. I recently returned from a ten-day trip to the island of Roatan, and went without either for the ten-days. Didn’t even realize I missed either one until I returned to reality, and even then I didn’t much care.

13. Having your car break down on an extremely busy expressway or along an abandoned road in the middle of nowhere?
Here’s another story that happened two-weeks ago. The short version; Flat tire on the boat trailer. Four hours on a rural road. Met some nice folks.

14. To never read another book or to never watch another film?
Stack up the book-shelves, I’ll unplug the Tellie!

15. Finding yourself caught in the middle of a hurricane or finding yourself caught in the middle of a snowstorm? (Note: in both scenarios, you’d be outdoors and have no access to shelter.)
As frightening as they are, I’ll take the hurricane any day, even when I’m on a boat.

Doug, it was great chatting with you. Thank you for joining us!
Readers: want to connect with Doug? You can find him on FacebookGoodreads, Twitter, and Amazon. Also, be sure to check out his author website.

Author Interview: Dr. Don C. Kean

Hello, everyone! It is my pleasure to introduce you to Dr. Don C. Kean–author of I Didn’t Sign Up For This.

IMG_20140119_081738 My Picture

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I live just outside of Louisville Kentucky. I practiced General Dentistry in Louisville for 25 years. I am currently working in retail management. I went to college at The University of Kentucky where I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. I went on to attend the University School of Dentistry for four more years. I do enjoy writing very much, but my very favorite thing to do is go fishing. I also enjoy automobile racing. Despite all of the schooling I would still rather dress casual and get dirty than to dare dress up.

2. When and why did you start writing?
I started writing as a hobby about fifteen years ago. I found it to be quite cathartic. I decided to take it a bit more seriously in 2008 when I rediscovered and fell in love with the study of the American Civil War.

4. Tell us a little bit about your book’s title.
My book’s title is “I Didn’t Sign Up For This”. The title relates to naive decisions made in youth that sometimes bear some very bitter fruits later in life. Young Joshua,(J.D. for short), the story’s protagonist signs up for army service at the wars outbreak, but gets a whole lot more than he ever bargained for. I arrived at that title in the very beginning of the work and I stuck to it.

6. Does your story have a moral?
The story has several themes and sub themes. The central theme is what that horrible bloody war did to men’s minds. It begs the question, how could a relatively well adjusted human being ever experience and see such death, destruction, and suffering and not be deeply wounded mentally and emotionally by it all. Some of the sub themes in the narrative are; J.D and Susan’s romance, and the role of angelic beings in ones life. There is one very strong moral that J.D. learns in his sufferings and experiences. Duty and love are very much the same thing.

7. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
This story is very much Joshua’s thus he is the true central character of the story. He is a very kind and bright individual. He has a solid moral compass. He would be a very likable young man, the kind most of us would like to meet. He rationally and logically mulls over his decision to either enlist for war versus staying at home on the farm at the book’s beginning using what limited knowledge he has (and one can only imagine how limited it was In 1860,s Western Kentucky), about the war and its causes. He also has a great family and he adores them. The number one supporting character to Joshua is Susan. Susan had always been a childhood playmate of Joshua’s. He likes her but never really considered her romantically. But Susan chose him. She is mentioned sporadically in the book’s middle parts but does not become a more central figure until later in the narrative. But when she does appear she makes her presence quite known. Susan is a true southern lady in every regard. But she is stubborn and persistent about her faith and about her place in Joshua’s life. She nurtures and befriends Joshua after he returns home from war a very scarred and disturbed man who cannot forget his past, nor forgive himself. Susan with the help of spiritual guidance and intervention from angelic beings gradually reaches the old Joshua leading to his deliverance and redemption.

8. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
I really do not have set writing times. I write when I can. I generally do not have any limitations on time or quantity once I start.

9. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
I do use a very very basic outline but many things just came to me as I wrote.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
Books

2. Dogs or cats?
Dogs

3. Summer or winter?
Summer

4. Cake or ice-cream?
Ice-cream

5. Car or motorcycle?
Car

6. Ebook or physical book?
Physical book

7. Nights out or nights in?
Nights in

8. Living in the city or living in the country?
Living in the country

9. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Telepathy

10. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
Past

11. Making a phone call or sending a text?
Call

12. Travelling by car or travelling by airplane?
Car

13. Staying in a hotel or going camping?
Camping

14. Working in a group or working alone?
Alone

15. Losing all of your money or losing every picture you’ve ever taken and every picture that has ever been taken of you?
The pictures

Thank you, Don, for joining us!
Readers: want to connect with Don? You can find him on his website, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.