Author Interview: Joseph J. Miccolis

With us today is Joseph J. Miccolis–author of Escape from Palmar, book one in the Dagmarth series.

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1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

  • Where you are from?

I was born in California and also resided in Arizona, Virginia, and North Carolina

  • Where do you currently reside?

Florida

  • Talk to us about your hobbies.

Fitness is my go to.

  • What do you do for a living?

I am a paralegal.

  • What did you study in college?

Community College – English Writing

College – Professional, Technical, Creative Writing

Law school – Legal Writing

Paralegal school – Legal Writing

  • Give us a few fun facts about yourself.

Animation is my favorite film genre

I supposedly resemble Clark Kent/Superman

I have a diverse selection in music

2. When did you start writing?
July 2014

3. Why did you start writing?
College writing was my way of sharing those experiences. I did play with the idea of writing a novel about my past. A novel that places a character in my shoes and sees how that character chooses to live life. I wonder how my life would be different if certain things did or did not happen.

4. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for your novel?
Yes, it was during my transition from law school to paralegal school. I was evaluating my skills for career prospects outside law when I realized there had not been a new big hit in fantasy books since Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. I also realized the same for space films like Star Wars and Star Trek. I felt the desire to want there to be something new and different in fantasy that could incorporate a magical element with modern humor. I researched existing works covering this idea and could not find any product. I decided to write a novel focused on these aspects, and see if it could be the first of a new trend.

5. How different is the final product (the book) from your original vision? 
The final product is different in a few ways. First, it is different in content after being edited several times. Second, it is much shorter because its content makes up the prequel to the main story which is the second part of the initial product. Third, it contains finer language for vivid descriptions and smooth scenes.

6. Tell us a little bit about your book’s title.
I created the title by researching ancient names for key terms including protector, guardian, hero. Ancient names that resulted were derived from Greek names in history and mythology. I browsed the results and eventually pieced parts of names together until I liked the combination of Dagmarth and Palmar.

7. Does your story have a moral?
The moral is that one should not ignore those who commit wrongdoing. One should never give up the fight for justice.

8. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
Kodus. He is a special character for being the main protagonist in my shoes with his own journey and future ready for him. He will encounter similar situations that reflect past experiences, and will handle them his own way.

Kodus stands out because he is engaged in the storyline as me, but he develops his own personality and embraces experiences he chooses. Kodus will distinguish himself from me as his character growth follows his attitude, outlook, and maturity. The experiences facing him in the story are not experiences directly in my past, so it is exciting to see what happens with Kodus as they affect him, change him, and influence him. I join my readers with interest in seeing how Kodus lives his life in this series.

9. Using five words or less, describe the protagonist in Escape from Palmar.
Kodus in Dagmarth: Escape from Palmar is ambitious, curious, determined, intelligent, and shy.

10. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
Music is helpful when a song inspires a scene. I tend to write toward the evening, and it depends on my energy, mood, and focus. I like to write at my desk at home because its my personal space. I dislike setting goals, and prefer letting the story simply appear.

11. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
Outlining can be helpful as a way of listing the story line in sequence. It certainly helps control the flow of the story, and ensure no part is missed.

12. What is your favorite book genre?
My interest is at least fantasy and magic as well as crime and I do not see myself writing horror stories or anything not mainstream.

13. What is your favorite book?
Harry Potter. It appeals to most ages. I appreciated its plot focusing on a boy being introduced to magic in a fantasy realm and how he journeys through life with positive and negative experiences.

14. Any project in the works?
Yes, the main story to the Dagmarth series is pending editing after sales of the prequel are steady. I plan to write my first crime romance thriller novel after the main story is registered with the copyright office.

15. How long does it usually take you to write a book?
I could not say as a debut author, but given time limitations maybe a year to two years?

16. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’?
Unique, relatable, original.

17. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Draw from personal experiences, fantasies, interests. Research the idea to ensure originality. Be persistent with writing and don’t give up on marketing it.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
Movie after reading the book to see how the story translates on-screen

2. Summer or winter?
Summer for the beach and tanning. Winter for the romantic atmosphere

3. Living in the city or living in the country?
City

4. Making a phone call or sending a text?
Phone call for in depth conversation. Text for on-the-go.

5. Travelling by car or travelling by airplane?
Car

6. Staying in a hotel or going camping?
Hotel

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

8. To find true love or to win the lottery?
True love

9. Bungee jumping or going on the slingshot ride?
Slingshot ride

10. Having your car break down on an extremely busy expressway or along an abandoned road in the middle of nowhere?
Expressway

11. Staying awake for forty-eight hours (continuous) or walking for twenty-four hours (also continuous)?
Awake

12. Losing your ability to speak or losing your ability to hear?
Speak

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.)
Snowstorm

14. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
Chocolate

15. Being two inches tall or being two stories tall?
Two stories

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

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Author Interview: L.C. Perry

Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for L.C. Perry–author of Floresha, book one in the Metamorphosis trilogy.

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1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Florence, South Carolina but I grew up in Michigan; I live in Michigan but I go to school in Atlanta, Georgia. Besides reading and writing, I also do a lot of daydreaming, listening to music, watching anime/reading manga, and sometimes taking photos. I am currently a college student but recently an author as well 🙂 I’m studying Biology and Creative Writing!

2. Care to share a few fun facts with us?

  • I’m from a family of seven.
  • My height is 6 feet and 2 inches
  • I have a huge sweet tooth
  • I used to play basketball and volleyball
  • I’m a tree hugger and a dog lover
  • I’m a quiet person at school but a very loud person at home 🙂

3. When did you start writing?
I noticed that I liked writing when I was in sixth grade. I started writing my first book when I was thirteen and then I wrote the sequel to it when I was fifteen. I have also written several poems. The book I have published now is the third book I have written, but it’s the start of my first trilogy.

4. Why did you start writing?
I loved creating my own world and characters. My imagination would sometimes run rampant and it was always fun for me to decide the outcome.

5. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for your novel?
As soon as I had the ideas ready, I started writing the novel and I was about sixteen when I started working on it.

6. Tell us a little bit about your book’s title.
For a while, I was going to name the book after the main character, but then I decided to name the book after the world instead. I figured it made more sense to do that since it isn’t just an introduction of the characters, but of the whole environment.

7. Does your story have a moral?
There are quite a few morals and themes embedded into this trilogy – some of them don’t show until later on in the series. To name a few, there’s the idea of not judging a book by its cover, fight for what you think is right, the importance of teamwork, accepting other people’s differences, etc.

8. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
One of my favorites is introduced in the second book, but focusing on this one in particular, I would have to say Riis Jiropi is my favorite. He’s optimistic, funny, laid back, charismatic, and very chill even in dangerous situations. He’s very fun to write because of that and his behavior comes naturally to me. I love how the others look to him to lighten the mood.

9. Using five words or less, describe the protagonist in Floresha.
Clumsy, supportive, stubborn, kindhearted, determined

10. Let’s talk about what a typical writing session looks like for you.

  • Do you listen to music as you write?

I usually have TV on in the background

  • What is your preferred writing time? 

I do not have one. I write whenever I’m feeling it 🙂

  • Do you prefer writing outside or indoors?

Indoors

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

Isolation. I’m less likely to get distracted.

10. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
Definitely for them, but how I do them is different. Sometimes I give summaries of what I want in the next few chapters and sometimes I just do quickwriting. I usually do one to organize my thoughts or when I’ve had a long writer’s block.

11. What is your favorite book genre?
Young Adult (varies on the genre but usually paranormal, dystopian, romance)

12. What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading Unwholly, Delirium, City of Glass and The Maze Runner

13. Any project in the works?
I’m close to being done with the last book of the trilogy and I have another book in the works.

14. How long does it usually take you to write a book?
Since I’m in school, it varies. My first two books took me two years each, but this one only took me one year. The second book in the Metamorphosis trilogy took about eight or less months.

15. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Keep writing! Even when you’re stuck, write every idea that comes to mind and read a lot as well. Many ideas surface just by reading other people’s work.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Dogs or cats?
DOGS

2. Cake or ice-cream?
Cake! I’m addicted to frosting 🙂

3. Ebook or physical book?
Physical book

4. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Telekinesis! Although having that power will make me very lazy~

5. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
The past. The future is always changing, but the past will always be the same. I’d rather peek into something that I know is set in stone.

6. Being Spiderman for a day or being Batman for a day?
Spiderman for a day! I would be climbing walls and swinging all over the place!

7. Reading or writing?
TIE!!!

8. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
Every language known to humankind

9. Being drawn into a tornado or being drawn into a whirlpool?
Tornado! I won’t be able to swim!

10. Misunderstanding everything that is told to you or being misunderstood every time that you speak?
Being misunderstood every time. It’d be pretty bad if I misunderstood everything my boss said…

11. To never read another book or to never watch another film?
To never watch another film. I have to have my books!

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?
Half a day in a coffin. At least I’ll be able to sleep…

13. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
Never drink a cup of coffee. I don’t drink coffee anyway 🙂

14. Being two inches tall or being two stories tall?
Two stories tall! At least I won’t have to worry about being crushed and I’m used to being tall!

15. Finding yourself trapped in the universe of The Walking Dead or finding yourself trapped in a slasher film?
Slasher film. I think I’ll have a better chance of surviving since I won’t have to worry about the dead suddenly becoming undead.

16. Have every day be Saturday or have every day be Christmas?
Have every day be Saturday. Christmas is less special if it’s every day 🙂

Thank you for joining us, L.C.!
Readers: want to connect wit L.C.? You can find her on Twitter and Goodreads.

Author Interview: Eldon Farrell

Coffee with Architects of Worlds Afar is delighted to welcome Eldon Farrell–author of Stillness and the soon-to-be-released novels Taken and Realm of Shadows.

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1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a proud Canadian, born and raised in South Western Ontario where I still live with my very energetic son Connor and wonderfully supportive wife Emily. Writing for me is my hobby; it’s what I love to do but it’s too much fun to think of it as a career.  My career is numbers as a designated accountant where creativity is less prized (lol).  Don’t judge me too harshly for this but…I’m a bit of an Excel junkie as well; crafting ever more elaborate formulas in my ever dwindling spare time (my son is just past six months old now, so you know!)  Stillness is my first published novel but it will soon be joined on the shelves by the follow up Taken and a third Realm of Shadows all by the end of summer.  I hope anyway; best laid plans and all that…

2. When did you start writing?
I’ve been writing now since I was in grade five, which would’ve made me about 9 or ten years old. With a little break in between, I’ve been writing for over 25 years now which as I say that makes me feel really old.

3. Why did you start writing?
This is a good question. I would say the reason I started writing had a lot to do with my older brother Sean.  He really taught me about the wonders of imagination, and how it could take you to these amazing places within your own mind.  After that, the ideas just blossomed and I had to write them down just to get them out!

4. Does your story have a moral? What are the major themes present?
I don’t really think that there is a moral to Stillness. It’s not the type of story that you’re going to read and feel like some great lesson has been imparted to you.  It’s more the type of story that you read and just enjoy the ride.  That being said though, it does have its major themes.  I don’t want to say too much, or give away too much, but suffice to say it borrows a lot from my own thoughts on power, authority, and the perils of trusting those who have either.

5. Of the characters you’re created, which one is your favorite?
Another great question! Of all the characters I’ve created (and that’s a lot as I have a penchant for filling up the book with characters!) I think my favorite would surprise…and maybe disturb my readers.  He comes into his own in my second novel, Taken, as the serial killer that Caleb Fine is tasked with finding.  I dubbed him The Toymaker.  The reason he’s my favorite is because he’s so unlike every other character I’ve created.  My characters tend to be a blend of good and evil—shades of grey if you will.  He wasn’t.  With The Toymaker I could just let go.  In my opinion he steals every scene I put him in.

6. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
I must have an outline—very strongly for them. I tried writing off the cuff once but it ended in total disaster.  I don’t know, I just require that structure of knowing where the story is going before I can sit down to write it.  Having said that though, I’m also not married to that original outline and have on several occasions made revisions as the book unfolds to its own beat.

7. What is your favorite book genre? 
My favorite book genre would be suspenseful thrillers—exactly what I write. There is nothing like a well-crafted piece of fiction to give you the shivers in the middle of the night.  I remember the first time I read The Tell Tale Heart under just such conditions—pure magic.  But my tastes run to more than just thrillers.  I routinely read biographies (both of persons and businesses), courtroom dramas, literature (both historical and otherwise), the odd family drama, and of course…lots of comic books!!  Since I was a kid I’ve loved the basic stories within them—you always know the good guys from the bad guys and there’s something so reassuring about that given the world we live in.  Plus they keep me young 😉

8. What are you currently reading?
I’ve just finished Red Notice by Bill Browder; a true life story of murder and corruption at the highest levels of the Russian government. A riveting read that was quite eye opening.  I’m about to start Yellow Death by Alex Lettau, a fellow Indie scribe.  A quick glance at my to-read shelf gives you a sense of my diverse tastes as I have All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda, Before the Fall by Noah Hawley, and Now That We’re Adults by Lynn Almengor to name just a few of the ever growing list.

9. What is your favorite book?
My absolute favorite book has to be The Wishing Game by Patrick Redmond. I have read it numerous times and it still gives me chills.  The plotting, the style, the slow buildup of psychological terror, the pacing…this book highlights a master at the height of his craft.

10. Any project in the works?
I’m currently two-thirds of the way finished what will be my fourth published novel, titled Singularity. It’s a departure for me in that it is set in the year 2035 and deals with an evolutionary jump forward for mankind.  I’m having a ton of fun writing this one as I feel it combines both my love of writing with my love of comics.  It will of course though retain my signature story telling elements by being character driven and realistic.  Or as realistic as any dystopian future premise can be!

11. In your opinion, what makes a story good?
This is an intriguing question in that no matter how I answer it someone reading this will disagree with me. What makes a story good is such a personal thing and that’s why we have so many diverse talents writing out there!  It’s awesome!  For me for a story to be good it only has to have one element—it has to be enjoyable to read.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
Once was a time I would’ve said movies but with an infant son at home these days it’s books all the way.

2. Summer or winter?
Winter for sure—get more writing done 😉

3. Ebook or physical book?
Physical book. I did just purchase an e-reader though, so it may change.

4. Nights out or nights in?
Nights in

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

6. Working in a group or working alone?
Working alone—like most of us creative types I imagine

7. To find true love or to win the lottery?
True love, definitely true love. Cause when you find true love, like I have with my wife, you have won the lottery!!

8. Being Spiderman for a day or being Batman for a day?
I so love DC but I have to go with Spiderman; he just has more fun!

9. Reading or writing?
Writing; nothing like it!

10. Going without internet access for a week or going without watching any movies/television shows for a week?
I did mention the infant at home right? I’m already going without TV so sign me up for that.

11. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
Never drink a cup of coffee again—why start drinking it now?

12. Finding yourself trapped in the universe of The Walking Dead or finding yourself trapped in a slasher film?
The Walking Dead…easier to outrun!

Thank you for joining us, Eldon!
Readers: want to connect with Eldon? You can find him on Goodreads. Also, be sure to check out his blog.

Author Interview: Lydia Staggs

Allow me to introduce Lydia Staggs–author of the fantasy novel Shamar.

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1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Like so many women these days, I wear many hats.  I’m a wife, a mom, an aquatic animal veterinarian, and now, an author.  I’ve always tried to do things not to be rich or successful, but to enrich/enhance my life as well as those around me.

I am a Southerner.  College sports, pickup trucks, fried food, and southern accents are a stable in my life.  My profession dictates where I live, which is currently Florida.

2. When did you start writing?
Since I was in veterinary school, I’ve been writing peer review papers for scientific magazines.  It wasn’t until 2014, that I started writing my first work of fiction.

3. Why did you start writing?
A few years ago, I was still in my “resist the e-books” phase (I’ve now seen the error of my ways, because there are lots of great Indie writers who only publish e-books).  I wanted that physical book in my hands; so, I went to a book store looking for a new book to read.

When I asked one of the store employees about a great book series, they told me since I was a woman I would probably like Fifty Shades of Grey.  I know many people love those books, but that genre is not for me.  I’ve always loved fantasy, science fiction, or historical fiction.  I left this particular book store, walked across the street to the next bookstore and asked the same question; only to receive the same answer from two different employees. It seemed to me, these workers thought women only wanted to read erotica. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good love story, but I want something more than detailed acts of sex.  This led me to whining about this situation to some friends of mine at work, and we joked around that maybe I should write something.  I started writing a few days later, and it took off.

4. Tell us a little bit about your book’s title.
Shamar is Hebrew for protector, which is explained in the book.  For the Shamar series, all the titles will be Hebrew words with special meaning.  Coming up with the title was probably the hardest part of writing for me.  It is the last thing I do in the writing process.

5. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
I write every night after I tucked my child into bed.  I normally write between thirty minutes to an hour.  Before starting a book, I create all the characters and write little biographies for each one.  Then, I just started writing the tentative story I have in my head.  There is no written outline, and I don’t set goals on when to finish sections.  Some nights I can write an entire chapter, but other nights I might just write a paragraph.  The more emotionally charged chapters take me weeks to finish.

6. What are you currently reading?
I’m slowly making my way through the Outlander series.  These are beautifully written books, but they are very intense.

7. Any project in the works?
The second and third books to the Shamar series, and another separate fantasy book.

Book two of the Shamar series, which is tentatively titled Rea, is in final revisions.  Hopefully, it should be released within the year.

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

2. Dogs or cats?
Cats

3. Cake or ice-cream?
Ice-cream

4. Ebook or physical book?
I still love the physical book in my hands.

5. Living in the city or living in the country?
Country

6. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Telekinesis

7. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
Travel to the past.

8. To find true love or to win the lottery?
True love

9. Reading or writing?
Reading

10. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
Totally being able to talk to animals.  It would make my job so much easier.

11. Going without internet access for a week or going without watching any movies/television shows for a week?
Going without watching any movies/TV for a week

12. To never read another book or to never watch another film?
Never watch another film

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. I live in Florida and are used to them.

14. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
I find coffee disgusting so I will happily give this up.

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

Author Interview: Anna Chant

Coffee with Architects of Worlds Afar welcomes historical fiction writer Anna Chant. Her debut novel, Kenneth’s Queen, just recently hit the virtual shelves.

anna1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Anna Chant and I live on the English Riviera in Devon, UK. I’m a mum of three boys and when I’m not running around after them I’m a freelance writer, editor, researcher and tutor. I studied history at the University of Sheffield, which has developed into a lifelong passion for this subject.

2. When did you start writing?
I started writing as a child back in the 1980s, but it’s taken until this year to finish a novel and self-publish.

3. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for your novel?
The strange thing is, I have no memory of the moment I decided to write this novel. I was originally trying to research a much later queen of Scotland to write about!

The content of the novel changed while writing. It’s a historical novel set in the 9th century. I originally planned for it to end in the year 862, which was likely to be a significant year for my heroine. However it would also have meant dealing with the deaths of two other major characters and I wasn’t sure if the story could really recover from that or whether I could cope with writing their death scenes! I became very attached to these characters, very quickly. The heroine spends a lot of the early part of the novel in tears, I didn’t want her to spend the end of it miserable as well.

4. Tell us a little bit about your book’s title.
I originally planned to call this book The Nameless Queen, as this woman who must have existed (The King had four children!) has no record in history. However I discovered another book with that title, so switched the name to Kenneth’s Queen. Kenneth is Kenneth Mac Alpin, King of the land that would become Scotland. However he is only called Kenneth on the cover. In the book I use the Celtic name that he would have been known as – Cinaed.

5. Does your story have a moral?
I’m not sure if the story has a moral. Perhaps the realisation of the characters that unity is better than enmity. I think the theme of the story is identity on a number of levels. There is the identity (or lack of) of women of that time and the story explores how the identity of the Scots came about. But also the major characters all struggle with their identities. The heroine, Baena makes a dynastic marriage with her hereditary enemies and has to suppress her Pictish identity. Cinaed, her husband, is of dual heritage and is deeply ashamed of half of it. His brother, Domnall is the rebel of the family who struggles to come out of the shadow of his perfect older brother. Their cousin, Graunt, is comfortable with his identity until something happens to him in the story which forces him to need a new role in life.

6. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
I make an outline, but sometimes things change as I write. The first thing I do is make a timeline of known events, then using another colour I add the events of things that happened but we’re not sure of the dates or events I have invented. I need to keep track of what’s fact, as these events have to appear in the story.

7. What is your favorite book genre?
My favourite genres are historical fiction and sci-fi. In some ways I see them as one genre. Both take us out of our own time into how we imagine the past to have been or how we imagine the future will be. So far I have only written historical fiction, but I enjoy reading both.

8. What is your favorite book?
My favourite book is ‘Katherine’ by Anya Seton. It is a historical novel about Katherine Swynford, mistress and later wife of John of Gaunt. I enjoy the way the character’s personal story is interwoven with the tumultuous events of that time. I also like the myriad of minor, but real characters that come into the book including Geoffrey Chaucer. I find this writing and the meticulous research that went into it (pre-internet days!) very inspiring.

9. Any project in the works?
I am currently working on another tale of the Dark Ages, from an even earlier era than Kenneth’s Queen. It’s set among the Angles of 6th century Britain and features a very remarkable woman. The East Anglian setting is one that is very close to my heart.

10. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I would advise them to just get on and do it. It’s easy to spend too long thinking about it and never get anything written. Write the story you want to tell. Some people will like it and some won’t. The important thing is that you like it.

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

2. Summer or winter?
Summer

3. Nights out or nights in?
Nights out

4. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Having telepathy

5. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
The past – I’d love to go back and meet my characters for real!

6. Making a phone call or sending a text?
Sending text

7. Travelling by car or travelling by airplane?
Traveling by car

8. Being Spiderman for a day or being Batman for a day?
Spiderman – this one is for my son!

9. To speak using ONLY rap lyrics (from songs released in the 21st century) or to speak using ONLY quotes from Austen’s books?
Speak only using Austen’s books

10. 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?
Trapped at the bottom of a well

11. 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.)
Snowstorm – it never snows in South Devon, so I’d enjoy the novelty!

12. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
Never again drink coffee (I don’t like it anyway!)

Thank you for joining us, Anna!
Readers: want to connect with Anna? You can find her on Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook. Also, be sure to check out her blog and Amazon author page (UK and US).

Author Interview: Robert Eggleton

It is my pleasure to present Robert Eggleton–author of Rarity from the Hollow. His novel was awarded a five-star review from Readers’ Favorite as well as a gold Badge of Approval from Awesome Indies!

roberteggleton[1]

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi, Jessy. Thanks for inviting me to tell your readers a little about myself and my debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow. I’m a sixty-five year old, retired children’s psychotherapist. I live in Charleston, West Virginia. I earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work in 1977 and have been involved in children’s advocacy for the last forty years.

Besides writing and reading for enjoyment, my hobbies include vegetable gardening, watching West Virginia University sports, movies, and I have an old truck that I LOVE. It’s a 1966 Dodge with the original slant-six engine — well, never mind the technicals. The truck needs a lot of work and it has been fun to restore, so much fun that I’m taking my time to make the fun last. BTW, I mentioned this model truck in my novel. lol

2. When did you start writing?
I grew up in an impoverished household and would write stories to entertain myself and others. It was free recreation for me and my family. I shared my stories with others in the neighborhood, such as clerks in stores and service station attendants (gas stations used to employ people to pump the gas – lol). In a way, I guess that it was an early model of networking. My stories got better and my audience grew. In the eighth grade I won the school’s short story writing competition and began to dream of getting my family out of poverty by becoming a rich and famous author.

Tragedy that I won’t go into struck my family and I stopped sharing my writings. They became dark, introspective, emotive…I’m sure that some of it was related to adolescence. I became heavily involved in the antiwar movement in college – a time when kids saw themselves as street fighters of a counter culture. I wrote material for handouts at war protests and then one day something clicked – I must have been reading Vonnegut at the time. I turned my anger into satiric comedy with a poem (“The White Machine” – a commode, lol) and the poem was published in a zine: The Purple Press. The next semester or so, and as part of a creative writing class assignment, another of my poems was published in the West Virginia Student Poetry Anthology. It was titled, “Our Real Warmth” and was one of several of my poems with the same title and themes (I know, I know, you’re not supposed to do that – use the same title for different poems but I figure that each of us has different real warmths). A version of this poem just won first place in an international science fiction poetry competition: http://wildcat.wsc.edu/clubs/willycon/zine/poetry/2015/Our_Real_Warmth.php

During but increasingly after the Vietnam War ended, I became more involved with children’s rights. For a very long time, very long, my fiction took a back seat to nonfiction. Sure, like most writers I dabbled with stories to reduce that compulsion, but my finished products were:

  • dozens of (mostly scathing) investigative reports on children’s programs published by the West Virginia Supreme Court;
  • a residential service model for housing abandoned kids in the community instead of in large institutions that was accepted into and distributed by the Child Welfare League of America Resource Library;
  • a model for reuniting runaway and homeless youth with their families nationally distributed by the U.S. Department of Justice;
  • research on kids bouncing from one foster home to the next and the impact of involving those kids in placement decisions that was published by a child welfare agency and presented at the 1983 National Association of Social Workers conference;
  • West Virginia’s first child fatality by maltreatment report as a member of its first Child Fatality Review Team (“Daniel’s Death” – this was a heart breaker to write – I cried so much that I couldn’t see the monitor) and distributed to all child protective services workers in the state;
  • And, other nonfiction that I’ll probably think of later, but you get the idea.

In 2002, I accepted a job as a children’s psychotherapist for our local mental health center. While emotionally draining – working with kids who needed intensive treatment, many of whom had been victimized, some sexually – the position didn’t involve much writing (except exhaustive therapy notes, yuck!). By 2006 I couldn’t hold back my need to write any longer and I started writing fiction again. I submitted a fictional / satirical essay (SciFi) to a print magazine and it was published by Wingspan Quarterly (“I Found God in Cyberspace”).

This early success bolstered my drive, but it was also a confusing time for emerging writers: electronic vs. print. This period was almost a war with hot debates, etc. I wrote a short story next, young adult literary science fiction, that was published in another print magazine – Beyond Centauri (“Lionel” – it used an off-world setting to address child poverty in the U.S.). Both of these magazines subsequently went under as the new electronic age took over. I know that the first magazine can still be ordered because I stumbled across it while surfing, but I’ve not looked for the other since I have a copy of it, as well. (If interested, contact me and I’ll email you a scanned copy of the story.)

3. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for your novel?
Part of my job at the mental health facility was the facilitation of group therapy sessions. One day in 2006, a skinny little girl not only disclosed detail about her victimization, but continued to speak of her hopes and dreams for the future. Her resilience was inspiring to everyone. Before the end of that work day I had a protagonist and a rough outline of Rarity from the Hollow in my head – a powerful female protagonist who doesn’t have an ounce of sex appeal, doesn’t carry a sword or light saber, and who is destined to save the universe, her own family first, of course. While Lacy Dawn, the protagonist, is a composite of many children that I’ve met over the years, her core is the little girl who sat around the table from me during group therapy that day in 2006.

I submitted the first manuscript of the story to a new eBook publisher six months later. After another six months of editing by mailing the paper manuscripts back and forth – a lot of postage – the first version of Rarity from the Hollow was published. To promote it, I wrote another short story that was published in Atomjack Science Fiction Magazine (“Stainless Steel” – adult literary science fiction addressing child maltreatment, adolescent mental health treatment, and an alien assisted murder plot by Lacy Dawn and her best friend, Faith). A month later, both the eBook publisher and the magazine closed shop. Honest, it wasn’t my fault. “Stainless Steel” was reprinted by an Australian author on her blog a few months ago and can be read here:  https://racheltsoumbakos.wordpress.com/2015/08/07/freebie-stainless-steel-by-robert-eggleton/

The current version of Rarity from the Hollow was published by Dog Horn Publishing, a traditional small press located in Leeds. There is a difference between the two, but as this novel approaches republication as a second edition projected for July 2016, I’m still insecure about whether it has become too strong in forcing readers outside of their comfort zones. The social commentary is more frank and honest now, perhaps even offending the prudish. The novel has received many glowing reviews by book critics and experienced book reviewers, otherwise the publisher would not be interested in investing in the upcoming second edition. But, some readers have reported that the early tragedy was too harsh for them to easily get to the subsequent satire and comedy.

I guess that no book can be for everybody, so I decided to stop second-guessing myself based on book reviews. Here’s an excerpt of a book review published on 6-11-16 and which totally eliminated my last minute self-assessment as an author and his debut novel:

“…The best thing about “Rarity” is the writing. It feels timeless, classic and mature in a way that would ensure its longevity if more people knew about it. I would even say it could be read in a college setting both for the craft itself and its unique brand of storytelling. The premise was brilliant and brought a distinctive approach to the adult-fairytale/modern-retelling sub-genre…” — Tay LaRoi https://cheapreads.wordpress.com/

4. Tell us a little bit about your book’s title.
The title, Rarity from the Hollow, came from a scene in the novel. I don’t want to spoil anything, so this may sound a little vague. Lacy Dawn’s team had returned from their first visit to planet Shptiludrp (Shop Until You Drop), the central location of universal governance established through a long standing conflict between extreme consumerism and socialism. On first read, their adventure is “silly” and comedic, so forget about politics for a minute. Anyway, the team brought home to the hollow a spaceship full of merchandise that they loaded into the barn. They didn’t know what most of the items were or were for….

Because the barn was needed and the stuff was in the way, Lacy decided to have a yard sale. She advertised on the internet: Rarity from the Hollow, Items of…. The yard sale turned into a Woodstock type event – pot smoking, music, VWs stuck in creeks…. Just read it and you will understand. Sorry.

5. Does your story have a moral?
No, I wouldn’t say that Rarity from the Hollow actually has a moral to the story. There are many messages, but that doesn’t mean the messages will be interpreted by one reader the same as interpreted by another. I don’t write or want to read anything that is “preachy.” Heck, I don’t even think that religious literature, like the pamphlets that one finds on the floors of public toilet stalls, should be so preachy. I wouldn’t want to touch such content, even if it would have been delivered under more sanitary conditions. I want to write about important issues that one person may think support a particular position but the next reader finds the opposite. I don’t have the answers to the most important questions and challenges that humans face.

The narrative of Rarity from the Hollow addresses social issues: poverty, domestic violence, child maltreatment, local and intergalactic economics, mental health concerns – including PTSD experienced by Veterans and the medicinal use of marijuana for treatment of Bipolar Disorder, Capitalism, and touched on the role of Jesus: “Jesus is everybody’s friend, not just humans.” These messages do not advocate for anything specific.

One of my personal truths is that enough is not being done to prevent child abuse / exploitation in the world. Author proceeds have been donated to Children’s Home Society of West Virginia: http://www.childhswv.org/

6. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
The main characters in Rarity from the Hollow are:

  • Lacy Dawn, the preadolescent protagonist, an empowered victim of child maltreatment;
  • Jenny, her downtrodden mother who learns how to be strong from her daughter;
  • Dwayne, her war damaged father who is a villain until cured of PTSD and who never fully acknowledges his wrongdoings;
  • Tom, a born-rich successful businessman with Bipolar Disorder who moves to the hollow to escape city life and who distributes marijuana;
  • Faith, who plays an annoying and comical ghost most of the story after she is murdered by her father (no scenes, just reference to her having been sexually abused);
  • Brownie, the family mutt who is the only character in the story with enough natural empathy skills to communicate with a vile enemy in order to solve the threat to the universe;
  • The two managers of Shptiludrp, brothers who are so much alike except for their political views that have kept them estranged for millennia (don’t want to spoil here, sorry).

I love Lacy Dawn and so have other people. Here’s an example:

“…When Eggleton requested a review of Rarity from the Hollow, I was hesitant to accept. I usually do not read or review books that discuss child abuse or domestic violence; however, I was intrigued by the excerpt and decided to give it a shot. I am glad that I took a risk; otherwise, I would have missed out on a fantastic story with a bright, resourceful, and strong protagonist that grabbed my heart and did not let go. It is not every day that I find a kindred spirit in a book, but I found one in Lacy Dawn! I admired her courage, her imagination, and her intelligence; I could go on for days about the excellent job that Eggleton did in developing Lacy Dawn’s character….” http://www.onmykindle.net/2015/11/rarity-from-hollow.html

However, I’m a little disappointed that Lacy Dawn let her maltreatment reduce her ability to speak empathetically to others. She didn’t become hardened, but logical and goal oriented. This happens so often in real-life child abuse cases – dissociative, desensitization…. She loved Faith, but never spoke to her gently, which may have been in Faith’s best interests after all.

I hated Dwayne the first part of the novel, and never became fond of him although he did have admirable attributes regarding hard work and providing for his family’s material needs, and a sense of larger duty. Tom, oh I don’t know – I guess that I like him okay. He’s competent. Jenny, well, she wants to be a good mother but even after she is healthy she becomes overly consumed with romance with her husband. And, Faith, why didn’t she tell somebody what her father was doing to her? I understand, unfortunately, having met so many other children just like her in real life.

Bottom line, I didn’t create any of the characters so that readers would fall in love with them – for me that’s irrelevant. My favorite character is Brownie – he’s totally cool, funny, and always loving.

7. What is your favorite book genre?
I read in all genres. Yes, I’m not ashamed to admit that I even read romance novels. I don’t read erotica, not that I’m opposed to it. I think that I’ve just lost interest. (Maybe I should go see a doctor? lol) I’ve become a little bored with YA teenage angst, but a good story will still pull me in. I haven’t been dazzled by hard science fiction for a while, but that’s probably because technology in real life is moving so fast that I’m dazzled by it.

So far in fiction, I write literary speculative and hope to expand into other genre bending projects. However, I don’t think that I will ever want to write anything using a lot of flowery adjectives and adverbs. It’s just not me. And, I like to write shorter names for characters than found in some, especially fantasy novels with complicated lineages. I’m just getting started as an author, so we’ll see!

8. Any project in the works?
Yes, I’ve always got something going on. I’ve submitted a more academic type essay to a journal that is pending consideration, and a YA story for older teens. The next full-length Lacy Dawn Adventure is Ivy – how far will a child go to save a parent from addiction? It’s an adult novel. I’ve already told you about the projected republication of Rarity from the Hollow, so I’ll be spending a lot of time in promotions instead of writing, but that’s just part of the entirety of being an author.

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

2. Car or motorcycle?
Car, but do you guys know about Bikers Against Child Abuse? This is an international organization with bikers going to court with abused kids to help represent best interests as Court Appointed Special Advocates. I LOVE this organization. I bet most of your have a chapter nearby. They always have events going on.

3. Ebook or physical book?
I now accumulate eBooks, in part, because I’ve got no more room in my small house for physical books. lol I live in a library.

4. Nights out or nights in?
I mostly like nights in these days, but if there is something special I don’t hesitate to jump into it. I hate bars.

5. Living in the city or living in the country?
I would love to live in the country but at my age I need easy access to medical services. I do own a farm over an hour away from the closest 911 responder. I miss it, a bunch.

6. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Telekinesis. Sometimes it’s best not to know what others are thinking.

7. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
The future.

8. Making a phone call or sending a text?
Text.

9. Staying in a hotel or going camping?
Camping.

10. Working in a group or working alone?
Depends on the project – either is cool.

11. Losing all of your money or losing every picture you’ve ever taken and every picture that has ever been taken of you?
Losing money would be preferable to losing pictures – I don’t have that much money to lose anyway. lol

12. To find true love or to win the lottery?
I’ve been married for forty-five years, so I want the money.

13. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
Human

14. Staying awake for forty-eight hours (continuous) or walking for twenty-four hours (also continuous)?
Staying awake – I’m used to insomnia.

15. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
I’d give up chocolate before coffee. I live on coffee. Maybe that’s why I have insomnia sometimes. lol

Thank you for joining us, Robert!
Readers: want to connect with Robert? You can find him on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook (author page and personal profile), and Google+. Also, be sure to check out his website. Want to purchase a copy of Rarity from the Hollow? Click here to check out the eBook’s particulars. Click here to check out those of the physical book.

Author Interview: India R. Adams

Today’s guest is a double threat in the writing world. In addition to crafting books, she composes songs! Pretty neat, eh? Ladies and gentlemen, here’s India R. Adams–author of the Haunted Road series, the Tainted Water books, My Wolf and Me, and the soon-to-be-released novels Rain and Serenity.

Black and white copy

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a mom and wife, who happens to use her crazy in the form of writing books. Hahaha… Just kidding (not really). I’m and author of YA and NA novels in genres of contemporary, paranormal and fantasy. I’ve written music to go along with the Forever series, and have designed jewelry for some of my books.

  • Where are you from?

I’m originally from Florida, and have moved all over but now live in Murphy, North Carolina—in the mountains!

  • Give us a fun fact about yourself.

I’m unpredictable.

2. When did you start writing?
8 years ago after reading a self-help book. The read told me you could relive a memory, give a different outcome to whatever hurt you, and benefit from the sensation of a better ending. I was so intrigued, going back in time (in my mind), that I got caught up in my new memory. Once I had changed the event, my imagination kept inventing. Next thing I knew, I had Serenity, the first novel in the Forever.

3. How different is Serenity from your original vision?
When I was writing the second book in the Forever series, a metaphysical feel kept pushing its way onto pages, so I allowed the growth to take shape in Serenity. I went back to that first book and explored. I’m so glad I did. Now it’s a four book series.

  • Did the structure and content of Serenity change with the passage of time?

Oh yes! I’ve learned so much about the craft of writing since the beginning that, when time to get Serenity ready for professional editing, I had to go back in and implement my style that I have created over the years.

4. Tell us a little bit about one of your books’ title.
Serenity is my 6th release but since she’s been the subject, I’ll talk about her. The original title was The Swing. The reason is, Serenity (the lead YA, female character in this book) is looking to survive her mother’s alcoholism and her father’s domestic violence, and remembers the good days when her father would push her on her childhood swing. When a young man, Dereck, enters her life, he brings her back to this swing for talks. Sounds miniscule to some I’m sure but it’s the beginning to Serenity’s life transformation. My betas were not liking the title because the book is about this young woman more than the early parts with the swing. So, we now have Serenity, Destiny, Hope & Faith, and Joy. The Forever series.

5. Does Serenity have a moral?
I think so. So much growth happens in this first novel. The second novel, Destiny, takes place 2 years into college, where so much more growth and hard lessons are learned. I’m getting so excited just talking about it!

  • Could you explain what the moral is?

I hate to ruin the journey for any readers but one of the biggest lessons is with learning to love yourself, and trying to cut through the thick ties of codependency. It’s not easy for Serenity to learn to be the child, and let her parents figure out their mistakes on their own.

6. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
In the Forever series I’d have to say Destiny. She’s a wholesome woman who still sees magic and beauty in this world that is overwhelming for most. Another favorite of mine is Sebastian. He’s a character in My Wolf and Me who has recently started shifting into a human from his wolf form. I loved being in his head, seeing everything from his fresh perspective. He’s such a kind, loving soul… There’s a scene where he discusses “buttholes” that cracks everybody up! But, I think I had most fun writing Tucker from Steal Me. He’s flawed, complicated, a thinker, has a dirty mouth, and I loved stepping out of my own bounds and creating this guy. I found freedom through him searching for his.

I think I never mention my lead female characters as being favorites because they all have such events to go through, and I have to experience this pain with them! We have to search deep in our hearts and find strength to survive whatever lesson or conditions these characters are forced to endure. It can be exhausting, daunting, and so hard on me. Readers get to read and take the ride I’ve created for them. I have to stay in those painful moments for months at a time to get that chapter just right.

7. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
When in the mist of creating, I sit at my lap top for 10 to 14 hours a day. I loose myself completely. Time escapes me all together, and my kids give me dirty looks because they want dinner. They stand in front of my desk and wave (because I have earphones on) and point to their wrist watches. I pull myself from whatever zone I was just in and join the real world.

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

I’ve trained myself to work in public because of softball practices and stuff like that but I prefer isolation, especially for my deep scenes.

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

I don’t. I was given the advice once that if you want to write, write. That is what I do.

8. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
Not against them if it works for you. My brain just doesn’t work that way. The crazy thing in my noggin demands freedom to go as she pleases, lol!

9. What is your favorite book genre? 
I used to love YA but now I prefer to read what I write, NA, but love adult also. I have a bad boy motorcycle club addiction that has taken me over!

10. What are you currently reading?
I’m trying to finish the Beast by J. R. Ward. Black Dagger Brotherhood is a favorite of mine.

11. Any project in the works?
Always! I have many new books demanding my time but I’m staying focused with finishing sequels for the series I’ve started releasing. So, to come is, Black Waters, the third novella in the Tainted Water Scar Me, the sequel to Steal me, Haunted Roads series. River, the sequel to Rain of the Stranger in the Woods novels. And Destiny, the sequel of Serenity from the Forever series.

12. How long does it usually take you to write a book?
I usually knock out my first drafts in 30 days but it takes months and years to polish.

13. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’?
Connection to the characters. If the reader is not feeling them, it doesn’t matter what your writing about, in my opinion, for the genres I write.

14. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
The same answer always comes to me with this question… Write because you love it! Do NOT write because you think you will be the next #1 book and be as rich as those authors, because the chances are your wasting your time. Write because you don’t know how not to! Because it’s a part of your soul! That way, when your paychecks suck, you won’t be sad because you are doing what you desire, and THAT makes you one of the lucky ones.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Cake or ice-cream?
Pickles?

2. Car or motorcycle?
Motorcycles are a fetish of mine, hahaha

3. Nights out or nights in?
Are the kids home? lol

4. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
I’d have to say past because then I could CHANGE the future!

5. Staying in a hotel or going camping?
Hotel, unless I’m promised a great camp fire

6. To find true love or to win the lottery?
I’m a romance author! Love of course 😉

7. Being Spiderman for a day or being Batman for a day?
Climbing buildings or driving bad ass cars, hmmm…

8. To speak using ONLY rap lyrics (from songs released in the 21st century) or to speak using ONLY quotes from Austen’s books?
I always make my kids cringe when I try and rap, so rap, for sure.

9. Being drawn into a tornado or being drawn into a whirlpool?
Yuck! Lol. A whirlpool of love maybe?

10. Going without internet access for a week or going without watching any movies/television shows for a week?
Take my internet and I shall die.

11. Having your car break down on an extremely busy expressway or along an abandoned road in the middle of nowhere?
Middle. Of. Nowhere. Chris Hemsworth may find me and rescue me (don’t tell my husband).

12. To never speak again or to never eat solid food again?
I like milkshakes so I pick keeping my voice.

13. Misunderstanding everything that is told to you or being misunderstood every time that you speak?
Torture much? lol

14. Drinking a glass of expired, curdled milk or eating a bowl of cold, slimy worms? (Note: the worms would be dead, though not cooked.)
Gross! I pick worms.

15. Finding yourself trapped in the universe of The Walking Dead or finding yourself trapped in a slasher film?
Walking Dead.

16. Have every day be Saturday or have every day be [insert your favorite holiday here]?
Saturdays!

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