Elizabeth Heiter Interview: “Inspiration can come from anywhere”

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Continuing with my quest to find out more about exciting new genres I spoke to Elizabeth Heiter, romantic suspense writer, to learn more about this style of writing and what draws her readers to it.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards writing suspense fiction?

Since I was very young, I’ve always loved suspense. As a kid, I plowed through Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy mysteries. Younger than I probably should have been watching him, I was intrigued by villains like Darth Vader. What I’ve always appreciated about suspense is the puzzle aspect: as a reader, I enjoyed trying to unravel the mystery before the big reveal. As a writer, I like creating that puzzle, including all of the clues and red herrings. The other part of suspense that appeals to me is that (in many mysteries), at the end of the book, you can get the kind of closure real life often doesn’t offer. The protagonist prevails, the mystery is solved, and the villain pays for his crime. I like the vicarious closure in that.

As a suspense writer, I often identify myself within the psychological suspense sub-genre, because I’m equally drawn to characters. Why do people make the choices they make? What causes two people with the same background to take vastly different paths (e.g., one a serial killer and the other a profiler, as in my debut book). So, for me, character is equally as important as plot.

What is your background and how did you get in to writing professionally?

My degree is in English Literature, and I knew since I was a kid that I wanted to be an author, so many of my educational and professional decisions were based on that goal. In high school, I co-wrote my first finished manuscript (a YA action-adventure) with my critique partner. After college, I got involved in writing organizations to keep honing my craft and learning about the industry. And because I knew I wanted to write suspense and realism is important to me, I also began seeking out research opportunities (e.g. visiting places like the FBI Academy at Quantico and the CIA at Langley). Early on, I put together a career plan to help guide me in making decisions. In 2012, I sold my first five books, which were in two genres – both psychological suspense and romantic suspense; that was also the beginning of my journey as a multi-genre author.

Talk me through romantic suspense as a genre and how you would define this style of fiction?

In romantic suspense, the suspense plot and the romance plot (which involves two people overcoming personal and plot conflicts in order to fall in love) are so intertwined it would be difficult to pull them apart. Quite a bit of suspense fiction contains a romance; the difference in romantic suspense is both the amount and the role romance plays in the plot. One of the things I love about romantic suspense is that it really gives me a chance to dig into my characters’ flaws and force them to grow in order to earn their “happily ever after” at the end of the book. For a writer like me, who’s fascinated by why people make the choices they do, romantic suspense really gives me room to delve deep into character.

Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any particular places or incidents you draw on when you find yourself with writer’s block?

Inspiration can come from anywhere. As a suspense writer, I definitely get ideas from real incidents. I’ll see something in the news (a headline or some small detail about an action someone took) and I’ll wonder, “what if this happened instead”? Whenever I plot my books, I’m constantly asking myself “what if” and “how can I make this worse”? In my opinion, character and plot are equally important, and I think the strongest books have the “right” combination of character and plot (meaning that the plot is in some way the worst possible thing for this particular character to face). So, if I’m ever having trouble developing a story, I dig into character and motivation. And I never underestimate the power of a little caffeine and chocolate when I’m feeling writer’s block!

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

I’m a huge fan of Shakespeare. I love that so many of his plays contain elements of multiple genres: suspense, romance, drama etc. Back in high school, with the same critique partner I co-wrote my first finished manuscript, I made a complicated project involving a new play containing half a dozen Shakespearean endings. So, I think my dream collaboration would be with Shakespeare! (Although I suspect he might be a bit of a prima donna!)

Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?

Currently, I’m working on a new romantic suspense involving a woman searching for her long-lost sister in the wilds of Alaska. If she has any shot at succeeding, she needs the help of local a local ex-Marine and his Combat Tracker Dog, but that ex-Marine is fighting his own demons in the form of a new disability and PTSD. For years, I’ve wanted to set a book in Alaska, so this book has been a lot of fun to write. It’s called K-9 Defense and it releases in Spring 2019.

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?

My friend and fellow suspense writer Jennifer Hillier recently released a book called Jar of Hearts that I’ve been waiting for since she first told me what she was working on over a year ago! I’ve got the book sitting on my desk as a reward as soon as I meet my own deadline.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

If readers want to know any more about me or my books, they can visit my website at www.elizabethheiter.com.

Thanks ever so much for taking the time to answer my questions, it has been fascinating hearing more about your work.

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Simon Bower Interview: “As long as I can remember, I have adored a good crime thriller”

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For anyone looking for a good book to read while they laze on the beach and enjoy the heat wave, Dead in the Water is a great thriller to keep you entertained. I interviewed Author Simon Bower to learn more about the novel and how he drew on his own experiences of international travel to write it.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards crime fiction and thriller writing?

As long as I can remember, I have adored a good crime thriller. While I can appreciate some literary fiction, my personality dictates that I prefer fast-paced heart thumping suspense and mystery to beautifully crafted clauses! When I wrote Dead in the Water, I spent considerable time defining the writing style. Specifically, my first decision was to couch each chapter in the viewpoint of one of the characters. This provides a limited viewpoint that also allows a scenario to be explored from two different points of view, and at times with humour (an early example of this in the book is when Charlie and Ana see their relationship from very different points of view). I also decided to write Charlie’s chapters in the first person – it really immerses the reader in his psychological character. Finally, the vantage point of parts 1 and 2 of the Dead in the Water, is at the end of part 2, so part 3 transcends naturally into a present tense suspense. This real-time style can be liberating for the writer and the reader, since anything at all can happen. So I was attracted towards the writing style that I love and I wrote the book that I wanted to read.

What is your background and how did you get in to writing professionally?

I have always enjoyed writing and wrote a number of pieces for personal exploration during the past twenty years that I have spent living away from the UK. Undoubtedly, these projects guided the maturity of my work and allowed me to structure Dead in the Water from the outset. In terms of profession, I have lent myself to a whole array of jobs and industries in quite a few different continents – some of my most influential jobs have been when working in the communications field. Despite my keen interest I writing, time has always been in short supply. So the catalyst to put into words my plot for this book was the opportunity that presented itself a few years ago to concentrate on writing full time.

Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any particular places or incidents you draw on when you find yourself with writer’s block?

In order to have characters with sufficient depth, emotions, speech style and motive, I base my characters on exaggerations of real people that I know. I might not know them well, but it helps to ensure consistency of thought and the liveliness of reality. The crime elements come from a release of constraints, thinking like a kid who has not yet understood the moral lines and laws accepted in our society. What could you get away with if moral boundaries were removed and you didn’t care about the risk of a life in prison?

Dead in the Water is one of a new wave of hybrid genres. It’s a thriller, but before that it’s realistic and a mystery too. Three books in one. The one constant throughout my work is a very strong sense of place. I draw inspiration from locations I know intimately, taking the reader to parts of France, to Amsterdam, New York, London and Oxford, to name a few. When I wrote the manuscript, it was not one contiguous drafting journey – I dipped and delved into different parts of the book, and this meant if I ever met a wall, a way around it soon appeared by working on another point in the story, then going back to it.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

Writing the first draft for Dead in the Water was a solitary endeavour. However, developing it with my editor, Kate Taylor, was a productive collaboration. Suddenly I could share the responsibility and she was terrific at editing out superfluous details. However, I have not really considered collaborating to write a book, like Clive Cussler and James Patterson tend to do. Although I love the idea of working with Iain Banks, who has sadly left us, it would probably be most fruitful to work with someone who could bring a truly different perspective to the table – a CIA agent, or a convicted killer.

Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?

I’ve begun planning a sequel to Dead in the Water. It certainly won’t be simply an extension of the first, but so many people are craving to know what happens next. I won’t say too much, to avoid spoilers, but it would also be set globally, have some of the same characters and occur after the end of the first book.

Other than that, I have a keen interest to work on a book that is more speculative in nature. I enjoyed Matt Haig’s The Humans in part owing to its completely normal setting, but with an utterly abstract twist.

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?

I’ve mentioned a few writers, but the one that keeps getting away is Terry Hayes. I enjoyed his debut novel I am Pilgrim, despite some reservations of stereotyping, and very much look forward to his belated next release The Year of the Locust. I also like to check out new writers and I have a few of those to try out. One example is Strangers on a Bridge, by Louise Mangos – the plot sounds intriguing.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

My book has been released by a UK indie publisher, Middle Farm Press, and the odds are stacked against ‘David’ when ‘Goliath’ and all the collaborators hold all the cards. Dead in the Water is stocked in some bookshops but for now, our distribution is limited mainly to the biggest online consumer direct suppliers. We are working on improving this, but need to demonstrate demand, so we are most appreciative for the support we get for either the eBook or paperback. Finally a hearty thanks to Hannah for conducting this interview and I hope you enjoy Dead in the Water!

Thanks for answering my questions Simon, it has been awesome to hear your thoughts.

 

 

Juliet Bell Interview: “It helps that we both respect each other’s ability”

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Apologies for the delay in posting- I’ve been in Australia exploring tropical Queensland. As a treat now that I’m back, I’m sharing an interview I undertook with two incredible writers- Alison May and Janet Gover, who, coincidentally, is from the incredible country that I’ve just had the fortune to visit. Together they write as Juliet Bell, creating intriguing re-workings of classic novels, something I was keen to find out more about.  

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards creating modern retellings of classic novels?

We first discussed The Heights in the bar at a writing conference. We’d both taught workshops that day, and both used Wuthering Heights as examples of very different points we were making. We only knew each other slightly, but over a glass of wine we started talking about how many people misremembered the Bronte book and focussed on the romance, rather than the darkness of the story.

Janet had always wanted to do an adaptation set against the Thatcher years and the miners’ strike, but being Australian didn’t think she could write a North of England book. Alison is from Yorkshire, so fairly late in the evening, we announced we would do it together. A week or so later, when the wine had worn off, we talked again and decided that wasn’t actually a completely terrible idea.

Sharing a pen-name with another author must be an incredible experience. Please talk me through how you work together to create your books. How do you combine your collective skills?

Spreadsheets. We both love a good spreadsheet. Well, perhaps Janet more than Alison, but she’s coming around. We have started each book with a really good plan of how to divide the work and we stick to it – for at least the first two, or maybe three, weeks. We both have our own solo writing careers and deadlines, and of course the same family commitments everyone has. Neither of us normally plots our books in advance, but when writing together we have to, which is where the spreadsheets come in.

With The Heights, we ran out of time, so Janet was still writing Cathy and Heathcliff when Alison started writing Kate and the second generation. With Jane Eyre, we are each writing one main character’s point of view. We both review and comment on and edit the whole book, which sounds crazy but seems to work.

It helps that we both respect each other’s ability – and that we meet regularly for pizza and wine.

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What is your background and how did you get in to writing professionally?

Alison: I started writing seriously in my mid-twenties, when I signed up for an evening class in creative writing as a distraction from a not altogether fascinating day job. The evening class turned into a part-time degree. At the start of the course I thought I was going to be a very Serious and Important playwright. I started a terribly earnest play about Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton as my dissertation piece. When it got to six weeks before the deadline and I hadn’t actually written any words I admitted that serious theatre might not be my calling and wrote the opening of a romantic comedy novel instead. That novel eventually turned into my first published book, Sweet Nothing, which came out in 2013.

Janet: I started writing stories when I was a kid growing up in the Australian bush. There wasn’t much else to do apart from ride horses and read – and I did a lot of both. I went to University in the ‘big city’ and then became a journalist and television reporter. That was fun – I got to travel and meet a lot of interesting people. Then I discovered computers, fell in love with them and set out on a second career in IT. That was when I started writing fiction seriously. I thought switching from writing fact to writing fiction would be easy. How wrong I was. But I stuck with it and now I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.

Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any particular places or incidents you draw on when you find yourself with writer’s block?

We are both always coming up with shiny new book ideas- it’s terribly distracting. The problem is locking them in a drawer until current book is written.

Actually writing is much trickier than having ideas. Alison, in particular, actively dislikes writing first drafts. She sees them as a necessary evil to get to the editing, which is where the actual real work of creating the book gets done. Her tip is to get through the first draft as quickly as possible, even if it’s terrible. Then at least you’ve got something to work with.

The Bronte adaptations are obviously inspired by the original books, and by the women who wrote them. The books have themes and characters that still resonate today. That’s a remarkable achievement.

Juliet Bell is the place we take our shared fascination with misunderstood classic literature, and heroes who aren’t actually all that heroic.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

Alison: Without even looking I know Janet will say Neil Gaiman, which is interesting because I’m going to say Terry Pratchett. Basically we both want to have written Good Omens! Obviously Pratchett is no longer with us, and realistically if I’d every tried to collaborate with him I would probably just have ended up gabbling at him incoherently in a pathetic fangirl sort of a way.

If I go for someone who’s still alive, I’d indulge my secret dream of writing a musical (despite having zero musical ability) and go for Tim Minchin.

Janet: A really tough question, but I’d have to say Neil Gaiman. He’s one of my favourite authors. He has such a brilliant mind. I’ve seen him speak a couple of times. He is funny and thoughtful and angry and all those things that make a great writer. He’s also very cute in scruffy writerly way. Of course, if I ever found myself face to face with him, I’d probably explode in a mass of fan-girl excitement, so possibly not the best collaborator in the world.

Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?

We are now in the final stages of writing the second Juliet Bell book. It’s another Bronte book – Jane Eyre of course. Rochester is another ‘romantic hero’ we don’t love. His behaviour is not so heroic, and we don’t just mean locking his wife in the attic.

We’ve set this book in Australia. This is Janet’s revenge for having to write about Yorkshire in The Heights. It’s also a modern setting with the kind of isolation that still allows someone to be kept in an attic without the neighbours anyone catching on.

Jane’s story of fighting to make her way in the world still resonates today, but we have done a couple of radical things in this book. We’re excited (and maybe a little bit afraid) to see people’s reactions.

We don’t have a final title yet – our working title is simply Thornfield. Whatever the final title, it will be out in November in both eBook and paperback.

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?

Alison: So many – I’ve just read AJ Pearce’s Dear Mrs Bird which came out in April and is wonderful. I’m always excited for Julie Cohen’s new books – her last one Together was one of my favourites of last year. I also work a lot with newer and developing writers, and there are a few – Pippa James, Kirsten Hesketh and Erin Green spring to mind straight away – who have projects in the pipeline that sound amazing. And, Janet’s latest solo book – Marrying the Rebel Prince is at the top of my To Read pile at the moment. That looks like it’s going to be fantastic fun.

Janet: This would be a very, very long list. My list of ‘must buy’ authors is quite long and varied. And I love finding a new author – especially if they have a long backlist. But – and I mean this honestly – I’m really looking forward to Alison’s new solo book, All That Was Lost – which is out in September. She’s told me a bit about it, and it sounds amazing.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Janet: We often meet readers who say they’re nervous about emailing an author, or telling them how much they love a book. Please don’t be. We don’t get out much and hearing from readers is really important to us. So, if you like a book, email the author, or tweet to them. Write a review for them. Those are the things that make us happy as we sit in our tiny offices, staring at those terrifying blank documents on our computers.

Alison: Yes. Absolutely, do get in touch. Chat to us. Talk to us about books, writing, biscuits, or even an interesting stain you’ve found on your pyjama top. We are expert in all of these areas.

Thank you for having us Hannah x

Thanks you both for your time, it has been a pleasure. You can find out more about their partnership and the work they produce together HERE.

 

A.B. Patterson Interview: “I spent most of my police career as a detective”

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This week I caught up with former Detective A.B. Patterson to learn more about his writing and how he draws on his time in the police to help him create memorable crime fiction.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards creating crime fiction?

I didn’t set out to write crime fiction when I first started messing around with words. However, that old advice of “write what you know”, combined with (starting about ten years ago) reading a lot more crime fiction, prevailed pretty quickly. I do want to write other stuff as well- more on that later!

Style-wise, I am firmly in the hard-boiled and noir camps with my crime fiction. I enjoy reading that style immensely, and so it came naturally to try writing in it. And the more I do, the more comfortable I am with it. One of my big likes about this style of crime fiction is its accent on characters and social commentary. To me, those two aspects are more important than plot. So my writing is gritty and realistic – not for the faint-hearted!

How do you draw on your past as a policeman in your writing?

I spent most of my police career as a detective, and most of that working in child abuse and paedophilia. Then vice squad for my last 18 months before I resigned. I’ve also worked in investigating government corruption since I was a cop. So, it’s the wealth of experience in terms of cases I’ve worked on and the types of people I’ve met, both in crime and corruption work, that have given me a treasure trove of material on which to base my fiction. I’ll run out of time in my life before I run out of story ideas. I’m very fortunate in that regard. Connected to this is my deep-seated loathing of power abuse, whether it be victimization by criminals, corruption by government people, or workplace bullying. My background, both personal and professional, has me wanting to look after the underdog, so this comes through in my writing, as it is a driving force in me.

Please tell me about your books. Why do you believe they have become so popular?

Sure I want to spin (hopefully) good yarns which entertain people, but one of my big motivating factors in wanting to write is to tell people what actually goes on out in society, both in terms of crime and corruption. The majority of the storylines I’ve used so far are based on truth, to varying degrees. So the sorts of criminal acts and corrupt behaviours you read in my work do actually occur out there.

I also get a kick out of being able to have my main protagonist achieve a certain justice, when in reality this often is not the outcome, sadly. And I like to have a PI as my main character, rather than a cop, as that allows less adherence to the rules. He can be more flawed, which is so much fun.

I’m not at the “popular” stage yet, too early in my writing career. But I do intend to write for the rest of my life, so I’m in it for the long term. If I become popular, then great. What I really want is just to be able to earn a living out of writing, and not have to do more mundane work. When I get to that point, I’ll be a very happy man.

Of course, being a self-published author means that there’s a long road to build one’s profile and grow a readership. So, all the more reason to work hard at it.

Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any particular places or incidents you draw on when you find yourself with writer’s block?

Well, as earlier discussed, my professional background and the cases I’ve worked on are a huge inspiration. So is the desire to tell people what goes on in society, even though it is dressed up as fiction. I also come up with random ideas when I see things. I always carry a notebook so those flashes of inspiration can be jotted down and not lost to the daily noise of life.

For example, I saw a TV documentary a few weeks ago about trafficked African girls working as prostitutes in Italy. That gave me a germ of an idea for a short story, which is now complete and has been submitted to a magazine in the US. You just never know when ideas will come up. If I sit down and try to come up with ideas and write, then sometime that works, sometimes it doesn’t. Earlier on, I used to get frustrated with writer’s block (we all get it along the way). Now, I find it easier in two ways. The first is that as I have become more disciplined at writing most days, even if it’s only for 20 to 30 minutes, I am finding that words flow much more easily. It’s almost as if productivity breeds itself. The second point is that I don’t let myself sit there and get frustrated any more – I simply put the pen down and go and do other related tasks, like research or editing some previous writing. The pernicious trap of writer’s block is that it also feeds on itself.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

What a great question. And so hard to choose an answer. Well, for my style of crime writing, there’d be a few deceased authors – Ross Macdonald, Raymond Chandler, James Crumley all jump out. But I’m going to go with a living author – Ken Bruen from Ireland. An American reviewer likened my style to Bruen’s, and I love his books. Why? Because he writes it gritty and noir with flawed people everywhere – exactly the world I write in. I could pick several others, but I’d be here a while.

Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?

Absolutely. The manuscript for my second novel, Harry’s Quest, is in final editing stages now and I expect to publish it in July/August this year. It’s the sequel to Harry’s World.

I’m also working on a number of short stories, and I’ve decided to put together a set of them into a book, either later this year or early next. I have written a number of Harry short stories, but in the first person rather than the third, so this has been a fascinating adventure, writing my main man as “I” instead.

Another project I started a while ago, but need to get back to, is a novella called The Scent of the Wattle. It’s a dark tale about child abuse and paedophilia, fiction still, but very much drawing on the work I did in that area. Again, there are things I want to say and put out there.

And I alluded to writing other genres before. One of my favourite reading genres, aside from crime, is dystopian fiction. So I definitely want to try my hand at that. And, of course, the more I sit and think about it, the more project ideas that will emerge. I love that about being a writer.

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to in the future?

I’m a hopeless addict when it comes to buying books, so my TBR piles are huge, despite the fact that I read on average a book a week – my target for this year is 60, and I’m on track. I’ve been getting into crime and pulp anthology magazines since last year, hence my foray into short story writing, of which I’ve had two published now in Switchblade magazine, an excellent hard-boiled and noir anthology. Aside from the short story being a wonderful format, and I think even more appealing in the current age with people being so time-poor, these anthologies are a great way to find new authors. And then you can go looking for their books if you like their style. So I have “discovered” many indie crime writers and am starting to read their books. Some favourites so far are: Preston Lang, Alec Cizak, Scotch Rutherford, Todd Robinson, J.D.Graves, and Travis Richardson.

There is so much good writing out there, especially in the indie and self-publishing worlds. I think a lot of the best writing out there is overlooked by the mainstream publishing industry, which, after all, is purely commercial in its interests.

If I could give some advice to my younger self, a key point would be “Read more!” Oh, and another one would be “Write!” I wish I’d started that earlier. Still, I’m trying to make up for it now.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Thank you for showing an interest in speaking with me. Aside from having to do “other work” to pay the rent and bills, I do feel very fortunate to have found exactly what I want to spend the rest of my days on this planet doing. I just want to write more and more.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions; it’s been a pleasure hearing from you. You can find out more about him and his writing HERE

Fred Shackelford Interview: “There’s something to be learned from every writer’s style”

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For those of you who fancy reading an exciting new author interview this Bank Holiday I spoke to Fred Shackelford, author of the innovative thriller The Ticket, to find out more about what makes him tick!

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards darker fiction?

The Ticket has a plot-driven style. I attempted to write a page-turner with lots of twists and turns to move the story along at a quick pace. The plot revolves around a missing lottery ticket that will become worthless if it expires, so the tension mounts as the deadline approaches. The character development emerges primarily through dialog. The book’s style is dark because I created several very sinister characters that readers will love to hate. However, other characters are more sympathetic – perhaps even heroic.

What is your background and how did you get in to writing professionally? How do you draw on your past when writing fiction?

I’m an attorney who writes legal memoranda and briefs, so much of my professional writing is in a somewhat dry, technical style. However, some intriguing cases do inspire my creative thoughts. I’ve enjoyed venturing into fiction writing with The Ticket, as I have far more freedom in terms of style, vocabulary and subject matter in my role as a novelist. I draw on my past when I develop composite characters that possess traits that I’ve seen in people I’ve actually met.

With regards to the books you read, do you have any particular favourite writers or series?

My favourite author is John Grisham. When I began reading The Firm years ago, I couldn’t put the book down until I finished it. Coincidentally, Grisham and I live in the same county in Virginia, and I was fortunate to meet him one time in a local bookstore when I dropped in to sign a few copies of The Ticket. The owner invited me into a private room, where Grisham was busy autographing a huge stack of books.

I also enjoy the Henry Spearman mystery series by Ken Elzinga, who writes under the pen name Marshall Jevons. Elzinga’s protagonist is an amateur sleuth who solves crimes by applying economic analysis. Other authors of interest are John F. Jebb, III, Alden Bigelow, Janet Martin and Mary Morony.

How important do you believe variety in reading material is for a writer?

That’s very important. There’s something to be learned from every writer’s style, even though in rare cases the lesson is how not to write!

Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any particular places or incidents you draw on when you find yourself with writer’s block?

I developed the basic theme of The Ticket from a newspaper article about an unclaimed lottery jackpot. I tried to imagine an interesting scenario to explain why someone might wait until the last minute to cash in a winning ticket. When I experience writer’s block, I often take a break and stop trying to force an idea onto paper. Sometimes it helps just to walk outside and watch the world go by.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

I think it would be fun to work with Charles Dickens. I love the rich imagery in the text of A Christmas Carol. It would be a treat to get advice from such a creative author.

Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?

I may try to write a screenplay based on The Ticket. The formatting and style of a screenplay are markedly different from a novel, so it would not be easy. But writing my first novel wasn’t easy either, so we’ll see how it goes. Many readers have encouraged me to write a sequel to The Ticket, but it’s more likely that my next book will be a stand-alone novel. I’ve been mulling over some plot ideas. Some of them involve buried treasure, but that theme is a cliché, so I may have to come up with something more imaginative.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

I hope everyone who reads this interview will rush out and buy a copy of The Ticket!

Thanks to Fred for taking the time to answer my questions. You can find out more about Fred and his work HERE.

 

 

 

Christine Gabriel Interview: “I love everything about dark fiction”

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This week I invited Christine Gabriel to talk me through her work and how she has come to define a unique writing style that appeals to her vast readership, including Iron Man. 

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards darker fiction?

Great question! What most people don’t know about me is that I can successfully write in multi genres. Dark fiction is what I chose to put out as my debut novel. I love everything about dark fiction, and how you can entwine it with reality to the point that you can’t determine what’s real, and what’s fiction. It’s so much fun!

What is your background in writing and how did you get in to publishing your work?

I’ve been in the marketing field for almost 15 years. With my marketing knowledge, I was able to approach publishing houses with what I could do for them. They loved that I could help market my own book, along with their own efforts.

Then I signed with a publishing house – which shall remain nameless – and was terribly disappointed by their marketing/communication efforts, so I recovered my rights, and decided to move on.

One afternoon, I happened to be surfing Twitter, and saw PitMad was trending. Curious what Pitmad was, I decided to investigate. That’s when Pandamoon Publishing caught my eye. I sent them an email and have since been with them for over 5 years! What a happy ending, right?

Tell me all about the Crimson Chronicles series. What was your inspiration?

A good friend of mine, Stephanie Gerold, had asked me if I would write her a book about vampires. I gave her a firm no. Vampires were way overplayed at this point. Well, she kept asking, and I finally caved in. I agreed to write her a book – but without vampires (Shh, I did put ONE vampire in the book, just for her, and darn it, he ended up being everyone’s favourite character.)
crimson moon book cover

How do you draw on your own experience when writing?

I was bullied all through high school, so I spent quite a bit of time in my bedroom, writing amazing stories I could escape into. I use a lot of that experience in my writing. If I’m having a rough day, or if writer’s block hits, I think back to those dark moments in my life. I use those experiences in a positive way to help me write better and write more. It’s such a rush when you see the shock on your old classmate’s faces when they see you, and how you’ve changed. They’re even more shocked when they see what you’ve accomplished – especially when they told you would amount to nothing.

Have you done any other work that you are particularly proud of?

I’m currently working on a Women’s Fiction novel titled Real Men Don’t Cry. This book has made me go through an entire box of Kleenex already, and I haven’t even finished it yet. It’s going to be a good one.

What’s next for the Crimson Chronicles series? Have you got any exciting plans to develop it that you can share with us?

There are quite a few exciting things happening with the Crimson Chronicles Series. Though I can’t release any information yet, just know it’s super exciting, and fans will love it! One thing I can share with you is that Crimson Forest will be available as an audio book this fall!

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to later in the year?

There are a few new books I’m super excited to see released this year. Meg Bonney will be releasing her second book in the Everly series – Rosewood Burning. Her first book was phenomenal.

Another book I’m looking forward to is Nola Nash’s debut novel, Crescent City Moon. I’m a huge fan of New Orleans, and voodoo – so this book is right up my alley!

Anything you’d like to add?

I love connecting with my readers and fans. Interacting with them is what makes this worth it for me. If I can help someone escape their reality, even if just for a short period of time, that’s why I write. I do this for you guys!

Many thanks for answering my questions, it has been a pleasure having you on my blog.

 

Mary Morony Interview: “I was fortunate enough to be born into a highly dysfunctional family”

Mary Morony

Ever heard of Southern Fried Fiction? Neither had I, so I chatted to the pioneer of this innovative genre, Mary Morony, to find out more!

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style.

What I write I call Southern Fried Fiction. I explore very heavy topics—alcoholism, drug abuse, divorce, racism, and sexual abuse, just to name a few. Despite the subject matter, I like to think I have a deft hand with humor so things rarely get too maudlin or hard to handle. It is a delicate balance. I used the dual narrative in the first book to juxtapose all manner of family dysfunction with a Sallee’s wide-eyed innocence and Ethel’s down to earth common sense.

What is your background in writing and how did you get in to publishing your work?

I have a B.A. in English with a focus on creative writing from the University of Virginia. I started my first book, Apron Strings long before The Help. It languished on my computer until I heard Katherine Stockett speak at the Virginia Festival of the Book. She relayed a story.

In one of her talks an audience member stood and said to her that the woman who raised her didn’t love her. She was paid to pretend that she loved her. After hearing that I had to publish my book. Raised by my family’s black maid, I knew for a fact that I was loved. The relationship of black domestic has been unfairly marginalized but from my perspective it deserves better and, as a righter of wrongs, I endeavoured to do so. Ethel my and Sallee, my protagonists are based on my relationship with Lottie the woman who raised me.

Tell me all about the Apron Strings Trilogy. What was your inspiration?

I was fortunate enough to be born into a highly dysfunctional family. In the South idiosyncrasies are a badge of honor, at least in my world. Being basically lazy—writing came easily—and fascinated by the characters that swarmed around my childhood household it was too easy to pass up.

Have you done any other work that you are particularly proud of?

Surviving my life with my sense of humor intact is a huge source of pride, as are my four remarkable children.  I am the mother of four. My two oldest children’s father committed suicide when they were very young. My next child’s father died from a very virulent form of cancer before she was born. I’m happy to say the fourth child’s father still survives. We’ve managed to stay married for the last 30 years. Rather than feel sorry for myself, I chose to use what I learned from all of those life lessons to write my novels.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Mark Twain is my favourite southern author. I tremble at the thought of his wicked wit and biting satire turned on me but would loved to have been able to have collaborated with him in his early years. He got a little too grumpy toward the end of his life.

What does the future have in store for you? Have you got any exciting plans to develop it that you can share with us?

In January, I had the pleasure of visiting Kampala Uganda with a Young Living Essential Oil group. While there, I visited a NGO created to help young girls, 12-20 year-olds out of the sex trade. The girls gave a presentation for us. A few brave souls shared a tiny bit of how they came to this place called Rahab’s Corner.

I still cannot describe what happened to me without emotions and tears welling up.  It was if I had been electrocuted, my whole body started to quake and buzz. Sitting still proved impossible. Simultaneous joy and abject fear rendered me speechless, as I fought back the desire to wail.

As soon as I was able to get myself together enough to speak coherently, I told my husband what had happened and what I thought it meant—I needed to come to Rahab’s Corner, get to know the girls, and write a book about them. Without hesitation he agreed, that in its self is God at work!

Not knowing why, I brought along copies of my three novels to Africa. I gave them to Moreen so that she might get a sense of my writing style and my ability to tell the girls’ stories. This project would segue beautifully with my previous work, as one of my major themes is redemption. Granted, I write about trauma in American families, but the effects of trauma and the healing power of redemption are the same the world over.

No stranger to intense drama and trauma in my own life, I am acutely aware of the healing power of story. Turning your personal horrors into a venue for healing not only cleanses the soul it changes the world, as Moreen’s- the founder of Rahab’s Corner-own magnificent story testifies.

The time seems so ripe, at least in the States, for a book like this.  The advantage a book would make is twofold. It would not only help the girls heal by turning their tales into vehicles of healing for themselves and others it would shine the spotlight on the great work done at Rahab’s Corner and Pure and Faultless Foundation. I am so excited to be invited to come to Rahab’s Corner and to write Moreen’s remarkable story. I leave in July for as long as it takes.

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to later in the year?

My upcoming trip to Uganda is as far into the future as I can see.

Anything you’d like to add?

Thank you so much for the interview.

I’d like to thank Mary for taking the time to answer my questions; it has been truly fascinating to hear her thoughts. You can find out more about Mary and Southern Fried Fiction HERE.