Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Author Interview: A. M. McPherson

 

A.M. took writing classes at Kent State University before graduating with her Associate of Arts degree. Writing was originally a tool to help her overcome her postpartum depression, but quickly became a new found passion. She hopes to inspire others to follow their dreams no matter what. Her upcoming novel, a YA superhero romance called The Guardian's Daughter, is available for purchase on the 21st of September 2021.


Q&A:

Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?

 The Guardians’ Daughter is a fantasy/superhero romance story full of mystery & suspense. I was going through postpartum depression after having my son, and suffering from anxiety attacks. During this time I had a dream revolving around two people who wanted to be together, but there was some reason as to why they couldn’t be (in the dream I wasn’t quite sure of what it was), and they were going to school and had abilities. After having this dream I couldn’t stop thinking about them, and decided I wanted to try to flush out the story - and that is now The Guardians’ Daughter, which releases 9/21/21.

Q2: What are five words that describe your writing process?

 Slow. Steady. Consuming. Madness. Passionate.

Q3: What authors, or books have influenced you?

This is always such a hard question for me. So many things have influenced me from books, people, TV shows, and movies. And I’m absolutely terrible at remembering names - but one of my favorite book series is The Hunger Games. Suzanne Collins really created a world that made you think about society, and people’s way of life. Yes, we don’t necessarily put kids in a literal killing arena in today’s world, but there’s definitely something said about the disconnect between the poor and the rich in everyday life. I inspire to write like that, to truly make people think about what comes across as “normal” but it really shouldn’t be.

Q4: What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?

Mainly I need quiet, or very light background music. If there’s too many things going on it interrupts my focus. Also a hot beverage, usually tea or decaf coffee is nearby as well.

But let me be honest, most days I’m trying to write with my four year old on my lap while trying not to spill anything. Ah, the life of a working mom!

Q5. What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?

I love stories of growth, and ones especially of strong-women making the best out of their life, and defying social norms. If I have to stop reading for a moment because the author has truly made me rethink something, they have done their job wonderfully.

Q6: What is the best advice you have ever heard?

I once talked to my writing professor at Kent State about my aspirations to write a book. She was supportive but told me, “Writing was a heartbreaking profession.” It was almost a shock to hear that from my professor, but I’m glad she told me. I don’t want to set myself up for heartbreak, so I’ve tried to approach every aspect of self-publishing with an open mind and heart, knowing I could easily get heartbroken if I let myself. I’ve always had a horrible habit of getting into something, but soon as it got hard or I felt like “I wasn’t good enough” I gave up quickly. With writing I did not want that to happen because it’s something that truly drives me, and I can’t imagine my life without it now. If she never told me what she did, I may have fallen into my old pattern, but hearing her say that registered with me that I just need to push through the feelings of self-doubt. That it’s natural. Sure, I have some rough days, but the rough days will happen. With writing you have to acknowledge you’ll have good and bad days, and that’s OK. What’s not okay is giving up on your dreams.

Q7: What is your favourite genre to read?

Definitely fantasy, but I do enjoy a good self-biography, and horror story as well.

Q8: What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why?

Definitely plot nowadays because I use characters to help me achieve where I want the story to go. In the beginning the plot was based off of a handful of main characters, but now since I have those characters I need to create more to help me achieve the end game of the series.

Q9: What are you working on now? 

I’m working on the second book to The Guardians’ Daughter, and hope to have it released by the end of 2022.

Q10: What are you currently reading?

Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono (if you love the movie, you’ll definitely enjoy the book!)


Keep reading to find out more about The Guardian's Daughter

Secrets bind them together. Secrets may also tear them apart.

The day Ember’s parents were murdered was the day she lost her faith in heroes. Alone and adrift, she tries to forge a life for herself in the rubble the Guardians who failed her left behind. She vows to never trust heroes again, but will that vow also keep her from finding love?

Aiden wasn’t looking for love, just a chance to do some good. What he found instead was a young woman as captivating as she was cold. He should stay away, but he can’t. Now he’s faced with the choice of whether to keep a terrible secret about his past—one that links him to Ember’s parents—or risk telling Ember and losing her.

Ember wants to stay true to herself while figuring out her future. But Aiden’s secret may have her second guessing everything, leaving her more heartbroken than ever before.

Find out more about A. M. McPherson by following the links below:

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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

How Do You Learn How To Write?

How do you learn how to write a book?



I have read many writing manuals over the years, some good, most terrible. But, honestly, you really don't need them. You learn how to write by reading books, and reading widely. I attended a writing workshop run by Christos Tsiolkas about 6-7 years ago and he pointed out to me that I was too narrow in my reading. I went out of my way to push myself out of my comfort zone and my writing saw a huge improvement as a result. 

Recently I have been re-reading Tangled Webs by L.M.Montgomery. I loved it as a child so I thought I would sit down and work out why. Montgomery's descriptions in this books are out and out brilliant, and I have been jotting them down while I read so I can learn from them. She has a lot of characters that she needs you to remember really quickly, so she uses concise, vivid imagery. Here are some of my favourites:


"There was a grin of enjoyment on his little, wrinkled face with its curious resemblance to a shrivelled apple, and his astonishingly young, vivid blue eyes twinkled."

 "Aunt Becky, her eyes as bright as a cat's, was ready to receive her guests."

"Margaret Penhallow, her thin, sensitive face flushing pitifully and her peculiarly large, soft, grey-blue eyes filling with tears, went blindly to the first vacant chair."

"with her patient, haggard face and her dark, hollow eyes in which still burned the fires of the hope that kept her alive"

"Big Sam had a face that was actually broader than it was long and a flaming red beard."

"nobody would ever dream of calling the fat, shabby, old fellow [a dandy] now, with his double chin, his unkempt hair and his flabby, pendulous cheeks."

I could honestly keep going with more examples. 

So there you have it, reading with intent, being conscious of fiction you enjoy and analysing why are all vital to becoming a skilled writer.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Author Interview - Beverley Lee

 


Bio: Beverley Lee is the bestselling author of the Gabriel Davenport series (The Making of Gabriel Davenport, A Shining in the Shadows and The Purity of Crimson) the gothic horror, The Ruin of Delicate Things, and the soon to be released The House of Little Bones. Her shorter fiction has been included in works from Cemetery Gates Media, Kandisha Press and Off Limits Press. In thrall to the written word from an early age, especially the darker side of fiction, she believes that the very best story is the one you have to tell. Supporting fellow authors is also her passion and she is actively involved in social media and writers’ groups.

You can visit her online at www.beverleylee.com (where you’ll find a free dark and twisted short story download) or on Instagram (@theconstantvoice) and Twitter (@constantvoice).

 Beverley Lee's latest book, The House of Little Bones will be released on the 21st of September and is now available for pre-order



He thought he was untouchable.

David Lansdown, esteemed British horror writer and supernatural sceptic, is used to basking in the glow of the press…

Until a hastily snapped photo hits the headlines and makes his affair with his publisher’s son public.

When David finds himself at Bone Hollow, a house with a glass wall overlooking a wild and desolate moor, his only concern is writing his next best seller to bury his misdeeds in the past.

But something stirs beneath the earth. Something bound to the land. Something determined to take everything from him.

Luca Fox-Waite is still in love with the man who cast him aside, but his own childhood demons lurk in his shadow. As he discovers more about Bone Hollow’s history, he finds himself ensnared in its story—a story steeped in time and tragedy.

Because curses lie in bones, and they do not die.

The House of Little Bones is a tale of avarice, adoration, and of how the sins of the past cling to the living as well as the dead.

Click here to pre-order The House of Little Bones.


Genre: Horror/dark fiction

Q&A:

Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?

My latest book will be released in September 2021. The House of Little Bones is my first novella and the what-if idea came to me as I was walking around some Roman ruins one day. By the time I’d got back to my car I had the first chapter written in my mind and three characters pretty much fleshed out.

Q2: What are five words that describe your writing process?

Contemplation. Exploration. Fixation. Conversational (with my characters) And tea. Lots of tea ;)

Q3: What authors, or books have influenced you?

So, so many. Going way back – C S Lewis, Alexander Dumas, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (The Hound of the Baskervilles was the first book to actually scare me). Stephen King, for story and for showing me that even minor characters have to shine. Neil Gaiman for the beauty of magical realism and for making me believe. Anne Rice for her early Vampire Chronicles (Lestat was my first anti-hero love) and for making her creations feel. Her influence in my writing is very noticeable. Mary Shelley, Shirley Jackson – no explanation necessary. Carlos Ruiz Zafon (The Shadow of the Wind is a piece of perfection) The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller for breaking my heart, and in the same vein, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Books that make me feel own my soul.

Q4: What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused? 

I can’t write to music, so silence. Although I did pen part of one of my stories to a storm soundtrack as I was writing a storm scene. And tea, lots of tea, which I may have mentioned in Q2 (I’m a Brit, what can I say? ;)) I’m not a fan of a cluttered desk either. I usually just have what is absolutely necessary on it, so no distractions in the form of notes or other books. The clutter is all in my head in word form as I’m writing!

Q5. What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?

The most important thing to me is understanding your characters. Know them inside out. Understand why they do what they do, because nothing takes you out of a story more than a character doing something completely contrary to how they’ve been acting before. Make your reader love them or hate them, but make them feel something! And love what you’re writing. If you can’t get excited about your story it will have the same effect on a reader. I’d say forget all the rules too. Do whatever works for you because writing is a craft and one size doesn’t fit all.



Q6: What is the best advice you have ever heard?

That you can’t edit a blank page. Before I wrote my first book I was one of those writers who tried to make everything perfect, paragraph by paragraph. You can’t write a book like that (or at least I can’t). It has to flow from your imagination and stopping to correct your grammar is a sure-fire way to stunt that little muse into running for the hills. Plenty of times I can’t think of the right word so I’ll just insert a word that’s close or the same word will reappear multiple times. I make notes in my document margins saying things like ‘check this blooms then’. I can fix those in the second draft. First draft=vomit draft. Get it out. Clean it up afterwards!

Q7: What is your favourite genre to read?

I read quite widely. For me, it’s the story that counts. But my heart belongs to quiet, atmospheric horror and I gravitate to that most often. Anything gothic. Anything with troubled multi-layered characters. Anything with a dark setting that is a character in its own right. Sometimes I’ll take a break from the darkness though and pick up something that simply calls my name, like my current read which is magical realism.

Q8: What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why?

The characters. Probably because my stories are always character driven. You can have the most exciting story in the world but if your characters are bland and flat, no one will love it, especially you. I usually start with one and build gradually, although sometimes I’ll get more than one and then they all want my attention at once. I ask them three questions. (Courtesy of V E Schwab)

1) What do they fear?

2) What do they want? 

3) What are they prepared to do to get it?

Q9: What are you working on now?

I’ve just started the first few tentative steps on a new work in progress. I say tentative as I haven’t got an ending yet and I usually don’t start anything until I have an ending, or at least the pathway to one. But we shall see.

Q10: What are you currently reading?

Right now I’m mid-way through Call Down the Hawk from Maggie Stiefvater, my magical realism palate cleanser between a graveyard of horror. And an arc for a blurb I can’t talk about yet, but know that it’s very good….

Find out more about Beverley Lee by following the links below:

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Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Author Interview - S. A. Crow


S. A. Crow is an LGBTQ+ Author living in the Dallas / Fort Worth area of Texas with her two lovely roommates and two very odd dogs. She is the former owner and editor of two internet magazines, and has had a compliation of poetry published by the Fort Worth Haiku Society. She is an accomplished multi-genre author, writing Romance Suspense and Urban Fantasy Noir Mystery. Into the Fire, book 1 of her Contemporary Romance Suspense Series was published by Black Bird Books Publishers in February 2021. Book 2 of the Fire series will be released in 2022.

Q&A 

Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?

Into the Fire Book One of The Fire Series. A vacation I went on with my best friend to Seattle and the amazing food tour we went on inspired it.

Q2: What are five words that describe your writing process?

Visual, determined, consistent, scheduled, and evolving.

Q3: What authors, or books have influenced you?

Edgar Allan Poe, Jane Austen, Jacqueline Carey, Ender’s game, Interview with a Vampire, and so many more. I’m a voracious reader.

Q4: What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused? 

Notes on character names and story locations, pens, notepad, my tiger's eye stone carved into a heart shape, and a timer. I like to sprint when I write and revise.

Q5. What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?

Character, setting, and knowing the path ahead.

Q6: What is the best advice you have ever heard?

If your first draft isn’t a mess, you haven’t done your job right. I love the idea that you should enjoy writing and allow yourself to write badly. After all, you can’t edit a page if you haven’t put a word on it.

Q7: What is your favourite genre to read?

I've been reading romance novels since I was young.

Q8: What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why?

Characters come first for me. I can put them in any plot but I have to know who I’m writing first.

 Q9: What are you working on now?

At this moment I’m taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo. I’m revising the first book in my urban fantasy noir mystery series.

 Q10: What are you currently reading?

I’m reading Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine.


Into the Fire is available from most online retailers


Set mostly in Seattle, Washington, this is the first novel in an episodic contemporary romance suspense series. Into the Fire is the story of Raven and Travis.  How they meet and fall for each other while an obsession follows Travis and endangers Raven.


Can they find the courage to fight for what could be the best thing for both of them?


Find out more about S. A. Crow by following the links below:

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