Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Author Interview - Lauca

Lauca is a European writer, author of micro stories inspired by everyday life, while her historical novel draws inspiration from Chinese history and her adventures across China. Her writing also reflects her interest in foreign languages and crossing cultures.

Genre: historical novel


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

My latest and also first book is ReturningEast. The inspiration came from the website of an old French shipping company, Messageries Maritimes. Thus, the novel is about a physical journey from France to Hong Kong and then Asia in 1954, which turns into a journey of self-discovery and evaluation of one’s past.

Q2: When you’re writing an emotional or difficult scene, how do you set the mood?

I don’t think I have a specific process, maybe because this is my first novel. Every scene was challenging because I did not “know” them before writing them.

Q3: What authors, or books have influenced you?

I have a couple of authors, who I love to read, like Banana Yoshimoto and Amy Tan. But I think life has a larger influence on my writing than authors do. I love reading in different languages and I can really see how the tone of let’s say a Chinese novel is different from an American one. I am more drawn to Asian cultures, and I also enjoy reading French novels but as I often read in English, I came across many good novels from US or UK authors.

Q4: Which of the characters do you relate to the most and why?

Interesting question, I never thought about it. They each have a trait that speaks to me but there is no one I relate to most. I think the ladies of the story, even though they are minor characters, are quite interesting. Maybe one day I will write their story, where they get to be the hero.

Q5: What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?

You don’t need to get it right from the start. You can always edit a first draft, but you cannot edit a white page. So, just put as many words as you can on paper, following your inspiration or a prepared plot, and later edit what you don’t need or like.

Also, don’t get stuck in confusion, there is never a right answer, and one choice is a good as another. When you research something specific, like for example how to use multiple points of view, use three sources and then make up your mind. Do not waste your time looking at dozens of sources, after the first 3 or 4, they all are a variation of the first two!

Q6: How much research did you need to do for your book? 

Researching the book was the fun part. I love history and I enjoyed exploring websites relating to stories from old Hong Kong, watching Youtube videos shot in China and also going to the library to read about colonial Indochina. Much of what I read never found its way in the book, but the magic is in the realistic details which appear throughout the book.

Q7: What was your hardest scene to write, and why?

The end. I do not plan a sequel, but the end of the book is not the end of my hero’s story, as in my mind, there is a life for him after this journey. Thus, it was challenging to find a satisfactory comprise between leaving his journey open and at the same time closing this chapter of his life, and the book.

Q8: What is your writing process like? Are you more of a plotter or a pantser?

For this first book I was 100% a pantser. I had no plot whatsoever, I had no characters, nothing. I sat down each time I had scheduled a writing slot and had to squeeze my imagination to have the next scene come out.

I took part in the NaNoWriMo in 2019 and I did plot a story. It was definitively easier to write a first draft and even though I did not finish it (at least for now), I could write 44.000 words in three weeks. Considering that I have an office job four days per week, the result is not bad.

For the second novel, which I started a couple of weeks ago, I am a mix of plotter and pantser. I do have my characters this time and I know their development. I have some ideas about a couple of points I want to bring in the story, but I do not have a complete plot.

Q9: What are you working on now?

I still work on micro stories, which I publish twice per month. I also started a second novel, as I mentioned above. I can say that there will again be an international set of characters and the story takes place between Berlin and Italy, around the first decade of 2000.

Q10: What are you currently reading?

I have just re-read a novel by a Japanese writer, Aki Shimazaki, translated into French. On my e-reader I have open The Law of Attraction, by Hesther Hicks and on my night table there is an Italian edition of a collection of short stories related to Japan, written by Italian or foreign authors.

To find out more about Lauca follow the social media links below. Keep scrolling for a sneak peek at Returning East




Amazon Author Page


Returning East is available in paperback and ebook.

Returning East

Chapter 1

 In the Joliette harbour, JJ looked down from the deck of the Cambodge as a sea of passengers queued to board the ship. Most of the passengers were men. A whole army division was probably heading to Indochina to support the troops in the ongoing battle at Điện Biên Phủ. Priests and nuns were the next conspicuous group, unintentionally mixing with the soldiers on the gangway. Some soldiers gave way and made the sign of the cross; others turned their backs on the ecclesiastical company and kept their distance, thus blocking the priests and the extreme unction that their presence on board seemed to announce. 

The mix of passengers included a statesman with his entourage, as well as a few civil servants of lower grade, some in the company of their wives and children. The navy officials completed the picture. With their white uniforms, they looked clean and smart, and they granted a holy quality to the whole scene, as if the passengers were entering into the officialdom of marriage. The various groups added brushes of colour to the white background: shades of green for the military, black and white for the missionaries, a potpourri of hues for the other passengers. Some glamourous ladies attracted looks, their wasp-like waists eclipsed by their full breasts and large light-coloured hats, whose ivory or vanilla colour often matched that of their purses. Each tone had its own modulation of buzzing voices, which were drowned out by the ship’s foghorn.

Jean Jacques stretched his neck in all directions to see if he could catch a glimpse of anyone close to his age among the passengers. Failing to see any, he lowered his head to look at the seawater splashing in the gap between the pier and the ship. The size and beauty of the Cambodge was remarkable. He read that the ocean liner—162 metres long with a speed of 23 knots—was quite new; its maiden trip had been only the year before. He took in every detail, which he planned to tell George about. 

As the ship pulled out of the harbour, he felt the full power of its steam turbine engine, as if he were sitting in a fast car. When the harbour disappeared from sight, he went to sit on one of the deck chairs to enjoy the last rays of the afternoon sun. He opened his diary and read again the letter he wrote the night before.

My dear George, 

This will be my last letter for a while. I am leaving tomorrow for China. Yes, you heard right, China! I wanted to write to you earlier, but the preparations have taken all my time. I arrived in Marseille today, and I will board a ship of the Messageries Maritimes, which will take me to Shanghai. 

I know what you are thinking. I also feel I must apologise for changing my mind about going to Asia again. Despite my mixed feelings, I need to go there. I have good reasons and I hope you will understand my position. 

My neighbour, my teacher, Old Min, passed away a few weeks ago. He found out he was very sick just a while before. After several years of searching, he had finally located his long-lost daughter and had recently got in touch with her. He was, though, too sick to go back to China to see her and she has no means to come to France. It was a sad moment for him to realise that, you can imagine. 

Old Min was a generous and wonderful teacher, who dreamt of spreading the traditions of Chinese painting in France and preserving this ancient art. Unfortunately, his poor health prevented him from seeing his dream realised. I see now that he probably sensed he had not much time left to live. This is why Old Min took me in as his student, with an unspoken wish that I would carry on his work. He treated me with such kindness and selflessness; he guided me and took his time to teach me. During his stay at the hospital, we discussed the possibility of my going to China to study painting there. Old Min even contacted one of his friends, who is the dean of an academy in Hangzhou. Of course, I did not want to go. But I could not tell Old Min that, as he lay on his deathbed. Instead, I humoured him and promised that I would go. What a mistake! 

On one of my last visits, he asked me to take his ashes to his daughter, so that he could rest in peace in his motherland. Despite the pain, which made his face contract and his hands tremble, he took my hand and pressed in it a ticket to China and a letter from his friend in Hangzhou, who had accepted me as a student for the next few months! You can imagine my surprise, and my fear. I was dumbfounded and I just took the ticket. The day after, though, after a sleepless night, I planned to tell him that I could not go. When I arrived at the hospital, his bed was empty. I had arrived too late. What would you have done in my position, George, tell me? How can I now refuse to go, without having told him so? His wish to let his daughter have his ashes mattered to him so much that he arranged my ticket from his hospital bed! I feel I cannot let him down now. The dean’s letter allowed me to secure a visa to China, but I am not sure I will go to the academy. Still, I must meet Old Min’s daughter and give her his ashes.

You see, I have very good reason to go there. And this time I want to keep my promise.

            I shall write to you more from the ship, maybe send you postcards along the way, if possible. I don’t know. Old Min bought a third-class ticket, but my parents changed it to a tourist-class ticket, not the cheapest. At the beginning, I thought my father would not let me travel. But it looks like they are keen to see me go, after all. Especially my mother, I am sure. Maybe my father agreed in the hope that the experience will forge my character. You know him too. He has clear ideas how a man must behave in society, and shyness is not permitted.

Since Old Min passed away, I did not have anybody to speak to. We did not speak a lot either, but I felt he was my close friend. Now I feel lonelier than ever, and you, George, are my only friend.


My warmest regards to you. JJ.

JJ closed his diary and as usual, he tried to recall George’s baby face. Now and then the memory would start fading; he would then turn to the portrait in his diary. Each time he bought a new diary, he would draw George’s portrait again: a child of six or seven in blue shorts and a white shirt, a leather ball in his hand, his eyes half closed and facing the sun but still looking straight into the camera. The image was like a picture he had stolen from his mother shortly after George’s funeral.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Author Interview - Sarah M Stephen

Sarah M Stephen started writing at an early age, first scribbling pages of notes while pretending to be a journalist before she could actually print. After mastering the alphabet, she moved into poetry and short stories. Following a few successes in grade school (a regional poetry prize) and university (a short story published in an anthology), she traded creative tales for corporate ones. A few years ago she rediscovered her love of words and resumed creative writing. She is a graduate of The Writer’s Studio creative writing program at Simon Fraser University.

Sarah tries to balance working, parenting, and writing, while leaving a bit of time for baking and running.

Genre: Historical mystery


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

The Hanging in the Hollow Tree (releasing August 16, 2022) is the second in the Journal Through Time Mysteries. The series features a detective in late nineteenth century pairing up with an archivist from the twenty-first century working together to solve crimes, communicating through the detective’s journal after the archivist discovers it. Vancouver, where I live and where the series is set, has a long history of financial fraud, some of which inspired this book.

Q2: What’s your favourite and least favourite part of publishing? 

I honestly enjoy all of it. Coming up with an idea, then creating a story around it, revising it, and receiving feedback from readers once it’s out there. If I had to choose something I love the most, it’s the moments when I’m writing the first draft and I get so caught up in the story that it wakes me in the middle of the night.

Q3: What authors, or books have influenced you?

There are so many. I love Agatha Christie, Anne Perry, Louise Penny, and Anthony Horowitz.

Q4: What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book?

Because I work full time, I don’t always get as much opportunity as I’d like during the week to write. So, I try to use those pockets of time when I’m standing in line at the grocery store or waiting for the kettle to boil to draft. I drafted a large portion of my first book on my (pre-pandemic) commute to work. Those little bursts of time really add up. I find I need longer blocks of time for editing, so on the weekend, I am usually fortunate enough to get a couple of hours of solid writing/editing time in.

Q5: What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?

Just keep writing. Even 250 words a day will give you a solid first draft in less than a year.

Q6: What do the words “writer’s block” mean to you? 

I try to have a couple of things on the go so that if I’m not feeling one story, I can work on another, which usually is enough to inspire me to get back to the first one.

Q7: What part of the book was the most fun to write?

Because the Journal Through Time Mysteries is set in two times, I find myself looking at archive photos for hours to understand what Vancouver was like, then walking around the city looking for hints of its past. I also enjoy putting myself in the mindset of a nineteenth century detective experiencing the city in its early days.

Q8: How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?

I think anyone who enjoys historical mysteries and dual timeline mysteries will enjoy this series.

Q9: What are you working on now?

I’m revising the first draft of the third book in the series, as well as playing around with a few stories for younger readers.

Q10: What are you currently reading?

I have a few books on the go right now. I try to learn something from everything I read, and I try to read widely. I also co-host a podcast about the mystery genre, so I’m almost always reading something as part of podcast research. I just finished reading A Botanist's Guide to Parties and Poisons by Kate Khavari.

To find out more about Sarah M Stephen follow the social media links below. Keep scrolling to find out more about The Hanging at the Hollow Tree.




Amazon Author Page


The Hanging at the Hollow Tree is available in paperback and ebook.

He chases crooks. She researches the past. When a financier is found hanged, can they solve his death?

Vancouver, 1897. Detective Jack Winston investigates a body at a popular landmark and realizes the man’s business is as hollow as the tree near where he was found.

Vancouver, 2017. Archivist Riley Finch throws herself into a new project at the museum while preparing for her sister’s wedding and steering their mother from a suspicious investment deal.

With more suspects than answers, Jack again turns to Riley for help through the journal that connects the time-crossed duo.

Can the pair unravel another mystery?

The Hanging at the Hollow Tree is the second book in the Journal Through Time historical mystery series. If you like time-bending mysteries, you’ll love this twisting tale.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Author Interview - Kate Schumacher

Kate Schumacher is a writer, mother and teacher. When she isn’t writing, she is reading her way through an ever-growing TBR pile. Kate has wanted to be an author since she was a child, when she used to write stories about her friends and ‘publish’ them with the help of a stapler. Kate completed a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and Journalism, and an Honours degree in Screenwriting, followed by a Graduate Diploma in Education. She currently works as a High School English and History teacher.

She lives in Northern NSW, Australia, with her partner, two children and three very spoiled cats. Shadow of Fire is her first published novel.

Genre: Fantasy


Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Shadow of Fire. I guess I was inspired by a lot of what’s going on in the world and what has always gone on - how power influences people and how those with power use it. Power can be a tool of oppression or it can lift people, and too often, we see it as an oppressive force used in the wrong ways. So I kind of wanted to explore that a little bit and through the characters, and look at how power can change people.

Q2: What’s your favourite and least favourite part of publishing?
My favourite part is probably the amount of control I had - I’m a little bit of a control freak perfectionist Virgo, so being able to find my own editor and cover designer was really important to me. Least favourite part is probably the marketing aspect. I’ve always been uncomfortable saying, hey I did a thing and it’s awesome and you all should support it. I’m a quiet achiever and this is still challenging me, but I am starting to get over myself and work towards actively promoting my book.

Q3: What authors, or books have influenced you?
This is a long list but I will give you my top five: Cecilia Dart-Thorton, Isobelle Carmody, Kate Forysth, Helen Scheuerer and Jay Kristoff.

Q4: What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book?

I have two kids and I work so I have to write in the in-between moments. I generally carry a notebook everywhere and scribble ideas or snatches of scenes when they come to me. My Notes app on my phone is full of bits of writing as well! I don’t write in order either - I tend to write scenes as they come to me, and as I write a general plot outline, I end up putting everything together like a big puzzle and filling in the blanks. I think I work best this way because I am fitting writing in around the other parts of my life.

Q5: What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Just write it. The first draft is for you. It is a place to get your ideas out and play around with your plot and your story. Don’t compare yourself to others - your voice as an author is just as valid as anyone else’s. And don’t expect perfection straight away, because it won’t be perfect. That is what developmental editing is for - helping you really nail your story.

Q6: What do the words “writer’s block” mean to you?
I don’t really get it. That might sound strange but I don’t get a ‘block’ as such. There are times when I’m lacking motivation to put pen to paper, but the story is still churning around in my head. I know it will be there when I am ready to do the actual writing part.

Q7: What part of the book was the most fun to write?
This is hard as there are heaps of scenes and moments that I love and that I’m really proud of. Probably writing moments between particular characters, especially when the book gets to the point where most of the main characters find themselves in the same place. As there are so many narrators, and therefore so many stories happening at once, getting to the moment where I bring all the pieces of the plot together was really enjoyable to write.

Q8: How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?
Someone who loves strong female characters, a complex plot (because it is complex) and isn’t put off by multiple POVs. Must love magic and must also be able to suspend any beliefs they may have had - I have fae characters and a fae kingdom, but I actually worked really hard to make my fae world different to what is popular at the moment. Tropes wise I have some enemies to lovers, friends to lovers, power politics and a bit of a quest, I guess. I was asked the other day what my tropes were and it was really hard to identify most of them because again, I tried really hard to either avoid the common ones or use them but change them up a bit.

Q9: What are you working on now?
I have just finished the final edits on the sequel to Shadow of Fire, and I’m working on a fantasy trilogy, with witches and magic and dark creatures and lots of angst and enemies to lovers and all that fun stuff.

Q10: What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading Songs of the Wicked, by C.A Farran and loving it. Next up - actually don’t ask because who knows? I have a TBR pile but rarely ever stick to it. So it could be anything really.

To find out more about Kate Schumacher, follow the social media links below. Keep reading for a sneak peek at Shadow of Fire.



Amazon Author Page


“In the beginning there was fire.

The fire was darkness and power. It was all encompassing and slowly consuming her. It rippled from her body, and it shaped and bent her; she was the conductor and the composer of the song it sang as it burned, and blazed, and devoured. Flowing through her veins, it raced from her fingertips to find its place in the world.

With a shudder, the earth ripped beneath her. It heaved and split, the sound it made tearing the air. The fire was life, and death, and birth, and rebirth – and she was combustion and passion, unbridled and unchallenged.

With flames on her feet, she walked her newly carved landscape. She was an alchemist now, a creator, destroyer, transformer. From the deepest corners of that fiery darkness, she called forth her children. As the dawn rose golden and red with her fire, she lifted her arms and welcomed the light, the heat, the radiant power, into what remained of who she once was.”

Shadow of Fire is available as ebook, paperback and Kindle Unlimited.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Author Interview - Natalya Androsova

Natalya Androsova is an award-winning writing and dissertation coach with 25 years of experience. Her passion is helping writers become more courageous, authentic, and kind to themselves and their writing. She believes that instead of nourishing the relationship with our inner critic, we can nourish the relationship with our writer within.

 Through individual coaching, writing groups, and writing retreats, she has helped hundreds of writers break through blocks and overwhelm to find inspiration, clarity, flow, and a greater freedom in their writing and their life.

She lives in Toronto, Canada, and when she is not writing or meditating, she loves to play tennis, practice yoga, or sit by the water and cloud watch for hours.

Genre: Non-Fiction, Creativity, Self-Help for aspiring, stuck, and burnt out writers.


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

My latest book is called Dissertation Without Tears: How to Break Up with Your Inner Critic and Nourish the Writer Within. It dispels 58 of the most common and toxic writing myths the inner critic likes to whisper in our ear when we’re trying to write.

What inspired it was seeing my coaching students suffer from believing the harsh voice of their inner critic. I could see clearly that the suffering was self-imposed and optional, and after two decades of coaching, I’ve seen time and again how letting go of these myths brings immediate relief, creates writing momentum, and results in completion of long-awaited projects.

Everyone deserves to feel the joy and freedom of a healthy and sustainable writing practice, so I wanted to share all my secrets in this book. I only published it in June and am deeply grateful for the generous reception and reviews already pouring in.

Q2: What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?

Writing is my sacred space. I try to create it wherever I write, but I really enjoy three things in my writing space: a timer, some quiet, and absolutely no notifications. When I write in the park, I bring a set of ear plugs and stay focused that way. My phone never makes it into my scheduled writing time. It’s a no phone zone. I set my alarm for 20-30 minutes, and I'm not coming up for air until the sacred temple bell of my alarm goes off. 

Q3: If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose and why?

Since Julia Cameron and Natalie Goldberg are good friends, I’d love to spend some time with both of them. Is that too much to ask?🙈

They have both radically changed my writing practice by allowing me to fall in love with my writing and discover the joy I had never known before. Natalie’s beautiful comparison of writing to a meditation practice and Julia’s joyful and non-apologetic voice were my inspiration to take a chance on myself. I’d love a chance to express my gratitude to both of them and share how they have changed my life.

Q4: What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?

Authenticity, flow, clarity. A writer’s connection to themselves, a strong voice, a point of view, and their truth and light shining forth from every sentence. I want to be pulled in by their words. I want to recognize myself in their experience. I want to forget I’m reading a book so I can live it through their eyes and their heart.

Q5: What are common traps for new authors?

Oh boy. Where do I start? I coach writers for a living, and I’ve been writing for over 30 years, so my list is long.

Perhaps the most common offender I’ve seen in myself and others is self-doubt. In all its forms. Doubting your desire to express yourself, doubting your ability, your sense of worth or belonging.

The second most harmful trap is staying in the verbally and mentally abusive relationship with our inner critic. We don’t know any better until someone tells us that this relationship is optional, and we’re free to leave! That’s why I’ve been screaming from the rooftops, “Writing is not a form of punishment. It’s a form of flying! Break up with your inner critic today and fall in love with your writing!”

Q6: What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?

To trust my own heart, my own hand, my own experience, and the writing process itself in the face of uncertainty or expert advice. It’s a big one, and I’m still working on it.

To be open to taking risks, trying, and failing while trusting that I can discover everything I need to know by being consistent, open, and dedicated to learning through inevitable challenges.

To remain kind to myself and my writing as I grow.

Q7: How much research did you need to do for your book?

I’ve always been fascinated by the writing process. I immersed myself in learning about it for six years during my PhD, spending a lot of time in archives reading authors’ handwritten reflections on their practice.

My books seem to be emerging in response to this fascination with the writing process, my own practice, and my coaching conversations with hundreds of writers. So it feels like my research spans 30 years of writing, reading, teaching, and coaching, and my books are just a natural extension of living a writer and a writing coach’s life.

Q8: At what time of the day do you do most of your writing?

It depends a lot on where I am in the project, but afternoons seem to work well for me most days.

Q9: What are you working on now?

I’m working on a draft of a book for anyone struggling with writer’s block. I’m identifying 20 different reasons for writer’s block and offering unique solutions and examples for overcoming each unique challenge. 

I find myself including quite a few practical ideas and writing prompts in each section to jumpstart your writing when facing a particular block. This is quickly becoming a workbook/handbook where a reader can just focus on the specific block they are experiencing, find a solution, and jump right back into their writing. That’s the hope anyway! I didn’t intend to write it this way, but I love the practical direction the book is suggesting.

Q10: What are you currently reading?

I’m currently rereading I Am That by Nisargadatta Maharaj. Probably for the 5th time. It’s the book that eclipsed all other books. Except for one other - Be As You Are by Ramana Maharshi.

Books by Natalya Androsova: 

The Gratitude Effect, co-author with Dr. Demartini, 2008

7 Minutes to Freedom: Simple Writing Meditations to Liberate Your Writing and Your Life, 2021

Dissertation Without Tears: How to Break Up with Your Inner Critic and Nourish the Writer Within, 2022

Current WIP Working Title: 20 Easy Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block and Start Writing Today, 2023 

To find out more about Natalya Androsova follow the social media links below. Keep scrolling for an excerpt from Dissertation Without Tears.



Amazon Author Page


Writing is hard. Period!

The more you frame the marathon as a stressful experience, the more negative messages you'll receive. But it's just as easy to frame it as a positively challenging journey.

– Jeff Galloway

We all know that there are times when writing feels impossible. I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m inviting you to discover why it’s hard for you personally so you can understand your process and change it.

Let’s start our detective work at the beginning. Where did you learn that writing is hard? When did you start believing it? Writing is not easy or hard by default. You can give it any meaning you want. You can treat it as punishment and torture yourself in the process, but the good news is this torture is self-imposed and completely optional. With the right tools, you can experience writing as inspiring, fulfilling, and meaningful. You can reprogram your relationship with your writing and enjoy every minute of your work. But you must take responsibility for observing your writing process, becoming aware of the beliefs that make it harder, and using this new awareness to create new habits.

Have you investigated what makes writing hard for you? Do you keep a list of your painful beliefs about writing? I want you to start one right now. It’s easy. Every time you feel that writing is hard, ask yourself why, and write down the specific belief. Uncovering and reframing these beliefs will allow you to build a healthy writing practice that will support both your goals and your wellbeing. 

In a perfect world, what would your writing process feel like? How would you know that you were enjoying the writing process? If you can imbue it with creative freedom, flow, authenticity, and clarity, you would run to your desk the moment you wake up. How can you take responsibility for your own empowerment and create an enjoyable writing practice that supports your fulfillment and stimulates your curiosity?


I hope you can once again find joy in your writing. It’s not only possible—it’s there waiting for you. And once you find it, it’s intoxicating, and it doesn’t go away.

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