Spotlight on Scott Cairns – Interview with Author of ‘Silver’

Scott Cairns is a new author that was recommended by Yvvette Edwards when I interviewed her a while ago. This is a tremendous recommendation, let me tell you.

His debut novel, ‘Silver’ has made it through to the quarter finals (final 500 of 10000) of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award this week.

So, let’s learn more about him and his work!

Please, tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Scott CAuthor Shotairns and I am a self published author from Wokingham. I am married with one daughter. My first novel, ‘Silver’ was published with Createspace in August 2012 and has been shortlisted for the Historical Novel Society Award and is currently one of the quarter final entrants for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013.  I have also written some short stories for teenagers (‘Hogwash & Hooey’) and compiled two further anthologies of Drama Games and Seventeenth Century Comedy Plays.. The book has some high profile fans including Yvette Edwards, Booker Shortlisted author of ‘A Cupboard Full of Coats’. I chose to self publish after receiving some rather positive but narrow minded reviews from agents. ‘Silver’ centres on the story of a transgendered man (Avery Silver) in Victorian England and how, when his secret is revealed, it devastates but does not destroy his family and reputation. One or two agents where of the opinion that, having read ‘Trumper’ by Jackie Kay, there could not be room for another novel dealing with a transgendered character. By this token, is there no room for Andrea Levy’s ‘The Long Song’ because slavery has already been written about, if ‘Schindlers Ark’ is the pinnacle of Holocaust writing then why did John Boyne write ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas‘? At first, this feedback got me down and I shelved my manuscript but I decided to take the plunge last year and self publish because I really felt that the story of Avery is one that deserved an audience. Inspired by a true story of a Tammany Hall politician who, it was revealed on his death bed in 1901, had been ‘masquerading’ as a woman, the plot is tantalising and the era allows the reader some distance to really see a different side to what is a very contemporary issue.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing since I can remember and always dreamed of being able to call myself a novelist. ‘Silver’ is my first completed novel but I have many projects on the go and am currently completing Book 2.

Do you remember the first story you wrote?

The very first story I recall writing was in my junior school for a lovely teacher called Mrs Hallett, it was a fantasy story about an island which had a gauntlet of exciting areas which needed to be surmounted before a glorious prize could be claimed. I was really pleased with it and she was too. It won an award and she tried to get me to send it off to someone but I never did. I was embarrassed about my illustrations!

Can you tell us two eccentricities about yourself?

Try as I might, I cannot write without a soft covered, lined, large Moleskine notebook. I have a collection of over fifty notebooks in various shapes, sizes, covers and papers but I just prefer a Moleskine. This is eccentric as I type all of my work but need a notepad to keep track of family trees, character notes and images I collect to inspire me.

What was the best thing you’ve ever heard (or read) from a reader?

I heard from a reader who chose ‘Silver’ as her Book Club read. The all-female group met in February this year and they all dressed as men to discuss the book. As well as enjoying the book and being very complementary about the writing, I was thrilled to hear that the book had sparked a debate about heritage, gender, sexuality and identity – all key themes from the book. I really felt as if they had got it.

Do you have a good Indie author to recommend?

To my chagrin, I haven’t read any independent authors recently. I have been chairing two book clubs and have been reading traditionally published novels. My favourite has been by ‘The Visitation’ by Jenny Erpenbeck, a german writer whose work has been translated recently so I am unsure of the publisher. The book’s central character is a house and the novel follows the lives of its various occupants whilst within the house’s four walls. Its a chilling and compelling piece of work that touches on the horror of Nazi germany from an entirely new angle. This was a book which I jealously admired and learned from.

Who inspired and/or supported you to become a writer?

I am a huge fan of Sarah Waters, Margarat Atwood and Alice Walker and they are a source of great inspiration to many writers. Most of my favourite novels are written by women. I don’t know why this is but they seem to feel more real somehow. My mum, my wife, my Nanna and my daughter are my own network of support and inspiration, all of whom are immensely proud of my modest achievements and encourage me daily to get on with the next project. I secretly think that they want ‘Silver’ to be made into a film so they can go to the premiere. Who would play Avery? Someone like Jude Law, I think.

Do you have a WIP (Work in progress)? If so, can you tell us a little about it?

I am working on a very contemporary novel at the moment. It is a thriller and that is a huge departure for me as I much prefer the historical novel; both  to read and to write. The central character is a hoarder and I have found it fascinating to research why people become compelled to hoard on such a scale that it becomes an obsession; a dangerous one for my character…!

What is your favorite of your books? Why?

That’s easy as I only have one novel so ‘Silver’ it is!

Silver_Cover_for_Kindle

What is your favorite of your characters? Why?

I have a huge soft spot for Elizabeth Greenwood. She is feisty, hedonistic and, in some ways, quite a charmless creature but she was the easiest character to write. Her dialogue crackles with a fiery quick wit that I am jealous of and she was a pleasure to write. I have often heard writers who say that sometimes characters write themselves or that they find their stories going in directions they had not imagined and I wondered how this could happen. Well, this happened to me every time I sat down to write Elizabeth.

Do you like to interact online? What’s your favorite social media?

 I love Facebook and find it hard to ‘disconnect’. It is a horrible distraction sometimes and one that writers can ill afford. I do tweet but find it hard to find the point to Twitter.

How do you feel about marketing your books?

This has been an uphill learning curve but an essential one. As a self-published author, there is no marketing department to do this part of the job for you. If you want your book  to be read, then you have to promote it. It’s not terribly British to place yourself on a platform and give people reasons why you think they should spend money on your work. It doesn’t come naturally to me but I am learning about the art of Self Promotion all the time.

Please, give us all your links – where can your readers find you and your books?

‘Silver’ is available from Amazon in Paperback or in eBook format for Kindle.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Silver-ebook/dp/B008X9P37A

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Silver-Scott-Cairns/dp/1479132284/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363367303&sr=8-1

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Scott! Wishing you the best of luck with the Amazon Breakthrough Novel!!

And readers, don’t go anywhere! Stay tuned for the next interview.

  • If you’re an author and want to be in my spotlight, contact me!

IndiesForward – What if you couldn’t promote your own book?

Days ago I received an email from the amazing Duolit team, telling the story of Julie. “Our indie-ninja-in-spirit Julie Forward DeMay dreamed of being a published author, and in 2011 her first book was released — two years after Julie (a daughter, sister, wife, and mother) lost her battle with cancer.”

Julie’s mother decided to self-publish her blog in 2011.

Cell War Notebooks is a compilation of the blog Julie kept during her last seven months — it’s beautiful, funny, brave and truly inspirational for anyone, whether you’ve been through cancer or not.

So the idea Duolit came with was that on January 31st, bloggers (authors and otherwise) would show support for Julie by dedicating a blog post to her. I was immediately on board – how can one not truly want to be part of this? Especially because all the proceeds from the book’s sale go to Julie’s nine year-old daughter, Luka.

I’ve been thinking of what to write for this campaign for days now. ‘A post about an experience in your life where you were inspired to overcome an obstacle.’ Ummm… Isn’t that what daily life is about? Aren’t we every day overcoming obstacles to get through the day, to live? At least to the average, working guy or gal, each day has its own obstacles to overcome.

I mean…think about it. Every single day you have to wake up in a time not of your choice, to get ready fast to a commute that you probably won’t enjoy, to get to a job that most people don’t really love… So, the first obstacle, each day, is the laziness. That feeling, every morning, that your bed never seemed so comfortable before that moment when you have to leave it…

Then, the urge to stay home, to stay with your children instead of going to work, or to study. Okay, that little responsible voice in your head, built year after year yells “Go already, you’re getting late!”, so you stop musing and go.

Then you look at the bus stop, and there are already several others like you, and the commute itself is an obstacle. In some cases, a horrendous one. Talk about closeness with strangers! Boy, you have no option in a crowded bus, trolley bus or train (the three of them every day in my case!) than to share a lot more of intimacy that one would like with totally unfamiliar people. Some of them clean, some not… Well, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

Then you finally get to work…and the obstacles turn into a mountain in front of you. It may be your boss, a colleague, the work itself, the phone, the emails…or everything all together. The result, usually, is one looking constantly to the watch, counting the time left until freedom!

And, of course, there’s the commute again. Perhaps even worse, depending on the time you leave work. Finally home, you think of resting, of watching some TV and doing nothing. But normally you can’t, because there are house tasks to do. The dishes, the clothes and the floor refuse to obey my orders and clean themselves! I’ve been trying for years, but never faced anything more stubborn than those three… And food, you have to prepare and eat something. If you have children, you have to play with them, to check homework, to chat…

Anyway, it’s a day-to-day battle, and we face it every day, most of the time not even noticing it. So many obstacles. Life is made of them.

And yet, we love it. Even in our bottom moments, when life seems like just a huge amount of work and no pleasure, I bet most would never trade if for the alternative. Put into perspective, our mundane daily obstacles seem so small when we have health enough to face them every day.

We complain a lot, and I’m a firm believer in the power of protest. I’m a very happily-grumpy person, if you can understand what I mean. I hate doing so many things, but I know I have to do them, so I complain, but in a grumpy humorous way. At least that’s what I try… My point is, you have the right, almost the sacred right to complain. It’s not fair, it’s too much sometimes, we all would prefer a life of full pleasure and no work, so let’s all whine, let’s all scream inside of us to the people in front of us in the stairwell who don’t walk, making you late; to the people who simply do not understand the concept of “wait in line”; to our bosses; to the lack of money; to the lack of time; to whatever makes you feel oppressed and stuck. It’s reliving, stimulating…soothing. If you think protesting makes you ungrateful, I beg to disagree. I think it’s just normal and healthy.

In my humble opinion, what makes one ungrateful is to forget the other side of life. To just complain. So…let’s protest, but let’s also remember that it all seems so small in comparison with stories like Julie’s.

Life can be tough, but even then, it’s life; it’s valuable and beautiful. That’s how I overcome my obstacles, all my life. Always believing that tomorrow will be better. As long as you have tomorrows, don’t waste them, they’re precious; they’re [potential] dreams coming through every day!

So yes, Julie and her poignant, touching story can make you see things differently. I hope you find it inspiring as I did, and will help spread the word about her and her book. Please read more – read it all – here. Then, go tell everyone you know about this campaign. Let’s make an angel smile seeing how so many people are helping to promote her book!

Spotlight on John Nardizzi – Interview with Author of ‘Telegraph Hill’

John Nardizzi is not only an author who writes about investigators; he is a Private Investigator himself! How cool is that?

He’s also a lawyer, and uses his experience to write. His debut novel, Telegraph Hill, has been receiving great reviews, and is definitely added to my (huge) TBR! :)

So, let’s learn more about him!

Please, tell us a little about yourself.

Photo on 2012-08-30 at 09.58Pleasure to be a part of your site Renata. I grew up in Boston and lived in San Francisco for a decade. It was in California that I started working as a private investigator and getting more serious about writing. For my crime novel Telegraph Hill, I based a lot of my characters on people I met while working as a PI: witnesses, cops, hookers, street people. While I was in law school, I represented people from a rough part of San Francisco called the Tenderloin, and spent a lot of time in this edgy colorful part of the city. Some of my research involved drinks, or ended up with me buying drinks at these old dive bars and talking to street dudes.

In California, I started to get published–poetry, short fiction and even a short film about some of my homeless clients. After law school, I started working for a well known detective agency in San Francisco. I got re-interested in reading some of the classic PI novels — Raymond Chandler and Robert Parker especially– and wanted to bring some of my real-life experiences to a novel.

A few agents were very high on Telegraph Hill but wanted me to slant it in a certain way. One suggested I make the protagonist an amateur. Which is ironic, of course, given I am a real PI–what was I going to do, write about a dentist who is a part-time sleuth? Then I came across a new publishing venture at www.libboo.com. They offered a great new platform for selling books and published an eBook version of Telegraph Hill. A talented artist named Aldren did the cover.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing since I was 15 or so. Songs, poems, little biographical sketches of people. I was asked to write a biography of my soccer teammates and I would insert things like “led league in scoring and outstanding arrest warrants” and later I’d get calls from the guy, “Where
did that come from!” Just like to let off steam. Later I got more serious with it.

Do you remember the first story you wrote?

Yeah, it is buried in a box in my attic somewhere. I wrote a story about a piano and a young kid who dreams of being a musician. He becomes possessed by the music he plays. Twilight Zone stuff, I love that show.

 Can you tell us two eccentricities about yourself?

Eccentric–me? Everyone else around here is weird. 2 things I guess I have been told: I eat weird stuff like red cabbage, and pasta for breakfast. And I listen to music obsessively, the same album for 5-6 straight months in the car. Let It Bleed by the Stones was on there in 2012 almost exclusively.

What was the best thing you’ve ever heard (or read) from a reader?

That certain passages in Telegraph Hill have images that are startling and memorable. I like to hear that since I come at fiction from writing
poetry — trying to boil down the writing to hard, spare imagery. A lot of readers say they have a terrific view of San Francisco through the eyes of the characters. So I appreciate comments like that.

Do you have a good Indie author to recommend?

Yes, Thomas Davidson wrote a great thriller with awesome old school rock n’ roll references, it’s called The Museum of Sudden Disappearances. If you like creative language and humor and classic rock music, I definitely recommend it.

Who inspired and/or supported you to become a writer?

Reading J.R.R Tolkien‘s Lord of the Rings was a huge discovery for me as a young kid. Tolkien really lit the fire for me. And my parents always had books all over the house. They encouraged me to read and write, always took us to the library to get books. We were expected to read and be challenged. TV was limited, and while I resented it then, I appreciate that now.

Do you have a WIP (Working in progress)? If so, can you tell us a little about it?

I have 10 chapters done on a sequel to Telegraph Hill. I also have an agent reading chapters for a non-fiction book about some of the cases I have investigated, some big murder cases, cases involving con artists –basically what it is like to work as a PI. I started in this industry working for a flamboyant PI in California who said things like “No one leaves this firm, they either get fired or die.” So it was that kind of place. A weird corner of the legal profession that readers will get to see.

What is your favorite of your books? Why?

Telegraph Hill is my first full length novel so that would be it. I wanted to take some chances in the telling of a detective story, use language like Don DeLillo does in Libra, a novel filled with poetic riffs from a possessed mind. I stay true to the genre but readers are telling me the writing took them to a new places in San Francisco. Especially when the investigator Ray Infantino does interviews with witnesses.

Final_Cover_JPEG

What is your favorite of your characters? Why?

I would say the investigator Ray Infantino, since it is his journey. But my heart goes with his lover Dominique. She reminds me of a lot of the strong women in my family and ones I have met in my life. She has the star qualities–heart and intelligence and character.

Do you like to interact online? What’s your favorite social media?

I always appreciate anyone who takes time to write or email. Twitter is a blast, and perfect for quick jabs and comments. Don’t really do anything anymore on Facebook, irritating company with no sense of privacy.

How do you feel about marketing your books?

Libboo has been a great discovery. They took my novel, got it to eBook form and created a space where readers can discover it. Aside from that, marketing is a lot of work and you have to be a part of it. No one does it for you, even at the big publishing houses. You gotta get the word out and jump the train as it steams on by.

Please, give us all your links – where can your readers find you and your books?

Book sales (Kindle, Nook, iPad etc): https://www.libboo.com/read/telegraph-hill/johnnardizzii

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorPI

Author Site: http://www.johnnardizzi.com/

Thank you for the answers, John. I’m sure we will be reading and hearing about Investigator Ray Infantino for a long time. 

And readers, don’t go anywhere! Stay tuned for the next interview.

  • If you’re an author and want to be in my spotlight, contact me!

Spotlight on Yvvette Edwards – Interview with Author of ‘A Cupboard Full of Coats’

I cannot even begin to explain how excited I am with this interview. Today I have the privilege of interviewing a new author, whose debut was one of the best novels I’ve ever read.

As you can read on my 5-star review of her book, I really loved it. Besides being an amazing author, Yvvette is also a great person, who even let me use one of the many beautiful sentences of ‘A Cupboard Full of Coats’ as an epigraph for ‘My Sore Hush-a-Bye’.

That’s why I’m so proud to present you this interview.

So, let’s learn more about her!

Please, tell us a little about yourself.

My family are from Montserrat in the Caribbean.  I was born in England and grew up in Hackney, East London.  My first novel, A Cupboard Full of Coats, was published in April 2011. I started writing A Cupboard Full of Coats during the year that followed my 39th birthday, which was probably the most introspective year of my life.  The idea evolved from a true life scenario and had been knocking around inside my head for a couple of decades before I finally got moving with it. It took about eight months to come up with a first draft, and another year to edit it.  Then about a year to find an agent, and maybe eight months for her to find my publisher, Oneworld Publications.  My novel embraces my cultural background and the lives of people I’ve grown up with. It is steeped in realism, and explores a number of meaty issues, like domestic violence, single parenthood, jealousy and love.  I think I write about things that trouble me, and the writing process is cathartic, so I don’t necessarily understand things more when I’ve finished writing about them, but I feel better, and for me, that’s enough.

How long have you been writing?

I have always loved both reading and writing.  Perhaps because when I was growing up my family didn’t have much money, and certainly not lots of money to spend on toys, I spent my childhood in libraries, and through books I went on adventures, often visiting parts of the world I could not have travelled to otherwise.  Through books I have lived a thousand lives in addition to this current life that now finds me writing myself.  For me, reading and writing are flip sides of the same coin and I have done both as far back as I can remember.

Do you remember the first story you wrote?

I can’t remember the first story I ever wrote, but I do remember that my first ‘major’ work was a biography of the life of Elvis Presley, which I wrote in 1977 in the days following his death.  For large periods of the writing, I could hear my mum and my aunts crying in the background!  I don’t have a copy of it, but I really wish I did.  It was just over 30 pages long and I can vividly remember the feeling of accomplishment I had when it was finished.

Can you tell us two eccentricities about yourself?

I have an obsession with trees.  One of my favourite fantasies is reading a book beneath an Indian bean tree.  I have favourite trees in different places I’ve visited, and books filled with pictures of them.  Weeping willows fill me with sadness.  Laburnum and cherry trees in flower make my heart sing.  The colour of autumn leaves simply takes my breath away.  Because of trees, autumn is my favourite time of the year.  The second (riveting!) eccentricity is that I’m an eavesdropper.  I love listening to fragments of conversations, as I pass people, while on buses or trains, one-sided discussions people have on their mobile phones.  And I am as enthusiastic about listening to what is said as what has not been said, the gaps and holes.  In fact, I think I enjoy the spaces in conversations more than the conversations themselves.  I like to think of it as healthy curiosity, (as opposed to me being nosey!)

What was the best thing you’ve ever heard (or read) from a reader?

I have been asked if my novel is a true story because the characters and events seemed so real.  That is always music to my ears.  It is not a true story, but I feel I have accomplished what I set out to when readers find my work so authentic they believe it must be autobiographical.  I was also deeply moved to have been asked if one of my sentences could be used as an epigraph for another writer’s work.

Do you have a good Indie author to recommend?

I haven’t read many books by independent authors, though I have a few in my ‘to read’ pile, that I’m hoping to get to soon.  However I had the privilege of reading Silver by Scott Cairns a few months ago, and I strongly recommend it.

Who inspired and/or supported you to become a writer?

If it were a single author, it would be the magnificent Toni Morrison, who blew me away when I was about twenty with The Bluest Eye.  Despite my having read thousands of books by that point in my life, I had never read anything like it.  It was so honest, and deep, and eloquently written, (some of her sentences read like poetry, so lyrical), not to mention that it was the first book I’d ever read with a purely black cast and it was written by a black woman.  I think that was the first time I actually truly considered the possibility that I could perhaps one day be a writer myself.

My mum has always supported me in my writing endeavours, as have my husband, and my close friends and family.  I consider it great fortune to have them in my life.

Do you have a WIP (Work in progress)? If so, can you tell us a little about it?

I do.  I have another fabulous female protagonist on the cards, who is trying to find her way through some weighty emotional issues.  I’ve not been able to carve out, (and defend to the death!) my designated writing times over the last couple of months, which means my progress is much slower than I’m happy with, but it’s headed in the right direction, and I’m in love with it.

What is your favorite of your books? Why?

This is an easy question to answer as I have only had one book published, it’s A Cupboard Full of Coats!

What is your favorite of your characters? Why?

I love Lemon.  He is my favourite of every character I’ve ever created.  He’s so stylish and flawed and honest and funny and disgraceful.  And I had a lot of fun with his speech, idiosyncratic and humorous and blunt to a fault.  He was a genuine pleasure to craft, so vibrant.  I would love to have met him.

Do you like to interact online? What’s your favorite social media?

I’m a bit of a late-comer to social media, but it is brilliant that through mediums like Facebook and Twitter, I can interact with people who have read my book in parts of the world so far away, that if it wasn’t for these forums, I wouldn’t have the chance to correspond with them at all.  I think I am more of a happy tweeter than a Facebooker – if there is such a word!  Having said that, you can have more of a chat on Facebook.  Plus I’m an over-writer most of the time which means that on Twitter, I often end up spending more time trying to reduce my tweets to less than 140 characters than it takes me to write the tweet in the first place.

How do you feel about marketing your books?

I am very lucky to have had my book published by Oneworld Publications, who have done much of the marketing on my behalf.  I am also lucky that my book is judged on its content and not my marketing skills, which I’m not convinced are particularly good.  I have to do some marketing myself.  It is hard work, and requires me to regularly step outside of my comfort zones.  But I love talking to readers (and writers!) about my book, which is very fortunate.

Please, give us all your links – where can your readers find you and your books?

Twitter – www.twitter.com/YvvetteEdwards

Facebook – www.facebook.com/YvvetteEdwards

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/A-Cupboard-Full-Coats-ebook/dp/B005F37X7K

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/A-Cupboard-Full-Coats-ebook/dp/B005F37X7K

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Yvvette! I know how busy you are, so I really appreciate that. Now please, don’t let me interrupt you anymore. Go back to your WIP, because I can’t wait to read your next masterpiece!! :)

And readers, don’t go anywhere! Stay tuned for the next interview.

  • If you’re an author and want to be in my spotlight, contact me!

Spotlight on Marlin Williams – Interview with Author of ‘The Attic Piranhas’

He’s the author of some greatly reviewed mysteries. He says he writes for his readers’ enjoyment, and it’s clear that he’s doing it pretty well so far.

With his wife as a supporter and editor, Marlin Williams has a winner team.

So, let’s learn more about him!

Please, tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Marlin Williams. I’ve lived in Southeast Texas all of my life except for a brief time in Austin. I loved the artistic community and creative mind-set of that city. I’m currently living in a small country town and the slow pace allows for ample writing time. I began my writing career as a freelance writer for online publications about health and fitness. In 2011, I expanded to writing fiction short stories for Hubpages and decided to enter the Hubpages Patron of the Arts Contest. My short story, The Agency, won the overall Grand Prize. One aspect of winning the contest was to have Smashwords format and publish the short story for ebook distribution on their site. They not only published The Agency, but they agreed to format and publish my novel, The Attic Piranhas. My writing career has now become my primary focus. At this time, I have gone exclusively with Amazon and have self published the novel and two short stories.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing fiction for most of my life. I had almost given up on getting my writing out there until self publishing opened up a whole new avenue.

Do you remember the first story you wrote?

Yes, I was six years old. The title was, John and the Haunted Well. I folded a piece of notebook paper in half, drew a well and a spooky looking tree on the outside of the paper and wrote the story on the inside.

Can you tell us two eccentricities about yourselves?

I kept thinking about that and all I could come up with is that I’m so normal that I’m boring.

What was the best thing you’ve ever heard (or read) from a reader?

The consistent feedback I receive is that the stories hook them and they can’t put the book down until it’s finished. That makes me feel like I’ve done my job as a writer and put something out there that readers enjoy.

Do you have a good Indie author to recommend?

There are so many great Indie authors out there that take their craft seriously and produce some really great works. I’m just now getting to know who they are. One author I enjoyed reading recently is K D George. His novel, Q-A Thriller, was well written and suspenseful.

Who inspired and/or supported you to become a writer?

In my early years, it was my mother. She encouraged me to write and even bought my first typewriter and a book on how to write novels for Christmas when I was in Junior High. My biggest supporter now is my wife. She not only encourages me, she plays a big part in the writing process by editing my work. She actually takes my writing and turns it into something great. She will never allow any writing to be just okay. It has to be great. If any of you have experienced what a great editor can do then you know what I’m talking about. Editing is where the work starts.

Do you have a WIP (Working in progress)? If so, can you tell us a little about it?

I’m currently working on another novel titled, New Flesh On Old Bones, a thriller suspense and a short story called, Life Form, a science fiction short story.

What is your favorite of your books? Why?

My favorite is actually my short story, The Agency. I love old Hollywood and am a fan of Alfred Hitchcock. I used both for my inspiration for this tale.

What is your favorite of your characters? Why?

My favorite character is Max Fagan from my novel, The Attic Piranhas. Max is a guy that is really down on his luck. He is selfish, self centered and depending on things outside himself for change. His off-the-wall journey was fun to create.

Do you like to interact online? What’s your favorite social media?

I like Twitter the best because I’m meeting so many wonderful authors there that are working hard to make their dreams come true. They are all an inspiration to me.

How do you feel about marketing your books?

I found it hard to concentrate on writing and do the marketing. It takes a lot of time and effort to bring a book to the top where the readers can find it. I would honestly love to hand that part of to some one that knows what they’re doing in that field.

Please, give us all your links – where can your readers find you and your books?

You can find me on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0081S2PS8

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Marlin!

And readers, don’t go anywhere! Stay tuned for next interview.

  • If you’re an author and want to be in my spotlight, contact me!

Spotlight on Amanda Green – Interview with Author of ‘My Alien Self: My Journey Back to Me’

Spotlight on Brian O’Hare – Interview with Author of ‘Fallen Men’

He’s an Academic and a new author, learning all about the publishing process. I’m really happy to host his first interview today.

So, let’s learn more about Brian O’Hare!

Please, tell us a little about yourself.

I am a retired assistant director of a large regional college of further and higher education. I live in Newry, Northern Ireland, am married, have three children, ten grandchildren, one great grandchild. I play golf three times a week off a ten handicap and do a lot of voluntary work. Any writing I have previously done was academic…very much restricted to a specific readership. Several articles in educational journals were followed by a number of book-length reports for the Dept. of Education and the University of Ulster.

I have also written an interesting biography of a man (interesting because of who the man is, nothing to do with the way I write) who daily performs amazing miracles of healing…The Miracle Ship. That’s with an American publisher…hopefully to be published within the next year. (There are some seriously fascinating episodes in that for a blog…if I get around to starting one!)  I emailed the publisher the other day after several months and he replied that “…it is still in the queue,  I hope to have a response by Christmas.”  I wait in hope!

I had a liver disease since childhood which resulted in my taking early retirement a number of years ago. In 2002 I had a liver transplant but am strong and healthy now. I continued to do academic writing well into my retirement and followed that with a memoir about my liver transplant, dealing with the physical, emotional and spiritual experiences that came from that period in my life (A Spiritual Odyssey, published by Columba Press, Dublin).

Recently I experienced a desire to write fiction. Hence Fallen Men. It is a story about three priests. Because it is about priests, religion is in the story’s very DNA but it is really a heart-breaking story about a doomed love affair and the psychological disintegration of the lead protagonist. 

I have written a second fiction book, currently with a traditional publisher in Belfast. It’s quite different from Fallen Men… a detective mystery inspired by an old 14th century painting of the Last Judgement. It’s called “The Doom Murders” and I am currently writing a third book, “The 11.05 Killings” featuring the same detectives as in The Doom Murders.

How long have you been writing?

I would have said only recently, perhaps about six years ago. I never considered myself a writer before.  Always maintained I had nothing to say.  But I have started to remember stories in national newspapers when I was in my twenties, a couple a failed novels in my thirties, and all that academic stuff (there was a lot of that) in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s  when the NI Inspectorate kept contacting me to write reports for them.  So perhaps I started somewhere in the mid-seventies.

Do you remember the first story you wrote?

Haven’t thought about it in years but I was just into my twenties and tried my hand at a short story competition. I wrote a ghost story which won the thing and was plastered over two centre pages the following Sunday.  I remember how chuffed I was. Story has disappeared into the ether now …along with nearly everything else I wrote.  I trusted people who borrowed and didn’t return.  Never kept a record of who got what.  All my articles (twenty odd) are toast.  No record of any kind!! I regret that now.  Should have saved them.

Can you tell us two eccentricities about yourselves?

  1. One of my daily chores is to do the dishes and clean up the kitchen after my wife cooks.  I play my ipod to relieve the boredom. At such times I like music with a beat.  Try to imagine a seventy-five year old, in slippers, dancing to rock music in a kitchen with a dishcloth in one hand and a washing brush in the other.  (Mind you, I’m still petty nifty on my feet!!)
  2. When I prepare for meetings with other individuals, I tend to go over several scenarios in my mind, carrying out a dialogue with the other person…rehearsing both parts.  Sometimes I do this aloud.  That’s all right when you’re in a room by yourself…not so good when you’re walking down a busy street, haranguing an invisible Harvey beside you.  I’ve had looks!! Oh, yes!  I’ve had looks!

What was the best thing you’ve ever heard (or read) from a reader?

I was sitting in the body of a large conference hall where the Chief Inspector of Schools for Nth. Ireland was giving a talk.  In the middle of his talk he held aloft a book-length report that I had recently written, praised it, and earned me a clap.  Then he said, “I just got an order this morning for 3000 of these from my opposite number in England.”(That was the remark that really made my day!!!)

Do you have a good Indie author to recommend?

I’m only new to kindle (and to my kindle reader).  All my purchases heretofore have been stuff by safe, well known authors because of the expense.  I have no experience with indie…presume you mean cool stuff that doesn’t fit into existing niches or patterns.  Makes me think of Stephen King.  You just do not know what you are going to get from him.  Just finished reading  11.22.63.  Uninspiring premise…guy goes back in time to kill Lee Harvey Oswald before Oswald kills JF Kennedy.  But King’s magic turned this into an extraordinary story. Great characters, weird theories about the impact of time-travel, a love interest that time messes with… I loved it and can recommend it to anyone.

Who inspired and/or supported you to become a writer?

As I said earlier, I never considered myself a writer despite all the academic stuff. But after my liver transplant I sat down and knocked out 100,000 words in about six weeks about the medical and spiritual experiences I had during a couple of traumatic years.  I sent it to a publisher who, three weeks later, was on my phone at 8.30 am on morning asking for the floppy disc. (Not long ago in temporal terms but eons in computer time.) That was in 2004.  The book appeared on the shelves a year later.  .  That book was published and after that I thought, “Hey, maybe I do have something to say!”

Do you have a WIP (Working in progress)? If so, can you tell us a little about it?

A new detective novel called “The 11.05 Murders”. I’m trying for complicated here. Two people are killed (on different evenings) at 11.05pm. I’m trying to make this one a wee bit like one of those wooden Russian dolls which have another inside them…and another…and another. The case seems solved…then it isn’t… then it is…then it isn’t. (Plus there’s one more murder, also at 11.05pm, that causes a hard-earned solution to disappear in smoke.) The ending (like that of the Doom Murders before it) is intended to be completely unexpected yet perfectly acceptable when the reader reflects back on the clues that were laid. I have the outline clear in my head but I’m still trying to build worlds for my characters to live in. Ten thousand words done. Only another 90 or so to go.

What is your favorite of your books? Why?

Very small body of work outside my academic stuff…one memoir, two biographies, two novels and a third novel, currently unfinished.  I find it difficult to answer your question other than to say that the characters who affected me most and who were the most real to me were the characters in Fallen Men.  I suppose it was because they suffered so much…and maybe there was a fair bit of myself invested in each one of them.  For that reason I would chose that book.

What is your favorite of your characters? Why?

Almost answered that question by accident in the previous question.  For the same reasons outlined above I would have to say the young, tortured Father Ray Canavan in Fallen Men.  It’s about empathy, I suppose, but I grieved with him, cried with him, feared with him, endured with him.  Hard to forget an experience like that. (I also have to confess a fondness for the murderer in The Doom Murders.  Had, and still have, a real soft spot for him.  Can’t tell you why.  It would spoil the book for you if you ever get round to reading it.)

Do you like to interact online? What’s your favorite social media?

Very little.  Recently entered into a couple of kindle readers/writers forums.  Didn’t know the rules.  Got a bit of a shellacking from one lady who, absolutely quite rightly, objected to my plugging my book at every opportunity regardless of the thread in the forum.  I learnt from that to be more discreet in any future postings. But I apologized and the lady and I are now “all good!”  Don’t have any favourite social media…guess if I want to interact with any (wishful thinking) future readers, I’ll have to blog and twitter all over the place.

How do you feel about marketing your books?

Seriously frustrating process…but I am happy to do what I can.  That’s why I nearly lost my nose in that forum I was telling you about.  I try to market at every opportunity…but it is to one and two people at a time.  I would love to know how to reach a wider audience.  I definitely intend to start a website and a blog and a twitter (don’t even understand what that is) and see if I can make any kind of effort to remove my book’s cloak of invisibility.  Reading John Locke’s book at the moment about selling millions of books. Hah!  Doesn’t he make it sound so easy?

Please, give us all your links – where can your readers find you and your books?

Until about two weeks ago my lap-top was a type-writer and a research tool.  I have been hearing incomprehensible words and phrases, and about various technical processes in the past two weeks that have been making my head spin.  John Anthony (bibex@ymail.com ) took care of every last detail involved in putting Fallen Men on Kindle, and his wife, Yani, designed the cover.  I would have been completely lost without John…and I still torture him most days about different aspects of the kindle writer’s life…author pages, changing price, etc., etc.  He’s always patient and helpful. You can read all about his enterprise in:   http://www.kindle-book-publishing.co.uk/

The only links I have to me are the name ‘professor’ in the couple of forums that I’m tracking (that can be clicked on) and the link to the Author Page below:

  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Brian-OHare/e/B001K89IWM/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Fallen Men – Amazon Uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B009BPHVDE

Fallen Men – Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009BPHVDE

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Brian! Wish you all the best with your books. Fallen Men is on my TBR. :)

And readers, don’t go anywhere! Stay tuned for next interview.

  • If you’re an author and want to be in my spotlight, contact me!

Spotlight on Amanda Green – Interview with Author of ‘My Alien Self: My Journey Back to Me’

 

Another amazing author today here, folks, and another one without a picture! :) Instead, we have her logo – A locked Pandora box – chosen because she put all her bad memories away in the Pandora box of her mind and locked them away now.

She tells all about her journey in her inspirational book – ‘My Alien Self: My Journey Back to Me‘.

I’m really excited to have Amanda Green here, especially because it’s OCD awareness week and World mental health day tomorrow, and all her work is meant to stop the stigma surrounding mental illness.

So, let’s learn more about her!

Please, tell us a little about yourself.

I am Amanda Green, author of ‘My Alien Self – My Journey Back To Me’, my memoir of my journey through travel, excitement, normality and mental illness to find myself again. I want to inspire others that it is possible to recover and have a life worth living. Because I grew up with my mother having severe Schizophrenia, who had been incarcerated in psychiatric hospitals for years, and felt the bullying and loneliness that stigma can spread, I campaign to stop the stigma surrounding mental illness. I also felt the wrath of stigma when I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality disorder. Many people do not understand mental illness, so judge people unfairly. So I created www.amandagreenauthor.co.uk where I publish articles on the topics covered in my story, including self help, depression, bankruptcy, Alcohol/drug abuse, family and relationships, sexual, physical and mental abuse, anxiety, anger, Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), self harm, Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), Anorexia Nervosa/Bulimia, mindfulness, panic, rape, Schizophrenia, pychosis, Suicidal thoughts, , paranoia, dissociation, mood disorder, thyroid issues and psychology.

I love photography, writing and looking after my many websites, and have had my work published in magazines. I enjoy the challenge of getting published and very much enjoy doing my own PR, which is why I chose to self publish to kindle in this first instance.

I will be working with mental health charities, magazines, newspapers, social networking and other PR projects, actively making people aware of this disorder through every means possible through the media. But also, I hope that my book will help other sufferers and their families and friends to understand BPD and mental health and how to help oneself to feel better. I want to raise awareness to the general public about mental illness and the stigma sufferers have to deal with. I am going to continue writing through fact and fiction storytelling, on the genre of Mental Health and love stories – facing and combating adversity as the main point. (not self help books, but based on reality)

I hope that Doctors and the medical industry involved with mental health will benefit from reading my story, as it unfolds what it is like to suffer from debilitating mental illness from the inside out and how it manifests itself.

But I have also written this book in an autobiographical, yet novel style, in the hope that this will be a compelling and sometimes shocking read for anyone interested in memoirs with a twist, so that I can reach more people.

I really hope to encourage more celebrities to come out about BPD or other mental illnesses.

Outside of work, I love eating out and reviewing restaurants, travel, days out, campaigning for the precious Orang-utan and the issues of unsustainable palm oil production, running six websites of my own and seeing my family. I also enjoy reading, theatre, films, TV and cooking and when I can calm my mind down, just relaxing!

How long have you been writing?

Since I was very young – I loved writing short stories and rhyming poems. Then, when I was fourteen I began writing in depth diaries/journals.

Do you remember the first story you wrote?

I am not sure if it was my first story, but when I was nine I wrote a story about a scary house in the middle of a forest. It was in first person and I was trying to get inside the house yet I was very frightened.

Can you tell us two eccentricities about yourselves?

Mmm, well, I like to behave child like every so often. It just comes to me. I think it stops me from getting stressed – mucking about and joking and dancing around. It’s fun! And I think my mental illness has made me very eccentric at times – particularly OCD traits.

What was the best thing you’ve ever heard (or read) from a reader?

A few people, actually, have written reviews for my memoir or tweeted me, to tell me how much my book helped them to understand their mental illness, made them feel less alone, gave them hope and inspired them that they can recover. I also felt humbled by a comment from a psychiatric nurse who told me that I had given her a lot of food for thought regarding her patients and that she was now using the information and hints given in my book to further understand and empathize with her patients.

Do you have a good Indie author to recommend?

Yes, Terry Tyler (@TerryTyler4) – she writes novels and is becoming very popular.  She also encouraged me to do my five day free promotion, which I did as part of my anti-stigma campaign.  1200 people downloaded my book in five days so I was really pleased to have spread the word.

Who inspired and/or supported you to become a writer?

I inspired myself mainly, as I had started writing my story more fully in 2006.  However, when I was in the depths of my mental illness, I read ‘Get me out of here’ by Rachel Reiland and ‘Buddha and Borderline’ by Kiera Van Gelder and they helped me so much – I felt less alone with my illness and they helped me to gain some insights and ideas for getting better.   I then felt that my story could maybe help others in the same way and, in the years to come, if I could get better by writing it (cathartic approach) it would be even better.  And, luckily, it worked!

Do you have a WIP (Working in progress)? If so, can you tell us a little about it?

Not exactly…  But, I am journaling my life still – my progress with college, moving on, logging my mental health symptoms (negative and positive), writing articles for my website on mental health.  It may well be that I use these, plus further writing to put together a follow up book to ‘My Alien Self: My Journey Back to Me’.  Like a ‘life after mental illness’.

Do you like to interact online? What’s your favorite social media?

Oh yes I love it!  I especially like Twitter where I chat to like minded people, find out new information, can promote my book, can help inspire others with mental illness and I can retweet things of interest.
I also like face book where I am a little more personal, sharing photos, petitions, campaigns, chat with friends through messaging, join a few private groups of interest, share posts from my website and news about my book, and ‘like’ and share other people inspirational quotes, stories or jokes.
I am also registered to and use writing websites, such as Goodreads and Authonomy, as outlined below.

How do you feel about marketing your books?

I love marketing my book as I have a long background of self marketing.  It gives me confidence when I know I am reaching people through my own efforts and I tend to be fairly creative with my plans and actions.

Please, give us all your links – where can your readers find you and your books?

Twitter https://twitter.com/AmandaGreenUK

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/AmandaGreenAuthor

                  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amanda-Green-My-Alien-Self-my-journey-back-to-me/268350159908283?fref=ts

My profile and book on Authonomy http://authonomy.com/writing-community/profile/0d1a1426-08a7-4f2f-b9b6-b6bf1ff19d8c/amanda-green-author-uk/

My book on Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Alien-Self-Journey-ebook/dp/B0087HBUWU/ref=pd_rhf_ee_p_t_1

My author profile on Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Amanda-Green/e/B0087O89QS/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

My book on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/My-Alien-Self-Journey-ebook/dp/B0087HBUWU/ref=la_B0087O89QS_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349524223&sr=1-1

My author profile on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Amanda-Green/e/B0087O89QS/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_2

My profile and book on Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6525174.Amanda_Green

My book on Kindle Amazon where my readers leave notes and comments on my memoir https://kindle.amazon.com/work/my-alien-self-journey-ebook/B0087O8A12/B0087HBUWU

My website www.amandagreenauthor.co.uk

On my website/blog I write articles on:

  • Mental illness – information, coping skills and sharing my own experiences of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), OCD, depression, anxiety and my mums schizophrenia
  • Book reviews of other books
  • Information and snippets from my own memoir
  • My mental health and anti-stigma campaign
  • Being a writer and self publishing

Cover ‘Designed by Stuart Bache’ – www.stuartbache.co.uk

 Edited by Debz Hobbs-Wyatt – www.debzhobbs-wyatt.co.uk

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Amanda! It was truly a pleasure to have you here. What you have to say is absolutely important, and I hope I’ve helped to spread the word about your campaign today.

And readers, don’t go anywhere! Stay tuned for next interview.

  • If you’re an author and want to be in my spotlight, contact me!