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!

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!

My 5 star Review of ‘An Order of Coffee and Tears’, by Brian Spangler

Paperback Edition

Kindle Edition

An order of coffee and tears is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s absolutely glowing in my top ten, and even maybe in my top five. I cried reading the last chapters today on the train, and I can say that not many books made me do that; only three or maybe four so far.

It starts with the covers. Look above; I can’t decide which one is prettier, so I decided to put both.

Brian Spangley brings you a tale so vividly narrated by Gabby, a young waitress, that you feel like watching a beautiful, touching movie inside your head. The story is poignant, but not mushy. It has the exactly right amount of mystery, love, friendship, routine, sadness, redemption and, of course, coffee and tears.

 As each chapter unfolds, we learn more about Gabby and her new family—the other employees and some customers of Angela’s Dinner. It’s an old fashion dinner, where people go not only to eat and drink, but sometimes also to share their problems, to talk, to open their hearts. We have the opportunity to hear many of their stories, through the ears of Gabby. And we can see how she, Ms. Potts, Clark and others (I don’t want to give away too much and spoil your fun, so I won’t name all of them) grow. The whole dinner seems to grow along the story.

The dinner contains a universe so intense, so many lives intersecting inside it, that it’s not difficult to see how Angela’s is a character as important as others.

Many deep and intense themes are presented, in a tender and easy to connect way. You get to know the characters and their secrets, feeling their pain, their fear, their hope. You are, at some level, another customer, sharing your own order of coffee and tears.

 It’s impossible to talk much about the plot without revealing too much and spoiling it, so I’ll refrain from it. But I can tell you this: if you liked Fried Green Tomatoes, the movie, or Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, the novel, by Fannie Flagg, you’ll certainly, utterly love An order of Coffee and Tears. A true masterpiece. Beautifully written, masterfully constructed, amazingly finished.

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!