Tag Archives: Books

Interview with Author Ed Mitchell

Last January I read and then wrote a review of the thriller “Black Camel. After the review I was able to contact the author, Ed Mitchell. He graciously agreed to an interview.

Myself: When did you first realize that you wanted to become a writer?

Mitchell: My mother fueled my drive to tell stories when she taught me to read while sitting at her side. She instilled in me the love of reading, of being transported into different lands with exotic people doing incredible deeds. Over the years, like many people, I came to appreciate the magic authors use to create stories that touch souls and stay with people for decades. Reading was the footpath that led me to the point where I decided to attempt to create the magic that I enjoyed so much.

However, my birth mother was mentally ill, slipping in and out of mental hospitals most of my life. I wondered as I grew up if that insanity had been passed on to me, simmering to emerge some day in my life. When I was thirty, I concluded that sanity exists in a person when they are creative in positive ways— not in destructive ways. So, I started writing my first mystery/thriller. Being a published author keeps a lid on my simmering pot.

Myself: That is an exceptional story of how you became an author. What is the first piece that you remember writing?

Mitchell: I always remember the first day I started writing fiction at Fort Ord, California overlooking Monterey Bay. After I finished typing the first page, I yanked it out of the typewriter and threw it away because I knew it sucked. Why the hell was I thinking I could write? That began the long journey to get good at hooking people into a story they never expected and could not figure out where it was going or how it would end. Later my first mystery/thriller won best new fiction in the USA from a small press. Yippie!

Myself: That is quite the accomplishment for your first book. What is your academic and work background?

Mitchell: Here’s the short answer: I was a foster kid who later graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. I went on to be an Airborne Infantry Ranger in Alaska and South Korea, a RAND Corporation Fellow, an aerospace systems engineer working on the National Missile Defense, and a community activist fighting to protect water sources in California. Along the way, I earned two masters degrees, with one in space systems management. Additionally, for years I’ve hunted out vulnerabilities to terrorism within our borders.

Myself: That is quite the background. I can see how it impacted your writing. Your stories are very contemporary and seem to be autobiographic. Are they?

Mitchell: Just the 216 love scenes.

Seriously, the majority of what you read in my stories is not a one-for-one lifting out of my life. Instead, it’s an extension or adjustment of my experiences with people I’ve met or places I’ve seen. The craft is molding them into the plot, scenes, emotions, and characters that I bring on stage for readers to enjoy.

One rule of writing that I’ve heard is “write what you know.” I express that rule a bit differently. Leverage what you know. What I’ve leverage into my stories includes being a battered child, serving 25 years in the Army, traveling to desolate places around the world; as well as observing, like you have, current political, economic, and terrorist events. Additional spice comes from marrying, divorcing, being in car crashes, burying pets, having mentally ill family members, and losing people I love to cancer and heart problems. And one of those was my second wife, who on our 30th wedding anniversary died in my arms.

I believe my thrillers are realistic and believable because I make it easy for the reader to connect with events in the story similar to those in their life. Often, I’ve been told: “Your stories are scary because they could happen.”

Myself: You seem to have led a full life. I have only read one of your novels, but it is a believable story. What part of the world do you currently live in?

Mitchell: I’m a west coast farm boy who left the cold rainy northwest to join the army then returned to live in sunny California near Big Sur and Monterey Bay.

Myself: Do you think that living there has affected your writing?

Mitchell: Yes, my first two thrillers are set in California. Then the characters transition farther into the world of counterterrorism. But more important than setting is that I met my second wife here. She was my best critic and helped me craft realistic, intelligent, creative, and dangerous female characters.

Myself: How do you relax? What are your hobbies?

Mitchell: I’m like many career military types, I’ve never stopped leaning forward in the foxhole. John, you read Black Camel and in it I’ve laid out how terrorism can grow like a cancer into a terrible battle within our borders. So, no hobbies. But I do relax by fixing the next thing that breaks on the ranch.

Myself: Did you read much growing up?

Mitchell: Yes, and kept it up until I started writing fiction. Then I transitioned into research-reading of material for my stories. It’s harder than it looks weaving into a plot cutting off electricity to millions of people, air-gap computer hacking, ballistic missile launches against the U.S., and using ground-penetrating satellites.  

Myself: Very state-of-the-art tech you are weaving into your thrillers. I can see why you have had to indulge in so much research. What book that you read as a child stands out in your memory? 

Mitchell: I was three years old sitting next to my mom. It was a children’s book that she encouraged me to read to her.

Myself: What is your favorite genre? book? character? author?

Mitchell: Thrillers are hands down better than a mystery. I love to kid mystery authors by saying that, thrillers are what mystery writers wish they could write. It’s because thrillers are more complex than mysteries. The thriller author usually is found entwining events and characters spread around the globe along with a large splash of technical, scientific, or historic data. The skill of the author is in how well he or she weaves the disparate threads into a recognizable, believable pattern so by the time the reader finishes the last chapter he or she is satisfied with the ending.

My publisher doesn’t like me to say this, but it’s true. My Gold series of thrillers is a saga of a family. It has a strong romance genre component and female protagonists. Also, soldiers or FBI agents in my stories are not portrayed just in action. They also deal with parents, spouses, children, and pets (just like you and me) that enhance and complicate their lives. 

Myself: That is an exceptionally good description of a thriller. Where is your favorite place to read?

Mitchell: In bed with my girlfriend while reading her the exciting and surprising chapter I wrote during the last week. If she falls asleep, I know it’s not that brilliant and needs a rewrite.  

Myself: Do you prefer paper or eBooks? Do you listen to audiobooks? 

Mitchell: I began writing before ebooks existed. And many readers love the physical book and while others prefer the digital version. We sell physical books direct to the reader from my website, while globally selling the ebook online in 7 ebookstore chains. Bottom line: I prefer books that sell.

Myself: What books do you recommend to others? Give as gifts?

Mitchell: People who give gift books that John Purvis rates highly are some of the best people in the world. And readers ALWAYS appreciate receiving gift books that are a good read. So go to my webpage or to your favorite ebook store and buy and send your family member or friend a great book. 

By the way you gave Black Camel 5 stars. You’re brilliant. People should take your advice. Sample chapter-1 of each of my thrillers at my website. The saga begins with Gold Lust, then Gold Raid, Gold Fire (nuclear terrorism), The Destiny Relic (Middle East terrorism), Black Camel (terrorism with our borders).

Myself: Thanks for your praise Ed. What makes you sit down and want to share your stories?

Mitchell: Two reasons. First, humans are storytellers. In some of us the drive is almost maternal in strength. We’re driven to give our story a life by getting it out of our minds and onto paper or onto the computer screen. That drive has been strong enough to keep me writing for years.

Second, my inspiration to write my first fiction story and see it published began on the beach in Monterey, California. I was a young captain attending the Naval Postgraduate School. On that day I was trying to figure out how Muslim terrorists could talk teenage fighters into committing suicide by blowing themselves up. I concluded that if America ever faced a Muslim commander trained as American soldiers are, like myself, then that would be a very bad day for our country.

I went on to lay out a storyline for a series of thrillers leading up to such an event. That led to releasing my original hardback as Gold Rush 2000. (Released later as a paperback under the title Gold Lust.) While I was writing the third book in the series, where a mastermind would attack a strategic objective in America to drive our forces out of the Middle East — reality struck. On September 11th, 2001 the Trade Towers in New York City were destroyed.

After the FBI began warning the public to watch out for other attacks, one of which I had in my draft thriller, I realized that I knew too many national vulnerabilities. So, I tossed that draft and started a different story, Gold Fire.

However, after my wife passed, I took a sabbatical from writing for a few years. But I’ve returned to helping enlighten people to threats to America.

Myself: I think I need to go back and read the first four books in your Gold series. What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Mitchell: Keep writing, stay sane, help people become security aware.

Myself: Is there anyone who has influenced your writing?

Mitchell: Author-wise its: Frederick Forsyth’s Day of the Jackal, Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October, Baldacci’s Absolute Power, Evan’s The Horse Whisperer, as well as Grisham’s Time to Kill.

Myself: I too have read and enjoyed most of the books of Forsyth and Clancy. How did you pick the genres for your stories?

Mitchell: I write what I like to read which are thrillers with a romance element. That fits for writing about modern terrorism.

Myself: Where did the idea for the plot for Black Camel come from?

Mitchell: I was studying Middle East terrorism decades before the Department of Homeland Security appeared. That led me to worry that someday America could be attacked by terrorists. That stimulated me to conceive of a series of books to identify an emerging threat. Black Camel has been maturing in my head for years, while I worked out what I should and should not include in the story.

Myself: Where do your story ideas come from?

Mitchell: Typically, it starts with a What-if question popping in my brain. Followed by a What-would-that-cause question. I’ll use my fourth thriller, The Destiny Relic, as an example. While watching a TV documentary about fake relics, it popped into my head: What if a religious relic actually passed all scientific tests proving it was authentic? How would that shake up the world for good or bad? What if terrorists used it to achieve their political goals?

If I can’t conceive of a satisfying and believable ending I don’t write that story. And I won’t ask a reader to go on a long journey with me if I know there’s a shabby ending. But with an intriguing beginning and satisfying ending, I know I have the foundation for a story.

Myself: I really like how you come up with story ideas. How do you write your thrillers?

Mitchell: Ah … fully clothed. 

Given that I know the beginning and ending, I next outline the up and down scenes for the male and female heroes. Once I have that rollercoaster outline clumped into chapters, I start technical and setting research.

Only after I have the factual data to support the outline, do I start writing.

Myself: You seem to approach writing more analytically than most of the authors I have interviewed. What is your schedule like when you are writing?

Mitchell:  It takes me a long time to write a book and get it to readers and editors.  Throughout every day I think about the book I’m writing. I like to write in the morning in my office with light music on. When not writing, I’m supposed to be marketing which I do periodically but not enough recently. Before the pandemic I was giving author talks around the state. I like that because I get new buyers and discuss safety issue that people are interested in. 

Myself: About how long does it take you to complete a first draft? How long do your revisions take?

Mitchell:  Finishing a rough draft takes a year. Finishing an edited book takes six more months. In the last four years I’ve issued two new books in my series and released five ebooks (All of the saga so far). The two new books were The Destiny Relic and Black Camel.

On the shelf in two years has been my recent pace.

Myself: How much research do you put into a novel?

Mitchell: Five hundred to a thousand hours.

Myself: That is a a lot of research. I don’t think that very many fiction authors make that kind of an investment. Of course having that level of detail sets your books apart. What tools (software?) do you use in your writing?

Mitchell: Microsoft Word and Grammarly editing software.

Myself: I like Grammarly too. What are the hardest and easiest things about writing?

Mitchell: One of the hardest lessons to learn is that you are not just an author writing — you also are a professional marketer. Second, hardest is waiting years to get feedback on your writing.

The best and easiest thing is when someone who has read your book tells you they loved your story, and they mean it. Knowing you delivered the magic is golden.

Myself: I certainly found Black Camel very enjoyable. What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Mitchell: Marry someone rich who will support your writing career.

More important is enjoying the journey whether you ever get published or not, whether you sell one book or millions. And while you’re on that journey appreciate your spouse or significant other. Be kind to them and thank them for all the support they give you, especially when you receive rejection letters. Or after your car’s engine stops running in the fast lane with a big diesel truck behind you while you are on the way to an important event and you almost get killed. (True story!) Mainly though, enjoy them because they may disappear some day and leave you behind.

Myself: Very wise advice. What novels/works have you published?

Mitchell: Ed Mitchell’s thriller series includes Gold Rush 2000, Gold Raid, Gold Fire, The Destiny Relic, and Black Camel. Each thriller is also available in eBook form. Note that ebook-1 is retitled Gold Lust.

Read reviews & sample each chapter at my website.

Myself: What are you currently working on?

Mitchell: Centurion Gold is a Ben-Hur type story, outside of my thriller series. I promised my wife I would write this story. It is scheduled to be released in late 2021.

Myself: I will be looking for it. How should your fans follow you or get in touch?

Mitchell: Email me direct at ed@booksbyedmitchell.com, sign up for my blogs or newsletter, and visit my website, https://booksbyedmitchell.com 

I want to thank Ed again for the opportunity to have a great interview. He was humorous, has an incredible set of life experiences, and is full of insight. Just the kind of author you would want to be seated next to at a dinner party. 

If you want a little more detail of Ed’s career, check out the Biography page on his website. 

Interview with Author A.D. Enderly

I read and reviewed the science fiction novel Complex: A Dystopian Thriller earlier this month. Since then I was able to contact the author A. D. Enderly. He graciously agreed to an interview. 


Myself: When did you first realize that you wanted to become a writer?


Enderly: I’d always been an avid reader and had tinkered around with creative expression in the form of poetry, but the revelation didn’t really hit until I was about 18. I was a freshman in college and a friend of mine had turned me on to Dave Barry. I enjoyed how he blended humor with factual information and began to toy around with some of these “essays” myself. Now mind you, this was 25 years ago, so I can’t honestly recall the topics…but I do remember the reception. I shared them with friends and family and they enjoyed them – even laughed. This to me, was gold. It didn’t necessarily confirm that I wanted to be a humor columnist, but it did herald the value in writing. 


Myself: You began your writing career a little earlier than most of the authors I have spoken with. What is the first piece that you remember writing?


Enderly: Yikes. This would maybe be in middle school, where I wrote a story about a mythological creature cursed to stand on its head. I remember reading it years later, and the notable point wasn’t its quality (or lack thereof) but the creativity. Kids can be so effortlessly creative. 

 
Myself: I agree about kid’s natural creativity. It seems that the public education system works to suppress that independent thinking. What is your academic and work background?


Enderly: I studied English at the University of Kansas, with an emphasis on Creative Writing. I studied Spanish all throughout as well, because as it turns out I have a love for languages! I graduated in ’99 and after that played in a band for about 6 years, both writing lyrics and music. After this, I worked a slew of different jobs, from taking insurance claims in Spanish, installing POS systems in Pizza Huts in the South, waiting tables, to being both a freelance and full-time copywriter at an ad agency. Now I manage restaurants and write in my spare time.


Myself: You have quite a varied career. What part of the world do you currently live in?


Enderly: I live in a suburb of Kansas City, on the Kansas side. An interesting point of note about the city – prior to about 2000, the downtown area was a dead zone. But around this time it experienced a revitalization, beginning with the arts community. I have a good friend who’s a sculptor (think giant bronze statues) and he was a part of this rejuvenation. Now, (minus Covid) the city is alive with people, art, ideas, which had earned it the moniker the Paris of the Plains. I realize some would snicker at this cynically as it’s obviously not remotely like Paris in reality, but I think what the nickname speaks to is the fact that it’s a place where art and ideas are blooming.


Myself: It’s interesting that you come from suburban Kansas City. I was born there and spent the first few years of my life in Argentine, KS. I did not know that it had developed into a center for the arts. Do you think that living there has affected your writing?


Enderly: Undoubtedly. But not in the way some would assume like there’s this sort of midwestern plainspokenness about my writing because I don’t know that’s the case. More than anything, it’s the place that has a hand in the friendships, the encounters, and other exposures that have shaped me and thus my writing.


Myself: How do you relax? What are your hobbies?


Enderly: Oh man, they are multifarious! I find so much fascinating and fun. Right now I’m really enjoying driving RC cars…crashing them and fixing them, that is. I (obviously) love to read and write. But a lot of my writings lean toward the what-if, the philosophical, and the metaphysical. I’m deeply interested in the links between physics/physical laws and the metaphysical ones (ie conservation of energy and Karma – there’s some convoluted connection in there, but that’s for another time).I enjoy repairing things, the occasional woodworking, and also inventing. I’ve got a few ideas I’m working on currently but they’re just rough sketches at the moment. I still make music (I play the bass), and occasionally you’ll find me recording some new music and catapulting it out into the ether when I get the time. 

My kids always keep me busy, and I enjoy teaching and coaching them (when they choose to listen). I like to take them camping, canoeing, etc…life is a full, wonderful thing. A little too full to list everything here.

Myself: You seem to have a very full life. What else would you like to share about yourself?


Enderly: I’ve probably over-shared by now 🙂 


Myself: What’s the earliest book you remember reading for yourself?


Enderly: Scruffy. It was a chapter book I checked out in second grade and it moved me to tears. 


Myself: Did you read much growing up?


Enderly: All the time. I’ve always loved reading. 


Myself: What book that you read as a child stands out in your memory? 


Enderly: I already mentioned Scruffy, so I’ll move forward in time a little. Around fourth grade, I read The Westing Game, and I absolutely loved the mystery aspect of it. Also around this time, my older brother (2 years older) was reading John Bellairs’ books, which are paranormal mysteries for kids. I got hooked on these…which naturally led me into loving Stephen King and Dean Koontz around high school. 


Myself: I’m a Dean Koontz fan too. What have you read recently?


Enderly: I just finished Silversands by Gareth Powell and am about to start Shogun by James Clavell. I try to read one non-fiction for every 3 fiction. It’s the non-fiction that inspires my ideas more than anything. More recently, books like Range (David Eppstein), The Biggest Bluff (Maria Konnikova), and Newjack: Guarding Sing-Sing (Ted Conover) are ones that come to mind.    


Myself: That is a diverse reading list. I try to alternate between fiction and non-fiction books as well. What is your favorite genre? book? character? author?


Enderly: Favorite genre still has to be Sci-fi. Favorite book of all time? It’s a fight between Dune and Brave New World. But I’m always finding new authors, which is the beauty of books. There are so many good authors out there spinning lovely and different tales. Recently I’ve been enjoying Chuck Wendig’s writing (Wanderers). My favorite author was Stephen King for the longest time, and I still adore The Stand and the Dark Tower series. Don’t know that I have a favorite character though.


Myself: I enjoyed the Dune novels and The Stand. Where is your favorite place to read?


Enderly: Any place that’s quiet. 


Myself: Do you prefer paper or eBooks? Do you listen to audiobooks?


Enderly: I prefer paper. I also devour podcasts…but not audiobooks. Is that strange? 


Myself: Nearly all the authors I have spoken with prefer paper. I too listen to few audiobooks but to several different podcasts. So from my point of view that is not strange at all! What books do you recommend to others? Give as gifts?


Enderly: Whatever sparks my imagination. These days I recommend podcasts and particular episodes that interesting that others might find interesting. Just this morning I recommended a Ted talk episode to a barista regarding the (super) power of sleep because of its timely correlation to daylight saving time. 


Myself: What makes you sit down and want to share your stories?


Enderly: Some innate thing. I know that growing up, total immersion in these imaginary worlds contributed to my development and I believe it still does. It builds a muscle. Maybe I can both inspire others, make them think, but also get them totally immersed in this world, which is an act of imagination and empathy. 


Myself: I agree that inspiring imagination is important. What are your ambitions for your writing career?


Enderly: Right now, to just widen my readership. And continue to write and publish. Two books a year is my goal but for someone with work and four kids, this is a tough proposition. I’d probably settle for one/year. 


Myself: One novel a year would still be quite an achievement. Why do you write? What makes you sit down and want to share your stories?


Enderly: I write my first draft by hand, and I cannot express how different it is from writing on a computer. There’s some connection between my hand, the pen, the scratch, the feel of the paper that’s all very tactile and it enhances my sense of creating and stimulates my brain more than just typing away at a keyboard ever can. I love it. But back to your question – I love ideas, which is probably why I write within the SF&F genres. In these playgrounds, you can test out new ideas and really flesh them out, see if they ring true.

Myself: Is there anyone who has influenced your writing?


Enderly: The first big influences were Stephen King/Dean Koontz. For a while there I was writing horror short stories. Then it was books like Lord of the FliesBrave New World1984 that influenced the genre…but I would say my style of writing was most greatly influenced by reading William Gibson. I love how you’re just thrown and have to figure it all out. There’s such a minimum of exposition that I feel gives his books a lasting power in that you can read them and infer more and more meaning on subsequent reads.

 
Myself: How did you pick the genres for your stories?

Enderly: It’s the genre with the most ideas 🙂 

Myself: Where do your story ideas come from? How did you come up with the plot in Complex?

Enderly: Oh my god, where to start. This world has existed in my mind for about 6 years. I would write little snippets but didn’t fully begin in earnest until late 2017. My goal at the time was to build a world in which I could write multiple stories/books that were not only in a series but some on parallel tracks that touched on other series. The plot for Complex changed over the course of time…but man it was hard to wrangle with all the POVs.

Myself: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?

Enderly: Very loose outline. There are some things I know I want to happen for the dramatic effect, but if you do this too much then the characters lose their agency. Just like use, they need a bit of freedom to make their own trouble. 

Myself: Do you ever find yourself ‘becoming’ one of your characters as you write?

Enderly: do. This is more noticeable for me when there’s an especially touching, poignant, or inherently sad moment. When you’re lost in the flow and this event happens and you find yourself moved to tears or a sudden upwelling of love, or whatever the emotion may be. Most of writing is a mental stimulant for me, but these moments go deeper, they originate in the heart.

Myself: Where do you do your writing? Why there?

Enderly: Sometimes at home, but mostly at a coffee shop. I suspect my brain needs some low level of peripheral stimulation to be able to focus on writing. Or maybe I’m just addicted to good coffee.

Myself: Good coffee is certainly important. What is your schedule like when you are writing?

Enderly: Always in the morning. The day proceeds and fills your mind up with junk and other concerns. The morning is a clean, clear slate. 

Myself: About how long does it take you to complete the first draft? How long do your revisions take?

Enderly: The first book took two years, then another 6 months to edit. The current book I’m on will take 1 year total for both. 

Myself: How much research do you put into a novel?

Enderly: A lot of the ideas in their raw form come from the non-fiction I consume…these days, much of that is from podcasts. But something more specific, like the historic gods of the people of Nepal, I’ll obviously have to research more closely.

Myself: What tools (software?) do you use in your writing?

Enderly: I know it’s terrible, but I still use Word for the final draft. Recently, I’ve been writing my first drafts on a reMarkable e-ink tablet…which I LOVE.  

Myself: What are the hardest and easiest things about writing?

Enderly: The hardest thing is getting started…and getting used to very negative criticism. The easiest thing is continuing. When you’re in a flow, the world doesn’t exist. Only the one in your head. 

Myself: What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Enderly: Just write. Don’t stop. Like anything else, you will fail. Get up and continue to write, again and again. The process of iteration, of repetition, is one of honing, of style, ideas, craft. 

Myself: What novels/works have you published?

Enderly: Complex is my debut novel. 

Myself: What are you currently working on?

nderly: The direct sequel to Complex and also a book on a parallel track that touches some of the same characters and concepts, but occurs in a parallel world. It’s tentatively titled The Runner of Bloodroot Row.

Myself: I’ll be looking for both of those novels. What else would you like to share?

Enderly:  I really enjoyed this interview. Thanks for inviting me!

Myself: I really appreciate you taking the time to do the interview. I find it so interesting how the authors I interview are so similar on one level and yet worlds apart on others. How should your fans follow you or get in touch?

Enderly: Email is always a great way since life is inherently busy. My email address is contact@adenderly.com

Interview with Author Robert Webber

(See my other Author Interviews) – I read the WWII spy novel Winston’s Spy late last summer and published a review of it in September 2020. Since then I have been able to contact the author Robert Webber. He graciously agreed to an interview.

Myself: When did you first realize that you wanted to become a writer?  

Webber: I think I have always felt that I had a book inside me.

Myself: What is the first piece that you remember writing?  

Webber: When I was about ten-years-old, I won a competition in a local newspaper for a short story about the Zulu wars and then started writing a novel called ‘Death Defying Death’ which, of course, never saw the light of day!

Myself: Your writing career began a lot earlier than most authors. What is your academic and work background?   

Webber: I spent much of my life in sales and marketing but entered the world of academia whilst I was living in Finland… I am now working at a University in England as a senior lecturer of business strategy. I hold a doctorate.

Myself: We have somewhat similar backgrounds. I was not fortunate enough to earn a Phd, but I was an instructor in Computer Science at St. Edward’s University. What part of the world do you currently live in?    

Webber: Northamptonshire, England.

Myself: Do you think that living there has affected your writing?    

Webber: Not especially, my current writing was more influenced by the time I spent living in Finland.

Myself: Why do you think Finland influenced your writing?

Webber: In Finland, there is a word “SISU” that defines the Finnish attitude to life. The term does not directly translate into English but is loosely explained as bravery, resilience, hardiness. The Finns are justifiably proud of sisu and often use it to describe their national character. When I was living in Finland, this trait fascinated me – I met many Finns who, despite physical or social handicaps, were determined to live life to the full and succeed in whatever they attempted. I became fascinated by Finland’s heroic achievements in their “David and Goliath” struggle in the Winter War, as this truly epitomised sisu.

Myself: I have not heard of the Finnish term sisu before. Your explanation is very interesting and I can see how it motivated you for your book series. How do you relax? What are your hobbies?    

Webber: A moment to relax… that would be nice! Actually, I relax by writing, but am also interested in photography, cookery and the theatre.

Myself: What else would you like to share about yourself?    

Webber: I regret not having come to writing earlier.

Myself: What’s the earliest book you remember reading for yourself?    

Webber: The first book I remember was either A A Milne’s ‘When We Were Very Young’ or ‘Now We Are Six’ – I loved the simplicity of the rhyme and the wit of the writer. I think it a shame that youngsters today do not bother reading poetry.

Myself: Did you read much growing up?    

Webber: Yes, I was an avid reader.

Myself: What book that you read as a child stands out in your memory?    

Webber: The Jennings books by Anthony Buckeridge, in later years ‘Reach for the Sky’ by Paul Brickhill.

Myself: What have you read recently?    

Webber: Mainly research for my own writing, but the occasional dabble into Michael Dobbs or Peter Mayle.

Myself: What is your favorite genre? book? character? author?    

Webber: Political, espionage, humour, I have a wide range of genres that I enjoy.

Myself: Where is your favorite place to read?    

Webber: Bed mainly, although when researching, mainly at my desk.

Myself: Do you prefer paper or eBooks? Do you listen to audiobooks?     

Webber: I’m old school, I’m afraid… paper, and much to my wife’s chagrin, I do not throw books away!

Myself: I have amassed quite a few books myself, though most of those I’ve read in recent years have been ebooks. What books do you recommend to others? Give as gifts?    

Webber: At the moment, my own… but also cookery books.

Myself: What type of cooking books? Do you favor a particular cuisine?    

Webber: It depends on the recipient and how skilled they are in the kitchen, but my true love is French cuisine. My mother taught Cordon Bleu cookery, so my tastebuds became accustomed to the flavours of France from an early age,

Myself: What makes you sit down and want to share your stories?     

Webber: Relaxation and a desire to inform about the least remembered aspects of WW2

Myself: I am glad you chose the WWII era for your novel. What are your ambitions for your writing career?     

Webber: Retirement from my day job… yes, I would like to make money from my writing, but also leave a legacy for future generations.

Myself: Why do you write? What makes you sit down and want to share your stories?    

Webber: I enjoy writing, I enjoy researching what I write, I enjoy the creativity.

Myself: Is there anyone who has influenced your writing?     

Webber: Not especially, none of my family wrote, but we did have an English teacher at school who wrote novels under a pen-name, but I never found out what it was (and he was not allowed to say!)

Myself: Why did you set your first book Winston’s Spy in WWII era Europe?    

Webber: In honesty, Winston’s Spy was always going to be the precursor for The White Rose, which I have been mulling around in my mind for nearly twenty years. I needed an introduction to start writing about the Winter War in Finland, so I developed the main characters in Winston’s Spy for the later books in the series.

Myself: I don’t think many people associate the war between Finland and Russia as part of WWII. I doubt there are many who have even heard of the Winter War. I look forward to learning more in your next novel. How did you pick the genres for your stories?    

Webber: I grew up at the time when WW2 was still remembered, and I was fascinated by the courage and determination of the era. I agree that not many people have heard of the Winter War (before living in Finland, I certainly had not!), which is a shame – but I can’t entirely agree that it falls outside WW2. Quite apart from the timeline, the war with Finland influenced Russian strategy both in its pact with Nazi Germany and later coalition with the Allies. Post-WW2, Finland became a crucial, if passive, player in the Cold War.

Myself: I think you and I are much of the same generation. Where do your story ideas come from?    

Webber: My books are always grounded in historical fact, but expanded into fiction by an overactive imagination.

Myself: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?     

Webber: The main plot is invariably set by historical fact, but of the fiction element is initially quite well planned out, but allowed to develop as the writing happens, so quite often I do not end up where I thought I would!

Myself: Where do you do your writing? Why there?    

Webber: I converted the garage at my home into an office and writing space… mainly so that I could get some peace and quiet to develop my thoughts.

Myself: What is your schedule like when you are writing?     

Webber: Haphazard at the moment, as it has to fit around my ‘day job’, but when I am writing more intensely (weekends and holidays) structured… I am definitely a morning person.

Myself: How do you fit writing in to your daily schedule? (i.e. balance work, writing and family)    

Webber: Ever since I wrote my thesis for university, I have been an early riser… I am responding to this email at 3.30am, and that’s when I tend to do much of my writing so that I can fit day job, and family around my writing ambitions. If I ever get to retire, I will focus on writing in a more structured way.

Myself: About how long does it take you to complete a first draft? How long do your revisions take?    

Webber: Usually, about three to four months.

Myself: How much research do you put into a novel?    

Webber: A lot! I am typically researching my next book while I am writing the current one

Myself: What tools (software?) do you use in your writing?     

Webber: MS Word, and I have just bought Grammarly to see whether it improves my writing.

Myself: I have been using Grammarly as well. I think it has helped me improve my own writing. What are the hardest and easiest things about writing?    

Webber: Hardest? Remembering what I had thought was a good storyline the next day, and scheduling sufficient time to hit my personal deadlines, and the easiest, is really allowing the book to flow from brain to paper.

Myself: What advice would you give to an aspiring author?    

Webber: Enjoy writing… if it becomes a chore, give it up!

Myself: What novels/works have you published?    

Webber: I have had several academic papers published, plus a textbook ‘An Introduction to Franchising’. Winston’s Spy and The White Rose have been published. The third Carlton Chronicles novel Teddy’s War is due out in the summer. 

Myself: What are you currently working on?    

Webber: Carlton Chronicles IV, The Stockholm Protocol is nearing completion. I anticipate it will be out around Christmas 2021. I am researching the fifth book in the series.

Myself: What else would you like to share?    

Webber: I really do regret not having started writing earlier… I seriously wonder whether I shall ever get all the books that I would like to write finished before I drop dead!

Myself: How should your fans follow you or get in touch?   

Webber: Email is the best option robert@robwebber.co.uk, although I do also have a Carlton Chronicles FaceBook page (https://www.facebook.com/carltonchronicles) and a website (https://www.robwebber.co.uk)

Author Interview with Susan Elia MacNeal

Photo from http://susaneliamacneal.com

(See my other Author Interviews) – Over the past three years I have had the opportunity to read and review Prisoner in the Castle and The King’s Justice by author Susan Elia MacNeal. She is a NY Times, Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today best selling novelist. She is a Barry Award winner in 2013 in the Best Paperback Original category for her first novel Mr. Churchills Secretary. She has also been nominated for theEdgar Award

A few weeks ago I reached out to her for an interview and she graciously consented. She has published nine novels with a tenth pending. These are all in her “Maggie Hope Mysteries” series. She has also published two non-fiction books Infused: 100+ Recipes for Infused Liqueurs and Cocktails and Wedding Zen: Simple, Calming Wisdom for the Bride. 

Myself: What is your academic and work background?

MacNeal: I was an English major at Wellesley College, where I did my senior honors thesis on the lesser-known gothic thrillers of Louisa May Alcott. Worked for the novelist John Irving and his wife, Janet Turnbull Irving a Canadian literary agent, then moved to New York to work as an assistant at Random House. Then climbed my way up the publishing ladder. Eventually I decided I wanted to write instead of edit.

Myself: Your background is very different from the other authors I have interviewed. With nine novels in the Maggie Hope series already published and your awards, I would say that your writing career is already very successful.  What part of the world do you currently live in?

MacNeal: Brooklyn, New York! Park Slope, actually, where it seems everyone’s a writer. 

Myself: Do you think that living there has affected your writing?

MacNeal: Maybe it normalizes writing as a career in some way? Although my husband is a TV puppeteer and director, so “normal” isn’t really a concern, usually….

Myself: How do you relax? What are your hobbies?

MacNeal: One of the editors I worked for had season tickets to New York City Ballet and I went and fell in love! So NYCB and the ballet and modern dance scene is definitely a reason to stay in New York for me. In the pandemic, I’ve focused on cooking—a lot of writers like cooking and baking and I think it’s because, unlike a novel, you can start and finish something in a reasonable time frame. There’s closure. And dinner!

Myself: What’s the earliest book you remember reading for yourself?

MacNeal: I was told I was reading Mother Goose by age three. Now that I’m a parent, this seems petty early, but that’s the way I heard it.

Myself: Did you read much growing up?

MacNeal: All. The. Time. The library was my absolute favorite place.

Myself: What have you read recently?

MacNeal: Just finished Phillip Roth’s THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA, which maybe was or was not a great choice given the current political situation. But it’s a fantastic novel and certainly thought-provoking.

Myself: Do you prefer paper or eBooks? 

MacNeal: Much, much prefer paper books to eBooks! But here’s my reading hack—I download those free first chapters to my iPad and use time on the subway, bus, doctor’s office, what have you to decide what actual physical book to buy or take out from the library.

Myself: That sounds like a good way to evaluate your next read. Do you listen to audiobooks?

MacNeal: Started audiobooks in the pandemic and love to walk in our local park and listen! I don’t love fiction (feel like I might miss something somehow?) but I love listening non-fiction, especially authors reading their own work. Faves are: Trevor Noah’s BORN A CRIME, anything by Mindy Kahling, and everything by Carrie Fisher. Just hearing their voices read their own words makes me so happy. 

Myself: What books do you recommend to others? Give as gifts?

MacNeal: This year we gave lots of copies of Anne Louise Avery’s new novel REYNARD THE FOX, which is a magical mix of GAME OF THRONES meets WIND IN THE WILLOW. It’s absolutely gorgeous.

Myself: Why do you write? What makes you sit down and want to share your stories?

MacNeal: My characters are pretty demanding of me—they want to be known and tell their stories. I’m serious—I feel like a conduit most of the time. Some are more polite about it than others.

Myself: That is an interesting point to view for an author. None of the other authors I have interviewed have expressed anything like that. How did you pick the genres for your stories?

MacNeal: My first novel MR. CHURCHILL’S SECRETARY had a mystery and an international political plot, so I guess my style’s a bit of mystery and thriller combined? But with cozy-type characters? I really don’t know. Honestly, “genre” seems to be more about where books are placed in a bookstore than something I really think about.

Myself: I enjoy novels set in the WWII era. That is what drew me to read Prisoner in the Castle. Where do your story ideas come from?

MacNeal: I love finding some little-known aspect of history and then trying to unravel the knot of “what really happened.” My current work-in-progress is based on real people who were footnotes to footnotes of history. But I just felt their story needed to be told!

Myself: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?

MacNeal: Outlines are great because they’re like a security blanket that you can also kick off when it’s not really serving your story…. I make fairly detailed outlines and then usually don’t follow them. My character outlines are more important. If you know who your characters are, you’ll know how they’ll react in any situation.

Myself: Where do you do your writing? Why there?

MacNeal: I write cross-legged on the sofa in our living room. Seriously. My dream is to someday have an office. Although probably I’d still work cross-legged on a sofa. But at least I’d have a door to close! To make up for lack of space and silence, I’ll often housesit for friends. Does anyone out there need a house-sitter/novelist? I’m great with cats and dogs, not so much with plants.

Myself: What is your schedule like when you are writing?

MacNeal: Pretty much every day. Starting a novel, it’s more about the research and then, slowly, becomes more about the writing. I wish I could transition to writing faster, but can’t until I know my characters.

Myself: What are you currently working on?

3MacNeal: THE KING’S JUSTICE (Maggie Hope #9) came out in paperback on February 27 and THE HOLLYWOOD SPY (Maggie Hope #10) is scheduled for July 6. And I can’t say too much yet, but I’m starting my first stand-alone novel, which is pretty darned exciting.

Myself: How should your fans follow you or get in touch? 

MacNeal: You can follow me on my website (http://susaneliamacneal.com).The best place is Twitter, where I’m @susanmacneal. Love interacting with readers and authors and talking about books!

Myself: Thank you Susan for making the time for this interview. I will be looking forward to both The Hollywood Spy on July 6, 2021 and that unnamed work. 

Interview with author Eliza Jane Brazier

Photo by Beverly Brooks

(See my other Author Interviews) – A few weeks ago I read and then wrote a review of the mystery “If I Disappear”. After the review, I contacted the author, Eliza Jane Brazier, and have been able to interview her.

Myself: When did you first realize that you wanted to become a writer?

Brazier: I’ve definitely always been a story teller, making up stories in my head to entertain myself. I didn’t have a lot of faith in myself for many years, so I didn’t even consider that publication was possible until Twitter and blogs made information on how to get published more accessible. I then went all in and dedicated my free to time to learning the business and improving my writing. I’m still learning every day.

Myself: What is the first piece that you remember writing?

Brazier: Ha, I wrote this essay for school about a horse who was going to be slaughtered so it impaled itself on barbed wire fence to be ~free. I’ve been living that story ever since.

Myself: What is your academic and work background?

Brazier: How much time do you have? I mean, highlights? I studied Journalism, Tourism and Drama. I worked at Disneyland, Disney World, as a journalist, accountant and horseback riding instructor. And that was just last week.

Myself:  You have enjoyed a variety of occupations. What part of the world do you currently live in?

Brazier: I am currently locked (literally) in Southern California.

Myself: I would think that there are far worse placed to be ‘locked in to’. I hope that you and your household are handling the quarantine we have all been under due to COVID. Do you think that living there has affected your writing?

Brazier: For sure. “If I Disappear” was inspired by a job I had in Northern California, and my next book is set in Los Angeles. And the one after that is set in Rancho Santa Fe.

Myself: Sounds like we will get a bit of a California tour through your novels. I have always thought that setting novels in places you know makes them more interesting. How do you relax? What are your hobbies?

Brazier: Murder Podcasts. Walking my dog. Road Trips with my dog. Talking about Murder Podcasts with my dog. My dog is my identity now. It’s easier that way.

Myself: I listen to many podcasts too, though most of mine are WWII history or Mac tech oriented. Do you have any podcasts you would like to recommend? What else would you like to share about yourself?

Brazier: Tip at restaurants. Stay home. Read a book. Wear a mask and don’t give up hope!

Myself: All of those are good suggestions. What’s the earliest book you remember reading for yourself?

Brazier: Jurassic Park. I was super into chaos theory and I probably had a crush on Ellie Sattler.

Myself: I remember reading that novel too. Michael Crichton did a masterful job with it. Did you read much growing up?

Brazier: Oh boy, yes. I almost put the library out of business.

Myself: What book that you read as a child stands out in your memory? 

Brazier: This fictional(?) book about dolphins at a Sea World-type place. One of the dolphins murdered people. I think about that dolphin a lot.

Myself: No wonder you are writing mysteries. What have you read recently?

Brazier: I have been catching up other 2021 debits so, Lyn Liao Butler’s The Tiger Mom’s Tale, Olivia Blacke’s Killer Content, Elizabeth Everett’s A Lady’s Formula for Love, Alanna Martin’s Heart on a Leash, Libby Hubscher’s Meet Me in Paradise. All are excellent!

Myself: I’m glad you could make those recommendations. What is your favorite genre? book? character? author?

Brazier: Genre: probably thriller/commercial fiction. Book: Depends on the day but today let’s say, Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley. Character: I can’t commit here either but today let’s say Beth Cassidy from Megan Abbott’s Dare Me. I just loved the epic quality of that book and its characters. Totally unique, uber intelligent and something only the author could pull off. Author: Michelle McNamara, author of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. I just have so much love and respect for that woman.

Myself: You have provided a great set of ‘favorites’. Where is your favorite place to read?

Brazier: In bed for sure. With my dog curled up beside me.

Myself: Do you prefer paper or eBooks? Do you listen to audiobooks?

Brazier: Paper. I get carpal tunnel and am distracted so easily, so I almost need a paper book in my lap. I haven’t really uncovered audiobooks yet but I love podcasts and road trips so it’s only a matter of time.

Myself: What books do you recommend to others? Give as gifts?

Brazier: Several years ago, I gave someone The Hours by Michael Cunningham in a Christmas gag gift exchange. Everyone else was giving out, like, penis pasta and I gave this book about, like, suicide and depression. I can be embarrassingly sincere.

Myself: I guess now your gifts would be your own novels. What makes you sit down and want to share your stories?

Brazier: I love books, so being able to contribute one of my own is such an honor, it’s shocking. I think I’m still in denial about it. 

Myself: What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Brazier: Honestly, I just want to work. Whether it’s books or scripts or journalism, just keeping your head above water is a feat in this world.

Myself: Why do you write? What makes you sit down and want to share your stories?

Brazier: I definitely write as a form of therapy, but I publish as a job, so I have to be very aware of my objective when writing for publication.

Myself: Is there anyone who has influenced your writing?

Brazier: So many! Big ones are my SIL Kiersten White, who is a genius and a really good person, and Louise O’Neill who is also a genius, really good person and someone who had a huge impact on my feminist awakening and who made me feel that I could write in my own voice.

Myself: How did you pick the genres for your stories?

Brazier: I was naturally drawn to thrillers because that’s mainly what I read.

Myself: Where do your story ideas come from?

Brazier: Definitely from life. I will take an incident or a feeling and turn it into fiction as a way of reasserting control in situations where I didn’t have it. 

Myself: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?

Brazier: A little of both. I try to have an idea where I’m going, but also stay open to any adjustments the characters insist on making.

Myself: Where do you do your writing? Why there?

Brazier: In bed or on a couch with my feet up. I have to feel comfortable and safe.

Myself: What is your schedule like when you are writing?

Brazier: I wake up at five or six and walk my dog, then I try to hit, like, 10 pages in a script and 1500 words in a book. Often there is a lot of crying involved.

Myself: How do you fit writing in to your daily schedule? (i.e. balance work, writing and family)

Brazier: I had a job running horse camps seven days a week when I wrote IID, and I would wake up two hours before work, write as much as could, then go to work and usually fall asleep as soon as I got home. When I don’t have time, social life is the first thing to go for me. Sadly.

Myself: That work experience fits well with your first novel. About how long does it take you to complete a first draft? How long do your revisions take?

Brazier: I write very fast so I take a month and a half on average to write a first draft. Revisions vary depending on how much I ’effed’ it up while drafting.

Myself: How much research do you put into a novel?

Brazier: More and more there is an emphasis on telling our own stories, so right now I try to only speak on subjects that I have personal experience with. I want to make sure I get it right and also that I am speaking to something I genuinely care about and have some understanding of.

Myself: What tools (software?) do you use in your writing?

Brazier: Word for books. Final Draft for scripts.

Myself: You have mentioned scripts a couple of times. Is there any of that work you would like to share?

Brazier: Nothing that has been made, but hopefully one day! 

Myself: What are the hardest and easiest things about writing?

Brazier: Everything is the hardest, but that feeling of accomplishment you get when someone likes what you’ve written makes it worthwhile for me.

Myself: What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Brazier: Most authors I know sell on their fifth to tenth ‘book.’ Go into this job knowing the first few books probably won’t sell, but being determined to get better each time.

Myself: What novels/works have you published?

Brazier: If I Disappear and one more from Berkley. A couple YA under my late husband’s name from Disney.

Myself: What are you currently working on?

Brazier: The pilot script for If I Disappear and edits for my book two—a brutal thriller about how much rich people suck.

Myself: What else would you like to share?

Brazier: You are all special and unique and your stories deserve to be heard

Myself: How should your fans follow you or get in touch?

Brazier: My website is https://elizajanebrazier.blogspot.com. I am on social media at:

https://www.facebook.com/ElizaJaneBrazier

https://twitter.com/ejanebrazier

https://www.instagram.com/elizajanebrazier

Author Interview – Maxx Powr

(See my other Author Interviews) – I read the novel “The Promise” a few weeks ago. After I published my review I contacted the author who uses the pen name  Maxx Powr. He graciously agreed to an interview.

Myself: When did you first realize that you wanted to become a writer?

Powr: I had some encouragement in high school from my English teacher, but never really pursued it. Working as a programmer later in life, I decided to write a childrens’ book, or 2. I submitted the books (over the transom back then) to publishers and received more encouragement, but also rejections. Life intervened and writing was put on hold for years, until Fairalon under the pen name T.J. Roberts. This was a childrens’ book and I needed a new pen name for The Promise, so children wouldn’t think it was a sequel. The Promise does have language and sexual situations and I didn’t want them to be shocked.

Myself: My background is also in IT and Software Development. What is the first piece that you remember writing?

Powr: The Flight of the Dodo. MG/YA adventure for boys. I may actually rework that one as I really liked it, and so did the publisher I sent it to.

Myself: What is your academic and work background?

Powr: I hold a masters degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. I’ve worked as an Emergency Crisis Intervention Counselor, Children and Adult Family Therapist, Programmer, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, and then started 2 companies, which I still manage.

Myself: What part of the world do you currently live in?

Powr: Southern California

Myself: Do you think that living there has affected your writing?

Powr: Not really. When I write, I live in the book on the screen. 

Myself: How do you relax? What are your hobbies?

Powr: Video games (COD),  3d art, photography

Myself: What’s the earliest book you remember reading for yourself?

Powr: Treasure Island comes to mind. 

Myself: Did you read much growing up?

Powr: Reading was required in my schools, assigned reading; some good some not.  I was an avid comic book reader for fun, much to my parents’ chagrin. 

Myself: What have you read recently?

Powr: Making Comics by Scott Mcloud

Myself: What is your favorite genre? book? character? author?

Powr: Sci-Fi and Fantasy. I don’t really have a favorite book, character or author. 

Myself: While I read a great deal of WWII era history, Science Fiction and Fantasy are my favorite genres of novels too. Where is your favorite place to read?

Powr: On our porch.

Myself: Do you prefer paper or eBooks? Do you listen to audiobooks?

Powr: I like paper books, but I’m buying more ebooks to support other Indies. I have listened to audiobooks, and I like it best when the author reads it.

Myself: What books do you recommend to others? Give as gifts

Powr:Typically, mine. 🙂

Myself: What makes you sit down and want to share your stories?

Powr: I just like to write stories that thrill me, things I would like to see in a movie. Basically, the stories play out like a movie in my head, The Promise is a good example of that. Once I start, the characters often take me down an unsuspected road, saying things that surprise me. I love that part of it.

Myself: What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Powr: I don’t think I’m like a lot of writers, I’m not that ambitious about my writing career. Sure, it would be nice to see my books made into movies, but that is just a dream. I just want to tell some stories that get people jazzed. I don’t expect to be the next big thing. If people enjoy them, I’ll be happy.

Myself: I certainly found your novel enjoyable and a fun read. Why do you write? What makes you sit down and want to share your stories?

Powr: It’s a little selfish but I write for myself. I’ve found that overall people tend to like what I like so it works for me.

Myself: Is there anyone who has influenced your writing?

Powr: Everyone has influenced my writing. One particular author? No. 

Myself: How did you pick the genres for your stories?

Powr: I love Sci-Fi and I love Fantasy. For me, it’s an escape to a world of ‘if only.’

Myself: Where do your story ideas come from?

Powr: Weirdly, some come from 3d art. I like to ‘play’ with 3d programs called Poser and Iclone. You can create scenes that you see in your head without artistic ability to draw. I admire people who can just draw what they think of, but my stick figures don’t really cut it.

Myself: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?

Powr: I generally start with one scene that I really like. That scene leads to another, which leads to a former scene. If they are good enough, I start playing with an outline for the arc of the story and the character arc, though they often argue with me.

Myself: Where do you do your writing? Why there?

Powr: I basically have 3 jobs. I have a bit of a cave set up under my house. Window is blocked with an AC unit, so it’s dark in there, except for my multiple screens. I work on computers and answer a phone as needed. It can be disruptive, but I find time in between to write.

Myself: What is your schedule like when you are writing?

Powr: I laughed when I read that. My schedule is whenever I have a moment. But, once I get caught up in the scene, I usually don’t stop until that scene is completed.

Myself: How do you fit writing into your daily schedule? (i.e. balance work, writing and family)

Powr: I write between tasks. It honestly stinks, because there are times when it’s flowing and you get interrupted. It is what it is.

Myself: About how long does it take you to complete a first draft? How long do your revisions take?

Powr: Probably a year for the first draft, a year for the final product. I like to create the scenes in 3d, and that can get pretty demanding timewise.

Myself: I see on your web sites that you have posted some of your 3D art. Have you thought of including some of those images in your novels?

Powr: If you take a look at Fairalon, you’ll see all the images in the book are presented on the web site in higher resolution 1 for each chapter. Also, the cover and back of the book open up to one big image of the road to grandma’s house, with Charlie swinging and Iris in the back seat watching. * (You can see them all on www.Fairalon.com so you don’t have to buy the book to see them). However, tremendous spoilers ahead in the images. I recommend looking at the images in a color reader like Kindle Fire or such, or the hard copy has printed color images. You can also read the text in a B&W kindle, nook or whatever, and then look at the images online. I put them there for people who didn’t have color readers, but do have computers with color monitors.

As for the Adult Sci Fi, like The Promise, most adult Sci-Fi books don’t include images. The images on the book cover and back are 3d art I created. (On the back is Sheen in her regen machine with Chase 523, the front is The Promise going through a wormhole)

There are arguments on both sides, such as leaving it up to the reader’s imagination versus showing them in a picture. I really like creating the images. It’s like walking around inside the scene in my head. It’s also very challenging to get anything that looks really good. My latest of Sheen is an image I really like. She looks real (to me).

Myself: That is a very lifelike image. I can understand the added cost and time involved with including your images in print. Perhaps though some could be included in your ebooks. How much research do you put into a novel?

Powr: It depends. I found that The Promise took more research than Fairalon, but I research as needed and try not to fall into interesting rabbit holes.

Myself: What tools (software?) do you use in your writing?

Powr: I prefer WordPerfect, but had to switch to Word because all the editors use it. I’ve started using Grammarly and ProWritingAid and they are both very good.

Myself: I have been using Grammarly as well and really like it. Using it has improved my writing. What are the hardest and easiest things about writing?

Powr: Hardest: Finding the time to write.  Easiest: I enjoy writing dialogue, for some strange reason.

Myself: What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Powr: Keep your day job as long as you can. From what I’ve read it can take 10 years to acquire an agent. 10 years! And that doesn’t mean you’ll be published. You need to eat, pay bills, and if you go Indie, pay for marketing your book. Don’t go nuts foregoing a normal life. It is good to keep a balance.

Myself: What novels/works have you published?

Powr: Fairalon MG/YA Fantasy Adventure
The Promise Adult Sci-Fi Action Adventure

Myself: What are you currently working on?

Powr: Return to Fairalon Because High School is a Creep Show (working title) and a sequel to The Promise, no working title as yet

Myself: What else would you like to share?

Powr: If you feel like you would like to write a book, that’s great. Don’t expect to be the next J.K. Rowling, but it’s okay to have a dream.
Do it for you.

The best advice that I stumbled across on my own is this: When it’s done, final version #158, grab an audio program and record the book as if you were reading it for an audiobook. Try your best to read it with inflection. You don’t have to do voices or sound effects. Read it like you are reading it to a friend. Now that you have finished recording all the chapters, (it takes a long time) take some time to listen. You will hear things that are like nails on a chalkboard, or music to your ears, depending upon how much editing you have done. Fix it. Re-record and listen again. If you are lucky, you won’t have that much to do. If not, you will be so glad you didn’t send it to an editor.

Myself: That is very good advice! How should your fans follow you or get in touch?

Powr: I have web sites for Fairalon www.Fairalon.com and www.PiecerChronicles.com. The Fairalon site has an email link (fairlontjroberts@gmail.com) and the PiecerChronicles site has a form.

Myself: I see you have a MeWe link on your PiecerChronicles website. I have recently added that social platform as well.

Powr: I’m really only going to be there from now on, or the main web sites. I prefer MeWe to Facebook, (no ads).

INTERVIEW with Author – Avanti Centrae

(See my other author Interviews) – I have had the opportunity to read two novels by author Avanti Centrae. The first was “VanOps: The Lost Power” and the second, earlier this year, “Solstice Shadows”. They were both enjoyable reads so I reached out to Ms. Centrae and asked for an interview.

Myself: When did you first realize that you wanted to become a writer?

Centrae: Mom taught me to read along with tying my shoes, and I wrote my first story when I was quite young, maybe six years old. Becoming a published novelist was a life-long dream.

Myself: What is the first piece that you remember writing?

Centrae: That early story was about a bull and a red cape. My writing has matured since then.  😊

Myself: What is your academic and work background?

Centrae: To fund my addiction for international travel and fast BMW’s, I studied computer technology at Purdue University and worked in IT for twenty years. I eventually led a team as an executive at Hewlett Packard before leaving the corporate world to pursue my writing career.

Myself: My career was in IT as well. What part of the world do you currently live in?

Centrae: Northern California is my current home. I was born and raised in the Midwest, and have lived in California since I finished college.

Myself: Do you think that living there has affected your writing?

Centrae: A bigger influence has been all the international travel. Besides the United States, I’ve enjoyed most of western Europe, and parts of Canada, Central America, and New Zealand. Walking around with only a backpack on my shoulders and exploring other cultures has been a huge inspiration.

Myself: You have had a wondeful opportunity to explore the world. I can see how both your technical background and your travels have been woven into your novels. How do you relax? What are your hobbies?

Centrae: We just returned from a holiday in Lake Tahoe where we hiked nearly every day and spent some time at the beach. Quite relaxing! My German shepherd and little black dog provide constant entertainment. I also enjoying riding my road bike and pursuing the scent of adventure.

Myself: What else would you like to share about yourself?

Centrae: One of my favorite jobs was working as a white-water raft guide, saving passengers from the rapids of the American River. One midnight, my fellow raft guides and I dared a moonlit run. The river ran high, a boat flipped, and we all nearly ended up in a rapid aptly named Satan’s Cesspool!

Myself: That sounds like quite the adventure. Did you read much growing up?

Centrae: All the time. I’d bring home stacks of books from the bookmobile and devour one almost every day.

Myself: What book that you read as a child stands out in your memory? 

Centrae: Mom helped me memorize The Night Before Christmas when I was young, and we’d recite it together during the holiday season. Later, I read The Chronicles of Narnia, and pieces of those stories still come to mind.

Myself: What have you read recently?

Centrae: I recently listened to The King’s Deception by Steve Berry and really enjoyed the blend of action and history. Another fun read was The Freedom Broker by K.J. Howe, featuring Thea Paris, a kidnap and ransom specialist. It was a blast.

Myself: What is your favorite genre and author?

Centrae: I love action thrillers. All the Sigma Force books by James Rollins rank up there, and lately I’ve been appreciating Ernest Dempsey’s Sean Wyatt character.

Myself: Where is your favorite place to read?

Centrae: I love to curl up on the couch in front of a fire in the winter, or during the summer, I like to be outside on the back patio in a hammock.

Myself: Do you listen to audiobooks?

Centrae: These days I mostly listen to audiobooks while I drive or do chores. Tim Campbell is the “Voice of VanOps” and has done an amazing job bringing my stories to life.

Myself: What books do you recommend to others?

Centrae: I was saddened to hear that Carlos Ruiz Zafron recently passed away. His Cemetery of Forgotten Books series makes an excellent gift for readers who like atmospheric suspense.

Myself: What makes you sit down and want to share your stories?

Centrae: Authors have always been my heroes and characters my best friends. I want to return the favor and keep readers company on dark nights. 

Myself: I like that sentiment. Is there anyone who has influenced your writing?

Centrae: Besides the authors I’ve noted above, I’ve also been influenced by Agatha Christie, P.D. James, Robert Jordan, Terry Pratchett, Clive Cussler, Dan Brown, J.R.R Tolkien, Gregg Hurwitz, and Ian Fleming. My tastes are eclectic, and I’ve also enjoyed a lot of non-fiction.

Myself: That list contains many of my own favorites. How did you pick the genres for your stories?

Centrae:I’ve always been fascinated with psychology, mysticism, mysteries, conspiracies, history, and science. Toss in a lust for adventure, and it was pretty easy to choose action thrillers.

Myself: Where do your story ideas come from?

Centrae: The idea for Solstice Shadows came from an article I read about a young man who discovered an ancient secret about a star chart. That formed the kernel of the story and I added on from there.

Myself: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?

Centrae: I’m a big outliner. By the time I start writing, it’s like a just-add-water recipe where I throw in dialogue and description.

Myself: Where do you do your writing? Why there?

Centrae: Often, I write outside on my smartphone, and then edit inside on the computer. I’m more relaxed and less distracted when I’m outdoors. The prologue to Solstice Shadows came to me during a hike and I stopped, sat on a rock, and wrote most of the chapter right then!

Myself: What is your schedule like when you are writing?

Centrae: Days always seem to fill up with marketing and promotional activities, but I try to limit that to mornings and write in the afternoons.

Myself: About how long does it take you to complete a first draft? How long do your revisions take?

Centrae: The first draft of my debut novel took years, but now that I know what I’m doing, I wrote the draft of my latest novel in about three months. Revisions can take time, too. My publisher hires world-class editors and I like to get feedback from beta readers. It also helps me to set the story aside for awhile and come back to it with fresh eyes.

Myself: How much research do you put into a novel?

Centrae: Because my novels include science and history, I spend months researching the stories.

Myself: What tools (software?) do you use in your writing?

Centrae: I just use WORD.

Myself: What are the hardest and easiest things about writing?

Centrae: The hardest part for me is getting the first draft done. Once I have words on the page, the editing is a lot easier. My favorite is the research and outlining. It’s great fun when all the plot twists come together.

Myself: What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Centrae: Expect to spend time learning how to market your books, or hire PR and marketing experts, because even the Big Five these days expects you to do the heavy lifting when it comes to marketing and public relations.

Myself: What novels/works have you published? 

 (Black Opal Books, 11/9/19) – The Lost Power:  Da Vinci Code meets Tomb Raider in the instant Barnes and Noble Nook bestseller that #1 New York Times bestselling author James Rollins called, “Full of action and suspense.”

(Thunder Creek Press, 8/11/20) – Solstice Shadows: A computer-app designer. An encrypted relic. Can she decipher the dangerous code before extremists trigger a high-tech apocalypse?

Myself: What are you currently working on?

Centrae: I’ve just completed the first draft of a novel in a new series called Kiss of the Cobra: When a misfit team of Mensa-level operatives digs up a ruthless plot seeded in Cleopatra’s time, can they stop the countdown to a civil war?

Myself: That sounds very interesting. I look forward to reading it. Have you won any writing awards?

Centrae: The Lost Power took home a genre grand prize ribbon at the 2017 Chanticleer International Book Awards, a bronze medal at the 2019 Wishing Shelf Awards, and an Honorable Mention at the 2018 Hollywood Book Festival. Solstice Shadows is a Global Thriller finalist for the upcoming Chanticleer International Book Awards.

Myself: That is very impressive for your first two novels. What else would you like to share?

Centrae: Here’s a few blurbs and the buy links for my books:

“A tantalizing new series that combines historical mystery and cutting-edge science into a masterwork of international intrigue.” ~ James Rollins, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Last Odyssey

“Avanti Centrae packs a thriller parachute with endless suspense and a rip-cord ending. SOLSTICE SHADOWS is meticulously researched, the history, science, and locales offering a rare ‘you-are-there’ authenticity. Brew a large pot of java, as you will read through the night. Brilliant.” — K.J. Howe, international bestselling author of SKYJACK

“Fast-paced action adventure with an ancient mystery at its heart — fans of Dan Brown and Steve Berry will love the VanOps thrillers.” ~ J.F. Penn, USA Today bestselling author of the ARKANE thrillers
 
“Avanti Centrae is a name to watch. Powerful, evocative, gripping storytelling with characters you immediately relate to, love, or loathe.” ~ Ernest Dempsey, the USA Today bestselling author of the Sean Wyatt adventure series
 
“Fans of complex and highly detailed espionage and action thrillers are certain to dive right into this mixture between Indiana Jones and Dan Brown.” ~ Readers’ Favorite – Five stars

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/solstice-shadows

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/solstice-shadows-avanti-centrae/1137065083?ean=2940163068982

https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781734966213

Myself: How should your fans follow you or get in touch?

Centrae: I love to hear from my fans. Here are my Social Media Links:

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

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/avanticentrae

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/avanti.centrae.author

Here’s a link to first six chapters of THE LOST POWER and/or my newsletter – http://eepurl.com/dIan8L 

Today is National Read a Book Day

 

NATIONAL-READ-A-BOOK-DAY-September-6

(See my other Reading related posts) – Take today to enjoy a book! As said on the National Day Calander website:

[Today is] A day for all those who love to read, National Read a Book Day invites us ALL to grab a book we might enjoy and spend the day reading.  

Their recommendations for observance:

Sit back, relax, and READ! Don’t forget to share the joy of reading with young people in your life. Inspire them with your favorite novel or find out about the last book they took off the shelf. Read to the littlest of the up and coming readers, too. And share what your reading too! Need more ways to celebrate? We’ve got them!

  • Shop for a new title to read or explore the shelves for one you would like to give.
  • Explore the shelves of used book stores. You might find an out of print tome that might become the highlight of your collection.
  • Discover the world of online book stores. Their stock includes a variety of subjects and collectible items, too.
  • Record a video of you reading a story for a child in your life.
  • Randomly give a book to someone.

I’m currently reading two books. “First Burma Campaign: The First Ever Account of the Japanese Conquest of 1942” by Colonel E C V Foucar MC and “Spitfire: A Livy Nash Mystery” by M. L. Hule. Non-fiction and fiction books respectively dealing with WWII.


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 470 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Today is National Book Lover’s Day

NATIONAL-BOOK-LOVERS-DAY-–-August-9

(See my other Reading related posts) – Take today to enjoy a book! As said on the National Day Calander website:

[Today is] A day for all those who love to read, National Book Lovers Day encourages you to find your favorite reading place, a good book (whether it be fiction or non-fiction) and read the day away.

Their recommendations for observance:

Sit back, relax, and READ! Don’t forget to share the joy of reading with young people in your life. Inspire them with your favorite novel or find out about the last book they took off the shelf. Read to the littlest of the up and coming readers, too. And share what your reading too! Need more ways to celebrate? We’ve got them!

    • Shop for a new title to read or explore the shelves for one you would like to give.
    • Explore the shelves of used book stores. You might find an out of print tome that might become the highlight of your collection.
    • Discover the world of online book stores. Their stock includes a variety of subjects and collectible items, too.
    • Record a video of you reading a story for a child in your life.
    • Randomly give a book to someone.

I’m currently reading “Disarming Hitlers V Weapons: Bomb Disposal, the V1 and V2 rockets” by Chris Ransted.


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 440 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Free Books on Apple Books

Books

 (See my other Reading related posts) – Looking for more books to fill you ‘shelter-at-home’ time? Apple Books is offering several for free. What are free changes day-to-day, so check often. The books range across several categories.

 
Looking over those available, these are the ones that caught my eye:
 
Open Books on your Apple device then search “Free Books” to see the list. It is a very long list so adding more parameters to the search will help narrow the list down.
 
 
Further Reading
  1. Apple Books app: best free books to read during quarantine

If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 380 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.