Author Interview: Dan McKeon

Be sure to check out my review of Wonder Rush by Dan McKeon!

Interview:

1. Paperback, hardback, audiobook?

I prefer hardcover books. They feel more substantial in my hands and give the story a certain gravitas. I also like eBooks because I read them on my phone, and I always have my phone on me. So, I can always read something wherever I am. eBooks are also great for reading in the dark.

2. Pick a genre, any genre!

I prefer to read and write thrillers. I use that term in a broad sense. They can be strict thrillers, veer more toward mystery or horror. I also enjoy some speculative elements.

3. What is the first book you remember reading?

Hmm… Probably Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss. Does that count?

4. What book shaped your childhood most?

The Running Man by Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman). I read is as part of a summer reading assignment and I instantly fell in love with it. It was the first time reading was fun and didn’t feel like homework. I have been a huge Stephen King fan ever since.

5. When did you first start writing?

I was a bit late to the writing game. The first thing I ever wrote was a screenplay, which I finished when I was maybe 22 or 23. I liked to write music when I was younger.

6. What made you want to write? Does it still hold true?

I took a film analysis class to fulfill a fine arts requirement in college. I put it off until last semester senior year because I wasn’t all that interested in fine arts. Well, I fell in love with storytelling after that class! It was the first time I saw film as something more than pure entertainment and I wanted to be a part of it. I did a lot of self-study after graduation, wrote two screenplays, completed a screenwriting program at UCLA, and then wrote two more screenplays. My wife died unexpectedly shortly after that, so I stopped writing. My kids were two and four at the time and screenwriting suddenly felt very superfluous. I always wanted to get back to writing, and I dreamed of writing a novel. My kids are now older, I’m remarried, and my life is back on track. My oldest son became interested in writing in high school, and it sparked the passion in me again. He’s now a Creative Writing minor in college, and I love sharing stories with him.

7. What book/poem are you most proud of creating?

My first screenplay, Hush Moss, will always hold a special place in my heart. It centers around the relationship between a serial killer and the priest who cared for him in an orphanage. When I set out to write it, I wasn’t sure I could do it. So, it stands as proof that I can actually write. When I self-published my first novel, Wonder Rush, I named my publishing company Hush Moss Press as a nod to that story.

8. Did you publish your first book or is it for your eyes only?

My first novel was Wonder Rush, which I self-published. My training up to that point was specific to screenwriting, so I intentionally did not read any books on novel writing. I knew I would psych myself out, overthink things, and never finish it. After the first draft was done, I studied novel writing and made some revisions. I’m very proud of the way it came out, and I think my screenwriting background gives it a more visual/cinematic style.

9. How many books/collections have you published so far?

Wonder Rush is my first novel and my only publication so far. I have a horror short story called “Doctor Bert’s Elixir” that I really like. I’m trying to find it a home in an anthology or literary magazine.

10. What genres do you write in (or hope to)?

I write thrillers in a general sense. Wonder Rush is a YA thriller and centers around a teenage girl who is an assassin. I have written stories that fall more on the spectrum of mystery/suspense and some that would be considered horror.

11. Do you do research for your writing or is it all in your head?

Most of it is in my head, but I find I need to research some things. For example, bubblegum plays an important role in Wonder Rush, so I had to learn how bubblegum was made. “Doctor Bert’s Elixir” takes place in the late 19th century, so I had to research what life was like then as well as medical norms at the time.

12. To plan, or not to plan your plot?

I’m a plantser. I like to plan my major plot points but allow the story and my characters to take control in between. Sometimes they surprise me, and I end up adjusting my plot points. I enjoy that. When the characters can take over a story, I know they have become fully realized and my readers will relate to them better.

13. What route of publishing have you chosen? Do you plan to stick with it?

I self-published Wonder Rush. My goal is to become traditionally published, and I would love to make a living as a professional author. I know that can be done as a self-published writer, but it’s very difficult.

14. If you could live inside another author’s universe, which one would you pick? (Ex: Middle Earth, Narnia, etc.)

Ted Chiang has written some amazing science fiction/speculative fiction stories. They’re all grounded in reality but feature some incredible scientific breakthroughs that we haven’t enjoyed in our time yet. I have always been fascinated with the future and what is possible through science. I would enjoy living in a world like that where science has uncovered a greater reality.

15. Do you currently have a WIP?

I have been developing three different story ideas and I just can’t grasp onto one of them. I love them all, but they all frustrate me in some way, so I haven’t taken the plunge on any of them. At some point, I just need to pick one and start writing.

16. Tell me about the character you’ve created who is dearest to your heart.

The main character in my novel, Wonder Rush, is special to me. We’ll call her “Wendy” for lack of a better name (no spoilers). Wendy was abducted shortly after birth and was raised by an agency of assassins. She’s tough and ruthless and she does horrible things. However, she has such a good heart. I love that dichotomy. Deep down, she is a good person. She was just raised in a horrible way. I was a psychology major in college and one thing we studied was the role of nature vs. nurture. That’s a big part of my story and I love seeing how Wendy deals with that struggle.

17. What do you consider your *current* magnum opus?

I’m afraid I don’t have one yet. Ask me again in a few years!

18. Do you have a favourite romance in your books? Or, if yours features no romance, tell us about your favourite character friendship!

I generally don’t include romance in my stories. It doesn’t interest me much. I like to read and write about things I haven’t experienced before. I am lucky to have experienced love, and I am married to an incredible woman. Since I have lived that, writing about it feels boring to me. One friendship I really love is the one between a serial killer and a priest in my screenplay, Hush Moss. You wouldn’t think people from such different backgrounds could develop a close bond, but I love their relationship. They both manage to grow and learn from each other.

19. Do you listen to music as you write? Recommend a favourite writing song.

I prefer silence when I write. Music is too distracting and pulls me out of my characters’ world.

20. Do you have any character art for your books, whether by you or another artist? (Be sure to credit/link if you can!)

I can barely draw a stick figure! I hired a cover designer for Wonder Rush, and I love how it came out. The designer’s name is Michael Corvin. I highly recommend him if you’re in the market for a book cover. I don’t have any character art, though.

21. If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?

Write about what you love and are passionate about. Don’t worry about the market because it constantly changes. If you’re chasing a trend, you’ll always be behind the curve. Also, read a lot. Read in your genre and outside of your genre to enhance your stories.

22. Have you entered any writer contests? Tell us about your experience!

I entered Wonder Rush into The BookLife Prize because it is one of the few contests that will provide a critique of your work, whether you win or lose. I ended up with a great review, and 10 out of 10 score, and my novel finished as a quarter finalist.

23. Who are your top 5-10 favourite writers?

Stephen King

Matt Haig

Gillian Flynn

Karen M. McManus

Harlan Coben

Ruth Ware

Agatha Christie

Ted Chiang

Michael Crichton

24. Link us your book/twitter/goodreads or wherever we can best connect with you!

You can find all my information and pertinent links on my personal website.

Author Interview: Elena Nix

Be sure to check out Elena Nix’s books on Goodreads!

Interview:

1. Paperback, hardback, audiobook?

Paperback for convenience, hardback for hoarding pretty books, and audiobook for driving.  Also, e-book for economy.

2. Pick a genre, any genre!

If I could only read one genre for the rest of my life, it would be fantasy.

3. What is the first book you remember reading?

The Pokey Little Puppy (Little Golden Books edition).

4. What book shaped your childhood most?

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

5. When did you first start writing?

It’s something I’ve done for as long as I can remember. It evolved naturally with reading.

6. What made you want to write? Does it still hold true?

The first story I posted online was inspired by a need to make people understand sociopolitical trends from a different, more personal perspective.  It was an erotica-wrapped message to the world.  I have another full-length erotic speculative fiction novel planned that will revolve around social and environmental issues in a near-future setting.  Most of my stories aren’t vehicles of this sort, though. I write them to explore a particular feeling or idea that I want to convey in a sexual context.

7. What book/poem are you most proud of creating?

I’m most proud of an erotic post-apocalyptic trilogy that’s still in progress, so no spoilers!  A reclusive member of an elite class falls for a beautiful firebrand hellbent on loosening his grip on precious resources.  He makes her an offer she can’t refuse: in return for her sexual submission and companionship, he’ll help the town rebuild.  As each struggles for the upper hand in a tumultuous relationship, they discover why civilization has not been able to rebuild after its collapse.

8. Did you publish your first book or is it for your eyes only?

It’s available in serial format online at https://literotica.com/s/after-the-fall-ch-01.

9. How many books/collections have you published so far?

I’ve published four books that are commercially available.

10. What genres do you write in (or hope to)?

I write erotic fiction.  I’m considering writing a mystery.

11. Do you do research for your writing or is it all in your head?

While my stories are fantasy, the facts upon which they are based are always accurate.  My next release, Thief, has left me with a browser history that will be difficult to explain if I’m ever investigated in connection with a burglary.

12. To plan, or not to plan your plot?

I never plan the plot in any detail.  I know the direction of the story I want to tell and I may have specific points I want to hit along the way, but I prefer to allow myself the flexibility of going where the characters take me.

13. What route of publishing have you chosen? Do you plan to stick with it?

I work with an independent publisher, so it’s essentially like self-publishing except that my publisher interfaces with the vendors.  I don’t have any plans to change that arrangement at present.

14. If you could live inside another author’s universe, which one would you pick? (Ex: Middle Earth, Narnia, etc.)

Pern, from Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders series.

15. Do you currently have a WIP?

Yes.  I usually have several I’m working on at any given time.  The next to be published is Thief.  In Thief, a spoiled socialite investigates an assistant district attorney after she rejects his advances.  When he discovers her double life as an art thief, he lays a trap for her.  His agents hire her to recover a Nazi-looted painting from his estate.  Once she breaks in, she’s at his mercy.  Her resistance only deepens when she learns that he wants more than sex.

16. Tell me about the character you’ve created who is dearest to your heart.

Mariah from After the Fall is fiercely independent, but her independence is constrained by her sense of moral obligation.  Although she is most comfortable thinking of herself as ruthless, she is a very kind person.  Her greatest joys are her dog, Henry—a bigger, scruffier version of Benji; her naughty tuxedo cat, Duncan; Julia, her elderly Siamese cat; Quincy, the one-legged cricket; and Mister Barnaby, a mouse with a spinal cord injury.  Although she’s a loner, she’s a reliable friend and frequently an anonymous benefactor.  She’s incredibly determined and stubbornness knows no bounds.  She enjoys a good spanking much to her chagrin.

17. What do you consider your *current* magnum opus?

My yet-to-be-written erotic speculative fiction novel about a band of renegades surviving in the wasteland after the environmental destruction of earth is the biggest story I want to tell right now. 

18. Do you have a favourite romance in your books? Or, if yours features no romance, tell us about your favourite character friendship!

My favorite romance is between Cara and Felix from Passion… or Prey?  It’s a dark story and it would not qualify as romantic by most definitions.  Cara and Felix are very passionate people.  In Cara, that passion is unrestrained.  Her impulses are mirrored by a storm that takes place during the book, and it’s a wild one.  Felix is just as passionate, but he suppresses his feelings, much to Cara’s irritation.  At various points in their marriage, they’ve reached what seems to be a point of no return when simmering anger threatens to destroy their relationship completely.  Years ago, during an incident that still haunts Felix, they discovered that a chase (or hunt, as he thinks of it) and sexual conquest were what they needed to exorcise their demons so that their relationship could return to an even keel.  They both get off on it, but during the course of the chase, they are bitter adversaries.  What I like about them is their desperation to do anything at all to reconcile, even when they hate each other.

19. Do you listen to music as you write? Recommend a favourite writing song.

I can’t listen to music while I write.  I find it distracting.

20. If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?

My advice would be to remember that while you can learn a lot from other writers, they can only tell you what works for them, not what will work for you.  Don’t be afraid to do things your own way.

21. Who are your top 5-10 favourite writers?

I would probably answer this question differently every time.  Right now, my favorites are J.R.R. Tolkien, Emily Dickinson, Charles Dickens, Raymond Chandler, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, James Michener, and 80s-era Dean Koontz.

24. Link us your book/twitter/goodreads or wherever we can best connect with you!

Amazon author page:  https://bit.ly/NixAmazon

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20606556.Elena_Nix

Smashwords:  https://bit.ly/NixSmashwords 

Twitter:  https://www.twitter.com/ElenaNixErotica

Email:  Elena@NixErotica.com (Email me if you want to be notified about new releases!)

Author Interview: Charlotte Sullivan Wild

Be sure to add Charlotte Sullivan Wild’s books on Goodreads!

Interview:

1. Paperback, hardback, audiobook?

YES. With hot chocolate.

2. Pick a genre, any genre!

I like my genres like good chocolate, a blend of dark, rich drama and sweet comedy. Also, anything riffing on something else, like fairy tales, history, art, other books, is my fave.

3. What is the first book you remember reading?

Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! by Dr. Seuss 
(Also Dick and Jane books, but boooo for boring.)

4. What book shaped your childhood most?

The Narnia Chronicles. Relatedly, we had a wardrobe.

5. When did you first start writing?

Before I could write. My sweet kindergarten teacher Miss Connors let us tell her stories at her typewriter.

6. What made you want to write? Does it still hold true?

That feeling of excitement… of imagining what could be and wanting to share that experience.
I still feel that way. But now I also write to tell the truth, for catharsis, to explore what haunts me, to ask questions. And still, for that exhilaration of the “What if?” Of making someone laugh or cry. The thrill of spinning straw into gold.

7. What book/poem are you most proud of creating?

Love, Violet a picture book, illustrated by Charlene Chua, about a crush between two girls. It was hard to write but holds my whole pounding heart. And my hope for a more loving, accepting world for kids.

8. Did you publish your first book or is it for your eyes only?

Hahaha. No. So many of my first books will never be published! But the boxes of pages have made nice fire starters. True story.

9. How many books/collections have you published so far?

Two picture books.

10. What genres do you write in (or hope to)?

Picture books (lyrical, realistic, humorous), middle grade fantasy, graphic novel, poetry, creative nonfiction

11. Do you do research for your writing or is it all in your head?

Both. As they say, don’t mess with writers. They might describe you.

12. To plan, or not to plan your plot?

I used to be a “pants-er,” flying happily by the seat of my pants. Several abandoned novel drafts later, dozens of dead picture books later, I now plan. It saves me oodles of pain and heartache. It usually goes like this: Gather. Daydream. Doodle. Then: chart, chart, draft. I’m now chronically ill with ME/CFS, an energy illness that affects memory and causes brain fog. So, planning is the only way. It also helps my very distractable skipping-through-the-meadow-sniffing-every-flower brain to stay on the path.

13. What route of publishing have you chosen? Do you plan to stick with it?

Traditional. At the moment, yes.

14. Do you currently have a WIP?

Always.
And sometimes, I enjoy visiting with the ghosts in my story graveyard.

15. What do you consider your *current* magnum opus?

A big (super-planned-out) mess I’m in love with. I’m living in rural northern Italy, just below the mountains, and I’ll simply say: the fairy tale vibe is strong here.

16. Do you have a favourite romance in your books? Or, if yours features no romance, tell us about your favourite character friendship!

Ah, shy Violet who dreams of adventuring with the one girl in her class who makes her heart skip. The girl with the leaping laugh who races like the wind. Mira. But every time Mira comes around, poor Violet goes shy!

  • From Love, Violet, illustrated by Charlene Chua @charlenedraws (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Jan. 2022).

17. Do you listen to music as you write? Recommend a favourite writing song.

I listened to the soundtrack of Shakespeare in Love 10,000 times while writing Love, Violet. So many times that I think the pulsing heartbeat that runs through that music showed up in the story.

Whenever she tries to talk to Mira, Violet’s heart gallops away, THUMPity TUMPity THUMPity! Isn’t that the true music of love?

18. Do you have any character art for your books, whether by you or another artist? (Be sure to credit/link if you can!)

  • Art © 2022 Charlene Chua, used with permission from the publisher.

19. If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?

Trust the messy process, don’t give up, even when you need to give up on a project. Remember to love what you do. That you are not your work, and sometime the work won’t work. But we must put our whole selves into our work or its heart will never beat. (Okay, so I broke the rules. That was several things.) Here’s one more: Learn the rules, then play as only you can!

20. Have you entered any writer contests? Tell us about your experience!

Yes! I won $25 for the story “The Shapable Rainbow” in a contest run by the Iowa Readers Association in 1983. I was in grade school. I still love the plaid pleated skirt I wore to the ceremony. And I didn’t get paid to write as an adult until… mmm… 41?

21. Who are your top 5-10 favourite writers?

Excluding people I know personally… Elizabeth Acevedo, Elana K. Arnold, Jonathan Auxier, Akwaeke Emezi, Neil Gaiman, Adam Gidwitz, Dashka Slater, Mariko Tamaki, and a strong feeling that Daniel Nayeri and Anna-Marie McLemore are about to join this list.

22. Link us your book/twitter/goodreads or wherever we can best connect with you!

Website.

TW @SullivanWild

IG @CharlotteSullivanWild

FB charlotte.sullivan.940

PN @cswauthor

Author Interview: M. W. McLeod

Add M. W. McLeod’s books on Goodreads!

Interview:

1. Paperback, hardback, audiobook?

Most of my collection is hardcover with dust jackets. I love the art that goes into making a good dust jacket, and even have a few of my favorites laminated.

2. Pick a genre, any genre!

I read all of them, but I have a particular love of contemporary fantasy and paranormal romance.

3. What is the first book you remember reading?

Either the Pokey Little Puppy or Alphapets.

4. What book shaped your childhood most?

I’m torn on this one. The first book that really comes to mind is The Phantom Tollbooth, but I didn’t find a love of reading until I picked up the Harry Potter series.

5. When did you first start writing?

My Mom still has a copy of a book that I made with paper and crayon in aftercare at school. So, maybe 8 if I’m being generous.

6. What made you want to write? Does it still hold true?

I call myself a recovering fanfiction writer. When an author didn’t end a series the way I thought it should, I would write it myself. As I got older and more experienced with my writing, I started to write the stories that I couldn’t find to read at all. That’s how my trilogy came to be. I couldn’t find what I wanted to read, so I wrote it.

Yes, I still do that frequently. On more than one occasion, I’ve even written alternate endings of my own books for fun.

7. What book/poem are you most proud of creating?

I would have to say the third book in my trilogy, Fine Print. It hits so emotionally hard, wraps up the trilogy, and sets up so many other spider webs to my future books in the same universe. I have plans for 23 books in the same setting, and there are references in that book to book 19 and 20. Having a plan way in advance, no matter how detailed, is a huge benefit when world building.

8. Did you publish your first book or is it for your eyes only?

Maybe, I’ll have my cover artist clean up that book I made when I was eight and publish it… 

Yes, I would just write chapters and publish them when I was doing fanfiction. Some proud accomplishments happened when writing fanfiction, and I don’t have the heart to take it down because it shows how far I’ve come.

9. How many books/collections have you published so far?

I have my completed trilogy available separately as well as an omnibus of the three now available on Kindle Unlimited. At the end of January, I have a historical faerie crime thriller releasing that is going to be a wild ride.

10. What genres do you write in (or hope to)?

Most of my books fall under some sort of fantasy subgenre, but I have plans for an interesting blend of science fiction/lit rpg. I’ve already written the first book, but I want to get further into the series before publishing them.

11. Do you do research for your writing or is it all in your head?

I do the research as I go. Tried to front load it one time, and I completely forgot everything as I came upon the need to write it.

12. To plan, or not to plan your plot?

I’m a discovery writer. I don’t sit down and write long outlines or beat sheets. Instead, as inspiration comes, I write down the idea in a Word Document as a loose outline. I guess you could call it planning, but most of the time, I just start with a general beginning and ending in mind. Everything else in between happens on its own.

13. What route of publishing have you chosen? Do you plan to stick with it?

I chose to self publish. I attempted to query for a while, but the anxiety the process made me feel turned me away from traditional publishing. I have one book that I feel might be a good candidate for traditional publishing, but I haven’t decided whether I will query it or not when I feel it’s ready.

14. If you could live inside another author’s universe, which one would you pick? (Ex: Middle Earth, Narnia, etc.)

Trudi Canavan’s Kyralia would be my choice. 

15. Do you currently have a WIP?

Yes, two.

The first one is a spin-off from my trilogy. I’m calling it Section Seven. It follows the origins of the world’s greatest demon hunter, Tarso Helge.

The second is a rewrite that I am starting from scratch. It is best described as a time travel romance, and it follows two teenagers who keep living their last week of high school on loop.

16. Tell me about the character you’ve created who is dearest to your heart.

If I can only pick one, Ellyria from my trilogy. She’s so tenacious and tends to punch first and ask questions later. She’s perfectly flawed, and I love her more for it.

17. What do you consider your *current* magnum opus? 

Honestly, the whole Beyond the Veil universe. I’ve got plans for something like 23 books. Some of them haven’t been written yet, and it’s already sitting over 1.3 million words. I’m beyond proud of this accomplishment, and can’t wait to have them ready to share with readers!

18. Do you have a favourite romance in your books? Or, if yours features no romance, tell us about your favourite character friendship!

Back to the trilogy with this one. Ellyria and Zangrunath share so many fun, quippy exchanges. They laugh, they cry, and they love each other unconditionally, even when they do stupid things.

19. Do you listen to music as you write? Recommend a favourite writing song.

My house gets noisy, so I tend to listen to loud music while writing. Rock or electronic dance music are favorites. I’m picking two because I can’t choose. Either Judas by Fozzy or High Hopes by Panic at the Disco.

20. Do you have any character art for your books, whether by you or another artist? (Be sure to credit/link if you can!)

None yet, but I hope to have some one day!

21. If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be? 

Form the habit of writing, even if it’s not NaNoWriMo levels of a word count. Write every day, even when you don’t feel like writing. If you manage 500 words a day, in a few months you’ll have have a finished novel. One thing that a lot of people won’t tell you or show you is the lowlights of being an author. So many of us only premiere the highlights. If being an author was easy, everybody would have a book. One thing you need to do to get through the slumps is have solid habits, keep self imposed deadlines, and learn from your mistakes when something isn’t working.

22. Have you entered any writer contests? Tell us about your experience!

It takes a lot to make me step out of my comfort zone. So, yes, but it was only one. It was a Twitter event for a 100 word horror short story. My only frustration with the contest was there was no auto-responder or date we would hear back by, so I didn’t know they received my submission or that I was not selected until almost 3 months later.

23. Who are your top 5-10 favourite writers?

You want me to choose?!

Okay, uh… In no particular order:

JK Rowling

Dan Brown

Trudi Canavan

Alma Alexander

CS Lewis

Maggie Sefton

RA Salvatore

I’m sure I’ll come up with another good one in about an hour.

24. Link us your book/twitter/goodreads or wherever we can best connect with you!

Books: https://books2read.com/ap/ng5avG/M-W-McLeod

Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/MWBeyondTheVeil

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21527531.M_W_McLeod

I love to hear from my readers!

If this happens to go out during the holiday season, I also have a free Christmas themed short story to share. Here is the link: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/4pb9aws0tb

Author Interviews & Book Reviews

The Indie Book Spotlight page on Twitter has been so much fun to run, and this week took another exciting turn and I got an influx of author interviews with some truly talented writers! I’ve loved reading their responses and I’m going to be posting the rest slowly throughout the week. There’s a good many to come!

So far, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing:

Author Interview: L. Krauch
Author Interview: Sarah Bell
Author Interview: D.N. Schmidt
Author Interview: Casie Aufenthie
Author Interview: Courtney Maguire
Author Interview: Diana L. Smith
Author Interview: Jamie Jackson

I also read Wendy Dalrymple’s Tamsen’s Hollow and really enjoyed it. I ended up reading this series backwards, starting with Tamsen’s Ridge. Both are great! If you like sweet contemporary romance, be sure to check them out!



Author Interview: L. Krauch

Be sure to add The 13th Zodiac on Goodreads!

Interview:

1.  Paperback, hardback, audiobook?

Paperback. I liked how hardback looks but I feel like they are more collectable. So if I’m gonna read a book, give me the paperback. If I’m gonna stare at it, the hardback. 

2.  Pick a genre, any genre!

Final Fantasy!  Oh wait, that’s not a “genre” (It should be). Epic Fantasy if I have to choose a real one. High Fantasy is a good one too, but one can only deal with elves so many times. 

3.  What is the first book you remember reading?

This is a tough one. My earliest memory was probably being read to/reciting the entire Little Mermaid movie as a comic book. I insisted that whenever we got to “Part of your world” I *had* to sing every word. Probably annoyed my mom to no end but I loved it. 

4.  What book shaped your childhood most?

In a Dark, Dark Room. Particularly “The Green Ribbon.” I loved scary stories as a kid and the twist in this one was nothing I saw coming. But it has always stuck with me. 

5.  When did you first start writing?

My first story was a stamp book about mermaids getting kidnapped by humans and escaping. There weren’t any actual words (since I was in kindergarten) but I knew what I wanted to say. I didn’t start really writing until Junior Highschool when multiple anime type rip offs were born. Including the Moon Sailors. And eventually The 13th Zodiac.

6.  What made you want to write? Does it still hold true?

I wrote to make friends. To be needed. I wrote out of loneliness. The world I created with my group of friends kept them coming back for more. They loved the world and the characters I made and I craved the attention. Before I started writing comic books I didn’t really have friends. I was just that weird girl with a heavy notebook full of drawings. But when I started comics, I had people coming to me asking for “just another page.”

7.   What book/poem are you most proud of creating?

The 13th Zodiac. It was a 21 year labor of love. I set it down many times trying to focus on other worlds and other stories thinking it was too juvenile (it was back when). But I always came back to Jase and his story. I wanted to tell it, but 20 years ago wasn’t the right time. 

8.   Did you publish your first book or is it for your eyes only?

The stories born between the 20 years I let The 13th Zodiac rest I published nothing. A few were trashed, literally, for personal reasons. 

9.  How many books/collections have you published so far?

Just the one so far. Originally I planned to only create three copies and not sell it cause I’m a massive introvert and obviously my work probably sucks so why share it with other people. But I’m glad I did. No regrets. 

10.  What genres do you write in (or hope to)?

Epic Fantasy or Final Fantasy as some on Twitter like to call it.

11.  Do you do research for your writing or is it all in your head?

I did a little research. There is a scene in the first book where a character drugs the other with a sleep herb. Nothing says “Dangerous” like chamomile. So I did a little digging and found that a plant called Skullcap is used in some teas. Now that sounded a lot more dangerous. So I took fantasy liberties and made it strong. Otherwise most of it came from my twisted brain. 

12.  To plan, or not to plan your plot?

I have a plan. I know where I want to go. But half the time my characters take me on detours and ruin my plans. I do generally end up going where I need to, even if I have to rein them in. 

13.  What route of publishing have you chosen? Do you plan to stick with it?

Currently self-published. I might try to query the next series with a indie publisher. But we’ll see. 

14.   If you could live inside another author’s universe, which one would you pick? (Ex: Middle Earth, Narnia, etc.)

I don’t know. So many crafted worlds seem like nice places to visit but with all the dangers, I’m not sure if I want to live there. 

15.   Do you currently have a WIP?

I’m currently working on the series finale to The 13th Zodiac: Shattered Fate. It’s gearing up to be exceedingly dark and hurtling toward a bittersweet ending. 

16.   Tell me about the character you’ve created who is dearest to your heart.

Jase Raion. He has been with me for over 20 years. Created way back in highschool as a cute anime boyfriend for myself. But as I got older, so did he and his story evolved over the years. I often set him aside in favor of other MCs but always came back. There was a connection there that I needed to get out on paper. And I’m so glad I did. 

17.   What do you consider your *current* magnum opus?

I’m very proud of how Shattered Fate is coming together. My writing and storytelling has evolved since the first book and it shows. The emotions within Shattered Fate are there and deep. I have cried, laughed, and felt the terror my characters have and I feel like that is what telling their story is about. 

18.   Do you have a favourite romance in your books? Or, if yours features no romance, tell us about your favourite character friendship!

One would think I would immediately pick Jase and Liya. Yeah, they are my core couple, but the bond between June and Tokei grows throughout the series just as much as it does for Jase and Liya. And their relationship was never planned from the beginning. It’s one of those things that happened while pantsing my story. 

19.   Do you listen to music as you write? Recommend a favourite writing song.

Most definitely. Everything I listen to is video game related. I find it hard to focus with songs that have words in them (I often start signing). But at this moment Weight of the World from Nier Automata is hitting particularly hard for Shattered Fate. 

20.   Do you have any character art for your books, whether by you or another artist? (Be sure to credit/link if you can!)

I do! I have my own as well as some commissions.

In order, myself, @ginkahederling and @RipleyJNick.

21.   If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?

The advice you get from others can be taken with a grain of salt. To me, there isn’t one “right” way of writing. Some people want the flowery prose. Some like to keep it simple. Adverbs are not as evil as many tell you. (You can use them if you want, the readers don’t care nearly as much as you think) Tell the story you want to tell and don’t let anyone twist it into something else. 

22.   Link us your book/twitter/goodreads or wherever we can best connect with you!

I’m pretty active on Twitter under @the13thZ

Linktr.ee/Azshure.

Author Interview: Sarah Bell

Be sure to check out my book review of Sarah Bell’s The Murder Next Door!

Interview:

1. Paperback, hardback, audiobook?

Paperback.

2. Pick a genre, any genre!

Historical.

3. What is the first book you remember reading?

The Tiger Who Came to Tea.

4. What book shaped your childhood most?

(I’m skipping this one, as the honest answer involves a certain book series written by a certain TERF.)

5. When did you first start writing?

Primary school. I can’t imagine it was any good, so pity my poor family who had to read it.

6. What made you want to write? Does it still hold true?

I just love stories and wanted to create & share my own. Definitely still true!

7. What book/poem are you most proud of creating?

The Murder Next Door, as its the first project I’ve seen to completion & published.

8. Did you publish your first book or is it for your eyes only?

I have a lot of half-written projects and first drafts (and they’re definitely for my eyes only!) The Murder Next Door was the first one to ever become even remotely close to an actual book.

9. How many books/collections have you published so far?

Just the one.

10. What genres do you write in (or hope to)?

Historical mysteries.

11. Do you do research for your writing or is it all in your head?

Research! The joys of historical fiction 🙃 I’ve gone down many a research rabbit hole…

12. To plan, or not to plan your plot?

I always plan. The characters always throw the plan out the window.

13. What route of publishing have you chosen? Do you plan to stick with it?

Self-publishing. And I think so for now, but never say never and all that…

14. If you could live inside another author’s universe, which one would you pick? (Ex: Middle Earth, Narnia, etc.)

Hmmm…good question. Unfortunately, the downside of reading lots of histfic and history-inspired fantasy is that I most certainly do not want to live in any of those universes.

15. Do you currently have a WIP?

My current WIP is a sequel to The Murder Next Door, tentively titled Deeds & Words, and is about my two MCs solving a murder against a backdrop of the 1913 Suffragette bombing campaign.

16. Tell me about the character you’ve created who is dearest to your heart.

Probably Louisa. I loved getting to write an ace character. Also, she’s sarcastic, socially awkward and trying her best but not always succeeding. (She’s different from me in many ways, but those are traits we definetely share 😂)

17. What do you consider your *current* magnum opus?

Actually writing & publishing a book!

18. Do you have a favourite romance in your books? Or, if yours features no romance, tell us about your favourite character friendship!

It’s got to be Louisa & Ada. I wanted to write about two very different people in love (your classic Opposites Attract…) and how they navigate that.

19. Do you listen to music as you write? Recommend a favourite writing song.

I’m a no-music when writing kinda person.

20. Do you have any character art for your books, whether by you or another artist? (Be sure to credit/link if you can!)

Not unless picrews count 😂

21. If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?

First drafts don’t have to be perfect. I think a lot of aspiring authors (past me included) have this notion that it has to be perfect immediately or you’re wasting your time, and it’s just not true. Editing is the magic ingredient.

22. Have you entered any writer contests? Tell us about your experience!

Not really? At least, not that I can remember. Unless winning my day job’s Flash Fiction contest counts? 😂

23. Who are your top 5-10 favourite writers?

*Immediately forgets every author who has ever existed*

24. Link us your book/twitter/goodreads or wherever we can best connect with you!

Sarah Bell Writes

Goodreads.

And also Twitter, Instagram & TikTok all as @SarahBellWrites

Author Interview: D.N. Schmidt

1. Paperback, hardback, audiobook?

I generally buy paperback, and then if I reread something more than once, upgrade to a hardback. As far as my own work goes, I mostly publish paperback and Kindle books. I’ve had the opportunity to do one audio book so far with the fabulous audio artist CJ Dusky and hope to do more in the future!

2. Pick a genre, any genre!

My favorite genre is science fiction, especially space opera.  

3. What is the first book you remember reading?

“The Monster at the End of This Book.”

4. What book shaped your childhood most?

“Have Space Suit – Will Travel” by Heinlein ignited my love for science fiction. I wouldn’t be the same person I am today without that book.

5. When did you first start writing?

I first started writing around thirteen. That was when I became a magician and started writing jokes and stories for my act.

6. What made you want to write? Does it still hold true?

My motivation for writing stories is to leave something behind after I’m gone. I want to make my mark on the world, something that says “I was here, and these are my thoughts. This is the kind of person I was.”

7. What book/poem are you most proud of creating?

Out of the three (with a fourth on the way) books I’ve written, I would say I’m still the proudest of my first, “They Ate the Waitress?” It’s probably the funniest, and it has some of the best character development.

8. Did you publish your first book or is it for your eyes only?

I published it.

9. How many books/collections have you published so far?

Three so far, with another coming next year.

10. What genres do you write in (or hope to)?

Mainly science fiction, but I also write horror and urban fantasy. “They Ate the Waitress?” is technically a mystery, but I consider it to be primarily humor.

11. Do you do research for your writing or is it all in your head?

I prefer to just make things up, but occasionally I will get an idea that requires some research. I wrote a story about the Battle of the Ironclads that required some historical research. Even though it was a silly story with sea monsters, I wanted to get the historical details right.

12. To plan, or not to plan your plot?

I’m definitely a plotter. I write in layers – a basic outline, scene description, dialog, and then finishing touches like character gestures and clothing details.

13. What route of publishing have you chosen? Do you plan to stick with it?

Self-publishing. I don’t plan on seeking an agent or traditional publisher, but that may change if I build up some courage and feel ready to face rejection letters.

14. If you could live inside another author’s universe, which one would you pick? (Ex: Middle Earth, Narnia, etc.)

The Hitchhiker’s Guide universe seems like a fun place to live. Intergalactic travel, adventure, endless planets and adventures – what’s not to love?

15. Do you currently have a WIP?

Right now, I’m working on a space opera novella. It’ll be released sometime next year. I love the universe of the story and hope to write a series there.

16. Tell me about the character you’ve created who is dearest to your heart.

Nick Wergild, the detective from “They Ate the Waitress?” Thematically, the story is about longing to be close to other people. That’s Nick’s biggest flaw – he can’t let anybody in. That’s something I can really relate to.

17. What do you consider your *current* magnum opus?

My current book is “The Doom Tapes”, a collection of science fiction short stories and a novella. The title story is about an alien invasion, a scientist trapped in a VHS tape, and the movie store clerks who have to save the world. It’s a fun book I think people are really going to enjoy.

19. Do you listen to music as you write? Recommend a favourite writing song.

I like to write to instrumental rock. My favorite band to listen to while writing is probably Explosions in the Sky.

21. If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?

Never try to write and edit at the same time. Write a complete draft first, then edit. This allows you to turn off your inner critic while you write. You’ll write faster and be more creative. Plus, writing and editing are two different mental processes. Trying to switch back and forth slows you down.

23. Who are your top 5-10 favourite writers?

Douglas Adams, William Gibson, Neil Gaiman, Christopher Moore, and K.M. Weiland. Douglas Adams has had the biggest influence on my writing style, and K.M. Weiland has been an amazing teacher and helped to improve my technical writing skills in countless ways. 

24. Link us your book/twitter/goodreads or wherever we can best connect with you!

You can find all my books, social media, and free stories at https://writepop.com/dnschmidt/.

Author Interview: Casie Aufenthie

1. Paperback, hardback, audiobook? Paperback

2. Pick a genre, any genre! I can’t pick just one … I love science fiction, fantasy, and romance equally 🙂

3. What is the first book you remember reading? The Hobbit

4. What book shaped your childhood most? The Dragonriders of Pern – Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey

5. When did you first start writing? I think I was six or seven.

6. What made you want to write? Does it still hold true? I realized I could make people feel things with my writing, and it was addictive. Yes, that ability to connect with others is definitely still my motivation.

7. What book/poem are you most proud of creating? My debut novel, The Drift. It was proof I could actually be an author, and the response from readers has been amazing.

8. Did you publish your first book or is it for your eyes only? It was published March 2021.

9. How many books/collections have you published so far? Just one. I’m editing the sequel with a plan for a trilogy.

10. What genres do you write in (or hope to)? SFF and romance

11. Do you do research for your writing or is it all in your head? Lots and lots of research. Google now thinks I’m much smarter than I really am.

12. To plan, or not to plan your plot? I do a mix. I know the major pulse points but the path between them isn’t planned. The characters tell me how to get there.

13. What route of publishing have you chosen? Do you plan to stick with it? I self-published and plan to keep doing so.

14. If you could live inside another author’s universe, which one would you pick? (Ex: Middle Earth, Narnia, etc.) Anne McCaffrey’s Pern, so I could maybe ride a dragon.

15. Do you currently have a WIP? Yes, the sequel to The Drift. It’s titled The Symbiosis, and I’m hoping to release it 2022.

16. Tell me about the character you’ve created who is dearest to your heart. Tristan is one of the protagonists of The Drift, and he’s very powerful but has no desire to BE powerful. He cares far more for others than himself, willing to throw away a life of luxury to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. He’s sweet and thoughtful with an old soul, but he’s definitely not to be trifled with either.

17. What do you consider your *current* magnum opus? I’d like to think my current series. When I complete the trilogy, it’s going to mean everything to me.

18. Do you have a favourite romance in your books? Or, if yours features no romance, tell us about your favourite character friendship! The Drift is a romance between Tristan and Samara, who are definitely opposites that attract. He’s an idealist, and she’s a jaded assassin and I love that he’s the softer, younger, slightly naive one in the relationship. He reminds her how to be hopeful, and she teaches him how to be tougher.

19. Do you listen to music as you write? Recommend a favourite writing song. I don’t listen while I write, but I sometimes do right before I begin. Right now by favorite song is Thunder by Imagine Dragons.

20. Do you have any character art for your books, whether by you or another artist? (Be sure to credit/link if you can!) My favorite art is a stunning piece of Samara and Tristan by @chromayera_art.


21. If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be? There are going to be times when you think your writing isn’t good enough, that no one will connect with your story, but do not give into those thoughts. If you love writing, never give up on it. You will find your voice and your audience, and there is nothing more rewarding – I promise.

22. Have you entered any writer contests? Tell us about your experience! I entered one, but I haven’t heard back yet. I’m exceedingly nervous to get the notes from judging, which should be sometime in April.

23. Who are your top 5-10 favourite writers? Anne McCaffrey, Dean Koontz, J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Ludlum, and Nicholas Sparks

24. Link us your book/twitter/goodreads or wherever we can best connect with you! My book is available on amazon and I’m on Twitter as @casieaufenthie.