Book Spotlight – Food of the Gods – Em Dehaney – Dark Fiction

 

FOOD OF THE GODS by Em Dehaney

Food of the Gods on Amazon UK

Food of the Gods on Amazon.com

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A perfect corpse floats forever in a watery grave.

A gang member takes a terrifying trip to the seaside.

A deserted cross-channel ferry that serves only the finest Slovakian wines.

Gods and monsters.

Mermaids and witches.

Blood and magic.

Love and death.

From the dark and decadent mind of Em Dehaney come eight tales of seafoam secrets and sweet treats.

Nothing is quite what it seems, but everything is delicious.

This is Food Of The Gods.

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38521454-food-of-the-gods

Reviews of Food Of The Gods

“…diverse and brilliantly crafted slices of dark fiction…”

“…dark and haunting tales of the horrors of the human condition…’

“Brilliantly written and something to be revisited again and again.”

“I found myself submersed in strange places with fantastic other worldly creatures.”

“Each story is a gem in its own right, when collected together the result is an anthology that any writer would be proud to put their name to.”

BIO

Em Dehaney is a mother of two, a writer of fantasy and a drinker of tea. Born in Gravesend, England, her writing is inspired by the history of her home town. She is made of tea, cake, blood and magic. By night she is The Black Nun, editor and whip-cracker at Burdizzo Books. By day you can always find her at http://www.emdehaney.com/ or lurking about on Facebook posting pictures of witches https://www.facebook.com/emdehaney/. You can also follow Em on Twitter @emdehaney

Book Spotlight – British Bad Boys – Box Set Prerelease – KD Grace – Erotic Romance

The British Bad Boys Are Coming—Pre-Order Now! #99c #99p #preorder #badboys #sexy #romance #brit #british #giveaway

Blurb:

Indulge yourself with this boxed set of stories written by bestselling and award-winning British romance authors. No one knows British bad boys better than they do!

Come and spend time with a dirty-talking London tattoo artist, a Scottish bad boy, a British gangster who won’t take no for an answer, and MORE! These men are all hotter than hell and have accents to die for. Whatever your desire, you’ll find it within these pages.

Packed full of brand new standalone, steamy stories with no cliff-hangers. With happily-ever-afters guaranteed, you won’t want to miss out on this limited collection, available for a short time only!

Special pre-order price of only $0.99. What are you waiting for?

Featuring stories from Marissa Farrar, Lucy Felthouse, Tabitha Rayne, Lexie Bay, Lily Harlem, Victoria Blisse and K D Grace.

Amazon: http://viewBook.at/BritBadBoys

iBooks: http://ow.ly/FV9p308IhFH

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2lq2k3t

Kobo: http://ow.ly/VPEL308IhME

 

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BritishBadBoys/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34136905-british-bad-boys

*****

GIVEAWAY!

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/7a6e997d9/

Author Interview 123 – Linda Acaster

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Welcome to Linda Acaster

Where are you from and where do you live now? My formative years were in Kingston-upon-Hull – 2017 City of Culture, no less – and I now live 20 miles away on the Yorkshire coast, a gentle five minute stroll from a quiet promenade and views over Bridlington Bay to the white chalk cliffs of Flamborough Head. Aah, breathe in the salt air and re-laaax.

Please tell us a little about your writing. I’m a multi-genre writer, always have been. I started my career writing short fiction for any magazine that would have my work, from the national women’s magazines that paid me money to the Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Crime outlets that paid in printed copies. Although I now write mostly longer works, the multi-genre aspect has carried through, first to mainstream published historical novels and then to my indie-published trilogy and novellas. I like the scope.

Where do you find inspiration? Everywhere. Since childhood I’ve been interested in the day-to-day lives of the Native North Americans of the upper plains, and for several years was part of a living-history group. Beneath The Shining Mountains came from that experience, that and around 400 research books. The Paintings came from a single line in an email exchange with an artist friend.

Are your characters based on real people? Never. Mostly they are based on aspects of myself, which to a reader will sound highly egotistical, but that isn’t how it works. I write very close in to my story via the viewpoint character’s senses. I become them via an emotional bridge – and lots of pre-planning of character motivation and fears.

Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off?I’ve met a person I didn’t like – maybe because overtly and very loudly she ridiculed my accent. Oooh, I can be nasty in print. Not that I hold grudges, you understand. Who, me?

Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? I need masses, and of different types for different books. Research for The Paintings was 17 open tabs on my internet browser as I wrote. The Torc of Moonlight trilogy meant poring over history books and Ordnance Survey maps, then visiting the chosen locales to get a physical feel for them, knitting the place + history into the fictional premise, and then writing. The books are accurate enough to be used as walking guides to the modern locales, with the history hovering overhead. And no, I do not intend to take on such a complicated project again!

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? Most of my fiction has a theme, but I believe that every novel, and most short fiction, should convey some sort of information that often the reader isn’t aware of, alongside a pacy story. No one wants to be preached to. It’s one of those things that should rise quietly to the surface but stay once the reading is over. If it doesn’t I’ve failed to connect.

Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…)

Joint 1st: great characters & world-building – one simply can’t exist without the other or the entire edifice is out of balance and cracks will appear.

Joint 2nd: solid plot & technically ‘perfect’ because it is a symbiotic relationship, even if perfection is in the eye of the beholder. A plot can be as solid as granite, but if it is conveyed with the finesse of shovelling pig-muck, no amount of world-building or fully-formed characters are going to render the story readable.

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? All my titles are available as ebooks via the major online retailers, and e-readers take care of large print. Beneath The Shining Mountains, my writers’ guide Reading A Writers’ Mind – Exploring Short Fiction, and the first two books in the Torc of Moonlight trilogy are also available in print. I’m still working on the third, but it won’t be long in following. Audio is a whole new world I still have to get to grips with.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I do self-edit, but I’ve been a reader for a London literary agency so feel I have some background experience. I continuously edit throughout the writing process (there is no quick & dirty draft), and again as a whole when it’s completed. Then the text goes through the automated Pro-Writing Aid which lists how many times x word has been used, queries sentence structure, punctuation, etc. Most of the items it flags I’ve specified for a purpose, but it does catch me out and I’m grateful for that. Then it goes to beta readers who are other writers, who look at the typescript with a critical human eye. I believe there is no such thing as a novel that falls direct from mind to page as publishable with any degree of integrity. A genius need not apply.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Most readers, and just about all digital readers, don’t care. I read lots of indie published fiction and have only wasted my time twice in the last year, which is about the same percentage as with mainstream published paperbacks. Readers expect a “good read” in a format in which they can immerse themselves. I don’t touch fiction using spaced block paragraphing. White space is important to the ebb and flow of a work’s rhythm. Having it inserted wrecks the pacing.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? Reviews are very important, and I always check on a handful when contemplating purchasing a book by an author I haven’t previously read. Then I ‘Read Inside’, and I make my decision. It isn’t usually the cost in money that is being weighed, but the cost in time. Who wants to get halfway through a novel and find the story has turned into limp lettuce? I’ve had my Native American novel lambasted because it was a novel and not a non-fiction book. Er, pardon? It annoys me that the particular review pulled down my ratings, but I’d never comment as I consider such troll-bait.

What are your views on authors reviewing other authors? Oh for goodness sake, it’s been done since books were bound. Amazon got itself into a pickle over this, but how can an author avoid it? Never review? Should hairdressers not review hair products? That’s ridiculous. I read, full-stop. Most authors are prolific readers, that’s why they’re writers.

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers?

* Learn your craft.

* Pay for editing of a polished work at least once, and learn from it.

* Don’t indie publish everything you write, and never throw anything away. It will come in useful, even if for inspiration, further along your career.

Thanks for asking me along, I’ve enjoyed the challenge. If anyone wants to ask questions I’ll be lurking around the Comments list. See you there!

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Book links, website/blog and author links:

Amazon (worldwide): http://Author.to/LindaAcaster

Nook:  http://bit.ly/BN-LAcaster

Kobo: http://bit.ly/Kobo-LAcaster

iBooks:  http://bit.ly/iBkst-LAcaster

Website:  http://www.lindaacaster.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/lindaacasterUK

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/LindaAcaster   @Linda Acaster

YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_Ra2dqyf-xlsqK4nJjF4fw

 

Author Interview 117 – E. H. Howard Fantasy

Welcome to EH Howard, (Pen name of Eric Tomlinson.)  

Where are you from and where do you live now? Born and raised in Manchester in England. As possibly the oldest geek in captivity, my work has taken me to many places in Europe and the USA, but currently I split my time between Cheshire and Wales. I’d love to one day escape to a Greek Island, but at the moment life keeps me around the UK.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I write about dragons, swords and magic. My heroes wander castles, caves and deserts. Therefore it would be considered ‘high fantasy’, but I hate the term. I do love to write short stories when I give myself the chance. At the end of each writing cycle, I try to enter a couple of short / flash fiction competitions to sharpen my style. My style is definitely high speed, rather than the turgid flow of most fantasy.

Do you have a favourite character? If so why? In my first Amara book I created a side character, Stella. She was a ‘foil’ for the main character to play off and to add contrast. It was my editor who started to cheer every time she appeared. As the writing progressed her part in the story grew. In book two, she is still a secondary character as the mother of the hero, but still a fabulous creation. When I asked John (my editor) what was great about her, his first reaction was ‘She has great boobs and no morals.’  I’m pretty certain I’d never dwelt on her figure, but he had an unshakeable image in his head. Actually, I think she has morals, they just don’t always align to what might be expected.

I enjoyed writing her because she is a ‘force of nature’ she doesn’t have to engage in the self- examination of the main character.

Are your characters based on real people? I guess a lot of my characters are either me or my wife. Not always identifiable by the gender. I once wrote a parody of fantasy fiction where I based all of the characters on friends and acquaintances. I did wonder if anybody would identify themselves, but as it never reached first base in the publishing cycle I guess I’ll never know. The heroes were a dark haired male barbarian and a blonde, efficient female warrior. Yep, me and her again!

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? At school I hated when the teacher asked us to identify and discuss the themes in a story. Only when I started writing many years later did I see how this worked. The Amara stories scream a couple of my ‘truths’: Gender, race and orientation are no measure of a person’s worth. I have a lot of female friends and my soapbox is the increase in reverse sexism prevalent in certain circles.

My other theme is that relationships aren’t just about sex. It’s awful that most children will now view porn before they have a clue what a relationship is about.

Why is a theme important? For me, it helps in the creation and editing. Sometimes I write entire sections and then delete them because they don’t fit with the central theme of the story. I believe it helps me to stay focused on where I am taking my main characters.

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? E-Book is the most normal format for my writing. They are available in paperback. I’ve considered other formats, but at the moment, I don’t want to distract from finishing the “Shudalandia Series.” Once the final book is out, I will take a little time to promote and increase the reach through alternative formats.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? My editor, John Hudspith, is my Higher Power. If he says cut, I cut, if he says more, I write more. I get a story as far as I can and then let John take it to the next level. He has been known to throw out the whole thing. The reason for a story, for me, is to entertain, not lecture. I might have a theme, but it mustn’t clog up the story telling process. People read to escape and that has to be the primary objective. I might know where I am going, but my editor will get me to rephrase, explain more, or simply cut out, to shape the final product. The reader has to immerse and stay immersed, not be jogged out of the fantasy by a jarring sequence.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? Typically it takes me two years to take a book through to finished standard. I’ve seen self-published authors who bang out a book a month; typos and inconsistencies abound, but they then have the cheek to claim as a self-published author they can’t afford to pay for editing.

I mix with a group of indie authors who take more pride in their output than any trad publishing house achieves these days.

Do you read work by self-published authors? I read anything that works for me. I rarely consider how the work has been published. I do get seriously annoyed when I pay a high price for an ebook from the trad world and it is full of errors a spell checker would have fixed. I don’t think trad publishers have caught on to ebook publishing.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? Although tempting, I’d never respond to a review comment. A person buys, they read and occasionally comment. There’s one comment on the Amara books that states, they consider themselves the wrong age, wrong gender and wrong nature for the book, they don’t read the genre and they don’t like sex in books. At this point, I’d consider them unqualified to comment, but they went on to give a one star review. I wanted to rant and rave, but what the heck. All five star reviews appears silly anyway.

When buying a book do you read the reviews? If I haven’t read the author before I will scan the reviews. If I dislike a book by an author I usually like, I go back and see if I am the only one, or if others are having difficulty with it.

What are your views on authors reviewing other authors? Authors are usually readers. As long as they have genuinely read the book, why shouldn’t they comment. I’m more concerned when a book is launched and immediately acquires a couple of hundred five star reviews. That smacks of collusion, or simply buying reviews.

Book links, website/blog and author links:

Free on Thursday 29th September

Amara’s Legacy: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Amaras-Legacy-Shudalandia-Book-2-ebook/dp/B018GVPBBW/

Amara’s Daughter : http://www.amazon.co.uk/Amaras-Daughter-Shudalandia-Book-1-Howard-ebook/dp/B00DBCPVKI/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ehhoward.author/?ref=bookmarks

Website: www.shudalandia.co.uk

Back Catalogue 7 – Interview

Originally posted here – http://www.bookwormiespot.com/2016/04/interview-alexandra-archer.html

Although I did notice the blogger seemed to think my name was Alexandra Archer – no idea where that came from!

Tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

I’m A.L Butcher (Alexandra), a British fantasy author.  I have a background in sociology, history, mythology and politics.

Thus far I have three novels in the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles series: think sex and sorcery – it’s adult (definitely) fantasy/fantasy romance, several short stories set in the same world in the Tales of Erana series, and a number of other anthology pieces, including one in Heroika: Dragon Eaters – an exciting new anthology of heroic fiction from Perseid Press.

 

I’m working on a novella for Tales of Erana, a second edition of The Shining Citadel (Book II of the Chronicles) and Book IV of the series. Hopefully there might be a short horror collection this year – but as I have been saying that for the last 4 years don’t hold your breath!

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Which writers inspire you?

Lots – Alexandre Dumas, Gaston Leroux, Mary Shelley, Terry Pratchett, JRR Tolkien, Homer, Ellis Peters, Colin Wilson, Victor Hugo, Bram Stoker…..

 

Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?

Novels no, short fiction yes. I’ve written historical style fantasy with author Diana L. Wicker. Outside the Walls is a tale of love in the aftermath of war, and courage to do what is right.

 

When did you decide to become a writer?

I always get asked this – I don’t think one ‘becomes’ a writer. It’s like any other form of art either you are an artist or you’re not. Painters paint, musicians play and writers write – even if it’s just for themselves. How many songs have been written that have never been played, or stories written that are never read? Thousands, maybe more. Just because the story wasn’t published doesn’t mean someone isn’t a writer.

 

I’ve always been creative, writing poems and short stories all my life. Poetry helps me cope – it can be a very evocative form of expression.  I think I was what’s called ‘an imaginative child’ – which translates as doesn’t concentrate because she’s off in some other world. I spent a while writing fanfic and adventures for games. The novels sort of morphed from a project I’d written for something and never used.

 

Do you write full-time or part-time?

I have a full-time day job so I tend to write in the evening and at weekends.

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Tales of Erana

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

I tend to see where the adventure goes. I’ve tried outlining but I usually end up doing something else entirely so I let the story take me where it needs to go. Sometimes it doesn’t work, mostly it does.

 

Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers? 

Not really. Readers will review – or not. Can’t make ‘em do it. As a I reader I don’t review every book I read, maybe 1 in 5. I try if it’s an indie author or I particularly liked a book, but not always.

 

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

Reviews are a particular reader’s point of view. It might vary wildly from the opinion of the next reader. Not everyone has the same tastes, looks for the same thing from a book or interprets a book in a certain way. Negative reviews happen, get over it. If an author wants a review then they must take the good and bad. A review should be honest, if a reader doesn’t like a book then they don’t like it.

 

As an author it’s nice to be told someone likes your work but reviews are for readers. If an author isn’t confident in their work how can they expect a reader to be?

 

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

My blog or my author profiles on Good Reads and Amazon.

Blog: https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6430414.A_L_Butcher

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Alexandra-Butcher/e/B008BQFCC6/

Twitter:@libraryoferana

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarkFantasyBeyondTheStorm

Any comments for the blog readers?

Fantasy and folklore are at the core of our cultures – every culture had and still has folklore and myth, storytelling and song. Of course now there are movies, miniseries, books, e-books, audio, plays, radio etc. and so the scope for it is vast. Think about it – within, say even just British culture we have King Arthur, St George, dragons, fairies, ghosts, Shuck, giants, monsters, Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy…. They may be stories we tell our kids, or were told as kids but they are still there ingrained in our culture. Look at the success of Harry Potter, Thor, Batman, Superman, Ironman, Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit… to a greater or lesser extent fantasy pervades and is very popular.

 

There are several places which claim to be Camelot, the Welsh flag has a dragon and dragonlore is big in Wales. We have the Giant’s Causeway, a few places called the Giant’s Seat, Giant’s Hill or whatnot. Of course some of the myths harken back to pre-Christian religions and beliefs, adapted Christian beliefs or simply a way for people to understand the universe. That’s part of the key though – it’s a way to understand the world – perhaps not our real world but pseudo worlds or alternate worlds. We follow heroes and antiheroes who are larger than life – gods, demigods, wizards, reluctant heroes, or even just the guy who is brave enough to step forward when the midden hits the windmill (thank you Frodo). We see part of ourselves in these heroes. It’s rarely as simple as good vs evil. Fantasy is an escape as much as anything else. For a while we find these people/creatures who slay the monster, bring the gifts, deal with the evil overlord – perhaps so we don’t have to.

 

Any feedback for me or the blog?

Erm….no I don’t think so.

Back Catalogue 6 – Audiobooks

 

Hi folks, another ‘back catalogue’ interview. Originally published as http://thaddeusthesixth.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/how-to-make-audiobook-interview-with.html. Do check out this blog and the fantasy books of Thaddeus White – well worth the read.

 

How to Make an Audiobook – interview with Alexandra Butcher

 

Publishing has undergone something of a revolution in recent years, with the advent of e-books and e-readers making it easier than ever to self-publish. There’s also been a resurgence in the popularity of audiobooks. But how does one go about making an audiobook? To answer that (and other) questions, I’ve been joined by Alexandra Butcher, who has recently created the audiobook of The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles.

 

 

What’s the premise of The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles?

 

The book is set in the world of Erana where magic is outlawed and elves enslaved to the humans. The land is run by the Order of Witch-Hunters – a corrupt organisation who rule by fear and division. Magic still persists. It’s a case of either someone is magical or they aren’t, it’s something a person is born with. How well that person hides their skills can mean life or death. The slavers, too, have a lot of power. Slavery is not illegal – in fact the Witch-Hunters encourage it – the trade of flesh pays well and so the Order gets a cut. It also helps to instil fear in the population.

The book begins with Dii, an elven sorceress who had fled from her Keeper, or slave owner’s, home after years of terrible treatment. She knows next to nothing about the world outside – except it’s a very dangerous place and soon enough she encounters the Order.

We then meet Archos, another sorcerer, who is also a wealthy noble and more besides who, unbeknown to the Order, is working to help the elves and other mages escape from servitude or execution. When the slavers ravage a nearby elven village Archos and Dii set out to try and rescue the missing elves and avenge the village, whilst trying to avoid capture by the Order and other jealous enemies.

It’s been labelled ‘sex and sorcery’ as it’s definitely an adult book as there are elements of romance and erotica. It’s pretty steamy in places 😉 Foremost it’s fantasy/sword and sorcery.

 

It’s recently, as mentioned, been converted into an audiobook. How long did it take, from start to finish, to create and publish the audiobook version?

 

Oh gosh – in the end it was about a year – but part of that was because I was revising the book for a third edition and I had to wait for the editor to do her stuff. The narrator – Rob Goll – was the chap who narrated Tales of Erana: The Warrior’s Curse so I had the advantage I’d worked with him before. Rob had several other commitments – including a Shakespeare festival and narration for Heroika: Dragon Eaters which, as I’d recommended him for I couldn’t really complain. Once Rob had made a start it was actually fairly quick – probably about a month.

As I’d worked with Rob before and I liked his work and style I suggested he audition for Light Beyond so I’d pretty much made my choice of narrator already. With another title of mine Outside the Walls we had a couple of people audition and, as the book was a co-write, it had to be someone both myself and Diana liked. It’s possible to have several narrators audition or none. So it can take time to find the correct person.

It’s a lot more time consuming for the narrator – I understand it’s about two hours work per finished hour – and them they have to ensure there are no background noises, the pronunciation is alright, the gaps between the chapters are the right length etc. ACX has strict criteria about how long the silence is at the beginning or end of each chapter and if it’s too long or too short they won’t approve it. Honestly I can’t tell unless it’s really obvious so I have to trust my narrator on that.

I was lucky with Rob – he’s very professional and there was only one edit and that was my fault… That’s a risk, too, as the audio has to match the manuscript perfectly or the whispersync doesn’t work. If there is a difference, or a mistake then that has to be rectified. Also sometimes when listening the author discovers a particular scene or line doesn’t really work – so that needs to be changed in the MS. It’s a great way of finding those pesky typos that might have sneaked in under the radar. Whether Rob had to do multiple records I don’t know – he didn’t say.

Officially once the narrator has uploaded the files the author can request up to two rounds of editing – so the author needs to listen to the files carefully to decide on any changes. Some narrators will do more but as it’s so time consuming the author can’t send them notes on every little thing unless it really is an error/revision.

The cover art – that has to be square (think a CD case) so that has to be adapted. Then there’s a suitable sample…

 

Audiobooks seem to be enjoying a resurgence as MP3 players are so commonplace and they can be listened to on the commute to work, whilst walking or doing household chores. Excepting your own, do you have a favourite audiobook?

I have a few I haven’t listened to yet (no headphones for my phone and my old phone went into meltdown if I tried to install audible) but I have a version of Phantom of the Opera I love, and Les Miserable – although off hand I can’t remember who narrated. I’ve listened to Chris Morris narrate some work, and other books Rob has done.

I’ve just bought Count of Monte Christo, Dracula and Soul Music, so I need to get listening!

With the classics there are usually a few versions – so the samples are a good way to find a narrator you like.

 

Self-publishing has taken off in a major way for written books. Apart from (obviously) needing the written text, what else do you need to go down the audiobook route?

 

Patience! Each chapter which is uploaded has to be listened to, usually a couple of times, and cross referenced with the manuscript for revisions, background noise, dips in volume, odd sounds pronunciation issues – often the narrator will pick up any sound related issues – but some can slip through.

A book I have just bought on audible is over 50 listening hours so you can imagine the work that went into that!

As I said the cover art has to be reproduced – it’s a bit fiddly – especially if the author has purchased a cover and needs to go back to the cover artist and ask them to do it.

 

How does a writer go about hiring a narrator, and how does the pricing work (is it a fixed fee or does the narrator get a royalty per copy sold)?

There are two payment options available for author/narrators price per finished hour or royalty share. From what I’ve seen quite a few narrators will only offer price per hour – after all the book may not sell many copies so they may not ever a great deal of money for all the work. I can see their point. I’ve not worked with anyone who has only asked for pay per finished hour but I understand the fees vary – so it is up to the narrator and author to negotiate. If the author opts for pay per hour the royalties from the sales belong solely to the author – after all the narrator has already been paid. I think it works out at about 40% royalty rate.

Royalty share is what it says on the tin. The narrator isn’t paid up front – they get a share of any royalties for the audio book sales. It works out at 20% for the author and 20% for the narrator.

This is for the exclusive production on ACX – there are other sites which produce audio so if the book is sold elsewhere then I think the royalty rate is dropped. I can’t recall exactly but I think it’s a seven-year contract.

Once the book is submitted to ACX the author fills in the required info – genre, preferred narrating style, royalty options etc. An author can request a specific type of narrator – British, male, middle aged, West Country for example – of course that limits the potential narrators but it is possible. I’d say it was better to be a bit more flexible. Narrators can then audition by reading the uploaded audition script – usually a five minute chunk of the MS. Sometime the narrators can approach the author with questions. ACX will contact the author/rightsholder and say there is an audition waiting for approval. In theory the author could wait until there are a few or take the first one that comes in if he or she likes it.

If the author likes the audition then he/she can make an offer to the narrator – so royalty share, time scale etc. If the narrator has a lot of other work on, and many of them are actors so may be working on shows, then obviously time scales are important. A 30 hour book would take 60 or more hours to produce and so that is unlikely to be done in a week.

Once both parties are happy the narrator accepts the offer and off you go. There is a lot of legal contract stuff to be considered – it is a contract between the narrator and author and ACX – If the narrator doesn’t turn up with the goods, or the quality is awful then the offer can be rescinded. If the author doesn’t pay up – or there are issues there, then the contract can be rescinded. It’s hard to do – and I think ACX have to mediate but it can be done. There is a 15-minute sample produced by the narrator – and this can be refused by the author, but that’s the only early get out. It’s worth the author reading these rules carefully as it IS a contract with all that entails. So make sure you find the right person for your project.

There are bounty payments too – basically if someone joins the audible members club with the subscription and your book is the first book they buy then the author (or author and narrator for royalty share) get a $50 bonus ($25) for royalty share. I think it’s an incentive to try and persuade people to get fans to sign up.

 

How long does the process take, and what level of direction to the narrator is needed? Did you provide a style guide for unusual fantasy terms?

The initial set up is pretty quick – sign up with the ACX account and claim the relevant book, produce the ‘audition script’ and upload it and wait for narrators to audition.

 

How do you like to listen to audiobooks?

I tend to listen on my laptop, but recently we were listening to Good Omens, Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy and Dune played on a tablet via a speaker before bed. My partner tends to listen to them more than I do at the moment. That’s the beauty – audio books are pretty versatile and one can dip in and out, just picking up where one left off.

 

Are there any pitfalls newcomers to making audiobooks should know about?

http://www.acx.com/help/how-it-works/200484210

Make sure you read the FAQ and the contract carefully. ACX actually has a good set of FAQ but their contact customer service is a bit lousy. I’ve had to deal with them a few times – mostly regarding payment of the bounty payments – and once when we discovered an issue that had got past both author, narrator and the quality control. They told me it would be fixed in a week – more like six and with questions regarding the bounty payments the person I spoke to seemed clueless and I ended up having to take screen shots of the issue – namely bounty payments were listed which I hadn’t received and apparently they couldn’t see them on the invoice… no because I hadn’t received them. That took a couple of months going back and forth before it was sorted. It pays to be polite but persistent.

AL: Audible Listener – purchases made by members with membership credits.

ALOP: Audible Listener Over Plan – purchases made by members with cash (not with membership credits).

ALC: A la carte – purchases made by customers not in an Audible Listener membership.

There are royalties for books bought outright by people not in the membership plan, books bought by members using their membership credits, books bought by members NOT using their credits and so the author has to work out what that relates to in actual payments – I get 68c for a ALC sale and a 55c for an AL sale on the same short story. But honestly it’s not always that clear. But they do pay monthly and the royalties usually do turn up on time…. Well except the bounty payments…

The reporting of sales is a bit flaky – it’s supposed to update daily but often doesn’t.

What’s nice is the author gets promotional codes to give out – usually for home store (Audible.co.uk OR Audible.com but can ask for the ones from the other store. It’s a useful way of getting reviews or being able to offer the books as prizes in events.

The email system they have is a bit rubbish – it doesn’t always work – and I’ve been told that by several narrators as well BUT it is useful to have and means you don’t have to give out a personal email if you don’t want to, and any issues you can email direct to ACX support. Oh and they have phone support. KDP doesn’t and that drives a lot of authors mad.

There are a lot of good marketing tips on the blog and ACX have a twitter account. The author needs to do their own marketing – same as KDP – so don’t expect ACX to market your book for you.

Make sure you have the time to put in to it. It’s not easy listening carefully to each chapter. You’re the author – it’s your book being produced and you need to know that it’s correct and done according to what you want. Keep in mind though that a narrator doesn’t know what’s going on in your head – he or she doesn’t know that you want Bob the Postman to speak with a Geordie accent unless it’s made clear in the MS or you tell them. You may not get the book exactly as you’ve imagined it.

Make sure you keep a good relationship with your narrator – especially if you want them to do subsequent books.

 

What are your plans for the future?

The Shining Citadel has been revised for a second edition and will appear in audio – hopefully by the end of 2016. (UPDATED ALB)

The Stolen Tower will eventually get produced as well but that will wait until the second edition as well, depending on how well Light Beyond sells.

I have just produced a short fantasy story set entitled The Kitchen Imps and Other Dark Tales and that’s also just been produced in audio by J Scott Bennett, an American narrator.

Book IV of the series is being written and I’m also working on a Tales of Erana novella so that may well appear in audio in the next year or so.

Links and info

Author Bio:

  1. L. Butcher is the British author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles fantasy series, and several short stories in the fantasy and fantasy romance genres. She is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet and a dreamer. When she is grounded in the real world she likes science, natural history, history and monkeys. Her work has been described as ‘dark and gritty’ and her poetry as evocative.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6430414.A_L_Butcher

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Alexandra-Butcher/e/B008BQFCC6/

Twitter:@libraryoferana

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarkFantasyBeyondTheStorm

 

 

The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles series – an adult fantasy/fantasy romance series, with a touch of erotica.

Audio Book

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Light-Beyond-Storm-Chronicles-Book/dp/B01DAQRYV8/

http://www.amazon.com/Light-Beyond-Storm-Chronicles-Book/dp/B01DASVPLQ/

http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/The-Light-Beyond-the-Storm-Chronicles-Book-1-Audiobook/B01DAQSCIC/

http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/The-Light-Beyond-the-Storm-Chronicles-Book-1-Audiobook/B01DASV3PE/

Blog Tour – The Captives – Cas Peace

A city besieged by evil…
 
Secure in his stolen stronghold, Baron Reen continues to sow chaos in Albia’s capital. Nowhere is safe from his malice and the King’s Guard is powerless to stop him. Crucial pieces of his plan are falling into place and soon his vengeance will be complete. All he lacks is the final game piece that will force his archenemy to her knees before him.
Sullyan works frantically to solve the mystery of Reen’s newfound powers. She knows she is getting closer to the truth, but will she be too late to save the scarecrow’s captives?

 

 The book is now live and here is a link that will take you to the correct Amazon page no matter where in the world you are.  http://geni.us/DuwaAf

Cas lives in the lovely county of Hampshire, southern UK, where she was born. On leaving school she trained for two years before qualifying as horse-riding instructor. During this time she also learned to carriage-drive. She spent thirteen years in the British Civil Service before moving to Rome, Italy, where she and her husband, Dave, lived for three years. They enjoy returning whenever they can. Cas supports many animal charities and owns two rescue dogs. She has a large collection of cacti and loves gardening. She is also a folk singer/songwriter and is currently writing and recording nine folk-style songs to accompany each of her fantasy books. You can listen to and download all the songs from her website: www.caspeace.com
See the video of her performing live at the King’s Envoy book launch here:

Find out more at her website: www.caspeace.com

Connect with the Author here: 

Author Facebook ~ Facebook ~ Website ~

 ~ Blog ~ Amazon ~ Reverbnation ~

Interview with the Author

In 10 words tell us about yourself.

British female, animal lover, singer, cactus grower, wife, horserider, Christian. (Not necessarily in that order!)

Can you remember the first story you wrote?

I can, and in fact, I still have it. It’s called “The Night of the Halo’d Moon”, and it was a young person’s fantasy about a world ruled by unicorns. I never quite finished it, but I might resurrect it one day. I like to think it did have some merit, even though I wrote it a good 30 years ago!

If you had to choose 10 books to take to a desert island which ten would it be?

The Little White Horse, by Elizabeth Goudge.

The Worm Ouroboros, by E R Eddison.

The King of Elfland’s Daughter, by Lord Dunsany.

The Lord of the Rings, by J R R Tolkien

The Chronicles of Morgaine, by C J Cherryh

The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Bradley

Unicorns I have Known by Robert Vavra

Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney

Some sort of huge crossword compilation

And probably a book about boat building!

What is your most successful marketing tip (for your books)?

The best results I’ve ever had from all the different marketing I’ve done for my books have come from amalgamating a cover reveal/blog tour from Loving the Book with a Twitter campaign (I use Twuffer to schedule Tweets) and Facebook posts. The first novel in my Artesans of Albia fantasy series became an Amazon UK Bestseller the very first time I did this. I think it’s about keeping your book’s profile as high as you can, even if it’s only for a relatively short time.

What is the most useful piece of advice about writing you’ve been given?

I found this quote in a writing magazine and printed it out to hang above my desk. It has served me well over the years and it’s as relevant today as it was when I found it. My only regret is that I didn’t record who made the quote!

“ If you ever suffer moments of self-doubt, remember that every sucessful writer was once where you are now. Nothing is wasted. Every word you write, every page, every chapter, holds a lesson. Success may be just around the corner, and you may be closer to it than you think. Hold the faith – you just have to keep going, keep growing, keep writing fresh words.”

What’s your latest writing project?

Right now I’m working on the final novel in the Artesans of Albia series, entitled The Gateway. I wrote it years ago, but it needs a full edit. Once that’s done, I have an idea for a YA prequel to the series and I’m also a contributor to the Perseid Press HEROIKA brand anthologies. I will probably try to write more short stories as I enjoy the challenge.

Who is the biggest influence in your life?

Gosh, that’s a tough one. Writing-wise, I think I would have to say Elizabeth Goudge, because I discovered her writing very early on in my life and loved her style. I’ve never forgotten the first time I read The Little White Horse and the way it made me feel. I’d love to think I could write something that another young person might read and love and remember for the rest of their life.

On a more personal level, it would have to be my family. Not very exciting, maybe, but true nonetheless. My parents and my husband have been hugely supportive throughout my life, and my brother has been fantastic in helping me write, sing, play and record the unique folk-style songs that accompany my fantasy novels. I don’t know what I’d do without any of them!

If you could have a dinner party with anyone from history who would you choose and why?

I think I’d have to choose someone like Joan d’Arc. I’ve always been fascinated by the role of women in a male-dominated society, and especially so when the woman in question takes up arms. It is one of the themes of my own fantasy series, and is the reason I wanted to create a believable heroine who could hold her own, and in some cases surpass, strong male warriors. Yet I didn’t want her to be some kind of Amazonian, kick-ass female who kills everyone she sees. I wanted her to be feminine, and sometimes vulnerable, and to have all the faults and frailties of a normal woman, yet still to be a good and charismatic leader. That’s how I see Joan d’Arc, rightly or wrongly, and I hope I achieved this.

What would you cook for them?

Well, I happen to be rubbish at cooking. It’s not something I enjoy or find relaxing. In fact, if I do cook, I usually end up so fed up with what I’m making and the time it’s taken that I don’t want to eat it! My husband does most of the cooking in our house because he enjoys creating new dishes. I do all the clearing up, which he doesn’t enjoy, so it works out fine. But I do like omelets and I can cook them well, so anyone who dined with me would have to be prepared to eat eggs!

 

The first book in the series, King’s Envoy, is running a FREE KINDLE VERSION promotion from May 26th –May 30th. How flippin cool is that! There is not a universal Amazon link for that but here is the US link: https://www.amazon.com/Kings-Envoy-Artesans-Albia-trilogy-ebook/dp/B00FLXRW4I

and UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kings-Envoy-Artesans-Albia-trilogy-ebook/dp/B00FLXRW4I/

The Author has send us a song list, That also includes video of live preformances!

Artesans of Albia Songlist.

 

From King’s Envoy: The Wheel Will Turn. https://www.reverbnation.com/caspeacewithntn/song/14437202-wheel-will-turn-from-fantasy-novel

To see live video performance:

From King’s Champion: The Ballad of Tallimore. https://www.reverbnation.com/caspeacewithntn/song/18886105-ballad-tallimore-from-fantasy-novel

From King’s Artesan: Morgan’s Song. https://www.reverbnation.com/caspeacewithntn/song/18886127-morgans-song-all-that-we-are-from

From The Challenge: Meadowsweet. https://www.reverbnation.com/caspeacewithntn/song/21511143-meadowsweet

From The Circle: Larksong. https://www.reverbnation.com/caspeacewithntn/song/22333132-larksong 

 

To view our blog schedule and follow along with this tour visit our Official Event page 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review – The Shepherd’s Crown – Terry Pratchett

Review The Shepherd’s Crown

5 Stars

Not perfect but extraordinary.

The last book in the Discworld Fantasy series was always going to be a book which made the reader emotional. Sir Terry Pratchett was, perhaps, one of the greatest British Fantasy writers and his books are funny, intelligent, witty, evocative and adventurous. The Discworld series has brought me many happy hours, and I am sure will continue to do so. I can happily read them over and over and always find something new, always chuckle at the rapier wit and always loose myself in the pages.

The first Pratchett book I read was Reaper Man, lent to me by my boyfriend for a long train journey. I was laughing so much I had tears streaming down my face. I am sure everyone on the train thought I was mad. I think the Discworld got me into fantasy big time.

Since then I have enjoyed every book in the series, watched the screenplays, animated plays, directed an amateur production of Maskerade, and even collected the diaries (even the clown one and I hate clowns). Discworld was a big part of my reading life. I was terribly sad to learn of Mr Pratchett’s death far too young from such a terrible illness. That said he has left a great legacy, and maybe his public fight against the disease which took his life but not his creativity, or his spirit, may bring the disease and its research to the fore.

The Shepherd’s Crown is a book of endings, of uncertainty and then determined inevitability towards the future. Many of the other reviews of this book speak of an air of frustration, the sense of things being left unfinished and I agree. All of those are there, and yet there is also the sharpness, the wit and the sense of adventure one would expect from a Pratchett book.  Characters die – and the Discworld is left rather emptier without them. Just as the literary world is left rather emptier with the death of Terry Pratchett. I must confess I had a bit of a cry over this one.

So enough of the eulogy, what about the book? Firstly it isn’t perfect. It isn’t QUITE as polished as some, but it doesn’t matter. After all very few authors can write quite so many books, and certainly not pen a book in the last few months of a terminal illness. The book is still complete enough to be enjoyable and it’s a fitting final book. A path travelled with familiarity and fondness but still a few rough patches is still a worthy path to take.

The story picks up after Wintersmith and the banishing of the elves – the elder witches return, and sacrifice is there. The fight is not without cost. It is more for the younger audience but death, duty, life and love are all covered. The Witches again do battle and the MacFeegles are, as always, mischievous and crafty in a very lovable way.  Tiffany is character with many qualities, and they are all tested. Granny Weatherwax’s conversation with Death is poignant one can’t help thinking of the Reaper Man waiting at the door, and bowing his head to the author as well as the greatest witch.

It’s not Pratchett’s greatest work, but despite the rather rushed ending, the not quite perfect character of Geoffrey and his intriguing goat who isn’t explained, it’s still a Discworld novel. It’s still a damn good read, a bit darker, a bit starker, a bit less full of life and a whole lot sadder, but yes it’s still a great read. I think the circumstances of the book’s very being give an air of the extraordinary.

Mind how you go, Sir Terry. You’ll be missed.

Author Interview Number Ninety – Francis H. Powell – Dark Fiction

Welcome to Francis H Powell

Where are you from and where do you live now? I was born in a “dormitory town” called Reading, not famous for much, apart from a huge Rock festival, and for the fact that Oscar Wilde was sent to prison there and wrote “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”. My family then moved to a farm in the country, in Sussex, not too far from London. I have lived in Austria, but presently I live in St Maurice, in the Parisian suburbs.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I would not like to be considered a horror writer…so maybe dark fiction with elements of wit.

Where do you find inspiration? To some extent my stories are indirectly autobiographical; my life has not been a smooth journey, with many setbacks along the way. I don’t think I consciously draw a line between real events and the fiction I write. I doubtlessly draw from my experiences, good or bad.

Some ideas come from nowhere. Once trav­el­ing on the Paris metro, a name sud­denly came to me…Little Mite…I then thought about, who would pos­sess such a name…concluding it seemed like a young ado­les­cent, rather wicked. The story is about two fam­i­lies: one old aris­toc­racy on the wane, the other nou­veau riche. Lit­tle Mite’s sis­ter is about to be mar­ried, a match made in heaven and ben­e­fi­cial to both fam­i­lies. There is a party on a lawn, all the final details are being made for the wed­ding. Lit­tle Mite entices the groom’s younger brother to her father’s work­shop and glues the inno­cent boy to a cof­fee table, a work in progress. Not con­tent with this, she goes and picks some sting­ing net­tles and thrashes the boys legs. This idea came from a news­pa­per about the author and writer Vita Sackville West, who had a sim­i­lar fate await­ing chil­dren who vis­ited the Sackville estate when she was a child. The story gets very dark, at the end when Lit­tle Mite decides to play a trick on her fam­ily, to try tow­ing back her parent’s good favor. Unfor­tu­nately her father mis­takes her for a bur­glar and shoots her with a hunt­ing rifle. This idea came to me after read­ing a news­pa­per arti­cle about a sim­i­lar mishap. Ideas seem to plant themselves in my head and I feel a need to expand on them and develop them.  Sometimes newspapers provide excellent sources.  I read obscure stories about people stealing other people’s identities, a person who pretends he is a Duke, but in reality he is a fraud.

Do you have a favourite character? If so why? I guess “Bugeyes” for me stands out.  He is born into an aristocratic family, with a genetic fault (over-large enormous eyes) and immediately rejected by his mother and sent to live with a servant on the estate.  He is mocked cruelly due to his physical defect, as well as being denied his natural inheritance. He gets revenge in the end.

Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? I write about cruel despicable characters, there is not one I particularly dislike.

Are your characters based on real people? Not directly, but as I have said, I think there is a lot of my past experiences intermingled, with my stories.

Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? If I am writing about a subject I don’t know much about, then I trawl the internet for information. For example I have recently written a story called “The Orchid Wars” and I know nothing about orchids or growing flowers. It can be interesting and a good learning experience doing research.

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? I write about outsiders, freaks, oddballs, the oppressed of this world, the cruelty and injustices of this world, as well as those responsible for such situations, the oppressors.

The message, is rise up, you can win through in the end.

Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…) From my point of view, write short stories so  great characters is very important. Secondly each sentence has to be powerful, the language rich. I would like to be technically perfect, maybe I have a long way to go.

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? Softback, at the moment.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I worked with two editors. It was hard. I live in France, they live in the US, so all the work was done by e mail. Also my stories are British in character. I must say the stories evolved and my writing at the same time.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? You have to rely a lot on other authors concerning publicity…to do a lot of exchanges…author helping author. Whether reviews under these circumstances are objective, I am not sure. A  good review can help a lot…people can do a lot of research before they decide to buy a book on Amazon, a good review might swing a sale for an author.

When buying a book do you read the reviews? Not really.

What are your reviews on authors reviewing other authors? As above I wonder how objective they can be…

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? With a book, a writer can leave things incomplete and ambiguous.  Films (made in Hollywood at least) tend to formularized, meaning the cinema goer has to leave with a happy conclusion, even if whatever has happened before is tragic. A book does not have to end in a happy way. Films revolve around how actors interpret a character or how a director envisages a story.  Some films stay in your head a long time after you have seen them…others you can’t even recall the title of the film. Books leave a deeper impression.  However films can give so much visual stimulus which can influence your writing. I was once advised by an art tutor, try to go to see a film once a week, even if it’s not a great film, it will offer so much stimulus. I have never really been into video games.

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers? 

Stick at it, don’t fall by the wayside.

Find a format of writing that really suits you.

Let inspiration come from many sources, newspapers, film, TV, or even just eavesdropping some people’s conversations on public transport. Keep your eyes and ears open all the time.

What are your best marketing/networking tips? What are your worst? It is hard to say,  how much the social media helps to sell books. I have a book trailer for Flight of Destiny. I tweet on a regular daily basis. I am on Linkedin and I pin stuff on Pinterest. I am a disciple of Goodreads. I do author to author interview exchanges. I have a youtube channel dedicated to my book. I collaborate with musicians. There are lots of new social media sites that are emerging, some of which are not good to be involved with, because maybe they are there for the youth market…one I joined to my regret seemed to be filled with middle aged lonely hearts…who looked not really the types to engage with.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? I read “This party’s got to stop” by Rupert Thompson, a person I met while I was at my first Art College. It is a memoir of when his father died, it is moving but funny at the same time.

Can you name your favourite traditionally published author? And your favourite indie/self-published author? As above Rupert Thompson, who is of the traditional published variety. I am not sure about the indie variety.

Do you have a favourite movie? I love films…and I am sure a lot have indirectly influenced my writing…A couple of my favourite films would be “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest” and “Amadeus”.  I like films that are historical, psychological, unusual, films that make me think, films that educate me. Films that are witty

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I was once on AustrianTV, wearing a kilt, pretending to toss a caber. They were looking for Scots, I am a part Scottish.  I was and still am a bit scrawny and I don’t look anything like somebody who would participate in a Highland Games. I could barely hold up this “caber” and it was lucky I did,’t drop it on somebody’s head. I was also once in Pigbag video, wearing a Guerrilla suit, pretending to play a trumpet. ..

Book links, website/blog and author links:

https://www.facebook.com/flightofdestinyshortstories

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwNl0F6095Q

http://www.amazon.com/Flight-Destiny-Francis-H-Powell/dp/0988664097/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

http://theflightofdestiny.yolasite.com/

A Week with the Dragon Eaters – Cas Peace

Welcome to Cas Peace and her character, another of the Dragon Eaters.

*Who are you? My name is Jorj and I am a veteran of the Crusades. I am a simple knight who followed his lord to the Holy Land to help liberate the City of God. We were told that this was our holy duty, that we would be venerated in heaven should we die in God’s service. But the evil I saw done there in God’s name repulsed me, tarnishing my faith and staining my soul. In shame I returned across the sea, my “holy duty” left undone. Now I am but a simple knight again, albeit with unquiet soul.

Why are you embarking on this quest? I was approached by a representative of the southern peoples of Britain, a people oppressed by the druids who once protected them. I heard disquieting facts that led me to believe the druids had harnessed a fell beast — a wyrm — and were using the demon’s power to increase their hold over the southern countryside. The king refused to help his people, who were growing desperate. I prayed, and my god sent me a sign. I hope to redeem my worth, and  my soul, by banishing the wyrm back to the netherworld.

*Tell us about dragons in your world. There have been many dragons and wyrms that have oppressed the British peoples. We have had so-called “true” dragons; that is, four-legged, two-winged monsters that could breathe fire. These are the toughest challenges for any dragon-slayer or knight and have been the bane of many a stout heart. Such creatures are much sought-out as their tendency is to hoard gold, ever the tempter of men. Many a reluctant dragon-slayer has been persuaded to the hunt by the lure of dragon gold. Some have even obtained that prize.

Fiercer even than the true dragon is the wyrm — serpentlike and tricksy, they hide in holes and their poisoned breath kills all around them. The blood of these demons can render anything bathed in it impervious to fire; even a man, so the legend goes. Brave — or foolhardy! — and damned, is the soul who captures a wyrm and drinks its blood.

And those in the land of the western Celt tell tales of a beast called a gwiber, a lesser sort of wyrm that drinks milk and can be placated by an offering of milk. A common snake that drinks the milk of a nursing woman may transform into a gwiber.

Do you see yourself as a hero? What is a hero? I do not see myself as a hero, although the peoples of southern Britain would doubtless say I am. To them, who had not the knowledge, nor skill, nor courage to fight the demon, I am a hero who saved them from oppression and death when no one else could. Their vision of a hero would doubtless be the knight on fiery steed who charges into battle with sword aloft, fierce of mien and doughty of hand, careless for the safety of self. To me, a hero is an ordinary person who performs extraordinary deeds for altruistic reasons — either for protection, or maybe to uphold some higher, noble cause. But does that, then, not refute my own assertion that I am not a hero? Yes, I answered the call to aid the defenseless peoples of southern Britain, and yes, I employed my skills as a knight and the might of my arm, and put myself in harm’s way. But I failed my God in the Holy Land, I allowed myself to be tainted by the evil I saw around me, and so forfeited the right to be a servant of my faith. I will begin again, and work my way up toward the Light, toward a state where I might, some time in the future if God is good, be worthy of the title of Hero.

Are there other such monsters in your world? Definitely. Medieval Britain is full of monsters.  There are reports of all kinds of dragons and wyrms, including the Afanc and the Nwyvre, both water dragons. There are beasties such as the kelpie, which inhabits the waters and lochs of Scotland and appears as either a horse or a hoofed human; there is the Demon of Dartmoor, a legendary black beast reported to be either a huge cat or some kind of monstrous dog; Cernunnos, sometimes called Herne the Hunter or the god of the Wild Hunt, a manlike creature with the antlers of a great stag; there is the rather disgusting alp-luachra, a newtlike creature which crawls down sleepers’ throats to eat some of their last meal; Gwyllgi, the terrifying Welsh dog of darkness; Dearg-Due, an Irish vampiress; there are also Hell Hounds, boggarts, ghouls, and fiends of many shapes and sizes. Britain has a history rich in such monsters.

Author questions :

*Who are you? I am Cas Peace, a Brit who loves to write fantasy novels. I live in Hampshire, in southern Britain, with my husband and two rescue dogs, Milly and Milo. I trained as a horse-riding instructor back in the 1970s and ’80s, and owned my own Welsh cob, which I used for carriage driving as well as riding. I used to compete in cross-country carriage trials and carriage-dressage. Now I’m a full-time author, editor and proofreader. I’m also a folk singer/songwriter, and have written unique folk-style songs to accompany each of the nine novels in my triple-trilogy fantasy series, Artesans of Albia. My other hobbies include country walking, growing cacti, working in stained glass, singing in my local church choir, and playing the bodhran.

Why did you choose this world/era to write in? I’ve always been fascinated by dragons, and of course, England’s patron saint, George, was one of the most famous dragon-slayers ever. I grew up seeing pub signs with George and the dragon on them, and became more fascinated since I learned that George wasn’t actually English! He was born in Lydda, Syria Palaestina, and served in the Roman army. He died a Christian martyr, hence his being adopted as England’s saint. Although there is a school of thought that believes it was another George entirely who was the basis for England’s saint. Whatever the truth behind the historical figure, I decided to base my Dragon Eater story on George, and make him a veteran of the Crusades, as it’s said that the legend of him slaying a dragon was brought back by Crusaders. Also, I’m interested in how the druids shaped their world and thought it’d be neat to combine the two into one story.

Have you written for anthologies before? How does it differ from writing a novel? I’ve written short stories before and had a few published, but I’ve never been part of an anthology or tried to write to someone else’s direction. I found it quite liberating in a way, because I didn’t have to come up with the actual premise; I merely had to decide how to interpret it, and that was the fun part. Also, I was well within my comfort zone with the genre of HEROIKA. I really enjoyed it and would definitely do it again.

Writing for an anthology differs from writing a novel in that you (obviously!) have constraints on your final word count. This means that although your story must still have a clear plot and structure, you must condense the action and be sharp and concise. I think that writing a successful short story is a separate art form from writing a novel, and both art forms must be learned and practiced in order to get them right. Often, writers are better at one form than the other — it’s rare to find someone equally skilled at both. They do exist, of course, and I would love to think I could eventually be thought of as a writer who can produce shorts as enjoyable as my novels. Time will tell!

Are you a plotter or a pantser? I’m definitely a panster, which is why I’m not sure if I’ll ever make a really good short story writer. I believe that careful planning is much more important in a short story, whereas I really like to get my teeth into an idea and simply let my pen and imagination hold hands and run away with each other. I dislike putting constraints on my characters, my emotions, or my dialogue as I write, and prefer to just scribble down what comes into my head. Then, once I feel comfortable that I have something worth working on, I will edit and hone and cut and edit some more to make my ramblings into some kind of sense. When I first began writing my Artesans of Albia series, I had no idea what I was doing. I’d never written a novel before (much less an entire series!) and had no intention of showing it to anyone or trying to get it published. That idea came much later, after I’d summoned the courage to let someone read it and been told I ought to offer it to a publisher. The ideas for the series came thick and fast while I was writing, too fast, sometimes, for me to get them down. Nothing was planned, nothing thought out, and if I got stuck I only had to go dog walking or let my mind wander for the solution to pop into my head. I found it kind of scary —that feeling of being taken over by something I had no control over. Scary and wonderful and exciting all at once. I doubt I’d get those feelings were I to try to plan a novel, so I guess I’ll just have to wait an see if it ever happens again!

Tell us one unusual fact about yourself. I don’t like rainbows. Actually, I’m not too happy about anything odd in the sky. Weird clouds and colors freak me out, especially when we lived in Italy and wind-blown Saharan sand turned the sky and air blood-red for a day. I hardly went outdoors, it was so spooky!

Tidbit:

Recipe: Dragú with wyrmicelli pasta.

Ingredients:

A good quality cooking oil

1lb extremely lean, minced dragon meat

1 red onion

1 garlic clove (the softneck variety ‘silverdragonskin’ is best)

1 carrot (‘drakeheart’ has good color and flavor)

1 celery stick

Handful of mushrooms (black dragonback are best, if you can get them)

Half a pint of meat stock

Tomatoes

One large glass of warm, spiced dragon blood

Large pinch of Artemisia dracunculus

Pinch of salt.

Fresh wyrmicelli pasta

Method:

Heat the oil, add the dragon meat and cook until brown. Add the onion and garlic, fry for 3 minutes. Add the carrot and celery. Add the mushrooms and Artemisia dracunculus, then add the stock. Once mixed, stir in the glass of spiced dragon blood. Bring to boil and simmer on low heat for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Cook the wyrmicelli until nicely al dente. Turn onto a plate and top with the dragú mix. Sprinkle with gorgon zola cheese and enjoy!

Author website/blog: http://www.caspeace.com   http://www.peacewrites.blogspot.co.uk

Twitter: @CasPeace1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cas.peace   https://www.facebook.com/artesansofalbia?ref=hl

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4180597.Cas_Peace

Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Cas-Peace/e/B0098KMASI