Author Interview Number Eighty-Eight – Gavin Whyte

Welcome to Gavin Whyte

Where are you from and where do you live now? I’m from West Yorkshire, UK. I was born and raised in a town called Huddersfield. Since August 2014 I’ve been residing in Taipei, Taiwan.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc.I’ve seem to have slipped into the inspirational, spirituality and personal development genres, but I don’t intend to stay there (I don’t like to pigeonhole myself). My first book, Waiting for Wings, was written as a gift to help a family grieve. It’s a moving story of friendship, love and loss and is based on true events. It has a theme of life after death running throughout. The Girl with the Green-Tinted Hair is a fable about practicing the art of Being. It’s about following your heart, about accepting change and about accepting death and dying. One reviewer of my most recent book, Happiness & Honey, said it was a fantastic book on the Law of Attraction. Another fable, it’s loosely based on my own experiences about the journey one embarks upon when there is a dream to chase.

Where do you find inspiration? I read, read, read. I practice meditation and have done since I was about 18. I ask a lot of questions about life and death, and study myself meticulously. It’s through this process of self-inquiry that I’m forever refining my philosophy, and it’s through this philosophy that I get inspired.

Are your characters based on real people? My first book, Waiting for Wings, was written as a gift. I never intended to publish it. Because it was written with a grieving family in mind I put them in the story. Dan and his parents are based on real people. The rest are fictional. The Girl with the Green-Tinted Hair contains two characters. A boy and a girl. I am easily both. Reading it back feels like it’s a conversation between myself and I.

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? All three of my books are driven by my philosophy on life. Waiting for Wings is all about death and how it isn’t what we have come to believe it is. The Girl with the Green-Tinted Hair is split into four chapters and each chapter is a season. Each season brings with it a lesson for the boy to grasp. Happiness & Honey is a journey about overcoming obstacles and going for what you truly believe in. Because my writing is so heavily driven by a purpose I find it difficult to write any old story. At the moment I believe this is something I need to overcome, as it can be detrimental to the writing process.

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? So far my books are available on Amazon as ebooks and paperbacks. The reason they’re only available on Amazon is because at the moment I’m doing this solo and it’s easier to manage. I would like to think that I will expand onto other formats and sites in the future. Watch this space.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? I don’t see a problem with authors commenting on reviews. It can be nice for a reader to leave a review and know that the author has read it and responds accordingly. Responding to a negative review, though, is tricky and it has to be dealt with in a mature, professional manner. I think it’s a massive No-No for authors to get into arguments over a negative review.

Reviews are very important. I encourage readers to review my books all the time. I simply ask for them to be honest. A writer wants their work to be read – what more could proof is there than a review?

When buying a book do you read the reviews? All the time. I have bought books just going on reviews alone. I’ve been disappointed but I’ve also been very satisfied.

What are your reviews on authors reviewing other authors? I’m all for it. I think it’s great. Why would it be a negative thing? A writer appreciates how difficult it is to write. Let’s look after each other. Let’s support one another. I admit, I find it hard to read another’s work because it takes time. I’m not the fastest of readers and I have my own pile of books to read. I don’t accept many books to review even if it means I’ll get a review in return. I don’t think it would be fair for me to accept and not deliver, or for there to be a huge delay in my response.

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

  1. Read. Read everything you can get your hands on, but especially what inspires you. Reading books in the same genre as you wish to write is great research.
  2. Don’t be scared of failure. We use failure as a springboard to getting to where we want to be. It’s going to be on whatever path you take and you can’t sidestep it. It’s nothing personal, either. It’s part of getting what you desire.
  3. Remember the 4 P’s: Perseverance (Don’t give up) – Patience (It’ll come if you don’t give up) – Positivity (Don’t knock yourself down as a writer – there will be plenty of people who will do that for you) – Practice (write as much as you can).

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? I didn’t enjoy reading until I was 18 because school really put me off it. It was something teachers made me do in front of the class and it filled me with anxiety and tension. Because of this experience I’m currently making up for what I missed out as a child and teenager. I’m currently going through the back catalogue of Roald Dahl. I enjoy my Kindle immensely, which has given me access to countless classics – for free! I delve into these like a kid in a sweet shop. When I read non-fiction, I read philosophy, spirituality and psychology.

Author Interview Eighty-Five – Luke Marsden

Welcome to Luke F. D. Marsden

Where are you from and where do you live now? I was born in Scotland, but grew up mostly in Bristol, in the South West of England. I now live and work in the old Roman Spa town of Bath in Somerset, site of the UK’s only thermal springs.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I published my first novel – Wondering, the Way is Made – in November 2014. It is a story of friendship in a crumbling world. It takes place in Latin America in the very near future, against a backdrop of serious climate change and societal upheaval. A band of good friends are brought together by fate in Argentina, and they journey across the South American continent in a camper van looking for a quiet place to ride out the adverse events that are occurring globally.

I first got the idea for the book when I was in Kerala, India in the summer of 2011. There was a deadly heatwave at that time in the US and it was the summer of riots in the UK. From a distance I watched and, with a small step of the imagination, envisioned what it would be like if things degenerated to the point where it was no longer worth returning home.

I eventually came to write the book three years later, whilst in South America. The situations, background events and anecdotes in it almost all have precedent in very recent history, even though some of them may seem far-fetched. The locations are places that I visited along my own way through the continent. One of the aims of the novel is to make the reader aware that sometimes the far-fetched can be far closer to reality than they realise.

I am currently working on a second book, which will be a collection of allegorical short stories exploring themes around the conscious and subconscious mind.

Where do you find inspiration? I get inspired by travel. It’s a cliché, but the real world (or, should I say, the universe) is stranger and more exotic than fiction. You just have to go out and find stories and ideas – the whole universe is full of them. The beauty of fiction is that, as a writer, you can then adapt, adorn and embellish those stories and ideas without limits until you have captured whatever it is that you were seeking.

Do you have a favourite character? If so why? I am surprised that I find this question so hard to answer. I have become very attached to the characters from Wondering… They are all misfits, but my favourite, if I had to choose, would probably be Joe. The group of friends tolerate his philosophical musings and outspoken monologues, as they are humorous and keep them amused. He regards his high-sounding ideas as important contributions to the group, and in a way they are, but not in any tangible sense. I like this about all of the characters – they all bring something unique and invaluable to the group, and the collective somehow combines to add up to something greater than the sum of the individuals.

Are your characters based on real people? My characters are usually composites of people I know and have met, with a measure of artistic licence thrown in. I like to create them this way as it lends authenticity.

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? I like to read, and write, books that have a message – it is something that is important to me. I wrote Wondering, the Way is Made as an attempt to capture something of the essence of the frivolity and self-indulgence of our time, and found that peering into the near future was a good way of doing this. The heroes and heroines represent a generation in microcosm. They are nice people, sympathetic, but upon reflection perhaps not quite as sympathetic as they appear. They lament the demise of society and the planet, quite rightly, but there is nothing in their actions that absolves them from the very things they criticize others for. They are products of a ‘Me’ society, they are, at times, wasteful, irresponsible, largely unmoved by the poverty they see as they travel through Latin America, and overprivileged in some cases. However, the fact remains that they are also gentle, thoughtful, honest, very likeable and humorous, which makes it easy to overlook their flaws and shortcomings. The book carries the message that, collectively, humans can be quite selfish, even if individually they are nice people.

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? Wondering, the Way is Made is currently available in e-book format on Amazon, Smashwords, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Flipkart. I intend to launch it as a paperback later this year.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I hired a professional to copy edit my novel Wondering, the Way is Made. It was a sound move – the prose had a subtly, but significantly, more polished feel to it once the changes identified by the copy editor had been applied. As for content, I like to retain complete editorial control, which is part of the reason I chose to self-publish. However, several close friends did kindly proof-read the book before publication, and their feedback contributed to the overall shape of the work.

Do you read work by self-published authors? Yes. I have recently branched out from my erstwhile reading habits (mostly early 20th century books and philosophical novels) and I have been seeking out works by self-published authors, particularly writers who could be regarded as my immediate contemporaries. It’s rewarding to discover a great independent author for yourself, and enlightening to find out who else is out there writing right at this moment. A lot of superb talent exists outside of the mainstream publishing machine. I have recently read books by Harry Whitewolf and Leo X. Robertson, both of which I have enjoyed. The great advantage of the independent writer is that they are not beholden to any publishing house, editor, or anything, other than themselves, so they have the ability to write works for their artistic merit alone.

When buying a book do you read the reviews? I generally don’t read a book’s reviews before I read the book itself, although I’ll look at the average star rating as a sanity check. Most important, though, is the synopsis. If it grabs me, I’ll read the first few pages and a random excerpt from the middle. Then, if I’m still undecided, I might read a few reviews – a good, a moderate, and a bad review chosen at random. Book synopses of the kind that list a load of five star reviews in them send me running – it makes me suspect that the synopsis wouldn’t stand up on its own, or that an average book is hiding behind some good reviews. When I DO like to read the reviews is after I’ve finished the book. I’ll write my own review first, so as not to be influenced by any others, then compare it with the others after posting. Reviewing is an art form in itself, and I find this method helps to improve it.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? I love movies, but I think are mentally quite passive compared to books. While they are great input into the imagination, the flow of information is mostly one-way, as so much is served up to the viewer as the finished article. It’s all over after two or three hours of concentration. The same goes for video games (although I can hear howls of disagreement from some quarters!). A book requires time, and engagement of the imagination and intellect. Reading is a two-way process, a dialogue between the words on the page and the mind of the reader. It is a significant personal investment to read a book – I think that’s why it’s difficult to sell them. You are not just asking a reader for a some of their money, you are also asking them for one or two weeks’ worth of their spare time. They have to be pretty certain that it will be time well spent. This is why, therefore, I think it is such an honour when somebody does take that step, and elects to read your book.

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

  1. When someone picks up your book to read it, they are making a personal investment of their precious time in the words that *you* have written, over and above everything that everyone else has ever written. That is an incredible honour. Never forget this.
  2. Write the books that you want to write, not the books that you think others want you to write.
  3. Write a little less than you want to each day, so that you start with renewed inspiration the next. This is paraphrased from Ernest Hemingway, but I have found it to be good advice, so I am passing it on.

What are your best marketing/networking tips? What are your worst? Best guerrilla marketing tip – Leave your book business cards between the pages of books you think your readers will pick up in bookshops.

Worst marketing tip – Leave your book business card in pubs and coffee shops. I’ve found it to be ineffective. Perhaps I’ve yet to find the right places.

Best networking tip – Get on Goodreads. It’s a great community of book-lovers.

Worst networking tip – Treating real-world networking events as though they’re work rather than pleasure, and therefore avoiding them. I’m guilty of this.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? I recently finished reading Kabloona, by Gontran de Poncins. It’s a phenomenal account of life with the Inuit of King William Land in the Canadian High Arctic, a barren expanse of ten thousand square miles with a population of 25 people. That the Inuit succeed in the circumstances he describes is miraculous, and he writes well of the enormous pride they feel in their way of life, and the extreme care and attention to detail with which they must live in order to survive. When the physical surroundings are described they are hard to imagine, such is their other-worldliness: perpetual night, hunting seal by moonlight, haunting ice-scapes, weeks spent travelling by dog sled through vast emptiness, eating what is caught along the way, hastily erecting igloos in blizzards that it seems that nobody could survive… these are all part of normality. He is horrified at their customs at first, but their honesty, generosity and selfless acceptance of him eventually win him over and help him to rid himself of his initial egoism. This way of life is now vanished, so the stories that he recounts, as well as being astonishing, are the only way we’ll ever experience it.


Author bio:
Luke F. D. Marsden lives in the South West of England. He has travelled extensively in six continents and brings the cumulative experiences of these journeys to his writing. He began to write during a period of residence in Barcelona over a decade ago and has recently published his first novel, ‘Wondering, the Way is Made’.


Book links:



New Release – The Stolen Tower – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles III

I am delighted to announce the release on pre-order of The Stolen Tower – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book III.

This one has been a pesky blighter, if I am honest but now it’s here! So what is it about? Courage, sex and sorcery, monsters and mayhem with a goodly helping of love and loss thrown in.

In a dark world where magic is forbidden Mirandra Var, heiress to Varris, must endure her Proving, save her kin and defeat the strange and impossible monsters which stalk the Emerald Valley. She is not alone, and others seek answers to questions as yet unasked. The options are success or death, not just for Mirandra but her companions, her allies and her people.

The search for the missing kin take the adventurers toward Khar’atuk – the mysterious tower labyrinth far from home, where allies must be found and decisions made. On the run mages, elementals, humans with their own agenda, elves, monsters, Witch-Hunters, and a shadowy past – many elements fill this roaring adventure.

So – you may ask how does this link into the previous books? Archos and Dii feature, although not as main characters and Talfor and M’alia from book II accompany Mirandra on her quest. This is a book of new characters and old, pooling their knowledge and skills and finding more questions than answers. Events from Book II have a wider implication, but that would be SPOILERS….

Archos, Dii and their friends will be back soon as primary characters.


What stalks the land cannot be, but is.

Where magic is outlawed a troll Shaman calls from her deathbed to her heiress, Mirandra Var, daughter of the storm. Mirandra vows to find her missing kin, sort friend from foe, and claim the dangerous secrets guarded by unthinkable creatures. If she succeeds, she will become the leader of her tribe. If she fails there will be no tribe to lead.

The Preorder is currently available on Amazon, to go live on April 3rd 2015.

Interviews with some of the characters will follow.






Author Interview Number Seventy-Five – Lazlo Ferran

Welcome to Lazlo Ferran

Where are you from and where do you live now? I live and work in London.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etcThat is a difficult question to answer because I don’t feel limited by genres, have never recognised them and my readers have come to expect that I will cross any genre boundary without recognising it. I have published fourteen books; three collections of short stories, two science fiction stories, two occult thrillers, one spooks thriller, one historical epic, one contemporary literary novel in two volumes, one war thriller and now Lotus. The best way to put this is that I look for a story that stimulates me and tests my philosophical limits. If it doesn’t stretch me, I will not be able to engage and excite the reader. Categorising my books is a constant necessity of modern publishing and a challenge for me. I would say that Lotus is a suspense story. But you will have to read it to decide yourself!

Where do you find inspiration? Inspiration most often comes from dissatisfaction with the world, either general or specific but this will be mixed in with my ideals to make a good story because I don’t want to operate on just one level. If I did, I would alienate more readers than I attract. Occasionally, my need to understand the world around us alone will generate a story idea. Occasionally too, I simply want to write a good yarn, as is the case with Attack Hitler’s Bunker! Lotus, however, comes from none of these places. It comes from a very dark place, a place that needed illuminating, a place that I took 64000 words to describe! I hope it will at least give readers a jolt when they read it. I hope they will say, “Yes, I know this place. I have been there!”

Do you have a favourite character? If so why? No. All my characters are my favourites and they all do things I can’t predict or stop! If my books are my children, their characters are my grandchildren!

Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? Yes. But he is in a book yet to be published and he is the hero!

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? I do extensive research for my books and this usually takes about a year. I generally write about what I know but I want every detail to feel ‘right’ so I dig.

I am lucky enough to know a lot about WWII and the early Medieval. I have always been fascinated by WWII so I have extensive knowledge of it. I know quite a bit about the Medieval because I spent ten years researching my family tree, which I have now traced back to 1240 France. As an offshoot of this, I became interested in the Cathars and early medieval religion so I read widely on the subject, mostly academic works. When I came to write a sequel to Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate, the 13th Century seemed a natural setting for me to attempt. However, I ambitiously decided to depict the Battle of Bouvines. This meant an extra few months of research.

Research is not something I crave, however, so a purely romantic novel is on the cards. That shouldn’t require much research!

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 books, apart from the short stories, are available both as eBooks and paperbacks. Too Bright the Sun is also available, with an audio track to accompany the first chapter, on I want to do large print books but I simply haven’t had the time, so far. Audio books will be the next step when I find the time and money. I have sampled some mixed media formats, mostly those piloted by the big players like BBC, which look very interesting. These include video, interactive elements like quizzes and forms, slideshows, picture galleries, links and text to tell stories. The BBC had a nice one recently about a murder story in Iceland. I am always looking for new ways to engage with readers and I will be watching for the next format that comes along.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I self-edit initially but then I go to Beta readers. They will have the book for at least two rounds and there may even be a professional editor for a third round, as I had for Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate. I find that I cannot realistically edit my own material because I am too close to it.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? Yes, they are and this is a shame. I personally know a traditionally published writer who had to significantly modify a novel in an attempt to get it published. Indie writers don’t have to do this. Of course, we should edit a book so that our main idea will be presentable to readers but we don’t have to compromise. That is why some of the freshest fiction out there is published independently.

The prejudice against indie writers can come from surprising sources and is painful to see. I had one of my kindle books banned (blocked is their term) by Amazon because it deals with incest. It’s set in 17th Century Central Asia (about descendants of the Mongols), and, quite frankly, not only in Central Asia but Europe too, incest was common among royalty. A European king married his sister and had children with her! When I pointed out that Amazon distributes books by both Nabokov and Thomas Pynchon, both of which include themes of incest, the support staff member told me that Amazon makes these choices based on ‘artistic merit.’ I guess I have to conclude that some highly qualified literary critic, employed by Amazon, sat down and read my book from cover to cover and made that choice. It seems unlikely, however, since Amazon had displayed that book for almost ten years at the time without quibble! I had the last laugh because Createspace has a different idea about artistic merit, even though it’s owned by Amazon, and still published my paperback to…wait for it…Amazon! You couldn’t make it up!

Do you read work by self-published authors? Yes. Some indie writer are probably the best out there because they don’t have to modify their work for a publisher. I doubt I would get Lotus published in its present form with a trad publisher and that would be very sad. I can recommend the work of Khalid Muhammad, Kristen Stone and Morgan Wyatt

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? I began as a musician but found the framework of music and lyrics too limiting so I switched to writing novels. Our modern way of living has become very visual; video games and movies exemplify this way of experiencing the world. But the most profound emotions are not caused by visual, aural or any other sensory input; they simple bubble up from very deep places. This is why books will, I believe, always have a profound effect on us. Although Lotus might make a very good video game or film, some of its deeper elements would be lost or else would need to be forced on the viewer/player, thus taking away their free will and the power of the book to stimulate thought.

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers? I will give just one. Get some Beta readers. Good Beta readers will have a go at your book and give you invaluable feedback; where the novel’s pace is not right, whether you use words that are too big or make the characters speak unrealistically, whether the climax works etc. I have often rewritten up to 50% of a novel based on this feedback. I know my books are better for it. As I think Mark Twain once pointed out, the problem when you think you are reading back your own work is that you are actually reading your own mind. You know what the story should be and this is what you hear in your head. You will not notice when an idea doesn’t get across, which frequently happens. A Beta reader will notice. Without the final 2 Beta readers, Lotus would never be the tight, well-developed story it is now.

Beta readers can also offer encouragement. Lotus has been around for over six years now, initially as a rough draft of one short passage. It existed as a personal sketch and I felt it too outrageous to give to a reader. If I hadn’t taken the step of letting somebody read it, I wouldn’t have heard that phrase ‘You must publish it!’ This is what all writers want to hear.

Book links, website/blog and author links:


Blog and website:





Author Interview Number Seventy-Two – Nicky Peacock – Horror/YA

BAd blood
Welcome to Nicky Peacock
Are your characters based on real people?  Sometimes. I like to give main characters a part of myself, Brit in Bad Blood has my dry sense of humor and, in a manuscript I just finished, the main character called Mouse has a fear of getting lost (which is one of mine) I’ve always thought that believable characters, even if they live in an unbelievable world, are paramount in writing.
Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off? LOL, yes. I have a few ex boyfriends in some quite dramatic death scenes – writing is better than therapy! Also a couple of my closet friends have characters dedicated to them.
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?  I love the research part of writing. The right research can spark so many ideas and really can fan the fires of my imagination. And of course, the more real you can make your novels the more readers will suspend their disbelief on other crazier parts.  I do think that you have to be careful though, some writers can get lost in the research and spend all their time on it, never actually writing that great story.
Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? I do think an overall theme is needed in books – without it your voice as a writer can be a bit quiet. In Bad Blood I had Magic VS Science and of course there is the revenge sub plot, I felt when writing the book, it was easier for plotting purposes to have a kind of topic formula to work to. That said, I have in the past had pieces of my work commented on by readers and they have found themes in there I didn’t even realise I’d put in – never underestimate the sub-concious.
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?  My books are available is both eBook and print. I actually like both equally as a reader. I love my Kindle, but also adore my book shelf (even though it’s dangerously close to crushing me under an avalanche of books) I think rather than one killing off the other, they are existing side by side quite nicely – at the moment anyway.
Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited?  I do a certain amount of editing through writing my books, but leave the final part up to a qualified professional. No matter how good a writer is with grammar etc. there’ll always be something that someone else will spot in there. So I think it’s best to have another set of eyes on anything before it goes out to readers.
When buying a book do you read the reviews? Yes, I tend to have a look at Goodreads. I think, when it comes to reviews, that some have to be taken with a pinch of salt. Bad reviews are a part of the author’s life nowadays and I believe it boils down to the old saying, ‘you can’t please everyone all the time’.  So I only tend to buy books by them when there’s a lot of people saying the same thing.
What are your reviews on authors reviewing other authors? Above anyone else, authors should read a lot! It’s part of our jobs, so yes I think it’s a blessing to get a review from another author. I think it’s best to tread lightly though when reviewing other’s work. Just because you didn’t like it, it doesn’t mean its rubbish. I run a writers’ group in the UK and I have a rule there that anyone criticising another’s work should only do so if they give a reason why and a solution – this shows they actually spent some time on thinking about it rather than blithely saying they ‘didn’t like it’, which isn’t very constructive.
What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? A book engages your imagination. Movies and video games put you on a journey and carry you along with a tide of pre-chosen images. A book gives you the bones of a story and lets you imagine it. Also, there’s more books around (production costs are not as steep) so there’s more choice and more voices on the market.
Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? If university wasn’t so expensive in the UK, I would have become an English Teacher.


Author links:
Website for my Writers’ Group:


Getting to know: A. L Butcher

The second half – a bit of fun.

Katherine's Bookcase

Hey, Alexandra!
So, we’ve done the serious interview. Now for some sillyness!

What were you like in school?
Rebellious. Oh I don’t mean I burned the school down, or anything but I didn’t suffer fools, still don’t. I knew the rules and I knew which I could break and get away with it. I was independently minded and that can lead to problems. At college I was really into college politics, I was vice president of the student union and… let’s just say there were various big issues with the college management. I was involved in a student occupation of the college. As it happened the management at the college changed and the students gained more rights but it was a difficult decision at the time and almost led to me failing my courses and losing good friends.

How would you describe yourself in three words?
Loyal, eccentric, chaotic.


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Author Interview Sixty-Five – Victoria Zigler – Fantasy/Children/Animal Stories

Welcome to Victorria Zigler, or Tori, if you prefer.

Where are you from and where do you live now? I live in the UK.  I was born and raised in a valley near the Black Mountains in South Wales, but now live in a town by the sea in the South-East of England.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I write some poetry, but mostly I write children’s stories, which are either fictional or semi-fictional.

My “Toby’s Tales” series, for example, is a semi-fictionalized series based on my own struggles to adapt after sight loss.  And my “Kero’s World” series is a semi-fictionalized series about the life of my dog, who we lost in August of this year.  But my “Magical Chapters” trilogy is entirely fictional.

As for actual genres… Mostly I write animal stories or fantasy/fairy tales.  But I do have a few stories planned in other genres (still aimed at children though).  For example, I have a story called “Vinnie The Vegetarian Zombie” due out in October, which is about a little girl’s encounter with a vegetarian turned zombie while waiting in hiding for her parents’ return during a zombie apocalypse.

I won’t list all the titles here, because I’ve published more than 30 books; five of them are short poetry collections, the rest are children’s stories.  If you want a full list of titles, you can find them all listed on my website, Goodreads profile, etc.

Where do you find inspiration? I find inspiration pretty much everywhere: in conversations I hear while out and about, in my own random musings about whatever pops in to my head, in things people say to me, in things I hear on the radio or see on TV, in questioning how something I read would have gone if some crucial plot point had been different, and in dreams.

Do you have a favourite character? If so why? I have two favourite characters: Kero from my “Kero’s World” series, and Daisy from my “Magical Chapters” trilogy.  Kero because he was my beloved dog; my most loyal friend for a little over 10 years.  Daisy because she’s the sweetest and kindest dragon you could ever meet, and I’d love to have a dragon friend like her.

Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? Hmmm… This one is more difficult, since I like most of my characters.  If I had to pick one though, I think I’d probably have to go with Rith from “Snowball The Oddball Kobold”.  Rith is a kobold brawler who delights in making Snowball’s life miserable just because Snowball happens to be a different colour to the rest of the tribe, and I hate bullies like him.

Are your characters based on real people? I think there’s always something of the people or animals we know in our characters, as well as ourselves; whether we want there to be or not.  But some of the characters I have are actually based on real people intentionally: Toby from my “Toby’s Tales” series is based on a combination of myself and my brother, Carl (who is also blind).  And Toby’s little sister is based on a little girl who’s almost like family.  Jacob, Jasper, Jenks and Joshua from my “Degu Days” series are based on my own degus, and Kero from the “Kero’s World” series is based on my own dog.  Also, Cubby the polar bear from “Cubby And The Beanstalk” is based on the same dog, who I often called “my little polar bear cub” or “Cubby” when he was alive.  Plus, there’s a Westie in the book I’m writing at the moment – he’s the main character, actually – who is also based on the same dog.  But where the “Kero’s World” books are semi-fictionalized accounts of Kero’s real life experiences as I think they might have been seen through his eyes, this new book – which is called “Yua And The Great Wizard Hunt” if you’re interested – is complete fiction, but just happens to have a dog based on my own Westie as a main character.

Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off? Not yet.  It does sound like a tempting idea though… *Grins evily*

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? I don’t need to do that much research, but I do some anyway.

So far most of my research has been on the known facts of animals and fantasy creatures, as well as the medicinal properties of plants and herbs.  Since I love animals – real or fantasy – and have an interest in the medicinal properties of plants and herbs, this means that the research has been just as much fun for me as the writing.  Some of the facts I already knew and just needed to verify, others were new facts I discovered while verifying things, which I enjoyed learning.  Mostly I’m just checking up on things I want to be sure I’m getting right, or checking on things I plan to do differently to make sure I’m aware of what I’m changing.  After all, if you’re going to break a rule, you need to know what the rule is, right?

As for my sources… Various websites, online encyclopedias, and the rulebooks of the Pathfinder roleplaying system have been my main sources so far.  If it was from Pathfinder I’ll check the rulebook, or the information I’ve gathered on the different races and classes for the system, otherwise I generally just type in a web search for what I want to know, find what I need, and make notes in documents (which are on my computer and backed up on a memory stick) so I can find them easier next time I need the information.

I actually have a folder called “research” which is full of such information (about creatures I’ve already written about, about creatures I plan to write about, and about creatures I found while looking for others and thought looked cool so grabbed the information in case I want to write about them later).

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? Many of my stories have a message in them, but I don’t feel it’s essential to have one.  I’ve been working a lot with the theme of accepting differences and disabilities, though not exclusively, so acceptance is a common theme in many of my books: from Frank the ogre finding a place where he can belong without having to pretend to be something he’s not, to Snowball the kobold proving everyone has a role to play in society; regardless of the colour of their skin (or scales).

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? My books are currently only available as ebooks.  They’re available from many ebook retailers, but not Amazon (before anyone asks).

I have considered making them available in print, but lack of skill, and lack of funds to pay someone to sort it for me, means I’ve abandoned the idea of doing the books in print for the time being.  I did also consider audio, but lack of funds prevents me from being able to pay someone to read them for me, and there’s no way I’d do the reading myself as I hate my voice on recordings.  I know there are options available where you can do a royalty share, but I’m not too happy with the contracts, so I’m reluctant to do that too.  I did also consider having them in Braille – the “Toby’s Tales” series especially – but the only way I know to do that is via the RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind) and when I contacted them they wouldn’t even give my books a glance, since they’ve never heard of me, and I don’t have the backing of a known publisher.  So, for the time being at least, my books will stay as just ebooks.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? Yes, I self-edit.  I do this because I don’t see the point in paying an editor when I can do it myself for free.  Even the best editor can miss typos; the mistakes you find in even traditionally published books these days proves that.  So, since I can do it myself with a bit of time, I don’t see any reason to pay someone else.

As for whether I think books suffer for not being professionally edited… I can honestly say that I’ve read professionally edited books with more typos than some of my first drafts (which are awful, let me tell you) and I’ve read self-edited books where I’ve failed to find a single typo.  So, no, I don’t think a book suffers for not being professionally edited.  I do, however, think a book suffers for being published before it’s been edited at all, just because the author is too eager to wait for it to be ready.

Do you read work by self-published authors? Yes, quite often.  Some of it is excellent, some not so good.  But that’s the same regardless of the method of publication.

When buying a book do you read the reviews? I only read the reviews if I’m on the fence about buying a book and want some opinions on it to help me make up my mind.  But this doesn’t happen often, to be honest, and I’ll sometimes buy a book with bad reviews if the reasons given for the negative comments and low rating are ones I think are probably just people being petty.  I just use the reviews to get some opinions, then make up my own mind based on the synopsis and reviews.

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers? Simple: read, write, and edit! All three of these apply whether you plan to use a traditional publisher or self-publish.

Firstly, if you don’t read, you’ll never make a good writer, because you won’t know what kinds of things make for a good book.  So, both before you begin writing and afterwards, read as much as you can; especially in the genre you hope to write in.

Secondly, if you want to write, just sit down and do it; don’t make excuses.  Too many people claim not to have the time to write.  Sure, OK, you may have a job and a family that both need your attention, and that’s fine; those are valid claims.  But if you really want to write then you’ll find the time.  Even five minutes here and there are enough; those five minute writing sessions all add up!

Thirdly, even if you plan to have a professional editor look at your work, make sure you do some editing yourself; a poorly edited manuscript doesn’t look very good for you.  A traditional publisher is more likely to take a proper look at your work if typos aren’t jumping out at him or her every couple of words, and people won’t come back for more from a self-published author who can’t take the time to do a bit of editing.  Like I said, even the best editor can miss things, so the more typos you catch yourself, the less your editor will need to find, and the more chance you’ll end up with a mistake-free project at the end of it.  And, if you’re your own editor, then it’s even more important to edit, edit, and edit again!

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? I’m currently working my way through the books in Barbara G.Tarn’s “Books Of The Immortals” series, which I’m really enjoying; despite it being in a genre I don’t read much.

Can you name your favourite traditionally published author? And your favourite indie/self-published author? What? Just one of each? Hmmm… I think this is the most difficult question of the entire interview! I love so many authors – traditionally published and self-published alike!

If I had to pick just one of each though… Well… It would have to be David Estes for the self-published author, and Hans Christian Anderson for the traditionally published author.  David Estes has an amazing young adult series made up of two sister series, and Hans Christian Anderson wrote the best fairy tales.  If you haven’t read David Estes’ “Dwellers” and “Country” sagas, then you’re missing out on a great set of books! And I don’t think I need to tell you how good Hans Christian Anderson is!

What are your views on authors offering free books? I think it’s strange when an author has all their books free, but free books can often be good promotional tools, and having one free as an option for people to use as a risk free way to try your work can be a good idea.  It can be kind of frustrating when people grab the free book, say they loved it, but don’t come back to buy your other books though.

On the subject of free books… I have a book called “Frank The Friendly Ogre” which is free all the time as a sample of my work.  Plus, to celebrate being author of the month on the “Smashwords Authors” group on Goodreads, I’ve got some books on sale on Smashwords throughout September – 6 free ones, 2 half price ones.  Details can be found on my blog.

Do you have any pets? I have four degus and 2 gerbils; all male.  The degus are called Jacob, Jasper, Jenks and Joshua, and are the stars of my “Degu Days Duo” books, and the gerbils are called Bilbo and Baggins.  Bilbo and Baggins don’t have their own book… Not yet, anyway!

Book links, website/blog and author links:








Author Interview Number Sixty-Three – James G Pearson

Welcome to James G Pearson

Where are you from and where do you live now? I’m a UK based author residing in the beach-side town of Brighton.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I’m a fantasy author that’s currently writing a series called The Kingmaker Saga. I suppose most people would call them fantasy with a mix of thriller. I like to keep readers on their toes.

Where do you find inspiration? I take particular inspiration from the Norse and Viking mythology and their ways. But generally I find inspiration in the codes and warriors of many different nations and incorporate several of them into my story.

Do you have a favourite character? If so why? I have several favourite characters, but if I had to pick one it would be a man called Carrick Belhound. I won’t spoil it, but he’s a villain and incredibly fun to write.

Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? I do have a character I disliked. I just couldn’t find a true purpose for him and something just fell flat. In the end I used him as cannon fodder. But his death wasn’t in vain.

Are your characters based on real people? I have one or two that are based on real people. But I like to exaggerate certain traits to make them come to life.

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? Research has been key to some of my settings and even down to names. I spend probably a quarter of my writing time preparing my research so I can be authentic enough when I need to describe something. The power of Google is what helps me find everything I need from ship sections to castle names, translations of Old High Germanic and Old Norse.

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? Currently my books are in paperback through Createspace and also on Kindle. I have thought about moving to audio books but I have to look into it.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? Self-published authors are viewed completely differently. It’s hard for an indie author to make a name for themselves these days without a significant amount of luck and hard work. I think this is because we, as indie authors, haven’t got the budgets to push our names out there and get the reviews with the big newspapers. Which is why we do blog tours to try and get our names out there.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? I’ve nearly finished Blood Song by Anthony Ryan, another fantasy author based in the UK. He was an indie author who got picked up with a traditional publisher after a series of fortunate events. I’m looking forward to reading the next one in his series as it hooked me from the beginning.

Book links, website/blog and author links:

Amazon UK Kindle book:

Amazon US Kindle book:

Author Website





Author Interview Number Sixty-Two – A.L Butcher – Fantasy/Fantasy Romance/Erotica

Welcome to A.L Butcher, also writing as Alexandra. OK so this is a bit self-serving as it is my blog but perhaps it is time my readers get to know me a bit better.

Where are you from and where do you live now? I grew up in the South East of the UK, in a small town and I now live in Bristol, which is in the South West. I moved as I studied Politics and Sociology at university in Bristol and as I now work there never left.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I write fantasy and fantasy romance with a hint of erotica. To date I have two novels – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles – Book I and The Shining Citadel, which is book II of the series. I am working on book III. I also have Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends, which features five fantasy tales in the form of mythic tales set in the same world, this is also available in audio.

I have poetry in a number of anthologies and some to come out in the next few weeks. I also have short stories in a number of other publications. The poetry doesn’t often get an airing, if I am honest but it is good that people enjoy it.

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? I like research, but it is easy to get lost in it all and half the time I’ll go off and look up something not strictly relevant. Although fantasy allows for quite a lot of creative scope I do think there are some aspects which really need to be researched, such as weapon and armour usage, terrain, food, herbalism and defence. For The Shining Citadel I researched swamp and mountain terrain, flora and fauna, whether salamander is edible, medieval weapon use and herbs used in healing. For my current book I researched mythic creatures, herbs, horsemanship and fishing.

I think accuracy is important, as is consistency. I hate reading a book where something is simply implausible, or plain wrong.  If a writer changes something for his or her world, fair enough but they need to justify how that thing now works and stick to it.

Resources are predominately the internet, Culpeper’s Complete Herbal, another herblore book, various books on medieval warfare and weaponry which we have in the house and the Mythic Scribes website, which often has good advice. I read a lot of history and have a background in Classical Studies so all off that helps. It is also great to research story-telling itself. Homer and the Greek classics, Roman mythology, Nordic tales, and sometimes further afield. People have been telling stories as long as humans have been sitting around a fire, sometimes to explain and sometimes to amuse.  Creativity is goes hand in hand with humanity; humans need stories, the ability to escape and to understand the world and often this curiosity leads to more – to science and the sharing of knowledge.

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…) Great characters, great world-building, solid plot, technically perfect. I hate books with weak characters and world building. If I don’t care about the characters I am reading about I don’t give a stuff what they do. I’ve read several books where the plot was a bit weak but the characters were fun enough that it didn’t matter. Typos and poorly written books are not just in the indie market – I read a book by a well-known crime author with 5 typos in the first few pages and she was traditionally published. I am not saying that is right, but I am saying it happens a lot and not just to indies despite what many people think. I’m fairly forgiving so a few misplaced commas or a stray typo will not make me stop reading but terrible characters or a distinct lack of world building will. That said ideally a book should be the best it can be. I have also read plenty of books with errors – did the errors reduce the reading experience? Yes if they were too bad.

I also appreciate within the indie market that many authors work within a very small budget and although not ideal I’d rather have a cracking story with one or two issues than a technically perfect book with no soul. There are a few of those around.  That said I have seen indie books which are so bad as to be unreadable.

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?

The Light Beyond the Storm – Book I is available as an e-book on all the major online retailers and in print on Amazon, Createspace and Barnes and Noble, it is also available in large print. Hopefully next year I may pursue it as an audio.

The Shining Citadel is available in all the above except large print (as it is too big and I’ll have to split it in half) and audio.

Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends is available as an e-book and audio.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? Yes, certainly. I think there is quite a lot of prejudice against indie authors. Why? Because some indie books are badly written, badly formatted and badly edited. Unfortunately once stung by a book like this many readers will assume all indie/SPA books are like this, which isn’t the case. Trad pubbed books are not necessarily well written, but are generally edited and formatted correctly.  Some readers seem to think that a writer self-publishes because he or she has been rejected by a ‘real’ publisher. Whilst this is certainly the case for some, and I am not saying their books are substandard they are just not what the publisher wants at that time, it is not the case for all. Many authors like the freedom self-publishing brings, including a better royalty rate (generally) and fewer deadlines. It also depends what an author wants from his or her book. Is it a case that he or she wants to publish for a smaller audience, or isn’t so bothered about sales figures? In this case self-publishing might work quite well. Hopefully as the great Indie and self-published books are recognised the division will diminish.

Do you read work by self-published authors? Of course, I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t. I buy a lot of books and these days more than 50% of my purchases are self-published. Some are good, some aren’t – the same as trad pubbed.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? Don’t. Generally authors commenting on reviews, particularly negative ones is bad and will lead to far worse. Reviews are a reader’s opinion – nothing more and there will always be someone who doesn’t like the book, for whatever reason. Look on Amazon at the reviews and I’ll bet most books have a mix. Yes the review might not say what the author wishes it said but reviews are for readers and people review in many different ways and for different reasons.  This is particularly the case on Good Reads, there are a lot of reviewers there and many are extremely active. An ‘author behaving badly’ will only get him or herself in more hot water by bitching. Remember on the internet once something is said it can be very difficult to take it back, and it is likely to end up on someone’s blog, Facebook or wherever.  Unless the review is personally spiteful or racist etc. I’d say let it go, if it is personally abusive then report it to the correct moderators.  Most readers will pick and choose which reviews they take into account and an obvious hate-review will be just that – obvious but the flip side is those same readers are likely to notice an author getting upset/angry in the comments.

How important are reviews? I wish I knew. Personally not that important as I tend to make the choice to buy a book on other factors but good reviews certainly can’t hurt and I know there are several book promotion sites that won’t even consider a book with less than 50 reviews. Because reviews are so varied and posted for so many reasons I am not convinced they are vital. Many disagree.

What are your reviews on authors reviewing other authors? I have no problem with it, if the review is genuine. Most authors are also avid readers and so why shouldn’t they. Yes sometimes there is a ‘If you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours’ type of attitude, which I am not keen on. When I review I’ll try and be honest. I don’t often find books I don’t like but it does happen. I’ll try and find something positive – good characterisation, a touch of humour but I will say what I don’t like, including if it is badly written.  I tend not to be bitchy, as I am not that sort of person but I do think saying a book is wonderful when I don’t think it is won’t help anyone – not the author and not other readers.  I can separate being an author and being a reader.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? So I am a bit of a nerd, I do enjoy playing PC games, especially fantasy based ones such as Dragon Age and Skyrim but I do tend to think even the immersive ones are fairly linear.  I like to imagine the world, the characters and such like in a book and I live the vivid descriptions which often don’t appear in a game. A book is truly immersive. I watch a lot of films, but again the people and the settings are laid out for the viewer and less imagination is involved.

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

Keep writing.

Be realistic – you are unlikely to be a best seller overnight.

Read the FAQ/TOS and the small print. Please!

What are your best marketing/networking tips? What are your worst? Hmmm. Best – I suppose author interviews, both giving and receiving. It helps to build a network and authors generally are a helpful and reciprocal lot – readers like to know about an author. Also I use Facebook a lot, but it helps to check out what the promotional rules are for particular groups and don’t just spam your book, interact, hang out, post other stuff.

Worst –Twitter but that is probably because I don’t know the best way to utilise it. Personally it seems like a constant stream with no conversation or interaction and I, personally, have never bought a book via Twitter, although I have clicked on article links. I do know quite a few people who have a lot of success on Twitter – how I have no clue.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it?

The Tripods trilogy. I loved these books when I was younger and so this is a great journey back to my younger days.  Before that I read a medieval romance called Creating Memories by Lisa Shea. I have read her work before and enjoyed it. Her heroine was a feisty lass and the love story built slowly with many twists.

I am currently reading a book about Lunacy and Mad-Doctors in Victorian Britain.

Can you name your favourite traditionally published author? And your favourite indie/self-published author? Too many to name, but picking a few – traditionally published – Gaston Leroux, Alexandre Dumas, the Brontes, Bram Stoker, Janet Morris, Tolkien, Agatha Christie, Ellis Peters, Colin Wilson, Terry Pratchett, HG Wells, Jules Verne. Indie/SPA – Walter Rhein, Lisa Shea, Diana Wicker, Janet Morris, JD Hallowell, Ross Harrison, Thaddeus White, Leeland Artra.

What are your views on authors offering free books?   I actually did a blog post on the Mythic Scribes blog last year about this – leading a debate for authors and readers who were for and against this.  My own view – it can work but needs to be handled carefully. Many readers download books BECAUSE they are free and don’t read them. It is not a guaranteed way to get reviews or more readers but it might work for some. As a reader I have read an author’s free book and then bought a follow up. Some readers assume that a free book will be rubbish – or why would it be free? I think it depends what an author expects from a freebie campaign – do they simply want to get their name out there and hope that a few people will take the chance and read the book, then tell their friends? I think exposure is the main reason for offering freebies.  I download free books and I do read them but not as many as I used to.  Smashwords has a useful tool – an author can offer a voucher to discount a book – which is handy for review copy or giveaway prizes. In my view that works better than a generally free book as it is easier to target.

The Great Free Book Debate: The Readers

The Great Free Book Debate: The Authors

Do you have a favourite movie? I have many, I watch a lot of films. Let me see – in no particular order: Dead Poets Society, Star Wars IV-VI, Schindler’s List, Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Alien et al, Monty Python films, Silent Running, Dune (miniseries), Pale Rider, High Plains Drifter, Jane Eyre, Guardians of the Galaxy, Batman Begins, Dark Knight Rises, Star Dust, Bram Stoker’s Dracula….

Can you name your worst job? Do you think you learned anything from the position that you now use in your writing? I worked in a kitchen in my student days. I hated it.  The money was diabolical, the hours sucked and some of the other staff were just plain nasty.  I don’t think I learned anything from that job except to respect people in menial jobs – they get a raw deal.

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I’m Caulrophobic. I hate puppets too.

Book links, website/blog and author links:

Please see the side bar for links – but here are the main ones:


Light Beyond the Storm Amazon

Shining Citadel Amazon

Nine Heroes

Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends



Newest Release – Spectacular Tales

Book Review – High Moor – Horror

High Moor

Graeme Reynolds.

This has been on my reading list for a while, but it was well worth the read. An old-school werewolf story, set in Northern England it starts in the year 2000, but the story soon shifts back to the 1980s. It helps to understand the setting here; Thatcherite Britain, a run-down town with high unemployment, depression, and the malaise which fell over a lot of the country at this time. The main characters in the early part of the book are children raised in working class houses, with little concept that things will get better, alcoholic and violent parents and an overworked police force. Bring into the mix the prejudices of the time and you have a rather dark background.  Then a werewolf arrives….

The book is violent, this is no shifter romance, but a brutal and horrifying account, reminiscent of wolfman films and older stories. The werewolves are not nice, they kill, they eat people and they cause total mayhem. That said there is some real depth and emotion in this book, the fear of the townsfolk, the bravery of those who seek to hunt the killers and the despair of John, the main protagonist.  Some of the writing is superb, with vivid descriptions, dark humour and a fast pace which keeps up all the way through.

My only complaints were the slight implausibility of part of the ending, and the cliff-hanger, although the story was concluded well enough. I will definitely read the second part of the series.

Overall a great read, with fast paced action, terrifying monsters, but a few touching scenes. Well worth it!