Broken Toys – Blog Tour #Thriller

Broken Toys
by Glenda Thompson
Genre: Thriller
Texas Ranger Noah Morgan has his life together—with a great job and the girl of his dreams. Too bad it’s all based on a lie. A single phone call threatens to bring it all crashing down. After an irate citizen complains shoddy workmanship has left him with a booby-trapped driveway, and the local sheriff’s office is too busy to respond, Noah takes the call. The investigation of local scam artists uncovers a human trafficking ring. Noah fights to avoid being swept back into the sights of his murderous family—people he escaped at the age of seventeen.
Can he keep his past a secret or will his carefully crafted life come to a violent end?
A sixth-generation Texan with Scottish roots, Glenda Thompson can ‘bless your heart’ with the best of them. As a former emergency medical technician married to a south Texas Lawman, she’s used insider information from both their careers as inspiration to build her Broken world of Texas Rangers with hidden pasts and dark secrets. When she’s not busy embarrassing her children or grandchildren by dancing in the middle of a country road during a rainstorm, she can be found huddled in her writing cave with her law enforcement technical adviser/husband working on another story in her Broken universe.
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
$25 Amazon

Meet My Character Week – Kaine Martin – #Suspense #Paranormal


  1. Who are you? (Give a brief description of yourself)

Hello, my name is Kaine, and I’m an anthropologist. Rarely people notice me, mostly because I don’t like to be in the spotlight.

I’m very shy, and I’m never confident about whether people might like me or not. This side of my character leads me generally to be mistaken for a person who gets above himself, as it happened with Nora, one of my colleagues.

  1. Who are your companions?

Well, first of all, there is Mark. He’s the other side of my sky, the man I love with all my strengths.

He’s completely different from me, self-confident, charming, and sexy as hell. The typical guy who’s always in the spotlight.

We complete each other, and I believe we were just meant to be together.

Then, there is Jason Murdock. He is an anthropologist who was trying to track an elusive and mysterious tribe in Africa. Eight years ago, he was considered missing, until one day, I received an email from him. That message changed my life forever, giving me a precious lead to continue his research and be the one to bring the tribe to the spotlight.


  1. Do you have a mentor? Tell us about them.

From the time I reached Jason to Africa, my life reached a sudden turn, and with so many things going the wrong way, I ended up into a curse.

Yes, I know it sounds crazy, and sometimes I find it also hard to believe it myself, but it’s true.

The most important mentor has been also my tormentor, the high priestess Akuna-Ra.

She helped me to release my inner power to communicate with the entities of the underworld, and opened my eyes to a brand-new vision of the Universe.

You won’t believe its complexity, not at least until you start to see the reality from a completely different perspective.


  1. If you could live your life again would you make the same choices?

Absolutely, because even the wrong one, the one that cursed me, turned out to be a blessing.

  1. What is the hardest choice you’ve had to make in the course of your adventures? What was the easiest?

The hardest choice was perhaps leaving for an undefined period to search the tribe in Africa.

I just started my relationship with Mark, and I was afraid this long period away from each other could undermine our future together.

The easiest choice was choosing to remain in Africa, and propose Mark to move there with me.

If you are going to read about my adventure, I’m sure you will also be tempted to leave everything behind.


  1. Would you die for those you love? Would you kill for them?

I don’t believe in violence, and I don’t believe that dying for someone I love would make things easy. They will mourn my absence and the pain would be unbearable.

I would rather try to solve every situation in a less dramatic way.

The same is for killing; there must be a better way than to kill or be killed by someone.

Maybe I might summon the forces of the underworld.


  1. Have you ever loved/been loved?

Yes, I love, and also I am loved.

I fell in love with many guys before, but only Mark made me feel special.

You know, when everybody started to believe I was dead, he ran to Africa even to bring back my corpse. He’d never accept my death without having the certainty.


  1. Tell us about your family.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much to be said.

I was raised by my mother alone, and I don’t have any siblings.

My father died shortly after I was born, and I have no memory of him. Many times, I fantasize about how it would have been to have him close to me.

I wonder about what kind of person he was and whether he’d been proud of me like my mother was.

Mom has been for me more than just family, she supported me, and even after her death, she returned as a ghost to help me make the right decision, guiding me to the right path. She also tried to guide Mark when he didn’t know where to search for me.


  1. Do you believe in magic?

Of course, I do! My whole life revolves between this world and the underworld. Without magic, I could never keep the balance between them, and believe me, it’s a hard job!

  1. Why should we read about your adventure?

Because it’s so crazy that sometimes I also feel impossible that things like that could happen, particularly to me.

Before this adventure started, I never considered magic being something real.

It was just mumbo-jumbo, something that shamans used because they didn’t have scientific knowledge. Only now, I understand how wrong I was, and I thank Akuna-Ra for introducing me to magic and release those dormant powers in me.

Therefore, if you think magic doesn’t exist, this is a book to open your eyes and entertain you with a fascinating new point of view.

If you, instead, believe in magic, this is going to be a compelling read to find out something more about it.

Together with this, you will discover the powerful beauty of the African Rainforest and the amazing people living around it.

So, what are you waiting for? Come to find me there, I’ll be waiting between one spell and another, trying to stay alive.


Mandatory info (author):

Paula J. Mann lives a double life. She is a geologist by day and a novelist by night. She’s best known for writing psychological thrillers and dramas, like ‘A Tale of a Rough Diamond.’
She also writes historical fiction, like the best-selling Aquila et Noctua, and paranormal suspense.
She loves traveling and shares her experiences on her blog:

Author’s name: P. J. Mann

Link to book or books where this character appears:

Thou Shalt Never Tell

Website/Blog/Facebook/Twitter page


*Optional – short piece on why you chose to showcase this character and what draws you to him/her/it/them. Is there a basis in reality for this character – for example.

I chose this character and this particular book because there’s a lot about the places I visited, and for which I fell in love.

Africa is a very diverse continent, and every country has its peculiar beauties that draw me there. Kaine is a bit like me, shy and introverted, although I don’t have any special mediumistic power, I’m attracted by everything belonging to magic rites and supernatural forces.


Author Interview 107 – Dean Mayes – Paranormal/Thriller

Welcome to Dean Mayes.

Where are you from and where do you live now? I was born and raised in country Victoria, Australia. In the mid 90’s, after I completed my degree in Nursing, I moved to Adelaide in South Australia and I’ve been living there ever since.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. My writing has crossed genres since I was first published back in 2010. My debut, “The Hambledown Dream” (2010, Central Avenue Publishing) was a romantic fiction novel with a paranormal undercurrent that explored reincarnation. My follow up novel “Gifts of the Peramangk” (2012, Central Avenue Publishing) was a more literary fiction/coming of age story about an Aboriginal child prodigy living here in Adelaide. For my upcoming novel “The Recipient” (2016, Central Avenue Publishing), I have gone in the direction of an action oriented psychological thriller but I have reintroduced a paranormal theme relating to organ donors and their recipients.

Where do you find inspiration? Inspiration comes from many places and it is usually unexpected. I find that if I go looking for inspiration, it is rare that I find it. “The Recipient” was actually inspired by a very intense and vivid nightmare where I was witnessing a violent assault and then, at one point, I couldn’t discern between whether I was witnessing it or whether I was actually experiencing it myself. When I woke from the nightmare, I madly began scribbling as much as I could remember down in a notebook I keep beside my bed. Before too long, I had the rudimentary beginnings of what has become “The Recipient”.

Do you have a favourite character? If so why? I think that all my characters have been favorite – especially when I have been in the thick of writing them. Casey Schillinge, my protagonist in “The Recipient” has definitely been the most interesting character to write because there are several facets to her persona that make her complex. She is highly intelligent and technically savvy and she is also stubborn and dogged. When she latches onto something – a suspicion or a gut feeling – she will follow it through to the end, despite encouragement from others to slow down. She is also pragmatic and empirical which makes the nightmares she experiences at the beginning of the novel so frightening for her. She cannot quantify them so they knock her off balance.

Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? I actually don’t. All of my characters are created in service to whatever story I am telling and their roles are important. If I infuse my characters with a certain level of evil or “badness”, there is a context to that which I value.

Are your characters based on real people? Some of them are. Over time, I have infused some of my characters with the qualities and mannerisms of people who have been and are important in my life. I like to be able to do that because I think it gives them more gravitas, it makes them more real to life and tactile.

Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off?Maybe peripheral characters but, in the main, all of the characters I have created have remained integral to my works.

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! Even with the more fantastical story writing I have done, the importance of creating a real world feel cannot be understated.

“The Hambledown Dream” featured the dual settings of Chicago in the United States and the South Coast of New South Wales here in Australia. I’m familiar with the South Coast because I spent a lot of time there growing up so it wasn’t a stretch to recreate that in the novel. For Chicago, I did a lot of visual research into things like the architecture and the socio-economics of the inner northern suburbs which is where a lot of the early part of that novel takes place. I also have friends living in that part of the city so I had eyes and ears on the ground there and they were great in helping to visualize the feel of the city. And then there were subjects like cancer which required me to refresh my knowledge about disease process and treatment modalities. I have been an Intensive Care Nurse for over a decade now so I was able to tap into a lot of resources in order to bring that to life in the novel.

For “Gifts of the Peramangk”, I spent about a year on pure research into the White Australia policy and the Stolen Generations of Aboriginal Australians. These remain sensitive subjects in our national conversation and I didn’t want illustrate anything in the novel that would disrepect the gravity of those issues. Additionally, I spent a lot of time researching the Peramangk people. This is a nation state in our Aboriginal nation for which not a lot is known, so I needed to ensure that I could present them in such a way that was respectful and authentic.

In “The Recipient” I have returned to a more medically oriented story so here I tapped into a number of resources in the field of transplant surgery and after care. Getting that aspect of the story right was important because it allowed me to introduce the paranormal elements seamlessly. Some of the early feedback I’ve had from medical professionals has been really positive in that they were totally convinced of the possibilities of what I was throwing up. Police procedure also featured heavily in the novel and so here I talked to a number of law enforcement agencies here in Australia and they were really grand in helping me to portray procedures accurately.

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? I don’t set out to convey a message in my writing. I am more compelled to create a really good and satisfying story. If I were to consider it though, “Gifts of the Peramangk” probably contains the most powerful message that says no matter who you are, if you apply yourself and you work hard, you can achieve anything. It’s not a conscious message on my part though. I think it depends on the topic and the motivation of the writer as to whether a message is important to impart in a work of fiction.

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…) For me, great characters are the kernel of great story writing. If I can believe in the characters then I can believe in the story. How they see the world influences the world building aspect so I guess world building is the next most important aspect. The plot has to be solid of course. For me, the plot of my stories is set out in a rudimentary fashion when I begin and I allow my characters and their motivations – to an extent – to drive the story forward. Technical perfection comes afterwards but it is no less important for me than any of the others. It is just that this is how I write and how I edit so I guess I am setting out my process in the steps that I follow. I won’t release a product until I know that it is technically perfect.

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? Presently – print and digital. My publisher and I have focused on these two branches of the market primarily because of production costs and the obvious reach of those branches. Audio is attractive to me but the production costs are prohibitive right now. If I were to attain significant success that would allow me to invest in audio production, I would definitely consider it.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I do! It’s one of my OCD quirks! I have gotten better at focusing on pure writing, getting the words and the ideas onto the page but I still go back often and review and refine. I really enjoy the editing process and regard it as one of the most important aspects of writing. Professional editing is essential to a good end product and I do believe a book that has not been professionally edited suffers in the long run. That is a lesson I have learned through experience.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? I think they are. It comes down to the sad fact that, with the explosion in self publishing, we’ve seen all manner of people producing works featuring varying levels of quality. It is a sad fact that many of those works have come from self published authors who have not invested the time and the money in having their work professionally edited and proofed before proceeding to publication and they do themselves a disservice because of it. That said, poor editing and proofing is not confined to self published authors. I was reading a book just last month (January, 2016) from one of the major publishing houses and I came across several instances of grammatical errors, poor sentence construction and confusing paragraphs. So poor editing is not confined to self published authors by any stretch.

Do you read work by self-published authors? I have. There are several self published authors whose work I really admire and have returned to subsequently. It is clear to me that they have invested in their work to ensure they have produced the best product possible.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? When I started out, I did read and comment on reviews but I don’t anymore. I think an author runs the risk of being misinterpreted in their responses to reviews and I have seen cases where and author has responded in a respectful manner to a review and it has been totally taken out of context. I keep myself at arms length from reviews now.

When buying a book do you read the reviews? No. I usually pick up a book based on a recommendation or if something about the title or the liner notes strikes me as interesting. I’ll avoid reviews because many of them will contain spoilers and that it definitely a killer for me.

What are your views on authors reviewing other authors? I’m really not sure about that one so I’ll just say that I don’t have a view.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? Books work on a subconscious level and they fire our imagination in ways that a video game or movie can’t. I requires effort and engagement to ‘see’ the world an author has created whereas a game or movie presents it to you in all its technicolour glory. That said – I am a casual gamer and I love movies  soooo…does that cancel my answer out?

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers? Keep a notebook with you to jot down ideas and notes as they come to you – and only write in pencil. Forget about social media, word counts, group discussions and marketing advice and just write.

Have a basic story structure but don’t be dictated by it. The is more than one way to get from Point A to Point B.

What are your best marketing/networking tips? What are your worst? Marketing should be all about the Pull. In the first instance, you should a have product that is professionally edited and proofed. You should have a website that is simple but engaging. It should reflect a little bit about you and the information there should be concise and easy to find. Pick three social networking platforms and stick to those. Don’t allow yourself to be overrun by the false notion that you have to be everywhere and across everything. It will not make you happy and you’ll end up resenting it.

Don’t Push! Don’t Facebook or Tweet or G+ incessantly with “BUY MY BOOKS” You will find yourself muted or blocked or even reported. Social Networking/Marketing should be all about building relationships and, in the first instance, you shouldn’t even mention your works. If you’ve structured you platform correctly, you’ll have relevant links that are easy to see and find. If your connection wants to discover more about you, they will.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? I just finished a gorgeous romance novel set here in Australia called “Summer Harvest” by Georgina Penney. It was just a joy to read.

Can you name your favourite traditionally published author? And your favourite indie/self-published author? I keep returning to the works of John Jackson Miller who has writted a lot in the Star Wars universe. He is a really great author. I don’t have a favorite indie but I do read a lot of them.

What are your views on authors offering free books? I think it is an essential part of an author’s marketing strategy and I will often do giveaways. This should be dictated by cost/benefit considerations as each author will have flexibility in what they can offer as to what they can’t.

Do you have a favourite movie? Two words = Star Wars.

Do you have any pets? My writing partner is a spaniel named Sam.

Can you name your worst job? Do you think you learned anything from the position that you now use in your writing? I’m not sure if I should answer that question. I will say that I did learn a lot from it and I did use it in my writing.

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I love romance novels.

Links to Dean Mayes:


Official Website:

Publisher’s Website:





Author Interview 104 – Oliver Chase

Welcome to Oliver Chase

Where are you from and where do you live now? I’m not from any one place in particular, and instead grew up on military bases throughout the country. Like all boys, we played good guys and bad, although usually I favored the good. Coaxing me into an afternoon of baseball or hiking the Southern California hills didn’t take much unless a book grabbed me first.

With my fourth novel scheduled for publication in the winter of 2016, I spend a lot of time on the family’s tiny farm along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. My job is farm hand, dung digger, and companion to the farmer, my lovely wife. We have family in north Florida, so I spend time there, too. The beaches are terrific and the fishing great, although my finny friends have little to fear from me.

I’ve got a corner of the old farm house that waits for me in the early mornings with all my forgotten and remembered friends and enemies, and my research. Every few months, I head out to bookstores and malls to sign my work, always with the intention of meeting new friends. Everyone has a story, and I love to listen. If we have the chance to meet one day, don’t be too surprised if you find your way into my pages.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc.

I’ve written five novels for publication to date:

Marsh Island, mystery thriller 2013 AEC Stellar, Inc New Orleans

Blind Marsh, mystery thriller 2014 (second in series) AEC Stellar, Inc New Orleans

Levant Mirage, military/science thriller 2015 Pearl River Publishing

Joshua Tree, political thriller 2016 Pearl River Publishing (release date March 15, 2016) PRPG

Bequeathed, adventure thriller projected 2016 PRGP

Where do you find inspiration? I like to write what I know. Hence, many of my characters are investigators, cops, soldiers, pilots, divers, drivers and unwitting observers to human shortcomings. I avoid autobiographical insertions and instead choose to believe many of my extraordinary acquaintances, both good guys and bad, worthy of my pages. I’ve known and respected strong women and opinionated men, the two traits not necessarily ascribed to either sex who’ve found their way into my pages. I find watching aggentively, meeting, and testing people to an internal yet intriguing exercise. In my devious brain, they slip into a new set of virtues and sins. No one knows I do this, so please keep it between us.

Do you have a favourite character? If so why? My current favorites are Scott and Angela McHale, the dynamic son and lovely daughter of California field workers. Winning election after election, the kingmaker proclaims the time is now and the sky is the limit. Cast in the image of John Kennedy’s bygone Camelot come hints of America’s first Latino presidency. Just when life seems its most promising, his beautiful senatorial aide goes missing. Rumors abound. Storm clouds darken the horizon. Three thousand miles away, an unwitting fisherman stumbles upon her pregnant corpse. Speculation and accusation become the media’s daily fare. At the height of the investigation, the senator plans a weekend retreat only to have his private airplane disappear into the night. Daily revelations drive delighted conjecture and reform public opinion until suddenly, the country’s electrical grid comes under hacker attack. Words of the senator’s warning prove prophetical as the nation plunges into a chaos that threatens a second, and far uglier American Civil War.

Have you ever thought about the secret you? The one that no one ever gets to see, not even the one person on earth we trust the most? Well, Scott thought that guy was under control. When he fought and climbed into the national limelight, he found fidelity and integrity often stand at odds with desires and dreams. Joshua Tree is more than a redemptive novel and begs to ask if history makes a person, or does an influential person make our history. Intriguing. I also note you address this concept in your later questions.

Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? I don’t dislike Walter LoPresti as much as I fear him. For all the thousands of years of social evolvement, Walter is a man bypassed by humanity’s better traits. His heroes are dark villains and nasty legends, his brilliance unmatched, and his wanton desires legion. If at some time you were to fall within his crosshairs, don’t run, because as the saying goes, you’ll only die tired.

Are your characters based on real people? I like to think that all my characters have doppelgangers in real life. The only difference is one character is many people that I’ve known through the years. Therefore, no one character is reflected by a similar live person. My research sets the stage and renders my setting believable and possible. My memory and the interpretation of my own emotion drives the characters.

Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off?Funny question, but no, I’ve never committed murder either literally or … literally. Some have not survived the story, but it wasn’t me that pulled the trigger. One of those dang protagonists killed him.

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 is the best part of filling out the reality in a novel; organization makes it worthwhile and believable. My studies are broken into two general camps. The first allows me to build a world, even if it happens to be in downtown Miami on Calle Ocho. I like real places with a real feel. If a book is cooking inside my brain, I like to go there. Most of the time, I’ve already been there because frankly, Google maps just won’t do it. The exception might be a back alley in Fairbanks, Alaska or Reykjavík Iceland. I’ve been in plenty of alleys and recall the smells and feel, so no, I won’t go camp out in New Orleans and pretend it’s cold.

The second research I try to minimize is using Bing or Google while I’m getting the first draft down. Afterwards, maybe, but stopping to plan out the size of a doomsday asteroid breaks my concentration and may end me up with start-stop disjointed writing. That usually turns into an additional draft, etc.

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? Absolutely. Theme is equally as important as creating a world, characters, and plot. A theme is my shot at influencing and affecting my reader’s outlook. I’m not egotistical enough to believe I’m always right, but I do have an opinion, and I like to share it. The theme in a novel is more than an opinion and often borders on strong belief. Harry Potter had a theme, and if you missed it, you missed out on Ms. Rowling’s message, muggle.

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…) In the historical context, great and strong personalities, possessing charisma, leadership, and other virtues are often consigned to local, less memorable events. This might be the respected dogcatcher, who with his superior wit and feel for animals saves a village from rampaging wolves. Because, the wolves are local, the dogcatcher never rises to the epic proportions of say, an Adolf Hitler. Here’s another character of wit and feel who stepped into history books largely because of the Weimar Republics’ abject failure in the 1920s. Could someone else have done what Hitler did? So goes the argument. My position? Historical circumstance allows the famous and infamous to be known, not the other way around. (Here comes all the philosophical opposites about to argue the other side of this well-worn coin. Go for it!)

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 I only do print (Ingram Spark, Lulu, and CreateSpace-Amazon), and Ebooks (Smashwords, Kindle, Lulu, and PDF all via my website At this time, we’re considering an audio version of Levant Mirage. Joshua Tree will follow if LM is a commercial success. I love, trust, and believe in my work, but this stuff is really expensive. I haven’t done any hard covers or large print because I agree with setting financial priorities. Pearl River Publishing is a small, boutique publisher representing a limited number of authors with the stated goal of launching only a single writer at time. This enable that person’s full and unfettered use of all company resources. I had my shot, and now its Greg Lamb’s turn. He’s another terrific writer that PRPG will soon launch.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? That’s best answered by revealing my process:

1) I write a first draft…and a third draft, and each in between.

2) I then self edit in accordance with the Browne and King Self Editing manual.

3) The book then resides in a drawer (or desktop folder) for at least sixty days.

4)  I again read, and edit, and fault search-not error search-in accordance with the Canadian fiction self editing guide. I’m not a Canadian, but it’s a heck of a good guide.

5) I then grab coffee, schedule a day without interruption and read for “continuity, cleverness, and consistency.” Red ink marks only.

6) I grind the novel into an MS find and correct using my own unpublished guide.

6) My novel is then ready for an editor. I hire one and send it off.

7) Following two drafts reviews, I read a last time (and boy am I sick of re-reading), and then…

8) I then send to my beta reader and give them a couple months.

9) And then, you guessed it. I re-read, correct and send off for one last edit, but not by me. By another’s set of eyes.

10) Then, I release the book to the world. Watch out.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? Absolutely. Today’s market has amazing self-pub authors (SPA). Some of the work I read, especially local colour literature easily reaches and exceed work I’ve read by traditionally published authors (TPA). For discussion purposes, a TPA is a product of one of the top houses or their off-shoot imprints. I’m somewhat a product of both and have my roots as a SPA, so when I say there’s a lot of less-than-professional work out there, I’m being critical of myself as well as others. We tend to rush our work to market, thinking readers will treat us like our mothers. Doesn’t work that way. A single mistake may put off a reader, and they’ll proceed no further. How many “free” novels have been offered? There’s no free novels in publishing! Those things drip in blood for god’s sake. Give them free to your parents, but sell them to a reader. How can they respect us, if we cheapen our work and ask for nothing except a promise in the future?

Do you read work by self-published authors? Yes. All the time. Too often I’m forced to quit early due to overwhelming errors. Often enough, I’m engrossed and lose sleep with great stories.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? If you mean, me commenting on my reviewers, some things must be done in private. I’ve been slammed before. If you haven’t, you will, because it’s only a matter of time. Keep your opinion of the reviewer to yourself.

One of the greatest compliments ever paid to me was a reviewer who took another reviewer to task. I stayed above the fray and didn’t comment publically. Nor did I cry in my beer. There’s no crying in writing…did I already use that one? Life’s too short to take on a knucklehead, even if they deserve it. I’ve read enough to know a good novelist will just use a denigrating reviewer’s portrait in some future  work. I can’t wait to read it.

Reviews are huge and wildly important…to future readers. I like reviewers face to face. In a recent presentation to a library writer’s group, an audience member took me to task and pointed out a grammatical error. I appreciated that effort, because obviously she read the book. Afterwards, I scribbled a note to myself and added her critique to my self-edit checklist.

When buying a book do you read the reviews? Not as much as some. Generally, I know the authors, like the authors, understand that not everyone will be on their game every time. I also know that what I like, may not be liked by someone else.

What are your reviews on authors reviewing other authors? It’s okay, and done often. Honest reviewers are key. Writing is like any other game in life. Integrity means we all get our fair shot. Cheating is for cheaters, and they can play their own game without me.

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

1) Read as often as you can. Always carry a book  in some form with you and hope someone will strike up a conversation. If they do, cover up the title of the book, and have fun telling them about your book. Oops…integrity right?

2) Set a schedule and write. Get up early or stay up late, but write every day. Make it a habit.

3) Keep your life in balance. Treat writing, family, obligations, duties, and responsibilities with equal importance. Keep any one, from dominating the other as you set priorities.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? Eric Larsen’s Dead Wake. Absolutely chilling and suspenseful non-fiction.


Book links, website/blog and author links:

Here’s a trailer you might enjoy:

Levant Mirage 2015






Returning author Juliet B Madison – Crime/Thriller

Today I’m pleased to welcome back Crime Author Juliet B Madison to talk about her latest DI Frank Lyle related project Alternate Voices.  Over to you Juliet.

Last year my friend and fellow crime writer, Andrew Scorah put together an anthology to raise money for the UK charity Women’s Aid and to raise awareness of the thorny issue of domestic violence. In this day and age, where same sex marriage is legal, domestic violence is not necessarily confined to heterosexual relationships. I contributed a story to Andrew’s anthology, Shadows and Light, and am pleased to have been associated with the project.

Those who know me well will be aware that my long term partner, David, died of renal cancer in 2008. Taking care of him was tough, both emotionally and financially, but we had a Macmillan nurse who gave us both tremendous support and enabled us to get access to resources we could not use ourselves given that we did not have a computer or internet access. I decided to try and collect stories for a similar anthology and donate some of the proceeds to Macmillan to enable them to continue their great support of people living with cancer as well as their relatives and carers.

You can learn more about Macmillan cancer support and the work they do here

I launched an online appeal for stories, but this is the twist, the stories are not run of the mill. I wanted to set people the challenge of writing a DI Frank Lyle story of their own. The story does not need to be crime based, it can be in any genre as long as it utilises characters from the main DI Frank Lyle Mystery Series. All stories, as long as I’m not inundated with responses, will find their way into the anthology, which I have titled Alternate voices as this does not only echo the fact that the contents are written by other authors, but it also reflects the multiple first person POV of the series itself. You can write in British or American English and use first or third person.  You can read more about the requirements here.

I have to admit that the entries I have received thus far have really captured and done justice to the fiction series I have created. It’s quite fun to see what people have done with my characters.  The closing date for submissions is 1st July 2015 so still plenty of time. Even if you have never read a DI Frank Lyle book before you can get plenty of fan fiction scope from my DI Frank Lyle efanzine and my website

I am extremely impressed with the calibre of stories received so far and look forward to reading many more DI Lyle fan fiction pieces in the next few weeks.

At present the provisional release date for the anthology is 23rd September 2015. I chose this date because it’s the seventh anniversary of David’s death and as such a bad day for me. I thought I would give myself something more positive to focus on to help me through. The anthology will be dedicated to David’s memory.

If you feel like checking out a DI Lyle book or two then please visit Amazon’s Juliet B Madison page

Anthology test copy[1]

Author Interview Number Eighty-Seven – Chambers Mars (Carter Seagrove) – LGBT and Thriller/Crime Fiction

Welcome AUTHOR – CHAMBERS MARS (who, together with Alp Mortal, is also Carter Seagrove)


I am French, living in Saint Tropez. I travel widely, collecting and dealing in art. My childhood home is in a village not too far from the place where Alp Mortal lives in France.

I am vegan, a Buddhist and a dog owner – I have a Jack Russell/Italian Greyhound mix by the name of Pinocchio (Jack Russell with long legs and a superiority complex to match).

Together with Alp Mortal, I am half of Carter Seagrove, author of Dust Jacket and The Inspector Fenchurch Mysteries.

Alp Mortal, Chambers Mars and Shannon M. Kirkland are The Carter Seagrove Project LLC – an independent book publisher. Find us at, on Twitter @carterseagrove and on Facebook


Where do you live and write from?

I generally spend my time in Saint Tropez – I prefer the climate! I do spend time at the house in Saint Hilaire in Haute Saone, near to the spiritual retreat where Alp lives for part of the year. I generally only write when I am at home in Saint Tropez, on the balcony.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc.

I write LGBT-themed fiction – the Zac Tremble Investigates series – he’s the gay PI; and the Life & Times of Johnny Sante series – he’s the young bisexual Parisian con-artist.

In 2014, I began writing with Alp. First we did Dust Jacket and then The Inspector Fenchurch Mysteries – the gay, crime fighting duo of Inspector Alfred Fenchurch and PC Adam Cowley. I would like to write something different – maybe Sci-fi but I am also keen to produce either Zac or Johnny as a graphic novel series.

Where do you find inspiration?

The inspiration for the Zac series really came from the series of short novels which Le Monde publishes each summer – pocket-sized, fast-paced reads. Alp says James Bond meets Fawlty Towers – I love both. Johnny is partly inspired by John Cusack’s character in The Grifters; Zac partly by the film Renaissance (with Daniel Craig) and Zac and Paul partly by the relationship between Lola and Manni in Run Lola Run.

Do you have a favourite character? If so why?

I like Paul in Zac Tremble Investigates and Adam in The Inspector Fenchurch Mysteries because they are quiet heroes. I love Johnny because he has the spirit I would really loved to have had when I was his age.

Do you have a character you dislike? If so why?

Not exactly dislike – I create bad guys so that my heroes can despatch them.

Are your characters based on real people?

A little of everyone – all of the characters are really studies of human nature – I study cultural anthropology.

Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off?

Not in the sense that the person was someone I knew/know personally.

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 have to do a lot of research because first, English is my second language – and English humour is not like French humour so Zac incurs me in lots of studying – old TV sitcoms are very rich material. Fenchurch is based in the 1930s. I use the internet a lot of course and I am lucky that I have access to some magazine archives.

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book?

Always a study of an aspect of our nature – it is important for me because the story would be thin without it. I wanted to create a different kind of gay male character – role models are very important – as is diversity – there isn’t enough diversity in our genre hence why I created Johnny and have him be bisexual – also Cindy and Delphes in Zac – the lesbian couple.

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…)

Character, character, character and character … nothing else matters.

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 of my titles are available as eBooks – in all formats – and some are going to be produced as audiobooks. I want to produce Zac as a graphic novel or animated web series – probably Johnny too.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited?

I have to have my work thoroughly checked because of the translation aspect – I could not publish anything without my editors.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be?

Yes; it is sadly the case that traditional publishers are very risk averse – they go with the sure bet but they miss great opportunity by doing it.

Do you read work by self-published authors?

A lot and more and more.

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

Get inside your character’s skin and live his life if you want to write great characters; read to be a better writer; don’t play safe …

What are your best marketing/networking tips? What are your worst?

Twitter. Fortunately, Alp does our social media for us – I am terrible at updating my blog – but I am older than my colleagues at The Project.

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

We by Yevgeny Zanyatin

Two Night Stand Ellis Carrington

The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall Anne Bronte

I struggle with some of the stuff I get recommended to me – I like comics best – especially Largo Winch.

Can you name your favourite traditionally published author? And your favourite indie/self-published author?

Traditional published author would be Georges Simenon

What are your views on authors offering free books?

We all do it but it is madness!

Do you have a favourite movie?

The Good Thief with Nick Nolte.

Book links, website/blog and author links:

Book links –

Website/blog –

Author links – use the book links – above – (a new gallery we have created) to find all of the links to the other author/retail links

The publishing house –,

on Twitter @carterseagrove

and on Facebook

Author Interview Number Eighty-Three – Sharon Kae Reamer – Spec Fic

Welcome to Sharon Kae Reamer

Where are you from and where do you live now? I was born in Philadelphia, PA and am now an expat American living in Cologne, Germany.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I’m a speculative fiction writer, writing in both the fantasy and science fiction subgenres. I’ve dabbled a little with writing horror short stories and plan on doing a historical mystery in the near future. My first fantasy series, The Schattenreich, is a cross-genre work combining science and fantasy with suspense and a strong love story. It’s a curious mix of seismology, Celtic mythology, and German aristocracy.

It started out as a standalone with a sequel and then grew to five books. So the whole thing wasn’t planned. I’m not sure I’d do a series that way again, but then again, it made for a much more organic process than if I’d planned each book and the whole series. I’m a pantser, so it’s easier for me to write that way.

Where do you find inspiration? Everywhere. Seriously. A man’s face. A TV documentary. A small wooden cat was the inspiration for my current series. Odd phrases that run through my head. Looking out the window or lying in bed on my day off and just letting my thoughts wander – I do that a lot. I believe the technical term is goofing off. I prefer the term daydreaming.

Do you have a favourite character? If so why? I like most all of my characters. At times, I will think more about a certain character than another, mainly when I’m writing certain parts of the story that heavily feature that character. I even like my bad guys. It was fun keeping them evil but also giving them motivations and background.

Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? Yes, but I’m not going to tell you why or who. It would be unfair to that character. And it would hurt their feelings.

Are your characters based on real people? Not directly. There are people who serve as models for my characters, either visually or the way they talk or walk. Sometimes it’s not a conscious thing. I just get a vision of a character and I don’t know where it comes from.

Some characters are an amalgam of people I’ve met or observed. I have a couple of cameos in the series featuring real people (with changed names), but not without their permission. There are a few characters that aren’t reality-based, like the Celtic and Germanic deities and some of the other supernatural creatures.

Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off? Yes, which is why I was so evasive above.

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?  love research and have done a whole bunch of it for The Schattenreich series. I knew relatively little about Celtic and Germanic mythology when I started out, really nothing about druids or the history of the Celts. I read a bunch of books to educate myself, books about the Celts, about their mythology, about whether or not the druids really existed, about the demise of the Celtic culture.

I recently tackled the Germanic mythology and history, including the rune language. I’ve done a fair amount of reading on modern Paganism and a bit on the history of witchcraft and Satanism.

I do some reading on the Internet, but my favourite resource so far has been books. Luckily, I love to read non-fiction including history and mythology, so it was a labor of love.

For the science fiction novel I’m writing now, I have read a lot about quantum physics, string theory, extreme biology and the evolution of plate tectonics on our planet. I am a geophysicist in real life, so the last two subjects were also fun to research and gave me an excuse to buy a few books that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to justify.

Since I live in a non-English-speaking country, I have to buy most of my reference materials. I do read some German reference books, but it’s much easier for me to read in English if I can.

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? I don’t write to theme, but themes do sometimes emerge during writing. I just try to tell a story. I don’t mind reading books with a message, but if it’s heavy-handed or if the story is just there to illustrate a certain political stance, then I’m usually not keen on it.

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…) Your order is pretty good. I’d probably put solid plot ahead of world-building in some cases, but it depends on the genre and the type of story – is it a fast-paced thriller or a deeply complex world with lots of interacting characters? Each has different demands. But great characters are always at the top of my list as a reader and therefore, that’s my first consideration as a writer. Figure out who the characters are, what their motivations are, and write the story around them.

I don’t believe technical perfection is something I ever worry about when I read. I doubt I will ever be able to achieve technical perfection in my own writing. I just try to write the best book I know how to with my current skills. That’s all any writer can do, really.

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 Schattenreich series books are available in print and ebook formats and in a variety of places. I’m not exclusive to any one vendor. I would like to do audio books now that I’ve finished the last book in the series, but currently the Audible/ACX option is only available to U.S. residents. I’m researching other audio options.

I plan on releasing a few short stories in the near future, and will do ebook format exclusively on those at first. If I get some requests for print, then I’ll consider it.

I’d love to have my books translated into German, but it’s financially beyond my reach at present.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I have all my writing professionally edited. My very wonderful editor, John Kenny, is as much The Schattenreich series as I am. He’s helped me shape the series, and I can’t imagine having gotten this far without him. I hope he will continue to edit my books in the future. I feel like I won the lottery finding him right away. I’ve learned so much from having him edit my books. It’s money well spent.

I do a lot of self-editing as well both before and after sending my manuscripts to my editor. There are different types of editing for different phases of writing, and I’m still learning how and when to use them.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? Yes.

Because self-published works are not considered to have been ‘curated’ for the most part. It’s true. But many readers don’t seem to mind that.

Do you read work by self-published authors? Yes. I don’t really pay attention to publishers any more. I look at the cover, at the subject matter, at the description. If it’s something I think I will like, and the price is right, I’ll try it. I read on a Paperwhite as well as in print (but increasingly more ebooks all the time) and find that many trad-pubbed ebooks are too expensive for my budget. I read a lot (my Goodreads goal is 100 books this year – I probably won’t make it, but I wanted to try). Generally, I’ll take a chance on any author for under 5 bucks. I will not pay more than 10 bucks for an ebook unless it is a non-fiction book that I can’t do without.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? Good question. I think reviews are important but perhaps not in a direct monetary sense. I do not comment on them. I once contacted a reviewer because they made a statement about one of my books that was factually wrong, but I don’t think it’s a good idea. If I know the reviewer, then I might say something to them personally about my choices, but never criticizing their review and my policy is to not make comments as a public statement. The only comment I allow myself to make to any reviewer, in public, is ‘thank you’.

But I would be lying if I said a bad review doesn’t bother me. I do try to take it for what it’s worth and then just move on.

When buying a book do you read the reviews? Yes. But I don’t always take them seriously.

What are your views on authors reviewing other authors? It’s okay. We do it. It’s not always optimal. I review books on GR – mostly from authors I don’t know and less often from authors I do know. If someone I know asks me to review their book, if it’s a genre I read a lot in, I will usually say yes. I mostly use GR as a reader and so I think that reviewing books there is a thing I can do as a reader without having to feel bad about it. As a rule, I don’t review on Amazon any more.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? Books are better for getting inside a character’s head, for expressing complicated emotions, for allowing the reader to absorb content at their own pace. Movies are watched usually all at once. In a video game, the pace can be controlled to a certain extent, but books are better.

Movies and video games are also visually oriented. So if a writer is doing his or her job, they can provide the reader with a complete sensory perception of a world, and this is especially important in the speculative genres. You can get that to a certain extent with movies and video games, but books are waaaaaay better. I much prefer to read sex scenes rather than watch them (with certain exceptions). I can control what I visualize and how I visualize it.

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

  1. Write as much as you can.
  2. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
  3. Don’t give up.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? I just recently finished The Martian, by Andy Weir. I did enjoy it, which surprised me. It was our book club selection for February (four women who read SFF – yes it definitely counts as a book club) and probably is not something I would have picked up otherwise.

Do you have a favourite movie? Impossible to name just one!!

The Raiders of the Lost Ark is at or near the top of the list.

The Hunt for Red October

Gone with the Wind

Star Wars – IV-VI

Groundhog Day

Music and Lyrics

Any Cary Grant movie, even the bad ones – I’ll watch them anytime.

Do you have any pets? My European shorthair, Ramses, 17 years old

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I’m easily startled. Earthworms and grubs used to terrify me. But I’ve learned to get over that. I scream like a girl on roller coasters and in the movies when a scary part comes and in traffic when my husband is driving and I get spooked by another car making a sudden move. Makes him angry. I don’t blame him.

Book links, website/blog and author links:


Books 1-4 of The Schattenreich:

Primary Fault

Shaky Ground

Double Couple

Shadow Zone




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-One – Ellen Allen YA/Thriller

The Sham_ cover

When love leads to death, be careful who you trust…

Eighteen-year-old Emily Heath would love to leave her dead-end town, known locally as “The Sham”, with her boyfriend, Jack, but he’s very, very sick; his body is failing and his brain is shutting down. He’s also in hiding, under suspicion of murder. Six months’ ago, strange signs were painted across town in a dialect no one has spoken for decades and one of Emily’s classmates washed up in the local floods. 

Emily has never trusted her instincts and now they’re pulling her towards Jack, who the police think is a sham himself, someone else entirely. As the town wakes to discover new signs plastered across its walls, Emily must decide who and what she trusts, and fast: local vigilantes are hunting Jack; the floods, the police, and her parents are blocking her path; and the town doesn’t need another dead body.


Welcome to Ellen Allen

Where are you from and where do you live now?

Three years’ ago I quit my job in London and moved with my small daughter to the south of France. The plan was to stay for a few months – to fulfil a lifelong dream of lollygagging in rosé wine vineyards, writing a book, getting the hang of French grammar, etc. – but we haven’t been able to leave!

We’ve built a new life here, complete with jobs, schools, and French subjunctive tenses – as well as the vineyards and writing – and the best part is that we’re only a few hours away by train from our family in London. It’s also sunny here, roughly 300 days a year…

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc.

I didn’t intend to write YA thrillers but the genre found me. The idea for The Sham came to me in a nightmare. I dreamed that I was 17 again, back in school, with the same group of 4 friends, involved in a murder of one of them. It was so vivid that I couldn’t get back to sleep and the only way I could get it out of my head was to write it all down. I’m not sure it’s an easy genre to market; too old for younger YA readers, too YA for adult readers but it’s one I’m keen on pursuing. I’ve just started my second YA thriller. It seems to fit me.

Where do you find inspiration?

Anywhere and everywhere! I write down all the interesting and macabre things that I hear: stories about people’s lives; the way people love; the way they die; and random things in the news. At the moment I’m trying to work on my characters and how they act/react in different situations. I have a little note book that I carry in my bag and I’m busy writing down how people look when they eat, drink, talk… especially when they think no one is looking. I just hope that no one is watching me!

Are your characters based on real people?

It’s a well known saying that every book is autobiographical and of course that’s true; everything you write is a summation of things you’ve experienced and each one contains a little bit of you and your life. But you can’t be lazy and just transfer people from real life onto the page; besides anything else, they’d never forgive you!

Conversely, it’s also true that whilst “all fiction may be autobiography, all autobiography is of course fiction[1]” We bend the truth all the time and nowhere more so than in our writing. It’s all a composite; a jigsaw that we build in our heads.

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…)

Some authors are technically perfect but I can find some of their work a little, well, boring. As for world-building, I think it depends on the kind of book. I need more for some genres – science fiction, for example – than I do for a contemporary romance. In general, I’m not a huge fan of tons of backstory or great paragraphs on detail. I like to make that up for myself. Part of the joy of reading for me is to use my imagination.

If I have to generalise, then the two most important things to make a great book are a cracking plot (I want stuff to actually happen, unless this is sublime literary fiction and even then…) as well as brilliant characters that think and feel as people do in real life. I want to vicariously experience what other people are feeling (the good and bad) or one better, I want to actually be them.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews?

Everyone has an opinion on this one, don’t they? My book has only been out for six weeks and it’s my first one. As a newly self-published author, reviews are the only feedback that I’ll get on my writing and I’m really enjoying reading it (even if it is painful at times!). I think it’s the only way that authors like me will improve their work (identifying writing ticks, or plot holes, for instance).

That said, I don’t think it’s right for an author to comment on a review. Not at all. I think you just have to look from afar and remember to say “thank you”. From a reviewer’s perspective, a person has taken a lot of time and energy reading the book and writing a review and they’re entitled to their opinion. From my perspective, if one person has said something, it might or might not be true. When I read a hundred reviewers all saying the same thing, offering the same critique, then I’ll know it’s definitely true. It’s that feedback that I’ll be taking with me to the next book.

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

I’m new to this so I don’t really feel qualified to offer advice to anyone. Instead, I’ll offer up the advice that I’m following religiously:


  • As Stephen King most famously says, “reading is writing”. You need to be reading widely and voraciously to write well. I have a small daughter and a non-writing job, so I find it hard to find the time to read as much as I should. The 2014 reading challenge on Goodreads has been great for helping me keep track of how many books I’m getting through and what’s next on my list.


  • Lionel Shriver – one of my favourite authors – was asked what the best advice was for new authors and she put it well: “Don’t turn it into a mystical process. Just get on with it!” You have to be disciplined, dogmatic, stubborn and organised to be a jobbing writer. I try not to think about the rest – the doubts about talent, whether anyone will read it – and I just get on with it. I want it to be my career, so I treat it as if it is.


  • There is tons of writing advice out there that isn’t very good – the irony in reading writing advice that isn’t well written! You can spend hours trawling through it, but it’s distracting and time wasting. Find a few blogs that you rate, a few sites that you trust, follow a few similar writers, watch how they progress and then – you guessed it – get on with it!

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

I’m at my happiest when I have three or four books on the go, so I can choose to read according to how I feel. I’ve just finished reading a few things but I haven’t absolutely loved any of them.

My favourite YA books of the year are The 5th Wave (which I came to really late but just in time for the sequel), We Were Liars, Ender’s Game and my favourite literary book that I read this year is The Secret History by Donna Tartt.

What are your views on authors offering free books?

My book isn’t free but I have given away review copies and run giveaways on blogs. I think it’s a great way of getting my book to people who have never heard of me at all. I’ve heard that free books are great for authors who have other works for sale, which they can offer as a lead in to their work. 

Can you name your worst job? Do you think you learned anything from the position that you now use in your writing?

I’ve had hundreds of terrible temporary jobs to pay my way through school and university, all of them very varied.  I’m really grateful for all these experiences now (not so much at the time!) because of all of the people I’ve met and surreal situations I’ve encountered. I use it all in my writing.

Real life can be kind of bizarre: I’ve stood in greenhouses in searing heat, sucking pansies out of bedding trays with hoovers for hours on end; I’ve huddled in freezer compartments in minus 30 degree temperatures packing Angel cakes into boxes; I spent four very long weeks sticking stamps continuously for the BBC; I’ve sold plastic pens door-to-door in what felt like all the suburbs in Sydney; and I’ve been a receptionist at a company where the phone never rang (I swear it was a front for some other kind of activity). Sometimes, it’s only the people you’re with in these situations that keep you sane. You spend weeks mining their brains, working them out.

My worst jobs have always been as a chambermaid. When I was 18, I worked one whole winter wiping other people’s sick off the floor every morning at a really cheap skiing hotel in the French Alps. People behave in hotels in a way they never would in their own homes; you always see the worst of them when you’re cleaning up their rooms.


Book links, website/blog and author links:

Amazon author page:


The Sham on goodreads:


Ellen Allen Twitter:


Ellen Allen Facebook:

Ellen Allen’s writing blog:


Character Interview Number Thirty One – Paul – Thriller/Dark Fiction

Lights Out cover

Tell Us About Yourself

Name: *clears throat and glares*

Paul and I’m not telling you my last name so don’t ask.


Do you have a moral code? If so what is it?

Morality? With the things I’ve done, sweetheart, there aren’t enough hours in the day to answer that question.
Do you like animals? Do you have any pets/animal companions?

No. Humans are hard enough to be around.

Do you have a family? Tell us about them.

*frowns and looks at the floor*

….I used to. They…They’re not…look, forget it, all right? Next question.
Do you have any phobias?

Yeah. Being killed. That’s a huge phobia of mine.
Tell Us About Your World


Please give us a little information about the world in which you live.

It’s dark, it’s mean and if you’re lucky, you won’t get shot.
Do you travel in the course of your adventures? If so where?

Wherever my list takes me, which is pretty much anywhere in the US. Nothing outside the country—makes it harder to get around.
Does your world have magic? If so how is it viewed in your world?

Magic? Does coming back from the dead count?
What form of politics is dominant in your world? (Democracy, Theocracy, Meritocracy, Monarchy, Kakistocracy etc.)

Dictatorship, through and through. There’s no such thing as thinking for yourself—that’s one of the most dangerous things you can do.
Does your world have any supernatural/mystical beings? Please tell us about some.

*fidgets and looks over his shoulder*

*sweat pops up over his forehead*

I used to think there was no such thing…but I was wrong.



Author notes:

Book in which this character appears plus links:


Lights Out

Even when the lights are out, he can still see you…

Paul Holten’s profession doesn’t leave much room for doubt or conscience but he’s reaching his breaking point. The nightmares are getting worse, the jobs are getting harder to finish and the volatile relationship with his boss, Aaron, is falling apart. Now faced with the possibility of an impending death sentence, Paul makes the fatal decision to run. Drawn into one hellish situation after another, he’s forced to confront his dark past—and wonder if perhaps dying isn’t the better option.








Author name

Melissa Groeling
Melissa Groeling graduated from Bloomsburg University with a degree in English. She lives, reads and writes in the Philadelphia region and wherever else life happens to send her. She is a hardcore New York Giants fan and loves chocolate. Lights Out is her second novel to date.


Website/Blog/Author pages etc.!/stringbean10