Swift Six Author Interview – Melody Klink

Name: Melody Klink

What attracts you to the genre in which you write? Young Adult has a magic about it that always brings me back; the stories and characters aren’t desperately childish and naïve, yet they haven’t been hardened by years and a world of experience. Outlandish things are still possible, and magic still lurks in the small things.

What piece of writing advice do you wish you’d known when you started your writing adventures? Don’t try to make every word perfect in the first go! First draft like crazy, then go back and shine it up. And then do it again. And probably a third time… but any which way, don’t expect perfection in the first go ’round.

If you could have dinner with any famous person or character who would you choose? Wow, this is a tough one! Hmm. I think I’d have dinner with Carl Sagan; he was such a poetic and insightful scientist, and his words are just as pertinent today as ever. He made my already-vast love of the stars take on new meaning, and majorly inspired my poetry writing!

Who has been the greatest influence on your own work? Joseph Campbell, by far. His works on mythology and the archetypes of story are invaluable, both in writing and the real world. By knowing the intricacies of a hero’s journey, you have a deeper understanding of what your characters must do within their own worlds to succeed, or how to turn them into villains. (Deepest apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien, who comes in at 1½ on the influence scale.)

Do you think the e-book revolution will do away with print? This is a conflict for me. The realist in me says, it’s a definite possibility; the convenience and price differences are already great boons in the e-book industry. The artist in me hopes that the printed word never goes anywhere, because I desperately cling to my books. That’s not to say I don’t do e-books, I just prefer holding a book, smelling its pages, feeling its weight, marking all through it or keeping it clean and sacred.

Which 3 books would you take to a desert island and why? Garden Spells – Sarah Addison Allen. This book is like coming home for me; it’s my “anxiety read,” as it calms me and helps me refocus on things that really matter. Allen describes things in such a magical way, her writing is lyrical and intoxicating.

Stardust – Neil Gaiman. It’s no secret that Gaiman is adept at whisking us away from our current time and place- why focus on being on a desert island, when you can be… okay, a muddy field isn’t much better, but the magic is there.

The Norse Myths- Kevin Crossley-Holland. Everyone needs a hero’s tale to read on a deserted island!

Author bio and book synopsis Please introduce yourself (250 words or so):

While pretending to be a human, Melody Klink likes to write down words. Lots and lots of them. All to gain the admiration and trust of the human masses.

Wait. I mean… Melody Klink is a lovable little scamp with a sweet tooth for all things coffee. Spending her entire life nose-deep in books and writing, she always manages to have one more adventure to tell the world. When she’s not scrubbing stray words out of the squishy bits of her brain, Melody can usually be found spending copious amounts of time on Xbox Live, fangirling over comics, studying various sciences, and yes! Even reading. She may or may not be addicted to memes, Futurama, and crafting things poorly. While her first foray into publishing was Bad Mood Boogaloo, a book for toddlers, she also enjoys writing novels, and has several titles in the works. She currently resides in the Mid-South with her husband, daughters, and one annoying cat.

Tell us about your book(s) – title, genre etc (short) Godeater: The Second World – Young Adult Fantasy, mythology-based. Gods are reincarnated into kids from North Dakota to battle an immortal-killing ancient creature.

Diamond Marked: The Tales of El’Anret – Young Adult Fantasy, Faerie story with lots of fabled creatures. A mortal girl is marked as the queen of the El’Anret, the Faerie world, and must battle mythical foes to keep her rightful place. Includes three novellas from the mortal and Faerie worlds: Queen of Diamonds, Jack of Diamonds, and King of Diamonds.

 

Links

https://melodyklink.com/

amazon.com/author/melodyklink

Social media

https://twitter.com/AuthorMelK

https://www.facebook.com/melodyklinkauthor

https://www.goodreads.com/MelodyNKlink

https://www.instagram.com/authormelk/

Diamond Marked Melody Klink

Author Interview 120 – Janet McLaughlin – YA

Welcome to Janet McLaughlin

Where are you from and where do you live now?

I’m originally from a small town outside of Philadelphia, PA. I spent my early adult years moving around to different states with my family as my husband got promotions and transfers. Yes, I was a stay-at-home mom and I loved it. In 1990, we moved to Sarasota, FL where we started a small business publishing magazines. I found myself not only editing copy, but also writing it. That experience gave me the courage to tackle writing novels. And what better place to be writing than in sunny Florida!

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

I write fiction for ‘Tweens/Young Adults. The novel that has just been released by Absolute Love Publishing is titled HAUNTED ECHO, Book 1 of the Soul Sight Mysteries. I think the publisher’s description says it best:

Sun, fun, and her toes in the sand. That’s what Zoey Christopher expects when she joins her best friend and fellow cheerleader Becca on an exotic Caribbean vacation. What she finds instead is a wannabe boyfriend, a voodoo doll, and Tempy – a tormented young ghost whose past is linked to the island grounds.

Where do you find inspiration?

Life experience is my favorite source for stories. And, no, I’m not psychic. But as a publisher of a small magazine, I had the opportunity to interview several gifted people. Their life stories provided the authenticity for my protagonist’s ability in HAUNTED ECHO. The novel takes place on an island in a private, exclusive, wealthy community. I had the opportunity to spend a week in the home described in the book by invitation from its owner. The experience of living the life of luxury with a maid, and cook and private beach was too good not to use. The location is a character in itself. The ghost is made up!

Are your characters based on real people?

Yes—and no. I think most writers use traits of people they know to round out their characters. Certainly there are parts of myself in many them as well. The novel I’m currently working on is based on the experience of a relative of mine who has the neurological disorder, Tourette Syndrome. Though the story is fiction, the challenges are real. I couldn’t write that book without having intimate knowledge of what the protagonist experiences on a daily basis.

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

Yes, but I like to keep my message subtle. It’s just as important to entertain as it is to get a message across. In HAUNTED ECHO, we see Zoey, the protagonist, unwilling to let anyone know (with the exception of her best friend, Becca) about her psychic abilities. She wants to be accepted as a normal kid. But what is normal? In the end, Zoey discovers that she isn’t the only one with a secret, and that sharing that secret brings peace and acceptance to all involved. I’m hoping that kids who read my books will realize that just because they’re different, doesn’t mean they’re weird or can’t fit in. That they’ll come to realize that in one way or another, everyone is—different.

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 also belong to a wonderful critique group who help me with the original draft. After I’ve rewritten the work an innumerable amount of times and reached a point where I know I’ve exhausted my skills, I send it to a professional editor. Then, I start the rewrite process again. Only then do I start to query. But that’s my process. Everybody has their own way of writing a book. I do think a professional edit helps a lot. I also think you can waste a lot of money if you send your MS to a professional in its early stages.

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

Yes, I do, but I also think that attitude is changing. Traditional publishing has been the “gorilla in the market” forever. Indie/self-publishing is the newbie. It’s a normal process for new ideas to take time to be recognized as legitimate and become established. Right now, being traditionally published has an aura of acceptance surrounding it. Also, the big publishing companies have more connections and influence—if they choose to use it to an author’s benefit, it can help tremendously in book sales. But an aggressive Indi-publisher or self-published author can have good success if they know what they’re doing and work at it.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot?

First, I have to say that I love going to the movies. I especially love seeing a novel come to life on the big screen while I’m surrounded by people and their reactions. But, while a movie can evoke feelings, it rarely conveys the nuances of thought, emotions, and details that a novel does. I think readers get more invested in a story than viewers do. At least, I do. Plus, books offer hours of pleasure over an extended period of time rather than 2 hours for one day. And books are tactile. You can hold them in your hands, feel the paper between your fingers (unless you’re reading from an electronic device which is a lot less pleasurable but perhaps more convenient for some). And they’re more personal. An author can sign his/her book. You can lend or borrow a book, read it while waiting for an appointment or while eating solo at a restaurant. A book is a companion. I LOVE books, can you tell?

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

1) Read all you can in the genre you want to write in. It helps to know what’s out there, what publishers are looking for, how other writers handle the genre. When you read you can absorb so much about the craft of writing, often without realizing that’s what you’re doing. Plus, it’s fun.

2) Join a writers organization (e.g. SCBWI for writers of children’s books) where you can attend conferences, learn more about your craft, meet other writers that you can bond with, and find a critique group in your area and genre.

3) Sit your fanny in front of the computer and start typing. Keep at it even if you feel what you’re writing isn’t good. And finish that first draft. It you don’t write it, it most certainly will never get published.

Do you have a favourite movie?

I love the Harry Potter movies. I’ve read all the books and I’ve seen all the movies multiple times. Imagine being 12 years old and attending a school run by witches and wizards and learning magic! Imagine having a wand that does magical things. Imagine being a kid and facing all kinds of evil creatures and adults and beating them at their own game. Wow! I was with Harry all the way, living in that wonderful, exciting, imaginary, magical world. My only regret is that I didn’t think of that story line first. Kudos to J. K. Rowling.

Book links, website/blog and author links:

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/authorjanetmclaughlin/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/Author_Janet

Goodreads:

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6456358.Janet_McLaughlin

www.AbsoluteLovePublishing.com

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Book Spotlight and New Release- Dragon Moon – Fantasy

Dragon Moon Release!! JULIE NICHOLLS

 

Hey peeps!! I’m happy to announce that my latest Young Adult Fantasy, Dragon Moon is available for pre order at the fabulously low price of 99c! This is a huge saving, and from Thursday 13th October, the price will be $3.45 so get it while it’s on offer!

Save the dragons, unite the races, no sweat.

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I’m nineteen and wish I had a clue about my future. Instead of my own bed, this morning I woke in the strange land of Lur Neval. My name is Scarlett, but the Nevalese call me Dragon Mage. Seems it’s my job to preserve the all-important dragons and oh, while I’m here, bring peace to the warring clans. Piece of cake if I can outwit Madoc, the manipulative, evil seer who wants every dragon destroyed. Whatever it takes, I’m here to fulfill my destiny under the light of the Dragon Moon.

 

Buy Links

Amazon UK goo.gl/HolHgO

Amazon USA goo.gl/WXyIdl

Kobo goo.gl/TMrKcV

Smashwords goo.gl/jQszpx

Nook/B&N goo.gl/utlgGe

iBooks goo.gl/66Jbwu

 

Don’t forget it’s available at the ridiculous price of 99c until release day which is 13th October, 2016

Go get it!

Guest Post – Jade Varden – on Writing and Marketing

Today YA author Jade Varden joins us – here are her tips on writing and marketing.

Jade – over to you.

Advice to newbies: Read a lot. Find out what sort of stories you like. Re-read your favorites. Read, read, read.

Your best and worst marketing tips: Market your book by giving people something they can use. What does your book offer them? What questions will it answer? Will they laugh or cry or think because of it? Think about that, and you’ll know how to market it. Don’t market your book by saying “buy this book.” Be more creative than that.

What YOU look for in a good book. I look for a strong main character that I can feel something about. Good or bad, I want to feel something for the character.

The importance of good and consistent characterisation.A character has to stay true to their established personality, but character growth is also important in books.

How to find beta readers. Use forums to find them. This is a great resource for connecting with other authors and readers.

Please tell us a little about yourself. (A couple of lines.) Lately I’ve been trying to challenge myself with my writing. I’ve been trying to branch out into new genres, and I’m really enjoying it so far.

On average how many books do you read a month?  What genres do you enjoy? I don’t really have much time to read beyond doing my own proofing. I love the YA genre, but I’m eclectic. I read mystery, horror, romance, anything that looks good.

When reviewing what are the important criteria? Editing? Plot?  Which factors do you overlook? (if any). I look for character and plot development. Pacing is also incredibly important. I don’t want it to be too slow, but not too fast either.

What are your opinions on authors commenting on a review – negative and positive? I don’t think they should do it.

Do you feel it is appropriate to discuss author behaviour in a review, is this a factor which influences your choice? No and no.

A lot of readers comment about a book with all 4 or 5 star reviews and nothing below as being suspicious? What do you think about this? I think people probably do this a lot. It’s much easier not to write any text, right?

Do you give negative reviews?  I give constructive criticism. It has been interpreted as negative in the past.

Do you mainly stick to your preferred genres, or would you consider reviewing outside your comfort zone? If the plot sounds interesting, I’ll definitely go outside my comfort zone.

Are your characters based on real people? All of them are based on real characteristics that I’ve seen in people, but only very rarely is one of my characters wholly based on a real person. I pick and choose from people I know and even strangers.

Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off? No, but that’s an amazing idea.

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 huge when it comes to writing a book, and you need to do as much as you need to do to answer all the questions your readers might have. I don’t necessarily enjoy research because it is time-consuming. I look for credible resources only. Encyclopedias, university websites, newspapers. Don’t use Wikipedia.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? I absolutely do. Indie authors have taken an alternative path, and anything different is suspect.

Do you read work by self-published authors? Absolutely!

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers? Read. Connect with readers. Edit.

What are your views on authors offering free books? It’s a great way to promote.

Do you have a favourite movie? Gone With the Wind

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I’m afraid of the shower.

What medium do you prefer – e-books, audiobooks or paper books? Would you care to expand on this? I love, love, love ebooks. It’s just so easy.

When choosing a book what makes you stop and give it a second look?  What makes you turn away? The blurb. I’ll always flip a cover over to get to the blurb. If I see any errors in the blurb, I’m out.

Do you read reviews by others and if so do they influence your choice?I don’t, because I want to avoid spoilers. However, I will look at general ratings and if a book has a ton of really low ratings I might think twice.

Do you “judge a book by its cover?” I do up to a point. I’ll only turn away from a book if the cover is really poorly done.

Does the behaviour of an author affect your choice to read one of their books? I usually don’t know much about the author personally when I go to read one of their books.

If you had to pick three favourite books to take to a desert island what would they be? Gone With the Wind, Flowers in the Attic, Valley of Horses.

Do you think bricks and mortar bookshops are in decline? I don’t think there’s any question that they are.

Some readers believe all 4 and 5 star reviews on a book must be fake. What are your thoughts on this? I think that sounds ridiculous.

About the Author

 

Jade Varden writes young adult novels for teen readers. When she’s not crafting mysteries in her books, Jade also blogs practical writing tips for authors who self-publish. Jade currently makes her home in Louisville, Kentucky, where she enjoys reading and reviewing indie books by other self-published authors. Follow her on Twitter @JadeVarden. Visit Jade’s blog at http://jadevarden.blogspot.com/ for reviews, writing tips, self-publishing advice and everything else you ever wanted to know about reading and writing books.

 

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JadeVarden

At Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Jade-Varden/e/B006QD4LUA/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

 

Author Interview Number Seventy-Seven – Echo Fox – Fantasy/Young Adult

Welcome Echo Fox, YA Fantasy author!

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I’m currently writing the fourth book of my fantasy series. The Equilibria Series is different from many other series, in that each book can be read as a standalone. Each one focuses on a different character in the same world, Pangaea – it will only be in the fifth book that the characters will meet each other. So it really doesn’t matter what order the books are read in. The order I’ve written them in however, is ‘Wave Singers’, ‘Earth Drummer’ and ‘Air Riders’. Can you guess number four’s title?

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 researching and do it constantly; as a hobby rather than a chore. I maintain a Pinterest board where I keep all the latest images inspiring my fantasy world and characters and once I have that visual aspect it’s much easier for me to start creating the blanks – who is this person, why they act like that, what their history is. You can see my board here: http://www.pinterest.com/radientcolour/equilibria

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…) Tricky! I’d have to go with solid plot, great characters, great world-building, technically perfect. Although saying that I do find bad spelling or grammar a big no-no when reading, it distracts me from the story too much. If the plot has obvious, gaping holes in it then the whole story fails in my eyes. Great characters help move things along and provide someone for the reader to empathise and identify with. World-building is important, especially in a fantasy or sci-fi work, but ultimately the characters and plot line is what you fall in love with.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? My other job is as a copywriter / editer, so yes, I do self edit. However, you can always miss things or get carried away so I generally have a couple of beta readers on hand to help out. My book is always read and checked for consistency and errors by about four or five people before I publish it.

Do you read work by self-published authors? Yes, indie books are often an untapped well of brilliant stories unbound by the publishing house’s views on ‘What sells’ or ‘What the public want’. I find my next reads through the social movement #IndieBooksBeSeen.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? Reviews are everything. Well, no, that’s melodramatic. Reviews are pretty important. It’s how I know whether someone liked the book, or what they would have changed. It helps me grow as an author and it helps potential new readers make a decision on whether to take a chance on my books. I really appreciate every review that comes my way and I love chatting to people on Twitter and Facebook about their favorite characters.

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

  1. Start writing. Just sit down and do it.
  2. Keep writing. Don’t stop to edit or change things until you have a first draft down, complete.
  3. Join a club if you need motivation, like NaNoWriMo – I love the charts, I’m a sucker for gold stars. Find my profile here: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/radiantc

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? I just finished ‘The Palace Job’ by Patrick Weekes and loved it – you can see my review on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1061345227?book_show_action=false

What are your views on authors offering free books? I think it’s great, I do it myself. Many people cannot always take an expensive chance on a new author, so a free book is a chance to discover a new author without any monetary risk. If you’re interested in knowing when I next offer a free book, you can sign up here: http://echofoxbooks.co.uk/register-interest/

Do you have any pets? I do, a black and white cat called Kiddo, who I adopted from my boyfriend’s sister when she moved house and couldn’t take the cat. She is hilarious, but camera shy, otherwise she would be an internet sensation by now.

Can you name your worst job? Do you think you learned anything from the position that you now use in your writing? Hmm, worst job? I was officially a Receptionist at a Day Spa, but the position eventually boiled down to ‘General Dogsbody.’ I can draw on that for feelings of being put upon, for sure. As a freelancer, I’ve had lots of jobs that fuel my writing, such as Crematorium Assistant, Sports Coach, Nutritionist or Florist!

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I used to hiccup – a really tiny, squeaky little hiccup – at least once a day, consistently, for about three years.

Book links, website/blog and author links:

Twitter: @EchoFoxBooks https://twitter.com/EchoFoxBooks

 

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

 

Website: www.echofoxbooks.co.uk

 

Mailing List: http://echofoxbooks.co.uk/register-interest/

 

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Echo-Fox/e/B00GR98CM6/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

 

1st book Wave Singers on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wave-Singers-Equilibria-Echo-Fox-ebook/dp/B00GQYQBL6/

 

2nd book Earth Drummer on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Earth-Drummer-Equilibria-Book-2-ebook/dp/B008Z2GID8/

1st book Wave Singers on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18819891-wave-singers

 

2nd book Earth Drummer on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22067102-earth-drummer

 

3rd book Air Riders on Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22610003-air-riders

 

 

 

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.

WARNING: THIS BOOK IS UNSUITABLE FOR YOUNGER TEENAGE READERS. IT DEPICTS ADULT SITUATIONS, MURDER SCENES, CONVERSATIONS ABOUT SEX AND PROFANITY.

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:

http://www.amazon.com/Ellen-Allen/e/B00NBSMRYK?ref_=pe_584750_33951330

 

The Sham on goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22879003-the-sham

 

Ellen Allen Twitter:

https://twitter.com/EllenWritesAll

 

Ellen Allen Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/EllenWritesAll

Ellen Allen’s writing blog:

www.writingright.net

[1] http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Autobiography

Character Interview Number Fifteen – Daisy the Dragon

Welcome to Daisy The Dragon

Name(s): “My birth name is Deathclaw, but these days I go by the name Daisy.  Actually, this is the first time I’ve admitted to anyone who didn’t know me before I changed my name what my birth name was.  Please don’t judge me based on my birth name.”

Age: “I’m a pretty young dragon, and only just turned 150 last birthday.”

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less. “I am a large, red dragon.”

Would you kill for those you love? “I try not to kill anything if I can avoid it, but if someone I loved was in danger and the only choice available to me was to kill or watch them be killed, then I would kill for them.  I’d feel very guilty about it afterwards though, despite the fact I’d have saved someone I loved.  At one point I actually came close to killing someone for Luke (the little orphan boy I took in).  Luckily though our little witchlet friend, Paige, found an alternative solution.  If you want to know what happened though, then you’ll have to read ‘A Magical Storm’ (the third book in ‘The Magical Chapters Trilogy’).  Though you should probably read the trilogy in order, which means reading ‘Witchlet’ and ‘The Pineapple Loving Dragon’ first.”

Would you die for those you love? “Absolutely! If my death would save someone I loved then I’d willingly give my life for them.  I’d die for Luke in a heartbeat!”

Do you have any relationships you prize above others? Why? “My friendship with Luke means more to me than any other friendship.  Despite my meeting Paige first, Luke and I have grown very close, and he’s very special to me.  We’re both grateful to one another for being there for each other when nobody else was there, and Luke was the first person to trust me who had no way of defending themselves if I’d been like other dragons.”

Do you have a family? Tell us about them. “Oh, you don’t want to hear about my family.  My family are your typical vicious, man-eating, blood-thirsty dragons.  They’re the reason humans don’t generally trust dragons; if you’ve got any sense then you’ll stay as far away from my family as possible.”

Can you remember something from your childhood which influences your behaviour? How do you think it influences you? “I’ll tell you about how I became Daisy; I’m sure you’ll easily figure out how it influences the kind of dragon I am today.  I was only 20 at the time, and still living with my family.  Since I’d hatched I’d known I wasn’t like my siblings; they loved to kill animals and people, but I always felt sad and only killed as much as was absolutely essential to keep my parents off my back, and always only animals; sheep mostly.  Whenever I killed and ate an animal I felt sick though, and the rest of the time I’d sneak off in to the woods and find fruit and things to eat; I always preferred doing that.  Anyway, this one time my brother, Daggertooth, had followed me without me knowing and he caught me eating fruit.  Of course, he flew right home and told on me, but I didn’t know until I got home and found my parents waiting for me.  They’d caught a little human child and my Father told me to kill the child and proove my brother wrong.  But when I looked in to the little girl’s face I saw the fear in her tear-filled eyes, and I knew I couldn’t do it.  When I refused my Father was furious and banished me from the weyr immediately.  So, I left; snatching up the little girl as I took off, wanting to save her from my Father.  Of course, she was terrified, and when I gently set her down just outside the town she just curled in to a ball and shook with fear.  I flew far enough away so I could see her but she couldn’t see me and watched until she got up the courage to get to her feet and run in to the town, where her family welcomed her back with tears of relief.  Then I went to find a cave in a part of the mountains where I knew I’d be far from my family, and I’ve lived there ever since, eating fruit and plants and things; mostly from the woods nearby, but sometimes I travel a bit further to find some of the more exotic fruits.  Anyway, as the little girl ran in to the town she’d been met by someone who’d called her, Daisy, and seemed very pleased to see her.  I thought it was a pretty name, and decided to use it for myself from then on as another way to distance myself from my family, and to remind myself why I’m a vegetarian.”

Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself. “The most interesting and unusual fact about me is that I’m the only vegetarian dragon in our world.  One day I’d love to find another dragon like me, and hope that if I do it will be a male, but every other dragon I’ve met has been carnivorous.”

Please give us a little information about the world in which you live. “My world is a simple one.  Most of it is taken up with woods and mountains, but there are two small towns – one just a short flight away from my mountain, and one several hours flight from it, at the other side of some more trees.  There are also a few small cottages a little way outside of the town; it’s in one of these that Paige lives.  If you fly far enough beyond the woods on the other side of the second town then you’ll come to the coast, which is where I find the more exotic fruits I like to eat; like pineapples, for example.  You would probably consider it to be a primitive world, since our world has none of those gadgets your world is full of.”

Do you travel in the course of your adventures? If so where? “Mostly I spend my time in the woods or the mountains, and sometimes I fly to the coast – making sure to fly over the trees so the people from the town don’t get scared.  But one time I made the mistake of flying over the town when I was too busy enjoying Luke’s enthusiasm for flying to think of the possible consequences of doing so.  You can read about that in ‘The Pineapple Loving Dragon’ though, so I won’t tell you what happened with that.  It was in the woods between her home and the mountains where I live that I met Paige, and at the base of the mountains where I live that I met Luke.”

Name and describe a food from your world. “The foods in my world are just like the foods in yours.  Of course, we don’t have the option for ordering take-away or buying microwave meals like you have, but we have the same basic ingredients: fruit, vegetables, herbs, and – for those who want them – animals that can be killed for meat, like rabbits, sheep and goats.  The goats also provide our milk, which is sometimes then made in to cheese.  As I’ve mentioned before though, I’m a vegetarian, so I don’t eat any meat, and don’t like to think about killing animals if I can help it.  My favourite food is pineapple; I just can’t get enough of that particular fruit!”

Does your world have magic? If so how is it viewed in your world? “Yes, we have magic.  There are Witches; like my friend, Paige.  Only witches have magic though, and people come to them for healing.  That isn’t all they can do though.  I spoke to Paige about her magic once – out of curiosity – and she told me witches control the five elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit.  Using these five elements a witch can do just about anything: heal, throw fire balls, create storms, or – Paige’s favourite trick – ride the wind to travel faster than almost anything else in our world.  Only a dragon stands any chance of keeping up with a witch who’s riding the wind.  As for how it’s viewed… People seek out witches when they need them, but they’re also a little afraid of witches.  That’s why witches tend to live in cottages among the trees rather than in the town; it makes the rest of the humans more comfortable to have some distance between them and the witches.”

What is the technology level for your world/place of residence? What item would you not be able to live without? “We don’t really have any technology in my world.  Cooking is done on fires, homes are lit with candles and lamps, and if you’re cold you sit near the fire with a blanket wrapped around you.  We don’t have telephones either, so if you want to tell someone something then you have to either go and see them or send a messenger.  There’s not really anything I couldn’t live without.  I’m glad to be able to provide blankets and fires to keep Luke warm, and we need food, of course, but other than each other there’s not really anything more that Luke and I feel we need.”

Does your world have any supernatural/mystical beings? Please tell us about some. “Other than humans and the kinds of animals you’re familiar with, my world contains witches and dragons.  Witches are mostly kind and willing to use their ability to harness the power of the elements to help people, dragons are generally evil creatures who use their enhanced senses to prey on the weak; including humans.  Of course, there are exceptions to both these rules, like myself and Zoey.  Generally it’s older witches people come to for help though, but Paige’s skills set her apart so that people learned of her skill while she was still just a child.  Read ‘Witchlet’ to know more about Paige’s story, and ‘A Magical Storm’ to learn about Zoey.”

Within your civilisation what do you think is the most important discovery/invention? “I think fire is the most important discovery.  So many humans died in Winter before they learned to make fire, which is a sad thing to think about.  Winters can still kill people – especially if they’re harsh Winters – but fewer people die in Winter now that humans have fire to keep them warm.”

 

***

 

Author notes:

Book(s) in which this character appears plus links:

The Magical Chapters Trilogy, book 1: Witchlet – http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/167766

The Magical Chapters Trilogy, book 2: The Pineapple Loving Dragon – http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/260695

The Magical Chapters Trilogy, book 3: A Magical Storm – http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/303746

Author name: Victoria Zigler

Website/Blog/Author pages etc:

Website: http://www.zigler.co.uk

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/toriz

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/toriz

Blog: http://ziglernews.blogspot.com

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Zigler/424999294215717

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

 

 

Character Interview Number Fourteen – Sarah Talmaiz – Sci-fi

Tell Us About Yourself

Name (s): My name is Sarah Talmaiz.

Age: I’m eighteen years old at the beginning of the book, Sarah’s Spaceship Adventure.

Please tell us a little about yourself. I was born in a medium sized city on the planet of Marl.  I am (was) an average student, and I would have graduated from high school if I had managed to turn in my last month’s homework. I still blame Pall for that.

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less. Medium height, weight.  Long auburn hair.  Medium brown skin tone.

Do you have a moral code? If so what is it? Moral code?  What the shirit is a moral code?  I have morals, sort of, and I know the codes to our ships.  I’m just an average girl trying to have a happy life and do what’s right when I can figure out what that is.

Would you kill for those you love? Oh, yuck.  Yes, probably.

Would you die for those you love? I’d rather live for those I love.

What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses? I’m great at packing.  I can easily figure out what items need to be close to other items so we can combine them in the most cost efficient manner.  And I know Marlen female preferences, so that’s a real plus when it comes to creating new products to sell.  And I’m a good pilot no matter what the others say.  And I’m a good driver, both on Marl roadways and on the rocky terrain of Half Shell.  I’ve never dented a Rover, unlike some guys I know.

Do you have any relationships you prize above others? Well, Pall Swiftcar, of course, and the rest of the crew.

Do you like animals? I don’t know any animals.  When I lived on Marl I went to the Zoo now and then, but here in the Hoop they are very rare.

Do you have a family? I don’t have siblings, but I have my parents. My mother’s name is Ruth, and my father is Jakub. And then there is Pall, Tai, and Pai, my shipmates.  I love all of them.

Can you remember something from your childhood which influences your behaviour? When I was eleven I was at a birthday party.  Some of us snuck down to the basement and played Switch-our-Socks, a kissing game.  I’ve liked boys ever since then, and I started sneaking around to see them.  That’s what got me in the predicament I found myself in.

Do you have any phobias? The sight of old naked people gives me the shirits.  I mean, I get it.  The Hoop has different customs than do the Marlens.  But really, there are limits.

Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself. I was kidnapped and almost sold to the slave market on Agsha.  Maybe that’s more interesting than it is unusual, unfortunately.

Who are your friends?  Tell us about them. I mostly lost track of my friends from Marl.  I do have a crew who live on Silica.  That’s where the Great Mall is.  I love to shop there.  Edsson is planning to join the Marl Space Police, because he hates the slave trade.  Jommie is nice, and he’s a good dancer.  Bekee is okay, even if she did kiss Pall once.  I’ve forgiven her for that.  Mostly.  Zuzy lives on Next Stop.  She’s a sales clerk in this great store that has the most amazing clothes.  Daysee lives on Boutique where they have the highest flowing shoes in the solar system.  We have an exclusive contract with them, so I get the shoes at a discount.

Tell Us About Your World

Please give us a little information about the world in which you live. This is easy.  I just checked for the info on my personal rom.  I live in a solar system with two planets and a humongous asteroid belt that we call the “Hoop.”  Junior is the gas giant, and Marl is the habitable planet.  Marl rotates round its axis every twenty five hours and revolves around our star, Saif, every four hundred days.  There are ten months in a year, fifty weeks in a year, and five weeks in a month.  There are eight days in a week and forty days in a month.  The average distance from Saif to Marl is one hundred million miles, and the average distance from Saif to Half Shell is one hundred eighty million miles.  Marl has two continents surrounded by oceans.  I don’t know how many rocks are inhabited, but I know there are thousands of them and a lot more that are uninhabited.

Does your world have religion or other spiritual beliefs? If so do you follow one of them? Please describe (briefly) how this affects your behaviour. I’m too young to take any of that seriously.  My parents are Church of Marl, but they only go occasionally.  Like most people, they believe that the Great Captain is just a myth.  Pai is a true Captainist.  The Captainists believe there is an actual, real Earth.  They claim that the Great Captain was a real person who brought humans from Earth to Marl.  Tai doesn’t believe in any of that.  She says that humans evolved on Marl.  The people on the Empire of Man rock believe in the Great Captain, too, but they also believe that women are “lesser beings.”  Stupid twitches.  I believe in religion to the extent that I recognize the importance of church weddings.

Do you travel in the course of your adventures? If so where? Are you kidding me?  Travel is all I ever seem to do.  You’d think we could stay for a while on one of the nicer rocks like Silica or Boutique, or even Mackenzie’s Rock.  Not a chance.  Have to catch the next launch window for the next rock.  Space is big, and it takes us a long time to get from one place to the next.

Name and describe a food from your world. Okra.  It’s grown along the coast of Marl.  The Hoopers don’t know that, so we usually jack up the price by claiming we grow it hydroponically.  Okra takes up a lot of room, so it’s not economical to grow on the rocks, but it’s very nutritional, so it’s in high demand.

Does your world have magic? If so how is it viewed in your world? At the risk of annoying my parents, I will say that the only magic in our world is the kind that Pall Swiftcar and I make in the privacy of our room.

What form of politics is dominant in your world? (Democracy, Theocracy, Meritocracy, Monarchy, Kakistocracy etc.) I’m not sure.  I mean, lots of cities are democracies, even though some of them are totally influenced by rich people who help their sons get away with molesting an innocent girl who just snuck out of her house to take a quick suborbital trip with who, she thought, was a decent guy.  Other cities are ruled by dictators or by one-party organizations.  The Empire of Man is a theocracy.  A lot of rocks don’t have any kind of government.

Does your world have different races of people? If so do they get on with one another? I’m sorry, but I don’t understand the question.  We do have competitive speed contests.

Name a couple of myths and legends particular to your culture/people. The most common myth on Marl is that of the Great Captain.  This myth states that people did not evolve here on Marl, they evolved on the heaven of Earth.  Supposedly something happened on Earth (there are various calamities suggested by many different sects).  The Great Captain gathered the people into a giant spaceship, one that had the supernatural power to travel between stars.  The Great Captain travelled to Marl and left the people at the place we call “Landing.”  Marl became the new home of humans.

The most common variation of this myth is the belief held by the Captainists that the Great Captain was a real person and that Earth is a real place.  This belief holds that the Great Captain will return someday and take all the good people back to Earth which will have been restored to its original beauty.

What is the technology level for your world/place of residence? What item would you not be able to live without? Well, everybody has access to technology, so it’s pretty well level.  The long-riders are the only spaceships that can reach Junior economically, and they are expensive, so only corporations buy them.  The plasma ships can be purchased by the rich or by groups of people.  The freighter Pall was piloting when he rescued me uses a common plasma engine, and he, Pai, and Tai are not rich at all.  Reggardi’s space yacht uses a chemical rocket, but it’s a special design and super plush inside, so I’m sure it was super expensive, even if it is only for Low Marl Orbit.  Too bad he turned out to be such a twitch, but he hadn’t, I would not have met Pall.

The item I could not live without would be my rom, of course.  Who could live without it?  You couldn’t call anyone, or text anyone, or look up where to buy really cool shoes.

Does your world have any supernatural/mystical beings? Please tell us about some.

I hope not.  It’s hard enough dealing with the real ones.

Within your civilisation what do you think is the most important discovery/invention? I guess it depends on whether the artefacts on Half Shell are real or fake.  If they are real, then the whole history of Marl will change.

Name three persons of influence/renown within your society and tell why they are influential (Could be someone like Christ/Mandela/Queen Elizabeth or a renowned figure from a non-human/fantasy world.) Sorry, I didn’t do that well in history.  Mostly Dees.

 

Author notes:

Book(s) in which this character appears plus links

Sarah’s Spaceship Adventure

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sarahs-Spaceship-Adventure-Mackenzies-Rock-ebook/dp/B005MFL08O/

Barnes & Nobel: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sarahs-spaceship-adventure-stan-morris/1106549546

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/sarahs-spaceship-adventure/id470209110?mt=11

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/87949

 

Author name

Stan Morris

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2884264.Stan_Morris
Website/Blog/Author pages etc.

https://sites.google.com/site/stanandrene/

Author Interview Number Forty-Three Dina Von Lowenkraft

Welcome to Dina von Lowenkraft

Please tell us a little about yourself. I am an American living overseas, currently based in Belgium where I am the Regional Advisor for SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators). I am married to a Frenchman and we have two teenagers, three horses and a cat – so life at home can get pretty busy!

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I love writing YA, especially fantasy and sci-fi. My debut novel, DRAGON FIRE, has been released as an e-book. The print edition will be available from November 15, 2013.

Where can readers find your book? DRAGON FIRE is on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Fire-ebook/dp/B00ECNEZ6G/ Barnes & Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dragon-fire-dina-von-lowenkraft/1116334939 and allromanceebooks.com https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-dragonfire-1268423-149.html as an e-book.

How long have you been writing and what made you choose the genre in which you write? One of my first experiences writing was in 8th grade. Our English teacher insisted we all enter a state-wide short story contest. I waited until the last minute and then wrote it in one night, scribbling away. It was the first time I felt the truth of an imagined world take shape and I felt the whole thing happen. It was an intense experience and I guess the jury must’ve felt it too, because it won the contest. The funny thing was that when I found out I had won, it didn’t move me nearly as much as the experience of writing the story had. Since then, I have always loved creating worlds and feeling them come alive (whether in writing or in other art forms such as painting and theater), so writing fantasy and sci-fi was a natural extension of that.

Who or what are your inspirations/influences? As a child I read all the time – from the classic horse stories like My Friend Flicka to Ray Bradbury and the Dragon Riders of Pern. In high school I fell in love with Virginia Wolfe, Jane Austen, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, to name just a few. Currently I read all YA I can get my hands on – but I never limit myself and will pick up anything that strikes me as fun or well written or intriguing. There are so many fabulous writers out there, in all genres, that my literary influences and inspirations are many and varied.

In addition to literary influences, I can be inspired by music, nature, people, paintings… anything and everything that can make me feel an emotion!

Can you name a positive experience from your writing and a negative one? The most positive has got to be when a reader writes and says ‘I love, love, loved your book!’ or ‘I can’t wait for the sequel!’. What can be better that that?

As for negative… every time I got back a form rejection, and there were many. But I took it in stride and kept going. And in the end, I had the luxury of choosing between three offers.

With the rise of e-books do you still publish in print as well? Is this medium important and why?My publisher, Twilight Times Books, believes in publishing in both formats and I am very happy with that. I think reading books on my kindle is practical and I have hundreds of books on it. But I also love the physical books that line my office and I’m not ready to give them up yet. I think offering both is the best possible solution, that way every reader can choose what works best for them – both in terms of format and price.

Do you listen to music or watch TV whilst you write? No, I don’t. But music is very important to my writing. I think that one thing I do that is a bit unique is that I listen to music for my characters. They all have their favorite groups and I will buy albums for each of them that I listen to in the car – which has become a great time to connect to the character and work things out. Only once was I unable to identify music for a character, and that character was Rakan, the main character of DRAGON FIRE. It took me a long time to understand that as a shapeshifting dragon he didn’t listen to music.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? I  think books provide more room for each person’s imagination to fill in the details. In a movie you get what you see – and it can be very moving and powerful. In a video game you are active, but more in the plot. In a book you can become part of the world in a different way. Of course, all three media have passionate followers and obviously each person will feel slightly differently about it. I don’t think we should worry about what each one provides, but rather allow ourselves to enjoy each one for what it offers – because even within each media there is a wide range of possibilities!

What advice would you give new writers? Keep at it! If you really want to get published and you are willing to continually work on craft and better your writing, you will get published. The road is often long and hard, but you will get there. And if you reach out, you will meet so many wonderful people along the way. So go for it and participate, in online writers groups, conferences, workshops… it’s one of the best parts of the writer’s journey!

Most authors also like to read, what books do you enjoy? Everything YA and all kinds of fantasy and sci-fi. In addition I will read anything and everything that looks good!

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I love to have coffee on the beach in my pajamas!

website: http://www.dinavonlowenkraft.com/

Amazon author profile: http://www.amazon.com/Dina-von-Lowenkraft/e/B00ED2IZYY/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7123641.Dina_von_Lowenkraft

facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dina-von-Lowenkraft/551209381555837

twitter: https://twitter.com/vonlowenkraft

pinterest: http://pinterest.com/vonlowenkraft/

Dragon Fire cover

 

 

Author Interview Number Thirty-Nine – Matt Pike – Young Adult

KotW-Cover-gold-SW

Welcome to Matt J Pike

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I’m an Aussie, father of three, who loves to write. I have an unhealthy obsession with sci-fi, video games, fantasy football and good comedy. In my other life I’m a multimedia designer working for a media company.

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

I love writing Young Adult stories that can be enjoyed by teens and adults alike. There’s something about the how much a person changes during that period of their life and how much it shapes their future that I find appealing. I also need to weave humour (humor) through my work – my writing just doesn’t feel ‘right’ without it.

Kings of the World recently won the Gold Medal for Teenage Literature Fiction at the 2013 Global Ebook Awards

You say your book is partly to support a charity – can you tell us more about that? 

That’s right. My youngest daughter, Abby, has Rett Syndrome. For those not familiar, it’s a neurological condition that affects mostly girls. Typically, they develop ‘normally’ for 12-24 months before regressing and losing the ability to walk, talk and use their hands in a meaningful way. They require constant care for the most basic of tasks and raising a child with Rett Syndrome is a team effort.

Abby is a great girl, with an engaging smile and devilish laugh – honestly, she will laugh when the adults are making a sneaky little in-joke the other kids miss. I wish she could talk so I could find out what goes on in that mind of hers because it seems like a pretty interesting place J

In recent years scientists have reversed Rett Syndrome symptoms in mice and there have been some exciting developments on a number of fronts in terms of treating Rett Syndrome in humans.

Raising funds to find a cure is a big personal goal with this book and all future books I write. I have made a commitment to donate to Rett Syndrome Australia but will also be looking to contribute to other Rett Syndrome programs around the globe.

http://www.aussierett.org.au/

Who or what are your inspirations/influences?

From a writing perspective my influences are Douglas Adams, Grant Naylor and Ben Elton. I also like to draw influence from other areas like stand-up comedy, video games, TV, music and movies. I’m a bit of a pop-culture geek. I love to reference the things that have meaning to me within my writing and like nothing better than a pop-culture reference to dip my lid at something that has inspired me in some way.

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?

World building is such an important ingredient in creating a well-rounded story. It’s the difference between everything feeling a paper-thin as a Hollywood movie set or as deep as the reader can reach. The story topic, in many ways, dictates the research. For example, Kings of the World, was very much my own playground and the majority of the world-building revolves around the alien cultures in the story. Consistency (and a massive spreadsheet) were my biggest friends here. The book I’m currently writing, a post-comet strike apocalyptic novel, has required some serious research to be authentic as possible – from research papers, documentaries, web articles etc.

I’m also a bit of a geek for all sorts of books, articles and TV documentaries that deal with all manner of interesting topics from asteroid strikes, UFOs, the history of the planet, the solar system – I call all of that watching ‘book research’ to get the OK from my long-suffering partner J

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these? (If applicable)

At this stage E-book is the only available format for Kings of the World. I’m currently looking at print options for both KotW and my future novels and would love to put together audio books down the track.

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

I enjoying editing, I love the challenge of hacking and slashing copy to make my novels as tight as possible. I usually complete 3-4 edits myself – but will always have my work professionally edited before it goes to market – I think every book should be.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews?

Like anything in life, I don’t think there are hard and fast rules. It’s not something I’ve done to date, but wouldn’t rule it out either. If it’s done in the name of reaching out to readers/fans in a positive way, then it can be a good thing.

Do you listen to music or watch TV whilst you write?

Either… or both. I like to write in a busy space. I’m not sure why that’s the case, maybe it’s the modern, multi-tasking mind at work. Editing is the same, although I’m far more likely just have music on in the background as the process requires more focus.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot?

As a gamer, movie-goer and a reader I value all entertainment mediums. All three are vastly different in terms of how you engage with the material but all provide a portal to another world – joyous escapism. Books allow for greater imagination and interpretation – a good book should be painting broad brush strokes that allow the readers fill in the detail. The experience of a book is not solely what the author writes but the relationship between the words and the reader’s interpretation. I love that.

What advice would you give new writers?

Work out what works best for you. Especially early on in your writing, you need to find the right environment, time of day etc that is gives you the best inspiration to write. Once you have that you’ve got to get yourself ‘match-fit’ to write – and you can only do that by putting words on page every day. Get yourself obsessed – read books about writing (Stephen King’s On Writing was good for me). I also used a writing app that made sure I wrote x amount of words every day.

What are your best marketing/networking tips?

You’ve got to put in the time to get the results. You are in charge of your writing ‘brand’ and no one is going to magically discover you if you don’t get the word out there.

Most authors also like to read, what books do you enjoy?

I enjoy a variety. My favourite books are sci-fi and humour based but I like to mix things up as much as I can. You often get inspiration from unlikely places. Currently reading and enjoying Game of Thrones.

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself?

In my first job I have to dress up in a kangaroo costume and perform song and dance routines for kids at an Adelaide amusement park. I miss King Kang J

Book links, website/blog and author links:

Kings of the World is available in all digital formats on:

SMASHWORDS: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/308207

AMAZON UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kings-of-the-World-ebook/dp/B00CMHG2FG

AMAZON: US: http://www.amazon.com/Kings-of-the-World-ebook/dp/B00CMHG2FG

BARNES & NOBLE: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/kings-of-the-world-matt-pike/1115214651?ean=2940044485174

WEBSITE: http://mattpike.co/

TRAILER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nbx3us9q3YY