Interviews

Interview with

Janet Taylor-Perry

Author of

Gator Aid


Today I have the pleasure to present an author who was critically acclaimed at the Faulkner Wisdom Competition. Like many of her characters, Janet Taylor-Perry is a history buff and loves anything of historical significance from old cars to old cemeteries. Her novel, Spirits' Desire, the second book in her Legend of Draconis series, won The Critter's, Preditor's and Editor's Award while the third book in The Raiford Chronicles, Broken, was a short-list finalist (top 20) at the Faulkner Competition. She is a mother, grandmother, educator, author, editor, and a person who has overcome great obstacles and still holds on to her faith..


Tell us about your journey as a writer

"Writers write what they know." That is one of the first quotes I remember when I began my writing process in earnest. And I suppose that it's true. Every series I have began with a modicum of truth: The Raiford Chronicles—I did have books thrown at me in my classroom, and I did have a student make the declaration that puts my heroine in danger. The Legend of Draconis—It was all about roleplaying with my kids and our cat, Satin. April Chastaine Intrigues—Someone close to me did die from cancer and was once exposed to cadmium. Laura Beth Copeland Misadventures—I was a census worker in 2010 and had a similar experience as my heroine, just not a head. Gods and Children—My daughter and her friends' escapades inspired the triplets. Hillbilly Hijinks—I saw a documentary in 1999 about pockets of Appalachia that still did not have electricity and running water, and then when I did the census in 2010, I encountered some almost third-world conditions right in my own backyard. This is the series, especially book three, Gator Aid that I want to address today.

Growing up, I was poor. But I still had running water and a bathroom and electricity. However, my uncle (mother's brother) did not. So, some of the situations (outhouses, cardboard fans, walking lots of places, swimming in the creek, killing hogs and eating some odd things) come from first-hand experience. My mother's sister had fourteen children while I was an only child. My cousins were illiterate and still are. I always found their dad strange, but I sure hope my stories about the Richter family in the series are totally farfetched and not a reflection on my uncle. Still, I took great pains to create a fictional town far away from Mississippi.

The series focuses on four boys and one girl who aim to put Possum Holler, West Virginia, on the map. The first two books, Homegrown Healer (MacKenzie Reardon's story) and Mountain Moonshine (Tipper Campbell's & Amy Dent's stories) examined the orphan who was raised by the preacher in the only little church and went on to become a doctor and came home to practice medicine and the local bootlegger who established a legal distillery. The fourth book, entitled For Richter or Poorer, will deal with Alain Richter, an undiscovered genius who deals with adversity beyond anything most people can imagine. Yes, all the stories overlap because the boys grow up and experience some of the same things. The book for today's discussion is Gator Aid, the story of hog farmer, Gator Jones.

Gator gets the nickname Gator Aid from the doctor who unsuccessfully tries to save Gator's mother, June, from leukemia. Gator's father, Tal, is one of the few Possum Hollerites to graduate high school and go to college, but he is forced to return to inherit a hog farm, which he resents, when he suffers a career-ending injury while playing college football. Gator's four older bothers flee the poverty of Possum Holler—one joining the military and three running away. This leaves Tal and Gator to form a unique and special bond in which Gator embraces who he is and embarks on making the small slaughterhouse in Possum Holler a full-blown processing plant after Tal dies unexpectedly.

Gator meets and marries Sherry Fields, a young woman who was about to be sex trafficked. Gator keeps many secrets for his friends including murder (actually self-defense), feeding bodies to the alligators in Florida, incest, illegal whiskey, an illegitimate child given up for adoption, and more. He is always the one to offer assistance when it's needed. Even the town gossip can't find fault with Gator. His flaw—accepting help.

Gator manages to get his high school equivalency and inherits the slaughterhouse when his great-great-grandmother dies in a flu epidemic (I wrote this long before covid). And then the secrets start to unravel. You have to read the story to find out how it ends.


Scheduled for release on Father's Day.


Your luck is what you make it. Your life is what you make it. So, go out and make it count.

--Larkin Sloan from Lucky Thirteen.


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Gator Aid

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Interview with

Addison Michael

Author of

What Comes before Dawn



Today I have the pleasure to present an author who grew up with a golden reputation and a well-hidden dark side, which emerges in the crime and mystery thrillers Addison Michael writes today. Living in the Midwest, she captures the essence of small-town living.


 

How did you come up with the inspiration for What Comes Before Dawn?

 

I heard a story about a man who was convicted of murder and all evidence pointed to him having committed the crime. Only, he had zero recollection of it. Turns out, the man was blacked-out drunk when he committed the crime. But his lawyer could not get him clear of the charges. It intrigued me and I thought what if that was happening with your own mom? Only, it wasn't just a drinking problem, it was due to a mental illness that was magnified with drinking. I played that out with my main character, Paige. She grows up a very co-dependent woman who has no idea what to do with herself when her mom is murdered. That mixes into this mystery where Paige doesn't know who killed her mom or if she's next. 

 

There's an added element of this mystery thriller of ghostly suspense. Tell us about that?

 

The main character, Paige, is either crazy or she's really seeing a ghost. I let the reader decide. It happened in the creation phase one night when I was writing during a thunderstorm. A ghost popped into the story and I decided to just go with it. Paige is the only person in the series who sees ghosts, with one exception in book 5. So, you could say there's a psychological element as well. 

 

Are you similar to the main character, Paige?

 

In some ways. I should be careful here because Paige is pretty distanced from her emotions. Her mental illness makes her a touch dissociative. She is very changed by the end of the series (which is an important piece of character development). I am not always the most ‘feeling’ person, so I identify with Paige's character. But I always exaggerate my characters even when the seed of an idea for a personality is based on an idea from real life. All my characters take on a life of their own by the end.

 

They always say, "write about what you know." How do you incorporate that into your books?

 

I keep the settings in the midwest. For one, we are under-represented in Hollywood. Two, it's where I grew up. In every book, ‘home base’ is some place in or around the Ozarks. 

 

Which book is your favorite? 

 

All of them. No, really. But I do love each new book a little more than my last because I swear they get better the more I write and the more experience I have. I am thrilled about my first book in the Mak and Wilton Mystery Thriller series, book 1, I just released. There's a strong female lead and the partnership between two completely different personalities really works well. 


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What Comes before Dawn



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Interview with

Peter C Bradbury

Author of

Instagram Killer



Today I have the pleasure to present an author who always loved to read, but it wasn't until numerous people asked him to write about his experiences in private homes, that he began his author journey. Peter C. Bradbury was a traditional English butler, from near Manchester, England. His experiences in one home turned into a murder mystery called Stonebridge Manor, with an English mansion. Instagram Killer is his latest mystery.



What inspired your newest book, ‘Instagram Killer’?


It came about because every day, I post pictures of my books on Instagram and Twitter. To a lesser extent, I also post on Facebook and other social media sites, but I have the most reach on Twitter and Instagram.


In return for the posts I do, I get retweets and likes, and I reciprocate with many others doing the same thing. But I also receive very many messages as well.


It was these messages that inspired the book.


So what messages do you get?


It all seems so personable at first, and pleasant. I am very open, I don’t use a fake name, and my profiles say I’m married and I use real pictures. So they usually ask me where I’m from, how interesting I am, and that they would like to be a friend. So then they suggest that it would be much more convenient to chat on WhatsApp, or Telegram, or Google Chat, as Instagram and Twitter are quite limited.


Then the tone changes, sometimes quickly, and the stories change, but some seem quite believable at first. They range from being unemployed, a family member is sick, or they are hungry and need food.


Others say they want to send you pictures and videos but you need to pay for them. I.D.’s are asked for or your address. They want internet bills paid. New phones are needed. They want to go out with their friends but have no money. There is gold in Ghana that needs to be sent to you for safekeeping. Soldiers need to pay someone to get leave. They have fallen in love with you and need support. Cryptocurrency or Bitcoin is a good investment. A gift card should be sent to them because they are now a friend. They need medication for menstrual periods. They want to hook up for sex. 


So all the messages are from women?


Actually, no. After a while you begin to see the same pictures on different profiles, and get the same messages. They like to use porn stars pictures, pretending they are that person. They want you to buy the pictures and videos they have stolen from the porn stars. After realizing this, I called some of them out and some admitted to be being guys.


This is a full time business for a lot of people, and they can pretend to be who they want to be. You never really know who anyone is, unless they want to meet you and don’t want money up front. Out of all the messages I’ve received, 99% have wanted money in some form eventually, and when you refuse to, they drop you like a stone.


Apart from not really knowing the gender of the folk who message you, it also becomes clear that they come from all over the world. Ghana and Nigeria are popular places, but also Europe and Asia.


The book is called, ‘Instagram Killer,’ so is about a killer?


Yes. What really disturbed me about all the messages, were those from women who wanted to hook up. I have no problem with prostitution, but these women are prepared to meet total strangers, with little regard to their safety, and some women even invite you to their home.


So I thought, ‘what if some man took advantage of this’? A man who is very careful, who is good with disguises, and doesn’t leave traces of himself. He has learned to spot the scammers, those with fake profiles, and those who are so desperate to find love and be paid, that they will make huge mistakes.


It would be so easy for an evil guy to do this, that it scared me. I had to write about it.


What kind of writer are you?


I like to believe I entertain and make my readers think. I’m a fast reader so I like to read books that I can pick up in the morning and have it finished the same day. I don’t like books that are long winded, make you pick up a dictionary all the time, or do a lot of technical jargon. So my books are not too long, have short chapters, and keep you turning the pages. I love when a reader has said that they couldn’t put the book down, or that I got them reading again.


I do like to write about murders, or an issue like bullying or human trafficking, although my first love was horror. I may do a horror story one day, but only when I find a new angle that doesn’t re-hash the usual stories.


You said you are open about who you are, so who are you?


I live in northern California with my wife of 28 years, Debbie. I have no birth children but I am a stepfather to four.


I was born and raised in the North West of England near Manchester and moved to the USA in 1994 when I married Debbie, who is from San Francisco. We have lived in various places, including Texas and Maryland when I was working as a butler.


I am a huge football (soccer) fan, so my life revolves around the fixture list. I will get up at 4am if my team is playing, (Manchester United) as I want to see the game live. I was born in 1955, retired now, and still have family in England.


I really dislike corruption, bullies, liars, selfishness, ignorance, and scammers.


I wish I could lose weight as quickly as I gain it, and see more of the world.


I hope you will enjoy reading my books! 


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Instagram Killer




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Interview with

J.S. BURKE   

Author of

The Dragon Dreamer



Today I have the pleasure to present an author who has worked as an artist, teacher, and marine biologist, studying creatures of the dark abyss and diving on coral reefs. J. S. Burke lives with family and rescue pets.



Why did you write The Dragon Dreamer?


I had no plans to write until I put an odd, roundish rock in a blue ceramic bowl. It seemed like a dragon's egg. Suddenly I knew that a dragon made this for a nest. She added sand and warmed the bowl with dragon-fire, to incubate her precious egg within.


I saw these golden-scaled dragons in my mind. They courted in the clouds using colored lightning. A young dragon left, flying far out to sea, and crashed on an ice floe. He was alone, badly wounded, and destined to die. But even I know that the hero must live longer. Who could save him? An intrepid Healer octopus appeared in my mind, called forth from my years at sea. 


Now that I had a story, I needed to learn how to write a novel. 


What did you find most challenging about writing The Dragon Dreamer?


I had no experience writing a novel.


I’ve written poems since I was a child, for fun, and published marine science research papers. These papers have value, but they’re predictably dry. I tried to sneak humor into the acknowledgements but the editors deleted it.


I had much to learn. By carefully studying my favorite novels I learned to use point of view, character arcs, and story arc. Each chapter should begin with setting the scene and end with a hook. Plot twists are expected. The introduction must be gripping while the ending should allow for a possible sequel. And, I could use humor!


Finally I had a draft.


I entered my Dragon Dreamer draft in a writer’s contest and received useful advice: choose an active verb tense (not passive) and improve the dialogue. Whenever possible, I replaced “said” with character movements to identify the speaker. My draft won full marks in two categories: World Building and Characters. I was thrilled to have these strengths! 


World Building is crucial for Science Fiction and Fantasy, so I stumbled into a good genre niche for me. Research is my mind-candy; I’ll cheerfully read a ten page paper to accurately portray the science within one paragraph. Then my poetry background helps as I rewrite in a more vivid way.  


Why did the Characters get full marks? I’m a pantster-style writer. I follow where my characters take me, without a strict plot. This style can make the characters more relatable. Also, characters need problems. People love an under-dragon, so I have mine suffer through trials and tribulations. 


Why did you become a scuba diver? How did diving influence your novel? 


I grew up inland but, when I was eight, I decided to become a marine biologist. Years later, my college in Missouri had a rarely offered scuba course . . . during winter! Yes, I froze in that muddy lake. I turned an attractive shade of blue as I became a certified diver. There is some risk, so please dive conservatively and always check that your boat is well anchored. 


I moved to Florida and dove on warm, colorful reefs. Bliss! Night dives are fun, with creatures glowing through the inky water. In The Dragon Dreamer, glow-fish are attracted to feeding stations to light the octopus festivals. 


Finally, I landed a job as a marine biologist in the Florida Keys. This is a great place to dive! But no job is perfect. 


My boss wanted equal days between sampling. So, one day he sent me and two coworkers out into a fierce storm in our small research boat. I questioned the orders but was overruled. Waves towered above me, nearly flipping the boat again and again. The wind howled as freezing rain hammered down. I was sure I would die, but this was surprisingly freeing. It felt like I was part of this storm, and I was determined to enjoy my last wild minutes. 


Naturally, I gave this experience to my hapless characters in The Dragon Dreamer. 


The sea is a great, alien world worthy of pairing with my dragon world. My experiences as diver and scientist helped me write a more realistic story, infused with fantasy. As for dragons, they’ve always been real to me.


How can you make fiction feel real?   


Adding all the senses pulls a reader into the story. Authors readily include Sight and Sound while Scent, Taste, Touch, and more are often ignored. Does it smell sweet? Taste bitter? Feel rough? Cold? This is part of Real. 


The Dragon Dreamer blends imagination with real science and author experiences. The octopus skimming above a reef is me, diving. The dragon gulping air from the ceiling of a water-filled tunnel is me, exploring a cave. I know how this feels, so it’s easy to add the details and senses. I want fact and fantasy to blend seamlessly until the world feels real.


Why did you publish?


I cheerfully polished The Dragon Dreamer for several years, with no urge to finish. This was my private escape world, my hobby. Friends encouraged me to just stop polishing and get it published. 


I sent off query letters. Then I painted covers with Arak and Scree, since I saw these characters so clearly in my mind. Finally my book was published. It is quite satisfying to hold your own paperback!


The Dragon Dreamer was entered into the IAN (Independent Author Network) competition. I imagined the laughter. Dragons and octopuses? Seriously? But, to my surprise, it won IAN Best First Novel. It’s also an IAN Finalist for Best Fantasy and for Best Science Fiction. So, this is a good niche for me. Now I’m even more impressed by anyone that finishes writing a novel!


The Dragon Dreamer series is Science Fantasy with flying dragons and undersea adventure for Young Adults 9 to 99. The books are connected but can stand alone. 


**Thank you so much Uvi and everyone who stops by and reads this! 


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Interview with

Angela B Mortimer

Author of

Flawed Gods



Today I have the pleasure to present an author who was born in the UK, married a gorgeous Aussie, attended West of England college of art, and dreamed of being an astronaut. Angela B. Mortimer loves reading sci-fi, fantasy, and subjects like genetics, planet sciences, philosophy, ancient history, and space. She’s been writing since she could and painting for as long.



Why did you write your first book?


I’ve always written poetry, my first aged 6 is the only one I’ve always remembered. However, I’ve never had the time to consider writing a book. That all changed when my employer moved (again) out of the city to a pleasant but awkward to get to inner suburb. My husband used to take me to save me catching two trains, but as he started earlier, I got there very early. One day I finished reading my book and felt bored. I grabbed a small notebook from my handbag, and it started.


It was odd, I hadn’t even considered what I’d write, I expected a poem or a very short, short. It just came out, shocked me to be honest. The next day I brought a notebook, it just rolled out without a thought, and I didn’t like my main protagonist, and I kept trying to change her, but she usually refused, so I gave up and went with the flow wondering what was happening, she won every fight and it was a fight for dominance over my story. I didn’t have time to think about my muse or where the ideas came from. They just became words I scribbled down fast, as school trained us to write notes for university, it was very fast. 


I may not have liked her or was she was leading me, but I kept going. Work moved again and no-where to sit in such a comfortable chair, so I sat at my desk and used a floppy disc. Much easier. Work was great and left me alone. I was very lucky to have my own PC at home, very early, actually thanks to John’s employer as they teamed up with an email provider to supply them. I’d used them a long time which also helped. Everything fell into place, a workmate, a tech helped a great deal telling me what was best re publishing. I met some great friends all my working life. Often techs perhaps my love of all things Sci-fi. It wasn’t until I was in the later book, I finally realised why and where it all came from. Dad and his dad’s books to start with and then my secondary school. It was what our headmistress called an Independent School. Which is a term we both prefer. It gave us some freedom as to how and what we were taught, and we got what they called a Classical Education. Doella was like a Greek Goddess but in a more modern way. It was such a relief to finally work that out. Devouring our local library was helpful too when I ran out of home books. My regret is ours no longer exist as they used to.


Was it easier once you discovered your protagonist’s origins?


At first it was a relief, but what my imagination had envisioned was far more complicated. I’d studied many things that interested me first as a child, but it was easier in the beginning of having a personal computer. I could find everything online, now it is drowning is useless information and even the old online address of interesting subjects don’t come up. Luckily, I still worked like an old schoolgirl and printed important notes which I still use and have many reference books. It is strange, the world I imagined came but then vanished very quickly into a swirl of terrifying nothing.  As things went on this new world must have had an influence on me too but it wasn’t obvious. In fact, I was very lucky in the early days because dad’s office had a sci-fi book club, they all contributed and shared, but it was always for a certain time. So, he would remind me the book was due back, and I was always running out of time, so read a lot by torch light under the sheets, which has affected my sleep time my whole life. Nothing new, sleep times were strict turn off lights and I’d hidden under the bedclothes with a torch since I could read. 


There were wonderful books in that club. I’d already read a lot of the amazing old ones, but this had ones I’d never heard of before. Stories under the surface of the Earth, like many of the classics, but new ideas about what lived there and ones not in dad’s collection or the library, but some resurfaced later as movies. I wish I could remember the writers and titles.


Did you finally gain control of your muse?


No, never, I realised I never would, it was my imagination built over years of being interested in what I read and later what I needed to try to understand. Try, is a very important word, because I also realised for a very long time it was impossible to find all truth because someone, probably like me, and other similar writers or communicators, told or later recorded, other ideas. We don’t just pop up with new ideas they come from much earlier times told in many different ways and over long ages and they are changed to suit the times and later rulers as the age of metal and man took over from the first ages when more women, and ideas taught from long ages of wisdom helped the world, instead of trying to control and then gain riches with that power. Unfortunately, we haven’t moved forward in a very long time, even science hasn’t helped as many still ridicule it.


The most exciting day I ever had was simple. It was a Saturday I think I was at Art School, but I can’t be certain. I remember what I wore, a bright pink quilted dressing gown edged with gold. Sat on the grey couch under the sunny front window, drinking coffee, dipping in Nice biscuits, and reading Dad’s Saturday paper the local shop delivered, and there it was, at last. It was almost as if I’d been waiting for this day, they told us about the discovery of genetics. What a relief, I was worried we’d never find the links, at last we’d know about the ancestors and all kinds of other things, my brain was whirling. At last.


Where you happy to finish your first book about Doella?


It was a relief in some ways, but I realised it couldn’t stop there, she (which meant me), had only just started. I wrote the other books in the trilogy but there was more, and it could have gone on forever, but nothing says anything worse about any artist than a ‘one trick pony’. So, I wrote other stories too, some apparently free from Doella but in many she could have been hiding in the cupboard, but I first had to finish her story in the hope she’d leave my imagination, or in those times of normality is she just giving me a break from her dominance. I learned to live with her. In fact, now I want to read those 3 books again and see what our end game might be, or should I leave not so well alone? They call it, The Writers life. 


Please share an excerpt from your book with us.


This landscape was different from the planet they had left behind; it was a barren desert. The sky had a purple tinge, and the sunlight was hazy.

‘The atmosphere is thin but breathable,’ Simune relayed.

The others nodded in agreement.

‘Not very inviting,’ communicated Doella. ‘Listen, can you hear that strange noise?’

Simune concentrated harder and peered around. The buzzing and clacking emanated from a large colony of ant-like insects in the near distance. It was difficult to gauge their size; the flat sameness of the landscape provided no landmarks as a comparison. They all knew they might face conflicts in these unknown worlds, and hoped they were prepared. None of them had had any contact with evolved insect life before, and they might find communications difficult. It would depend upon the insects’ level of intelligence.

‘Come on, let’s go,’ urged Doella, anxious to move forward.

A few moments later, they reached the sand-covered rocky floor of the desert. As soon as they arrived, the noise from the insects stopped. The Varan knew the creatures had sensed their presence, and as a precaution, they erected another protective bubble.

They registered a mind communication between the creatures, but it was impossible to decipher it. Making contact with them proved impossible.

The Varan haven’t been here before, and I doubt if anything else has either, said Takos, stating the obvious. The other two agreed.

Without warning, the insects suddenly surrounded the bubble, almost touching it. Doella panicked for an instant, and then quickly regained control. The two men instinctively formed a protective guard around her.

‘I’m fine,’ she said aloud, and as she spoke the insects backed away from the edge of the bubble, as if the sound vibrations disturbed them.

‘They can’t reach us in here. Just as well, looking at those huge mandibles,’ said Takos.

They were fearsome-looking creatures. They resembled huge ants, and reached almost twelve feet high when they reared up on their back legs. In colour they ranged from black through various shades of brown, to almost white. Their antennae quivered constantly.

The buzzing and clacking started again, and they felt another burst of mind communication between the insects. Some of them advanced and began to push against the bubble, even going so far as to try and clamber up – they looked even more fearsome from this angle. They seemed to be growing angry and began attacking the bubble as if it were an egg to be broken into and eaten. Anxiously, the Varan tried to move the bubble with their minds, but they were unable to propel it through the barrier of insect bodies.

‘This isn’t working,’ said Takos. ‘We have to find a way to repel them.’

Simune sent a huge pulse of power into the bubble barrier, which inflicted agony on the insects that were touching it. But instead of forcing them to retreat, it seemed to enrage them even more, and they began to bite at the bubble’s surface with their giant mandibles. Simune tried a stronger pulse, and this time the insects backed off. As quickly as they had come, they disappeared. Simune recovered quickly and attempted to locate Carnos’ signature again. The other two assisted him before the insects returned.

‘He’s still here; I’ve found him.’ Simune’s voice was triumphant. ‘But this is a strange place for him to choose. There’s very little here apart from these ant-like creatures. They probably ate everything else a long time ago.’

Still enclosed by the bubble, they used an anti-gravity platform to reach Carnos quickly. Suddenly Simune stopped the bubble. They had gone over the edge of a steep cliff. Far below them was an enormous dung-coloured city, obviously built by the insects over a long period of time. It resembled a termite mound on Earth, but it was at least fifty miles across. Hundreds of turret-like points overlapped each other, but there was no symmetry at all to their shape.

‘What’s he doing in there?’ asked Takos aloud.

None of them liked the look of the place. The completely alien landscape made them feel uneasy, and their inability to communicate with the creatures accentuated their concern. Why does he want us to go in there? What’s he planning? Their thoughts echoed from one to the other.

They retreated back over the cliff to consider their options, keeping a watch for any possible movement from Carnos; but there was nothing – he didn’t intend to give his position away. Combining their powers, they located his presence, and were able to construct a mental picture of him. He seemed to be in a small, dimly lit room containing a small chair, on which he sat comfortably. His eyes were closed, and he was smiling. As they probed more deeply, he opened his eyes and waved at them impudently … and then the image was gone.

Well, it’s obviously a trap, said Doella. But we must try to reach him and take him back. Surely the three of us will be able to subdue him.

The sky was darkening, and the few remaining ants disappeared into the city as the sun sank. A loud droning, buzzing sound came from behind them, and a swarm of flying insects flew overhead. The swarm was so large that it resembled an opaque cloud, and its transit took several minutes. The insects resembled the ants in appearance, but unlike them, they possessed large transparent wings. How they managed to fly so close together without tangling their wings was amazing. The insects offered no threat to them, and they flew over the city and away beyond it.

Come on, thought Simune. This could be a good time for us to get into the city. The insects appear to be bedding down for the night. We must all keep alert in case we need to adjust the bubble. Keep as close to each other as possible – and no verbal speech.

Takos touched Doella’s shoulder reassuredly. This could be a good time to get into the city, but she had the additional fear of seeing Carnos again. They decided to drift down to the city on the anti-gravity platform and get as close as possible to Carnos’ location. They saw many dark openings, but there was no way of telling which one would lead them to Carnos.

Simune urged them to maintain the ban on verbal communication, and to limit their thought contact, in case the creatures sensed them. They silently agreed to illuminate the bubble, and it flared into radiance as they chose and entered a dark opening. A single ant stood guard inside the opening, and they carefully edged past it. The ant searched outside for the source of the movement, and they quickly moved further down the tunnel and away from it.


Book Link:


Flawed Gods


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Interview with

Eva Pasco

Author of

Etta's Fishing Ground



Today I have the pleasure to introduce an author who accelerated along her writing journey after retiring from a teaching career inside the third-grade trenches. Eva Pasco’s preferred writing genre is that of Contemporary Realistic Fiction, distinguished for its character-driven plots which unfold in her native state of Rhode Island.



Why is Contemporary Realistic Fiction your writing genre of choice?


My predilection for realistic storytelling was honed by watching the film, ‘On the Waterfront’ during my adolescence.  I was mesmerized by the gritty portrayal of realistic events the male and female protagonists experienced. Under the influence, I strive to replicate life through writing lit with grit.


Contemporary Realistic Fiction affords me wide latitude to extrapolate universal themes, and to put my flawed characters at risk in the precarious situations they find themselves.


With the world as your oyster for developing a novel grounded in reality, how did you arrive at the idea for your most recently published book, Etta’s Fishing Ground?

  

I happened to scroll by a controversial post gaining a lot of traction on social media: "If you discovered your best friend's husband with another woman, would you tell your bestie?"

 

You might say this quandary became the root of dysfunction spawning mayhem in the novel. 

 

Given you’re a stickler for depicting realism in your works of fiction, what, if any, hot buttons do you press?


In my writing, hot buttons are inevitable when art imitates life. Rearing their ugly head in ‘Etta’s Fishing Ground’: child molestation, marital infidelity, homophobia, bigotry, domestic violence, mother-daughter toxicity, and delusional obsession.


How large a role does the setting of Rhode Island play in your current and future literary works?


By interweaving historic events, geographic landmarks and regional culture into the framework of my stories, I blur the lines of demarcation between fact and fiction.


From the Prologue of ‘Etta’s Fishing Ground’:


Remorseful thoughts haunted Wyatt Cole while serving a sentence of fifteen years at the Adult Correctional Institute, ten years to be served in Minimum Security, with five years to be suspended for the felony of misdemeanor manslaughter.   

 

Otherwise, the quiet town with a low crime rate would up the ante years later when a suspended police officer shot and killed three teenagers at Wilson’s Auto Enterprise in retaliation against criminal charges filed for excessive force used during a traffic stop.


For better, or for worse—trespass and traverse Etta’s fishing ground in Foster, Rhode Island.


Book Link: 

Etta's Fishing Ground


Author Links: 

Amazon

Website

CommissionsEarned


Interview with

Robert W. Walker

Author of

Daniel Webster Jackson & The Wrongway Railroad



Today I have the pleasure to present an author who is a graduate of Chicago’s Wells High School, Northwestern University, and the NU’s Graduate Masters in English Education program.  Robert W. Walker has taught writing from composition and developmental to a study of the literary masters to creative writing.  His first novel was one only an arrogant youth could have conceived — a sequel to Huckleberry Finn.



Robert, it appears you have some ten separate genres and 10 separate series that you write in, and at one time you used three pen names as well. Why such diversity?


Good question and the reply is as diverse as my rambling among the genres. I began believing I was a YA author for the 12&up readers, those who treasured the ‘coming of age’ boys & girls adventure books with a young adult protagonist trying to find his way in the world amidst great historical events—the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Underground Railroad, a homage to my favorite author—Mark Twain. I did intertribal wars with indigenous young people in conflict, and the same with Vikings falling in love in their teens while discovering the American continent and the Indian population in Canada. My first of these sold to Oak Tree Publications in Sandiago and they wanted more such titles, so I banged out several more only to learn that some wealthy guy named Lord had bought up the publishing house for a write off and like a Musk, he ran it into the ground. All such of this collection of titles live online via KDP (kindle). I moved on to write adult-sized 3-vol historical novels. I soon learned even from agents as well as publishers that there was ‘no market’ at the time for historical novels of any size, and so I began writing medical mysteries in the form of medical examiner vs. evildoers and so came about my most successful ‘commercial’ Instinct Series (17 bks to date). So, you see where I am going with this long-winded reply, as suddenly an editor tells me, “Rob, we are overloaded with mysteries. With the Stephen King thing going crazy, we need horror and we need it to be 80,000 words. Yours in a mystery at 60,000.” My immediate reply: “Give me a green-light, verbal contract and I will provide a monster and 20,000 more words.” This was over the phone and she said, “Alright!” Then I turned that mystery into a horror novel, and that began my horror writing career with Geoffrey Caine as my name of the Bloodscreams series. Then I did my police procedural Edge series with a Native American Houston detective, and my PSI Blue series with a half Irish, half Japanese female lead. I’ve also done a seagoing series of supernatural tales, placing the supernatural aboard the Titanic, the Bismarck, the Andrea Doria, and most recently the Edmund Fitzgerald in Lake Superior. Diversity…gotta love it.


Daniel Webster Jackson & The Wrongway Railroad was your first novel finished in high school and it won you a scholarship to Northwestern University. Please share an excerpt with us.


The campfire lit the circle of boys, their eyes wide, as they listened to the storyteller. The flames rose and sank with a shifting wind that threw dry leaves into Old Black Billy's face. Old Billy stood over the circle, telling one of his famous "true" ghost stories. Behind the group stood black empty woods and the Negro quarters where most of the boys slept. Here and there among the black people, Daniel Webster Jackson and Joe Grier recognized a white face—other boys from town, who joined them in risking their skins to hear some of the old man's tales. Old Billy had a reputation in Hannibal.

The storyteller suddenly thrust his face toward Daniel's and howled with a blood curdling scream. "That was the cry Colonel Halverston heard when he got back to the place in the woods where them witches waited for him!" the old man said, pausing for a breath before adding, "Colonel man stared up into that big oak tree to find the witches, but colonel's horse reared up scared and throwed him off!" Old Billy jerked his hand upward to bring home his point, moving quickly around the circle.

From where Daniel sat, he could see the well-lit, four- story white house that belonged to the mysterious Colonel Halverston. It was an old mansion with large columns and great bay windows. Across the top floors, a line of windows offered a view of the land. The white walls looked green in darkness, thought Daniel, and he wondered if the colonel had really encountered witches in the nearby woods as a young man.

"It was a trap!" shouted one boy in the crowd.

"Can't trust devil-women!" cried another.

Old Billy kept his tale spinning, shouting over the listeners: "Colonel knew what he was about! He wanted to speak with Miss Amanda just once more, and the only way he could was by trusting in them witches! But Colonel, he protected himself with the riddle and his Bible, from which he took the riddle!"

A flurry of questions from Billy's anxious audience followed.

"What happened next?"

"What come of Miss Amanda?"

"Why didn't the colonel shoot 'em all?"

"There come giggling from up in that tree, them witches sounding just like school children, when one of them says to colonel smart-like, 'Why Colonel, you'll catch your death going about in your nightshirt on an evening cold as this!'" Again Billy paused for effect. "But Colonel, he stood up and said, 'Will I go back to my home and tell other men that the promises of a witch are false? For I will return and my tongue will be my own….'"


Which other authors have influenced your writing?


I will try to keep this short. #1 Mark Twain. In junior and senior high school, I read all of Twain’s works which inspired my first novel finished at Wells High in Chicago where this Mississippi boy grew up. Talk about diversity. Chicago was the melting pot, and Wells was the melting pot within the greater melting pot. I mean before anyone had heard of Vietnam, we had Vietnamese students in our schools, along with every other race and culture imaginable, and this gave me a great deal to work with as an author. Aside from Twain, there was Alexander Dumas, and a long line of the classic authors that I read, and of course the best that the schoolteachers and school library had to offer—Aldous Huxley, you name it, Lord of the Flies, the Crucible, 1984, Fahrenheit 450 or was it 451?  I read Poe, of course, and even Chekov and other foreign authors at least in short story form and translation. I was a huge fan too of the horror and science fiction writers and comic books. I’d say Twain, Hawthorne, and all the American classical authors were the greatest influence; look at the amazing diversity Twain had at hand, his works going from such as Prince and the Pauper, Huckleberry Finn, and Life on the Mississippi. It had always been my dream to be as versatile in writing as was Mark Twain, who I consider my spiritual mentor. After all, my ‘sequel’ to Huck Finn got me a full-ride scholarship to Northwestern University where I finished somehow with a bachelor's degree and a master’s to teach English. Told you I’d be brief.


What motivates you to write—gets you going and staying on a project?


Between novels, I will do short stories and novellas to ease burden of thinking about the long journey of the 70-80K novel. But to answer your question my head is full of characters with stories to tell, and each one is clamoring for me to tell that story. And the loudest, squeakiest of voices get my attention, and soon, like a bird stuck in my chest fluttering to be free of my ribcage prison, I have to let that damn thing out. So often, what motivates me to begin a new project is the character(s) I am hearing within, but sometimes it is an idea/premise that I may alone, without the cries from within, determine is a helluva great idea for a story. I have even more than once begun with just the title of a story that moves me to write that darn thing. Example, my Ghost Gun 3bk series western, one of my Bloodscreams titles came to me while teaching Beowulf as I kept hearing it as Bayou Wulf and thinking what a great title for a werewolf novel, and so I made it happen. Finally, IQ is far less important in writing than is PQ – Persistence Quotient. Stick to it for the sake and the life of your creations.


Are there any truly useful secrets to becoming a successful author?


First define what is success to you, as that is a dangerous word, same like talent. I can warn you that no one online hustling or no publisher in the reaaal world can ever grantee  Bestsellerdom, no way! I can say this: your storyline and your character(s) have to have this magical “commercial” appeal. You need a commercial plotline and at least your main character to appeal to the masses to even sell 40 or 50K books and those authors who sell even that much are called ‘middle’ level and are not selling ENOUGH to escape being cut from the major publishers. Sad to say. Such figures small presses would love to see.

Getting to the other secrets – The narrative VOICE of the novel or story is the most important single element that you must find and make consistent throughout your tale. It is truly the secret to a successful story, and it is made up of many elements that are all detailed and discussed in my Creative Writing Class in ebook, audio, or paper on Amazon entitled Dead on Writing – the how-to for the dysfunctional writer in us all.  A second absolutely wonderful book that goes deeply into these elements that go into crafting the VOICE is Jerome Stern’s Making Shapely Fiction.  Both books are dirt cheap.


What has kept you in this business of writing for as long as you have been at it, writing in high school in the late 60s and publishing your first book in 1972, Sub-Zero, inspired by Chicago winters?


Love of the labor. A love of it as a craft. No less than what an actor or an artist or sculptor or an architect loves: building art. The art of the scene building like a moviemaker. 


What book of yours do you feel would be a good starting point for a reader to learn of your style and passion for storytelling?


It depends greatly on the reader’s preference for genre, but I would suggest the first book in any of my series, be it my Instinct series with the female M.E, or my Cherokee Detective Stonecoat police procedural Edge series, or one of 3 short story collections like Darkness Chasing Light or my novella series called Chicaghosts with first book called Gone Gorilla or for horror Vampire Dreams first in the Bloodscreams series. For historical, Children of Salem or Daniel Webster Jackson and the Wrongway Railroad. For to search all titles out and just click on the 90 covers one can visit me at my website and thank you Uvi for letting me spout off so long and so much.


Author Links:

Website 

Amazon

BookBub


Book Link:

Daniel Webster Jackson & The Wrongway Railroad

CommissionsEarned


3 comments:

  1. Much thanks, Uvi, for your feature of my book today! So appreciated! ox

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you so much for this opportunity, Uvi. The presentation looks fantastic, too.

    ReplyDelete