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The featured authors are interviews with the authors of the books that Amy's Bookshelf Reviews has reviewed.

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Anand Arungundram Mohan

Q: In three words, describe yourself.

 

I write freely

 

Q: How many books have you written? How many of those are published?

 I am writing my forth book and I have published only one. I wanted to do things right by the work I created.

 

Q: Do you have an upcoming release? If yes, tell me the title and impending release date.

 

 I am going to release the book “The Under-Ordinary Life of Mangamma Uppertoe” soon. I don’t have a release date yet.

 

Q: Tell me about how you come up with your titles for your stories. Do you create the title before or after you write the book, and does it ever change from the initial title?

 

I already have the titles for the next three or four books written down. I don’t change the titles after penning the story.

 

Q: Out of all your characters in all of your books, who/what (sometimes a setting can also be an important “character”) do you think is the most interesting and why?

 

There is a character named “Chakkuma” in my next release of “The Under-Ordinary Life of Mangamma Uppertoe.” She gets affected mentally at the swag end of her life, and she realizes living for her daughter is always more important than giving up on life itself. When one is mentally ill, they make a fool of themselves and are bound for ridicule at best of times. When dignity is taken away and yet one continues living for their family’s sake, it shows inner strength. It teaches us to respect everyone from all walks of life, because you cannot imagine what they are undergoing in real life.

 

Q: If you could “create” your own genre of what you write, what would you call your books?

Philosophical Young Adult

 

 Q: Without quoting your back cover blurb, tell me about the last book you published.

 

“The World’s Oldest, Most Powerful Secret Society” is about friendship, love and the power of peace.

 

Q: Quote your favorite line from one of your stories. Indicate the line, and then the book title.

 

“Where is the power of Green Earth?

Is it not run by a slew of Carbon atoms?” – The Under-Ordinary Life of Mangamma Uppertoe.

 

 Q: Tell me something about yourself that is separate from writing.

 

I have traveled to more than 10 cities in the past decade and lived in each one for nearly a year.

 

Q: Who are your top THREE favorite authors?

 

A: Enid Blyton, J K Rowling and Robert Jordan.

 

Q: What is the last book that you read? (Not counting anything you wrote)

 

A thesaurus for writers.

 

Q: When writing, do you have a system or something you plan, or do you just write?

 

I am methodical. I have an excel sheet for writing the important points before fleshing them out.

 

Q: Why do you write?

 

Because I want to share what is in my mind.

 

Q: Do you currently have a WIP? If yes, what’s the title, and is it part of a series or standalone?

 

The Under-Ordinary Life of Mangamma Uppertoe is a standalone book. I am publishing it soon.

 

Q: Do you read your own work a lot? If so, what does it do for you?

 

Yes, I read my work a lot. It makes me realize that most of the ideas penned down come from a source far superior to my brain. What it is, I have no idea.

 

Q: I play music when I write, and depending on the setting or mood of the story depends on what I listen to. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what genre or artist/band do you listen to?

 

 I like silence when I write. I love to concentrate on the work I do solely till I hit a wall. Then, I walk around with music blaring in my ears and let the imagination run wild.

 

Q: As an author, I find that the hardest thing to write (for me) is the blurb that will be on the back cover or book’s description. When you write, what is the hardest line to write, the first line, the last line or the synopsis for the book?

 

I have to agree with you. I am excited to write the book and once done, I can’t wait for it being read by others. I don’t like to sit down and write about what I have already written at that point of time.

 

Q: If you could sit down and have a coffee (or your favorite beverage) with anyone, living or dead, from any era, any time, who would it be and why? (You can pick up to 3 persons).

 

I would want to drink the coconut water with the ape that was turning into a homo sapien. Perhaps, a drink with my amazing future bride (whomsoever she be) would be interesting. And for the third, I would say I would like to share a cool beverage with someone badly in need of water – like in a desert. That way, I am doing a good deed with what I have.

 

Q: What does it mean to be a “successful” writer?

 

 A writer is someone who writes, while a successful writer is someone who can make others debate and grow.

 

Q: What do you want to accomplish, so when you look back at your life, you can say “I did that”?

 

 The accomplishment for me is financial freedom I guess.

 

 Q: Any final thoughts that you want to give to your fans or even future authors?

 

To my readers, I say thank you.

Christy J. Breedlove

Q: In threewords, describe yourself.

 

Determined literary savage.

 

Q: How many books have you written? How many of those are published?

 

I’ve written approximately 26 novels over a period of 36 years. Twelve are currently published, with a trilogy that will appear within nine months or so. Most of the early books were typewritten and shelved. It’s only when I got my first agent that I began to sell anything.

 

Q: Do you have an upcoming release? If yes, tell me the title and impending release date.

 

My newest release is called Screamcatcher: Web World, a YA fantasy thriller. I still consider it recent since it came out April 23, 2019. Book two is Screamcatcher: Dream Chasers and book three is Screamcatcher: The Shimmering Eye. The Shimmering Eye is basically a retelling of the Hunt for Skinwalker Ranch, the most haunted property in the U.S. George Knapp, investigative reporter, documentarian and author out of Las Vegas, gave me the thumbs up on the idea.

 

Q: Tell me about how you come up with your titles for your stories. Do you create the title before or after you write the book, and does it ever change from the initial title?

 

I wanted to write a story about a haunted dream catcher. There was nothing on the Internet about such a trope or premise. I mean, nothing! I used the word scream and married it to catcher, thus arriving at Screamcatcher, a play on worlds, but also a fairly good identifier of the genre type.

 

Q: Out of all your characters in all of your books, who/what (sometimes a setting can also be an important “character”) do you think is the most interesting and why?

 

I would have to say Jory Pike of the Screamcatcher series is the most intriguing because she is definitely POC, with her Ojibwe American Indian heritage. She becomes the team leader of a paranormal investigative team on the hunt for ghosts, monsters and evil spirits. She is almost a dead ringer for Katniss of The Hunger Games, both in bow skill and physical appearance.  

 

Q: If you could “create” your own genre of what you write, what would you call your books?

 

My fans seemed to answer that one: They say I mash-up YA fantasy with horror. I did not realize I had that much of a horror element in my YA writings. I preferred to think of it as fantasy/thriller. Somebody wanted to nominate me for the fantasy/horror category, whatever that is.

 

Q: Without quoting your back coverblurb, tell me about the last book you published.

 

This would be more of a tag line: A Native American teenager and her friends are sucked into a hellish web world when an ancient dream catcher implodes, pulling them into a world of trapped nightmares. They must find the exit or perish in the alternate world.

 

Q: Quote your favorite line from one of your stories. Indicate the line, and then the book title.

 

It’s part of a dialogue sequence from Screamcatcher: Web World:

“Everybody up!” Jory ordered the team. “That includes you, Darcy! We’ve got sunshine.”

“I don’t see any sunshine,” said Darcy, sleepily.

Jory growled. “You’ll see bright stars if you don’t rouse that flabby ass!”

“Since you put it that way, stretch girl.”

 

Q: Tell me something about yourself that is separate from writing.

 

I was a professional miniature and dollhouse builder, with over 80 projects built and sold. I was a federal protection officer, and a master mechanic. My last occupation was editor and report for Sunset Publishing. I guess that is a really weird combination. Oh, I have a commendation for bravery from the U.S. Government for saving over 250 lives from a burning building.

 

Q: Who are your top THREE favorite authors?

 

Poul Anderson, the late great SF writer, who got me started and became my mentor for years. Alan Dean Foster because of his Icerigger series. And Michael Crichton because he beat out my book Dinothon with his Jurassic Park novel. I dedicated the Wolfen Strain to him, out of admiration and superior talent.

 

Q: What is the last book that you read? (Not counting anything you wrote)

 

I was totally taken up with The Hunger games, both in print and movie franchise. I was astonished at how much terror teenagers could endure and survive through impossible odds. I swore then that I would write something just as thrilling and daring, taking my characters to the absolute limit of human and spiritual endurance. The Hobbit comes in second, after I re-read it so many years ago.

 

Q: When writing, do you have a system or something you plan, or do you just write?

 

I’m a full-on pantser—no outlines, limited notes. I just go like hell, energized by that white-hot drive of discovery and newness. I’ll back-track and add voluminous notes and references, doing most of the serious research during the second editing pass. I have to blitz and get it done to feel really setup and satisfied first.  

 

Q: Why do you write?

 

I see myself as an entertainer. It’s my love, job and duty to appeal to the public. I want to give them a thrill ride like they’ve never experience. I’ve written some heavy duty literary work, but I’m more noted for action-plot-paced beach reads. I aim to rip your head off, make you laugh until you gag, and pull out tufts of your hair. I write for the effect and consider the importance of voice just about more importantly than anything.

 

Q: Do you currently have a WIP? If yes, what’s the title, and is it part of a series or standalone?

 

Oh gosh. Rainbow Warriors is a MG novel of fantasy adventure, something akin to the Narnia world. I stalled out on it because I became afraid of losing or developing that category voice, which is way more difficult that writing YA.

 

Q: Do you read your own work a lot? If so, what does it do for you?

 

The only reason I read my own work is because I want to laugh. I fancy myself as a humorist and love to find those choice passages that I created which evoke irony and humor. I guess I crack myself up a lot.

 

Q: I play music when I write, and depending on the setting or mood of the story depends on what I listen to. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what genre or artist/band do you listen to?

 

 You know, I don’t listen to music when I write. I do have a fast enough pace with good literary beats. I do remember that King and Koontz listen to rock ‘n roll and jazz, and that’s okay. Music can create a mood. I guess I’m the opposite in that I could set my words to music. Hasn’t been done yet.

 

Q: As an author, I find that the hardest thing to write (for me) is the blurb that will be on the back cover or book’s description. When you write, what is the hardest line to write, the first line, the last line or the synopsis for the book?

 

I’m starting to get the right openings of the first lines and pages now. I didn’t pay too much attention to it before. But, yeah, like you I’d say the full synopsis is the creature that really haunts me. I can never condense it like I want and get the full message across. Thank the Maker I have an agent that will cut me to the quick for that. I just close my eyes and bleed.

 

Q: If you could sit down and have a coffee (or your favorite beverage) with anyone, living or dead, from any era, any time, who would it be and why? (You can pick up to 3 persons).

 

There would be quite a few. I like what I consider stylists: Poul Anderson, Virgin Planet, Peter Benchley, The Island and Jaws, Joseph Wambaugh, The Onion Field and Black Marble, Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park, Alan Dean Foster, Icerigger trilogy, and some Stephen King. Anne Rice impresses with just about anything she has written. I think it's the humor and irony that attracts me the most--and it's all character related. I would spend afternoons with any of these writers, asking questions about their early years. 

 

Q: What does it mean to be a “successful” writer?

 

 Straight up—a movie deal. I want a feature film. It’s really a long shot, but I write with all the senses and with heavy visuals. I have an agent and promotion manager working toward that goal now. I hope it comes to reality. It’s a lot to ask, but I feel I would easily pay the price for it.

 

Q: What do you want to accomplish, so when you look back at your life, you can say “I did that”?

 

 The feature film. Heh, I’m back on that again. A franchise would be heavenly. My goals are lofty, but I’m up there in years and feel I’ve paid the dues ten times over. I could write and publish bestsellers all day, but for my work to grace the screen, now that would be hitting the ultimate honor society. I could not go any further than that. It’s something that drives me beyond all comprehension. I’ve come so close to film before in my early years. It gave me a taste, like a shark that smells blood. 

 

Q: Any final thoughts that you want to give to your fans or even future authors?

 

 Okay Writers: Watch your spending on ads--they can be grossly ineffective. Use social media and generously interact with fellow writers and readers. Don't abuse FB and Twitter solely for the purpose of "Buy My Book." Join writing groups and learn from the pros. Ask politely for reviews--don't pressure, harass or intimidate. Be creative. Target your genre readers. Offer incentives and freebies. Craft a newsletter and send it out bi-monthly. Don't take critiques as personal attacks--learn from honest opinions. Don't despair. Never give up. Revenge query. And buy Screamcatcher for .99 cents or go KU!

Karl Beckstrand

Q: In three words, describe yourself.

Organized sharing learner

 

Q: How many books have you written? How many of those are published?

 I have about thirty finished stories, twenty-two are published.

 

Q: Do you have an upcoming release? If yes, tell me the title and impending release date.

 Well, it’s a ways off (isn’t illustrated yet), but Agnes’s Rescue should be out next year. It’s the true story of an immigrant girl who walked about 1,000 miles across America (mostly in bare feet) into blizzards in the Rockies.

 

Q: Tell me about how you come up with your titles for your stories. Do you create the title before or after you write the book, and does it ever change from the initial title?

 Sometimes the title comes first (as with Sounds in the House or The Dancing Flamingos of Lake Chimichanga). Sometimes it comes after the story is written (as with Bad Bananas: A Story Cookbook for Kids, which almost was called “When Bananas Go Bad”).

 

Q: Out of all your characters in all of your books, who/what (sometimes a setting can also be an important “character”) do you think is the most interesting and why?

Anna Anderson (my great-great aunt—the subject of Anna’s Prayer) because her story is true.

 

Q: If you could “create” your own genre of what you write, what would you call your books?

Twisted multicultural/multilingual humor for kids

 

Q: Without quoting your back cover blurb, tell me about the last book you published.

 A mysterious visitor sparks intrigue and fun for a multicultural family

It Came from under the High Chair - It Came from Under the Highchair – Salió de debajo de la silla para comer: A Mystery (in English & Spanish).

 

Q: Quote your favorite line from one of your stories. Indicate the line, and then the book title.

“Itches…twitches; he picks at his stitches. He thinks about riches. He’s sinking in ditches. He switches. He pitches. He untwists his britches—and drifts—now the glitch is, he’s dreaming of WITCHES!” from Why Juan Can’t Sleep: A Mystery?.

 

Q: Tell me something about yourself that is separate from writing.

 I lived in South America for a couple years and speak Spanish. I’m also learning German. I teach digital media at a state college.

 

Q: Who are your top THREE favorite authors?

 In my genre: Shel Silverstein

Outside my genre: David McCullough and J.R.R. Tolkien

 

Q: What is the last book that you read? (Not counting anything you wrote)

 Major Problems in American Colonial History (edited by Karen Kupperman. I like history)

 

Q: When writing, do you have a system or something you plan, or do you just write?

I get ambushed by ideas that have to get put on paper. When writing chapter books, I outline the whole story and then fill in the details.

 

Q: Why do you write?

A: See above:)

 

Q: Do you currently have a WIP? If yes, what’s the title, and is it part of a series or standalone?

 A work in progress? See my third answer above.

 

Q: Do you read your own work a lot? If so, what does it do for you?

 I do while it is in draft form—always polishing.

 

Q: I play music when I write, and depending on the setting or mood of the story depends on what I listen to. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what genre or artist/band do you listen to?: I don’t listen to anything while I write, but I listen to radio/music when I illustrate.

 

Q: As an author, I find that the hardest thing to write (for me) is the blurb that will be on the back cover or book’s description. When you write, what is the hardest line to write, the first line, the last line or the synopsis for the book?

 The synopsis is hardest because you have to encapsulate and tantalize in very few words.

 

Q: If you could sit down and have a coffee (or your favorite beverage) with anyone, living or dead, from any era, any time, who would it be and why? (You can pick up to 3 persons).

 1. Jesus Christ (so much I would ask)

2. Churchill (I’d seek input on today’s issues)

3. Joseph Smith (I’d like to know more about who he is)

 

Q: What does it mean to be a “successful” writer?

 To complete a story (whether it’s published or not)

 

Q: What do you want to accomplish, so when you look back at your life, you can say “I did that”?

 I’ve done nearly everything on my bucket list. I would like to visit more countries and see old friends.

 

Q: Any final thoughts that you want to give to your fans or even future authors?

 Write every day (even for just a few minutes). Don’t quite marketing your book for at least eighteen months.

Sharlene Almond

Q: In three words, describe yourself.

 

Motivated, determined, empathetic.

 

Q: How many books have you written? How many of those are published?

 

I’ve written 5 books in total. Initiated to Kill is the only novel in the Annabella Cordova series that has been traditionally published. I have also written a New Zealand travel e-book called ‘Journey in Little Paradise’ that has been self-published.

Q: Tell me about how you come up with your titles for your stories. Do you create the title before or after you write the book, and does it ever change from the initial title?

 

I create the title after the book has been written. Except for my first novel, all my other books their titles have been changed after I have began the editing stage.

Initiated to Kill was the easiest title to come up with, as it is the main premise of the book. Two men, initiated into a powerful organization to kill.

So, when coming up with the other titles, while editing, I note down the main motives behind what occurs. With these notes, I come up with the title that best sums up the main motive or premise of the story.

Q: Out of all your characters in all of your books, who/what (sometimes a setting can also be an important “character”) do you think is the most interesting and why?

I might be biased here; I do think that Annabella Cordova is the most interesting. Her background, her having to overcome her inability to hear by using her other senses and reading body language to communicate with people.

Her past also reveals how closely linked she is to the events happening around her. This continues throughout all my novels. However, I do like her character progression in later novels, as she becomes tougher, more determined and capable.

I would agree that the ‘setting’ is an incredibly important and interesting character. All my novels are set in different locations, so it was important for me to show the culture, people, traditions and myths surrounding the locations I set my novels in. A great way to explore a country.

Q: Without quoting your back cover blurb, tell me about the last book you published.

The story takes the reader between 19th century Whitechapel, London and 21st century Seville, Spain. When Annabella’s roommate goes missing she gets tangled up in a network of conspiracy, university secrets, an infamous serial killer, and her own past reveals she is much closer to all of this than she realizes.

Initiated to Kill has plenty of flashbacks from past to present for all the main characters to create an in-depth insight to the psyche of the characters.

The historical part travels back to 19th Whitechapel where an artist’s apprentice wanders the gloomy streets, hunting for his next muse. Flashbacks from past to present for this character reveals the disturbed psyche of a narcissistic killer, whose psychopathic tendencies are unleashed when he is initiated into an organization to kill.

The novel then travels forward to Seville, where Annabella wrestles against the past, dredging up memories that led to her deafness, and utilizing her natural skills of reading body language to help Andres Valero unmask a killer that seeks to once again wreck havoc and instill fear in the world.

Although flashbacks in the novel may seem confusing at times, they are designed to create a detailed canvas of the character’s lives, and what lead them to who they have become, and what they do next.

Q: Quote your favorite line from one of your stories. Indicate the line, and then the book title.

There is a lot of lines that I like; however, I believe the first line in the Prologue of Initiated to Kill is one of the best, as it introduces the reader not only to the setting, but also to the way I write.

“The solemn lodge hid from unworthy eyes, unnoticeable forgotten place made of granite. Two Sphinx-like granite lions with women’s heads peered down from the entrance of the lodge. An ‘ankh’ adorned the lion’s neck entwined with a cobra. An image of a woman embellished the neck and breast of the other lion, speaking of fertility and procreation.”

Q: Tell me something about yourself that is separate from writing.

I love learning. I have studied a range of subjects – Beauty and Spa therapy, Animal Behavior, Pet Care and Nutrition, Dog psychology, Editing and Proofreading, Animal Photography, Criminology, Freelance Journalism. Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Body Language and Naturopathic Nutrition.

I’m currently studying to specialize in Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Medicinal Cannabis and CBD.

Q: Who are your top THREE favorite authors?

Dan Brown, Jeffery Deaver and Jack Kerley.

Q: What is the last book that you read? (Not counting anything you wrote)

Revelation by C.J. Sansom – a Matthew Shardlake novel.

Q: When writing, do you have a system or something you plan, or do you just write?

I use word excel to plot out my chapter outlines. That way I know what I need to focus on researching and writing each day. It keeps me focused, and also ensures my novels follow a logical progression.

Q: Why do you write?

I’m probably drawn to writing because I love to learn. With my novels I have to research, thus learn about the location it is set in, the history and everything that is revolved around the history.

I like to go in-depth as possible, without weighing the story down with too much detail. I love history; so researching the historical element to my novels is incredibly interesting.

It’s fun immersing myself in another world, develop a connection to the characters I created, and be able to control how things progress and eventually turn out. Of course, with the historical element, certain things are out of my control, as I try to stick as closely as possible to the actual events, while putting my own twist to it.

Q: Do you currently have a WIP? If yes, what’s the title, and is it part of a series or standalone?

To me, anything that I haven’t traditionally published is still a work in progress. So, my second, third and fourth novel in the Annabella Cordova series is still WIP, as I am currently editing my second novel to prepare it to send to publishers. Then I will continue to edit the other two as well.

Q: Do you read your own work a lot? If so, what does it do for you?

Yes! The more I read it, the more I pick up on what to change, add or remove. A couple of months ago, I read Initiated to Kill in print. I loved it, as it felt brand new, rediscovering and remembering what I wrote.

And it also revealed that even now, there are things I would change about Initiated to Kill. So, reading them over and over again just tends to help me keep on improving my novels.

I do find it helpful to have a couple of months (if possible) between reads, so I approach the edit with a fresh perspective.

Q: As an author, I find that the hardest thing to write (for me) is the blurb that will be on the back cover or book’s description. When you write, what is the hardest line to write, the first line, the last line or the synopsis for the book?

It’s definitely the synopsis for the book. Trying to condense a massive writing project into a page or two, covering the main points and characters while trying to make it sound riveting and engaging is a pretty difficult task.

However, I find that using my word excel chapter outline helps me to cover the main points, then I just reword it to make it sound more interesting.

Q: If you could sit down and have a coffee (or your favorite beverage) with anyone, living or dead, from any era, any time, who would it be and why? (You can pick up to 3 persons).

J. R Tolkien would be my top pick. I would love to pick his brain as to how he come up with all those characters, the setting, everything about Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. And what inspired him to create the ‘Elvin’ language in the books.

 

Gaius Julius Caesar. Get some ‘honest’ answers to everything that happened back then, what made him so determined to do everything he did? Were the Romans as bad as history states? What would he do differently?

 

Finally, probably one of my historical characters in my novels would certainly be an interesting chat. Jack the Ripper, Elizabeth Bathory, the Zealots in Masada, or the people that were affected by the Bubonic Plague. History is full of people I would love to talk to.

 

Q: What does it mean to be a “successful” writer?

 

To me it means to create something I can be proud of. I’m very pedantic, I’m my harshest critic, so if I’m not impressed, I will keep working on it until I am.

It’s also important to me that others also like my books. It is great being a published author; however, it is the reader’s opinion that also makes a writing endeavor successful. That’s not to say everyone will like my book, just that even if it is a small handful of people that do, then that is success to me.

Q: What do you want to accomplish, so when you look back at your life, you can say “I did that”?

I’m doing it, lol. I’ve already ticked quite a lot off my bucket list, from skydiving to swimming with sharks, all the way to successfully writing novels, and starting up my online businesses.

The thing that I would like to still do though, if health and finances allowed it, is to travel to the locations I have written about.

Q: Any final thoughts that you want to give to your fans or even future authors?

Feedback is important. Don’t get discouraged by bad feedback, as long as you can learn from it.

As for readers, one the of best things you can do for an author you like is to post and ‘share’ a review of the book. Word-of-mouth is the best form of advertisement, as it isn’t just the author saying the book is good, others are saying it as well.

And, of course, it’s just as helpful when the reader mentions what they didn’t like about the book, that way the author knows what they might like to do differently next time.

JW Robitaille

Q: In three words, describe yourself.

 

Hard-working, resourceful, creative

 

Q: How many books have you written? How many of those are published?

 

I've written 11 books. Eight are published or about to be published. The other three are a YA series that I haven't released yet.

 

Q: Do you have an upcoming release? If yes, tell me the title and impending release date.

 

Consequences, the fourth Cory Marin detective novel, is due out on 7/19.

 

Q: Tell me about how you come up with your titles for your stories. Do you create the title before or after you write the book, and does it ever change from the initial title?

 

 I generally come up with the title as I'm working on a novel and the theme is solidifying in my mind.

 

Q: Out of all your characters in all of your books, who/what (sometimes a setting can also be an important “character”) do you think is the most interesting and why?

 

Location is a character for me because all of my fiction is set in Gainesville, Florida, a college town. I'm particularly fond of the group of characters I've created for the Cory Marin series because I feel like they've all become my friends.

 

Q: If you could “create” your own genre of what you write, what would you call your books?

 

I write character-centered stories. I would call the Cory Marin series character-based detective fiction or literary detective fiction.

 

Q: Without quoting your back cover blurb, tell me about the last book you published.

 

Consequences, the one due out in July, focuses on three female detectives taking on a high school sexting scandal because they can't stand to see how powerless the girls are. Each detective has a backstory that helps explain her determination to help the girls.

 

Q: Tell me something about yourself that is separate from writing.

 

I've also painted (primarily oils but also watercolors and pastels) for almost as long as I've written. I took a painting class when I was frustrated with not being able to bring my first novel together. What that class taught me was that you can't do anything (a book or a painting) in your head. It has to happen on the page or on the canvas. I've painted and written ever since. I'm also a do-it-yourselfer. I love having a vision of what I could make (whether it's a novel or restoring a house or a painting) and then seeing it come to fruition.

 

Q: Who are your top THREE favorite authors?

 

Louise Penny, Donna Leon, Ian Rankin

 

Q: What is the last book that you read? (Not counting anything you wrote)

 

Less by Andrew Sean Greer. It's quirky and funny and charming. I mostly listen to audiobooks and I go through 2-3 per week.

 

Q: When writing, do you have a system or something you plan, or do you just write?

 

With detective novels, I have to have a crime and at least a pool of suspects before I start (even though I often know who did it and why). That pool of suspects often grows as I write, as do subplots, so the plot gets more and more complicated as I write.

 

Q: Why do you write?

 

I write for much the same reason I paint: because I love to reflect some part of the amazing complexity and beauty of the world I see.

 

Q: Do you currently have a WIP? If yes, what’s the title, and is it part of a series or standalone?

 

This summer I'll be working on the fifth Cory Marin novel. It's tentatively titled Spring of Fire.

 

Q: Do you read your own work a lot? If so, what does it do for you?

 

I only read my work when I'm doing a public reading. It's fun to revisit the opening of Romancing the Crime, the first Cory Marin novel because I realize I set up the major characters in that first chapter.

 

Q: I play music when I write, and depending on the setting or mood of the story depends on what I listen to. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what genre or artist/band do you listen to?

 

I tend not to listen to music (although I always do when I'm painting and Tom Petty, Dire Straits, and Bruce Springsteen are my faves for painting). I write in the morning. I also tend to write when I'm walking. I use the notes function on my phone to record scenes and dialogue as I walk. I can then send the file to myself and clean it up.

 

Q: As an author, I find that the hardest thing to write (for me) is the blurb that will be on the back cover or book’s description. When you write, what is the hardest line to write, the first line, the last line or the synopsis for the book?

 

 The synopsis is definitely the hardest. It's really hard to condense the complex world of a novel into a paragraph or two.

 

Q: What does it mean to be a “successful” writer?

 

To me being successful means doing the work, writing, editing, and publishing stories. It helps if people like the work, but for me, the primary measure of success is that I'm writing and completing projects.

 

Q: What do you want to accomplish, so when you look back at your life, you can say “I did that”?

 

 My two boys are the part of my life I'm proudest of, but I'm also proud of having restored the house we live in (and several other houses) and having accomplished the things I set my mind to, whether that was painting or writing novels.

 

Q: Any final thoughts that you want to give to your fans or even future authors?

 

 Jump in and get started on whatever it is you want to do. Don't put it off, and don't give up once you do start, no matter how tough the going gets. The only thing you will regret is not trying.

Diane M Wigginton

Q: In three words, describe yourself.

 

Hard Working, Considerate, Loyal

 

Q: How many books have you written? How many of those are published?

 

I have written 5 books. 4 are published and the 5th book is in process.

Q: Do you have an upcoming release? If yes, tell me the title and impending release date.

I do have a 5th novel I’m working on but I don’t have a specific date for release. It’s called, “Compromising Position.”

Q: Tell me about how you come up with your titles for your stories. Do you create the title before or after you write the book, and does it ever change from the initial title?

 

I usually come up with the title mid-way through and it usually sticks.

 

Q: Out of all your characters in all of your books, who/what (sometimes a setting can also be an important “character”) do you think is the most interesting and why?

 

I love the characters from my Jeweled Dagger Series because they are all so strong and unwavering in their convictions. The three main characters from the series have paranormal powers and they are so strong willed and unyielding in their desire to do what is right.

 

Q: If you could “create” your own genre of what you write, what would you call your books?

 

More Than Historical Romance because they are full of action and suspense as well as the historical romance.

Q: Without quoting your back-cover blurb, tell me about the last book you published.

Lara’s Story is a young adult historical fiction, drama. The story setting begins in the beautiful landscape of Ireland in the mid-nineteenth century, where we first meet our heroine Lara Flannigan when she is a young child surrounded by a loving family. But when tragedy strikes and Lara finds herself alone, a childless American couple rescues the girl and take her back to the big city of Philadelphia. Here, Lara must forget her brash roots and try to grow and fit in with the high society of America’s finest, posing as the couple’s new daughter. But it is not always easy to let go of the past, especially when it won’t let go of her.

It is a gripping and emotional journey from start to finish as Lara tries to navigate her strange new world while figuring out where she fits in it.

Lara’s Story is about fitting in as well as self-discovery as she matures into a woman of society in Philadelphia during 1840’s to 1853 as appearances are usually put first, which is very different from the life Lara was used to.

Q: Quote your favorite line from one of your stories. Indicate the line, and then the book title.

"When a heart breaks it does not break evenly-cleaving in half exactly down the middle. It breaks, jagged and rough, cutting one to the very core of their soul. And while things appear perfectly normal to the naked eye, beneath the surface lies the real tragedy, fragmented and splintered beyond reconciliation."

This is from Lara’s Story, in the beginning. I just love this story and everything I went through to bring this story to life. Sure, there are some tragic parts that brings you to tears but, in the end, you see how the character grew from the child to this great woman and the journey she had to take to get there. It is raw and emotional and real. It makes you feel and it forced me to open up a vein and bleed out onto the paper as I was writing it. There were times that I wrote three of four pages and I was so wrung out that I was finished for the day.

I just love this book because I feel that I grew as a writer because I was so open and honest in the writing process.

 

Q: Tell me something about yourself that is separate from writing.

 

 I am a mother of 3, a daughter and 2 sons. I am the step mother to 3 boys and a grandmother to 8 grandchildren with 2 more grand-babies due this fall. I love the great outdoors and traveling. If I could travel four months out of the year to exotic places, I would. I believe that every experience helps one develop into a better writer. It gets the creative juices flowing so to speak.

 

Q: Who are your top THREE favorite authors?

 

I have loved Kathleen E. Woodiwiss since I was young. She was always so amazing with her descriptive words.

Diana Gabladon and her Outlander Series, of course. The woman is amazing.

Mary Higgins Clark is a wonderful who-done-it writer.

 

Q: What is the last book that you read? (Not counting anything you wrote)

 

The Story Tellers Secret by Sejal Badani and Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, two wonderful story tellers and fascinating books.

 

Q: When writing, do you have a system or something you plan, or do you just write?

 

 I think that it is more fun to see where the story takes me. Sure, I have a rough idea of the storyline, but my first series, Jeweled Dagger Series was all by the seat of my pants. I began with an idea but then let the characters take my on a journey that was so much fun to go on and I hope that the readers enjoyed the journey as much as I did. Sometimes I would put the main character into an impossible situation and I would have to figure out how they were going to get out of it or what came next. I was almost as if I was reading it and living through the story as I made it up. Very exhilarating as a writer.

 

Q: Why do you write?

 

 I write because I have something to say and I want others to hear what it is that I am saying with my words. It’s like talking to a good friend but instead of an intimate setting of five people it is hundreds of people and I hope some day thousands of people that will hear my stories.

 

Q: Do you read your own work a lot? If so, what does it do for you?

 

Some times I pick up one of my books and start to read something and forget that I wrote it. Then I think, “Wow, that was really clever.” I love to add something in the end to show how the character has grown or what they learned from their experiences. It’s really a growing experience for me as well each time I create a character and the world in which they live.

 

Q: I play music when I write, and depending on the setting or mood of the story depends on what I listen to. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what genre or artist/band do you listen to?

 

I don’t usually listen to music when I write. I lock myself away in my little office downstairs and get very irritated when my husband bothers me when I’m on a streak to ask me if I want to take a break or go someplace. Sometimes I even shut the door then he knows not to bother me until I come out for air.

 

Q: As an author, I find that the hardest thing to write (for me) is the blurb that will be on the back cover or book’s description. When you write, what is the hardest line to write, the first line, the last line or the synopsis for the book?

 

Probably the synopsis. It’s hard for an artist/writer to condense everything about the story into ten lines of copy. It forces one to cut so much out.

 

Q: If you could sit down and have a coffee (or your favorite beverage) with anyone, living or dead, from any era, any time, who would it be and why? (You can pick up to 3 persons).

 

I am very religious so I would have to say the number one person I would want to talk with would be Jesus because I think it would be a life changing experience to simply be in his presence.

The second person I would love to sit down with would be Elvis. I always had a crush on him when I was a little girl and would love to understand what went through his mind.

I also think it would be fascinating to sit down with Leonardo DaVinci because he was such a forward thinker. I would want to know if his ideas came to him in a dream or if he simply sat around all day thinking up crazy things and then built them.

 

Q: What does it mean to be a “successful” writer?

 

 Well, it means that you can pay the bills and continue to write which I am not there yet. I haven’t really made any kind of money writing and producing my own books but maybe someday I will sell thousands of copies at a time and become very successful. But even if I don’t, the process of writing and expressing that part of my voice I never knew I had has been amazing.

 

Q: What do you want to accomplish, so when you look back at your life, you can say “I did that”?

 

I am leaving something of myself behind for my posterity and generations of family who will come that says that I was here and that I left my mark behind.

 

Q: Any final thoughts that you want to give to your fans or even future authors?

 

I want to just say that having a dream won’t do you any good, unless you are willing to work hard and strive to make that dream come true.

Dreams are great to have but making those dreams come true is the best gift that you can give yourself.

Philip Rivera

Q: In three words, describe yourself.

 

Imaginative, dry, witty.       

 

Q: How many books have you written? How many of those are published?

 

 One (there are two available, but the first one is a preview of the first. Kinda like a delicious Costco sample).

 

Q: Do you have an upcoming release? If yes, tell me the title and impending release date.

 

My humorous memoir, Suburban Luchador: Memoirs From Suburbia, was published on Amazon last month.

 

Q: Tell me about how you come up with your titles for your stories. Do you create the title before or after you write the book, and does it ever change from the initial title?

 

My book is a collection of short, slice-of-life stories gathered from my adventures as a dad, husband and high school teacher. When life offers up a humorous situation in one of these realms, I try to capture it in the title. For example, my family and I were going on a road trip to caves in northern Florida. During that trip, we crossed a time zone line, which led to an imaginative discussion with my wife about movie soundtracks, Back to the Future, and time travel experiments. The title of that story was “Roadside Temporal Anomaly.”

 

Q: Out of all your characters in all of your books, who/what (sometimes a setting can also be an important “character”) do you think is the most interesting and why?

 

Since my book is based on stories from my life, I would humbly say I’m the most interesting character since I’m in every story. Each story is a blend of real-life scenarios mixed with my whimsical imagination. Like the time when my wife mixed up a pop-culture analogy in a conversation, I imagined her confused thought as a team of minions scrambling through her brain, desperately trying to get the correct analogy into the correct “thought tube.”

 

Q: If you could “create” your own genre of what you write, what would you call your books?

 

Imaginative nonfiction memoir.

 

Q: Without quoting your back cover blurb, tell me about the last book you published.

 

My last (and only) book is a collection of short, humorous stories from my life as a dad, husband and high school teacher. I took daily, mundane situations from suburban life, inserted them into my imagination, and out popped thirty stories about a normal man who envisions himself as the ultimate suburban underdog hero.

 

Q: Quote your favorite line from one of your stories. Indicate the line, and then the book title.

 

“Release the Princesa or face my wrath!” yelled the knight (me) as he raised his sword at the gargantuan beast. Behind the dragon, in an oversized birdcage, sat an attractive Puerto Rican princess (my wife) with long black hair, who casually scrolled through her phone. 

From the introduction to my book, Suburban Luchador: Memoirs From Suburbia.

 

 

Q: Tell me something about yourself that is separate from writing.

 

Before being an author, father, or husband, I am a follower of Jesus Christ. This relationship affects everything I do and forms my worldview. My greatest aspiration is to live the type of life that reflects the love of Christ to those around me, even if they have a completely different spiritual perspective. In addition to writing, I also love traveling and learning about different cultures. I hope to pass this passion on to my three young children.

 

Q: Who are your top THREE favorite authors?

 

Jack Handy, Jenny Lawson, Joel C. Rosenberg

 

Q: What is the last book that you read? (Not counting anything you wrote)

 

Damascus Countdown, Joel C. Rosenberg

 

Q: When writing, do you have a system or something you plan, or do you just write?

 

I just start writing and worry about the editing after.

 

Q: Why do you write?

 

I feel like I have a unique, humorous view on everyday life that others can connect with. I believe each person has inside them a creative story teller that can weave fascinating tales that pass down myths, memories, and morals. I hope to inspire them to see the valiant, heroic and grand moments in their mundane lives, if they would only look through the eyes of imagination.

 

Q: Do you currently have a WIP? If yes, what’s the title, and is it part of a series or standalone?

 

I’m working on my second humorous memoir. The title is still in progress, but the current one is “Suburban Luchador: Memorable Memoirs and Menacing Minivans.”

 

Q: Do you read your own work a lot? If so, what does it do for you?

Yes, for review purposes. I find myself thinking, “I like this guy. He’s funny.”

 

Q: I play music when I write, and depending on the setting or mood of the story depends on what I listen to. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what genre or artist/band do you listen to?

 

I sometimes listen to music.  I bounce from 80’s pop to modern instrumental music.

 

Q: As an author, I find that the hardest thing to write (for me) is the blurb that will be on the back cover or book’s description. When you write, what is the hardest line to write, the first line, the last line or the synopsis for the book?

 

The whole thing was hard! I had to do some research and learning, and I found Bryan Cohen’s resources excellent.

 

Q: If you could sit down and have a coffee (or your favorite beverage) with anyone, living or dead, from any era, any time, who would it be and why? (You can pick up to 3 persons).

 

Jesus – I’ve dedicated my life to Him and His word…but there are some clarifying questions I have.

The creators of the show Lost – amazing writing, but I need the ending explained.

Nate Bargatze (comedian) – he’s a clean, hilarious comedian with an awesome deadpan delivery. I think I can learn a lot from him.

 

Q: What does it mean to be a “successful” writer?

 

A successful writer has an established, loyal following that he/she dialogues with and provides grassroots promotion.  

 

Q: What do you want to accomplish, so when you look back at your life, you can say “I did that”?

 

To live a life that reflects my Christian values and to use the gifts God has given me to their fullest potential, one of which I believe is writing. I want to see my books in the shelves of bookstores and to be able to use my platform as an author to encourage fathers to be an active part of their family’s lives.

 

Q: Any final thoughts that you want to give to your fans or even future authors?

 

Fans – Thank you for following me on this journey! Writing is risky job because you’re opening up your life to others, and there’s no guarantee they’ll like what they read. I hope my writing inspires  you to enjoy the simple moments of life and to not take yourself so seriously (most others don’t). Future authors – don’t give up, ask for help, educate yourself! I’m still at the beginning of my self-published career and I’ve learned that it’s an “easy” venture to get into because there’s no middle man, but excellence is what will make you stand out. Some of the podcasts I’ve gleaned a lot from are Self Publishing Formula, Bryan Cohen, Nick Stephenson and Kindlepreneur.

Kirsten Stewart

Q: In three words, describe yourself.

 

Clumsy; complicated; determined.

 

Q: How many books have you written? How many of those are published?

 

I have written three books; one for myself and two that have been published.

 

Q: Do you have an upcoming release? If yes, tell me the title and impending release date.

 

No upcoming releases.

 

Q: Tell me about how you come up with your titles for your stories. Do you create the title before or after you write the book, and does it ever change from the initial title?

 

My titles usually come in a lightning bolt moment. I have an idea of the word/s I want to use and then play with combinations until the right one jumps out at me.

 

Q: Out of all your characters in all of your books, who/what (sometimes a setting can also be an important “character”) do you think is the most interesting and why?

 

Apart from my main protagonist, Gina Palumbo, I would say the Blue Mountains is a character in and of itself, lending my stories an eerie and ‘other-worldly’ atmosphere that plays a vital role in its development.

 

Q: If you could “create” your own genre of what you write, what would you call your books?

 

Psycho-Lit.

 

Q: Without quoting your back cover blurb, tell me about the last book you published.

 

The Captive in the Tale is the sequel to The Spinster and the Madman. It is the continuing story of Detective Constable Gina Palumbo, whose pursuit of a serial killer operating in Sydney, Australia, takes a dangerous and personal turn when the murderer strikes close to home.

 

Q: Quote your favorite line from one of your stories. Indicate the line, and then the book title.

 

“I sat in the passenger seat as the kilometres flitted past, in a silence reminiscent of death. Apt, as I had all but killed the person who’d arrived at the prison this morning; the only thing left to do was conduct the burial. I was a corpse wearing a cheap sun dress.” – The Spinster and the Madman.

 

Q: Tell me something about yourself that is separate from writing.

 

I am the mother of two children; a son aged 10 and a daughter aged 28. So, yes, I am a masochist with a Peter Pan syndrome!

 

Q: Who are your top THREE favorite authors?

 

Anne Rice; Raymond E. Feist; Margaret Atwood.

 

Q: What is the last book that you read? (Not counting anything you wrote)

 

 Becoming – Michelle Obama.

 

Q: When writing, do you have a system or something you plan, or do you just write?

 

I firstly develop a chapter-by-chapter synopsis of the story that acts as a roadmap for when I write it.

 

Q: Why do you write?

 

I have always been a voracious reader, using books as a way to escape a sometimes-difficult childhood. When I started writing, I fell in love with the power of the written word, the ways in which language can be manipulated to communicate and connect with other people.

 

Q: Do you currently have a WIP? If yes, what’s the title, and is it part of a series or standalone?

 

I am currently working on book three of the ‘Gina Palumbo series’, the final instalment that will link back to the first, The Spinster and the Madman, and will provide answers and fill in gaps readers are left with at the end of the novel.

 

Q: Do you read your own work a lot? If so, what does it do for you?

 

I usually take a break from my own books once they’re published as by then, I’ve lived and breathed the story and need some time and distance from them. When I do read my own work, I am filled with pride and satisfaction that I’ve never given up on my dream, despite life’s best efforts to derail it. Reading my previous book/s also helps me identify issues with the craft I need to work on going forward.

 

Q: I play music when I write, and depending on the setting or mood of the story depends on what I listen to. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what genre or artist/band do you listen to?

 

It depends on my mood and how easily (or not) the words are coming to me. If the writing is flowing, I enjoy listening to up-beat EDM (electronic dance music).

 

Q: As an author, I find that the hardest thing to write (for me) is the blurb that will be on the back cover or book’s description. When you write, what is the hardest line to write, the first line, the last line or the synopsis for the book?

 

The synopsis, hands down, without doubt!

 

Q: If you could sit down and have a coffee (or your favorite beverage) with anyone, living or dead, from any era, any time, who would it be and why? (You can pick up to 3 persons).

 

Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein – I have always been fascinated by her life story, as well as the unique challenges she faced as a female writer of horror at a time when this was unheard of.

Hannah Gadsby, Australian comedian – Hannah’s show ‘Nanette’ touched me deeply, her story one I connected, and identified, with and in particular, her need to share it.

J.K. Rowling, author of Harry Potter series – Her story, apart from the prolific success, feels like my own; single mother, poverty, determination.

 

Q: What does it mean to be a “successful” writer?

 

I think a ‘successful’ writer is one who has found their own distinct and unique voice, used to tell their story/stories.

 

Q: What do you want to accomplish, so when you look back at your life, you can say “I did that”?

 

I am building and developing my writing skills to a level where I feel confident to tackle a story based (loosely) on my own experiences, a story I believe some readers will connect with and may draw comfort from. If I can help even one person going through similar hardships, I will be extremely proud and satisfied.

 

Q: Any final thoughts that you want to give to your fans or even future authors?

 

I enjoy writing novels which involve a level of unpredictability and insight into the human psyche. I hope readers are intrigued by my stories and characters and are driven by a ‘need to know what happens next’ compulsion that takes them right to the final page.

Scott Semegran

Q: In three words, describe yourself.

 

Award-winning Writer / Cartoonist

 

Q: How many books have you written? How many of those are published?

 

I have written eight books. Seven of them are currently published: To Squeeze a Prairie Dog, Sammie & Budgie, BOYS, The Meteoric Rise of Simon Burchwood, The Spectacular Simon Burchwood, Modicum, and Mr. Grieves. One is out of print.

Q: Do you have an upcoming release? If yes, tell me the title and impending release date.

 

To Squeeze a Prairie Dog: An American Novel was released yesterday, February 1, 2019.

 

Q: Tell me about how you come up with your titles for your stories. Do you create the title before or after you write the book, and does it ever change from the initial title?

Most titles I came up with after I finished writing the books, except for Sammie & Budgie which I came up with before even starting the book. To Squeeze a Prairie Dog had a few variations of this idiom before I started writing but I settled on this title about halfway through this book.

 

Q: Out of all your characters in all of your books, who/what (sometimes a setting can also be an important “character”) do you think is the most interesting and why?

 

In my latest book, my initial thought would be that all the workers in Unit 3 were the most interesting to me because I had elaborate backstories for them before starting the book. But I will settle on Rita Jackson who is the matriarch to five children and thirteen grandchildren. I loved that her motivations were rooted in family as well as for her coworkers, who she cared for so deeply.

 

Q: If you could “create” your own genre of what you write, what would you call your books?

 

Endearingly Humorous Fiction

 

Q: Without quoting your back cover blurb, tell me about the last book you published.

 

Blurb for To Squeeze a Prairie Dog: Five under-appreciated bureaucrats forge an unlikely bond of love and respect while trying to win a pot of cash from the government that will change their lives forever. The crotchety governor has selfish plans of his own for the lowly government workers and a snooping reporter discovers a couple of dark secrets, threatening to ruin everything for all involved.

 

Q: Quote your favorite line from one of your stories. Indicate the line, and then the book title.

 

“The clickity-clack of the computer keyboards of the three workers typing in the back of the small office space was like the cacophony of a chorus of cicadas.” -- To Squeeze a Prairie Dog

 

Q: Tell me something about yourself that is separate from writing.

 

I’m a husband and a father to four kids, two cats, and a dog. I like to travel and brew beer. I’m a music, movie, TV, comics, and literature nut.

Q: Who are your top THREE favorite authors?

Charles Bukowski, Kurt Vonnegut, Michael Chabon

Q: What is the last book that you read? (Not counting anything you wrote)

 

The Unlounging: From a Belly Full of Beer to a Craw Full of Time. Read this book right now!

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/selraybob/the-unlounging-of-selraybob/

 

Q: When writing, do you have a system or something you plan, or do you just write?

 

This is an interesting question for me because I’ve done both. For my latest book, To Squeeze a Prairie Dog, I started by writing extensive backstories for the five main characters, then I developed a very extensive spreadsheet with all the chapters and where the various novel components would occur i.e. stakes, plot points, pinch points, climax, and conclusion. But for all of the Simon Adventures book (there are three books in this series), I began with starting Point A and ending Point B and I just wrote the middle as it came to me because I knew where I needed to end (the endings of all three books were known to me before I started writing the books).

Q: Why do you write?

I write because I love the creative juice I get from writing. I love the creative process. And I love hearing what readers think of my stories.

 

Q: Do you currently have a WIP? If yes, what’s the title, and is it part of a series or standalone?

 

I have a nugget of a story for a new novel that I have been jotting notes down for but the name is top secret. Since To Squeeze a Prairie Dog just came out, I have promote this book in the coming months, plus record more audiobooks.

Q: Do you read your own work a lot? If so, what does it do for you?

I’ve read and reread all of my books a lot. I still enjoy reading them.

Q: I play music when I write, and depending on the setting or mood of the story depends on what I listen to. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what genre or artist/band do you listen to?

When I was younger, I did not listen to music when I wrote. But I do now. In fact, I find it harder to write without music now. I have a few go-to albums I listen to, classics that I love so much that hearing them does not distract me: Blue Train by John Coltrane, Come With Us by The Chemical Brothers, Since I Left You by The Avalanches, Take Care Take Care Take Care by Explosions in the Sky, to name a few. I LOVE music!

Q: As an author, I find that the hardest thing to write (for me) is the blurb that will be on the back cover or book’s description. When you write, what is the hardest line to write, the first line, the last line or the synopsis for the book?

The synopsis, by far! Mostly because it is hard for me to distill my novels down to their tiniest essential elements. I’m too close to the books to describe them from such a high level, so I’ve had to ask my editors and proofreaders to help me with the synopses and blurbs for my books.

Q: What does it mean to be a “successful” writer?

To me, being a successful writer means enjoying the work you do, feeling satisfaction for completing the projects you start, and publishing your work any way you can. I love seeing my books on the shelf in a bookstore or in a reading / audiobook app.

Q: What do you want to accomplish, so when you look back at your life, you can say “I did that”?

 

I want to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Q: Any final thoughts that you want to give to your fans or even future authors?

 

Please support your favorite authors (like me!) by buying their books, leaving ratings and reviews for their books, and tell all your friends and family to buy their books.

Kally-Jay Mkwawa

Q: In one sentence, tell me something that describes you as a person?

 

Some would say I’m an introvert (reserved, enjoying my hermit-like demeanor most times), others would say I’m an extroverted -introvert, but I describe myself as any of these two, simply because I’m as ‘different’ as they come and also, at the end of the day it depends on who’s who.

 

Q: How many books have you written? How many of those are published?

 

I have written and published one book so far.

 

Q: Do you have an upcoming release? If yes, tell me the title and impending release date.

 

Yes, there’s an upcoming release I’m working on. However, I’m still brainstorming (with myself) on the perfect title and (God willing) I’m hoping to release it by/ in 2020. And when it’s ready, you’ll definitely be on the top list of people I’d like to have a look.

 

Q: Tell me about how you come up with your titles for your stories. Do you create the title before or after you write the book, and does it ever change from the initial title?

 

I come up with my title as I write my stories and because of this, chances are half the time the initial title does change (for the better). It’s sort of like looking at my entire manuscript and encompassing it in one title but at the same time leaving an essence of who I am in it.

 

Q: Out of all your characters in all of your books, who/what (sometimes a setting can also be an important “character”) do you think is the most interesting and why?

 

Seeing that all my characters are from real-life encounters, they’re all interesting in their own right. But the most interesting aspect of all of them is the way I script each one in such a way that if the actual person (who’s inspired the character) reads it, they wouldn’t believe I captured that particular memory or imprint of them in my memory. It’s all completely unexpected, the ability to notice and ‘save’ such details about people or moments but at the same time (whilst writing) not realizing it could be a story about anyone and everyone. Some people might read some chapters and think I might have made it up (that it didn’t happen) or is a figment of my imagination, but all the chapters are as real as life is, in us who are alive and as real as death for those who’ve departed.

 

Q: If you could “create” your own genre of what you write, what would you call your books?

 

I haven’t thought about it much, but I’d probably call it along the lines of ‘For Yourself, Us and I’.

 

Q: Without quoting your back cover synopsis, tell me about the last book you published.

 

Isidora is generally about life stages, epiphanies that one comes to whilst encountering different people and experiencing different situations/ places. It’s about love (in most of its facets), friends, family, memories one collects during one’s life and growth. It’s about seeing and reading an essence of myself, yourself and all of us in most parts of the story and thus making it a raw, heartfelt memoir.

 

Q: Tell me something about yourself that is separate from writing.

 

I’m quite observant and quiet and so I’ve developed quite an explicable memory capacity. I love music and it’s because I find it easier to express myself or feel something through singing or dancing (whether or not I’m great at these things are, just like beauty, in the eyes of the beholder). I also enjoy creativity ranging from image designing (in terms of outfits) and most types I like setting the trend instead of following numerous fashion trends. The idea is always to be unique in my ways. I love learning the old and new things (professionally and personally), but at the same time I’m quite the ‘creature’ of habit. In short basically I’ve always wanted and I’m working towards being more of a ‘Jill of all trades and master of most’.

 

Q: Who is your favorite Author?

 

My book shelf and past reading lists is full of books by Nora Roberts. I’m generally a fan on fiction romance novels and until the past 3 or 4 years, devotional books, than any other genre and it’s a bit strange since so far I’m focused on being a non-fiction author.

 

Q: What is the last book that you read? (Not counting anything you wrote)

 

The last book I finished reading is ‘The Thief by J.R. Ward’ and now I’m currently reading ‘Becoming by Michelle Obama’.

 

Q: When writing, do you have a system or something you plan, or do you just write?

 

No, I wouldn’t say I have a system. When a thought or an epiphany (be it spiritual/religious or general, comes to my mind, it even gets to a point of getting a headache. Thus, I’d grab my laptop or a pen and notebook and just pour it all out. Thus far, my writing is about things or people I’ve encountered or experienced or, I have in one way or another played a role in. This is be it through conversations with my close circle of friends or my family or, at times, through reading work from other non-fiction writers/ authors (something which isn’t at all hard for me since reading another form of relaxation for me. I’m a certified book junkie!). And this is where I draw my inspiration, be it listening, feeling, watching/ observing, breathing, seeing, touching (basically using all my five senses) or travelling, thinking etc.

 

Q: Why do you write?

 

Apart from always having wanted to somehow positively motivate or inspire people (sort of make a positive impact in people’s lives), I’ve personally grown up to have very few people I can speak to or confide in, and thus, there more times when my mind tends to be louder than my mouth or the number of times I speak. I also easily always find myself thinking a lot (most especially about deeper meaning of issues in and of life) and thus, writing is my way of emptying my mind. This is especially because most times not a lot of people would understand what I’m saying (thus appreciating my level of ‘weird’) or relate to what I’m saying. Writing is my type of therapeutic exercise.

 

Q: Do you read your own work a lot? If so, what does it do for you?

 

I read my work as often as I can and half (if not most times) I always second guess myself on if it’s any good. At times I get nervous about ‘pouring my heart out’ on paper and in words for the world to see and thus leaving be exposed. At the end of the day the result is always the same (surprising even myself), that it still pours out from me. Every thought, emotion or word, it is my own.

 

Q: What is your favorite type of music? Is there one genre (or song, band etc...) that brings out your creativeness more than others?

 

I love way too many genres (even in other languages, and even if I don’t understand what’s being sung) to name just one. I’m almost as much of a music junkie as I am a book junkie. So, from R n’ B to Rock to Alcapella, to Indian to Spanish, to Pop to Hip hop, to Rap to Jazz to Swahili to South African (house music), from oldies to contemporary (including Christmas carols and gospel) I’m there.

 

Q: As an author, I find that the hardest thing to write (for me) is the synopsis that will be on the back cover or book’s description. When you write, what is the hardest line to write, the first line, the last line or the synopsis for the book?

 

I’d have to definitely say the synopsis (especially if I want to publish). It’s not only about encompassing the entire script in 250 words, while at the same time not giving spoilers but it’s also about who’s your target audience and thinking whether it’s going to attract readers.

 

Q: If you could sit down and have a coffee (or whatever beverage) with anyone, living or dead, from any era, any time, who would it be and why? (You can pick up to 3 persons).

 

1. My late grandfather (maternal) – the man saw beyond his years on earth and always managed to make me smile (even I don’t remember how or why)

2.  Michelle Obama – from reading her story (the few pages I’ve read so far) I saw and see myself in her memories, her story is mine just like it is the case for many others who’ve read it. And, although she’s a former first lady of the U.S. (almost seemingly a super woman) her story reminds me how much of a human being she is.

3. God – simply for the reason of Him being who He is. 

 

Q: What does it mean to be a “successful” writer?

 

Being successful as a writer means being able to draw readers into ‘your’ world while at the same time making them see how so much alike, we all are. It’s about making them not be able to put down your book as they read it. Being successful is about thinking strategically, positioning your work in readers’ minds and, being your own fan before anyone else as well.

 

Q: What do you want to accomplish, so when you look back at your life, you can say “I did that”?

 

Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they won’t forget how you made them feel.” I suppose I want to accomplish what most people want to accomplish: leaving a legacy to my existence (even thereafter when I’m not alive). I don’t have to be remembered by people thinking ‘oh she wrote this or that book’ but rather, ‘she tried and never gave up trying to put herself in my shoes and managed to always somehow mix intelligence, wisdom, motivation, inspiration, sympathy and empathy, all in one pot’, or ‘she made me smile’ or ‘lightened my load’ or ‘we don’t know how she does or did it, but she always got back up even after falling’.

 

Q: Any final thoughts that you want to give to your fans or even future authors?

 

I reckon each person has a story to tell about oneself and it doesn’t matter if it’ll be a bestseller or not or, whether you’d be praised for your heroics or be laughed at. The point remains that each person has a story which has somehow shaped their character and made that person they are today; it is one’s testimony. If you touch one person, one million or all 7 billion, you’re in a position to inspire, change or motivate someone. With your story, another person would grow and learn to do and be better, why not share it? I understand that there’s a ‘norm’ where ‘Tell All’s’ should be done when one is old and grey (and most probably with nothing to lose should one’s particular shenanigans be too scandalous) but I chose to write Isidora now especially because although we hope for a tomorrow, we have yet to set foot there yet. There’s as much as a high probability that we might grow old and wiser etc as it is a probability that we won’t wake up the next morning, so why not write one’s story today? It’s certainly will be not only yours but many others’ as well.

One thing to keep in mind is that half the time (if not most times) it’s not easy to make your mark in this world, so even if one’ll eventually be writing for an audience or readers, initially, one can write for oneself. ‘Do it for you!’ This piece of advice was hammered into me by one of my closest friends and she said ‘do it for yourself woman! Be your own fan’. It took a lot of debating and second guessing myself to have finally decided to publish (and self-publish at that, a field I was completely clueless about) but I did it for me and the fact that I’m continuously growing, and inspiring others is just a big bonus. It still amazes me that so many people praise the fact I published and that they appreciate my writing. And lastly it’s okay to be different, weird and ‘living in your own world’ as some might see you, at the end of the day when you set foot out of this world you’ll be ‘sleeping’ by yourself in your eternal resting place and so why not live by your own rules/ mantra and be in league of your own choosing your own players (if any as you go)?

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