Category Archives: Fiction

#Author #Interview – Charlie King on Debut #Mystery Novel “The Lyons Orphanage”

My name is Charlie King. I am an independently-published author from Croydon having just published my first book, The Lyons Orphanage, and I intend to write more including a sequel.

​I have had an interest in English and writing ever since I was young and it has stuck with me throughout my education. I have a BA Hons in Journalism with English Language from the University of Portsmouth.  When I finished university, I found that Journalism was no longer for me but I still loved to write so instead I tried to find a non-Journalism related writing job. When that didn’t happen, I went through a stressful job in retail before working where I am now in an administrative role in a law firm.

Being content with my job, I found myself motivated to write a book. It had crossed my mind many times over the years; I even tried to write a book a long time ago around the age of ten/eleven but it was terrible and lucky not seen by any eyes other than my own.  The thought of that book put me off from thinking I could write a decent book. However, now I am happy to say that I’m pleased with my debut novel. I was surprised of how the ideas flowed into my mind as I was writing it and it was the same for planning the plot of the sequel.

Ideally, I’d have loved for a publisher read it and deem it good enough to be published but, in reality, just seeing a book with my name published on it was the main motivation. I’m realistic enough to not expect huge sales, especially working as my own marketer, but if only several hundred people read it and the majority like it, that’s all the vindication I need.

Author website: www.charliekingauthor.com

Available at Amazon.com, Amazon.UK, Waterstones, Kobo and Barnes & Noble Nook

 

 

About the Author

  • Why did you choose the mystery genre for your debut novel?

In my teens moving into my adult years, I began watching more and more detective/mystery television shows which I mainly saw because my mum was a big fan of these shows. The reimagining of the stories by Arthur Conan Doyle for Sherlock Holmes on the BBC is probably the most mainstream example. Everybody knew the name Sherlock Holmes before but I thought it was refreshing to see it in a modern day setting. The build-up of what you think will happen, the red herrings along the way and what actually happens is a great experience when you are genuinely surprised. I wanted to capture all this in my book so I went with the mystery genre. It was enjoyable for me to make things seem one way when really it was another by inserting misleading information just to throw the readers off.

  • When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’d probably say I wanted to be a writer since I was ten. That’s not to say I seriously considered I would do it but if you asked me to pick one skill I had at that age that I could apply to a future career, it would be writing. Around this time, I tried writing a book but there were too many flaws to count. I couldn’t pace the story right; big events that should have taken up several pages took up half a page and the general story was a bunch of clichés thrown together. It made me realize I didn’t have any original ideas so even if my writing had been perfect, the idea was still lacking; this put me off the idea of writing for a long time. Sometimes, in my teens, I would mention the idea to people casually and a few years later, they’d ask if I’d started writing yet. It was just a couple of years ago where I began to think maybe I could write a book but I still had no ideas of what to write about. I would say I was destined to finish writing a book at some point but that wasn’t to say it would be a good book.

  • What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing, my time is spent by what I’d consider to be escapism hobbies. Reading books, watching film and television and playing video games have been my main hobbies throughout life; I’ve never been the outdoors, athletic type of person. When I can mix these hobbies with spending time with my friends, that’s the perfect balance for me

  • What types of books do you like to read?

As a kid, my preference was always towards fantasy novels. Harry Potter is an obvious choice for many to say it was one of their favorite series of books but for me, it’s certainly true. A less obvious choice, the first series of novels I remember reading, was The Edge Chronicles by Stewart & Riddle. This book was the first book I read which was set in a fantasy world and I couldn’t wait for the next in the series each time for at least the first five books.

  • What would you like readers to know about you the individual?

I am a man of few words, to say the least. I don’t say any more than I need to and sometimes I don’t even say everything I want to say. I’m certainly much better at it than when I was a child; I can freely talk to friends and can get through a conversation with a stranger without many awkward pauses. If you asked me in person to tell you about my book, you probably wouldn’t buy it. If I had to dictate every line of my book instead of typing it, the book would be a lot shorter.

 

Your Writing Process

  • What would you like readers to know about you the writer?

I am a writer of many words, to say the least. I can write everything I plan to write and sometimes I write more when ideas suddenly pop into my head. I’m certainly much better at it than when I was a child; I can add depth to the book, its characters and I can set the scene. I can write to my friends about the book for support and I can display confidence in my book when writing to strangers. I invite people to read the blurb to learn about the book because I feel the blurb I wrote will do the story justice. When writing my book, the initial story can grow and grow and grow.

  • Why do you write?

As mentioned earlier, I like a lot of escapism and writing comes under this. However, the real reason I write is because I consider it to be my one creative outlet throughout my life. At school, I was a good all-rounder for the serious, matter-of-fact subjects like Mathematics and Science but not so good at art and craft subjects. That left English as the one subject where answering questions wasn’t a case of right or wrong, there was a lot of interpretation involved. My job is an administration job so it is simple with matter of fact tasks. That means my time is split between work and writing which gives the same balance of  serious and creative tasks as when I was in school.

  • Most people envision an author’s life as being really glamorous. What’s the most unglamorous thing that you’ve done in the past week?

Speaking of my work, it requires me to do a lot of the menial tasks around the office like gathering up all the plastic waste. So the most unglamorous thing I’ve done this week is have my hands smell of sour milk almost first thing on a Monday morning

  • Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

In terms of coming up with the story for your book, I’d suggest you type up any initial ideas you have about the basis of my book. Like I said, my initial idea for writing a book was about mind-reading but I didn’t have anything else in mind other than that. If you have several ideas, put them all down on the same document. Think about what you’re writing about. For me, the first thing I did with my idea was to list the clichés surrounding the concept, the genre, heroes and villains, storytelling in general. List them and then think of ways to turn the cliché on its head and build from there. Think about: Who is your main character? Where are they in their life? What kind of people they’d be associated with? How did they get to be in that position? Are they happy or sad about their current state? What can they do to change their life? (if they start the novel in a bad place) What can happen to them to give them difficulty in life? (if they start the novel in a good place) If you have several ideas, see how far answering these questions take you, I imagine you would suddenly find one of your ideas to have expanded a lot further than the others and that should be the idea you go with as the idea for your first book.

  • What would you consider is your favorite part of a book to write? The beginning, the middle or the ending?

Definitely the ending. For The Lyons Orphanage, I had written the final two chapters first. I was excited by this because the book has a gradual buildup of the story which leads to a dramatic final few chapters. So the ending of my book is where most of the action takes place. It allowed me to think of ways to foreshadow what would happen later as well as insert information to mislead both the characters and readers.

  • Is there any other genre you have considered writing in? 

My original plan for my book, The Lyons Orphanage, was for it to be a fantasy novel. I came up with the idea of mind-reading thinking of it like a super power. I decided soon afterwards that it would actually be more interesting to write about it in a normal setting and that led to me writing it as a mystery novel. My enjoyment of fantasy novels means that I would like to write one myself but I decided that wouldn’t have been the best course for my idea of mind-reading.

  • Do you track word count or write a certain number of hours per day?

I mainly plan to write a certain number of pages in a day or to write a chapter in a week but those plans usually change. One day I had planned to write a few pages of a chapter but found myself continuing, managing to finish a whole chapter in a day of writing. Other days, I had written the target number of pages for the first few days of the week to set me on course for finishing the chapter but sometimes the writing inspiration would suddenly dry up and the chapter wouldn’t be finished until much later. In an ideal scenario, I’d write an average of three pages a day and have the chapter finished by the end of the week.

 

Your Books

 

  • What was your first published work and when was it published?

The Lyons Orphanage is my first and only published work so far. It was published 8th March 2017.

  • When your first book came out, were you nervous about how readers will react to it?

I was incredibly nervous especially because my book was independently published. I tried to get a publisher to take my book on but those ideas were rejected which meant that I had to put faith in my own ability that my writing was worthy of being published. Anybody with the money could become independently published so I didn’t see it as special that I had released a book, even if the people around me did. I had friends and family telling me that this was a great achievement but they hadn’t read the book at this point, they were just being supportive. I was nervous that people I knew were now committed to saying they liked the book because they had given it so much praise before. Even if people you know genuinely like the book, the nerves don’t settle until you have strangers, people with no obligation to be nice to you, speak well of your book. I’m putting confidence in my own ability by going down the independent publishing route and that leaves your confidence there to be shattered if people don’t like the book. I know publishers get thousands of requests so the book getting good reviews wouldn’t be a case of proving the publishers wrong, it’s more a case of proving my ability to myself and others. It would show that the book belongs to be up for sale with all the other books in the world rather than it being made available because I paid for it to be available.

  • What can we look forward to in the upcoming months?

The sequel to The Lyons Orphanage is underway. Progress was coming along nicely but it has just stalled over the last couple of months but not to worry; it will be finished by the end of this year. The book will be a mystery, mainly involving the same characters, but set ten years later.

  • Do you outline your books or just start writing?

For both my books, The Lyons Orphanage and its sequel (not published yet), I have planned out every chapter beforehand. I set out the basic idea of what will happen in the chapter and I even give an initial prediction as to how many pages it will take up. Guessing how many pages it will take up can be a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good because you can have that initial idea of how many pages it will be and you might find yourself writing more which makes you feel like you’ve added more depth to your book. However, sometime the chapters end up falling a bit short so you might feel down about that or you might end up desperately trying to stretch the chapter to reach the length you initially planned. Although, planning out the total number of pages you think your book will take can help with these issues. If you plan the book to be 200 pages, you’ll most likely find that the chapters which you made longer than you intended will balance out the chapters where you fell short giving you a similar final page count.

  • How does it feel to hold a book that has your name on the cover? 

This was my main motivation for writing a book in the first place. Just seeing a physical copy of my book gave me an enormous sense of pride, even if it was published at my expense rather than a publisher. If I had written the book, published it online only and had next to nobody reading it, it wouldn’t have had the same feeling. Even if the book was still read by very few people, the physical copy would have still meant more to me than the online version. To be able to show friends and family the book, to hand them the book and see them physically reading it is a feeling that can’t be replicated by them telling you they are reading it on their e-reader. There’s also that hope of sitting across from a stranger who is reading it, something you’d never be able to tell if they were reading electronically.

 

Your Characters

  • Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

In terms of appearance, I try to make the characters similar to people I know. The names you see in my novel are a combination of the first names and surnames of my friends. So, I usually try and base the character’s appearance on the first name I have given them. This isn’t always possibly though with my friends being in the twenties when the novel is based around young teenagers and old adults so it’s not always possible. I may include a few of their mannerisms but overall the way they act is based on their imagined role in the story rather than how the real life person might react to the situation.

  • Would The Lyons Orphanage make a great movie?

I’d like to think it would. I feel like the book would play out well on the screen with plenty of emotions for the characters to portray and plenty of situation for suspenseful music to be played over the top of the scene. An added bonus is that it would be a relatively cheap movie to make. My only concern would be that the main character, Sam, is the first person narrator and his thoughts make up a large portion of the book so I wonder how well that would translate to screen.

  • Do you make a conscious decision to write a certain type of character with a certain occupation, or do the characters decide for themselves what they want to be?

The majority of my characters were written with a clear direction of how they would act and what they would be doing. For the plot to unfold, I knew I needed people working in an orphanage and orphans so that set a lot of characters in their place straight away. I knew how I wanted the adults to act but the children were more open to deciding for themselves, even Sam. When I started writing, I knew Sam would have a curious mind when it came to the adults but I wasn’t sure how he would interact with the other children. Likewise with his friends, Gareth and Natasha, I wasn’t sure if they would both be talkative or if one was shy or if one was serious and one was witty.

  • What in your opinion makes good chemistry between your leading characters?

Leading on from the end of my previous point, the interactions between Sam, Gareth and Natasha are the key to providing chemistry between them. At any given point, they can all be serious or witty or cheeky. They can talk to each other no matter what mood each character is in. I think you have to mimic real life with these characters. It can happen but you don’t often see people who are always happy or always angry; it depends on their mood on the day. If these three characters were in the same mood all the time, it wouldn’t make for an interesting dynamic between them nor would it be interesting if they each had one characteristic and stuck to it. Another important part of that is adding information to the conversation that seems unimportant or irrelevant. Friends don’t speak to each other just to give each other the headline news and then move on; the conversations will usually go off in a tangent where friends may mock each other and then come back to the point. It may not seem like one character mocking another has anything to do with progressing the plot and you’d be right but it builds up a more realistic relationship between the characters.

  • Is there a character from one of your books that resonates deeply with you?

There’s a minor character, called Ben, in the book who is essentially me when I was a young child. Ben made a couple of friends and didn’t make anymore. Once he made these friends, he didn’t feel the need to make more friends so everybody else sees Ben as a mute. In general, Ben is quiet but he shows his personality when he is around his friends; it is a different side of him that came up but he isn’t comfortable with this side of him shown to the other kids or adults.

 

 

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#Author #Interview Michael Bernhart- Psychological #Thriller Series The Max Brown Novels

Description. How Existentialism Almost Killed Me: Kierkegaard Was Right is the fourth and final novel in a series that tracks the life of Max Brown as he grudgingly matures. Provisionally dubbed a philosophical thriller, this novel finds Max Brown and his wife Sally staring down middle-age and an empty nest. In an ill-advised attempt to restore meaning to their lives, they allow themselves to be herded into a trivial assignment as CIA contractors. This morphs into a real and dangerous assignment taking on remnants of the Khmers Rouges in Cambodia and Thailand who are producing and selling counterfeit drugs. The battle is waged on elephant back, in a Thai brothel, in Cambodian minefields, and in the strongholds of the KR in western Cambodia.

The author ran a healthcare program in Cambodia; one of the challenges was fake drugs. A positive consequence of this experience: the context and problem are faithfully portrayed.

The series. The novels track the life of a man who earnestly wants to avoid trouble but whose behavior, or circumstances, repeatedly drops him into it. He becomes a smartass as a defense against a pretentious name, Maxwell Smythe Brown IV; this trait – which he doesn’t seem able to shed – keeps him in hot water. But there’s also depth: an enduring obsession with the paradox of a benevolent creator presiding over a universe chock full of wickedness.

The series has two running themes. The first is the above-mentioned life-stage progression; each novel finds Max dealing with a new set of issues common to men his age. The second running theme is the nature of evil, and, conversely, God. A different face of evil is examined in each novel. In the fourth it’s the Khmers Rouges, and they can do evil like no one else.

Buy: ebook and trade paperback available at: https://www.amazon.com/author/michaelbernhart

Hard cover available at: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/michael+bernhart

Author website: http://www.houghpublishing.com.

 

Interview

What genre do you write?

The (pretentious?) label I’ve co-opted is philosophical thriller. These are not the first novels to mix philosophy with chase scenes, but a conscious effort is made to weave larger questions into the narrative and structure of the books.

Who or what was your inspiration for writing?

Like many others, I started writing as an outlet when I was in an unhappy situation. Also like others, the product that one generates under those circumstances projects deep bitterness. It takes a lot of reworking to convert that raw material into something a reader is willing to spend time with. Yes, authenticity is a wonderful thing in literature, but do you really want to immerse yourself in 400+ pages of thinly disguised self-pity?

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I have a vintage airplane (Mooney 20E) that I use to bore holes in the sky. A magical machine. It brought me through severe thunderstorms just yesterday to a safe landing. In fact, I think I’ll take a break from these questions and go up to the airport and give that venerable bird a hug.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

John le Carré, Garrison Keillor, and Bill Bryson used to be my favorite authors. Bryson for his easy and infectious humor, coupled with wonderful nuggets of information; Keillor for his insights and beautifully crafted (and clever) short pieces; and le Carré for his meticulous research and gripping structure. I say they used to be my favorites. Now I get depressed when I read them; how do they do it?

Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.

I am a considerate, creative, and indefatigable lover.

 

Your Writing Process

What excites you about writing?

I like to lie. I’m too old to enter law school and become a lawyer and too thin-skinned for politics; the only other profession left open to a congenital liar is writing.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I advance the plot during the evening when I’ve had a few. In the cold, harsh, sober light of day I clean it up.

Then I rewrite ad nauseum, especially after publication. An unheralded revolution in publishing is the potential for the self-published indie to improve a novel forever. Thanks to the permissive policies of CreateSpace, Nook, etc. an author can revise and re-upload infinitely. If the author’s paying attention to constructive feedback, he or she can steadily work toward a decent book. The traditional publishers, in contrast, are stuck with the original version until the last Remainders table has been cleared.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Hell yes. Scram, vamoose, get! The industry is choking on an excess of books. Three thousand new novels every day. I don’t need any more competitors.

Is there any other genre you have considered writing in?

Romance. I find it cloying to the point of nauseating. Could I do that? No, but the challenge is intriguing.

Most people envision an author’s life as being really glamorous.

Most people are wrong.

What would you like readers to know about you, the writer?

I am a considerate, creative, and indefatigable lover.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

“Stay away from that woman, Mike. She’s trouble.” Advice that went unheeded.

 

Your Books

 

What story haven’t you written yet but would like to? A NY Times bestseller. Is there anything holding you back from writing it? A shortage of talent.

What kind of research do you do for your books?

This question merits a lengthier reply. Thanks to the efficiency of internet search engines, an author can lard up a novel with excruciating detail in an effort to lend the work verisimilitude. You’ve seen it: the make and model of the gun the hero/perp/bystander is packing. Maybe some ballistics info is included. A note to those authors: it isn’t working.

Perhaps this is why we hear the repeated refrain, ‘Write what you know.’ I’ve had the good fortune to live and work in many parts of the world – some of them pretty dismal. That broad experience doesn’t ensure a readable novel, but it protects your work from the patent artificiality that undermines much of what we find on the shelves today.

 

Your Characters

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

Half and half. I wonder which half comes across as more credible? Reviewers are fond of noting that my characters are “over the top.” Almost no one of my circle of (dull) acquaintances is over the top. In fact, few of them are even likeable, a requirement for inclusion in a readable novel.

Is there a character from one of your books that resonates deeply with you?

Ronnie the redoubtable Scot in the fourth novel. Everyone likes him. I may have made an unwise decision re Ronnie.

 

Random Question

Do you have any final comments you would like to make?

The great lover bit. Did you catch that?

 

Other Fiction by Michael Bernhart

How I Made $3,200,000 from My Hobby

How Ornithology Saved My Life

How Speleology Restored My Sex Drive

How Existentialism Almost Killed Me: Kierkegaard Was Right

 

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Filed under Fiction, Interviews, Thriller

#Author #Interview With Michelle E. Lowe on #Writing & #Steampunk Novel “Legacy”

Interview with author Michelle E. Lowe. Find them on social media:

 

Q:  Who or what was your inspiration for writing?

A:  I find that the world itself holds an abundant of inspiration. Real stories, small moments, even a basic conversation someone might be having on the bus. If a keen ear listens in at just the right time, an idea for a novel is there. I’ve gotten lots and lots of helpful insights from history and love to incorporate certain historical events into my work.

 

Q:  What books are currently on your nightstand?

A:  I’ve just started on Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. I’m on Book One: The Gunslinger. It’s very, very good so far. I’m aiming to get through most of the series before the TV show adaptation comes out. The release date just got pushed back, so I might be able to make it.

 

Q:  What would you like readers to know about you the individual?

A:  For starters, I’m a big nerd at heart. I love watching and reading science-fiction and fantasy stories, and I highly enjoy old B horror films. I’m extremely fond of old Atari video games, like Dig Dug, Montezuma’s Revenge, Space Invaders, Centipede, Mrs. Pacman, and so on. I collect worthless little knickknacks, and I enjoy oil painting as a hobby. I’d like to do a lot more world traveling, starting with England. Also, I adore animals, and wish I had many more of them around to take care of.

 

 

Q:  What do you write?

A:  Generally, I write fiction. Recently I’ve ventured into steampunk. That’s a fun genre to go into. It takes a lot of imagination to succeed at it too. That’s what I love about fiction and writing fiction; people can play around with facts and build worlds. There’s a lot of intelligence and creativity that goes into writing fiction, I believe. There’s much that can be created, so many imaginative ways to explain how made up things function. You really work your brain coming up with how everything goes and make it believable no matter how unbelievable it is!

 

Q:  What was your first published work and when was it published?

A:  In 2011, I self-published my first novel, The Warning. I had joined the wave of entrepreneurs, staring wide-eyed at Amazon’s free self-publishing program. Freedom! We thought. A chance to show our work to the world without the gatekeepers telling us our stories aren’t good enough, or dumping thousands of dollars in a vanity press in the hopes that we’ll make that loot back. There have been loads of pros and cons with this vastness of published work constantly being pumped out; one being that it’s extremely difficult for just about any author to get notice. In the end, though, it’s nice that storytellers can share their tales without the heavy hand of Big House Publishing halting them. I will say that it is also nice to have something you’ve written recognized by a publisher.

 

Q:  Do you listen to music or have another form of inspiration when you are writing?

A:  Not only do I listen to music when I’m writing, but when I’m also planning evil deeds. 😉 Seriously, listening to music is a must for me. I’m listening to music right now while I’m answering this! The dead silence bores me to tears. When it comes to inspiration, music has helped in many ways. There have been certain songs that I’ve imagined scenes to books I’m writing or about to write. Kind of like a montage taking place inside my head. One song in particular, if I’m allowed to say it, The Underground by Jane’s Addiction, opened up ideas for me in the third installment to my Legacy series. Music is downright a wonderful art form that I never want to be too far away from.

 

Q:  Most people envision an author’s life as being really glamorous. What’s the most unglamorous thing that you’ve done in the past week?

A:  If locking yourself up inside a dark room and cutting off from the outside world for so long that your friends and family start worrying if you’re alive or dead, glamorous, than sure! Completely! I don’t view an author’s life as being glamorous in the least, but it is interesting, especially how authors are able to pull stories out of thin air, and the rituals they do to go about getting their work done. After the book is written, polished, and put out there with a shiny new-to-the-world cover; the proud author signing his or hers novel to a line of eager fans, it could appear to be glamorous, I suppose. In truth, there is a lot of self loathing, insecurity, constant self doubt, pressure and great strain that a writer is always going through, no matter what level they are in the profession. In my opinion, a cocky writer is most likely not a very good one. For a story to reach a certain peak in order to be a great tale, the writer needs to sweat, worry, and always second guess themselves. It forces us to rethink and make the book better for our readers who deserve nothing less from us. The least glamorous thing I’ve done in the past week was getting into my car and driving south toward Mexico just to get away from the frustration of writing and revising.

 

Q:  How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

A:  Published books, only eight as well as a collection of short stories. I’ve written out five more books for the Legacy series already, and have just completed a standalone for it as well. With any luck I’ll have the second and third Legacy books polished and released by this year. I’m not too sure I have a favorite, there’s something that I greatly enjoy in each of my stories, but if I had to choose, I choose the Legacy series. I had such a great time writing these books, even though I had forced myself to write one after the other nonstop. There was so much that I had put into these stories, little bits of myself stored inside. I enjoyed every character, and learning more about them as each story progressed. It really opened up my imaginary box when crafting out the Legacy tales. Even now, I’m still adding in new things before the books are submitted for editing. I adore my protagonist, Pierce Landcross. He’s one of the most entertaining characters I’ve ever created, and if the Legacy series does well, I will continue his story in the next series, The Age of the Machine.

 

Q:  When a new book comes out, are you nervous about how readers will react to it?

A:  Absolutely! No matter how good I think it is, it boils down to the reader. The worst part is giving away dozens of free copies for review, and if you’re lucky, you’ll receive maybe a few in return. When you receive no word back whatsoever, it makes you wonder if anyone is actually reading it, or if they had read it and don’t want to say anything because they didn’t like it at all. Silence is more troubling to me than getting a bad review because at least the review tells me what someone thinks of my work. I believe every writer feels that way. I mean, like all artists who toil over their craft for months or even years, putting so much time and effort to create this work of art, it becomes a very personal thing. We’re truly wearing our hearts on our sleeves, leaving us in a very vulnerable position each time we put our work out there.

 

Q:  What can we look forward to in the upcoming months?

A:  As I mentioned before, I aim to get the second and third installment of the Legacy series published. I’d like to turn the first Legacy book into an audio book, expanding its reach to more readers. Soon I’m going to offer ghostwriting services to people needing help with their own stories. Also this year, I’m planning on writing a few screenplays. Loads to do. J

 

Q:  Do you outline your books or just start writing?

A:  I do, indeed! For me, it’s a must. It helps to somewhat get a grasp of where the story is heading, how it could end and such. I jot down significant fragments of details that I would otherwise forget if I tried keeping it solely stashed away inside my head. Characters’ purposes are made known to me a little clearer, and I understand what the story will contain a little more. Even so, an outline isn’t the story, it does mean that I’ll write the book just as it is in the outline. For me, an outline is just a compass pointing me in the right direction, it’s not a barbwire fence keeping me from breaking out of my own story shell. In fact, a lot of times I’ve changed the story so much from some of the outlines that they’re completely different storylines altogether, but that didn’t mean that they weren’t helpful.

 

Q:  Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

A:  Mostly they come from my own imagination. There may be some traits of actual people in a few, but all in all, they’re compete creations of my own doing. Having said that, these characters of mine usual start out as complete and utter strangers to me. I’m too lazy to write out any character profile, documenting what they look like, their habits and such. I just write them. A lot of times, even with the protagonists, I have no idea who these individuals are. They’re almost like real people that you have get to know through the course of time. The more I write about them, the more I understand the kinds of people they truly are.

 

Q:  Which of your stories would make a great movie?  Who’d play the lead roles?

A:  I’d like to think that all my books would make fairly entertaining movies. *Laughs* I’ve actually been told by readers that they could see a couple of my novels made into motion pictures. But if I were to choose only one, I’d choose Legacy. There’s simply so much happening in every book, and I can envision each one being put into film. Cast wise, I’d like to have Reeve Carney from Penny Dreadful, play Pierce Landcross, Tom Mison from Sleepy Hollow as Joaquin Landcross, Millie Bobby Brown from Stranger Things, playing the young girl, Clover Norwich, Taron Egerton, soon to be playing Robin Hood, as Archie Norwich, and playing the villain, Lord Tarquin Norwich, none other than House actor, Hugh Laurie.

 

Q:  How do you approach world building? It’s a daunting task for some writers.

A:  It can be daunting. When I wrote Atlantic Pyramid, a story about people becoming lost inside the Bermuda Triangle, I needed to create a world within our own, and yet keep the two different in ways that would make sense to the reader. Make it plausible, as it were. World building takes a lot of fine detail to achieve a so-called ‘realistic’ world, and not only in how it looks, but how things function and why, how things feel, tastes, smell, the types of religious practices, cultures, etc . . . I also find that diversity is one of the strongest backbones to any good world building. Being able to bring ethnics groups to the table enhances the story, and makes it all that much more authentic no matter where this other world is. With Legacy, I used the Seven Years’ War to help create the Sea Warriors. The Sea Warriors are Native American tribes that the French had trained to be naval fleets to fight against the enemy, and had carried on ever since. There are also tinkerers who call themselves Contributors. They invent new machines and gadgets from all over this world, which opens up more diversity to the Legacy stories. The best way to approach world building is to remember that where there’s an action there’s a reaction, and that when something happens it will affect something else along the way, sometimes throughout the history of that particular world.

 

Q:  Where do you get your daily dose of news?

A:  To keep myself from falling deep into depression or going into a killing fit, I don’t keep up with the news every day. It’s not healthy in this day and age. I do rely on people like Bill Maher, John Oliver, and even The Daily Show with Trevor Noah to keep me updated. Sometimes I’ll read articles from CNN or the New York Times. Other times I’ll watch the local news, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, and Vice News.

 

Q:  Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

A:  I once read that you can make anything by writing.

And it’s true! Writing opens minds, introduces new perspectives, and brings people into worlds they never knew existed. Writing is an art form that is beautiful, tragic, complex, stunning and horrifying. My best advice for aspiring writers is to develop a thick skin. Take constructive criticism with a grain of salt, and learn from what others tell you. Trust me, you’ll grow as a writer that way. And read! Read! Read! Read! When a writer is reading, it’s different than non-writers. We’re not just reading, we’re studying! We’re finding out new ways to describe things, broadening our vocabulary, and learning how these other authors thread their stories together. Whatever genre you write, reading will help significantly when you put your own pen to paper. Don’t concern yourself about getting that first rough draft just right, either. First drafts are meant to free spirits and very ugly ones too. You only need to get your story out of your head and onto paper or in a Word document. Worry about making it pretty later on during editing. And don’t rush. It’s so easy nowadays to toss out stories in front of the whole world. Yet the ease to publish shouldn’t mean that the art of writing needs to be forgotten or ignored. Writing a book or novella takes time, and ought to take just as long if not longer to make better through proper editing and revision. It’s best to sit on a manuscript for a while before going back to work on it, rather than rush in getting it done in order to publish it. It doesn’t matter how good the story is, if readers are distracted by poor writing and grammar flaws, you’ll lose them quick!

All in all, read more, write with passion, but edit with care and devotion toward the craft, and learn from others. Most of all, write what you love!

 

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Filed under Fantasy, Fiction, Interviews, steampunk

#BookReview: “A Lucky Day” by Carlos J. Server

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  • Genre: Comedy, Contemporary Fiction
  • Publication date: February 7, 2017
  • Book length: 226 pages
  • Book format: Paperback 6” x 9” / ebook format
  • Available at Amazon

Synopsis: “The largest prize ever awarded by the EuroMillions lottery has been won by a lucky someone from a small village on the French Riviera. What starts out as the happiest day in history for the local inhabitants soon turns into a race against the clock to find the lucky winner and cash in the lottery ticket. A priest with verbal incontinence, a sweet little old lady with secret sexual fantasies about the local butcher, a village mayor who’s held power for thirty years, and a mailman in love with the wife of a villainous baker are just a few of the quirky characters who will make you laugh and occasionally bring a tear to your eye as you enjoy everyday situations taken to extremes. A Lucky Day is a heartwarming comedy peopled by a highly entertaining cast of characters.”

 

 

Review: “I reviewed the English version, translated from it’s original Spanish, and one hopes the original author’s meanings were shared in every way, which can be a concern with such works. And exactly why a good translator is always prized, and deservedly can receive notice and awards of their own. So cheers, to Annie Crawford for that. For me, the main concern I had with accepting this title review was that humor can be very subjective. What one finds funny, another may not, but I was pleased to find amusing situations and great ‘one-liners’ throughout that could be universally appreciated, for the most part. A good storyteller helps you see the humor even in small gestures, looks and events, even in writing. Server was highly successful in this way.

The variety of characters presented, from a baker’s housewife with a passionate decorative affair with garden gnomes, to Sergeant Chardin, at five foot five and 265lbs, each is unforgettable. Some of the things I liked best about A Lucky Day was the balance between descriptive scenes: landscape, personal appearance, mannerisms, and the conversational dialogues. While effusive details may become tedious in a novel length work, the author never reached that point. They were relevant and very visual, helping anchor readers in the region, which most of us may have never visited nor will. There wasn’t too much dialogue nor too little. Pacing was also good, as readers already knew what the prize was from the book’s synopsis, but how it all came to pass and who eventually received the reward?

I found A Lucky Day to be a lightly comical, tightly written tale that flowed easily, where I literally laughed out loud at times and which was never overly complicated in style or presentation. It was a fun journey, which almost anyone might enjoy. I definitely recommend it, especially if seeking a fun, fast moving read as escapism from the daily issues so many people face today. ”

 

BIOGRAPHY

Carlos J. Server (Valencia, Spain, 1975) first became a household name in 2014 with his debut novel, Un día con suerte, a finalist in the First Annual Indie Literary Prize Contest cosponsored by Amazon, the prestigious Spanish newspaper El Mundo, and publisher Esfera de los Libros. Contest judges considered more than seven hundred works by authors from thirty-two countries. Un día con suerte became an overnight Internet phenomenon, quickly rising in the charts to become the No. 1 bestselling eBook in Spanish on Amazon in Spain, the United States, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Germany, France, Holland, and Italy. It has maintained its ranking in Europe as the top-selling comic novel in eBook form available in Spanish on Amazon throughout 2015 and 2016.

In 2015 Carlos Server published his second novel, Un bautizo singular, a romantic comedy of intrigue peopled by a cast of zany characters. The author is currently at work on his third novel, scheduled for publication at the end of 2016.

The global launch of A Lucky Day, the English version of Mr. Server’s first novel, will take place in February 2017, making the novel available to English-speaking readers everywhere. This will be followed in June of the same year by the publication of A Singular Baptism, the English version of his second novel.

In his fast-paced, suspenseful, highly entertaining novels, Carlos Server invites us to enjoy tales reminiscent of Billy Wilder and Woody Allen, two artists much admired by the author.

Contact: Website, Twitter, Goodreads

 

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Filed under comedy, Fiction, Reviews

#BookReview “The Hero of Lost Causes” by Phillip Frey

slowthepace450 From the  Slow the Pace anthology: “The Hero of Lost Causes”  is about “Robert Emmet was born in Ireland in 1778. Upon his twenty-third year he became angry over British rule. It then took him two years to recruit an army of farmers, shepherds and friends. When the moment of rebellion finally came, there was a miscue and a lot of confusion. As a result, the British captured Robert Emmet and executed him in 1803. Robert Emmet quickly became a romantic figure to the Irish people; to this day referred to as “The Hero of Lost Causes.”

Review:

A historical fiction by description, this short tale is actually set at a modern seaside, of a father claiming connection to the failed yet still heroic rebel. Having bought a forty-footer upon retirement as a fireman, Kevin Michael Emett (2 T’s) feels his own time has passed, but maybe his adult son Robert, who helps him out on the boat, might somehow make good on the claim…and a sudden event may just provide achievement of ancestral vindication. Add in a beautiful green-eyed young woman named Eileen and a few gentle comedic twists, and you have “The Hero of Lost Causes”, a pleasant, easy story, the last but not least in this anthology.

About the author:
Phillip Frey grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, where he performed as a child actor at The Cleveland Playhouse. He later moved to New York, where he performed with Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival. This was followed by performing for one season as a member of The Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center.
With a change of interest Phillip wrote, directed and edited three short films, all of which had international showings, including the New York Film Festival. With yet another change of interest, Phillip moved to Los Angeles where he became a produced screenwriter. Now more recently, he has turned to prose with the books “Dangerous Times” and “Hym and Hur.” To see more about these books, please visit http://www.phillipfrey.com. “The Hero of Lost Causes” is Phillip Frey’s first publication of a short story. He wholeheartedly
thanks Scribes Valley for this distinction.

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Filed under Anthologies, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Reviews, Short Story Collections