Mercedes Fox ~ Author

My Writing Blog

Category: Author Interview (Page 64 of 65)

Meet Author Darcy Leech

Howdy my lovelies! Welcome to another edition of Interview FoxSeat featuring author Darcy Leech.

Darcy Leech was born on Blytheville Air Force Base in Arkansas to a mother harboring a hidden genetic disease that would forever shift the family life when Dustin, Darcy’s younger brother, came into the world with congenital myotonic muscular dystrophy. Before meeting her brother, Darcy was told she would live longer than he did and matured quickly as a child living amid medical crisis.

She graduated summa cum laude from Bethany College with majors in English Education and Philosophy, married the love her life and settled into her home town in the middle of the golden wheat fields of Kansas where she has served 8 years as an educator. Darcy is a four year all conference college athlete, A.O. Duer national award winner, published nationally in Quest Magazine, and a Lana Jordan Aspiring Artist Grant winner.

She gave birth to her first son, Eli, three months before her mother’s degenerative muscle disease took Jo Lyn’s ability to breathe. Jo Lyn was to be Eli’s caretaker when Darcy returned to work, but instead, Jo Lyn fed Eli a bottle in her hospital bed while she was hooked to ventilator. Jo Lyn is the strongest woman Darcy will ever know, and From My Mother candidly recounts the love and struggles in a family with a special needs boy and a hardy young girl raised with compassion, fortitude and grace while facing death with a terminal disease.

How about a book blurb:

Riveting, soulful, and courageously told, From My Mother is a meditation on grief, family, genetic disease and also a deeply personal account of the narrator’s coming-of-age amid medical crisis and tragedy to carry on the lessons from her mother to raise her young son. A story of loss, From My Mother is full of life, a story of beginnings as much as endings, a moving book that transforms suffering into art and inspiration. Darcy Leech was born to Jo Lyn Bartz, a mother who carried myotonic muscular dystrophy, a disease 1 in 8500 suffer from. Jo Lyn’s son, Dustin Ryan Bartz, was born with congenital muscular dystrophy with a high enough frequency of protein repeat mutations that of his 13 years of life, every day defied prior medical knowledge. Leech narrates a moving meditation of the enduring mysteries of what dormant harbingers of genetic disease may lurk within, the surprising possibilities in loss, and the deep resilience of the human spirit as the bod­y weakens.

The narrative highlights the relationship between diseased mother and healthy daughter, revealing Jo Lyn as a woman of strength, a caretaker who quietly marched toward her own degenerative weakness, someone grappling for identity while ostracized by an invisible disease, and a resilient spirit who endured holding the child who inherited her genetic misfortune as he took his last breath. From My Mother is the honest story of finding joy through loss, living fully within limitations, and the universal struggle of grappling for identity against the device of innate genetic code through invested love and personal choice. From My Mother leaves the reader pondering the value of genetic testing, the beauty in a disease easy to accept as genetic fault, and the heart wrenching question of when life should be sustained by machine or ended by choice.

Why do you write? I wrote From My Mother first as a process to heal after losing my mother to respiratory failure caused by her genetic disease, myotonic muscular dystrophy. While writing was cathartic for me, I knew there were others like my family out there, more women like me grieving the loss of a parent, wondering how to raise her child well. There are women like my mother who feel alone, that no one understands their rare disease and its silent effects. From My Mother is a true story which needs to be told. As technology advances, more and more people will have to make choices about life support, or have a child who wouldn’t have survived years ago and has a complicated prognosis. More descendants will live as caretakers for their parents or watch their parents die after a long hospital stay. Those feelings are complex. I’m hoping reading the honest revelations of a rare but relatable story means something to those walking similar paths. There are readers out there who need From My Mother. I wrote to reach them.

When did you decide to become a writer? Writing has been my career goal since second grade. ­Being pragmatic and financially conservative, I was as an English teacher for six years and am currently a technology instructional coach helping teachers integrate technology in the curriculum. I’ve worked as educator thinking “this will help me build skill in my career as a writer.” From My Mother is my first book. I have plans for a trilogy of fiction and a children’s book on similar concepts. I’m hoping From My Mother goes well enough that I make a career of writing.

What genre are your books? From My Mother is an inspirational non-fiction narrative, a memoir on surviving and thriving in a family ravaged by genetic disease. For those interested in the genre, it also serves as a piece of narrative medicine, showing the human emotional and psychology effects of a family affected by a rare, incurable genetic disease. A story of resilience and strength, it is a faith story of a woman who, when she cannot speak because of a tracheostomy in her throat, motioned like a butterfly to tell her family she was ready “fly away home.” Above all, From My Mother is a true story of connection in the human condition, literature worth the read.

What draws you to this genre? This book is part of my calling in life – I feel destined to write it being the healthy daughter of the strongest woman I will ever know who carried a genetic degenerative disease. When my brother passed away when I was 16, I carried a notebook with me everywhere, and I wrote essays to cope with the feelings and mute the stimulus around me. Writing is a survival tactic for me, and so is reading well-written, honest stories I can relate to. I want to offer people in families like mine a story which stares adversity in the face and comes out stronger. I’m drawn to the genre because reading true stories is one of the best ways to learn life’s lessons without having to make the mistakes. I would have been a better person if I could have read a book like From My Mother when I was 15 or 25.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? I wrote often when my mother was in the hospital, but my writing went silent shortly after she passed. I threw myself into daily life and tended to my infant son trying to forget the beeps of the oxygen monitor. My mind wouldn’t rest, and eventually neither would my pen. I shared parts of my story online. One of my mentors and college professors told me I should apply for a Lana Jordan Aspiring Artist Grant with the Salina Arts and Humanities Commission. I did and won a fully funded grant. The grant funding gave me the resources and confidence I needed to land a contract. So, writing for healing is what started me, then the support of people who had read parts of the work helped me finish. The writing was painful. At times I wanted to quit, but I knew there were readers out there who deserved the story. I wrote for them.

Do you write full-time or part-time? I write part-time currently, but I’m hoping to be a career author one day. Currently, I work as an instructional technology coach helping teachers learn how to successfully use technology in the curriculum. I was an AP Language and Composition teacher for six years, and believe in the goals of education and a person’s ability to absorb life lessons from good books. I enjoy working as an educator and appreciate having summers to write.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? I have a 12 week old daughter and four year old son, so my schedule is at the whim of my children. I do some writer tasks while I nurse, like manage my social media via my phone or read a book about marketing. Most of my blogging or longer writing is done after the kids go to bed. Sometimes I steal time, sitting next to my kids with a computer to type a great idea. I really have to squeeze in time during the school year. I have summers off as an educator though, and I use that time to focus on writing. This summer I plan to travel often to make book appearances after the release of From My Mother.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I hired a writing coach to work after I received grant funding. She helped me understand envisioning my potential reader and having the text meet that reader’s needs. I gained skill in using meaningful sensory details to help the reader experience the language. I’m better about evaluating the relevance of details or events to include. After working with my writing coach, I cut almost 10,000 words trying to achieve the most impact per word. The whole process of working with agents and publishers opened my eyes to writing for a specific audience. I’ve gained confidence to know I have a voice worth sharing and content worth reading. That confidence makes me ready to explore mediums like a fictional trilogy or children’s books in the same target audience and theme as my memoir. I have a message worth sharing, and I’m going to branch out in creative mediums to help it be heard.

What have you written? In the process of finding a publisher for From My Mother, I had a chapter excerpt, “Beyond Willpower”, nationally published in the Quest Magazine: http://quest.mda.org/article/beyond-willpower-caring-brother-and-mother-mmd. The comments and new Facebook friends I met helped me know that my honest self-revelation was affecting real people in meaningful ways. After that article was published, I knew I had a worthwhile reason to finish. I also published a Kansas Poem of the Week: https://150kansaspoems.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/mom-dad-and-dustin-on-the-beach-of-the-great-salt-lake-1997-by-darcy-leech/ I wrote that poem in college, and my professor wanted me to seek publication. I refused because the writing is a moving picture of how as a surviving sibling of a terminally ill brother, I lost a bit of my parents too. I didn’t want my mother to read the poem because the piece is an extended metaphor comparing my mother to my lilac “who outlived her Son and weeps”. It conveys my family’s battle with depression and moving forward after losing my 13 year old brother with special needs. I also have a blog where I write about the publishing process, reflections on my family and philosophical musings about genetic diseases and cures.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? I created an outline for From My Mother seven chapters in. I wrote for healing and purged my feelings onto the paper. I had to tidy up for the readers. My first two chapters experienced a total rewrite once the first full draft of the book was finished. Next time I’d start with an outline. I have a notebook where I keep writing ideas, and I refer to it sometimes for blogs. I have more ideas than time to write, so I try to plan my writing time so the best ideas get the attention.

How do you market your books? My job as an instructional technology coach helps me acquire skills to conquer promotion and marketing in the social media era. I have a professional designed website, an active blog, a growing social media presence and connections with key organizations tied to the target audiences of my book. I have a Kindle Unlimited subscription and made it a goal to read one book a week on marketing or promotion for my book. If I had to sum up my marketing plan in one sentence, I’d say I market resourcefully with a high degree of technology knowledge, a deep social network, and connections with groups and people with a high return on my energy investment because I know they are people like me in ways who will relate.

Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures? I have three months until my book releases. In the pre-marketing phase I’m trying to strategically create web of connections to make my book launch a success story. I’m trying to do as many things right as I can before launch so word of mouth can spread quickly upon launch. I’m 29 and I’ve had day jobs that built two key skills for me – communication and digital literacy. I’d like to think I’m paving the way for small press authors with some of the ways I’m working to lay the ground work for my book’s audience.

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in the future? In trying to get my name out there as an author, I look at my efforts as “good, better, best.” I’ve done some things that are inefficient, but that’s where my technology knowledge comes in handy. I like to try to think strategically about my time and money investments in marketing and maximize my efficiency. I’m not afraid of making mistakes. I’m sure the mistakes will come and I’ll keep working past them.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors? “The best writing is rewriting.” To have a marketable product, you have to spend time in revision. Even once you have a contract, you have to spend time in revision. Don’t expect someone else to catch every error and give you a clean text without you doing the lion’s share of the work. You need to know your text better than anyone else because you’ve read it over so many times. Also, this is the social media era of book marketing. Build a platform with a wide base of social media reach over time. You can’t build a large Facebook account overnight because you’ll run into adding restrictions. You have to make your social media growth feel organic by doing a little each day until you have large accounts. Your tech skills will matter, and marketing really is a set of problem solving and creative thinking exercises to answer questions the generation before us hasn’t answered yet. So put on your thinking cap and try new things.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does she do that is so special? My main character is Darcy Leech, and the special thing she does is narrate in an honest and reflective voice the best and hardest moments of her life. The story isn’t special because of her, but because of her mother and brother and the resilience of her family. You’ll enjoy the narrative voice. I hope by the end you feel like you’re hearing a story from a friend you empathize with and relate to.

Where do your ideas come from? True events and reflection.

What is the hardest thing about writing? It’s a process that takes a good chunk of time which isn’t easy to regulate or schedule, so finding time to get my best thinking on paper can be a challenge. Once my best writing was on paper for From My Mother, time was again an issue as I had to learn patience and perseverance in seeking a publisher and waiting for the book to release. It’s awfully tempting during the process to stick a raw manuscript on CreateSpace and just get something out there. Telling myself to wait on the traditional route was hard when so many Indy authors are having a good go of it. I still want to write a short book to self-publish and learn about the market.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? Writing From My Mother was a healing process. The hardest part was writing through the tears to have coherent organization and clear details. Revisions were calmer writing time than the first draft. Allowing the emotions to linger in my mind to write let out some feelings I repressed by keeping busy with other things. It was cathartic, but catharsis doesn’t come without struggle.

Which writers inspire you? I taught AP Language and Composition for six years and the texts I read about ten times a piece have noticeable influence on me. I love the narrative voice of Nick Carraway in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. I appreciate the candor and guilt of John Knowles’ Gene Forrester in A Separate Peace. Martin Luther King Jr. is probably the most inspiring author for me because even today his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” creates empathy and awareness through rich knowledge of rhetorical strategies such as anaphora, zeugma, allusion and masterful balancing of ethos, pathos and logos. I’m drawn to the spirit of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writing and appreciate the adventure of man vs. nature in Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. Soren Kierkegaard is my favorite literary philosopher and I’m inspired by his ability to create unique narrative voices through pseudonym. My most important direct inspiration in writing From My Mother is Rachel Simon, whose memoir Riding the Bus with My Sister is a masterfully written piece by a high functioning woman who is sibling to a beautiful soul with special needs. I affiliate with Simon because I see in her something I hope to become – a role model for those in family’s affected by disability who spreads awareness and empathy through thoughtful, honest writing which wrestles with the joys and struggles of living life differently.

What do you do to get book reviews? I found beta readers via interest groups linked to concepts in themes in the book. I would link a blog post written towards an audience like those in families affected by a terminal, incurable disease like in the book and if someone said “I can’t wait to read your book!” in response, I’d ask him or her if he or she would be interested in an Advanced Reader Copy. All I asked in return was a written review on Goodreads. My early reviews from this method were in an exact target audience for the book from people who already had indicated a positive view of the book. I’m going to market with some strong written reviews on Goodreads. My blog and social media connections, which are honest and caring friendships made with people like me, help me find readers willing to do me the favor of writing a review.

How successful has your quest for reviews been so far? In small number, great. However, I would like to expand the scope and frequency of the reviews. Being connected to a reader network would be great.

You mentioned you’re writing a new story. How about a teaser? Imagine your loved one carries a terminal, incurable disease. Research and development from scientists, who shifted gears after a moratorium on embryonic stem cell research, has shown a cure through genetically altering mice. Your loved one has a chance at a cure if you allow a foreign scientist to inject him with a virus which will attack the construction of his DNA so that the DNA breaks and rebuilds, hopefully without the genetic flaw which causes the disease. What would you do? Follow the life of Hope Ceinwen is his quest to survive being born with an incurable disease and the ramifications of researching cures which alter the genetic code in a trilogy of trial, redemption and impact.

Who is your favorite character in your book and why? My mother. I owe her too much for the patience I gave her. She was the strongest woman I will ever know. She died of weakening muscles. Her great faith was revealed in her great struggle. I aspire to love my children with the love she gave to me. We may live differently, but she is my role model in hope and compassion.

Who is your least favorite character and why?  From My Mother is a story of man versus nature. My least favorite character is the antagonist, the disease that took my mother and brother – myotonic muscular dystrophy. Like all good antagonists though, I have to admit a part of my heart loves myotonic muscular dystrophy because the unique lives of my brother and mother helped me become who I am today. A blessing and a curse, the disease was part of who they were and part of why they are no longer with me.

If your book were made into a movie, whom would you cast? Emma Watson playing me as the narrator would be delightful. (This is budget free daydreaming, right?) Angelina Jolie would understand the threat of deadly genetic disease. Before the disease started affecting the strength of my mother’s facial muscles or her ability to exercise, she would have resembled Jolie. Robert Downy Jr. would by play my father and it would be his most touching role yet, reminiscent of Robin Williams in Patch Adams. My brother would have to be played by a child actor with congenital myotonic dystrophy. I don’t know any other way the directors could capture that face and body movements…

What is your next project? I plan to work on a fictional trilogy about incurable genetic disease and a children’s book aimed at sibling caretakers in family’s affected by disability.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why? Owen Meany in A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving – Owen is like the voice I hope to give my brother though my writing. He looks and speaks differently and has a shorter projected life span than his narrator friend, John. Owen Meany stands out from those around him not just because of the way he was born, but how he thinks and acts. Owen is a genius, a gifted writer, wise beyond his years, a loyal friend, and in ways a typical angsty teenager. My favorite part of Owen, though, is how his unshakable faith in a divine creator shapes his world view and leads him to his tragic yet beautiful fate. Owen is special, and I’m attracted to the paradox of fortune and misfortune in his grateful worldview which allows him to believe he is the way he was meant to be and that things happen for a reason.

What one person from history would you like to meet and why? I would choose the scientist who discovers a safe and sustainable cure for myotonic muscular dystrophy because I hope it happens in my lifetime.

If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be? Everyone would spend more time reading well-written true life stories for edification and enjoyment. One of our best ways to learn is in books, and I think entertainment that is not edifying occupies too many timetables which would be better served by true and worthwhile lessons a good memoir can offer, whether physical or digital.

What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer? With From My Mother my greatest lesson about the writing process is that completing the manuscript is only the beginning. From this point forward, I am in the business of authorship. My online presence, my schedule of events and my platform are designed from my first book with my fifth book in mind. I’m launching a career as a writer and that means I’m learning every day about skills around being a writer like social media management, blogging effectively, commission percentages, targeted advertising and scheduling. I’m grateful for this lesson though, because I beginning to believe I could make both an impact and a living as a writer.

What is one thing you hate about being a writer? Writing about myself, I often reveal weaknesses, insecurities, guilt and difficult emotions. I blog and share through social media. If people are interested in knowing more about me after meeting me in person, they can get to know me quickly and authentically through my writing. Sometimes I feel at a bit of a disadvantage in creating relationships because my writing exposes intimate stories quickly and the comfort in creating a face to face friendship isn’t always easy when one of the friends is a compulsive sharer. So if there is anything I hate about being a writer, it’s that sometimes I’m awkward in making friends.

Tell us something unique about you. I may be one of a handful of authors ever who has spent time as an AP English high school teacher and an Instructional Technology Coach. My day jobs in education I’ve chosen specifically with the career goal of getting paid to build skill as an author. Because of this experience, I’m well positioned to use the social media era to find, connect and engage my audience through multiple tech. mediums and skillfully crafted rhetoric.

Is there anything else you would like to add? I spoke at my first event for From My Mother for free three months before release. I’m volunteering my time more as a guest speaker. I’d love to come speak to your group if you are in the Great Bend or central Kansas Area.

Thanks so much Darcy for sharing with me! I do hope you come by again when your new book is ready for shouting about.

To learn more about Darcy and her work follow the links below:

Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Linkedin / Goodreads / Pinterest

Meet Author V.S. Kemanis

Howdy my lovelies! Welcome to another edition of Interview FoxSeat showcasing author V.S. Kemanis.

V.S. Kemanis grew up in the East Bay Area of California in a family with six amazing siblings and parents passionate about politics, social issues, theater, and music. Now based in New York, Kemanis is an attorney with years of experience in criminal law as a prosecutor of street crime and organized crime, and as a court attorney for appellate courts. Short fiction by Kemanis has appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and The Crooked Road Volume 3 Anthology, among others, and she has published three, award-winning story collections. Her legal mystery novels, Thursday’s List, Homicide Chart, and Forsaken Oath, feature fictional prosecutor Dana Hargrove, who often finds herself tangled in an ethical web of conflict between her personal and professional lives.

Book blurb: Forsaken Oath (release date: April 30, 2016)

Prosecutor Dana Hargrove has taken a step up the career ladder as the new chief of a major trial bureau in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Years in the courtroom have earned Dana the respect and admiration of her juniors and peers. A few tough wins have also sparked the envy—and contempt—of certain members of the defense bar.

In the midst of planning a well-deserved summer vacation with husband Evan and the kids, Dana is dragged into a few high profile cases. A renowned fashion designer is murdered in his posh Upper East Side townhome. An inmate, serving state time for felony murder, claims that evidence was wrongly withheld at his trial. A professional con man, the mastermindForsakenOathS.A.Final72dpi - Small of a reverse mortgage scam, is blamed for leading a younger man into a life of crime. As the mysteries in these cases unfold, a common, unsavory design comes to light—at its center, Dana is the victim of a personal attack.

A scurrilous media campaign can be endured, but when a criminal scheme touches Dana’s family, she must strike back. In Forsaken Oath, Dana confronts the greatest challenge yet to her professional integrity as she fights to protect her good name and the sanctity of her family life.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does she do that is so special? Forsaken Oath is my third standalone legal mystery featuring Assistant District Attorney Dana Hargrove. Once again, Dana is caught at the intersection of family and career—a career that happens to involve an interesting array of criminal suspects, judges, attorneys, and investigators. Dana juggles her stressful (but exciting!) career with the demands of family life as a wife and mother. She’s a skilled litigator, dauntless, intelligent, and fair-minded, but she has her share of self-doubt and feels her vulnerabilities most acutely in moments of conflicting loyalties to family and career.

What genre are your books? My novels are difficult to pigeonhole. One reviewer of Thursday’s List noted that it had qualities which would appeal to fans of the legal thriller, mystery, courtroom drama, or police procedural. My short stories are literary fiction, with characters and plots that vary widely. I’ve published three collections under three broad themes: Dust of the Universe (tales of family), Malocclusion (tales of misdemeanor), and Everyone But Us (tales of women).

 How long does it usually take you to complete a book? I’m an attorney by day, fiction writer by night/weekend. With my busy schedule, each novel takes about a year and a half to two years, start to finish.

Where do your ideas come from? My short stories just come to me. They usually start with something very small—an observation of a person on the street, an overheard line of conversation, or an image from a fleeting memory. From there, the idea slowly develops beneath consciousness, resurfacing from time to time, gradually taking shape as a story. This process may go on for a year or more, until the story is ready to be written. The storylines in my legal mystery novels are inspired by my experiences as a former prosecutor, but all characters and situations are fictional. An underlying theme common to the Dana Hargrove novels is the internal conflict familiar to any career woman juggling family and professional obligations. I felt this conflict keenly in my career both in and out of the courtroom.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? My first step in writing a novel is a mental image of the overall scheme. The next step is to write an outline that looks more like a synopsis, chapter by chapter. As I write, I take guidance from the chapter synopsis, but the finished novel invariably strays from it. During the writing process, inconsistencies may need fixing, or new ideas emerge that further the storyline. Sometimes the characters just take me down a different path to resolution.

Why do you write? Writing is challenging, creative, and entertaining for me. I’ve been a lifetime daydreamer with a huge imagination, so I usually have a lot of fun diving into my fictional worlds. I also enjoy the intellectual pursuit of combining the right words for a particular mood or scene.

Any advice for aspiring authors? Follow your heart and write what you know. Take pleasure in the process of writing, working at it until you find the right words for the feeling you want to evoke or the scene you want to describe. Read the work out loud. Does the dialogue sound real? Edit and proofread your work relentlessly.

What is your next project? During this break between novels I’m writing a few short stories that have been developing at the back of my mind for some time. Next, I will launch into the fourth Dana Hargrove novel. I’m taking her through various stages of her career, with several years in between: Thursday’s List (1988), Homicide Chart, (1994), Forsaken Oath (2001). Three more novels are in the planning, which will bring Dana through to the present day.

 Tell us something unique about you. Another passion, VSKemanis3besides fiction writing, is dancing. I take class religiously, both classical ballet and contemporary styles, and have performed, taught and choreographed at various times over the years. During a break from my legal career, I owned a popular dancewear shop and perfected the art of fitting pointe shoes on the feet of very exacting ballerinas. I have a story forthcoming in the August 2016 issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine which features a murder mystery in the world of professional ballet!

Many thanks to the amazing V.S! For more about the author and to pickup your book copy follow the links below:

 

Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / Goodreads / Amazon / CreateSpace / Smashwords / Google

Meet Author Laura Moe

Howdy my lovelies! Today author Laura Moe is the FoxSeat subject.

Laura Moe was raised on the run with a family who changed addresses with the frequency of fugitives. Because they moved so often, books became her most stable friends. When her family lived overseas there was no English TV. What saved her was the book wallah: a man on a bicycle with a basketful of books who visited their house on Saturday mornings to sell his wares. She bought everything in his basket, and often read things that were hugely inappropriate for a young teenage girl, such as Harold Robbins novels. Naturally her love of reading led her to a career as a librarian and English teacher, and now, an author. She spent most of her life in central and Southeastern Ohio, but has recently moved to Seattle.

Book blurb: In BREAKFAST WITH NERUDA, eighteen year-old Michael Flynn didn’t mean to blow up the school. His plan was to blow up his ex-best friend’s car with those bundles of firecrackers. He’s sentenced to community service over the summer where he will help the custodians clean the high school. There he meets a girl named Shelly Miller, who is also working off a sentence. The two become friends, yet each holds back secrets. Michael’s greatest secret is he chooses to live in his car rather than inside his mother’s BReakfast With Nerudafilthy house. Michael and Shelly share a passion for reading, especially the poetry of Pablo Neruda, and as they confront the realities they’ve been dealt, Michael and Shelly move forward together and slowly reveal their secrets tone another.

If you use a Pen Name why did you choose it? When I first self published Parallel Lines I used the name Coyote Gordon because I didn’t want to be pigeon holed as a YA writer. At the time I planned to write adult novels, but have since decided I love writing YA.

Why do you write? Like many writers, I can’t not write. I think I better answer this question in this blog post. http://laura-moe.blogspot.com/2016/01/why-do-i-write-ya.html

When did you decide to become a writer? I started writing when I was a kid.

What genre are your books? Contemporary YA

What draws you to this genre? I spent many years as a teacher, primarily in high school and college. If you can hook a teenager on books, they become lifelong readers.

How long does it usually take you to complete a book? It depends on the book. My first novel, Parallel Lines took a decade to write. Breakfast with Neruda took five years, but its follow up, which I am shopping now, I wrote in two years. I don’t know if I’m a better writer, but I am more efficient.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? I’m not sure. I’ve always felt drawn to telling stories.

Do you write full-time or part-time? Now I write full-time, but before I retired from teaching I had to squeeze writing into the day, which accounts for why my previous works took so long to write.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? I generally split up my writing day. In the morning I often go back over what I wrote the previous day and use that as a starting point. But I’m a night owl, so I often draft new scenes by hand and type them into the computer the next day. Overall, I spend around four hours per day writing.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I’ve learned to trust my instincts better.

Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write? I listen to music as I write, and since I often write in coffee shops, I use noise canceling headphones to keep me focused. The type of music varies.

What have you written? Most recently Breakfast With Neruda. I’ve had a number of poems published, mainly in small literary magazines, but LINK. Also, I have a short story in Triskadekkan http://www.amazon.com/Triskaidekan-Stories-2013-Aaron-Behr-ebook/dp/B00AZMSGJ0, and the novel Parallel Lines .

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? I rarely plan or outline. I tend to just write the draft until I run out of gas. Usually 50-60 words. Then I go back, dissect it, add flesh to the bones and put the story in order.

How do you market your books? I use Facebook and twitter a lot, and I enjoy making public appearances.

Do you find promoting your books challenging or enjoyable? I enjoy meting fans and talking about my work. The challenge is lining up public appearances. I don’t have an agent or publicist, so I do most of my own legwork.

Any advice for aspiring authors? The first step in becoming a writer is to read, and read in the genre(s) for which you want to write. Don’t expect to write well right out of the gate. Write, attend writing conferences and learn how to make your writing better. Expect rejection. It’s hard not tome with book take rejection personally. When you submit work, you open yourself to criticism. What one editor hates, another will love. Keep trying.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special? Michael survives and thrives against the odds. He comes from poverty and a poverty-stricken part of the country, but he’s also smart, and he uses his intelligence to figuratively keep his head above water.

Where do your ideas come from? My ideas come from life. They are grounded in real stories from people I have met or know of.

What is the hardest thing about writing? The most difficult things about writing is to write well. In first draft, the writing sucks so badly, and I write terrible notes to myself as I create my story. Sometimes I wonder why I bother to return to the hideous draft, but then a light bulb goes on in my head, and I cut the chaff, clear up the confusing stuff, and find my flow.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? Writing any novel is like putting together a 10,000 piece puzzle where the pieces don’t lock easily into place.

Which writers inspire you? YA writers John Green, Maureen Johnson, Jay Asher inspire me, and there are countless poets whose words move me. When I recently read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr I was ready to lock up the keyboard and find a new day job because I will never write as well as he does. Once I got over myself I realized I write differently than Doerr, but no better or worse.

What is the current book you are promoting? Breakfast with Neruda.

You mentioned you’re writing a new story. How about a teaser? The title for the new book is Language of the Son. The story picks up almost a year after Breakfast with Neruda where leaves off. Michael is finally graduating from HS and pondering his future.

Who is your favorite character in your book and why? I love Michael. Even though I often want to shake him for stupid things he does, he’s a lovely soul.

Who is your least favorite character and why? I love all my characters, even the ones who are deeply flawed. Shelly is often unlikable, as is Michael’s mother. I suppose Rick isn’t my favorite person because he’s the catalyst for getting Michael in hot water.

Do you have any formal education in creative writing? If not are you planning to go to school? I have a MFA in creative nonfiction, but I believe working and living has been my best preparation for writing. Also, I frequently attend writing conferences and workshops. I learn something new in each session. Right now I’m studying film and screenwriting which provides me with a new way at looking at story.

Do you have any “how to write” type books/instructional you’d like to recommend? Hooked, by Les Edgerton will help you craft your opening lines. It’s crucial to engage readers on the first page. Roy Peter Clark has several books on writing (Help For Writers and Writing Tools.) Stephen King’s On Writing is another favorite.

If your book were made into a movie, whom would you cast? I pictured Nat Wolff for Michael as I wrote the book. I also pictured Tommy Lee Jones playing Earl.

What is your next project? I have just completed a follow up to Breakfast With Neruda, but the characters are still visiting me, so it is turning into a three book series.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why? I love many characters and many novels. Some of the most memorable characters are Daniel Sempere from Shadow of the Wind and Francie Nolan in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I love them because they both love words.

What one person from history would you like to meet and why? Pablo Neruda. His poetry speaks to me.

If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be? I would eradicate hatred, prejudice and vitriol. I believe fiction helps people live inside a character who thinks differently, and opens the reader to greater understanding and empathy. Books like Wonder and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night help readers live inside someone’s world who is vastly different.

Who inspires your writing? Often an event happens or I read something in the news and the gears start turning. Writing takes practice, and if I go too many days not writing, I get rusty.

Where do you come up with your stories? The stories and characters choose me.

Do you have a pet(s) you’d like to brag about? You can include a picture if you like. Pablo is a very spoiled white cat who often critiques my writing by walking on printed pages.

Who is your favorite author and which of their books is your favorite? I can only choose one? It changes every time I read a new book. I like authors who pay attention to craft, such as Anthony Doerr, Jack Kerouac, Ray Bradbury, Betty Smith, Donna Tartt, and Ivan Doig. I like characters with strong voices and plots that are credible.

Do you or have you sat down and read your book fresh off the presses as if it wasn’t yours? And if you did, what was it like? Even after my work is published I see areas where I can improve the language, add a detail. Revision never stops.

What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer? Embrace the unexpected and let the characters guide you through the story.

What is one thing you hate about being a writer? I won’t live forever and be able to write all the books I want and need to write.

Do you ever feel self-conscious when writing love/sex scenes? No, but I avoid the graphic ‘blow by blow’ (pardon my pun.) I show sex as a natural byproduct of the relationship and concentrate on the characters’ feelings rather than the skin slapping.

What are some of your favorite books and why? Devil in the White City is a fantastic book because it’s a true story that reads like a great detective novel. Fahrenheit 451 is a short book with big ideas. At the time it was written it was considered science fiction, but now it foretells a grim reality. The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns are important for today’s reader to dispel the misunderstandings about Muslims. I love quirky books like Let the Great World Spin and Open City, and more straightforward narratives such as novels by John Updike.

What do you think of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing? I’ve done both, and each has its merits. The biggest boon to being traditionally published is the ‘street cred.’ It shows the world strangers believe in your work. Also, the publishers will provide some publicity and editing services. If one self publishes, hire an editor.

Would you say there is a stigma to being self-published? At one time there was a stigma, and self published authors had to pay hundreds of dollars to fill their garages with books, but publishing is changing so rapidly. Technology has allowed authors to bypass the gatekeepers and produce good quality books at little or low cost.

What book are you currently reading or just finished? I recently finished Silver Linings Playbook. I had seen the movie a couple of years ago, but am in a filmmaking course and wanted to see how the book was adapted for screen. It’s a great book, and readers understand what it feels like to be mentally impaired.

What do your fans mean to you? My fans inspire me to write.

Is there a book you love you’d like to recommend to others? For YA readers, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, and Aristotle and Dante Discover the World by Benjamin Alire Saenz. I am getting ready to reread Station Eleven for one of my book discussion groups. It’s a plausible, well written story of what our future could look like.

Tell us something unique about you. By the time I was fourteen I had been around the world twice.

Is there anything else you would like to add? I hope readers enjoy my work.

Thanks so much Laura for chatting! For more about the amazing Laura, follow the links below and pickup your copy:

 

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Meet Author Ben Y. Faroe

Howdy my lovelies! I’m thrilled to introduce author Ben Y. Faroe to the FoxSeat.

Ben Y. Faroe lives in community with his best friends in Baltimore, MD. They feast together, drink good whiskey, push each other to do great creative work, and squeeze in board games when they can. That his wife and daughter are lovely beyond compare goes without saying.

You can learn more at byfaroe.com or start reading stories for free at bit.ly/trydwc.

Book blurb: The Dream World Collective

Five friends quit their jobs to chase what they love. Rent looms. Hilarity ensues.  What if you had no daily grind, no soul-sucking job, and a few smart, passionate friends to watch your back and split the bills? Could you find a way to make ends meet and then pour every moment into what you really love?  Five friends take the plunge to find out.  Sushi and her roommate Summer are tired of working dead-end jobs for corporate drone bosses. DWC Ebook Cover 1.0So when their friend Alex quits his job and his roommate Zen proposes a grand experiment, they rope in their geeky friend Otto and move in together to build a life of art and freedom and tea and scheming.  Of course, they still have to make rent, and the evil next door neighbor is hell-bent on getting them kicked out, and Summer may be just a little bit hopelessly in love with Alex.  But it should all work out. Right?  By turns silly and deep, daring and sweet, The Dream World Collective is a cozy romp for anyone who cares about creativity, community, and muffins.

Why do you write? I can’t help myself. Seriously. If I write less than about a thousand words in a day I feel off, like I forgot to brush my teeth or something. Plus it’s an amazing rush when it comes out right.

What have you written? I’m currently co-authoring a comedy series called Hubris Towers. It’s about Jimmy Acorn, the lovably awkward new concierge of a half-built fancy condo in a rough neighborhood in Baltimore, full of outlandish tenants and charcuterie platters and hilarious misadventures. The humor is very much in the vein of Fawlty Towers or P. G. Wodehouse.

Hubris Towers is about to hit a full year in or near Amazon’s Top 20 Short Humor and the first one’s free everywhere, or you can get an extra episode for free when you join my email list at byfaroe.com/updates.

I’ve also written a fairy tale called The Stone and the Song, which has hit Amazon’s Top 10 in Fairy Tales a couple times, and I recently released my first full-length novel, The Dream World Collective.

I’m around 80% of the way through the rough draft of my next novel, The Unaccountable Death of Derelict Frobisher, a comic fantasy mystery about a man who thinks he’s been murdered (and may be right) and the potentially disastrous dead-rights movement he inspires.

How long does it usually take you to complete a book? It really varies. I think I’m getting faster as I go.

I wrote the initial draft of The Dream World Collective in two years, sat on it for a while, and then put it through several rounds of edits. The Unaccountable Death of Derelict Frobisher is at a few years and counting, but it’s spent quite a bit of that time on the back burner.

My quickest to date is probably the Hubris Towers series. We just released the sixth episode mid-March, meaning we’ve published around 100,000 words in under a year.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? I probably should, but I don’t. I currently work full-time as a data analyst and have a lovely wife and two girls—one aged 2-1/2 years and the other 3 months—so I squeeze in writing and publishing work whenever I can.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I think with each project I get more confident chasing the questions I really care about with a style and aesthetic I really enjoy. You could say I’m learning to write more and more exactly the books I want to read.

Back in high school I started working on an epic fantasy novel which, in retrospect, was basically just The Wheel of Time with different character names. During that period my style and what I cared about changed so rapidly that I could barely get through Chapter 1 without re-envisioning the whole project and starting over. Needless to say, it never really got off the ground, but the last Chapter 1 was far more interesting and sophisticated, and far more mine, than any of the earlier iterations.

With The Dream World Collective I was writing purely for myself, taking characters I respected with a sense of humor that made me laugh and making them deal with difficult questions I care about, and the results still surprise me, make me laugh, and bring tears to my eyes even after a dozen re-reads. Hubris Towers has been a stylistic playground where I can practice witty humor and awkward situations and brilliant save-the-day twists, and it’s fun to play with language that way.

But I think Frobisher is going to be my best yet. The world is unlike anything I’ve ever seen—a tangle of clans and corporations and clickworks and nixies, with a splash of Discworld and an echo of Narnia—and there’s a brilliant, ridiculous new character joining the action every couple chapters, and the food is amazing and it’s super-funny and super-deep and—well, let’s just say I can’t wait to get it into your hands.

Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write? I can’t watch or listen to anything with words while I write, but electronica and chill-out music and good mashups make my fingers fly. And terrible pop. Katy Perry is my guilty pleasure.

I’ll often fixate on a song and listen to it non-stop for a while. Right now—and I know this is really weird—I can’t get over DJ Chetas’s Love Mashup 2015. It’s basically an up-tempo Bollywood super-mashup, and I have no idea where I found it and no idea what they’re saying, but it is Pixy Stix for my brain.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? I tend to get better stories out more quickly when I have a plan, though what that means in practice can be pretty flexible. I’m starting to settle into a method where I write each scene in a paragraph or three, and that seems to strike the right balance for me. It gives me enough direction to keep me moving while being a light enough touch to let me pivot on the fly if I think of something better.

The way I think about it is that you’re going to write every story several times, whether you outline then flesh it out or you wing it for the rough draft and go polish later. My personal preference is to invest less time in the first passes by writing them in less detail (as an outline and scene summaries) so that if something’s not going to work out I can find out before I’m tens of thousands of words in.

Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website? So far I’ve mostly designed my own covers, and a couple others, which is terribly hypocritical because I always advise authors to get a professional for their design work. The Dream World Collective is definitely the cover I’m most proud of so far.

I’ve been trying to come up with a good cover concept for Frobisher for months or more now and I’m totally stumped, so I might finally follow my own advice and hire someone who knows what she’s doing for that one.

What is the current book you are promoting? If you want a quick, fun read, try Hubris Towers Episode 1: An Uneasy Interview. It’s free and it made people laugh during jury duty. ( Amazon | Everywhere )

If you’re geeky and creative and looking for something that will draw you in for a good long read, try The Dream World Collective. Most of my beta readers stayed up too late because they couldn’t put it down. ( Amazon | Everywhere )

You mentioned you’re writing a new story. How about a teaser? Sure. Here’s a scene from The Unaccountable Death of Derelict Frobisher in which the nascent dead-rights movement is slowly starting to gain steam under the leadership of student, activist, and self-declared dead person Solon Quillings.

In the buzzing sunlit warmth, a set of activists clustered around Solon in a cobbled residential street. Small houses crowded against each other amid a modest litter of toys and potted flowers and checkered curtains hanging still in the sleepy air. A domesticated lesser dragon snoozed under a picnic table, rumbling softly.

The small knot of students hovered in a moment of collective hesitation, then urged one of their number forward. He paused, swallowed, then knocked on a faded red door. There was a moment of bustling, the shriek of a cat and an oath. The door opened and a gray tomcat streaked out of sight. A fat housewife in a flower-print dress and an apron loomed in the doorway, smoking.

The student peered up at her.

“Sign a petition for dead rights, mum?”

“Wossit oll abaht, then?” she croaked.

The activist glanced back at the tiny crowd in the street, who made encouraging gestures at him. He turned back to face the housewife.

“We think it’s high time for the government to stop discriminating against the majority of our populace just because they happen to be existentially challenged.”

“Exa-wot?”

“Dead, to put it in a word. Did you know, mum, that under the current administration dead folk are not allowed to own property? You could spend forty years workin’ your fingers to the bone to buy yourself a little cottage to grow old in, and the minute you’re dead, the government suddenly up and gives it to your next of kin. Is that right, mum?”

She peered down at him, gruff and a little confused.

“‘Ave you heard of double indemnity, mum? It’s a terrible, blatantly anti-dead law allowin’ a man to get off a murder charge—coldblooded murder, mum—simply on account of ‘e’s already killed the victim once before. Now I ask you, mum, is that right? Do you want to live among clans that call that justice? If your poor dead grandfather, God rest ‘im, were lyin’ peaceful in his tomb and a couple of desperadoes—”

Her eyebrows rose. The dead-rights activist noticed, and pressed his advantage.

“Yes, desperadoes, I say, were to come in an stab ‘im brutally until dead, and the coppers was sitting right in daylight wortchin’ ’em do it, what do you think those men would face in the courts, mum? Nuffink! That’s what. They would walk out free as you and me, wiv the magister wishin’ ’em a good day. Is that right, mum? Is that what we want for our dead mothers and fathers and long-dead lovers?”

She sputtered, beginning to be properly affronted at the poor lot of the dead man.

“Or take voting rights. Dead suffrage is going to be the defining political frontier of our generation, you mark my word, mum. Did you know that the largest demographic our society ‘as ever seen is whiling away the years wivout a voice, wivout a seat in Parley to represent them or an elected official to make sure they get theirs? I ask you: is that right, mum? Not that it makes a difference yet, I grant. One party’s much as bad as the other when it comes to oppressing the dead. But history will be our vindication, mum. I tell you that. And when, years from now, the dead have the vote and our clans and societies is flourishing in an age of equality and prosperity unlike any seen from the dawn of time, mum, I ask you, mum, do you want to be tellin’ yer grandkids that ye slammed a door in the face of progress, mum, or do you want to join us in the fight to make this a world fit to be dead in, the right to a decent life wiv a decent ending to it, the right—if it is not too bold to say it, mum—to rest in peace?”

By now the housewife was fully taken up with the tragedy of the dead man’s lot and the glory of his struggle. With a red face and a gruff sob, she leaned down to add her ill-formed signature to the petition.

“Thank you, mum.”

She cuffed him affectionately across the cheek and sent him off with a rather choked-up “Bless yer wee toobers,” or something much like it.

Who is your favorite character in your book and why? I think if I had to pick one from The Dream World Collective it would be Otto, the Collective’s resident geek. He’s such a great combination of shy and grandiose and lovably weird, and I think he grows the most over the course of the book. He’s basically a committed, basement-dwelling, Shasta-quaffing gamer who gets dragged kicking and screaming into the real world, and the results are rather amazing.

If your book were made into a movie, whom would you cast? Hubris Towers was profoundly inspired by the BBC production of Jeeves and Wooster starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, and my secret fantasy is to have Hugh Laurie play Mr. Schwartz, the drily witty, conniving manager. And having Stephen Fry in as J. Edgar Hubris (“no relation”) would be icing on the cake.

I made an April Fool’s day post with an alleged promo for the Hubris Towers TV series. On further reflection HT S1 Apr 1 PromoI think I’d cast Daniel Radcliffe instead of Michael Cera for the main character, Jimmy Acorn, but everyone else on the poster would be perfect.

What is your next project? One that’s in early planning stages is a short YA series, working title The Clockwork Tower, about a few friends who start exploring a tower that mysteriously appeared in their (small modern American) town and find themselves in a contest of wit, strength, and fortitude to determine which of four worlds will continue to exist.

Who inspires your writing? Terry Pratchett is probably my single biggest influence. And G. K. Chesterton is my literary soulmate.

Where do you come up with your stories? Usually it’s something I care about but can’t figure out, and my mind keeps gnawing at it until I find a way to encode it in a story and work through it.

Frobisher is a good example. It’s my way of working through a lot of questions at once, including where you go when your mind wanders and what Jesus could possibly have meant by ‘let the dead bury their own dead’ and how you really define ‘alive’ anyway and what happened to all the dryads that apparently used to cavort in our forests and how to satisfy my steampunk itch in a world that actually more or less makes sense and—well, really quite a lot of things.

What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer? It’s better to go into a story with a question I want to explore than with an answer or opinion I want to convey.

What are some of your favorite books and why? I love so many books in so many ways that it’s hard to pick, but here are a couple that come to mind at the moment.

Neverwhere is high on the list because it’s such an amazing hero’s-journey story. Or rather, a perfect example of a normal guy getting pushed into a completely unfamiliar, threatening new reality, fighting and struggling to get back, and once he does, finding he’s changed so much that he doesn’t want his old normal back after all.

I also love G. K. Chesterton’s Father Brown mysteries. They’re clever and weird and I especially like the fact that Father Brown, an unassuming little priest, has a far deeper awareness and understanding of humanity’s dark side than anyone expects (since he regularly takes confession from people).

What do you think of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing? It’s super-cool that there are so many options available today. I think traditional publishing is great for people who can get their work seen by the decision-makers and who don’t want to mess with the nitty-gritty of the production process, though I think some authors overestimate the amount of money and promotional support most people really get from a publisher.

As for self-publishing, with great power comes great responsibility. I love the way it democratizes publishing and opens up great new opportunities for people who would never have been seen by an agent or a publisher before. But it means we’ve got to oversee every aspect of the production, and there’s a reason it’s traditionally taken a team of diverse and highly trained professionals to publish a book.

I think the trickiest part is objectively evaluating the quality of your own work and deciding when it’s done. The more qualified outside perspectives you can get on your work, the better.

Would you say there is a stigma to being self-published? In some circles. I think it’s fading, though. It’s becoming more and more evident that some self-publishers take it seriously and are at least as capable of creating high-quality work as the major publishers.

Of course, there will also always be people trying to game the system or churning out junk for a quick buck. I’m curious to see what new systems will develop for finding the good books now that the traditional book-vetting infrastructure is becoming less relevant.

What book are you currently reading or just finished? I’m currently re-reading Red Moon Rising by Pete Grieg, about a 24-7 prayer movement that changed how a lot of people experience God, and Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike, a pretty brilliant satirical fantasy novel about a quest-based economy starting to collapse.

Is there a book you love you’d like to recommend to others? If you like vampires and Victorian London, Death’s Dream Kingdom by Gabriel Blanchard.

If you like Terry Pratchett, Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike.

If you like mind-blowing sociological insights, The Gift by Lewis Hyde.

If you like God or practicing mindfulness, The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.

Tell us something unique about you. I love languages. I grew up in Turkey, speaking English and Turkish fluently, andBen Y. Faroe Author Pic at various points in my life I’ve also studied German, Italian, Classical Greek, Latin, Modern Hebrew, Ancient Hebrew, Japanese, Esperanto, Gaelic, Hawai’ian, Sanskrit, and Ga.

Is there anything else you would like to add? I recently started a hybrid publishing company called Clickworks Press in an effort to take the best from both traditional and indie publishing: more production and promotional support than self-publishing, with higher royalties than traditional contracts offer.

We’re cross-genre, mainly looking for smart fun. For a book to be a good fit, it has to make a genuinely original contribution to how our readers think about the world while keeping the story immersive and satisfying.

We’re starting to build our editorial and design team, as well as keeping an eye out for brilliant authors. If you’d like more information, just drop us a line at inquiries@clickworkspress.com.

How can readers discover more about you and you work? The best way is to join my list at byfaroe.com/updates. I send out periodic updates and friendly notes, and people who join get a few of my stories for free.

You can also try to follow me online—I’m byfaroe everywhere—but be warned that I’m terrible at social media.

Mucho thanks Ben for coming by and chatting! Pickup your copy and learn more about Ben by follow the links below:

 

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Meet Author Maymunah Azad

Howdy my lovelies! Welcome back to Interview FoxSeat with Maymunah Azad.

Bio: Daimby City: Night Dragon was first created when Maymunah Azad was in Year 6, at the age of eleven. She decided to start writing a short story, to appeal to children around her age. Her chosen genre was fantasy as she loved reading about dragons, magic and mystic heroes.

Two and a half years later, Maymunah was in Year 9 and now fourteen years old. Her teachers, family and friends had encouraged Maymunah to publish her now novel, and it was finally published in February 2015.

Maymunah is still at school and enjoys reading even now, although she writes a lot more too! Her current interest is paleontology; she adores dinosaurs! At school, her favorite subjects are Art and Science and she can often be found hanging out with friends around the school building in her spare time. Maymunah lives in Derbyshire with her family and two very pesky chickens.

Book blurb: Daimby City: Night Dragon

One Enemy. Five Orphans. An Adventure They’ll Never Forget.

When the once-peaceful city of Daimby is terrorized by dragons, a wise wizard knows it is time for five heroes to be selected to defend the city. His hopes, and all of Daimby’s rely on five orphan children.

Will they succeed in their mission or will Daimby be lost in carnage forever?

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? I was in primary school, 11 years old, when I came up with an idea for a story. I really enjoyed creative writing from that age too so I used to sit outside on a ledge next to the school building to write. The story ended up being a little bit longer than I intended it to be (it was meant to be a short story!) and my teacher’s all recommended writing it up on a computer as a permanent record, but I took a step further in publishing it.

Do you write full-time or part-time? I prefer to write part-time. Obviously, I still have school these days and I have a lot of studying for exams to do as well as a ton of other hobbies I want to get on with! I can only really write during the holidays or any spare time I have (which is practically nonexistent!)

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? With the first book, I never intended for it to be a real published book, so I suppose I just let my imagination take me where it will! With the second book, I had a bunch of unorganized ideas all jumbled up so I wrote a brief outline of what was going to happen when. Unfortunately, we’re almost always asked to write a plan for writing at school but plans just don’t work for me!

Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website? Initially, I designed my own book cover, but I had no clue what I was doing with the cover creator software and I had very limited images to work with. The result, as a friend honestly told me, was that it looked a bit tacky. So I worked on a new edition the following year and for this I had started painting my own cover. However, one of my teachers looked at it for me and suggested ideas for the cover that I went away and worked with. Afterwards, he sent the cover out to the Year 7 tutors and asked them for their opinion. Their favorite was the cover I used and I honestly think they made a brilliant choice. Their help was invaluable!

Do you find promoting your books challenging or enjoyable? For me, marketing is something I really struggle with. I’ve been told that I’m a creative person so marketing should come easily to me, but in reality, it scares me a lot. I’m quite shy around people and I hate telephone conversations. Being a kid still, there’s only so much I can do so sometimes; I feel like my age stops me from doing more in the marketing area.

Any advice for aspiring authors? Keep writing if that’s what you love. Take criticism constructively. Don’t give up. There’s so much you can say but you have to be willing to put s lot of work into it. Sometimes, being an author can be lonely so you have to be willing to go it alone if you have to. Oh, and one more thing. You are not going to get tons of cash by just writing a book. There’s a lot of work involved! See it as a hobby rather than a full time job because very few are lucky enough to make it big.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? For me, I think it was sitting down, writing and not getting distracted by the Internet. My holidays were for a week and I actually managed to finish my book by the weekend, somehow! I kept wondering whether I should turn off the internet but I know where the on button is so that wasn’t going to work. Instead, I disciplined myself to write for an hour or two, then have a break on the Internet.

What is the current book you are promoting? Currently I’m promoting my first book, Daimby City: Night Dragon. It’s a children’s book about five orphans living in a city terrorized by dragons who are asked to save it by travelling to a dimension above their own. The main plot and idea is the original one I came up with five years ago.

If your book were made into a movie, whom would you cast? I’m going to say firstly, I love this question. I’m the kind of person who watches really old PG rated movies and TV shows back from the early 90s to 2000s (yes these shows still exist on Amazon Prime and Netflix!) so I haven’t a clue on actors/actresses but I’ll give it a shot.

Sapphire- Patricia Ja Lee

Amethyst- Camille Hyde

Turquoise- Ciara Hanna

Diamond- Erin Cahill

Gold- Michael Taber

Dragonar- Jason David Frank

There are a few more characters but I’ve only listed the main ones. If it was animated it would work fine, but child actors might be necessary otherwise. There’s a chance it could go okay though…but that’s what directors are for!

What one person from history would you like to meet and why? Roald Dahl. Without a doubt. He is one of the best children’s authors to date. Even now, I like to relax with one of his books to read. His ideas are so imaginative and enthusiastic! One of my favorites is the wallpaper in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Wouldn’t that be awesome!

If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be? Get superheroes. Seriously. In reality, what I really would want the most is world peace, but until that happens, I think superheroes will have to do. Shame, really. Why can’t people just get along?

Where do you come up with your stories? In a variety of places. Sometimes it’s when I’m trying to get to sleepimage1 because that’s the only real peace and quiet I get. Other times it’s during Art lessons, NOT because I find Art boring. It’s because we often work in silence and more often than not, that’s the best place to think of new ideas.

What is one thing you hate about being a writer? Self-promoting and getting my work out there. It’s probably the hardest thing I do because apparently, phone calls are what gets you to places. Also, I think being a child doesn’t help either. I keep wondering whether I should do talks in schools but when? And don’t get me started on the amount of times I email people and they don’t reply…

Tell us something unique about you. Apart from the fact I’m still fifteen? Well, I think the most unique thing about me as a person in my community is that I still have the mind-set of a six year old. Most people find that really weird and I think others might criticize me for it but in my opinion, that’s what makes me me. I wouldn’t give that up for anything. And aren’t all children’s authors the same?

How can readers discover more about you and you work? I like to post up on Facebook and Twitter but I also have a website where there is loads of opportunities to talk to me. I’d love to be able to interact with readers; after all, readers are the reason why the author writes in the first place! There are links below, so feel free to check it out!

Many thanks Maymunah for chatting with me! For more about the amazing Maymunah and her books, follow the links below and pick up your copy.

 

Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Amazon

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