Mercedes Fox ~ Author

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Tag: historical fiction (Page 1 of 2)

Meet Author Kimberly Black

Hello, lovelies! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat featuring guest author Kimberly Black

I am a native Texan, living in the Texas Panhandle with my husband of 32 years, my two sons, my daughter-in-law, two cats, and two dogs. I’ve been writing since the fourth grade and designing houses since I was twenty. I’ve taught children’s Bible class for over twenty years and even worked for two years as one of the Children’s Ministry Directors at my church. I have one Children’s book, Pockets, published and two more in illustration stage.

My latest releases, Lydia, Woman of Purple (2nd edition) and Her Most Precious Gift, were both inspired by strong women characters from the Bible. They were both released the first week of March 2017, along with their companion Devotional Study Guides.

Book sample:  Lydia, Woman of Purple

Genre:  Historical Christian Fiction

Synopsis:  Lydia is a well respected, God-fearing merchant in the Roman colony of Philippi in first-century Greece. She is struggling with her faith and dealing with the loss of her husband and the coming-of-age of her seventeen-year-old cousin, Marcus, who she has raised as her own son.

Four strange men come to town with a message of a Messiah, and her world is changed forever. She wants nothing more than for Marcus to embrace and share her faith in Jesus Christ, but he is deeply immersed in the Roman pantheon of gods and goddesses. Her life becomes even more stressful when Lydia rescues a slave girl, healed from demons, and brings her home.

Excerpt:  He took both of her hands in his. “Beautiful spirit,” he repeated with a smile. “Your faith is remarkable.”

“Is this faith?” she asked. “I just cannot allow that man to misuse and discard the poor child any longer.”

“You love her. You cannot help it.”

“It is no more than what any other would do.”

Luke shook his head. “Nobody else would do this for her. You are saving a slave’s life. It is everything.” Luke’s eyes filled with tears. “To Daphne it is everything.”

“But is it faith?” Lydia asked. It took every ounce of her resolve not to throw herself into Luke’s arms. She held his hands tightly.

“Love is the greatest part of faith.”

Book Sample:  Her Most Precious Gift

Genre:  Historical Christian Fiction

Synopsis:  Mary lives with her siblings, Martha and Lazarus, in a small town just a few miles’ walk from Jerusalem. They have grown close after the loss of their parents and the prosperity they had once enjoyed. Mary finds herself as their last hope if she can find a suitable husband.

But after a devastating attack, Mary is left with a shattered mind that leads her to self-loathing and depression. She decides her family is better off without her. Before she can do the unthinkable, Mary is saved by an unlikely friend who urges the family to find healing in a man of God called Jesus.

Through healing, Mary finds a purpose in her life, and the strength and courage to face even her worst fear.

Excerpt:  Mary sank to her knees. Martha left her there to go speak to Tirzah and the mourners. Most of the other people had already gone home.

Mary cried. Jesus wasn’t there, and Lazarus was dead. Mary could think of nothing else.

You did not come. We needed you, and you did not come.

And now it was too late.

When did you decide to become a writer?  In the third grade, I read Little Women at least six times and decided that I had to be like Jo March when I grew up. I read every Nancy Drew and Little House book I could find.

How long does it usually take you to complete a book?  I have some that I have been working on for more than a year—which is ridiculous. I can usually get a rough draft out in 30-45 days, sometimes less.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?  I’m not nearly so worried about whether I’m writing everything precisely right the first time through. And I’m learning to focus on evoking the right feelings.

Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write?  I don’t usually watch or listen to anything while I’m writing, but while I’m doing other chores, I listen to music that inspires the themes and emotions I want to achieve.

What have you written?  I have my children’s books and historical Christian fiction published. I have also written a movie blog for a few years, called Cinema Toast. I am currently working on a YA sci-fi western and a fun espionage suspense series.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you?  Both. I plot an outline, but when I get to a hitch, I let my characters decide where they want to go. Some of my favorite scenes have happened that way.

Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website?  Both of my sons have degrees in Graphic Design, so I have home-grown cover artists. MF: I’m jealous!

You mentioned you’re writing a new story. How about a teaser?  I am most excited about my spy series! The first book is called Little Black Dress, and it will have at least two sequels and two prequels and a bonus book for super fans. I was inspired with the “what if” of Audrey Hepburn as James Bond. The story is fun, scary, and full of fashion and intrigue.

Who is your favorite character in your book and why?  My heroine in Little Black Dress is Evan Tyler, a fiery redhead from Texas who is out to stop a villain from destroying the world’s economy. She must infiltrate the Paris fashion scene to foil the scheme. She has a lot of spunk and depth of character.

If your book were made into a movie, whom would you cast? I could see Jessica Chastain or Bryce Dallas Howard as Agent Tyler.

Do you have any fur babies to brag about? I have two cats, Checkers and Poe (the Black Cat), and two dogs, Paden and Archie. Archie is named after Archie Goodwin from the Nero Wolfe series of mysteries.

What do you think of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing?  I’m a control freak, so I love self-publishing. My first novel was published traditionally, and I definitely don’t regret that experience, but I don’t see myself going that route again.

Would you say there is a stigma to being self-published?  I think it’s fading fast. There are great books and terrible books in both traditional and indie publishing. I believe that it’s a lot of hard work no matter which route you take.

Are you currently reading a book or just finished one? I just finished Scott King’s The Five Day Novel, and Agatha Christie’s audio books, The Crooked House and Endless Night. Loved them all.

What do your readers mean to you?  I absolutely adore my readers. They are incredibly kind and encouraging. I always make an effort to include their suggestions whenever I can. I even try to name characters after them if they ask.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?  My website is packed with lots of information, and I have a newsletter that I send out once a month for updates. I also love to connect on social media.

There ya have it folks! For more about Kimberly, her work, and to get yourself a copy, follow the links below:

Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / Goodreads / Pinterest / Amazon / Instagram

Meet Author Leonide Martin

Hello! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author Leonide Martin

Leonide Martin, author of the Mists of Palenque series, draws from academic skills and Maya initiate training to write authentic historical fiction. She conducted extensive research and on-site archeological studies, and apprenticed with several Maya elders and day-keepers in Mexico and Guatemala. Her historical fiction immerses you in the ancient Maya world, re-imagining the lives of historic women of vision and power. Leonide lives with her husband and two white cats in Willamette Valley wine country, Oregon.

Book blurb: The Controversial Mayan Queen: Sak K’uk of Palenque. Mists of Palenque Series Book 2.

Sak K’uk, the strong-willed daughter of Yohl Ik’nal—first Mayan woman ruler—faces rebellious nobles and spiritual crisis in her city following a devastating enemy attack. The sacred portal to the Gods is desecrated, temples and crops destroyed, the ruler killed and the royal family humiliated. With her city in chaos and leaderless, Sak K’uk undertakes a perilous Underworld journey to seek help and encounters the Primordial Mother Goddess, Muwaan Mat.

Invoking the powers of the Goddess to overcome opposition, Sak K’uk accedes and holds the throne for her young son, Pakal. She knows that a Mayan prophecy foretold Pakal’s destiny to become ruler, restore the collapsed portal, and bring Lakam Ha to greatness. The intense trials of mother and son forge a special bond that proves both a blessing and a curse.

Enter the ancient Mayan world of jungle-draped stone cities with soaring pyramids and broad plazas gleaming in the tropical sun. Experience cunning plots and intrigue, shamanic curses, dazzling rituals, and the bizarre Maya Underworld. Brimming with vibrant detail and extraordinary characters that are seamlessly women into the historic tapestry, Sak K’uk is a rich and captivating treasure by an astute storyteller.

What genre are your books ?  My books are historical fiction set in ancient worlds, during the Maya Classic Period (250-900 CE). The stories cross genres, with elements of romance, fantasy and time-slip. As HF my books follow historic timelines documented by archeology and use real people from ancient Mayan cities. The protagonists of the Mists of Palenque series are all historically known women rulers or queens of Palenque. In telling their stories I use archeological data and information about life during those times. But, the facts are limited and give little insight into people’s daily lives. To fill in what is missing, I use imagination. These women married, had children, families and friendships, enemies and challenges—mostly not well-documented. To give spice to the stories, I created romantic themes of love, passion, loss, and betrayal. To paint a vivid picture of mystical Mayan cosmology, I created scenes that could be classified as “fantasy” although these experiences were very real to the Mayas. A deep thread of shamanism runs through Maya beliefs and rituals, and there is ample evidence that they engaged in shamanic journeys in their rituals to honor and communicate with deities. They viewed the world as made of three dimensions—Underworld, Middleworld, and Upperworld—and saw these dimensions as permeable. Gods and ancestors could interact with humans and affect the world; shamans could travel through time, dimensions and space.

These beliefs opened a route to the time-slip elements in my stories. I integrated a theme in which the Mayan characters make contact with people from other time periods. The story arc of this interconnection spans through all four books of the series, and eventually solves a mystery.  There also is a parallel story about a women archeologist working on a dig at Palenque. This lets me introduce a fascinating tale of archeological sleuthing and convey to readers the long and complex history of how Westerners “discovered” and explored lost cities of stone buried in lush jungles.

What draws you to this genre?  I’ve been drawn to historical fiction for as long as I can remember. As a young child, I read HF books my grandfather sent me—remember the Reader’s Digest Condensed Books? I continued reading HF all my life, especially books about Rome, Greece, and Egypt. I love to learn about how life might have been in those far-distant times and cultures. In HF, you are immersed in the lives and worlds of characters living through the history. Although I enjoy reading in various genres, including mystery, action-adventure, and romance, I naturally gravitate to reading mostly HF.

How do you write, and what have you written?  Writing HF is a post-retirement avocation for me. As a university professor, I authored many textbooks and professional articles during my career, so writing is a long-time skill. After retirement, I became fascinated by the ancient Mayas and began to study their civilization intensely. That led to the idea of bringing their lives to a wider public through writing HF. To date, I’ve written four novels about the Mayas, and am currently writing the fifth.

The first book, Dreaming the Maya Fifth Sun: A Novel of Maya Wisdom and the 2012 Shift in Consciousness (2006) tells the story of 2012 and ending of the Maya Calendar, from the Mayan perspective. There was so much hype and misunderstanding of 2012; the Mayas never said the world would end. In fact, their Long Count Calendar never ends, it just moves from one great cycle into another, like entering a new astrological era. Basically, around 2012 was the ending of a great cycle of about 5000 years, although there are not exact correlations between calendars. This book tells the real story of 2012 from the Maya understanding.

The next three published HF books are in the Mists of Palenque series about Mayan queens. They were rulers, or the ruler’s wife, all in the lineage of famous Maya king K’inich Janaab Pakal. The fourth book, to complete the series, is in process.

  • The Visionary Mayan Queen: Yohl Ik’nal of Palenque, Book 1. (ebook 2014, paperback 2016)
  • The Controversial Mayan Queen: Sak K’uk of Palenque, Book 2. (ebook 2014, paperback 2017)
  • The Mayan Red Queen: Tz’aakb’u Ahau of Palenque, Book 3. (ebook 2015, paperback 2018)
  • The Visionary Mayan Queen: K’inuuw Mat of Palenque. Book 4. (in process)

My writing habits are erratic, sad to say. Writing is not a job, but an avocation. When I’m on a roll, I can write long hours at my computer, and hardly anything distracts me. But, I take long breaks from writing, sometimes a few months. My main excuse is that I’m devoting efforts to marketing, which authors must do more and more. I prefer a quiet environment when I write, but even if my husband plays music or watches TV nearby, I can still concentrate. I work from an outline, which is essential because I need to follow an accurate timeline and include all the important and known events in the protagonist’s life. I develop ideas for scenes, story or character arcs, and include them in outlines and notes. I keep my resource books and documents (both physical and online) beside me all the time, and constantly refer to them to stay accurate. There is a spontaneous element to my writing, however, and at times a scene or character just pulls me off in a new direction, and I follow that inspiration when it works. Sometimes this happens in the middle of the night, and I’ve learned to get up and write it down, or it evaporates before dawn.

How do you market and promote your books?  Like most authors, I want to write. But, I’d also like readers to discover my books, which won’t happen without promotion efforts. I’m fortunate that my small indie publisher, Made for Success Publishing, also provides good marketing strategies. Over the past three years, I’ve done various marketing/promotion things, including author pages on Amazon, Goodreads, and Facebook, and social media contacts though Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, Google+, and Pinterest. I have a WordPress website and blog that I try to keep updated. When something new happens, such as a book award, review, or new release, I publicize this on my media platforms. I follow the advice “75% social interaction and 25% book marketing” to keep contacts engaged.

I participate in local and online book fairs about twice per year, and do bookstore author events when I have a new release; for this I send out press releases to local print and online media. Currently I’m focusing on bookstore events, guest blogs, and articles. I’ve offered giveaways through Goodreads, and plan to do one on Amazon soon. The least productive marketing effort for me is paid advertising on websites; the most productive is getting a featured book on BookBub. Having about 30 good reviews is important for this.

Getting and dealing with Book Reviews and Awards.  Common wisdom holds that book reviews are really important; you need about 30-60 reviews; after that it doesn’t matter so much. Recently one marketer said reviews alone won’t do it; you need to have a presence in many venues. To get reviews, first get friends and family to write reviews—the caveat being that if Amazon discovers you have such connections, they pull the review. Email your list of people with interest in your topic and genre to announce book releases and request reviews, and inform them of book giveaways and bargains.

There are reviewer website lists, you can find top reviewers on Amazon or Goodreads, you can join Goodreads groups that offer reviews. A good strategy, one that has worked well for me, is to submit to editorial reviews, paid and unpaid. Some are Writer’s Digest, Midwest Book Review, City Book Review (Seattle, San Francisco, New York), Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus Reviews.

Book awards get you more mileage than reviews; these seem to impress readers and you can put the logos on your book cover. Here are some sources for awards: Writer’s Digest, IPPY Award, Foreword Magazine Award, National Indie Excellence Award, Book Festivals (multiple cities), Global Ebook Awards, Kindle Awards, Best Indie Book Awards, Pacific Book Awards.

Two of my books won awards, and I use the award logo for promotion.

Getting a critical or negative review is painful for any writer. We all need to realize that some people will not like our books, either for writing style or plot/topic. If I get a critical review that is well-reasoned, and shows they actually read my book, I take notice and try to learn so I can improve. If it’s a 1-2 line review saying “this book is not for me” or “couldn’t get past the second page” or “this book sucks” then I disregard it. These are not reviews (read guidelines for what a review really is); they are simply off-the-top opinions. Many authors are perplexed about why Amazon will allow such “reviews” to appear, but pull off a reasonable one by a contact of ours. Je ne sais pas Amazon!

Who are your favorite authors and books?  Why?  Mary Renault:  The Bull From the Sea, The King Must Die, The Last of the Wine

Marion Zimmer-Bradley:  The Mists of Avalon

Samuel Shellabarger:  Prince of Foxes

Anita Diamant:  The Red Tent

Margaret Mitchell:  Gone With the Wind

Anya Seton:  Katherine

Wim Coleman & Pat Perrin:  Mayan Interface

Michael Creighton:  Jurassic Park, Timeline

Cheryl Fluty:  The Lost Queen: Ankhsenamun, Widow of King Tutankhamun

Elizabeth Peters:  Amelia Peabody series

Henryk Sienkiewicz:  Quo Vadis?

Edward Bulwer-Lytton:  The Last Days of Pompeii

There are many more books and authors I’ve read and loved. The ones in my list stand out because they captured some essence of the time period, characters, and action that made a deep impression. These books were very well-written, the narrative and plot captured and held attention, and they had depth that provided an experience of the time and culture.

What books are you currently reading or just finished?  Recently I finished The Paris Wife by Paula McLain and The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford. Both were excellent reads about historic women in a fictionalized story, and captured the time periods faithfully. I was transported to Paris of the 1920s in the rare company of Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and Scott Fitzgerald. It gave insight into Hemingway’s persona from the viewpoint of his first wife, Hadley, through their exuberant, boozy, and tragic years in Paris. The second is a story about Agatha Christie after the divorce that shattered her life. She takes the Orient Express as an escape from unhappy circumstances and sensational press attention, and meets two fascinating women as she journeys to Baghdad and visits a dig at Ur. Their lives intertwine in ways that change each one, and Agatha meets the second love of her life.

Currently I’m reading a time-slip romance series, Hearts Across Time (The Knights of Berwyck: A Quest Through Time Novel, Books 1 & 2) by Sherry Ewing.  I want to see how another author uses interaction between time periods. The book is enjoyable and I’m taken already by the main characters, as well as intrigued by the setting in 12th century England. Ewing’s use of time interfaces is quite different than mine, with actual transportation from present to the 12th century following a number of ghostly and dream encounters. I’m curious to see how it all ends, but then come the sequels.

What do your fans mean to you?  I love my fans! Recently I formed a “street team” to involve a small group of fans in my work in progress. Using a Facebook Group page, I invited 20 people to join and receive advance copy of my fourth Mayan queens book. They are acting as beta readers, and already have given feedback that changes the story. Their input is invaluable in editing what’s already written. They’ll be the first for the cover reveal, and will get a free copy of the finished book, with the expectation of a review. I’m finding this a fun and useful way to interact with fans.

Anything else to add?  I want to thank Mercedes Fox for providing this platform for authors to share with a wider audience. Through such networking, we can spread strands across the web of the reading/writing community, and give more people a chance to find our books. It’s been fun to answer the questions, and I so much appreciate the opportunity!

There ya have it folks! Many thanks Leonide for sharing with us! For more about Leonide, her work, and getting yourself a copy, follow the links below:

Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / Goodreads / Amazon / Google / Pinterest / BookTrailer

Meet Author Mehreen Ahmed

Hello! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author Mehreen Ahmed

Mehreen Ahmed has published with Cambridge University Press, Taylor and Francis, Routledge, Story Institute, Cosmic Teapot Publishing and other peer reviewed journals such as ISTE and Language Learning and Technology, and On-Call. Currently, she writes mostly introspective fiction in a stream of consciousness style. Mehreen has two MA degrees in English and Applied Linguistics from the University of Queensland, Australia and Dhaka University, Bangladesh. One of her short stories, The Anomalous Duo has been translated in German and waiting to be published in the anthology of “Familie (er)zählt: Selection of stories completed; Sammlung abgeschlossen. She has contributed to several anthologies and has written newspaper articles.

Book sample:  The Pacifist

Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis: In 1866, Peter Baxter’s misfortune ends the day he leaves Badgerys Creek orphanage. Unsure of what to do next, Peter finds himself on a farm run by Mr. Brown. An aging man, Brown needs help and is happy to give Peter a place to live in exchange for his labor. Unbeknownst to Peter, Brown’s past is riddled with dark secrets tied to the same orphanage, which he has documented in a red folder.

During a chance encounter, Peter meets Rose. Peter cannot help but fall in love with her beauty, grace, and wit; however, he fears that his affection will go unrequited as a result of his crippling poverty. But fate changes when Peter joins the search for gold in Hill End, New South Wales. Striking it rich, he returns to Rose a wealthy man. Peter is changed by his new found affluence, heading towards the mire of greed. Will Rose regret her relationship with Peter?
Meanwhile, Rose has her own troubled history. One that is deeply entwined with Brown’s past and Peter’s future.

Sample: At first, Rose was disoriented. She looked around. Her silent whisperers had stopped talking. Sitting up on the bed, she realized that she was in a room with a closed door.  Fear crept into her mind. She looked around, realizing that she sat on a bed covered with frayed sheets and a torn, stained pillow. A lump rose up to her throat.

“Mummy, mummy,” Rose broke down into uncontrollable tears. Before more than a few minutes passed, the door opened. A shadow appeared on its dark threshold. It began to walk towards her. She gawked at the figure through tear-stained eyes. Her lips parted. She gripped the bed cloths until her little fingers ached.

“Come with me, child,” commanded a male voice.

“I … I want my mummy,” she hiccupped.

“There is no mummy here. Mummies aren’t allowed.”

“Where is my mummy?”

“She’s dead, I’m afraid.”

“Dead? What’re you saying?”

“I say the truth. The faster you settle down here, the better. You’ll make it easier for everyone. Now come along.”

The male figure extended an arm towards Rose, asking her to hold it. In the dark, Rose slipped her tiny palm, losing it, into his large one. She wanted to trust him but could not stop sobbing. This sudden news of her mother’s death broke her heart, irreparably. She wanted to break loose, to run as fast as she could. But her hand, now in the clutches of this man, no matter how much she squirmed, could not get out. Nor would her tears stop.

“Did … I … kill … her?” she hiccupped.

“What on earth are you saying?”

“Those voices never gave me any peace.”

“Voices?”

“Yes.”

“Let’s talk about them in my office tomorrow.”

“Okay.”

“You didn’t kill anyone, dear. Make a note of that, okay?”

“Okay.

Her tears abated. She picked up a corner of her dress and wiped her nose with it, the fluids slowly drenched in the seam. They continued to walk through the hall. In the dim light, imparted by lanterns set along the corridor, she could only see their shadows. They walked until they appeared in front of an ornate antique door. It had a big ring hanging outside. The man took out a key. He turned it into the keyhole then pushed the thick door. It creaked around the hinges as it opened. Rose peeked inside, standing in the shadow of the man, looking around in awe. It was a long dormitory with at least five single beds hemmed together. Each bed was covered with a thin blanket and a lumpy pillow. There were small girls, about her age, sitting or lying on their beds. When they saw her, they straightened up, sitting erect on the edge of each bed.

“This is where you’ll sleep every night,” he said.

Why do you write?  To document my views of the world. I find writing a refreshing medium of ultimate expression of views. I enjoy exploring philosophies and messages but not in a didactic kind of a way. I appreciate the way that entertainment can enlighten the mind while keeping things interesting.

When did you decide to become a writer? In 1986, while I was in Canada and had seen snow for the first time. I was so thrilled to see the first flakes of snow that I sat down and wrote my first introspective piece, A Winter’s Tale. It was published in the Sheaf, the campus newspaper of the University of Saskatchewan.

How long does it usually take you to complete a book?  The Pacifist took eight years. The collected short stories also took about seven years. However my novella took about year. There really isn’t a usual amount of time for me.  It takes however long it takes.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?  My empathy for the most vulnerable in our society encourages me to write. I feel I have a message to share with the world, a contribution to make, so the world becomes a better place to live.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?  I usually write when I have a thought. Otherwise, I’d just be staring at the screen. If a thought comes to me, I usually pen it down almost straight away. If I get an idea in a dream, then I would jot it down in the morning. I have many dream-like scenes in all my books. A lot of these ideas were conceived in my own dreams.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?  I developed my insight from reading and observing life. My creativity started here and evolved through maturity. Most of my early writing is primarily descriptive passages about nature.  When I found a love for stream of consciousness, I started incorporating that.

What have you written?  Mainly literary fiction. But I’ve also written nonfiction, academic articles and reviews which have been published in peer reviewed journals. Most notably I have written Jacaranda Blues, Snapshots, and Moirae. My newest novel is The Pacifist.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you?  I prefer to float with my ideas. I give it enough space to flourish and evolve with time.

Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website?  The last couple of covers have come from Cosmic Teapot Publishing. I know that the artwork for Moirae was done by a Spanish artist, Maria del Mar Garcia Sanchez. Dylan Callens designed the cover for The Pacifist.

Is there any marketing techniques you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures?  The most immediate results come from promotional newsletters, like Fussy Librarian. I don’t think that using those are the best long-term strategy, but it’s nice to see a bump in sales from those services.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?  If you have the passion to write, don’t procrastinate. Procrastination will lead you nowhere. Try to read and write as much as you can.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special?  Peter Baxter starts as a poor orphan. Once he leaves the orphanage, he becomes determined to be one of the richest men in town. He does that through sheer determination and passion. But his blind ambition leads him towards greed and the consequences are quite unsavory.

Where do your ideas come from?  From life, generally. I’m interested in people’s thoughts and I like to represent some of the things I hear in my characters.

What is the hardest thing about writing?  The writing process, generally, is not easy. Language, development of ideas, characterization. All of it is difficult. I think the most difficult thing, overall, is sorting through my first drafts. Since I don’t do too much planning at the start of a project, the first draft can get messy.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?  To make it historically accurate. I had to do a lot of really heavy research to make it authentic.

What is your favorite movie or TV show?  I really loved Jane Eyre. I watched it 15 times.

Which writers inspire you?  James Joyce and Virginia Woolf. In particular, I love their stream of consciousness style.

You mentioned you’re writing a new story. How about a teaser?  At dusk, she sat at her desk in the bedroom and tried to write the letter. Faint sounds distracted her; a door came unhinged, squeaks in the stairs. Rose picked up the candle and came out of her bedroom, onto the landing. She peered through the darkness but saw nothing. With the candle, she mustered the courage to descend the stairs. She walked through the long hall. At the end of it, she saw a shadow. Rose stopped and stood, trying to see.

Who is your favorite character in your book and why?  Peter Baxter because he is adventurous and ambitious. He starts poor and strikes it rich. He’s tragically flawed and complex.  I think he’s the most complete character that I’ve written into a book.

Who is your least favorite character and why? Phil Rosario because he is abusive. He is a pedophile who takes advantage of the children in the orphanage. I shudder just thinking about him.

Do you have any formal education in creative writing? If not are you planning to go to school?  I have two MA degrees: English Literature and Applied Linguistics. Maybe those aren’t traditionally creative writing courses, but there is an element of creativity to both of them.

If your book were made into a movie, whom would you cast? This is a hard one. I think as Mr. Brown, the old farmer, Patrick Stuart would be a good choice.  As Peter Baxter, perhaps Hugh Jackman. And as Rose, I think Brie Larson would do justice.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why?  There are so many to choose from!  That’s not a fair question. But since you’ve put me on the spot, I’m going to say Julia from 1984.  She’s such an understated character in the book – but incredibly powerful, nonetheless. She represents a kind of freedom that most people crave.

What one person from history would you like to meet and why? Shakespeare. Because he was such a great dramatist. Reading Shakespeare is like holding up a mirror.

If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be?  Eradicate poverty once and for all.

Who inspires your writing? I don’t think that particular people inspire me.  Rather, nature inspires me. And a desire to tell stories about society’s most vulnerable drives me forward as well.

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? I never read my own published books. Once they’re done, they’re done. Maybe in a few years from now, when I forget bits and pieces, I might open them up for a tour down memory lane.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?  I suppose I wish I had written Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. I adore her stream of consciousness style.

What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer?  That writing is the ultimate expression of the writer’s views of the world.

What are some of your favorite books and why?  Typically, I like stream of consciousness classics like Joyce’s Ulysses and Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. But there is a lot of new philosophical fiction, like Operation Cosmic Teapot which has caught my imagination.

What do you think of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing?  There are advantages to both. I think that large traditional publishers might be in a bit of trouble down the road because small publishing houses can now find ways to compete. Self-publishers can do the same. I think it’s great that there is a level playing field for all writers.

Are you currently reading a book or just finished one? Yes. I am currently reading Tender is the Night by Fitzgerald.

What do your readers mean to you?  The world. They are everything to me. I rely entirely on their feedback and critical appreciation.

Is there a book you love you’d like to recommend to others?  Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. It presents the character’s mind very well and is written in a beautiful stream of consciousness technique.

Tell us something unique about you.  I’m an ordinary person with extraordinary aspirations who thinks she can change the world through the power of the mighty pen.

There ya have it folks! For more about Mehreen, her work, and to get your copy, follow the links below:

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Linkedin / Goodreads / Pinterest / Amazon / Smashwords / Google

Meet Author Simon Michael

Hola! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat featuring author Simon Michael

Simon Michael is the author of the best-selling London 1960s noir gangster series featuring his antihero barrister (trial lawyer), Charles Holborne.  Simon writes from personal experience: a barrister for 37 years, he worked in the Old Bailey and other criminal courts defending and prosecuting a wide selection of murderers, armed robbers, con artists and other assorted villainy.  The 1960s was the “Wild West” of British justice, a time when armed gangs fought for control of London’s organised crime and the corrupt Metropolitan Police beat up suspects, twisted evidence and took a share of the criminal proceeds.  Simon weaves into his thrillers genuine court documents from cases on which he worked and the big stories of the 1960s.

Simon was published in the UK and in America in the 1980s and returned to writing when he retired from the law in 2016.  The first books in the Charles Holborne Series, The Brief and An Honest Man, garnered strong reviews for their authenticity and excitement.  The third, The Lighterman, is due out on 8 June 2017.  in Simon’s theme is alienation; Holborne, who dabbled in crime and in serious violence before becoming a barrister, is an outsider both in the working class East End where he grew up and in the privileged Temples of the Law where he faces daily class and religious prejudice.  He has been compared to Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe and Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade, honorable men surrounded by corruption and violence, trying to steer an honest course.

Book Sample:  The Lighterman

Genre: Historical crime thriller

Synopsis:  Charles Holborne (ne Charlie Horowitz), one-time criminal and boxer, is now a member of the establishment, a successful trial lawyer with a gift for representing the underdog.  But he has made powerful and dangerous enemies.  Ronnie Kray, one of the psychotic gangster Twins running 1960s London, has put Charles on his “List” of people to be disposed of.  How best to get at a canny and vigilant trial attorney with unusual skills?  Answer: find him a client charged with murder and facing a certain death penalty, a client who can’t be hanged twice, and make him an offer he can’t refuse.

Sample: Luftwaffe Hauptmann Heinz Schumann releases his bombs at 03:45 hours.  His Dornier 215 is in the middle wave of the attack and although several of the escorting Messerschmitt 109s have been shot down, the approach has been easy.  The cloud cover as they crossed the Channel had melted away, and the bomber squadron had simply followed the meandering line of the Thames, deviating slightly every now and then to avoid the puffs of smoke from the anti-aircraft fire and then returning to its course.  Ahead of Schumann clusters of incendiaries continue to rain onto the city, dropped by the leading bombers in his formation.  As each new cluster falls there is a dazzling flash followed by a flame soaring up from a white center, turning the underside of the barrage balloons silvery yellow and throwing up great boiling eruptions of smoke.  And as each burst of black smoke clears in the breeze, the great river reappears, a black snake in a brightly-illuminated landscape of uncontrolled fire.            As he releases his payload, Schumann is able to look down and obtain a perfect view of the U-shaped bend in the River Thames known by the Britishers as The Isle of Dogs.  He watches the bombs drop, becoming tiny black dots before they are swallowed up by the great orange and yellow tongues of flame which leap hundreds of feet into the night air, as if making futile attempts to lick the belly of his Dornier.  The Port of London is burning to the ground, and to Schumann’s eye it is both terrible and beautiful.

It takes the 1000 kg bombs 42 seconds to hit the ground.  This is what happens on the ground during that period of 42 seconds:

Hallsville Junior School, Agate Street, Canning Town is heaving with over 600 East Enders – men, women and children – awaiting evacuation.  Almost all of them are homeless, their houses and schools having been destroyed in the first few days of the Blitz.  Some have gathered together a few treasured possessions; some have a cardboard suitcase or two; some, recently dug out from collapsed buildings, have nothing but the nightclothes they stand in, their modesty covered by borrowed blankets, soot and building dust.  Almost all have lost family members and the majority carry injuries; the walking wounded of working class London.

New dazed families continue to arrive at the already overcrowded building but, despite all, spirits remain reasonable for much of the day.  Then, as the hours pass and the promised transports fail to materialise, muttering turns to anger and anger to shouting at the hopelessly overrun authorities.  They are sitting ducks, they protest, with no air raid shelter to protect them and another bombing raid inevitable.  By early afternoon a blind eye is being turned to the dozens of East End servicemen who desert from nearby postings to slip into the school and spirit their families away.

The unrest turns to barely-contained panic when the air raid starts.  Children shriek with terror and cling to their mothers’ legs as the bombs scream down, shaking the ground with each impact, and the drone of the oncoming Luftwaffe planes goes on, and on, and on, wave after wave, dulling the senses, making it impossible to think beyond the thundering engines and the rising hysteria.

40 seconds.

Harry Horowitz, tailor and furrier, lately of British Street, Mile End, and his wife Millie Horowitz, milliner, huddle at the very end of a corridor at the back of the school with their boys, Charles aged 14 and David, 12.  Despite the noise of the German planes, the bombs raining down all around them which shake the entire building, and the thick dust-laden air which catches in her throat, Millie’s lifelong debilitating anxiety is focused mostly on David.  Her younger son had been running a fever when dragged out of their damaged home two nights earlier, and he now lies in her arms, sweating and shivering uncontrollably.  Crouched next to them on the floor of the narrow corridor are four other families, one being that of Millie’s best friend, Sarah, who along with her husband and three girls had arrived earlier that afternoon to claim the last remaining floor space just inside the door leading out to the playground.

30 seconds.

Another bomb – one in fact released by the plane preceding that of Luftwaffe Hauptmann Heinz Schumann – screams down towards Agate Street and for a few seconds every adult in the school building holds their breath and falls silent.  It lands with an almighty impact and the entire building shakes violently, but it misses the school, destroying instead the row of buildings on the opposite side of the road.  Pieces of masonry and shrapnel ping off the cobbles of Agate Street and several heavy pieces of debris crash into the school roof at the front of the building.

‘That’s it,’ announces Harry.  ‘We’re leaving.’

Harry Horovitz is a short, dapper man, always perfectly turned out in a three-piece suit, a watch chain across his slim torso.  He works long hard hours in his little East End factory which produces high-quality fur coats, stoles and hats for the carriage trade.  When he returns to the family home, invariably late and tired, he speaks little, preferring to sit in his armchair by the coal fire in waistcoat and shirtsleeves and read the newspaper from start to finish in silence.  Everyone knows that Millie, sharp-featured and sharp-tongued, wears the trousers in the Horovitz household.  However few realise that on the rare occasion when Harry put his foot down, Millie always complies without a word.  She stands and lifts David to his feet, turning to her friend.

‘You coming, Sal?’

Sarah looks up at her husband, who nods his assent.

The nine East End Jews grab their pathetic suitcases and shoulder their way through their terrified neighbours and friends, shouting their apologies over the drone of the aircraft and the explosions all around them, and emerge through the door into the playground.

15 seconds.

‘Run!’ shouts Harry, as he leads them across the playground.

10 seconds.

Charles hesitates, looking back down the corridor as the rest of his family hurry outside into the orange tinted, dust-filled, cacophony of the air raid.  Further down the corridor, into the bowels of the school and just outside its combined gymnasium and hall, is another East End family.  The Hoffmanns live only 30 yards from the Horowitz household and their house had, like that of the Horowitz family, been almost completely destroyed in the raid two nights before.  The two families often queue together with the same ration books; eat the same sparse food; speak essentially the same language in their respective homes, and have much in common besides.  But they never speak beyond an occasional nodded greeting.  The Hoffmanns, although refugees from Hitler like many in the surrounding streets, are not Jewish, and Millie and Harry Horowitz’s social circle simply does not include non-Jews.  Their lives simply revolve around their home, their business and their synagogue.  The Hoffmanns are, simply, “goyim” – of “The Nations”– and accordingly outside the circle.  But the Hoffmanns have a daughter, a slim, fair and blue-eyed girl of fourteen, named Adalie.  Unknown to either set of parents, while walking back from school every evening Charles Horowitz and Adalie Hoffmann have become friends.  They have shared their thoughts on their teachers, their homework and on Hitler.  And at Adalie’s instigation, they have shared several sweet, chaste, kisses.

So Charles lingers for a second or two, trying to catch a last glimpse of Adalie, and as a result very nearly loses his life.  The rest of his family have stumbled across the rubble-strewn playground and are disappearing through the rear gates of the school.  Outside on the street the air glows, backlit by orange flames on all sides; the fires of hell.

The shriek of Luftwaffe Hauptmann Heinz Schumann’s bomb fills the air as Charles, having given up his quest, races across the playground after the shadowy figure of his mother, the last of the party to disappear through the school gates ahead of him.  Charles reaches the gate and takes two steps up Agate Street.

Impact.

The 1000 kg bomb scores a direct hit on the school.  Charles is blown off his feet and finds himself sailing eight feet into the air, the explosive pressure drop making him feel as if his eyeballs are being sucked out of their sockets.  He lands in an adjoining garden, destroying the rhododendron bush which breaks his fall, and suffers a bruised back and a cut to his scalp from a piece of flying masonry from the school wall.  Everyone else in the family is unscathed.  Although winded, Charles manages to roll back onto his feet in a single movement and continue running.

Harry Horowitz, soft-spoken East End tailor, has saved the lives of his family.

Later that day the government places a “D Notice” on the event, preventing accurate reports of the number of casualties to avert a collapse of morale in London.  Officially 73 people died.  Locals know that of the 600 or so men, women and children in the building, over 450 were killed instantly, many more in the hours thereafter, and almost all of the survivors suffered injuries.  The Hoffmanns were blown to unrecognisably small pieces.

Four days later the Horowitz family members unfold stiff limbs and climb down the steep steps of a bus in the centre of Carmarthen, and are introduced to the farmers who are to take them in.  Four weeks of regular enforced chapel attendance later, Charles runs away and jumps on a Great Western milk train to London where he spends the next, and best, years of his life, running wild on the rubble-strewn streets of London and the one artery the Luftwaffe never managed to close: the River Thames.  He never forgets the beautiful Adalie.

When did you decide to become a writer?  Like many writers, I suspect, I have always written, because I am driven to write.  I have no formal training in creative writing but I wrote short stories at school, sketches, plays and the beginnings of novels at college, and my first completed manuscript 30 years ago.  I have a box of scraps of paper which I have compiled since I was a teenager with ideas, snatches of dialogue, sometimes simply three words overheard on a train, which fired my imagination.  So, I don’t think I “decided” to become a writer.  It was part of who I am.  I decided to try to be published, which is different.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?  I have tried, and failed miserably, to structure my day and this is a lifelong problem for me.  I know writers who are incredibly disciplined.  They get up at 6 am, write creatively for 5 hours, and then turn to social media, emails, marketing et cetera.  By mid-afternoon they are ready to make an evening meal, clean the bathrooms or pick up the kids from school.  I am in awe of such people.  I flit from task to task, often only starting to write in the early evening and continuing until midnight.  But I make sure that, when I finally get down to writing, I write no less than 1000 words per day, often achieving 4000 or 5000.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?  I started writing legal thrillers because that’s what I knew.  I worked as a trial attorney for my entire professional life and I had literally hundreds of interesting cases and plots to use.  I also know and love historical London.  And it is true what they say: write what you know.  But as the books have evolved I realise that I am as much interested in the psychology and family dynamics of my characters as I am in the thriller elements.  Reviewers comment that the books focus on real, ordinary people who are placed in extraordinary situations.  When I have finished this series of books I may branch out into more general fiction, perhaps under a different name.

What have you written?  In terms of what I have written that has been published, I wrote three novels in the late 1980s, published by Grafton Press, WH Allen and St Martin’s Press here in the States.  Although I continued thereafter to write in my spare time, I didn’t try to get anything published for another 25 years as I was concentrating on my legal career.  Since returning to writing I have written three in the Charles Holborne thriller series, and a fourth and the fifth are both part-written.

Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures?  I have been on a lot of marketing and social media courses for writers, and many do have useful tips (and many, often the most expensive ones, do not!).  However the single most important thing I have learned is: build your mailing list.  If you have 1000 people on your mailing list, all of whom have signed up willingly because they like your work, you have an immediate audience as soon as you launch a new book.  And the only way I have found to build the mailing list is to offer something in return for people’s names and email addresses, usually an earlier book in the series.  It’s not impossible to write another Great American Novel (or in my case, Great British Novel) which goes straight to No 1 on the bestseller lists, but that sort of success is vanishingly rare and the vast majority of us have to build our audience slowly, often with little or nothing to throw at marketing.  So a free gift has proven invaluable.  And that means you have to have a backlist – at least one other novel, or perhaps a novella – which you’re prepared to give away free.  The more books you write, the easier this becomes. MF: I’ve heard ‘mailing list’ before and I agree. I’m trying to get mine built up. My struggle lies in writing a story or short story to offer in return. Still working on that.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?  Yes: write.  Every day, without fail.  You can’t afford to wait for the muse to strike you.  We all love those purple patches where the words flow like a sparkling stream, sometimes a torrent, and all you can do is get out of the way and let the characters speak and act as they will, but that doesn’t happen every day.  Sometimes it doesn’t happen for days on end.  But you have to make yourself write every day.  Even if you discard most of it the next morning, it is infinitely easier to amend and refine an existing piece of text than it is to create from scratch.  And you learn the discipline of writing every day so it becomes second nature.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special?  Charles is largely based on me and my family history.  My family were immigrants to London, arriving in 1492, refugees from the Spanish Inquisition.  For the next 450 years they were East End Londoners, poor and undistinguished.  When I qualified as a trial lawyer in the late 1970s, I was an outsider.  My religion, appearance, accent and social class were all wrong for the ivory towers of the British establishment.  But I had left behind my East End Jewish roots, “married out” and no longer fitted in there either.  I was also devastated to discover that the criminal justice system I had joined was riven with corruption.  Joining the institution of the Inns of Court, becoming part of the “Establishment”, crusading for justice – doing some good – had been a lifetime dream.  Instead I found that London was controlled by gangs of violent criminals carving out their illegal profits from prostitution, pornography and protection rackets, and the Metropolitan Police, institutionally corrupt, worked hand-in-hand with them.

When I started the Charles Holborne series I decided to use some of the cases in which I had been involved as the basis for the plots (I include actual court documents not usually seen by the public) but place Charles back in time to the early 60s when the situation was even worse.  He is surrounded by venal, corrupt men but, like Philip Marlowe with whom he has been compared, still tries to steer an honest and honorable course.

What is the current book you are promoting? The Lighterman is the third in the Charles Holborne series, and it is due to be launched on 8 June 2017 (available for preorder now on Amazon!).  Like the others in the series it is set on the streets of 1960s gangland London but because the antihero, Charles, was born in 1925 and was a teenager during the war, there are several flashbacks to the 1940s during the course of the book when he lived and worked in London during the Blitz.  It is still however a legal and crime thriller based on a murder case where I was instructed for the Defence.

Many thanks Simon for stopping by! For more about Simon, his work, and how to get your copy, follow the links below:

Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / AmazonUK / AmazonUS / BookTrailer

Meet Author Pete Planisek

Hello, lovelies! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author Pete Planisek

Pete Planisek lives in Columbus, OH, where he teaches English, runs Enceladus Literary LLC, and is co-host of an entertainment podcast called Hindsight is 20-20. He received his Masters from Ohio University where he founded a student literary arts magazine called Recently Eclipsed. He has published newspaper articles and is a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association.  He served for seven years as adviser/co-adviser to a NCTE award winning student literary arts publication.  Frankenstein A Life Beyond was his debut novel.

He has two published works in his Resurrection Trinity series titled Frankenstein A Life Beyond (Book 1 of 3) and Frankenstein Soul’s Echo (Book 2 of 3) and won a 2016 Silver Honoree IBPA Benjamin Franklin Digital Book Award for his children’s fantasy book titled Princess Bella and the Dragon’s Charm.

Enjoy this book sample: Frankenstein A Life Beyond (Book 1 of 3) The Resurrection Trinity

Genres: Fiction, Literary fiction, Horror, Historical fiction, Romance fiction, Sci-Fi fiction

Blurb:  Ten years after the loss of his entire family to madness and death, Ernest Frankenstein finds himself compelled to return to the city of his birth, Geneva, in order to discover if his elder brother, Victor, might still be alive. Only Victor can provide the answers to questions, which have long plagued Ernest. The quest for answers will force Ernest to confront demons, both internal and external, from his past, which refuse to be at peace and which ultimately will endanger both he and his new family. Hunted across Europe their only hope may lie with a French spy, Ernest’s childhood friend, and a mysterious gypsy girl whose people believe that Ernest will lead humanity to its salvation or final destruction.

Frankenstein A Life Beyond by Pete Planisek is a direct sequel to Mary Shelley’s iconic story, Frankenstein, which examined Victor Frankenstein’s quest to both create and kill an unnamed creature that ultimately destroys all but one member of the Frankenstein family, Victor’s brother, Ernest. Frankenstein A Life Beyond explores many of the issues left open by the original, while establishing new characters and mysteries.

Excerpt:  “Your neighbor’s death was an accident, nothing more.”

So this monster had followed him back to Geneva. What all had he witnessed there?

“If his death is so trivial, then explain how he died.”

There was only the briefest of pauses.

“Fear,” was the solitary answer.

Ernest’s breath was now escaping in short bursts, and a cold sweat clung to his skin.

“Of what?”

“Of what you are seeing, right now.”

He felt it, before he saw it. A hand had reached through the curtain to clasp Ernest’s wrist. No, it was not such a commonplace sight which beset his eyes; it was anything but.

At least twice the size of a normal man’s hand, it encompassed not only Ernest’s wrist, but a portion of his arm as well. It was shriveled and mummified, the skin of a nearly translucent nature, which made visible the networks of veins and muscles throughout. The cruel nature inherent of the claw-like fingers, capped by blackened nails, was re-enforced by the strength of the grip. It felt as if Death itself clutched Ernest. Were it not for the visible movement of blood and the controlled beat of the pulse, he would have claimed that he was restrained by a corpse.

“What you seek awaits you in Ingolstadt,” the voice wheezed, “Find the clues, Uncle, so our destinies can be fulfilled.”

The pressure from the fingers increased. Ernest wanted to scream, but found himself too frightened to utter a sound.

Why do you write? It’s an essential part of who I am.

How long does it usually take you to complete a book? Honestly, it just depends on the book. Some of my writing projects have lasted years but I’ve also written a full draft of a children’s book in a single day.  A variety of factors can impact the creation time for a book but as long as you invest yourself in the process and keep writing your project will get done.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I know when I first started writing when I was young a lot of the stories where very comedic and over the top.  I’ve always had a pretty unique sense of humor and I think writing initially gave me a means to express and explore it. As I’ve matured as a person and an author, I find inspiration from a much more diverse set of experiences, resources, artistic mediums, and a desire to explore the possibilities of being an author. I never know where inspiration will come from but I know now it’s important to embrace it when it does because you never know where it will lead you as an artist. I’ve also learned to trust myself more than I once did by trying to judge less and listen more, be it to people or my own instincts as an author.

Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write? I almost always write to music. I actually have entire scenes in my stories that were created around specific songs.  Sometimes I just use music to help get me in the mood to write.

What have you written? I have published two fiction novels, one award winning children’s chapter book, and a host of short stories and poems. I’ve also written for blogs and a newspaper.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? I’m much more apt to just see where an idea takes me when writing a short story or poem than I am if I’m working on a novel. Outlining is great but you also have to let a story develop as you write. Outlines can help guide and create structure but shouldn’t be viewed as an absolute. Play!

Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? I’ve designed the basic concept and layout for each of my books but the final covers have been a collaboration with a photographer, Scott Coons, and an illustrator, Elizabeth Nordquest.

Any advice for aspiring authors? Your worst story is the one you don’t write. We grow by practicing and expanding our skills as writers. If you’re not writing, you tend to stagnate.  Not everything you write will be brilliant or will be something you want to publish but everything you write can help you to mature as an artist.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special? Ernest Frankenstein and the creature have some interesting parallels. They are both survivors struggling for answers about the past and seeking a way forward in their lives, both are connected and weighted down by their relationship to Victor, and they are bound in unique ways as “family.”

What is the hardest thing about writing your latest book? Writing Book 3 of my Frankenstein The Resurrection Trinity series is a bit daunting because of all the plotlines I need to resolve and because I know I’ll be saying goodbye to characters who have been with me for years.

Who is your favorite character in your book and why? Abrielle is probably my favorite character to write because she is so complex.  Her background and life leading up to the events in the books has been so dark, difficult, at once sympathetic and unnerving, and wholly interesting that it’s a lot of fun to figure out how she’ll respond to certain characters, conflicts, and situations throughout the Frankenstein The Resurrection Trinity novel series. She tends to surprise both me as a writer and the reader.

What is your next project? I have two short stories I’d like to finish before returning to completing Book 3 of my Frankenstein The Resurrection Trinity series. I also am working on getting my first children’s picture book underway.

Do you have any fur babies to brag about? I have two “fur babies.” My dog, August (Auggie) is a rescue schnauzer and I have a stray cat, Asoka. They’ve both got personality to spare and when they’re getting along (both want plenty of lap time) I call them The A-Team.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? The Frankenstein The Resurrection Trinity series books are actually allowing me to kind of explore what I would have done if I’d penned aspects of Mary Shelley’s classic. If I had to pick another book, it would probably be either Self- Reliance and Other Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson (nonfiction) or The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (fiction) because both inherently ask the reader to go deeper into themselves and the texts.

What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer? Perseverance. You’ll get writers block, get negative responses/feedback, have failed marketing strategies, and face general setbacks but if you believe in your work, foster a support network, are realistic with yourself, practice patience, and adopt the right attitude then no obstacle is insurmountable.

Do you ever feel self-conscious when writing love/sex scenes? I’ve only written a few but no I don’t feel self-conscious.  My scenes are typically major turning points for character development so there’s more than just sex going on in them. I find them fun to write.

What do you think of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing? I think both can be viable routes for writers to get their works out to a larger audience. It really comes down to the goals of both the writer and publisher. As long as an author does their homework and makes an informed decision, and is willing to put effort into the publication and marketing process, they can be successful with either publishing model.

Would you say there is a stigma to being self-published? I think there can be. People sometimes associate self-published with poor quality, and while this can be the case for some books (traditional or self-published), more often than not, self-published books are just as well-crafted and creative as traditionally published works.

What book are you currently reading or just finished? Montana 1948 by Larry Watson and A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

Is there a book you love you’d like to recommend to others? The Moor by Laurie R King and The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Tell us something unique about you. I love to hike, travel, cook, garden, photography, one day I’d love to try and climb a mountain, and am great at doing different character voices spontaneously.

There ya have it folks! For more about Pete, his work, and to get your own copy, follow the links below:

Youtube / Publisher / Facebook / Twitter / Blog / Amazon / Goodreads / Barnes&Noble / iBOokStore / Smashwords / Kobo

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