Q&A with Drucilla Morgan

q & a

Please welcome the beautiful Drucilla Morgan to the blog this week!

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What were you like at school?

I was a bit of a loner. I enjoyed most of the school work, except maths. I particularly loved art, drama, ancient history and, of course, creative writing. I frequently lost myself in books, where I felt more at home than in the real world.

Were you good at English?

English was my favourite subject, particularly the creative writing aspect. I was fortunate to have a home where my love of writing could flourish, along with a wonderful teacher in high school who inspired me to push beyond my limits.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

In that same spirit of pushing the limits, I want to draw more out of myself, take my prose to a new level. I will be working on the Nyx trilogy, concentrating on the second novel in the series, Rise of Nyx. I also have a secret project in the works, a novel that delves into the darker side of human nature and its juxtaposition with the side of us that longs do good.

Which writers inspire you?

I constantly find inspiration in reading the works of writers whose prose I find exquisite; whose expression captures the essence of our fragile human existence. I’m inspired, maybe driven, by a desire to confront my own inner struggles, to release the ghosts that whisper down the dark halls of my memories. I think this self exorcism in writing is more prevalent with authors than we may imagine.

I’ve been hugely influenced by writers like Daphne du Maurier, Beryl Bainbridge, Poppy Z Brite, Kim Newman and Hunter S Thompson. I loved Stephen King’s books from an early age and think he is a master story teller. I think I can safely blame Mr King for my fascination with the horror genre. I rather enjoy George RR Martin too. His gleeful extermination of primary characters is refreshing, even though it seems to have become a form of branding for him. His masterful world building and intricate attention to detail is an inspiration in itself. His tenacity and determination to walk his own path is downright heroic.

Recently, I’ve read some wonderful work by the likes of Scott Blackwood, Guillermo Arriaga, Nathan Filer and Dennis Lehane – wonderful prose, each different yet incredibly powerful, inspiring me to dig deeper as a writer. To challenge myself.

So, what have you written?

I have written several short stories for anthologies and magazines, including The Last Unicorn (A Forest of Dreams anthology, Indie Authors Press), The Walk (Altered States anthology, Indie Authors Press), Raising Rudi (In Shambles anthology, Harren Press), Bella Vista (Tied in Pink anthology) and The Flower Seller (Like a Girl anthology, both through Far Horizons Publishing) and Blood Bond (Corpus Deluxe, Tales of the Undead, Indie Authors Press). My vampire novel, Blood of Nyx, co-authored with Roy C Booth, has just been released and is available on Amazon.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?

Margrethe Charlesworth-Winchester is born into old English wealth. She lives within the confines of the Cambridgeshire countryside and the high walls of the family estate. Her life begins with the strange disappearance of her father on his wedding night, leaving only the child in his new bride’s belly as testament to the brief union. Her mother remarries, a convenient arrangement with a politician who spends as little time with his new family as possible. A son is born as a result of one of his infrequent visits. Margrethe’s half brother, Beau, becomes another barrier against the outside world, growing to guard his sister with ferocious determination.

Margrethe is a product of her environment, emanating an innocence that can only come from one protected from the darker aspects of the world. Her delicate looks and demeanour belie a steely will and desire to be free of the constraints and expectations placed upon her. Her father’s mysterious disappearance leaves her with a sense of abandonment and many unasked questions. Her days are spent pleasantly enough – roaming the estate’s gardens, attending genteel gatherings and dreaming of a world she has yet to discover – but her smiles cover her sadness, her longing for more. When handsome and intriguing Lucius Ruthven appears at her doorstep, her dreams provide fuel for the fire he lights in her imagination and her heart. Abandoning the stifling confines of her existence, Margrethe embarks on a journey that will take her from the light-headed heights of desire to the darkest depths of Hades. As she fights for her own survival and that of her loved ones, Margrethe finds within herself strength and determination that will surprise those who think they know her.

Where do your ideas come from?

I think most writers are sponges, absorbing the world around them, elevating the beautiful and interrogating the ugly as they struggle to express the complexity of the human condition. My ideas come from every day life, from the small moments I capture in my memory – people, their struggles, their hopes and fears. Every day details that we often miss. The flash of anger in an eye. The uncomfortable shifting of feet when polite conversation is interrupted by brutal honesty. These are things we all can relate to, along with the shared journey of life, love and death.

Another fertile source for ideas is the internet. I love the internet. It’s a treasure trove of information and imagination that can’t fail to inspire the creative urge. For example, I happened across an article on the daily, devoted attendance of fans at Rudolf Valentino’s grave. The idea of such obsessive devotion to celebrity fascinated me, inspiring the short story Raising Rudi. In researching the piece, I discovered so much about Rudolph Valentino that I never knew. I enjoyed writing that story and it still remains a favourite.

Similarly, I recently submitted a short story to a memorial anthology inspired by David Bowie. From my early teens, Bowie was part of my life, my culture and my creativity. He touched my generation and that of my children. He was a genius and to even consider writing something that honored his memory was at once challenging and frightening. In researching my departed hero, I discovered new layers, new dimensions to the enigma that was Bowie. I tried to integrate this complexity into the piece, marrying it with the vicarious experience of his fans. I was thrilled when it was accepted. It was a powerful piece to write emotionally and one where I had to draw both on facts and my own experience and emotional response.

What is the hardest thing about writing?Blood of Nyx ebook.cover display

For me, it’s discipline. I’m a bit of a free spirit when it comes to putting word to screen. I’m currently training myself in this area, but I think I have a long way to go. I participated successfully in NanoWriMo in 2014, but it was tough! I wanted to join in this year but deadlines were looming. Deadlines do help keep me in check though.

Aside from that, I would say the greatest challenge for any writer is to draw the reader into their world, to make their characters relatable on a deep, personal level. I believe this will be an ongoing quest with no end.

If this book is part of a series, tell us a little about it? Blood of Nyx is the first book in a trilogy (Blood of Nyx, Rise of Nyx and Rule of Nyx) The series follows the Clan of Nyx as they fight for dominance over the human realm and each other.

Who designed your book cover/s?

I design book covers for other authors and publishers, as well as premade covers for indie authors. My publisher asked me to design my cover, which was quite a challenge, being so close to the book and its characters. In the end, I decided to go for something in a stark, graphic style rather than a more generic vampire/horror cover, in part because I couldn’t choose a favourite character to portray. Also, the story itself covers a lot of ground, so I went for a symbolic design rather than anything too detailed.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

All feedback is valuable to a writer and reviews are like gold, even when they are negative. And of course, everyone’s taste is different, so I think one must expect both positive and negative reviews. One of my favourite books, See How Small (Scott Blackwood) received some terrible one star reviews, yet it entranced me from the first sentence. I expect that my work, like any author’s work, won’t appeal to everyone, but that’s okay. If it brings enjoyment to one reader, I’m happy.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I still feel as though I’m on a journey with my writing, always growing and changing, so I’m not sure I’m one to offer advice. However, there are some helpful things I’ve learned along the way –

* Write a lot, read a lot and observe everything around you. When you read, dissect the book like a frog in biology class. What works, what doesn’t? Is there a particular book you love? What makes it work for you? How did the author use his words to draw you in?

* Continuously seek to upgrade your writing skills. Join writing groups, participate in work shops and courses, learn and grow.

* One common mistake I see with new authors is their failure to craft their story through their character(s). Rather, they ‘narrate’, which creates an emotional distance between their characters and the reader. You will hear the phrase ‘show, don’t tell’. I think this is one of the most important aspects of writing to grasp, so take the time to learn the difference between ‘showing’ and ‘telling’. Learn when to show and when to tell. This is probably the most valuable writing advice I can give regarding the mechanics of writing.

* When you think you’re done, proofread and edit, then edit again. Gather some readers to give you feedback on your manuscript (beta readers). Take their feedback into account then edit again. After this editing process, I would suggest sending your manuscript to a well recommended, professional editor. If you’re not artistically inclined, a professional book cover artist is a must! Many a book is ruined by an amateur cover.

* It’s important to be confident but not over confident. Ego doesn’t get anyone far in the writing industry. In fact, it’s helpful to develop a thick skin, you’re probably going to need it – critiques can be harsh but they are invaluable if you want to bring your best game.

* Most importantly, write from your heart and gut. If you don’t, it will show.

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Thanks so much Dru for hanging out with us on the blog this week! Please follow and check out some of her work!

Facebook Author’s pagehttp://www.facebook.com/Druscilla-MorganAuthor-720568464695969/

Facebook page for Blood of Nyxhttp://www.facebook.com/BloodofNyx/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DruscillaMorgan

Lnkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/druscilla-morgan-67a08273

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Druscilla-Morgan/e/B00KDPO918/

Book Links: Blood of Nyx

US Amazon –

Kindle http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01C6BV17G/ Paperback http://www.amazon.com/dp/1910910066/

UK Amazon –

Kindle http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Nyx-Druscilla-Morgan-ebook/dp/B01C6BV17G/ Paperback http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Nyx-Druscilla-Morgan/dp/1910910066/

Aus Amazon –

Kindle http://www.amazon.com.au/Blood-Nyx-Druscilla-Morgan-ebook/dp/B01C6BV17G/

 

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Q&A with Amanda Kool

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Please welcome another from Down Under! The lovely Amanda Kool!

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AmandaKoolAuthorPhotoWere you good at English?

Reel gud! I was much better at English than any other subject. Especially maths. I love the idea of maths and the complexity of equations and I really admire people who excel in it and understand the universe with it. I’m rubbish at it.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

I just want to write stories I enjoy. A terrific bonus would be if these stories resonate with others and they enjoy them too. My ambition is not to be ambitious. My publisher (Satalyte Publishing) will probably hate me saying that, but ambition and career are different goals from writing stories. If I can sit down and actually complete a story, that’s as good an outcome as I can hope for.

Which writers inspire you?

Michael Shaara, Shelby Foote, Stephen King, Cormac McCarthy, Umberto Eco, JRR Tolkien, James Ellroy… Honestly, there’s too many to list. All writers inspire me – even ones whose work I don’t enjoy or *gasp* didn’t finish. I’ve sat in the chair and wrestled to complete a story. I’ve doubted and cried and laughed and poured celebratory whiskey, so in my book (pun intended), anyone who’s written a story I’ve enjoyed, or has frustrated me, or gut-punched me (I’m looking at you, Kim Stanley Robinson), inspires me. Here’s some more: JK Rowling, Suzanne Collins, Ben H. Winters (holy crap, he wrote a magnificent trilogy), and Blake Crouch. I’ll think of more as I go. I’ve probably forgotten my most influential authors and mentioned some of the most trivial; welcome to my brain.

So, what have you written? (*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest.) * 1000 Mettle Folds: Published by Arcane Wisdom (May 24, 2011). Period horror piece (co-authored with Steve Gerlach, Australian Horror writer).

* The Murderer’s Cloth: Forthcoming Satalyte Publishing book. Period crime story set in 1880s, London. * Tallwood: Science Fiction published by Satalyte Publishing. * The Paper Fox: An interactive story for IOS devices, won critical acclaim for its artwork and design, and garnered the 2014 iKids award for best eBook. Published by Bento Box Interactive, LLC. Trailer here.

* Wires: Forthcoming Satalyte Publishing book. A weird tale of another world that can only be reached if you are killed by a certain gun.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?

My main characters in Wires are special because they are NOT special. They are each thrust into a situation they must escape or resolve and each is drawn to the other because of one, horrific event. I’m a big fan of writing characters that are ordinary people who must rapidly evolve or adapt to changing circumstances. Or die trying. And dying happens a lot in my stories.

My main characters in Tallwood are ordinary for the world they inhabit. But that’s a future, god-blasted world full of inhuman predators and human fiends. In contrast to my usual “normal” characters, this cast was born needing to survive at a young age. They were born prey; no longer at the top of the food chain. To avoid making any giveaway sounds, they use sign-language to communicate, crossbows to defend themselves, and have learned much about the natural world that is bent on destroying them. But to them, that is normal. I do like my ordinary folk.

What are you working on at the minute?TallWood_comp

Two stories at present. Working titles: “Mother” and “Sadie”. One set after a civil war, and the other set in a decaying city and a hotel that doesn’t want to let go.

What draws you to this genre?

Science Fiction or Weird fiction has so much scope for going completely crazy with ideas. I’ve written one story that’s set in the real world and has ZERO supernatural or magical elements in it. One. And even that story is set in 1889, London. So it’s not technically ‘of the now’ 🙂

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?

I cast all my characters. I have picture files for them that I refer to constantly. Or, I just make a desktop image with all of them so it’s always there for me to refer to. This is mainly because my memory is terrible and I like to ensure my descriptions are consistent and my brown-eyed protagonist suddenly doesn’t change to a blue-eyed wonder half-way through the book. That hasn’t actually answered the questions, but I write ensembles so… we’d be here a while.

How much research do you do?

A lot. That doesn’t mean it’s all perfect in the end product or I haven’t mucked something up in the translation, but I do a lot of research on anything that’s in a book (crossbows, guns, foods, language, religion, farming, drugs…).

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

I grab what chances I can – on the train on the way to work, in the evenings, if I’m not exhausted from work, on the weekends when chores allow. Snippets of time here and there where the muse is talking and the red wine is in easy reach 🙂

My days as are structured as the outlines for my novels. That is to say; not. I’m a panster through and through.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

I start with a character or two and they take me where they need to go. I can mostly see where I’m aiming so I steer them in that direction. I’m constantly surprised by where my imaginary friends take me (and how many of them are willing to jump in front of a bullet!)

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Everything! Look, when it flows and you’re in the zone and your characters are talking to you, it’s like bliss.

Every other part is hard. The sentence structure, the music choices (I like to listen to soundtracks when I write), the narrative connections, the words (omg the wurds!), the plot, the crux of your book; is it original/good/interesting? The doubt monsters that sit behind you while you’re trying to wrangle another 99 monkeys to the other 99 typewriters; “This is shit. You’re so derivative. This is the most unoriginal idea you’ve come up with yet!”

Sometimes you wonder if you could ever conjugate a verb in the first place.

And then…bliss. It’s all worth it.

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

No. It took me a year. And I agonised a lot. In the end, I just had to start from a fresh mindset. Don’t think about what other people will think. Write what excites you. Write what you want to write and what you’re interested in.

And try not to think too much. I started grinding my teeth. Not cool.

Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors.

I try to read as much as I can, but don’t have many hours in the day. I read 1 hour a day on the way home on the train. I have “comfort” authors, that I go back to again and again. King, Barker, Ellroy, Stephenson and Banks (both M and sans M).

Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about. Who designed your book cover/s?

My brother, Jeremy Kool, is a graphic and 3D artist. We worked together at Krome Studios and he did the artwork for The Paper Fox that ended up winning quite a few awards for the art. He’s extremely talented and, thankfully, is a terrific collaborator for my covers. I am very grateful for his skill and patience.

For Tallwood, he read the book and made notes. He then asked me to highlight the most important themes/scenes of the books. After a while, he produced a series of thumbnail designs. We picked three to work up and from those three, selected one to do a full concept.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

Absolutely. Even for me as a reader. There are some cover styles I can’t stand and I literally won’t even pick up the book. That’s harsh, but…human.

*****

Thanks so much for joining us Amanda! Be sure to follow her and check out some of her work!

Author Page at Satalyte Publishing:

Amanda Kool

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/amanda.kool.3 Tallwood:     http://satalyte.com.au/product/tallwood-by-amanda-kool/

Amazon Link:

http://amzn.to/22Z6qwT

Q&A with LynC

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Please welcome another from our friends Down Under at Satalyte Press… the wonderful LynC!

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ARN_7891_R head shotSo, what have you written? 

Short answer is lots. Published, not so many.

4 short stories – one of which “Nematalien” was shortlisted for a Chronos award in 2013.

My first short story – “Through the Red Mask” – originally published on wwww.narratorium.com in 2012 – is available for free on my web site http://www.lyncwriter.com.au

“Manga Dude – where d’ya get your inspro man?” can be found in the anthology This Mutant Life which is available from Amazon or the publisher (www.kalamitypress.com) Nil By Mouth was published in 2014 (http://satalyte.com.au/product/nil-by-mouth-by-lync or Amazon) and shortlisted for two jury awards in 2015 (The Norma K Hemming Award and The Aurealis Award – SF category)

What are you working on at the minute?

I have lots of WIPs – Works in Progress!

Satalyte Publishing have agreed to accept ‘Traynor’, an SF novel about two alien ships which crash land on Earth 40,000 years ago and choose diametrically opposed methods of coping with their isolation. This will have a sequel.

I am putting the finishing touches on a Space Opera – ‘Gin Joints’ – but do not yet have a publisher for it. This will also have at least one sequel, possibly two.

I almost always have a couple of short stories doing the rounds. Today is no exception.

And I keep writing.

What genre are your books? & What draws you to this genre?

I am a Speculative Fiction Writer. This means I write mainly in the genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy. Supernatural, Urban Fantasy, etc with touches of Romance. But it is not always a boy who gets a girl. J

My mother introduced me to Fantasy when I was very little – reading me things such as ‘The Wind in the Willows’. From there I read every book I was allowed to get my hands on in the local school libraries and Municipal libraries. I just found that Speculative Fiction with its variety, challenge solving, and lack of formula was what drew me most. You couldn’t always tell quite what was going to happen next. Sometimes you couldn’t even work out what was happening now!

So when I started writing for myself, it was just natural that the area I found most fascinating is what I would start producing.

 When did you decide to become a writer? & Why do you write? & What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?

I have been a writer since I was capable of holding a pencil, even before I could spell. Some people are just driven by their need to create. Unfortunately I have that curse, and my chosen medium is the written word. J

Do you write full-time or part-time?book

I would have to say that I put finger to keyboard on a part-time basis. This does not mean I am not creating a story full-time, just that it has to stay in my head till I have the leisure to sit at a keyboard and start putting it down.

 Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? & Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?

I try to find a 2 hour block every day, but it could be any time. It just depends on what else HAD to happen before I could take time off and indulge.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Finding time!

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?

I used to work as a technical programmer (a Database Administrator) for 40 years, so it was a relief to get on the train at night and get away from the dancing pixels with a fixed print paper book. Technology has moved on and this is not the issue it used to be, but because of my work I had taught myself to gloss over humungous reports and manuals and just find the salient points. It is now an unconscious habit. With paper I take time and notice more and savour what is in front of me.

What book/s are you reading at present?

Last year I read 92 books, the year before (I was still working) I read 74. This year I have accepted the Goodreads challenge and am attempting 100 books. They vary from brand new books to the comfortable and familiar, but almost all are speculative fiction.

Recent reading has included Sulari Gentill, Eli Glasman, Garth Nix, Paul Collins, Sean Williams and Keri Arthur. And those are just the Australians on the list.

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?

If not me, who? I can’t afford to pay someone else. It is too expensive.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?

Yes.

When a book is first created, you are too close to it to see the flaws. It takes time and usually a new book or some time on another WIP to get the necessary distance.

Most of my ‘flaws’ tend to be that I do not fully explain a situation. When creating the work, I can see it so clearly in my head, feel what the character is feeling, see what they see, that what ends up on the page is a sort of memory jog rather than something which conveys all that to the reader. I need time for the memory to diminish enough that I can see that I haven’t explained it clearly enough.

 hat advice would you give to aspiring writers?

The same advice that kick started me after I gafiated* by having children, getting a job, etc. Writing is a craft and like all crafts you need to learn the skills and techniques, and you need to practice. But essentially –

If you want to be a writer – JUST DO IT!

*‘GAFIATE’ is a very old SF fannish word meaning to Get Away From It All. It is usually used to indicate someone who has walked away from SF Fandom. In my case I am using it to mean someone who left the writing scene.

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Thanks LynC for joining us this week! Also be sure to follow her and check out her work!!

 

Q&A with A.L. Butcher

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Please give a cold dead welcome to an author from across the pond (Also known as the UK if you’re from Canada!) The lovely A.L. Butcher!

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A L ButcherWhat were you like at school?

Rebellious. I never did anything too terrible but I did have issues dealing with pointless rules – still do if I’m honest. I get bored easily and that didn’t help. I worked hard at subjects I liked – English, science, music and drama and not at ones I didn’t – like maths. I did OK but I could have done better.

At college I was vice-president of the Student Union – let’s just say there were a few issues with the management of the college at that time – big stuff – and there was a teeny weeny sit it which I might have helped organise…. And the press might have turned up….

As it happened it turned out there was a lot of dodgy stuff going on and it brought it to the fore. It nearly cost me my A-levels but we were trying to stand up for what was right at the time, and defend the student body from the corruption. Anyway I was quite political in those days – not so much now as I don’t have the energy these days. A degree in politics teaching one that often not much changes – even with good intentions – or if it does not for long. This doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing – there are issues which have changed for the better as a result of ordinary people speaking out. It’s politicians who are usually the problem.

So, what have you written? 

To date I have three fantasy novels, several short stories in anthologies and my own companion short story collection. I also write poetry, maintain a blog and admin for a couple of facebook fantasy pages.

 

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?Banner I

I’ll talk about two – Dii’Athella is the main female character in two of my three novels and features in the third. She’s an elven sorceress in a world where magic is illegal and elves enslaved. When we first meet her she is fleeing for her life into a dangerous world she knows little about, and where her very existence is forbidden. As the stories progress she really comes into her own, discovering how powerful she truly is and a little of her own history. Despite her terrible life she is still kind, intelligent and eager to help others and she does. She is special for many reasons. Dii loves life, as she nearly loses it several times she is grateful for every day she has and every day she learns more about herself and the world.

The second is Rufus Redblade, the hero in my Heroika: Dragon Eaters story. He’s a Griffin Rider – now a mercenary – from a land ravaged by war and political intrigue. Once he would have been the royal guard but now the Riders are small bands of sellswords, rather mythical and feared. Currently there is peace but it’s barely holding and he knows war will come if the heir to the throne dies, which is likely. Rufus is a man who takes no crap, he does not appreciate fools. He’s brave – he risks his life for a child and her mother and he knows that the chances are he or one of his crew won’t return from their adventure. Rufus is a man who knows right from wrong, but as it pertains to his own moral code. What is special about him – ne doesn’t give up. Ever. If he wants something he goes after it, come what may, and this includes the heart of a dragon.

How much research do you do?

I’ve researched herb-lore, medieval weaponry, food, flora and fauna, geology and more for the novels. My strangest topic has probably been can a salamander be eaten. Yes it can – but you probably wouldn’t want to.

I usually spend a bit of time researching for the novels if it’s needed, I have several books on medieval history, mythology, and weaponry and I use the internet a lot. The world wide web is really useful! It’s hard not to get distracted though and I usually end up doing too much. At the moment I’m researching mythical creatures for a series of blog posts and I used a variation of keres in my latest novel, not to mention the dragon of course for Dragon Eaters. My latest blog post was about cyclopes and I touch on the origins of the stories and the real accounts of cyclopean babies and animals and the possible causes.

It’s really interesting – if you look into ancient stories there is often a base of fact, if misunderstood at the time. It might be buried deep but it’s there. Dragons for example – pretty much every culture has a dragon myth of some sort – based on perhaps, huge dinosaur bones, crocodiles or other living large fearsome beasts and the cultural desire for monsters and heroes. Dragons are symbolic.

Book 2 EbookHave you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?

Novels no, short stories yes. I’ve worked with my friend Diana L Wicker – who has her own YA fantasy series – on a short historical style fantasy called Outside the Walls. We wrote it originally for a charity anthology called Bellator, but expanded it recently as a short story in its own right and it’s just be produced as a short audio book through Audible. The story follows Lady Eleanor – who returns to her castle during wartime to find refugees at the gates of the town starving and sick. The council ignore them and only Eleanor takes pity on them and offers food, medicine and support. Among the dying and desperate she finds someone very familiar….

Why did you do decide to collaborate and did that affect your sales?

Diana and I had written stuff together before – we used to play an online RPG and wrote for that so we knew we could do it. Outside the Walls was actually adapted, loosely, from something we wrote for that and never used. Sales wise – She manages the paperback and I manage the e-book and audio. Every so often we exchange numbers – assuming there have been any sales and if needs be transfer the money over. As it’s a recent project it’s not really been a problem for tax as yet. I have that fun to come for the next tax return! As we both promote the story we get double exposure and really it’s more her audience than mine as my novels are a lot more….adult.

Writing a book with another author is a whole different challenge to writing alone. You have to know how the other person writes, their style and their strengths and weaknesses. You have to agree – sometimes there would be a scene I thought was great and Di didn’t agree so compromise is your friend. There’s less freedom – but that may not be bad. It’s easy to get carried away and sometimes the pet scene isn’t actually as wonderful as the particular writer thinks and it’s helpful to have another set of eyes. Of course there is the challenge of time – we both work and Diana has a family to raise, not to mention she is in the US and I’m in the UK so at best we only get a couple of hours a day when we are both online and able to write together. Google drive worked well for this as co-operative writing is possible there and the notes facility is bloody useful!

Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors.

I don’t read as much as I’d like to. That said I usually have a true crime book on the go and often a novel. At present I’m trying to read true crime/dark history from every part of Britain. Fortunately there is a series of county-based true crime/historical crime books by Nicola Sly and John Van Der Kiste. I’ve read some of Mr Van Der Kiste’s historical non fiction and I enjoy his work. I’m trying to re-read all the Terry Pratchett books as well. Generally I read fantasy, sci-fi, classics, mythology, history, gothic horror and true crime.

Favourite authors:the stolen tower new big text

Gaston Leroux

Mary Shelley

Alexandre Dumas

Janet Morris

Terry Pratchett

John Van Der Kiste

Colin Wilson

Philippa Gregory

Homer

Ellis Peters

HG Wells

Jules Verne

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?

Usually yes. I’m often working on more than one project so I’ll go to something else for a while and then come back to the original book re-read and revise.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

Reviews happen – or they don’t more often than not. Many readers don’t review for any number of reasons. Bad reviews happen too. No book suits everyone; there will be too much/not enough sex, violence, monsters, world building etc; there will be a character a reader doesn’t like or can’t get into. Some readers overlook minor typos, some pick up on everything and sometimes people simply don’t like it. I’ve read books, including popular ones, I simply didn’t enjoy. It happens. Deal with it.

Honestly if you don’t want bad reviews then don’t read the reviews or don’t publish. No book will please everyone. Look at any book on Amazon and I bet it has a mix of reviews. Good reviews are great but reviews are for readers, not authors. Whilst it’s nice to get them don’t obsess over it.

If someone does give a bad review don’t respond, don’t argue and don’t bitch. At least not publicly – it’s not worth it. The internet is great but it makes the world small and what has been said often can’t be

unsaid. Being snarky to reviewers is likely to do far more harm than a bad review itself. Give readers some credit, many don’t even read reviews and those that do often ignore ones which are blatantly nasty or don’t fit the reader’s own ideas. Let a reader make his or her own opinion.

Do you think that giving books away free works and why?

It can but doesn’t always. Like any marketing strategy it needs to be used in conjunction with other strategies. I’ve used free book promotions, with mixed results but I have noticed boosts on other books after the event. I suppose it depends on one’s definition of success and what one wants from the promotion. Free rarely garners reviews, as many readers download free books and don’t read them and there is a view that free = low quality (which isn’t true in my experience). I’ve downloaded free books and then gone on to buy the author’s other works. Having more than one book is of course beneficial. If there is just one title then why buy it when the reader can just wait for it to be free – but to offer a free book as a taster for other books can and does work. A while ago I ran a debate for Mythic Scribes on free books – where I interviewed authors and readers on their view on free books. http://mythicscribes.com/marketing/great-free-book-debate-authors/ http://mythicscribes.com/marketing/the-great-free-book-debate-the-readers/

Tales of Erana PB Cover IWhat is your favourite quote?

I have several – I used to have folders full of quotes.

“If you can’t be a good example you’ll have to be a terrible warning.” – I used to have that on my office door.

Terry Pratchett came up with several –

“Where life can live it will, where it can’t it takes a little longer.”

“It’s not worth doing something unless you were doing something that someone, somewere, would much rather you weren’t doing.

“Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time.”

“Most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally evil, but by people being fundamentally people.”

“I’d rather be a rising ape than a falling angel.”

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?

Again I have several – Professor Stephen Hawkin – because he’s a genius. Leonardo Da Vinci – for obvious reasons. Gaston Leroux, Terry Pratchett and Ellis Peters to thank them for their books. Marie Curie to thank her for her work. Charles Darwin, Homer, William Shakespeare, Francis Drake, Admiral Nelson, Nelson Mandela, Dame Judy Dench, Dame Maggie Smith, Ronnie Barker, Michael Palin, David Attenborough.

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Thanks so much for being on the blog this week A.L.! Please be sure to follow A.L. Butcher and check out her work!

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