A Chat With Adam Dreece

Adam steampunked - Forest

Best-selling, multi-published author of some very cutting edge YA, steampunk, and fantasy novels, Adam Dreece is out to do more than just entertain readers. His public speaking engagements span the gamut of everything from how to give a good book signing, to stepping outside your comfort zone, to how to deal with dyslexia—something Adam knows a thing or two about. Read on to learn more about this talented writer and his work.

Interviewer: Debbie A. McClure

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Q: What inspired you to hang up your software career and launch your indie author life, Adam?

A: My first two books were doing well and then my software contract ended as oil prices really started to take a dive. Living in Calgary, the heart of oil country in Canada, my phone didn’t ring with opportunities for the first time since the dot com bubble burst back in 1999. My wife, who was also a software architect but had been at home with our third kid, started looking for a job as well. As soon as she locked in a good contract, she turned to me and said she wanted me to focus on my books because they were achieving good momentum. We both knew that financially things could shift at any moment, requiring me to get a job as well. My author career was our start-up company and I wasn’t going to squander a second I had. Now I’ve got my 8th and 9th books coming out since I started in 2014.

Q: When you put out your first book, Along Came a Wolf, did you know this was going to be a series?

A: I wondered, I hoped, but I didn’t know. I’d never written a book before and I had no idea if anyone would like Along Came a Wolf, other than my daughter. I wondered if maybe the best thing to do would be to write something else completely. Then I started to get some ideas, and passionate feedback started to float in. Before I knew it, I was a third of the way through writing Breadcrumb Trail, the second book of The Yellow Hoods. That was when I knew this was going to be a series.

Q: How did you come up with the idea of fusing steampunk and fairy tales together?

A: When my first son (my middle child) was six months old, he was a really fussy sleeper. I’d walk around with him, as heavy as he was. One day, I started singing The Muffin Man to him. Because he would take a long time to fall asleep, I started adding to it. Every night since, and now with two sons, I sing The Muffin Man to them.

I started writing Along Came a Wolf when my daughter was nine and my elder son was two. I was inspired by the fairytale song Ring-Around-The-Rosie, and how that was a rhyme that spoke to the black plague (ignoring historical accuracy arguments for the keeners). Could I use the opposite idea for fairytales and nursery rhymes? Could I take the simple rhymes and stories we knew and create something substantial out of them, without making the books an official re-telling? Take Rub-a-dub-dub and deconstruct that to being about a secret society named the Tub, led of course by a butcher, baker, and a candlestick maker.

With the fairytale approach set, I really got into the story. Then I arrived at a fight scene where I had Tee, who was twelve, staring down the barrel of a full grown man. I needed her to win the fight, but I had a dilemma; how? Do I use magic? That felt like a cheat, and honestly I wanted to keep my distance from Harry Potter. Do I leave it as realistic? That would definitely be a hard sell. So then I mused about the idea of inventions, and thus steampunk became the vehicle of choice. I already had Nikolas Klaus, Tee’s grandfather, mentioned as a brilliant inventor in his twilight years, so I had an “in” I could use without reworking the story. It came out perfectly.

Q: Did you have the entire five book series planned out, or did that come about after the release of the first book?

A: As Book 2, Breadcrumb Trail, took shape, I saw how Book 3, 4 and possibly 5 would work. There was a story about change, power, and revolutionary times going on, and the main characters would be very much transformed by it. As I wrote book 4, I had an idea for books 6, 7, 8, and possibly up to 10, but it would be a different story arc and I wasn’t as convinced that those were needed. I’ll give a bit more detail on this a little later.

Q: When did you know where The Day the Sky Fell was going?

A: As soon as my editor sent it back to me. He he—no. When Book 2 ended, I knew the heart of what was going to happen at the end of the arc. It was during Book 4 that I saw I would definitely need one more book to finish the current story arc, but I wasn’t sure exactly where it was going to land.

I’d written the first four books of The Yellow Hoods in the span of two years, with a novelette in that world during that time as well (called Snappy and Dashing). I’d pushed myself so far, and carried the responsibility of being a stay-at-home dad for my three kids, resulting in a depression. I knew if I tried to tackle Book 5 (which didn’t have a confirmed title) I was just playing around with The Day the Sky Fell as a possible title. I knew at that point I’d never be happy with the way the story out if I stopped then. Over the next year everything came together and I found my excitement again. I went back through the other four books and found all the hints I’d left for myself as to how I’d thought Book 5 could come together, and wow, did it ever come together. I think it’s hands down, the best of the series.

Q: Last year you branched out and became a multi-genre author, stepping into sci-fi with The Man of Cloud 9 and into science fantasy with The Wizard Killer. Why take that step before finishing The Yellow Hoods, and what were the dangers and benefits of doing so?

A: Getting Book 4 of The Yellow Hoods, Beauties of the Beast, took everything out of me. In all honesty, I fumbled the launch, but it was there and my fans got something to enjoy that was well regarded as a solid addition to the series.

I knew I couldn’t just stop writing until I felt better, because I don’t work that way. I was on a roll, I needed to keep going, I just had to change things up to allow myself to breath. That was when a friend of mine asked if I was interested in writing a short story for her anthology. I walked around with the idea for a couple of days, and connected it with a piece of a story I’d had in mind for years. I sat down and wrote it. It was about two thousand words too long, which would have been okay, but it felt very much like the real story was only beginning. I decided to change things up, abandon the idea of a short story, and really allow this sci-fi story to blossom.

As The Man of Cloud 9 came together, I felt restricted. There were no battle scenes. Instead, there were corporate board rooms. I felt out of balance, and so I started writing The Wizard Killer – Season One. When I was done with both of them, I felt that I had shared with the world the other two key sides of me as an author, and I felt a lot better. I’d also proven to myself that I wasn’t a “steampunk/fairytale only” author, but an author who was able to bring new and exciting worlds to life that were vivid and immersive.

There were several dangers in doing this, however. The first is; what happens to your existing fan base? Having delivered four and a half books in two years, they were giving me some grace. Putting out The Wizard Killer, a high action story with a world that’s been compared to Stephen King’s Gunslinger, and then following it with The Man of Cloud 9, which is a more cerebral, character driven, techno-thriller, was tactically questionable though. Some of my fans loved one and when they read the other, felt their brain broke. I got a lot of complements about having range, but some folks were jumping from my adrenaline junkie post-apocalyptic fantasy world into a totally different side of me.

At first I wasn’t sure this wasn’t the wisest thing to have done, but I came to see that I’d really opened myself up to a wider range of readers, and more importantly, my younger readers who were maturing made it really clear that they loved the new stuff and my range. It was like I was offering them something new and older, with a hint of what they’d discovered in The Yellow Hoods. As for the adults, this allowed me to draw in different audiences who had no real interest in my other works.

Q: Is The Day the Sky Fell the end of your Yellow Hoods world, and if so, why end it now?

A: Book 5 – The Day the Sky Fell is indeed the end of The Yellow Hoods series, however, it isn’t the end of the Yellow Hoods. I realized as I wrote Book 5 that the original story arc had run its course. I had ideas for a story arc to cover Books 6-7, and a few other ideas to bring it up to 10, but it felt forced.

The main characters had been through a lot in a relatively short period of time (about 2 years) from Book 1 to the end of Book 5. In my mind, they deserved a rest. Adding more on top would forfeit some of the realism and intensity that was at the heart of the entire series. I thought pushing it would make it almost comical in a bad way. Another aspect that I considered was that my character gallery had grown significantly, with fans requesting spin-off stories about Bakon and Egelina-Marie, about Christina and Mounira, and others.

The plan I came up with when I was writing Book 2 wasn’t just for a series for 4-5 books, but rather it was to have a sequel series that takes place five to ten years later, allowing us to see where Tee, Elly, Richy, and the others ended up. Actually, I’d love to one day have a third series that would see Tee being a mother, and thus the series would come full circle. We’ll see if I ever get there.

I’ve now given a name to that next series, The Mark of the Yellow Hoods. My hope is to start writing that series in 2019. Between now and then I have a few spin-off novellas and a spin-off series that I’m hoping to bring out. This approach will allow me to shake things up, change the pattern and cast that’s involved, as well as visit other parts of their world.

Q: Why did you opt to go the self-publishing route?

A: About six months before I started writing my first book I turned the radio on and found myself in the middle of an interview with ‘marketing guru’ Seth Godin. He said (paraphrased) “If I had a book ready today, there’s no way I would go with a traditional publisher if I was an entrepreneur and willing to learn from a few mistakes” That thought stuck in my head.

When I started looking into publishing, I was finding people waiting years before getting any reader/fan feedback. That was a purgatory that I didn’t want. Every day I had stabbing pain from my chronic abdominal scar tissue issues, and felt like I was carrying a lead-vest because of my severe asthma. I wasn’t going to wait years. I was willing to work hard enough, run fast enough, to outpace my mistakes.

Coming from the software side, I really did think of myself as a start-up. I had an idea; I was going to take it directly to market. I wasn’t going to ask permission or try to fit within someone else’s portfolio and align to their timing. Instead, I would start things off. If one day I got ‘acquired’, i.e. a big publisher wanted to take over one of my series, or wanted to offer me a deal, I would have experience and a following to bring to the table. Actually, a few weeks ago I started talking with a publisher about bringing out a spin-off series of The Yellow Hoods.

I refer to myself as an indie author, rather than as a self-published author. The reason being that I do everything that a publisher does, from having my works professionally edited and covered, to handling the marketing and getting out there to push it, as well as handling distribution and direct bookstore relationships. I have both an online and in-print strategy that I continue to build in. In every way I can, I’m emulating classic indie bands who went from unknown to hitting it big. Will I hit it big? I have no idea. Will I be “pure” indie the entire time? I doubt it. There are strategic advantages for the additional reach of traditional publishers, and possibly divesting myself of some responsibilities that take away from my writing.

So in brief? I went indie because there is no greater motivator than a stabbing pain in your abdomen. If I was going to fail, then it was going to be entirely on me. But I didn’t.

Q: You’ve said that giving back is important to you. How and why is this a part of your author career?

A: I believe strongly in becoming the mentor you wished you’d found. In my software career I kept hoping to find someone who would see me and go, “Ah, you remind me of me. Come on, I’ll give you a boost.” As time went by, I decided I wouldn’t waste my time always looking for them and instead I would become that type of mentor for others.

I brought that same thinking to my life as an author, except even more so. As I started to have some success, I shared what I knew with others. I’d make time to give feedback on stories, and so on. I carved out a portion of every week to do that. I find doing this keeps me grounded and connected with people, as well as appreciating what I’ve done rather than only focusing on what I haven’t done yet.

This past week, for example, I had coffee with two other authors. In one case, he’d gone down the traditional road, had an agent, and after years, found himself with a lot of compliments about his work but no one willing to take the plunge. He felt like he’d wasted so much time and wanted to know about being an indie. After two hours, he had several pages of notes and a plan of action. The second person I met with was about the same age (late 50s, early 60s) and had a book ready to go. They already had an established audience because of other work that they’d been doing, and wanted to know things from another side. I was happy to share with them.

Some authors I’ve met are very secretive and competitive. They want to know everything about what you are doing, how much you’re paying for your books, etc., but won’t share a single thing of value back. That’s a shame. We’re a community that’s far stronger together, and our real competition are video games and non-books, not each other (not really).

I believe if I’m able to share something that helps someone become the next J.K. Rowling, then fantastic, but do I want to succeed at someone’s expense? No. There are some people who are leeches, and you’ve always got to be careful of them. Those are the ones who will actively try to push you out of whatever limelight you share. I’ve had this happen to me a few times, and though it makes me wary of who I share stuff with, it doesn’t stop me.

Q: What have you learned about yourself since beginning this journey into writing and publishing?

A: More than anything else, I’ve learned to have faith in the storyteller that I am. There are real people out there who love what I write and how I write. There’s something magical about being at my table at a convention and within 15 minutes of the door opening, someone who has driven several hours to get there, runs right up to my booth wanting whatever new book I have available. That excitement, that joy, I had a part in that. It’s unbelievable.

Q: What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about the business of writing and publishing?

A: On the publishing front, it’s about the amount of lead time you need to give yourself and the capital (money) involved, particularly if you’re carrying inventory. Being prolific comes with a cost.

On the writing front, it’s about how much words that come out of my head can mean to someone else. I’ve had a cancer survivor tell me how it helped get them through chemo, a man tell me how it helped him as his mother passed, and more. Those experiences also bring with them a sense of responsibility to keep going, to add more good into the world.

Q: One of your challenges that you talk about openly is being dyslexic. How has this affected you, because having written nine books in three years, it’s clearly not slowing you down?

A: On the plus side of being dyslexic, my imagination is very visual, 3D. It’s like I’m walking around in a movie scene, able to rewind, replay, alter, and replay. Often I feel like my writing is just the transcribing of the movie I’m privileged to have in my head.

The downside is obvious, in terms of words tripping me up. I accepted that my writing was going to be very far from perfect, but I adapted my process for getting it ready for release. That means when I’m done my draft, I go through it from start to finish at least three times in order to clean it up. Then it goes to my beta readers, some of whom can’t help themselves and do some grammar and word-substitution corrections. After going through those proposed changes and incorporating them, it goes to my editor for the first round. She goes through it, sends it back to me, I incorporate her changes, and then send it back to her for another round. After that’s done, then I have one to three  proofreaders go through it to catch as many of the tiny errors that managed to sneak through as possible. THEN I declare it done.

As a software architect, I learned that my dyslexia was a net-advantage for me. At first, I thought everyone could take a concept and create a machine in their head that mapped to it, and then walk around the machine, identifying problems or weak points, and bring it up.

I used to cringe when I’d hear “You have to read tons to be a writer.” I can’t read quickly at all, and while I read a lot of news, I don’t read many books. I’ve come to believe that this is really the heart of what it means to be a writer; we need to be absorbing new experiences, moments, and thoughts. I get that from conversations, movies, TV, and other sources. Maybe that’s why my characters feel so real, I don’t know.

Q: When talking about being a dyslexic author, what is the message you want to convey?

A: The advantage I, and perhaps other dyslexics have is that my highly visual imagination greatly outweighs tripping on words. Be willing to make a mess, because a mess that’s written is better than perfection locked in the prison of your mind. Also, with that mess, clean it up as best you can, and then have others clean it up more.

Q: What’s next for you, Adam?

A: Less than three weeks after The Day the Sky Fell releases, The Wizard Killer – Season Two releases. I’ve just sent the first draft of a non-fiction book to a friend of mine, which I hope to bring out by August. This will then be followed by my first installment in a new fantasy, space opera series called Tilruna.

As an ambitious madman who believes in making use of every moment that isn’t invested in my family, I’m hoping to bring a Yellow Hoods world story out in April 2018, along with The Wizard Killer – Season Three, and that fall, Tilruna – Season Two. InApril 2019? Well, keep your eyes peeled, because you might see the first book in that Yellow Hoods spin-off series published by someone else, bringing together Dreece versions of tales like The Pied Piper and Little Match Girl.

Ambitious? Absolutely. Crazy? Yeah, especially when you consider there are a few short stories in there and growing the distribution side of my publishing business. Still, at the end of the day, I love what I do, and I’m spending far more time with my family that I ever did when working in software.

The Day The Sky Fell

Mini-blurb: The Day the Sky Fell brings a dramatic conclusion to the steampunk meets fairytale saga, with airship battles and betrayals at every level.

You can find/connect with Adam here:

Blog – AdamDreece.com

Facebook http://facebook.com/AdamDreeceAuthor

Instagram – http://instagram.com/AdamDreece

 

 

Windstalker: Awareness

baginski

The soul that has conceived one wickedness can nurse no good thereafter. -SOPHOCLES, Philoctetes

Science fiction, fantasy, romance and inhuman creatures all blend together in author K.M. (Kisa) Baginski’s debut series Windstalker. In Awareness, the first book Baginski introduces, she spins a tale that introduces a force of evil that preys on a group of unsuspecting young adults sucked into a world of chaos. Note to avid fantasy fans: Be prepared for a lot of suspense, with a little nail-biting thrown in!

Interviewer: Christy Campbell

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Great title by the way! Tell us a bit about Kisa the author and your debut novel, Windstalker: Awareness.

I’m just getting started in the world of writing and look forward to producing much more. For me there was always drive to get particular stories out of my system. I haven’t been in training like many authors I know and respect. In terms of my educational profile, I was always science matriculated. I’ve just wanted to share stories as they come to me. Storytelling is such a beautiful art form. I hope to grow and continue learning as I tell more of them. Awareness is about the Windstalker creature, an evolved Nephilim- half angel and half human. It’s set in New York City and the creature has an impact on a group of unassuming, nonspiritual and emotionally dysfunctional friends. They try to cling to reality for much of the story, ignoring or avoiding the presence of something they can’t rationalize, until they are forced to accept events and circumstances that defy logic. They become aware of the presence of a supernatural force. A Windstalker.

What was your inspiration for writing a supernatural thriller?

I have these amazing vivid dreams from time to time that are a lot like watching a film. They are usually open around the rising action of the story to its climax. The calm just before the storm and, of course, the storm. Windstalker began as one of these dreams.

It came about because as a teen I dreamt from the perspective of a pair of creatures that hovered in an abandoned lot next to a building. The creatures were disguised as swirling wind but could also morph into men, so human beings did not notice them at all. The building was isolated on a dark corner of the street and only significant because of a woman who lived there. She was a sweet, gentle single mother of an infant. Though she was not a particularly noteworthy citizen, one of the two creatures stalked her. And you have to remember the dream was seen from the perspective of the creature. The woman reminded him of a life he had known previously, when human, a life to which he desperately wanted to return. He didn’t say as much to his formless partner as he knew the partner didn’t want to be alone. The longing creature led a sort of tug-of-war among the three as he searched for and tested ways to permanently revert back to human form. Almost ten years later, I hadn’t forgotten the intensity of that dream. So I thought it would be a great start for a novel-writing future. I have many stories that began that way, waiting to surface.

Introduce us to your main characters. What are some of their struggles throughout the story?

Mitchell Geathers is an ambitious young man. He is a leader in his family and maintains a certain level of control. He’s really driven by fear that he will lose control and endanger his loved ones. Chelsea Easton is lost in the real world. She often feels out of place and thinks she has to divert attention away from herself. But being the product of a broken, dysfunctional family, she actually craves love, affection and validation from others.

What makes your novel unique from other paranormal novels out there?

I would say the creature itself. A windstalker isn’t just a shapeshifter. It is a very difficult creature to destroy and can also be reverted into a human being, given a special set of circumstances the reader will have to discover throughout the series.

Were there any authors you read for inspiration while preparing for your first book?

I read a few Victorian Gothic horror novels such as Dracula (Bram Stoker) and The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde). I also read Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov); for a while I toyed with making the character Chelsea younger. I read Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy) for Tolstoy’s panoramic scenes allowing the reader to understand the same incident from another character’s perspective. I thought if I was going to try writing my own novel, I needed to wrap my mind around some of the most celebrated masters of prose and the horror/fantasy genre.

Is this volume one of its kind or will it be part of a series you are developing?

Awareness is the first in the Windstalker series. There are at least two more parts I’m working on now.

In that case, what can your readers look forward to in the next book in your series?

The next book is geared toward discovering the levels of hierarchy within the Windstalker culture. There is a major division within their inner world. An alliance with the peace keepers among them and the stronger group for the time being and a rogue organization seeking to overthrow the peace keepers and establish themselves as supreme leaders of the species.

Fans of science fiction thrillers that touch on romance will easily devour a story like Windstalker. If you could choose a couple of famous folks to play your characters, who comes to mind?

It’s funny but the only character I could see having a famous actor doppelganger is Eli Roberts. I see Eli being played by Charlie Hunnam for some reason.

Give us a few of your favorite films or television shows that might compare to the theme of Windstalker.

I’d like to think Windstalker: Awareness could very well resonate with True Blood, Dexter, Dead Like Me or even Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV fans; or fans of the movie Fallen – for the Grigori Angel mythology. Most of these projects had a dark premise, complex characters and a good mix between horror, romance, thriller and comedy genres.

There are so many online resources today where readers can learn all about their favorite authors. How can readers stay connected to you and any future book projects?

Windstalker stories are available on Amazon and my Windstalker books website. I’ll be announcing any new Windstalker projects as they surface. There is currently a short story prequel (Windstaker: The Fall of Samyaza) and novella about a character named Drew Royce (from Awareness) in development. Both will be released before the second book in the series.

Can you provide your audience with any retail and/or review links as well?

The series website is www.windstalkerbooks.com.

Shadows of the Keeper

KBrown

Coffee’s her vice, historical romances her weakness, and marriage to her boss’s son is but a month away – normal, everyday stuff, for a normal, everyday Texan gal. Except there’s hardly anything ‘normal’ about Emily Garrison. Little does Emily know, she’s the long awaited High Queen of a kingdom in a parallel universe . . . and the soul mate to Hades’ son, Prince Dezenial of the Lumynari. To start the new year, we’re chatting with Karey Brown, author of Shadows of the Keeper.

Interviewer: Christy Campbell

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Aside from general plot, our characters are at the head of the class, pulling the reader into the story. What was the biggest challenge of developing your main characters?

Writing two different books until it felt right—until the main characters were in their correct roles. For example, in the first telling, I have Emily and Broc getting married; having them basically picking up where they left off 3,600 years earlier. Prince Dezenial was going to be the ‘bad guy’.

This kept me up for too many nights. When I changed the entire story, THIS time, the too-many-nights-up was because I couldn’t stop writing! It was as if I couldn’t type fast enough, their story flashing in my mind like a movie. The biggest challenge was convincing myself that it was okay to let go of the first story version, and rewrite all of it, no matter how long the blasted thing took!

In deciding on your characters’ backgrounds, how did you come up with your characters’ names?

Emily has been with me for years and years. Her story has always just kind of been there—a woman who is reincarnated over the ages, having lived several lives. I also subscribe to the whole soul mate thing—when we come around a corner, see someone, and have that weird déjà vu moment, is it really that we’ve seen that person before, or is that our soul instantly recognizes their soul as having been meaningful to us in a previous life? What if the love was so profound, no matter how many lifetimes they’re born into, they keep finding each other? Now consider, what if one of them was immortal? How would he/she know that the other existed again? Broc has been with me about as long as Emily, and though I tried to have them be the two ‘connected’ souls, it never felt right. After writing the first version, I realized why: they were together in a previous life, but it was never meant to be, though it will scar Broc for a very long time, and leave Emily with an anger towards him that she doesn’t understand—not at first.

Dezenial’s name, however, was a bloody nightmare to come up with. Nothing fit his persona, so, for a long time, I used XXX as a placeholder. A name generator finally helped, and taking the part of one name and adding it to another, I came up with Dezenial. It was so perfect, and so weird how the two parts connected, I stared at the monitor for a long time, wondering if I was tapping into some otherworldly event, or was I really making this story up?

Reignsfeugh and Inzyr’s names took playing with sounds and spelling. For the rest of the cast—and there are many—I hunted through Celtic/Gaelic names and their meanings. Again, they had to fit the character.

Do you have a favorite character?

I like the complication of Inzyr. The assassin’s story begs to be told, but it isn’t quite the right time yet. I keep trying to set him up with a love interest, but have had to accept there existed only one true love for him—something never suffered by Shadow Masters. They’re not interested in the emotional commitment; never succumb to the weakness.

Amidst the huge birth of a young adult craze, the competition is tough. What made you choose this particular genre?

As much as I LOVED Judy Bloom’s storytelling when I was a kid, I don’t possess the knack for writing YA. Historical romances, mythology, and paranormal grabbed hold of me, and never let go. I create fairytales, mythologies, languages, realms, and beings. Tossed into this mix are everyday normal people finding themselves connected to these otherwise unknown realms/parallel universes, and how their lives change; how they cope with discovering mythology/fantasy is fact.

Was there a particular scene that was the most difficult for you to write?

When Peter assaults Emily. It forced me to relive a personal experience involving violence. There aren’t exactly shelters for battered women in the year 1214 A.D. Also, when we suffer something so overwhelming, some of us are lucky enough to have a ‘hero’ rescue us, put us back on our feet, and send us back into the world of the living. I wanted this for Emily, but I didn’t want the rescue to be her ‘happily-ever-after’. The scene and the outcome needed to be both realistic, and show relationship-complication, regardless how much one person loves another. The answer isn’t always obvious to the two people caught up in a blossoming fondness.

Sometimes, things are running along smoothly and suddenly we might step back and re-think an entire chapter, even an ending. What there an unexpected decision you made about the plot?

There’s a particular plot that left me crying and incredibly sad for so many days, I realized I had to do SOMETHING to free myself of this funk. That’s when I realized said plot needed to end differently—and, WOW, did it change the entire story!! It was also a way to avoid seeking professional help—which would have probably resulted in my having been committed, since this sorrow was for an imaginary character. I can just see it now, sobbing, ‘But, he died…as in, d-e-a-d!’ *sob, sob, sob* Oh yeah, straightjackets would have been my permanent attire. Not a good look.

What atmosphere do you find to be the most productive, yet relaxing to keep those pages going?

A small dining room converted into an office and closed off from the rest of the house with an odd entry off the kitchen creates my ‘secret’ room. In here, I’m surrounded by hundreds of books lining dark wood bookcases. Tapestries depicting medieval scenes hang above my L-shaped desk, and covering the floor are rugs I acquired in Turkey. Low-lit lamps complete the Old World ambiance, while, in the background, BrunuhVille plays on the Bose.

What surprised you the most about the novel writing process along with self-publishing?

How much ‘self-published’ is such a dirty word. It’s like we’re the pariahs of the publishing/writing world. If our work isn’t published by a ‘real’ publisher, somehow, we’re hacks. You won’t find silicone between my pages. No fake ta-tas here. I DID submit my manuscript to several agents. And, bless their hearts, even though they rejected Shadows of the Keeper, they still took the time to write a quick sentence or two, on their form letters, that my writing was very good, I excelled at storytelling, but the overall story just wasn’t for them, or didn’t quite fit what they were looking for—to keep writing/submitting. Some even offered a reference to another agent that they thought might be interested in my type of work. When an agent/editor takes time from their crazy schedule, and the thousands of manuscripts being submitted, to write a personal blurb of encouragement, that’s HUGE! I was not, however, willing for Shadows to sit somewhere and collect dust. I just had this feeling about this particular story—that it had to be told.

Is there an author, past or present, who served as your inspiration?

Laurie McBain, who wrote Moonstruck Madness (1977), was my first historical romance. I began reading historicals with the same appetite I now have for cheesecake—get your eyes off my hips. Just because I don’t LOOK like a starving artist doesn’t mean I’m not hungry. Last Christmas, I discovered a hardcover copy of Moonstruck Madness. It now rests on my ‘treasures’ shelf.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve taken to heart when it comes to being an author?

Study your craft. FINISH what you start. Enjoy the journey. Dedicate yourself to the journey. And then, study it more. Feeeel what you’re writing, don’t just type words.

Lastly, can you provide any links that feature Shadows of the Keeper?

Amazon: http://goo.gl/R9M70N

iTunes/iBook: http://goo.gl/2mDvgu

Barnes & Noble—Nook: http://goo.gl/9VPjS5

Kobo books: http://goo.gl/H1F1JM

Scribd.com: http://goo.gl/yiETG6

Inktera.com: http://goo.gl/OJsxCe

 

 

Haylee and the Traveler’s Stone

Lisa_and_the_Haylee_Books2

What a pleasure it has been to interview and get to know Lisa Marie Redfern, author of the Haylee etrilogy and Haylee and the Traveler’s Stone (print book soon to be released). Not only is she a wonderful writer, but her talent doesn’t stop there. As an accomplished artist, photographer, and business woman, Lisa stretches the boundaries of her art and her way with words/imagery, enticing followers to dip their toes into the rippling waters of imagination.

Interviewer: Debbie McClure

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Q: Books, movies and even television shows these days are delivering a steady stream of plots that involve the undead, the unreal, and the wickedly supernatural. In your opinion, what accounts for society’s longstanding fascination with characters that are not completely human?

A: A cultural theme occurs when lots of people have similar ideas and begin exploring it in depth. We take our collective temperature with questions such as; What are we afraid of? What defines us as human? How far can we stretch our imagination? What does it mean to be ‘different? How would it feel to be powerful and untouchable? I think the dark nefarious vampires, zombies, and wickedly supernatural characters that are popular today are reflections of our attitudes and worries about the cultural and economic conditions that we live in.

Q: Tell us how you came up with your title.

A: Hyale is a daughter of the Greek gods Oceanus and Tethys. The character Haylee, and the book title, is roughly based on this name…with a modern twist.

Q: Alfred Hitchcock was a master at making cameo appearances in all of his movies. Does Lisa Redfern employ any signature tricks or insider jokes that we should know about?

A: Absolutely! Although I won’t reveal them all—I will say that many of the animal names were family pets. The Rattler/Lovey storyline was based on a rescue dog named Bandit. He lived up to his name. Once it was changed to Happy, he was much easier to live with. Lovey was one of our pet cats.

Q: Tell us about your female protagonist, and the passions that drive her thoughts and actions.

A: Haylee has spent most of her childhood living with a wounded parent—she takes on responsibilities beyond most children her age. She attempts to stay out-of-sight and out-of-mind as much as possible, has an affinity for animals, and possesses a quick mind; she aspires to become a veterinarian. But things don’t go according to plan. When it becomes clear that her strange condition poses a threat to her loved ones, she drops everything to figure out how to stop it. Along her adventurous journey, we see a maturing inner resolve, self-direction, and a belief that something good can be born from facing a problem head-on.

Q: In Haylee and the Traveler’s Stone, Haylee is transported to the turbulent backdrop of the San Francisco Gold Rush in 1849. During this time in California history, the population was dominated by young male adventurers who came from all over the world. Why did this specific era personally resonate with you?

A: I feel connected to this time period because it is woven into the historical fabric of where I live—in the heart of Gold Country. I wanted to develop a deeper understanding about what life was really like by bringing alive the sights, sounds, smells, and textures of that time. In my research, I discovered fun and quirky facts that may not have made their way into commonly read history books.

Q: What do you hope this book will accomplish?

A: My goal is to suck the reader into a vortex of altered time where his/her own life fades out for a while as Haylee’s story takes center stage. Isn’t that the ultimate definition of a good book—to entertain? Along with entertainment, I included those quirky facts (mentioned in the question above), because I want the readers to have something memorable to keep. If Haylee readers (who visit San Francisco) are able to see the city in a new way, I will be thrilled!

Q: Have your characters ever done anything that surprised you?

A: I usually arrive at my keyboard with an outline and longish, handwritten essays that fill in sections of the outline. Days of thought and nights of dreams have gone by as I’ve worked out the complexities of what I plan to write. It is a surprise when I’m typing away and a character goes in another direction…or says something unexpected. They are usually right, but we have to argue about it for a little while before I relent. When I describe it that way, it sounds psychotic doesn’t it?

Q: The publishing industry continues to reinvent itself. The combined effects of downsizing at traditional publishers and the desire by authors to have more control over their intellectual property and pricing structure has led to an escalation in self-publishing endeavors. What are your thoughts on this issue, particularly the debate as to whether a self-published title is as “real” as one produced through traditional channels?

A: Every work published is real. It is meaningful to the person who wrote it, so it can’t be anything else. Prior to 2010, when iPads and e-readers hit the market en mass, publishing houses set the quality standards for reading material before it was released to the public. The flood of independent authors who are self-publishing has changed those standards.

As a consumer, I appreciate knowing that the book I am about to read has a reasonable chance of being good—in subject matter, clean page design, and very little grammatical or spelling errors. When you buy something that has been self-published, quality levels can be hit or miss.

As an artist and independent author, I love having the ability to self-publish. For the very first time in my work life I’m unencumbered and free to create my vision from start to finish. The creation process itself is highly satisfying. I place a great value on producing work that is ‘as good as’ anything that a publishing house would turn out. Fortunately, I have developed the skills to do most of it myself, but I also invest in areas where I need help—editing and some design assistance. There is something ironic about putting so much effort into a product that sells for .99¢, $3.00, or even $5.00. Like those adventuring pioneers who braved the treacherous seas and overland treks with the hope of finding gold, we authors are gambling that more than a few readers will push that shiny, rounded-rectangle button marked ‘buy.’

Q: In addition to being an author, you are also an artist and photographer with a busy home life. How do you find time to write?

A: Good organization is a must. I use a Google calendar synced with my smart phone. Sometimes other jobs have to go to the top of the ‘to do’ list. I get as much done as I can when my son is in school. I enter into my most efficient writing zone after everyone has gone to sleep and the phone isn’t ringing. I try very hard to remind myself to go to bed before it gets too late…

Q: Lisa, you are incredibly multi-talented, and your website, book trailer are amazing. What advice would you give to new writers/artists regarding building a social media or networking platform?

A: 1. Realize that platform building and gaining followers is something that takes time. It starts small and slowly increases over time.

  1. Once you start participating in social media, know that you’ve created a ‘living’ thing that needs to be fed on a regular basis.
  2. Start slow. Choose one or two sites that you think that you might enjoy. Stick with them until you are comfortable before moving on to more.

My social media ‘ah ha’ moment came with Pinterest. Because I am visual by nature and I enjoy organizing data, this was a perfect social site to start with.

Q: As an artist and writer, you are clearly an inspiration to others, but who inspires you? Have you benefited from the wisdom and/or counsel of a mentor? If so, who and why?

A: Inspiration comes from everywhere. To quote Christina Hamlett’s book Screenwriting for Teens, “Log into life. No password required.” Also, my artist friends inspire me when we spend time together setting up art shows, getting our hands dirty, or just sharing and talking about our work.

For authors, I follow the big guys—Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child, Barbara Kingsolver, and Jean Auel for starters. I also follow some of the rising independent author stars—Hugh Howey, Guy Kawasaki, Rysa Walker, and Chuck Wendig. I like studying how they present themselves online, how they interact with their fans, what kinds of stories they are writing next, and what rights they are selling.

My son has a big imagination; he and I have many humorous, “What if …” conversations. Being out in nature, photographing interesting animals, random conversations, seeing something online that grabs my attention, or even just being alone and quiet, are all areas of inspiration.

Q: You’re obviously drawn to the metaphysical and otherworldly in many aspects of your creativity and writing, sometimes blurring the lines between the real and fantastical. What is it that draws you in, or inspires you?

A: Underlying everything is the hope and faith that we are much more than just our physical existence. I think all life is connected, and should be respected and honoured as the incredible gift it is. The real magic in this world is love and our relationships with the people, animals and living things around us. That is what I always attempt to express in both my art and in my words.

Q: A lot of new writers think all they have to do is write a good story and their job is done, but today’s writers are expected to do so much more, whether self or traditionally published. What advice would you give to new writers just starting out on this very long journey?

A: I think that is an urban myth. How did that one ever get started? When I worked as a book publicist, I dreaded the inevitable moment when the author bubble would burst. Once it popped, fairy dust and glitter never spewed out and sprinkled to the ground.

My advice to authors just starting out is similar to the advice you gave in your interview for In the Spirit of Love. Always conduct yourself professionally online. Stick to it – give writing a permanent place at your table – live your life – do what you need to do…and then go back and write some more. Once you have a few books out there for sale, add to your regular routine time to feed the marketing machine.

Q: Many writers and artists struggle with following their creative path vs making a (normal) living, and being accepted in a world that often can’t understand what drives the creative mind. Have you struggled with this, and if so, how do you attempt to overcome it?

A: Oh yes! More than a few times, I’ve wondered if I was adopted. Most everyone in my family is an engineer, accountant, scientist, lawyer, or a business person. Conventional social norms hold the greatest respect for professions with the highest pay scales. If pay scales were based on job satisfaction, artists and writers would be where the venture capitalists and technology moguls are now. I don’t worry about people accepting me. I am who I am, I do what I do, and I am very happy about that.

Q: Where can readers discover more about you and your books online?

Author reads sample chapter Audible.com Lisa’s art portfolio & online store Art and Words Blog Google+ Goodreads Twitter reddit Redfern Writing Facebook Page Join Lisa’s author e-mail list

Lisa: Thank you for the opportunity to participate in a You Read It Here First interview. I enjoyed responding to your thoughtful questions. Additionally, it was a pleasure to become acquainted with you and Christina and your work.

 

 

 

 

The White Horseman

Graydoncover

Ancient artifacts, mad sorcerers and the prophecy of a human child makes for an intriguing, compelling fantasy tale in J.S. Graydon’s first published novel The White Horseman. Saving the world is no easy feat for one human child amidst a war of destruction when one powerful messenger is summoned by the enemy: The Horseman, who will bring forth a message of apocalyptic warnings: the world of humanity will end. With the right combination of magic, wizardry and action packed adventure, Graydon’s debut will surely be a treat to readers of all ages.

Interviewer: Christy Campbell

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Tell us about J.S. Graydon, fantasy young adult author.

I am originally from England. I was raised in a very little village. The same one that is in the book! I had a wonderful childhood there. In the countryside people really do still believe in magical creatures. I truly believed that there were fairies that lived at the bottom of our garden. We had a true white witch that lived less than a mile from us! When you are brought up with such colorful people, it is hard to contain your imagination! I have since moved to southwest Florida which is a fantastic place to live. When I’m not writing, I love to travel.

Tell us about the premise behind your debut novel, The White Horseman.

Good question! The book is about a young boy that gets a chance of a lifetime to join in an adventure that will ultimately save the world. A sorcerer, determined to obtain his place within the immortal realm has begun a chain of events that if not stopped, will bring about the very End of Days itself! His spell would unleash the first of the horseman of the apocalypse: The White Horseman.

The young boy is drawn into situations of magical manipulations and of enchanted forests that are not rooted in place. He encounters wondrous creatures drawn from the myths and legends of ancient lore such as centaurs, hobgoblins, elves, and celestial beings that intervene to try to stop an ancient evil from rising again.

But while the good try to repair the damage before it’s too late, there are others that plot to sabotage. Not all those that appear to help the boy are truly what they seem. There are creatures that would love nothing but for the plan to fail. Suspicion runs rampant as it becomes clear that there is a traitor amongst them. They can only hope that they can stop the one person that stands between salvation and hell’s gates before it is too late.

How long have you been writing fiction?

I’ve been writing most of my life. I have tons of unfinished manuscripts and plays that got started but never finished! This story came to me in a dream and it was important to finish it.

What makes your book unique from other fantasy adventures on the bookshelves today?

It’s unique because there are many other programs and television shows that are on the same page (no pun intended) as this novel. For example, the television show Constantine portrays a battle with demons and angels. This is also true within my book. There are celestial forces at play in The White Horseman that will keep you guessing until the end of book! Another example would be Sleepy Hollow: This show follows more closely the ideas that The White Horseman creates. The young man, Ben, is thrust into a magical journey to stop the horseman of the apocalypse from returning to earth.

The plots and subplots also make it unique. I just love weaving ideas around each other. There is more than one story being told within the pages of The White Horseman. The characters are complex and each brings to the table a strong personality.

Tell us about the main characters in the book.

Absolutely! Ben is the main character – he is the one that crashes through the protective barrier that hides the guardian world. A prophecy picks Ben to lead a group of local characters in an effort to stop the evil wizard that plans on ruling both worlds. His mentor is Gerhardt – an ancient sorcerer whose knowledge will help guide him on his quest. He is accompanied by some very colorful characters: An elf, a Scotsman, a centaur and a hobgoblin. He also has the unpleasant task of working with a Contrary – a person cursed to live his life backwardly. Not all are as helpful as they could be. Some are not his friends at all but plan to sabotage Ben’s efforts at any cost!

Some of the conflicts in the storyline appear to be ripped from the headlines. Can you elaborate on why you chose to go that route?

Yes that is true. Though this is not a religious book by any stretch of the imagination, it does touch upon problems and issues that the world is having right now. Problems within economies and religion do play into this story as a back drop. The fictional events in the novel play into a version of what people consider being the End of Days. I just took the story a little further and asked myself “what if there was a realm aside from our own that guarded us from this misfortune?”

Did you simply wing it when it came to penning the story or did you work from an outline?

Great question! I had a general idea of what needed to be written but it was mostly written free style. I had started the story years ago, writing on ledger books – I had tons of them. Eventually I had the task of transferring the written word into a computer. That took some time! The second half of the book was written directly on the computer which definitely sped up the thinking process. Now that the characters are fully formed I plan on using an outline for the second book in the series called the Red Horseman.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing your first book?

Probably it was finishing it! I started writing it many years ago but didn’t have the discipline to finish the novel. There was a two year gap between the first half of the book and the second portion. When I picked up the book the second time around I enjoyed the characters so much that I knew that I needed to knuckle down and finish it!

Also, originally I would go back and re-read the chapter in an effort to ‘fine tune’ it. This led to me slowing down and feeling that the chapter was stale. The second time around I just barreled forward and ironed out the small details much later. This allowed me to work quicker and keep the story fresh in my mind.

Which character did you find the most difficult to portray?

The most challenging character was writing in the Contrary. The Contrary is a person born of both the human world and the world of Wode Uplands. It is a highly unusual aberration. Because the Contrary is born of both worlds he is cursed to forever live his life backwards. I must say that trying to clearly write about a man that must live his life in reverse was difficult at best but he is a very important piece in the puzzle between the two worlds. The Contrary in essence becomes like a bridge that can see into both realms. His place in the book is a vital one.

Are you an avid reader of any particular genres/titles?

Yes, yes, yes! I love to read. I will read anything. Cereal boxes, ingredient lists, magazines, books, you name it! I caught the reading bug very early in life and I believe I’ve read hundreds of books. I love young adult and fantasy books, but I relish a good mystery or thriller too! Imagination is such a wonderful tool that the mind has. Mine works on overtime. In all the hundreds of stories I’ve read or written my mind conjures up new environments and colorful scenery each time.

Tell us what’s in store for fans of J.S. Graydon?

I plan to continue writing. The White Horseman is the first in a series of five books. I have already started work on the second book, The Red Horseman. I would love to get everyone’s thoughts and reviews on the book. I’m sure that it will help guide the next books on their way!

Where can readers learn more about you and purchase The White Horseman?

The book is available for purchase immediately. I am currently on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/White-Horseman-J-S-Graydon-ebook/dp/B00OD00U76/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1415595865

and Goodreads.com: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23324262-the-white-horseman

I also have a new website: http://www.jsgraydon.com/. It has just opened but I plan on using it as tool to connect with my readers. I am thrilled to start this new chapter (pun intended) of my life and to be able to share it with others.

 

Thirst of the Sea

Scarlet Hunter

No matter the genre or medium you embrace, telling total strangers that you’re a published author typically elicits a response of “Wow!” For a lot of people (many of whom believe they have a book inside of them and yet have neither the time nor skill sets to actually sit down and write it), authors are often perceived as having crossed a threshold of awesomeness that completely defies gravity. I still recall a woman in the 1970’s who remarked, “I had no idea that you people lived right here among the rest of us.” I’m not sure if she thought that all the authors of the world inhabited their own special island or lived in a mist-shrouded fortress in the Himalayas (which is actually a lovely idea) but it became especially amusing over the years whenever word leaked out in the workplace that a certain brunette three cubicles over was leading a double life: mild-mannered coworker by day and prolific raconteur on evenings and weekends.

I was, thus, delighted to discover kindred spirit Scarlet Hunter whose fictional foray into the dark, sexy and sensual realm of paranormal fantasy romance with titles like Thirst of the Sea is far removed from what she does for her mortal day-job.

Interviewer: Christina Hamlett

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Q: Scarlet Hunter is such a great name for someone who writes fantasy romance! So, of course, I just have to ask: is it the name you were born with?

Actually, no. To be honest, it’s a combination of things. I love animals and have had cats my entire life. When I was a little girl, I named my first kitten Scarlet. When I needed to come up with a pen name, Scarlet instantly popped into my mind. Since I was writing books about vampires, I thought…umm, vampires are blood hunters…the word Scarlet also means red or burgundy…so why not Hunter for the last name—Blood “Scarlet” Hunter—So Scarlet Hunter it was. LOL

Q: Tell us about your journey as a writer and the moment you first realized that this was what you wanted to do as a career.

Ever since I was old enough to hold a writing utensil I’ve been jotting down things in my head. Funny, I still have the stories I wrote in elementary school, and of course they were about cats…Haha. So I’d say the passion has always been there. The moment I realized I wanted to make a real go at it was after I joined a writing group and became great friends with those who were already published authors. Then one day I finally decided to write a full length story from start to finish, and see if I’d get published, and I did. It was the best day of my life!

Q: Were you a voracious reader growing up? If so, what are some of the books we might have found on your bedroom nightstand?

Surprisingly, not at all. Growing up, you had to force me to read, and only because they were books required for school. I loved to play around with paper and pen, but asking me to sit still and read? Yeah, that wasn’t gonna happen. J As I got older, I was still always on the go; never stopping to find the time to sit and read a book. Not until 2010. My life changed all due to one book— Lover Avenged by J.R. Ward. (I’ll explain after the next question LOL)

Q: Which authors – past and present – have influenced your own style of storycrafting?

Gena Showalter, Richelle Mead, J.R. Ward, and actually a good friend of mine, LaVerne Thompson. LaVerne has helped me become a much stronger writer. She was and still is a great mentor. I’d also say Nicholas Sparks. I’m a hopeless romantic and one of my hobbies is collecting autographed books he has written. His style of writing helped me open my mind even farther when writing sensual relationships between my Hero and Heroine. He is also the reason I am experimenting with writing my first contemporary story.

Q: What attracted you to the paranormal/fantasy romance genre?

Like I mentioned above, I was someone who never sat still. Always running around doing something. Well one day, I was with my mother browsing around in Walgreens and came across a book by J.R. Ward called, Lover Avenged. After reading the blurb, I bought it, went home, and that day starting reading it. Let’s just say I couldn’t put the book down. When I was done, I went straight to Barnes and Noble and bought every single book available in that series. Hahahaha From then on, I was hooked on that genre. And now, four years later, you should see my library. It’s filled with books of Paranormal, Sci-fi, and Fantasy Romance. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Q: Books, movies and even television shows these days are delivering a steady stream of plots that involve the undead, the unreal and the wickedly supernatural. In your opinion, what accounts for society’s longstanding fascination with characters that aren’t of this Earth?

I think it’s the fantasy of it all. Characters and creatures unlike us mortal humans are so interesting and exciting. Super beings with powers and abilities we wish we had, or at least I do. LOL. That’s why I love writing about either vampire, angel, demon, or fairy characters. The imagination is endless as to where you can take and do with them.

Q: If you could be a witch, a vampire or a ghost, which would you choose?

One hundred percent vampire, baby! I would kill to have immortality, not to mention some of their powers. Speed being one of them. I think vampires are just pure sexy!

Q: Give us a teaser about your latest release, Thirst of the Sea.

With a lustful gaze, his eyes drifted to meet hers; he stared directly into a pair of translucent pearl-like eyes. Every section of his monstrous frame froze as they stared at one another. Every muscle in his body tensed. Trying to find his voice, all the while, his mind screamed inside his head.

MINE…Take her…she is yours…why do you hesitate?

Swallowing hard, he tried to regain his self-control.

He needed find some kind of inner gallantry, being rusty on the treatment of a beautiful female who shockingly provoked something raw within him. A feeling unusual and most unexpected, for no female in his lifetime had affected him in such a way. “My name is Alaois. What is your—”He suddenly felt unable to continue when a feverish swell of the glands inside his mouth and throat exploded from a much stronger scent coming from her…Blood!

Moving his gaze toward this mouthwatering aroma, Alaois spotted the blood. On the inside of her arm, a large cut bleeding out from its binding. His whole body began to quiver. The bloodlust rose within him to take what flat out invited him over into temptation. Grinding his teeth, Alaois had to hold his breath, for any moment his body and mouth could easily seize this female prey, fully consuming what now seemed to be graciously offered before him.

While she would be nothing but food to others, his instincts told him so, yet all his senses shouted, Mine. Protect!

He raged a battle to hold himself back, fearing he would hurt her. Alaois collapsed on his knees at her feet. He brought his hands up covering his face, shielding his exposed fangs and shouted for her to run. Perceiving her feet moving closer toward him, he did the only thing he could do. Alaois removed his hands from his face, glared up at her locking his pained gaze with her innocent one and bared his fangs. He roared out in a hiss of hunger, “I. SAID. RUN!”

Q: Which character was the hardest for you to write

Umm. That’s a good question. One of the characters in a book I’m about to release, titled Heaven’s Sacrifice was challenging for me. It’s an Inspirational, Fantasy, and New Adult Fiction. Without giving too much away, it involves two sisters. They are total opposites. It was fun to write one of the sisters because of the way she is. I had to try and write her personality as perfect as I could so readers would connect and really feel the difference between the two. She was the most challenging to write and ended up being my favorite of all the heroines I’ve written so far. Her name is Brianna. When the book comes out, you’ll know who I’m talking about.

Q: Conversely, which one was the easiest?

Wow. I’m not sure on that one. I guess in the book Dust of Darkness, Raina seemed easy to write for me. She is a fairy and her character is so feminine and cute.

Q: Are your characters fashioned after anyone you know (including yourself)?

Yes to both. I recently started writing my first contemporary and one of the characters is based on a friend of mine. She is spunky and bouncy and well – the craziest person I know. And I mean that in the best way possible. LOL The character will be so much fun to write, and readers I hope, will spend a lot of time giggling – I’ll just say that.

As for myself – Another work of mine that’s still in progress I did put a lot of myself in the heroine. Some of her characteristics and life events she encounters actually happened to me in my own personal life.

Q: If Hollywood came calling to do a film adaptation of Thirst of the Sea, who’s your dream cast for it?

Oh no doubt, Joe Manganiello for Alaois. I actually had him in my head the whole time I wrote Alaois’ character. Joe was my inspiration. Long hair, deep voice, his overall sex appeal—OMG is all I can say! However, I must add, the guy on the book cover would be perfect for Alaois as well. Bad ass vampire sums him up perfectly.

As for Aretha, the heroine, I’d like to see Diane Kruger play her. She’s not as famous as some A-list actresses, but her overall look is very much like the goddess Aretha is in the book.

Q: You have two other titles on the market in addition to this one. What are they about?

Dust of Darkness is the first book in my series called The Reign of Darkness. This series is about Lucifer’s mission in hopes of turning the world into darkness. Lucifer and his demons fight every obstacle they can to triumph. Dust of Darkness takes place mainly in the woods where one particular species stands in Lucifer’s way—Fairies.

Curator’s Curse is Book One to another series, Legends of the Immortal Bloods. Vampires trying to keep their race alive. Curator’s Curse is the journey of a vampire named Larken. After losing his parents at a young age, he is forced to grasp who he was born to be. He is guided by his mentor, Seamus. Larken struggles with unknown powers bestowed to him and because of that, he cannot have the woman he seeks.

Q: Your day-job as Director of a TPA company for Section 125 benefit plans is worlds apart from the dark realm of cursed goddesses and vampires. What do your colleagues think of the paranormal flip-side of your business personality?

They were very surprised. I’m all business at the office and when they heard I wrote books, especially paranormal/fantasy romance, made a few eye-brows go up. I loved revealing that secret side of me…keeps them wondering – what else does she have up her sleeve? hahahaha

Q: Have you ever threatened to put one of them in your books if they annoy you? (spoken by someone who turned several former bosses into chalk outlines on the fictional floor…)

I’ve thought about it – yes, But no, I have never threatened to do that…yet. LOL Thankful all my co-workers and bosses are the best to work with.

Now I can’t rule out some “former” bosses as you have mentioned above. Oh goodness ~runs to get pen and paper~ You just gave me an idea!

Q: A lot of aspiring writers lament that they don’t have the time to pen a book because they’re working full-time and that they’re just going to wait until after they retire. What’s your response to that?

Everyone’s lifestyles are different. It’s easy for me to juggle my professional day job and my writing career because I’m not married, nor have children. Now I’m sure there are authors who do work full-time, are married with children, and manage to write – I admire those. It’s a personal decision one must make for themselves. For me personally, writing is not a job to me. It’s a way for me to journey to another place after a long day at work. It might sound crazy to some people, but writing relaxes me. I’m on the computer eight hours a day at the office and then I come home and get on my laptop and write for hours. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Q: Do you allow anyone to read your work in progress or do you make them wait until you’re completely done?

I have friends who ask me to send them some of my work when I’m in the middle of writing a story. I’ll send them a couple chapters I know will leave them hanging, begging to know more…But that’s when I make them wait until it’s completely done. LOL I’m a stinker, I know.

Q: When you’re not in front of your computer, what do you do for fun?

I like to travel when I can. I try to go to the beach every chance I get. I’ve been to Washington, DC to visit some friends of mine and last year went to New York and caught a Broadway Show, Phantom of the Opera. It was an unforgettable experience. Other than traveling, I make time to read of course. But I have a strong passion for wine ~snickers~ so my friends and I always try to find restaurants we’ve never been to before in hopes of experiencing new kinds of wine.

Q: Any new projects in the works?

Oh gosh, where do I start?

I’m currently co-writing a ghost story with LaVerne Thompson. I’m very excited about the storyline and we hope to release information about it soon.

I also have a few stories I hope to have release dates in 2014

–          Heaven’s Sacrifice

–          Burning Salvation

Q: What would readers be the most surprised to learn about you?

I used to play ice hockey.

Q: If your philosophy of life were on a tee-shirt, what would it say?

Love and Be Loved!

Q: Where can readers learn more about you?

My official website: www.scarlethunter.com

I am always on my Facebook Page posting new book cover reveals and video trailers, as well as all my upcoming release dates, etc. It is one of the best ways to keep in touch with me J https://www.facebook.com/ScarletHunter11?ref=hl&ref_type=bookmark

Twitter: ScarletHunter11

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

THANK YOU for having me here today. I was overjoyed when you asked me to come and be a guest and this has been so much fun.

I’d also like to mention that since I’m an indie author, there is an Indie Author Celebration currently going on from now until July 18th. My promotion day is July 5th. Throughout this celebration, there will be hundreds of dollars in giveaways. You can find the link of information and how to enter the raffle, by going to my website – www.scarlethunter.com

 

Waking Dreams

wakingdreams

“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.”—Edgar Allan Poe

Dreams fascinate us, dreams frighten us. Some dreams may eventually lead to the destruction of any human mind, bringing nightmares into full reality. In J.D. Kaplan’s fast paced sci-fi fantasy Waking Dreams, readers are thrust between two dimensions; the world where we dream and the world where we awaken. With plenty of mystery and edge-of-your-seat moments, one grieving man must fight an evil, otherworldy force who is determined to break down the very wall that separates dreams from a wakeful world.

Interviewer: Christy Campbell

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How long have you been writing and what initially got you interested in it?

As a child I was a voracious reader. An aunt introduced me to the joys of science fiction and fantasy in equal parts. For my 12th birthday she sent me Dune, The Hobbit and Lord Foul’s Bane. I loved the stories, the escape and the magic of it all and before I reached 13 I had written my first novel–the worst 200 pages ever put to paper. That story has long since been lost in the mists of time and that’s a good thing, but I still look back in amazement that I was able to get the words down at all.

Can you give us a quick introduction to your novel? What is it about?

Waking Dreams is a story of a man whose dreams sometimes come true. He dreams that he loses his wife and youngest daughter in a plane crash and when it comes to pass he is plunged into a crippling depression. The story is about how Colin discovers another world, tightly tied to our own, where all dreaming takes place. This world is in grave danger and it is up to Colin along with his surviving daughter, Sidney, and their strange and mysterious neighbor Penny to save this other world from a horrible nightmare.

Your novel is about dreams–a subject I really enjoy, by the way. How did dreams play into your creative process?

Dreams are an important part of my process. Often things I dream about play into what I write. This isn’t always a good thing, but some of my better ideas were born out of dreams or nightmares I had. I am fascinated

Most of the action in Waking Dreams takes place in a place you refer to as the Dreamside. What is that?

The Dreamside is the world we visit when we dream. It is chaotic and often illogical–anything is possible on the Dreamside. It is a reflection of what people dream. Some of the dreams are extremely transient–rippling realities created by a dreamer yet gone as soon as they wake up. Some dreams are stronger and create places persist, making up the larger part of the dreamscape. The Dreamside is separated from the waking world by the Wall of Sleep–the Wall is a concept that manifests itself in many ways. Sometimes a beautiful woman, sometimes a brick wall separating grasses meadows and sometimes just the hint of an idea on the edge of our consciousness. But we all recognize the Wall when we meet her–she is a mother, a friend, a shepherd to each dreamer. She is central to the conflict of the story as she represents a key part of the interlocked worlds. If our dreams and nightmares could cross that line at will, the waking world would be filled with the horrors and wonders we dream. And as humans need sleep and dreams to maintain their sanity, if there were no longer a place to dream, what would become of us as a species?

Who was your favorite character to write in the novel?

That’s a difficult question. Colin and Sidney are people with lots of depth and it was great fun to work with them–they grew in ways I really didn’t expect. But Penny is my favorite. She is such a conundrum–sometimes flighty and innocent and other times wise and powerful. The way she interacts with people was really fun to write.

Tell us where Tayport, Illinois is and the significance of it.

Tayport exists in my mind entirely. I have never lived in a large city like Chicago or New York. While I spend time in Chicago quite often I really don’t know what it feels like to live there–the subtleties and nuances of life. So I decided to create a city nearby that I could own and build as I wished. It’s something I learned by reading Charles de Lint. He created his own city called Newford where most of his books and stories take place. He’s been able to create and grow that place through out his career and it has such depth and imagination–something that would be hard to manage in a city you didn’t actually live in.

When you’ve got the premise nailed down, where do you get your ideas from as the story plays out?

Most of it happens when I’m running or when I’m driving in my car listening to really loud music. I like to imagine a scene, sometimes the ideas come out of how the music behaves lyrically and the shape of the sounds. More often it’s just that the music generates such an emotional reaction that my imagination is nudged and I go into a creative mode that is often hard to just kickstart on demand. Waking Dreams started as I imagined what it might feel like to burn in a fire. I was listening to a song by a band I love and one phrase in the song struck me and I found myself imagining the house fire scene in Waking Dreams. I know that’s dark and negative but it quickly grew into so much more than that. What would it be like if dreams like that came true–what would the consequences be in the real world? Those questions set me on the path that ended up in the Dreamside.

You chose the self-publishing route. What are the advantages of doing such in this tough market?

One of the advantages is that it’s all on me to get it done. I retain complete control of the work and my creative schedule and process. It’s a lot of work but has been really rewarding. The Internet has exploded the world of publishing. I find myself wondering what traditional publishing houses think about the whole situation. I was able to put my book out not only in the various electronic formats but Amazon provides a publish on demand service called Createspace that allowed me to get it into trade paperback format, readily available not only on Amazon but through Ingram’s distributors. This means that you can go into any bookstore and special order it. The hard part is all the marketing and selling I’ve had to do. I’m a writer and a reader and sales, marketing and self promotion are skills that are so far from what I do well that it’s a constant struggle. But interested people are out there and they are reachable and figuring out ways to find those people has been a wonderful experience.

What is the hardest part of writing a novel, once that first chapter is in place?

Maintaining the habit and tying all the details together so that the story as a whole gets finished and when it’s done it holds up as a whole. Fighting writer’s block is inevitable and like any other discipline you have to really focus on making sure you write everyday. When I first started writing Waking Dreams I had been away from writing for several years, focused on a band I was in and my budding career as a software developer. I had a lot of trepidation about the length of a novel vs the short fiction and poetry I had been doing. At first it was work. But as things began to flow along it became pleasurable. You have to have process you use to face any situation you find yourself in; writer’s block, unsure of the progression of the plot, etc. And you have to have the openness to throw those tools aside when needed.

Who are some of your influences when it comes to writing?

Well, of course there’s Herbert, Tolkien and Donaldson but they were only the beginning. The two biggest influences have been Charles de Lint and Neil Gaiman. They were the authors that really reminded me of what I love to read and enabled me to write in that genre and cast off the yoke of “literary fiction.”

What genres do you enjoy reading?

I love contemporary fantasy, urban fantasy–that’s a guilty pleasure. But I also love epic fantasy, hard science fiction and my other guilty pleasure is space operas. I don’t mind a dose of romance and a little explicitness in a book but prefer to avoid erotica if I can help it. I am really in love with strong female main characters. There’s something really engaging about these characters. I also enjoy stories where the main character is not all powerful, or at least grows into some kind of power.

Do you have anything in the works?

Currently I am finishing up the rough draft of a first person contemporary fantasy story about a musician that sees his music as colors and is able to manipulate the emotions and feelings of the people around him with those colors and sounds. He is a person who has always been something of an outsider. Some of the book is set in the Dreamside, and the action takes place in Tayport, of course. I don’t want to give much more away because I really value the art of the “reveal.”

Will there be more stories about Colin and the Dreamside?

Yes, definitely. He makes a brief appearance in my next book and I already have begun storyboarding a novel that features all of the characters from Waking Dreams.

Please tell readers where they can learn more about you and your work:

I’ve got the obligatory Facebook page and I also spend a lot of time on Goodreads. I’ve got my own website that is kind of an afterthought but I might be focusing on more as I get more readers. And of course you can find the book online on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Nook, iBooks and a host of other places. Here are a few links:

https://www.facebook.com/jd.kaplan.author

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7363644.J_D_Kaplan

http://www.amazon.com/Waking-Dreams-Torment-Colin-Pierce-ebook/dp/B00FPO638O/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=

http://www.thedreamside.com/