vrijdag 30 maart 2012

Interview with Aaron Dries


My latest interview is with the Australian horror author Aaron Dries about his books and writing :)

Books & WritingCan you tell us a little bit about yourself.

Aaron Dries: When I was younger I tried my absolute hardest to keep a journal, but I always ended up filling it with lies. That way if someone picked it up and read it they’d think, “wow, what an absolutely interesting life this guy lives!” Safe to say the journal didn’t last and I discovered that fiction was my forte. All of these years later I still feel the urge to embellish a little when asked questions like this. So indulge me.

Hi, my name is Aaron Dries. I was raised in a travelling circus and speak fluent wild wolf. In my spare time I fight crime and write high-selling vampire fiction…

Yeah, that’s not exactly the truth. In reality, I’m 27, I live in rural Australia and I work as a copywriter. I lead a considerably normal life. By night I write horror novels. I spend my time dueling time. It seems to be the one battle I always lose.   
Books & WritingDo you remember the first story you wrote?

Aaron Dries: I was recently at my mother’s place, where she has this chest full of the Dries boys’ old school reports and projects. It is a goldmine of memories. I went through it (the smell of mothballs washing over me) and found an old English book of mine from the third grade. It was covered in contact and old stickers. Within was a short story I had written. It involved a school excursion to the zoo, where naturally, things did not go as planned. A tornado ripped through the city and dropped a witch among us (she had been flying north and had been sucked into the vortex). On account of being thrown completely off course, she was very angry, and in the heat of the moment picked up our teacher and threw her into the lion’s den. The end.

And people are surprised I became a horror writer. I’m pretty sure the writing was on the wall long ago.

Books & WritingWere you inspired by someone or something?

Aaron Dries: I’ve always been inspired by other writers and their work — this will never change. When I was a kid I lived and breathed R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps and Fear Street series. This was the glorious stuff that I cut my teeth on before discovering Stephen King, Richard Matheson and Robert Bloch, who certainly sealed the deal for me. As soon as I read their work I knew that I wanted to become a writer. In the seventh grade I told my English teacher this and she laughed … If only that witch from my childhood story had picked her up and fed her to the lions. I also think that disbelief was inspiring in its own perverted way.

Outside of the writing sphere, I’m highly influenced by my surroundings. I tend to write about the places in which I’m doing the writing, or about places that I have been. My debut novel, House of Sighs, is set in a small Australian town called James Bridge, which is just my hometown of Branxton under a different name. I’m highly influenced by the people I meet and the concepts that challenge me.

Books & WritingWhat do you love about writing a story?

Aaron Dries: Writing is fun on a number of levels at a lot of different times. There are the initial planning stages, when your head is like a bubbling cauldron you throw ideas into in the hope that something emerges. And then there’s the actual writing itself—the momentum you feel, the drive to get it finished. I love to let my characters do all the work, but they only take on a life of their own if you put in the hard yards initially.

On the flip side, there’s a lot about writing books that’s difficult. Finding time is the usual thorn in the writer’s side—between jobs and personal commitments it can be difficult. And then there’s the incredibly daunting first page; it’s terrifying seeing that blank screen staring back at you. On top of this there’s the pain of rejection and the nervous expectation as you wait to hear what the world thinks of your work.

Yet, at the risk of sounding like a bumper sticker, each one of these negatives is a success waiting to happen. You found the time; you filled that first page; your story was accepted; people like your work. Hopefully. It’s easy to be sidetracked and it’s easy to be knocked down by criticism. You just have to get up on your bruised and bloody horse and keep on ridin’.

Books & WritingCan you tell us something about your book “House of Sighs” and the main character?


Aaron Dries: ‘House of Sighs’ is set in the mid 90s and is the story of Liz Frost, a woman on the verge of suicide. She has a gun in her handbag, and instead of taking the plunge and using it on herself, she takes it to work. Liz is a bus driver.

It doesn’t take long for the passengers of the Sunday bus into town to realize that something is very, very wrong with their driver. They don’t know that she began her day planning to kill herself. But they know that she’s threatening to kill them. They began the ride as her passengers, but now they’re her captives. She’s already shown she won’t hesitate to use that gun in her hand, and no one wants to be the next to die. They have no idea where she’s taking them, who will be left alive when they get there, or what’s in store for the survivors. With a madwoman at the wheel, the bus has gone far off its route, deep into insanity. And for most of the passengers, the next stop will be their last.

… House of Sighs is an ensemble piece full of interesting characters, but Liz is the driving force behind all of their motivations. She’s both muse and muggufin, so to speak. She was both a challenge and a joy to write. I wanted to reach inside the page and pull her out of her depression, but there were all of these obstacles in the way. That’s why the book ends the way it does. Tragically.

Books & WritingWhy did you decide to rename the book, because you originally called it Disunity I believe.

Aaron Dries: For those who may not know, I entered and subsequently won the Rue Morgue/ChiZine/Dorchester Publishing ‘Fresh Blood’ competition, which included ten finalists who underwent public voting rounds until one writer was left – ala Survivor. Throughout all this my manuscript was titled Disunity. When I won, both the editors at ChiZine and Dorchester thought the title was too misleading, and not mysterious enough. I agreed with them. It spelled out the central theme a little too openly, detracting from the novel’s elusive nature, and it simply didn’t resonate with horror readers. With a title like Disunity it could have been about the London riots … So I settled on House of Sighs, which is far more atmospheric and haunting. It says a lot without saying much; it poses questions. Where is the House of Sighs, and what’s so bad about it that it earned having a horror novel written about it?

Books & WritingWhat attracts you in Horror?

Aaron Dries: I was a horror nut even as a kid, even though the general perception of family and friends was that I would eventually outgrow it. I’m very happy to disappoint them on this one. I don’t really know what drew me to it because a lot of the horror films I saw as a child (at way too young an age, mind you), deeply upset me and gave me violent nightmares. Child’s Play traumatized me. A Nightmare of Elm Street haunted me for years. Jaws still has me terrified of the water. A lot of those fears have never gone away. I guess horror resonates. I’d love for someone to read my work and never be able to forget it; that would be my ultimate aim. I guess it boils down to mortality, doesn’t it? The desire to be remembered, or even feared after we’re gone. Fear is an emotion we’re programmed to respond to, but we deny it to ourselves at every opportunity. I’m happy to give people what they don’t know they actually need. I guess if I couldn’t write I’d design ghost train rides, or something. Actually, I’d still love to do that.

Books & WritingHow long have you been working on this book?

Aaron Dries: I started House of Sighs almost three years ago now. I found an old copy of Rue Morgue magazine whilst backpacking abroad and saw the advertisement for the ‘Fresh Blood’ competition — but there was only three months left until the deadline! I worked hard, pounded out the novel and got it in by the skin on my teeth. Don D’Auria accepted the manuscript, and then the elimination rounds stretched on for almost eight months (I honestly can’t remember, it was fairly anguishing). After winning, the book was un-officially acquired by Dorchester Publishing as per the prize of the competition, only to have the powers that be let Don go … So I was left with a sort-of-accepted novel with a company that appeared to be treading financial water, and without an editor, no less. I waited things out for almost six months, baited by Dorchester’s promises of publication (with nary a contract to be seen). In the interim I wrote my second novel and sent that to Don who was by that point well established at Samhain Horror. He bought the rights to both books with 24 hours of my initial submission. It was, without a doubt, one of the happiest days of my life.  

Books & WritingHow does it feel to have your book published?

Aaron Dries: After all that I went through with the Dorchester collapse, I’m relieved. At the same time it all feels surreal. I’m amazed that there are people out there reading my work. My insular thoughts are now in the hands of strangers. That both excites and terrifies me. But I’m cool with that … my aim is to make them feel the same way. Tit-for-tat.

Books & WritingYou are also working on a few screenplays and the follow up to House of Sighs. Can you tell us a bit about those?

Aaron Dries: Screenplay wise, things are all in the idea cauldron, but one day I’ll get those full-length screenplays out there. I have an intense passion for film; it was my first creative love. All my life I wanted to direct. I made award-winning short films and worked in television editing suites. But the harder I worked the more I realized how much money it took to get places, and I just didn’t have the income to drop everything and write even more on spec, or to direct between multiple freelance jobs. So I turned all my energy towards novels, which is similar to directing, only without the union interventions. I still make short films and I recently made the trailer for House of Sighs, which people really seem to like. Check it out here: ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ogZtwRjRDE&feature=youtu.be )

As for the follow up to my debut … it’s written and is will be released later this year. It’s not a sequel to House of Sighs, but it certainly takes place in the same universe. Locations and minor characters do appear in both, but the two novels are independent from each other. Creating this larger universe has been an amazing experience. James Bridge is to me what Castle Rock must be to Stephen King. I think every writer wants to create a unique and fully-developed world over a number of novels, only to knock it down.

My second novel is called The Fallen Boys and I’m very proud of it. It is about a father’s journey into darkness as he tries to discover why his young son committed suicide. It is a novel about Internet bullying, and about the ways people use the infrastructure of their lives (whether it be the Internet, or something like religion) to hurt innocent people. It’s a tragic, hard-hitting, psychological horror novel.   

Books & WritingDo you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Aaron Dries: As many authors before me have said, writing is re-writing. Embrace it and find the joy in it. Format your manuscripts properly and work on your punctuation and grammar — it can always be improved. Write about what makes you angry, or moves you, or about the things you love. Also, if you’re going to write books, don’t think that the work stops once you’ve been published. Trust me, it doesn’t. You have to work on publicizing your book long after its release. I wish, more than anything else, that I could make a living out of writing novels so I could dedicate myself fully to getting the word out there. It’s an upward slope, but a worthy hill to climb.

Books & WritingWhich author inspires you?

Aaron Dries: I’m inspired by a lot of authors out there. I think Stephen King is a tyrant in the genre, who sets the bar high and who deserves everything he has earned. Earlier I mentioned Robert Bloch, who wrote Psycho and other amazing works. I recently played tribute to him on my website (http://www.aarondries.com/apps/blog/show/13547984-pay-no-attention-to-that-man-behind-the-curtain-on-forgetting-robert-bloch ). Outside of the genre I love the works of Bret Easton Ellis and Daniel Handler, whose works just blow my mind. I’ve been re-reading a lot of old Ira Levin stuff recently—the economy with which he writes is something we all could learn from. Rosemary’s Baby makes my palms sweat.

Books & WritingWhere can people go and read your work?

Aaron Dries: If you’re interested in seeking out my work the best place to start is my website (www.aarondries.com ).There you can read excerpts of my work, find free short stories and you’ll discover links to my blog. Outside of this, the best place to get a taste of what I do is to read House of Sighs. So head on over to Samhain Horror (store.samhainpublishing.com), or snap up a copy wherever good books are sold, as the saying goes. 

Books & WritingWhere can people find you on internet?

Aaron Dries: Hit me up at my website or follow me on Twitter (AaronDries) and Facebook (Aaron-Dries/297589356966510 ) . I love meeting readers—and not exclusively those of my own work. If you love horror, I think we’ll get along fine. Swing by and say hello. I don’t bite. Much.

Books & WritingIs there anything else you want to share with the readers?

Aaron Dries: I think that’s pretty much it! Of course there will be something that I forgot or should have said and these things will spring to mind later tonight when I go to bed. I had a ball! To everyone reading: thank you for keeping the horror genre alive. If you feel like getting the shit scared out of you then consider this the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Below is an excerpt from his book House of Sighs!

Prologue: It Begins

“There is only one Evil: Disunity.”

—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

One Hundred and Four

Suzie Marten was ten years old when she died.

Her passion was dancing. Spinning herself dizzy in search of rhythm, pirouetting until her toes hurt. Her father had bought her a pair of ballet shoes—a perfect fit, and with pink ribbon laces that wound all the way up to her ankles. She scuffed and broke the soles with a serrated kitchen knife she snatched from the kitchen drawer. Suzie adored those shoes with a pure love that only children can seem to feel for inanimate objects. She was wearing them when she was torn apart.

It was November 12th, 1995.

To Suzie, Sunday morning was the final stop between freedom and school. She both loved and hated Sundays. Suzie despised school and feared her raven-faced, balding teacher, who would sometimes get so mad he threw things. She imagined he spent his Sundays alone, watching the clock, eager for Monday to arrive so he could overturn another desk. He had done this to her best friend. Books and pencils had crashed to the floor, an eraser bounced up and clipped one boy’s ear. At recess Suzie sat beside her humiliated friend and wrapped an arm around his shoulder—a brave move considering his sex—because as any ten-year-old girl knows: where there are boys, there’s a whole lot of germs. “It’s okay,” she whispered in his ear. “I saw on the T.V. that teachers can’t hurt kids and we can sue him if we want. He’s such a…dirty shit.”

They looked at each other, shocked. Dirty shit.

“Suzie Marten, you can’t say that! If they hear you, they’ll send a letter home to your mom and she’ll wash your mouth out with soap, or something. I saw that one on the T.V. too.”

“Na-uh she won’t. My mom’s too tired to do that. Always in bed. And besides, she says words like that! She works the dogwatch at the hospital—whatever that means. She gets home from work when everyone else is getting up. I don’t know what a dog has to do with it. I once saw this boring black-and-white movie about a vampire who only ever came out at night. He could turn into a bat and flew around eating people—or something—and during the day he slept in a box. Did’ja ever see that one?”

Suzie once teased her mother’s mouth open with a spoon while she slept, to see if she had fangs. Donna Marten bolted awake, grabbed her daughter by the wrist and pulled her under the sheets. They laughed. That night they had Fruit Loops for dinner.

On the morning of the ninth, Donna fell into bed after a ten-hour shift. Her knees ached, the smell of disinfectant and cigarettes sweating out of her pores. She was too tired to shower. Suzie pulled the blankets up to her mother’s chin.

“Mo-om,” Suzie said, her voice drawn out and meek.

“What is it, honey? I’m dead on my feet.”


“Come on, out with it. I’m two ticks from dreaming.”

“Well, I was just wondering. How come on television moms don’t get old? How come Julia Roberts never gets wrinkles, or anything, but you’re starting to look like an old lady? Like a bit of an old rag.” Mother stared into her daughter’s innocent eyes… Innocent, Donna had to remind herself. Innocent.

Forgive her, for she knows not what she says—it was an expression her own mother had been fond of using, and often. Donna never really understood its meaning—its weight—until that moment. There in her bedroom with her daughter. For the last time.

“Count yourself lucky I love you, Suzie,” she said, wishing her little girl were old enough to start lying like everyone else. But despite this, they kissed goodnight and all was forgiven. She watched her daughter pull the door shut, taking with her the smell of Strawberry Shortcake and pre-teen sweat.

Suzie passed a cabinet full of her gymnastics trophies in the hallway, the glass planes shaking as she bounced along. Her reflection twittered from one family photo to another. Leaping into the kitchen, she slid to the refrigerator in her socks. It was covered in drawings and magnets, school reports and shopping receipts. Alone at last.

Her father was away on another business trip. Where he went she rarely knew, but she was always glad to see him go, as he never came back empty-handed. Once he brought a packet of windup crayons—the good kind, unlike those some of her friends owned, which would have to be thrown away if you twisted too far—and another time, the ballet shoes.

She watched Sailor Moon over cereal. Afterwards, she pulled her hair into a ponytail and brushed her teeth, the bristles as frayed as the wheat stalks on her uncle's farm after a storm. Suzie didn't see much of her extended family any more, least of all her uncle in Morpeth, not with her father always traveling and her mother sleeping day after day.

Donna Marten found dried toothpaste splashes on the bathroom mirror a week later. She licked them off and fell to the floor, her mouth tasting of mint and the briny tang of tears.

Suzie put on her headphones even though the padding itched her ears, and slipped into a pink leotard and tutu. She pressed Play on her Walkman and music filled her ears. She slammed the front door as she went into the yard.

In the house a mechanic hum escaped the freezer; the grandfather clock ticked away. Gentle draughts tickled the wind chimes near the window until they laughed. And through it all Donna Marten snored.

Suzie danced to Mister Boombastic (“say me fan-tas-tic!”) on the front lawn. In her opinion she lived on the most boring street in all of James Bridge, maybe even all of Australia: a rarely traveled stretch of road on the outskirts of town. Suzie had no neighbors, but should a car come along she liked the idea of being seen. This was why she danced, and why she danced so well. She didn’t twirl and then fall for herself, but for everything. There was simply nothing else to do.

Spring was hot that year, the house surrounded by matchstick grass. The valley hissed when the wind blew through the dead trees, a desperate, lonely sound.

Suzie spun and curtsied, laughing to herself. I could do this all day, she thought. And I will! Go on, stop me. Dirty shit, dirty shit!

She loved watching her shadow on the lawn, the way it was a part of her. But when she leapt into the air they were separated. If only I could fly forever, she thought and then withdrew. But I would miss my shadow. That would be sad, like losing a friend.

Four hours after falling asleep, panic reached into the dark and ripped Donna from her bed. Her stomach knotted, brow flecked with sweat. It had not been the sounds of screeching tires, or the muted gunshot that awoke her—fatigue had seen to that. It was that her mind had fled her body and her flesh had no choice but to follow.

She threw open the door and ran from room to room. Nothing.

“Suzie!” she yelled. Her voice was feral, unrecognizable as her own. Something inside fueled her dread. The house was empty.

Donna stumbled outside, her eyes squinting against the sunlight. Pain thudded in her head and shot down her spine. Suzie was not in the backyard. As she rounded the house and neared the front gate, she felt heat waves coming off the brick wall to her right. She fumbled with the latch. Next to her were the trashcans, their stench reaching out to grab her, to make her feel ill. The latch opened and the gate swung wide—a sharp cry of metal grinding metal.

Donna ran onto the front lawn and stopped.

The Walkman was shattered near the gutter, ribbons of gray tape fluttering in the wind. Suzie Marten was strewn in pieces across the road.

Crows fluttered over intestines, disturbing the stillness. One hopped onto Suzie’s head, spread its bloodied wings and squawked. It lowered its beak and bit the child’s tongue, which had been cooking against the tar.

Her daughter’s ballet shoe lay in front of her, distorted by heat waves and the foot still inside. Donna screamed.

Her breath came short as her nostrils filled with the stink; a putrid mix of chemicals and sugarcane, shit and salt. She would never forget it.

Darkness flittered over her vision and Donna ran to her child, lashing out at the birds. They twirled and cawed, sprinkling blood drops over her face. “Get away from my baby!” she screamed, arms thrashing. But the beaks returned to meat, to gorge.

Those delicate, soft stabbing sounds.

A crow settled on Donna’s shoulder, feathers brushed against her cheek. Her world emptied. She clambered over gravel. This isn’t happening, she thought. It can’t be. I’m dreaming—that’s it! I’m still sleeping, my baby isn’t torn to pieces. Donna started to laugh, short, deep bleats. Parents were not equipped to see these sights; to smell such insane, bitter scents.

She fought the birds again, kicked out, punching. Donna didn’t comprehend what she was doing until she held one of the animals in her hand. Its scream mingled with her own, formed a single high-pitched mewl that echoed across the fields. She let it drop, its wings broken.

Donna fell to her knees and attempted to scoop up as much of her daughter as she could manage. Her arms swept wide in manic, possessive hugs, pulling the larger chunks closer and closer to her chest. Tears slipped down her face. She gave in and settled on the largest intact fragment: Suzie’s head, neck, collarbone and left arm, which seemed to be only holding on by a thinly stretched tendon. But the birds were hungry and selfish and would not let their bounty escape without a fight. They swooped. Their black-on-black eyes were empty and so cold.

The chunk of Suzie was only a quarter of the corpse, but Donna thought it was heavier than her daughter had ever been intact. She turned her back to the crows, deflecting swoops and scratches.

And then without warning, the weight in her arms lessened and Donna felt something slap against her shins. Something warm and something so very wet.

Donna was a nurse and assisted doctors in surgery. What she saw sitting on her shins was unlike anything she had ever seen at work. It was small and childlike. A healthy heart that still had many years of beating left to do.

Donna collapsed amid a flurry of dark wings, dark shadows.

donderdag 29 maart 2012

Interview with author Linda Rae Blair

Hi all!

Today I am talking to author Linda Rae Blair about her large collection of books she has written over the years :)

Books & WritingCan you tell us a little bit about yourself.

Linda Rae Blair: I am totally right-brained! A retiree, I had SO many ideas about what I would do with all my free time once I didn’t have to go to work anymore. HAH! I began writing just months prior to my retirement date and haven’t stopped since. The piano sits—unplayed. My paint brushes—dry and unused. My sewing machine still hasn’t had a bobbin wound. But I now have three—yes, count them 1-2-3—computers! I keep one pristine and never connected to the internet; one for personal “stuff” and a desk top for all my twittering, Facebooking, Linkedining, blogging, e-mailing, etc. I really MUST pick up at least one of the oldies again!

Books & WritingDo you remember the first story you wrote?

Linda Rae Blair: Oh, yes. It’s still available. “Where is Harry?” was the one I started before I retired. It was published by the time my retirement date hit. I often think that I should rework it, but then I’d lose that wonderful “first work” that I was so very proud of at the time. My, how I’ve grown as a writer! 

Books & WritingWere you inspired by someone or something?

ALinda Rae Blair: fter my mother’s death, we found that she had been married before she met my dad. Since she was just a teenager at the time and it was in the 2nd decade of the 20th century, this raised a lot of questions. Unfortunately, mom wasn’t around to answer them anymore. We all knew she’d had a tough childhood. The book relates a lot of the real memories she had of her early childhood—her mother brushing her  long brown hair, her father setting her broken arm, her brother, Harry, carrying her on his shoulders to go “fishin’”, and the death of her sister in their shared bed. When she lost both her parents (scarlet fever was rampant in those days) she was put in a foster home where she was treated as a servant, not a daughter.

When a co-worker heard the fantasy version of the intervening years, she said, “You should write a book about it!” Lots of writers start out that way.  Once I wrote mom’s fantasy story, then the two reader-favorite characters from her story became books of their own. Ultimately they were all published as stand-alones and as a trilogy, “Intersections: Love, Betrayal, Murder”.

Books & WritingWhat do you love about writing a story?

Linda Rae Blair: My stories are completely character-driven. So, I love seeing where they are going to take me. Since the series is about a main character named Preston Andrews (his friends call him Press) I tend to find a catchy phrase that includes Press, Press’d, Pressing—something of that nature. Then I murder the victim by whatever means seems right at the time. From there, it’s all up to those pesky characters and the folks they run into along the way.

Books & WritingTell us something about your detective series “The Preston Andrews Mysteries” and the main character Press?

Linda Rae Blair: Press is one of those guys that the average Joe wishes he could be and every woman fantasizes about. He’s very wealthy, the son of a U.S. Senator who comes from money and lots of it. At 6’3” and carrying the 6-pack of a man with a gym in his own home, stylishly cut black hair, icy blue eyes and a dimple in his right cheek, he brings women to attention and men to a show of respect. He bought his Virginia Beach mansion from his parents a few years ago. It had been the family’s summer house. Along with the house, he took the cook/housekeeper, Lizzie, and the family bodyguard, Palmer, who is ex-covert ops, ex-Marine. Lizzie is guarded from the grizzlier aspects of Press’s work; Palmer is often brought in as a “consultant”.

Books & WritingWhat made you decide to write a series of books about a homicide detective?

Linda Rae Blair: I’m a lover of romantic mysteries. A huge fan of Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb and others in the genre. It simply came naturally. I do have several stand-alone novels that range from either mostly romances to total mystery with no romantic subplot.

Books & WritingHow did you come up with the idea for the series?

Linda Rae Blair: I have absolutely no idea! I sat down at my local Starbucks and started writing and out came Press, Lizzie, Palmer, Trace, Senator and Mrs. Andrews, Steffi (Press’s sister) and we were off to the races.

Books & WritingIs the main character based on someone you know?

Linda Rae Blair: Oh, I wish!

Books & WritingYou also like to write sagas, mysteries and romances and published a total of 15 novels now, only 8 in the series. Could you share a bit about your other books?

Linda Rae Blair: Well, you now know about 3 of them in the trilogy. I wrote another trilogy, “100 Years of Brotherly Love”, a saga of 100 years of friendship that begins with the love and brotherhood between a tribe of Pueblo Indians and a young pony express rider—taking us into the 20th century where their descendants remain close friends and spread to include an orphaned Apache boy. It’s a story of love (yes, there is lots of romance),  friendship and mystery (several mysteries, actually). It’s my favorite. I just loved those characters.

Then there’s my little Scottish love story, “Elusive”. It’s a sweet romance between two people who are pulled together by fate and fight it all the way. There is a little mystery there, but it’s not a serious mystery. Most readers will figure it out faster than the characters do. The point of the book really isn’t the mystery, it’s the greed and betrayal through 200 years that bring these characters together that is the real story.

My “Board Game Murders” is a tongue-in-cheek bow to Christie’s Poirot. I adore Poirot. This one takes place in the USA, although there is a British tie-in, and historic board games play a part in the murders, clues and locale.

Books & WritingWhat genre fits you best?

Linda Rae Blair: I think the romantic/mystery is my best fit. I don’t try to do non-fiction or strictly historical novels…I just cannot resist turning my characters loose and they will do what they do.

Books & WritingAre you working on something new?

Linda Rae Blair: I’m currently working on the next book in The Preston Andrews Mysteries. This one is called “Trace Evidence” but I can’t tell you why—I’d have to kill you in my next book.

Books & WritingDo you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Linda Rae Blair: Listen to the tales of other writers’ experience and take from them what fits you. Don’t try to force yourself into someone else’s mould. It could be a very bad fit. Listen to your heart, temper it with the wisdom of experience, and just never give up—keep writing! 

Books & WritingWhich author inspires you?

Linda Rae Blair: Gee, are we turning this into a novel of its own or should I limit my list? (Laughing here!) There are so many, but the biggest are, of course, Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb. Also on the list are Patricia Cornwell, Lisa Jackson, Sandra Brown, Janet Evanovich…I think I’d better stop there.

Books & WritingWhere can people go and read your work?

Linda Rae Blair: My books are available on Amazon US, UK, DE, FR, IT, SP, JP; Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Apple, iTunes, Kobo, and a site in Ireland, PublishMyBook.

Print versions are available on CreateSpace.

Hard Press’d
Press’d Into Action
Press’d To The Wall
Press On
Pressing Engagement
Press ‘n SEAL

A Pressing Issue of Murder

Intersections: Love, Betrayal, Murder

Where is Harry?

Claire:  A Woman’s Journey ~ NY Heiress – Chicago Madam

Richard: It’s In The Blood

100 Years of Brotherly Love

The Board Game Murders


Books & WritingWhere can people find you on internet?

Linda Rae Blair: My website is located at:


There are blogs, excerpts from all of my novels, and other items of interest, so please check it out!

Books & WritingIs there anything else you want to share with the readers?

Linda Rae Blair: “Hard Press’d”, the first book in The Preston Andrews Mysteries series, is FREE on Amazon US and a couple of the European site. Unfortunately, not free in the UK.  International shoppers would be best to use Smashwords which not only offers sales worldwide but also has multiple formats available for a wide variety of digital devices. The Preston Andrews Mysteries are promised to never exceed $.99 USD for digital version.

woensdag 28 maart 2012

Interview with Karen Y. Matthews


This time I had the pleasure of interviewing author Karen Y. Matthews about her upcoming book Sweet Surrender, among other things.

Books & WritingCan you tell us a little bit about yourself.

Karen Y. Matthews: I am a single mother of three with my oldest child having my two grandchildren (at the moment). My youngest is twenty. I love to garden; vegetable, herbal and floral. I also like to do crafts and crochet. Art has been a huge part of my life along with animals. I am a huge animal lover. I am down to earth and treat people the way I would want to be treated by others. I live in Florida.

I have been writing books since the age of five during a kindergarten project of writing and illustrating a one paragraph story; which I gladly accepted and wrote about two swans that fell in love at a pond. I won the schools contest and my story was exhibited at the local library. That was the beginning of my writing career.

I am a true Heroin in real life. I will take you along for the ride during danger and love with many more novels to come.

I have heard so many people tell others not to read a certain book because it was not their taste. I always tell someone when they tell me not to read something ”Thank you for your input I think I’ll read it anyway” It just absolutely drives me crazy when someone tries to push their feelings onto someone else. So, with that in mind I started my own saying….

“A story is only as good as You think it is; Not what someone else thinks of it.” By: K. Y. Matthews

I have read some really good books that I would have missed out on if I would have listened to that person.

Books & WritingDo you remember the first story you wrote?

Karen Y. Matthews: As I stated above, my first story was when I was five years old. I wrote a one paragraph story and drew a picture to go along with it. It was about two swans that fell in love at a pond.

Books & WritingWere you inspired by someone or something?

Karen Y. Matthews: No, not really. I have always been a romantic I guess. I always wanted that special romance for everyone, even animals lol.

Books & WritingWhat do you love about writing a story?

Karen Y. Matthews: The fact that I can make characters come alive and be whoever they want to be. Just like Halloween. You can dress up for a day and be whatever you fancy. Every person needs to tell their story even if it is a character.

Books & WritingCan you tell us something about your upcoming book “Sweet Surrender” and the main character Emilia Brandson?

Karen Y. Matthews: Sweet Surrender is about a past spell that was put onto her family that all the women would not be able to fall in love. Emilia Brandson has to figure a way around the spell so that she can stop making wrong choices in men and be able to fall in love with the one man she really wants to be with. She is determined to overcome her families curse and let Derek Maxwell come knock on hearts door. Emilia is very smart; putting herself through law school and climbing the judicial ladder when everyone told her she couldn’t do it. That will power will help Emilia fight when she goes up against the curse and treats it like a court case.

Books & WritingWhen will you release the book?

Karen Y. Matthews: Hopefully I will be able to release Sweet Surrender by the end of July or August 2012

Books & WritingWhat genre does the book fits best in?

Karen Y. Matthews: Romantic Suspense

Books & WritingHow long have you been working on this book?

Karen Y. Matthews: I have been working on Sweet Surrender for about three months now. I just start writing and later after I think I have finished the first part as I call it; I go back and sort it all out and make some sense out of it. That is where the story starts coming together and the characters come alive.

Books & WritingHow does it feel to have your book published?

Karen Y. Matthews: Wonderful; I have always been a big reader. I am happy that I can have people reading my novels and maybe inspire someone to write.

Books & WritingI understand you also wrote a few other books. Can you tell us a bit about those?

Karen Y. Matthews: Beyond the Badge: Tino Sharma has spent fifteen years searching for a man that framed his uncle for murder. Kaylee Beria works in the family business as well as volunteering in her community nearly ten years. When the two meet the sparks fly. That is why Kaylee wants to help Tino find the man that committed the murder. She has fallen for Tino while overcoming countless hurdles with him. Kaylee has to deside if she can overlook who the murderer is and continue to be a lover to Tino even though she knows Tino has no guilt about putting him behind bars, or worse.... killing him.

The Mansion: Renovation leads Kale McJonas to buried treasure and the love of his life. Kale has to find Sarah’s Grandfather Simon before he is murdered like the rest of Sarah’s family by finding secret passageways in the mansion and following clues that Simon has left for Sarah to figure out.  Passion and danger heats up when Kale ask Sarah and her friends to stay at his house until they solve who is behind everything and catch the killer or killers.

The Mansion was actually my first novel that I wrote. I focused more on Beyond the Badge (which title was originally called Mystery Island) because I liked that novel better. Once I got back to working on The Mansion, I started to enjoy the characters more and put in a few more twists.

Books & WritingAre you working on something new?

Karen Y. Matthews: Yes, I have several more ideas for upcoming novels with two that are in rough drafts at the moment.  The titles for these novels are “Sacred Moon” and “Silent Power”.

Books & WritingDo you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Karen Y. Matthews: Never give up on your dream. If you want to be an author then you will be an author. Read, read and read some more on how to put together your novel; how to add characters as the plot thickens and comes alive. Talk to other inspiring authors on blogs and writing sites or make your own blog or website.

Books & WritingWhich author inspires you?

Karen Y. Matthews: My favorite authors are Nora Roberts and John Grisham

Books & WritingWhere can people go and read your work?

Karen Y. Matthews: You can purchase my novels at Amazon Kindle. I am hoping to expand to book stores, libraries, etc. in the near future.

Books & WritingWhere can people find you on internet?

www.kymatthews.weebly.com  I am also on Twitter @KYMatthews and Facebook coming soon under KYMatthews.

Books & WritingIs there anything else you want to share with the readers?

Karen Y. Matthews: A Big Thank You to all my fans and readers. If you would like to know more about me or have some novels suggestions or any ideas please visit my website www.kymatthews.weebly.com

Below is an excerpt from her upcoming book Sweet Surrender!

Chapter One

 South Glamorgan Wales UK 1842

"You will never have me, my children, my children's children and so on the way you want" Genevieve yelled out as the prince of darkness took her; ravishing her body as he had never tasted the erotica of a woman. Not listening to her pleads for him to stop, how could he with the beauty that was before him. The beauty he was enveloped around and planting his seed in. She lay there as he was finished feeling sickness and hatred towards the man who has been chosen to be her husband. "I will bear your child but know that it will never be chosen to be someones mate. It will marry for love, not surrender to someone like you " she sat up, leaned forward and spat on the feet of her newly wedded husband. The spell has been done.

Ventura, California 2010

The intercom on the phone kept buzzing and driving Emilia crazy. "Miss Brandson, your ten o'clock meeting is starting soon" "Okay, I'm on my way. Just getting a few more details together" she then hit the intercom button and spoke to herself under her breath 'They can just wait a blasted moment' and swivelled her chair around to meet Derek Maxwell. The tall, dark and handsome with his heavenly blue eyes, muscular tanned body and rich black hair that has just enough wave in it to make you want to run your fingers through it. "Emmy, we gotta go. Got everything? " "Yep, sure do" Emilia said as she was frozen in her seat for a split second. Emilia was short; five foot two and petite. Blonde hair and green eyes, toned but not enough for her liking. But then again, when did she have time to exercise. She didn't have time to date let alone exercise.

 The meeting was finally over. Emilia grabbed her belongings, shoving paperwork into her briefcase as she walked to the elevator "Hold the door please" she yelled out. Derek Maxwell put a hand to the elevator door without a word. "Thank you" is all she said staring him in his eyes holding all the paperwork she hadn't yet been able to shove and wished she could be swimming in those eyes for eternity. The vision in her head vanished with the sound of his voice asking her if she was alright. "Yes, I fine. Just remembered something is all. " and turned to the elevator door. The elevator dinged and Derek announced his floor and gave Emilia a wink. The door closed and Emilia still stood with lust as her facial expression. She heard a sigh as the elevator started moving again "You scared the shit out of me" Tammy Tate looked at Emilia as if she was crazy. "Well, you did" "What were you thinking about as if I have to ask with the look on your face? " The two women chuckled and talked the remainder of the elevator ride.

dinsdag 27 maart 2012

Interview with author Eric Diehl

Hello all!

This time I had the pleasure of interviewing Eric Diehl about this passion, which is among other things, writing of course :)

Books & WritingCan you tell us a little bit about yourself .

Eric Diehl: On my website I call myself a ‘Jack of all trades, Master of none’, and while that may be a somewhat playful characterization, I’d say it’s fairly apt. I have a pilot’s license and used to fly a gyro-copter (looks like a mini-helicopter) that I built from a kit, and I’ve always loved motorcycles (I regularly teach safety classes). I started working young, running a large newspaper route at the age of 12, but later had a hard time merging into the corporate mainstream. Most of my professional career has involved IT in some form, usually relating to software development, though I have from time to time gone off on tangents involving such diverse avocations as desktop publishing, screen-printing, building guitars and turning wood on a lathe. My favorite challenge, though, is writing!   

Books & WritingDo you remember the first story you wrote?

Eric Diehl: Yes, though it was never finished and it got lost in a hard-drive crash long ago. The basis of it was a man whose life was very humdrum until he slept, but then he would experience extreme adventure. His dreams had become his life. Every night was something new (including a rather steamy sexual scene, as I vaguely recall), and it evolved sort of like a series of short stories.

Books & WritingWere you inspired by someone or something?

Eric Diehl: When I was very young it was Greek/Roman mythology that transformed me from a struggling reader to a kid reading above his grade level. Lord of the Flies was one of the first more serious reads that I recall, and Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ was what hooked me on science fiction. Stephen King held sway for a time, shifting me for a time into the pure horror genre, and my current favorites include George RR Martin, Patrick Rothfuss, Greg Keyes and Joe Abercrombie. Oddly enough, I had some difficulty hooking up with what many consider the ultimate fantasy series, that being Lord of the Rings.  

Books & WritingWhat do you love about writing a story?

Eric Diehl: I find that my process of thought becomes more focused when I’m writing. One of the most appealing aspects for me is the way that the story sometimes begins to tell itself. Those times when I get on a real roll (not always, I assure you), I am fascinated by how new characters or situations seem to develop of their own volition—surprising even the author!

Books & WritingCan you tell us something about your book “Guild of the Viizar”, the characters and how long you worked on the book?

Eric Diehl: The creation of this novel was spread out over a few years time. It is a loose sequel to my original novel, set a generation after its predecessor. It involves the Guild, which is comprised of lunar-based practitioners of a form of sorcery and which is led by a seriously bad fellow—the Grande Maester—who intends to plunder the energy of the protagonists’ home planet. The members of the Guild have become more able to bend reality to their will by simply envisioning the desired changes in a drug-induced state. There are fantastic characters (and by that I mean very unusual), and love interests throughout, and of course a fair bit of fighting and treachery. The protagonist is Airen, the heir to House Alar, and his primary allies are fem-macho sister Andra and martial-arts expert Leah (his wife’s sister). It is a stand-alone story, though the reader would do better to build a connection to it by first reading the original novel (Water Harvest).

Books & Writing: What attracts you in Science Fiction and Fantasy?

Eric Diehl: The depth of imagination. I am still astounded at how a skilled author can allow me to accept almost anything, no matter how outlandish, if he or she sets up the story properly. There is also the escape factor—I can, for a time, leave all real-world concerns behind, and join with my new friends in an adventure on a very different world.

Books & WritingHow does it feel to have a book published?

Eric Diehl: It feels fantastic! My first novel was published by Double Dragon Publishing, but though I was entirely happy with DDP, I elected to self-publish the second novel and my anthology. My primary reason for that is that I can make things happen more quickly, and I have more control over the process.

Books & WritingI understand you also wrote a few other books and short stories. Can you tell us a bit about those?

Eric Diehl: My first novel, Water Harvest, was the loose prequel to Guild of the Viizar. The first novel also involves conflicts between the home planet and its lunar colonies, but it is a conflict of a very different nature, based on the scarce supply of water. This is where some of my more fantastic characters introduced themselves to me. Water Harvest was originally intended to be hard science fiction, but I became so enamored with some of my surprise characters that I allowed it to run with a more fanciful flow.

I have also written several short stories (which tend to be on the lengthy side), four of which have been previously published in small press anthologies. I decided to self-publish the full collection as an anthology, titled “24:01 - One Minute After”, and to offer it as a free ebook download. My intention is to use 24:01 to gain name recognition, working under the assumption that readers will take a chance on an author that they are not familiar with if the effort costs them only a little time, and once they develop a liking for my writing they will come back for my novels. The stories in 24:01 range from SciFi to Fantasy to Horror, and the book can be downloaded at www.smashwords.com, or previewed at www.ericdiehl.com.

I’ve also posted some motorcycle and RV travel articles on my website, some of which have been published in various magazines.     

Books & WritingAre you working on something new?

Eric Diehl: Yes, I’m hard at work on a third novel that is based on the same planet, but this time I’ve gone very far back in time, where technology is in its early stages. The dragon-like drakka will play a substantial role in this tale.

Books & WritingDo you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Eric Diehl: The most common (and probably most valuable) tip is to just get down and write! I believe that Stephen King once made a comment along the lines of ‘I can fix a page of crap, but I can’t fix a blank page’. I stopped trying to fully outline my stories before I started, because that wasn’t working well for me and I simply wasn’t doing much writing. I now start with a basic premise and let the story develop itself on the fly. A second word of advice would be to edit, edit, edit (oops, that’s kinda three words). I spend considerably more time editing and fixing than I do with the first draft, and I still sometimes surprise myself when I’m able to change an uninspiring passage into something that can fully engage a reader’s attention.

Books & WritingWhere can people go and read your work?

Eric Diehl: Links to my works are available at www.ericdiehl.com. Digital versions can be had at most ebook retailers, and large-format paperback versions can be found at www.lulu.com. Smashwords also offers file formats that can be read from a PC (like pdf or txt or html), for readers who do not yet have an ebook device.

Books & WritingWhere can people find you on internet?

Eric Diehl: One could always google my name, but the shortest route is probably my site, www.ericdiehl.com. 

Below is an excerpt from "Guild of the Viizar"!

The Grande Maester led the procession of two down the antiseptic corridor, rhetorically addressing his grand discourse mostly to the ceiling, but he now cast a questioning eye over one shoulder, requesting confirmation. Second Maester Ozgar nodded in response, though with less than fervent zeal. All the color was drained from Ozgar’s face and his jowls hung like wet laundry from a clothesline. Ott frowned at this lack of fortitude, but the Maester’s blanch was pretty much a given, considering that the transition from open space tended to lend the sensation of puddling-out under the settling mass of the universe. The gravity maintained in the lunar colonies—and hence the Guild domicile—was far less than its natural occurrence planet-side, and although the Grande Maester always pressed his acolytes to condition themselves for it, acclimatization was typically required once the planet’s gravitational field imposed itself.

Not so for Ott, however, as evidenced by his mincing sideways prance down the span of the lower gangway, capering as if a stirring composition livened his feet while he performed for an audience of his own making. Trundling in the Grande Maester’s wake, by contrast, Ozgar called to mind a ponderous barge trolling along behind a pilot-boat with a captain well into his cups.

Humming an oddly compelling duotone Ott swept up to the spanning viewport protruding below the Starship’s bulbous snout, where a white luminescence, lit by reflection from the planet surface far below, filled the frame like a video-screen tuned to a dropped channel. The iridescent port had the appearance of a reversed void—a show of electrified white-noise—but the image was short-lived, for as if on queue the ship dropped out of the field of crystallized ice and the macro-features of the planet gathered into focus.

The view shimmered into melding shades of brown and grey, highlighted by cautious splashes of green, with mountain ranges appearing little more than shadowed wrinkles in a crumpled sheet of parchment not entirely smoothed out. Wisps of cloud drifted few and far apart, and even the muted colors of the arid planet leapt out in contrast to the abyssal blackdrop of open space that stretched away on every periphery. From such a high vantage the upper edge of the globe verged into a white ubiquity that was both brilliant and pure, but that view held little interest for Ott, because it marked the transition into the supremely austere Frozen Quadrant—a sterile, useless place if ever there was one.

The Grande Maester leaned forward and sketched a fingernail along the thick, frosted opti-pane, tracing the length of the dominant mountain chain of the planet, until his finger stopped poised overtop a jagged abscess in the crux of two diverging ranges. Ott released a sigh and a lilting titter fled his lips, like a chirm of finches settling down to roost. He tapped a fingertip there.

“Behold, Ozgar, there germinates the seed of my legacy!” He fairly hummed. “Even from such unremarkable origins the Guild will drive its transformation into the dominant power extant in the cosmos. We will burst from our protective cocoon of self-perpetuation; unleashing a veritable outpouring of Knowledge and Works to transform a bland mono-scape into a conceptual vision of stunning proportions.” He again tapped a finger on the thick pane, his ocular vision clouded over but his Mind’s Eye intently focused. “There, Ozgar,” he cooed. “There awaits our future, haplessly bound to an amalgamation of geological chance and happenstance evolution. The means of ascension is there, wasted on a population that forever misses the opportunity streaming past beneath their feet.” He sighed wistfully.

“But we will change everything.”

donderdag 22 maart 2012

Interview with author Arthur Slade

Hello again :)

Todays interview is with author Arthur Slade who has been writing since he was sixteen, finished his first novel at seventeen but wasn't published until he was thirty. His first six books remain unpublished. They were all "practice!" He is lucky enough that he has been making his living as a writer for nearly fifteen years now. 

Books & WritingDo you remember the first story you wrote?

Arthur Slade: In grade 8 I wrote a story about a boy who gets zapped into a video game.

Books & WritingWere you inspired by someone or something?

Arthur Slade: Ray Bradbury's writing. Stephen King's writing. Arthur C. Clarke's writing. And my parents, at least in the sense that they were always supportive. Oh, and my 11th grade teacher who gave me 100% on a short story.

Books & WritingWhat do you love about writing a story?

Arthur Slade: The joy of creating something that didn't exist before. In many ways the characters and the world become as real as...well...the real world. Or at least they have the same weight and tangibility while you are creating the book (and I hope while you're reading it, too).

Books & WritingWhat attracts you in adventure?

Arthur Slade: I always want to know what happens next. There is almost an addiction to the Indian Jones'-like action. First this happens, then that happens, then there's a cliff hanger. You almost want to shout at the page: WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? 

Books & Writing
Can you tell us something about your book “Empire of Ruins: The Hunchback Assignments 3” and the main character Modo?

Arthur Slade: The novel is set in Australia in Victorian times. Modo is a hunchback with a special "evolutionary" ability: he can shift his shape and look like other people. But he always has to go back to being himself. So he has been raised by a British lord to be a secret agent for the British Empire. In this book he and his companions are searching for a secret Egyptian device called the God Face that will bring madness to your enemies. It is apparently hidden in an abandoned Egyptian temple in the Australian rainforest. As we all know the Egyptians tried to colonize Australia. Or did I just make that up?

Books & WritingCan you also tell us a bit about the other books you’ve written.

Arthur Slade: I have fifteen other novels. There are two more in The Hunchback Assignments series. The remainder range from an exploration of high school's grad week (TRIBES) to a supernatural story set in the 1930's (DUST) and a novel inspired by my grandfather's experiences in Palestine in World War One (Megiddo's Shadow). And the rest fall somewhere around those three novels.

Books & WritingHow does it feel to have a book published that you worked so hard on.

Arthur Slade: It's always a wonderful feeling. Finally the work has all become something real: a book. Of course in the back of my head I'm always wondering...did I forget something? Did I make an obvious mistake?

Books & WritingAre you working on something new?

Arthur Slade: Yes, a novel called Flickers that is set in Hollywood in the 1920's. It's a supernatural story. Very creepy.

Books & WritingDo you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Arthur Slade: Writing is  a marathon. You wouldn't just jump up one day and run a marathon. So run a little bit every day and eventually you'll find yourself near the end of the race...or more importantly near the end of finishing a book.

Books & WritingWhich author inspires you?

Arthur Slade: It changes every day. Whoever has come up with something new and exciting. Though Ray Bradbury was a big influence as far as inspiring me to become a writer.

Books & WritingWhere can people go and read your work?

Arthur Slade: It is available in bookstores in a variety of countries and as ebooks online.

Books & WritingWhere can people find you on internet?

Arthur Slade: Http://www.arthurslade.com

Books & WritingIs there anything else you want to share with the readers?

Arthur Slade: Keep on reading! It's what makes the world go round.

Below is an excerpt from his book Empire of Ruins: The Hunchback Assignments 3! And don't forget to leave a reply below that!

Prologue: A Savage Pursuit

In a Queensland rain forest, over ten thousand miles from London, Modo leaned his humped back against a strangler fig tree. He bound his handkerchief tightly around the stump of the little finger on his left hand. The sabre cut had been clean and he was surprised there hadn’t been much blood. The pain threatened to cloud his every thought. But he’d been trained to ignore pain and so, with several deep breaths, he cleared his mind. He had other tasks to perform.

The first was to test for broken bones. There were scratches and bruises, of course—one would expect that after falling from such a great height—but after systematically checking he found his bones intact. The goggles had prevented his misshapen eyes from being poked out and his thin wooden African mask had saved the rest of his face from any deep gouges. His hands had been burned to blisters from lifting the boiler, but they would heal.

He did find a large thorn in his shoulder and grimaced as he pulled it out and tossed it aside. He’d been convinced as he plummeted earthward that death was waiting for him on the rain-forest floor. But Fate had been kind. He couldn’t even attribute his survival to his acrobatic skills, because he had been screaming and flapping his arms all the way down like a frightened gosling.

The sky, the sun, and the airship battle above were blocked by the canopy of branches, vines and leaves. Even the rumbling of steam-powered engines had disappeared. He panicked a little when he thought of his companions. Was his fellow agent Octavia still alive? His master Mr. Socrates? Were they even now dodging the gunfire of the enemy? He pictured Octavia wounded, and nearly burst out with a sob of fear.

Snap to! he told himself. Keep the mind steady. Be in the present. These were the words Tharpa, his weapons master, had drilled into him. Think about what needs to be done, not what you cannot change. Those words belonged to Mr. Socrates.

maandag 19 maart 2012

Interview with authors Cheri & Peter Lucking

Hi all!

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing writers couple Cheri & Peter Lucking about their books and writing :)

Books & WritingCan you tell us a little bit about yourself.

Cheri & Peter Lucking: We've worked hard to become Amazon Best Selling Authors and Illustrators and in the process we've been blessed to win 3 book awards.  Indie Excellence Award for Best Holiday Book, and finalist for Best Children's Book Cover Design.  Most recently we were awarded the Children's Literary Classic Seal of Approval. 

We love to develop our books as a team from conception to final implementation.  We truly enjoy working together and our goal is to bring joy and laughter through our writing and illustrations. 

Books & WritingDo you remember the first story you wrote?

Cheri, I wrote my first piece when I was 10.  Inspired by my Science teacher who also taught a creative writing course on Friday's.  My first poem went like this:

I like the way the birds sing,

the way they always do their thing

Sometimes when they're sitting in a tree,

I can hear them say, let's go sit on her knee

Of course this is all in my head,

For always think of this in bed

I go to sleep and dream all night,

About all the birds who are curled up tight.

Peter, the first story I wrote was the original story of Santa & the Little Teddy Bear.  As a young boy at school at school everyone regarded my written English as being absolutely atrocious.  Diagnosed later in years with dyslexia I embarked on a journey to overcome my writing challenges. 

Books & WritingWere you inspired by someone or something?

Cheri, I have always loved the written word, reading, looking up words in the dictionary, practicing new words in sentences. I also love the texture of different types of paper and enjoy writing with different colored markers to form my letters.   I love to write in my journals. 

Santa & the Little Teddy Bear was not completed until 2009. 

Peter, On a cold wintery English night in 2008, we were singing carols at the family reunion when one of our nieces asked  if I could tell the story of Christ's birth.  I sang a medley of songs.  That night Mum had left my old tattered manuscript of Santa & the Little Teddy Bear- by the bedside.  The combinations of events inspired me to rewrite the tale into a chapter book.

Books & WritingCan you tell us a bit about your children’s books. 

Cheri & Peter Lucking: They're fun and whimsical and are taking on a life of their own.  Each story we write has a number of hidden messages or morals.  Each story is an action packed adventure that endears you to our characters.  Our new series of Bilbo's Adventures books are designed for the young reader to read on their own.  The images tell the story.  A quick glance at the images will give the reader an idea of what the written words say.

Books & WritingDo you write on the stories together? 

Cheri & Peter Lucking: Yes.  We start with the basic idea, and develop the concepts together.  Both in the story layouts and the images. 

Books & WritingHow did you come up with the idea for the books?

Cheri & Peter Lucking: We are inspired by our own childhood. As we observe children around us it reminds us of the child within.  From Bilbo's Adventures:  A Christmas Wish, to our upcoming book Bilbo's Adventures:  Crazy Fun we find inspiration in everything.  We start with a simple idea, the broad concept of the book and weave it into magical adventures.

Books & WritingWhat attracts you in Children’s stories? 

Cheri & Peter Lucking: Great character development, a good plot line, surprise, fun, colorful illustrations and a great twist.

Books & WritingAre you planning to write for a mature audience in time? 

Cheri & Peter Lucking: Yes.  Actually our first book Santa & the Little Teddy Bear was aimed at a mature audience. It was written for the adult to read and interact with their children in the way that a Hans Christian Anderson or Charles Dickens' story is delivered.. Perhaps later we will write a great novel.

Books & WritingWhat made you decide to donate 10% of net proceeds to children's charities? 

Cheri & Peter Lucking: Our whole platform is supporting children; the future adults of tomorrow.  We are not just limited to an individual charity.  Our ultimate goal is to share many proceeds with qualified multiple children's organizations.  The joy we personally experienced this past holiday season when we were invited to visit Children's Hospital with our costumed Bilbo the Little Teddy Bear.  We presented books to as many children as we could who were sick in the hospital and wouldn't be home for Christmas.  The smiles on their little faces was priceless. 

Books & WritingWhere do you see yourself in a couple of years in relation to writing?

Cheri & Peter Lucking: We strive to win the Caldecott Award and would love to win the Hans Christian Anderson Award.  Whatever happens we see ourselves being extremely successful and being able to share that success with children.

Books & WritingAre you working on something new at the moment? 

Cheri & Peter Lucking: Yes, our literary agent Pauline Vilain has submitted five new titles to top children's publishers in New York.  Presently we are working independently on them waiting anxiously for a deal.  We believe for us to take the next step for the future we need to be working with a whole experienced team to take us to the next level.

Books & WritingDo you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Cheri & Peter Lucking: Being independent authors and illustrators we have personally tried everything.  We wrote and illustrated our books.  We've taken many courses on marketing to Amazon optimization.  We printed and published our books in hard cover, soft cover and digital formats, bank rolling each one ourselves. 

Here is our advice and tips for any aspiring author; keep it simple, put your first book out in a digital format like Kindle which will keep your overhead down. Maximize your potential on Amazon while you test the market your material.  Look for a good agent to represent you because that is the only way you will get your foot in the door of a notable publishing house.

Books & WritingWhich author inspires you?

Cheri & Peter Lucking: Inspired by children's authors including Dr. Seuss, Hans Christian Anderson, Dean Morrissey, Beatrice Potter, J.K. Rawlings.

Adult authors -Dr. Wayne Dyer, Anthony Robbins, Barbara Taylor Bradford, John Grisham, Kathleen Tassaro, Napoleon Hill.

Books & WritingWhat is the last book you read?

Cheri & Peter Lucking: The Bible,  On Being God - Carl Boseman,The Wisdom of Wallace D. Wattles.

Books & WritingFavorite Children's Movies?

Cheri & Peter Lucking: Rio, Kung Fu Panda,

Books & WritingWhere can people go and read your work?

Cheri & Peter Lucking: Amazon World Wide, Barnes and Noble

Books & WritingWhere can people find you on internet?

Cheri & Peter Lucking: Amazon World Wide, Barnes and Noble, our webpage:  http://www.BilbosAdventures.com

Books & WritingIs there anything else you want to share with the readers?

Cheri & Peter Lucking: It is very important in this day and age that we continue the tradition of reading books to our children.  We can get to lost on the computer, the TV and all the electronic gadgets that can take up our time.  One on one time with your child is a memory that your child will never forget.  Making old fashioned memories.

Below is an excerpt from the book Bilbo's Adventures:  A Christmas Wish!

Back at the Castle at the top of the world

More presents were being wrapped and the candy swirled

The Elves were excited and ready to cheer

They had just said goodbye to the last reindeer

vrijdag 16 maart 2012

Interview with author P.B. Dillon

Hi all!

My latest interview is with author P.B. Dillon who was kind enough to answer my questions :)

Books & WritingCan you tell us a little bit about yourself.

P.B. Dillon: When a friend once asked if I’d continue to write if I was stuck on a deserted island with no hope of rescue (but with a pen and some paper), I thought about it for a moment and said, “Well, sure. Why wouldn’t I?”
That’s how it’s been for me ever since I was a kid. It’s like having a chronic disease; I know life would be easier if I didn’t have it, but I do. So all I can do is manage it, feed it from time to time, try not to let it get out of control, and hope for the best.

At the moment, that means spending my mornings working on fiction, and the afternoons putting together corporate communications for the company I work for. It’s a pretty good balance.

Other details: I live in New Zealand, which might sound exotic but is really just like anywhere else except that travel costs more. I’m married to a wonderful woman who doesn’t quite understand why I do what I do, but at least tolerates it without complaint. I’ve won awards for my writing, both nationally and beyond—but the last time I entered anything was years ago.

Books & WritingDo you remember the first story you wrote?

P.B. Dillon: The very first story I remember writing was in primary school. I was about eight years old, and I can still remember being excited. Possibly too excited, given that I had no clue at all what to write about.

In the end, I wrote a story about someone who lived under the ocean. It was quite long—more than twelve hundred words, I think. I can’t remember the plot, but I do remember that it was inflicted on my classmates by being read out loud.

I hate to think now of all the things I’d done wrong, but it’s interesting that even then my genre of choice was fantasy.

Books & WritingWere you inspired by someone or something?

P.B. Dillon: Interesting question. I’m constantly inspired by everything I see. Snippets of conversation lead to ideas. Something I’m reading—or watching (I’m a big fan of film)—will trigger a thought. If I’m lucky, I’ll capture these moments of inspiration and perhaps lock them away in the back of my mind, for use later on.

But if you’re asking if I was inspired to write, well, that’s different. I can’t say that any one thing inspired me to do that. It’s always just been there; it’s who I am, and who I always will be, regardless of what level of success I achieve with it.

I can, however, remember the moment when that desire first awoke. I wouldn’t call it inspiration exactly, but rather a kind of recognition. I was very young, about four years old, and I was watching a TV show about the process of writing a book. I was enthralled, and from that moment on I knew what I wanted to do. 

Books & WritingWhat do you love about writing a story?

P.B. Dillon: Everything. I love creating the characters, building the worlds, developing the plot, weaving in themes and everything else.

I even enjoy the process of sitting down at my laptop, bringing it all o life and watching it grow. I’m partway through a new story now, and am just at that stage of having created enough to know it’ll work and it’ll be good. Now I’m looking forward to finishing it off.

Books & WritingWhat attracts you in Fantasy?

P.B. Dillon: Fantasy is the genre I grew up most wanting to read. The stories are simply more magical than you can find anywhere else.

Interestingly, there’s still a stigma associated with writing fantasy tales. Literary writers tend to look down their noses at fantasy writers. But for me, fantasy offers the greatest challenge—much more so than any other genre.

You see, fantasy novelists are still required to create believable characters who live and breathe and leap off the page, just like every other sort of novelist. But with fantasy, you also have to create a believable world, complete with its own set of rules.

You can’t get more exciting than that.

Books & WritingCan you tell us something about your book “MAGE-WROUGHT”, which i understand is part of a series, and the main character Lito?

P.B. Dillon: Mage-Wrought is my favourite story that I’ve written. It’s a serious fantasy story, and I think it’s great! (Am I allowed to say that if I wrote it?)

Anyway, Lito is the main character, and he’s unlike any other main character you’ve ever seen. He is a construct given life by the Theurgist Gavin. He’s of a golem—not Gollum from the Lord of the rings, but a man made of clay brought to life. His purpose, as defined by Garvin, is to protect Tyrealla, Garvin’s daughter—and he’s been given the skills he will need to achieve this.

It won’t be easy, because Lito, Garvin and Tyrealla live in a castle that’s about to be attacked by the Kelits, fierce warriors who paint themselves blue and file their teeth. Their leader is a Dark Mage who will stop at nothing to accomplish his goal.
The Dark Mage seeks immortality – which he believes he can gain through the use of a jewel that forms part of Tyrealla’s favourite necklace.
Added to this are the complications that Lord Cirovan believes Lito was made to protect him, Tyrealla treats him as if he were repulsive, and, because of how he came into being, Lito doubts that he qualifies as fully human.

Will Lito be able to help defeat the invading Kelits? Will he be able to save Tyrealla from the Dark Mage? Will he win her over, or learn to accept who and what he is?

That’s what this story—and the series—is about. It’s a heroic fantasy, similar in many respects to the stories of David Gemmell, but different as well.

Books & WritingHow does it feel to have a book published that you worked so hard on.

P.B. Dillon: Great. There’s a satisfaction to having brought something into the world that’s totally new. There’s no other feeling like it.

Books & WritingAre you working on something new?

P.B. Dillon: Always. I’m the type of writer who constantly has a number of projects on the go. At the moment, I’m working on a sequel to my first book (The Mage’s Servant), another in the Mage-Wrought Warrior series, and have started to plot a complex, multi-book tale that spans the universe, crosses science fiction and fantasy, and is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

But mostly I’m working on a humorous fantasy novel featuring a very mischievous character who counts a dragon as part of his ancestry. It’s a laugh-out-loud romp, and the first draft is getting close to being complete. Perhaps in another month or so?

Books & WritingDo you have any tips for aspiring writers?

P.B. Dillon: There are many, many tips I’ve picked up over the years, but the one that really influences everything I do is this: “Nobody wants to read what you write.”

That’s the truth. These days, everyone is too busy to read. We don’t read emails all the way through, we don’t read news stories all the way through, we pretty much don’t read anything.  And yet, authors constantly have the belief that what they’re writing is so important, so wonderful, that everyone will make an exception just for it, and read every word.

Unfortunately, they won’t—unless you make them. Give them the story they want to read, and present it in a way that they want.

That’s your job. Succeed, and you’ve made it.

Books & WritingWhich author inspires you?

P.B. Dillon: Many, many authors have inspired me, from the greats consigned to history through to some of those who are struggling even now. If I have to narrow it down to one, then for me Stephen King takes the crown. He’s fantastic with story, but also very good with the art of writing itself—and that’s something it seems people regularly fail to see.

Books & WritingWhere can people go and read your work?

P.B. Dillon: Amazon, mostly.

They have this thing called KDP Select, and to sign up to that (which I have), they demand exclusivity for a while and I’ve still got a few months left. This is my author page:


You can also read the occasional short story (along with a few other things) on Scribd:


Books & WritingWhere can people find you on internet?

P.B. Dillon: I don’t have a Facebook page, but I’m around on many other places. I’ve recently set up a Twitter page, and am most active there: @PBDillonAuthor.

Your other best option is my website: http://pbdillon.com.

Click on the next link to open an extract from the book MAGE-Wrought. Mage-wrought-extract