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Interview with Lela Markham   Leave a comment

My son suggested that for book release week, I interview myself. So I answered all the questions and he helped me organize them.

 


Hi, I’m Kyle and I am interviewing my mother this week. Welcome to the blog, Lela Markham. Tell us something about yourself.

Hi, I am Lela and this feels weird. I grew up in Alaska where I still live. I’ve traveled, but this is home. Alaska is like no other place on earth. We challenge ourselves just going to work every day in the winter, but it is also a culture where people have a deep respect for the right of others to pursue their own lives without asking permission from their neighbors.

 

Author pic ditch close-up (1)At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer?

My parents were avid readers. Mom used to joke that if Dad built a house, there’d be no windows because he wouldn’t want to waste the wall space. So I became an avid reader by second grade. Apparently I told stories as soon as I could talk. I used to make up imaginative realms for my friends and cousins so that those playtimes in the basement were more fun. Then I started writing them down. I’m not sure I decided to become a writer. I think I may have been born a writer, but I wrote down a story for the first time when I was 12, for a class assignment. I hated the process because it was very narrowly defined, but it ignited a passion that has been part of my life ever since.

 

Tell us about your writing process.

It’s sort of unprocessed. I work full time and I have a family, so I write when I can, as I can. A lot of my “writing” happens when I’m doing boring aspects of my money job. Data entry is a great imagination stoker. So is filing.

When I sit down to write though, I like to listen to music that seems appropriate to the genre or the scene. Since my books usually have multiple story lines, I usually write one line at a time maybe halfway through the book and then go back and write another line interwoven within the first line. Then I repeat with the other lines. Then I pick up the story, decide where it needs to end and start writing the second half of the book.

I do go back to read what I’ve written before I go forward and I’ll change obvious errors, but I don’t really do any editing until I’ve reached the end of the book. I set the book aside for a while … go work on another book, go hiking, sew a quilt … and then I come back and read the book all the way through is if I’ve never seen it before. It’s usually pretty bare-bones … it tends to be a lot of dialogue or character thoughts, so I start considering adding setting, action, and taking out boring bits. When I finish that, I give the book to some beta readers and go do something else. When the beta critiques come back, I read the book once more, incorporating the edits. I go do something else for a day or two – not long because the end is in sight now and I really want to get there. I read the book one more time and then print it out and ask you and your Dad to read it with a red pen in hand. When that’s done and I’ve incorporated your suggestions and repairs, I start formatting for print and ebook.

 

Willow Branch Blue White Recreation CoverWhat is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

I love to read fantasy, science fiction, dystopian and mysteries. I write in multiple genres, but I have only published in fantasy and dystopian … for now.

 

What are you passionate about?

Jesus Christ as Savior is my first passion, followed closely by my family and writing, and then by my commitment to personal liberty. Without liberty, we really are slaves to someone else and can easily find ourselves denied freedom of faith, speech and association.

 

What is something you cannot live without?

My salvation and the ability to write.

 

Front Cover LAWKI no windowWhen you are not writing, what do you do?

Alaskans divide our lives by the seasons. In the winter, I quilt and sometimes help with home improvements. I like to cook, watch television, attend the North American Sled Dog Championship and I love to read. In the summer, we hike, ride bicycles, and are building a cabin set in a 10-acre blueberry field guarded by a grizzly bear. We also like to canoe, we grow vegetables and perennials and read out on the deck at all hours of the day or night (since the sun doesn’t go down). We also love to dipnet for salmon on the Copper River. It’s a mighty and awe-inspiring river and the salmon are well worth the risks … as are the blueberries and cabin.

 

Have you written any books that made a transformative effect on you? If so, in what way?

Yes, Transformation Project (Life As We Knew It is Book 1 of the series) has exerted an enormous influence on my political philosophy. I’ve been on a slow journey from being a moderate with conservative leanings through conservativism to voluntaryist libertarian with anarchist admirations. It all started with thinking about what it would take to fundamentally transform the United States as we knew it. The more I researched, the more concerned I came for our country and the more I realized that much of the national culture is enslaved. If something happened to disrupt the supply and authority lines, people would not know what to do and bad things would issue from that.

 

Where do you get the inspiration for your novels?

Daermad Cyle, my fantasy, was really inspired by reading a lot of fantasy and listening to Enya on a rainy Alaska summer day.

Transformation Project is really from the newspapers and the excellent resources you can find if you look for them.

 

Front Cover RedWhat sort of research do you do for your novels?

Daermad Cycle (The Willow Branch and Mirklin Wood) is based in a world that is not Earth, though it shares some similarities. Mostly, I researched Celtic gods, Medieval society, and then any questions that come up as I’m writing – what colors a horse can see matters if your horse is sentient.

Transformation Project (Life As We knew It with Objects in View coming out later in the year) requires a lot more research. It seems like almost everything I try to do with this story causes me to look at topics I’m not adequately versed in. Suitcase nukes … rural airports … the Interstate Highway System … corn farming in the Midwest … it’s all a lot of research.

 

If someone who hasn’t read any of your novels asked you to describe your writing, what would you say?

I love character-driven stories, so you will always find strong characters in my stories. I’m a character driving writer because that’s how a story presents itself to me — a character comes into my mind that wants to tell me their story. Plot has a place, but it’s not the priority.

 

Do you write from an outline or are you a discovery writer?  Why?

I am a discovery writer. I really don’t know how to start from an outline, which might be why I can’t finish a mystery. I do use a loose outline on my second draft.

 

What point of view do you prefer to write, and why?

I prefer 3rd person with the ability to switch between character POVs. It’s just a more flexible way to write. I limit myself to one POV per scene, but I wouldn’t want limit myself to a single “head” for an entire 120,000-word novel. Way too limiting.

 

I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

Okay, I tried to skip this question because I thought it was silly to ask an Alaskan this question, but Kyle insisted. It’s a required question.

I would assume there’s no electricity or nothing beyond a LED light system, so I would leave my laptop at home. Since I’m really trying to write a mystery, I would bring several paperback mysteries based in the 1920s and two notebooks. In one, I’d write all my observations about the mysteries I’m reading. The other notebook would be for my own writing because I couldn’t forgo that for a month.

I’d also bring my hiking boots and camera and probably a net hat to control the mosquitoes. I would look forward to exploring the area. Another item I would bring would be my 357 because a remote cabin usually means bears and sometimes upset moose, so I’d want the ability to protect myself if needed.

 

Talk about your books individually.

Daermad Cycle is my fantasy series, set in the alternative-Earth world of Daermad, which is not Earth, but is connected to Earth in some way that allows Earth people to get there. The indigenous populations were stressed by the arrival of these other races, displaced and marginalized on the edge of the Kingdom of Celdrya, which was built by the Celtic invaders. Now a vengeful Celtic goddess is fomenting an invasion by more powerful enemies and the people of Celdrya must find a way to survive that, possibly by working with those they have subjugated in the past.

The Willow Branch starts the story, introduces the Kingdom and their neighbors and the risk. It occurs in two time lines — show the past destruction of the royal family, which has left Celdrya vulnerable to attack — and then the present as there is an effort to find the True King and re-establish the Kingdom before the invaders sweep over them.

Mirklin Wood continues the story, showing the aftermath of a nasty spell cast by black mages. It introduces a few new characters and really begins to show the politics and factions that are as much a risk as the looming Svard.

I also have a short story in the Breakwater Harbor Books anthology, a peek into the novel realms of the cooperative’s authors – Gateways. Mine is Pivot of Fate and it tells a story that is alluded to in The Willow Branch and has great importance to some of the characters in Mirklin Wood.

Transformation Project starts out with a series of terrorist attacks that disrupts the world we live in. Going forward, we’ll see the larger society breakdown, but it really will be a celebration of the individual’s ability to cope with the support of the small group.

Life As We Knew It introduces the main characters and the town of Emmaus Kansas and really ends with the first aftermath of the terrorist attack. Objects in View will show what comes after.

 

Was it your intention to write a story with a message or a moral?

Yes. Daermad Cycle warns that you need to learn from history or you might repeat it.

Transformation Project really explores what is wrong with our society and what might happen if we don’t take some clear-eyed steps to prevent it.

 

What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

I hope they feel that they have visited a richly detailed world filled with people they could enjoy knowing.

 

What influenced your decision to self-publish?

I got tired of rejection. I’m a Christian author who doesn’t write Christian genre literature. That makes it surprisingly difficult to find a niche. I was hearing that I am a good writer with a good story, but I needed to either be a Christian author or a non-Christian one. I couldn’t see how I could do either and be true to myself or the stories I want to tell. Self-publishing became attractive for the control it gives me to tell my own stories without gatekeepers.

 

There are people who believe that traditional publishing is on the ropes, that self-publishing is the future. Do you agree? Why?

I believe traditional publishing has lacked competition for too long. They had this pentopoly that could control the publishing industry, decide what books and what authors had a chance to be heard by the world. They could make ridiculous anti-capitalistic rules like you have to have an agent.

They were completely unprepared for the indie revolution, but individual authors by themselves are not really competition for these behemoth companies. In time, I think we’ll see more indies forming author cooperatives because these allow groups of authors to make use of each other’s strengths while not giving up the liberty that self-publishing provides.

 

What do you find to be the greatest advantage of self-publishng?

Control of my product from first word to publication. I know authors who have gone through publishers and were very unhappy with some aspect of their book’s final product and then were unable to change it. I can make needed changes when I need to.

 

What do you think self-published authors might be missing out on?

Professional discipline and marketing assistance. I strive to put out the best books I can, but I see a lot of indie books out there that suffer from a lack of editing, proofreading, cover design and formatting. If you lack the ability to do some of these things, pay the money for someone else to do it for you. It’s worth it … if you can afford it. But at the very least, proofread your manuscript.

The best marketing might be a good book cover and well-written blurb, but I believe the big publishing companies do help their authors with marketing, even if it is only with the cache of their name.

 

With the number of self-published books increasing by such a huge rate, it is really difficult for authors to make their books stand out. How do you go about this?

I try to have a really attractive cover and a well-written blurb. I’m not able to afford a lot of advertising, but I do what I can. I try to be very generous with my blog to other authors. I believe in the Biblical dictum of casting your bread upon the water and lettigng God return it in His good time.

 

Who designed your book cover/s?

It’s been a group effort that I now largely do on my own. Your sister the artist got me started by doing a cover for The Willow Branch back in the Authonomy days, but when I decided to publish, I never got a reply from the artist on my request to use his image. So Bri found another similar painting from the 1800s that was public domain. She was off traveling with the bluegrass band when I finished my second book Life As We Knew It. I got a friend of hers to show me how he created a cover. Drew insisted I could do it too if I tired. Right after I published LAWKI, I suffered a catastrophic hardware failire that affected my backup, so I had to put those new skills to work because my cover images were gone.

Since I’ve now done five of them, I think I’m getting decent at it.

 

 

Do you believe that self-published authors can produce books as high-quality as the traditional published? If so, how do you think we should go about that?

 I do, actually. It’s not easy. You can’t take it for granted and you have to be willing to spend a lot of effort toward it. I have a background in journalism, so I came to the publication game with skills that some writers don’t have. It pays to know your limits. There are things I can’t do. I want to do an audio version of my book, but I can’t do that myself. Other people can’t be their own editors or their own cover designers. When you get to something you can’t do, admit it and find someone else who can do it for you. It might cost money, but that is a cost of doing business as a publisher.

 

Do you belong to a writer’s cooperative? Describe your experience with that.

I belong to Breakwater Harbor Books which has been helpful for finding beta readers and review swaps. It’s nice to have a support group. I’ve used the Booktrap for market cooperation. BHB will continue to be my publisher of record and I’m now moving into Books Go Social and Clean Indie Reads for an expanded marketing.

 

As a Christian, do you write specifically for a Christian audience? Why or why not?

I don’t. I take the advice of C.S. Lewis that Christians should seek to write the very best stories we can write and let our worldview shine through without preaching, which just mucks up the story. I want a larger audience than just a Christian audience, but I also think too much emphasis on my beliefs is not necessary if my stories are good.

 

What are some of the special challenges of being a Christian writer?

There is a coercive desire among Christian readers and publishes to force Christian writers into a certain mold that creates a false impression of Christians in general. We don’t become perfect when we’re saved and our lives are not without conflict. Sometimes we sin and sometimes we encounter good people who are reprobates and nominal Christians who are wool-heads. I want to show that, but sometimes my Christian beta readers don’t like it.

 

Christians are told to be “in the world, but not of it.” As a Christian writer, how do you write to conform to that scripture?

I try to write flinch-free literature. I reference sex, but I don’t detail it. I go light on details where violence is part of the narrative. But I also try to be honest about sin and its consequences. I don’t want to deny the power of sin the world, while also hoping that I show God’s majesty in the world.

 

Do you feel that Christian writers are expected to conform to some standards that are perhaps not realistic to the world?

Yeah. When I was looking for an agent, I got a few well meaning notes explaining that I was a good writer with a good story, but that a Christian author couldn’t deal with sex or violence and still be a Christian author. The world is broken and Christian agents and publishers want us to ignore that. It’s not realistic.

 

Do you feel that Christian writers should focus on writing really great story or on presenting the gospel clearly in everything they write? Or is it possible to do both?

We should also be true to what we believe, but our primary focus as writers should be on writing good stories. I believe we can do both, but our first goal should be to write a great story. If we truly walk with Jesus Christ, our worldview can’t help but shine through.

 

If you write speculative fiction, do you find that the Christian reader community is accepting of that genre?

I know lots of Christians who read fantasy, but there are very few Christian authors who write in the speculative fiction genres. I don’t see my Christian reader friends stocking their shelves with those Christian spec fic authors. Admittedly, there are some bad and schloch books, but they don’t jump for the good authors either. Or if they do, its a guilty pleasure for some reason. So I think the Christian reader is a bit double-minded on the subject. They want to read about magic and all that, but they don’t want Christian writers to be the source of that magic and fantasy.

 

 ALWAYS include links, author photos, and cover art. It makes for a prettier interview and readers want to find you and your books.

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Lela Markham

The Willow Branch

Mirklin Wood

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Interview with Sarah Butfield   5 comments

Today’s interview is with Sarah Jane Butfield, author of a lot of books. Welcome to the blog. Tell us something about yourself. 

Butfield Sarah SoloThanks for the invitation Lela, I am originally from rural Suffolk in East Anglia, UK. I was born in Ipswich, but we lived in small village called Stonham Aspal where I also attended primary school. We later moved back to Ipswich when I was in college studying my pre-nursing course. My nursing years were spent in Colchester, Essex and Liskeard in Cornwall. Later we lived in Australia and then France. I am a bit of a gypsy! After 28 years as a registered nurse working in all sorts of healthcare establishments I am now a full time author and freelance writer which makes me very happy and pays the bills. I am also a mentor to new and aspiring authors via my website and social media groups called Rukia Publishing, providing a range of free service to help author navigate the early days of book promotion. I am married, third time lucky with 4 children and 3 step children, all grown up and spreading their wings into the big wide world, but always finding time to skype or visit mum! I am also now a first time grandma which is so fulfilling. Baby Shane is eight months old and he lights up my world with his baby smiles and chuckles.

 

Butfield SarahAt what point did you know you wanted to be a writer?

At school I was absolutely rubbish at English, but I needed it for entry to the school of nursing so I had to persevere with it. In college I studied English literature and that really started my love of books.

 

Tell us about your writing process.

I like to write the first draft without editing, but I am really bad at sticking to my own rules because I am always afraid I will miss or forget that sudden editing thought by the second time around! I have my beta readers start reading from the first draft so that I can get chronology and facts correct as they are the best at spotting where I get carried away in my head and change timelines!

 

Bufield Glass Half FullWhat is your favourite genre … to read … to write?

My favourite to read at the moment is crime novels which is not usual for me but I received one as a gift and became hooked on the series. In my writing life I write memoirs and nonfiction but I love to read this genre too so it’s like a busman’s holiday!

 

What are you passionate about?

Healthy eating and enjoying food.

 

What is something you cannot live without?

My family and my dogs are the backbone to my life and I can’t imagine being without them in my life.

If I had to name an object/thing that I couldn’t live without it would be coffee!

 

Butfield Two DogsOh, coffee! So necessary for life! When you are not writing, what do you do?

I am terrible at leaving my writing alone, but as a new grandma to a beautiful grandson who is now 8 months old I spend as much time as possible with him because he changes so quickly and recently started crawling. Happy daysJ

 

Have you written any books that made a transformative effect on you? If so, in what way?

I think writing my first book Glass Half Full had a transformative effect because I never planned to be a nonfiction author but I had to download the story in my heart and the ripple effect on my life since I published it has been amazing.

 

Butfield FrugalIf someone who hasn’t read any of your books asked you to describe your writing, what would you say?

I write a combination of travel and nursing memoirs all based on my life and experiences. They are honest and revealing which opens me and my work up to criticism of my life choices, parenting methods and career choices, but it’s been my life and there was no road map issued so I found my own way as we all do.

The new author series I am currently publishing is aimed at aspiring and debut authors and it hopefully acts as a self help guide in which authors can find out what I tried, what worked, what didn’t and learn some of the tips I have picked up from networking with experienced self-published authors along the way.

 

Butfield Accidental AuthorDo you have a special place where you write?

I do now!  We recently made one of the bedrooms into an office. It overlooks our garden as I don’t like to see and hear traffic so this is ideal. It also keeps my notebooks, maps and research books in a more orderly fashion because until recently they took over the dining room and lounge!

 

Do you find yourself returning to any recurring themes within your writing and, if so, are you any closer to finding an answer?

It is a very cathartic exercise to write about your own life as you constantly revisit decisions, and pockets of memories from the past which you thought were well and truly buried. On a positive note that helps you to finally work through why you did what you did and what you learned from it!

 

Butfield Dogs

I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

Wow, thanks I love to travel and visit new places so I will have a travel journal ready to record everything I see and experience, my camera and for a month I would need several good books on my kindle plus a couple of paperbacks because I love holding a book. The paperback books would include something from Bill Bryson, Cathy Glass and James Patterson and my kindle is my indie only zone, so packed with awesome indie titles from all genres!

 

Talk about your books individually.

Butfield AmateurGlass Half Full: Our Australian Adventure

Tells the story of a big life changing decision to move to Australia to escape a bitter ex-husband to try and build a new life. However, life events and Mother Nature decided to test us a little bit more with grief, illness in the form of TB, CRPS and PTSD topped off by losing our home and belongings in the Brisbane floods of 2011.

Two Dogs and A Suitcase: Clueless in Charente

In this book readers pick up the story as we arrive in France for another new start nearer to our grown up children. The highs and lows of living and trying to find work in a country where you don’t speak the language while dealing with the continuous stream of family dramas.

Our Frugal Summer in Charente: an Expats Kitchen Garden Journal

This is a light hearted spin-off from two dogs and deals directly with the actions we took to survive with little money in a house with no bathroom or kitchen. We converted piece of meadow into a vegetable garden and learned how to grow, eat, preserve and forage for survival. It’s a fun read where a clumsy expat woman (that’s me) who can burn water had to become a culinary goddess to keep her family fed. There were a few mishaps along the way, especially with the foraging of wild mushrooms, but it’s got recipes, gardening tips and funny stories about hens ducks and cooking disasters.

The Accidental Author and The Amateur Authorpreneur are books 1 & 2 in a new series aimed at aspiring or debut authors, but becoming increasingly popular with experienced authors experiencing the need to spread their wings and increase exposure in the world of social media.

 

Was it your intention to write a story with a message or a moral?

No, but I am glad that readers find my books inspirational and motivates them to follow their travel or writing dreams.

 

What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

I don’t have any preconceived ideas of what readers might think or feel after reading the travel memoirs in particular. They document my personal and physical journey through periods in my life when a series of challenging life events tested us on many levels. Some will empathise with our journey, relate to some of the parenting issues we encounter. Some may just love to read about places they have never been or aspire to visit so everyone potentially thinks or feels something different from the process of reading our stories.

 

What influenced your decision to self-publish?

A single rejection and an inspirational indie author network on Authonomy and Facebook who gave me the confidence to tell my story. I haven’t looked back since. I love the autonomy of deciding my content the revision, covers etc.

 

Thank you so much for a great interview Lela and if you ever want to drop me in Alaska then I will get my books packed J

Sarah Jane

 

That cabin is supposed to be built this summer. In the meantime, people are always welcome to crash at our house.

So where to readers find you?

 

 Subscribe to my newsletter for updates, competitions and sneak previews – http://eepurl.com/0IuML

Sarah Jane’s blog and website:

http://sarahjanebutfield.wix.com/sarahjanebutfield
http://sarahjanebutfield-glass-half-full.blogspot.co.uk/
Follow Sarah Jane on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/SarahJanewrites
Stop by and say hello to Sarah Jane here on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSarahJaneButfield
https://www.facebook.com/Twodogsandasuitcase
https://www.facebook.com/OurFrugalSummerinCharente
Support and networking for authors provided by Sarah Jane:
http://www.rukiapublishing.com/
https://www.facebook.com/RukiaPublishing
https://www.facebook.com/promotingauthors

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarahjane.butfield.9

Facebook fan pages:

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSarahJaneButfield

https://www.facebook.com/Twodogsandasuitcase

https://www.facebook.com/OurFrugalSummerinCharente

https://www.facebook.com/promotingauthors

https://www.facebook.com/RukiaPublishing

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rukia-Publishings-New-Series-for-authors/871211576278740

Twitter link: https://twitter.com/SarahJanewrites

https://twitter.com/RukiaPublishing

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/sjbutfield/

Book trailer https://youtu.be/CHyqRtvpv_E

Author Website: http://sarahjanebutfield.wix.com/sarahjanebutfield

Author writing blog: http://sarahjanebutfield-glass-half-full.blogspot.co.uk/

Interview with Wanda Luthman   2 comments

Today’s interview is with children’s author Wanda Luthman.. Welcome to the blog, Wanda. Tell us something about yourself.

Luthman WandaI grew up in St. Louis, MO but moved to Florida as an adult after college. I am a High School Guidance Counselor. This is my 18th year doing that job. Before that, I worked at a local Mental Health Center for 10 years doing counseling.

I’m married. We just celebrated our 20th Anniversary by taking a cruise to Alaska. It’s an amazing place and everyone should try to get there at least once in their lifetime.

I have a daughter in college that I’m very proud of. I also have 4 grown step-children whom I love dearly.

I have two yorkies—Scruffy and Tessa. They didn’t come from the same litter. Scruffy went with us to pick out Tessa.  They love each other very much! As evidenced by all their kissing! I had never seen dogs do this before!

 

So we actually have quite a lot in common. I worked in the mental health field as an administrator for 15 years and I live in Alaska, but not on the coast. We’re interior — Fairbanks. At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer? 

I wrote my first story when I was maybe 10 years old. I don’t remember exactly. I wrote a bunch of stories. I had them in the bottom drawer of  my dresser. One day, I heard my sister and her boyfriend reading something and laughing hysterically. I realized, they were my books. Now, they weren’t comedies, but I have to say, I enjoyed that people were reading my books and enjoying them! I loved Greek mythology in middle school. I had a wonderful English Lit teacher in High School and thoroughly enjoyed dissecting books. I went to college wanting to study Literature and to become a writer and even took 16 credit hours, but felt I wouldn’t be able to make a living. So, I double majored in Psychology and Sociology. I wrote my first book that I actually wanted to publish when my daughter was 5 years old. A friend encouraged me to follow my dream to become published. It took a lot of time to find someone to edit my work and figure out how and to whom to submit my work to get published. I didn’t get picked up by anyone, so I had heard about this thing called self-publishing and started checking into those companies. I felt they were all a rip off. So, I sat on it awhile longer. One day, I got an email from a company and I felt they were one I could trust so I emailed and told them I was interested. I had to wait a whole year until I had saved up enough money and then I self-published my book with them. It was an amazing feeling to hold that book in my  hands for the first time. That was last year and just a few weeks before I turned 50. I felt like that was a great present to give myself!

 

What is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

I write children’s books. Maybe because I started writing as a child and that’s just what comes naturally. But, I do love to write for children. And they are so much fun to give a presentation to or to work on a craft with at an expo.

I read mostly spiritual inspiration books. I read a book a few years ago that my Pastor wrote about contemplative mediation and it changed my life. Now, I’m hungry to get my hands on anything else related to that.

 

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about life. I want to live life to the fullest. I want to make choices and grow and learn. I don’t want to become stagnant. I want to contribute in the best possible way to this world before I leave it.

 

What is something you cannot live without?

I cannot live without my family. I love them so much. They are what makes the world go around for me.

 

When you are not writing, what do you do?

Besides work, I love to ride my bike. I’m a cyclist and I enjoy riding with my local bicycle club.

 

Have you written any books that made a transformative effect on you? If so, in what way?

Not yet, but I do intend to write my memoirs someday. I imagine that will have a transformative effect.

 

Where do you get the inspiration for your novels?

That’s part of the presentation I give to the children. Inspiration is everywhere. I get inspired by a thought, a song, a sunrise, a flower, people, animals, really just about anything will inspire me. Just tonight I heard an ice cream truck’s song playing and I thought I could write a poem about the end of summer and the sound of the ice cream truck.

 

What sort of research do you do for your novels?

Well, they are fantasy so I don’t have to do too much because it comes from inside of me.

 

If someone who hasn’t read any of your novels asked you to describe your writing, what would you say?

It’s a good moral rolled into an adventure and tucked into a fantasy

 

Do you have a special place where you write?

I can write anywhere. I write on the sofa, at my work desk (shh, don’t tell the boss), in a waiting room.

 

I get some of my best writing done waiting for airplanes or when I’ve worked myself out of paid work at my money job. Why waste time, right? Do you find yourself returning to any recurring themes within your writing and, if so, are you any closer to finding an answer?

I think my recurring theme is someone wanting something they can’t/don’t have. I do feel I’m finding the answer through contemplative meditation. It has helped quell that anxiety and find acceptance with what is.

 

Are you a plot driven or character driven writer? Why?

Plot driven. The story is exciting to me. Of course, the characters have to be believable and grow through the story. But, the story is where it is at for me.

 

Do you write from an outline or are you a discovery writer?  Why?

I’m a discovery writer. I haven’t really tried writing from an outline, but I believe somewhere inside of me is the outline, I just don’t write it down.

 

That explains it exactly. What point of view do you prefer to write, and why?

I tend to narrate a little with some dialogue from the characters thrown in

 

 

I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

After just having been there, this would be such a dream. I, of course, would be writing supplies because in Alaska you can completely unplug. It would be so fantastic to have this quiet time to myself to just sit and write. I would want some good hiking boots because I’ll need to get outside and enjoy the outdoors which is so beautiful there. This would give my brain the break it needs to continue to create and my body the exercise it needs so I stay healthy. I would bring every book I could find on contemplative meditation because Lord knows, I’d have plenty of time to practice that!

 

Talk about your books individually.

My first published book is called The Lilac Princess. This story, while it is inspired by my daughter, who is an only child just like the main character, is ultimately “my story.” I have always had a wanderlust to go somewhere I can’t go to and when I got there, I realized that’s not really where I wanted to be after all. But then, consequences occur and you have to deal with them. It’s not like anything bad, but I wanted to be grown up so bad when I was a kid and then I grew up and left home and then I cried and cried and cried because I wanted to go back home. I went back home and then I cried because it’s not the same. We’ve all been there. Then, you have to deal with forgiveness. Somewhere along the way, someone wronged you and in order to get on with your life, you have to forgive or forever be stuck. I have found forgiveness to be terribly hard to grant. So this book discusses forgiveness.

 

Was it your intention to write a story with a message or a moral?

Yes

 

What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

I want them to think about the “dragons” in their own life who have hurt them and think about granting them forgiveness not because the dragon deserves it but because when you think over your own life, you realize you need forgiveness too. Sometimes we have to give the hardest thing because it’s the most necessary.

 

What influenced your decision to self-publish?

Not getting picked up by a big company. But, now I feel it’s the greatest gift that could have ever happened. I love the Indie Community and knowing what I know now about having to market anyway, well, why would you spend all that time marketing so other people can pocket money off your creativity and hard work?

 

 

There are people believe that traditional publishing is on the ropes, that self-publishing is the future. Do you agree? Why?

I think they can both co-exist

 

What do you find to be the greatest advantage of self-publishing?

Retaining my rights as an author as well as profits. Plus, the self-satisfaction of doing it from the ground up. The wonderful support from other Indie authors. I have met such wonderfully giving people on this road that I would have never met otherwise. I’m truly grateful for this experience.

 

Conversely, what do you think self-published authors might be missing out on?

I would think that you get more connections and publicity from being with a big company but I’m not really sure that is true.

 

With the number of self-published books increasing by such a huge rate, it is really difficult for authors to make their books stand out. How do you go about this?

Yes, I think so. I don’t really know how to get my book to stand out. I just know to do my best and put it out there in all the venues I know and hopefully it will stand out.

 

Luthman Wanda Lilac PrincessWho designed your book cover/s? Which, by the way, is striking.

The self-publishing company that I went with asked me what I wanted and I told them and they designed it.

 

 Do you believe that self-published authors can produce books as high-quality as the traditional published? If so, how do you think we should go about that?

Absolutely! We need good writing, good editors and good artwork.

 

Do you belong to a writer’s cooperative? Describe your experience with that.

I belong to a couple of local groups. I enjoy meeting people face to face and finding out about the local avenues. I’ve also joined some groups in social media. They have been absolutely fantastic to be just an email or FB message away and they are incredibly helpful!

 

Do you write specifically for a Christian audience? Why or why not?

No, because I want to reach a broader audience.

 

What are some of the special challenges of being a Christian writer?

Having non-Christians consider your work. Having  Christians consider your work. Hahaha!  It is a double-edged sword.

 

It is! As a Christian who is a writer myself, I find you kind of get scrutiny from both sides. Christians are told to be “in the world, but not of it.” As a Christian writer, how do you write to conform to that scripture?

Some Christians don’t like books that have fantasy or magic in it but I find that’s more appealing to kids and helps get the message across in a less “preachy” way. So, I feel me writing to appeal to my audience while keeping a good moral message is how I do that.

 

Do you feel that Christian writers are expected to conform to some standards that are perhaps not realistic to the world?

Yes, but I feel so do certain professions. Teachers, policemen, politicians…

 

Do you feel that Christian writers should focus on writing really great story or on presenting the gospel clearly in everything they write? Or is it possible to do both?

I think they should write really great stories. I mean, the gospel is the gospel. I don’t think you have to couch it into a story. It’s already the greatest story to tell.

 

How can interested readers find you? 

 

 

Website: www.wandaluthman.wordpress.com

Amazon: www.amazon.com/author/wandaluthman

Facebook: www.facebook.com/wluthman

Twitter: @wandalu

 

Interview with Paul Hollis   3 comments

Today’s interview is with Paul Hollis, author of The Hollow Man. Welcome to the blog, Paul. Tell us something about yourself. 

Hollis Paul Author PhotoI was born in a small town east of Birmingham. My family moved to Chicago when I was five and I came of age in California. I entered university at the end of 1967 and fell into a blossoming subculture that reshaped my reality, figuratively and perhaps a little too literally.

 

Ah, my brother’s generation!

I worked for IBM and had worldwide responsibility for several emerging business opportunities for the company, one being intelligent video surveillance. After 9/11, as you can imagine, security and safety became of paramount important to corporations, police departments, governments, casinos, banks, retailers, and a host of others. As a result, I was almost constantly on my way to somewhere else.

 

Such as?

I’ve lived in some exotic places such as London, Brussels, Paris, Madrid, Rome, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sao Paulo, Anchorage, and more. I’ve been fortunate enough to work in all fifty states and almost as many countries. If you’re thinking of your dream vacation spot right now, I have probably been there.

 

That sounds exciting and educational.

These experiences have allowed me to interact with people within their own cultures, experience their spiritual and political environments, and understand their hopes and dreams. Consumed with an overwhelming fascination to learn something from every person encountered along my journey, I was able to understand the world through their eyes; its animosities, ambitions, and motivations. As a result, The Hollow Man has a ring of realism that pulls the reader into the scene with the characters, whether it’s entering a dark alley in Madrid or sitting in a café on the Champs Elysees.

 

At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer?

After retiring, most days I sat with friends on the porch of my country home. We spat tobacco juice into the yard and told old stories. Okay, it was the local pub and none of us smoked. Curiously though, the group was always interested in my stories. One encouraged me to write a book about a few of my early exploits and I took the challenge.

I self-published The Hollow Man on Amazon, listened to a few critiques from early reviewers, and republished a second version which filled in a few minor flaws. Soon after that the book received its first award; The Awesome Indie’s Seal of Excellence. During last summer, I entered the World’s Best Story contest and The Hollow Man was fortunate enough to be awarded second place out of thousands of entries.

It was then I realized I could do this and I had a potential to be good.

 

Hollis Paul Hollow ManWhat is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

Thriller / True Crime. Crime is everywhere and every day. It’s been part of our nature since the start of time. Though we don’t want it to visit our homes, we’re curious about it. We poke it, we want to know the what, the how, but mostly the why. And it’s just a little more real if the author adds a few bloody, violent or gory details, especially if the crime actually happened.

Having said that, I write what I know. I was a hollow man for almost three years, living on the fringe of what we thought was a sane world. It was either write about this, or write a very boring book on computers.

 

Much prefer the thriller over the cyber-snooze. When you are not writing, what do you do?

I’ve been taking guitar lessons for ten years and I’m still the “world’s okayest player”, as the saying goes. I would love to be able to play really well and I would also love to blame my lack of skill on the fact I’m left-handed playing in a right-handed world. But the truth is, playing the guitar well requires a huge level of practice. Strangely, that’s very similar to writing.

 

Guitar is hard to master. My husband keeps trying. Writing is too and I haven’t given up yet either. Where do you get the inspiration for your novels?

The inspiration for my storylines comes from a series of true incidents that occurred during the early 1970’s. The Hollow Man traces some of my lesser known experiences traveling in Europe as a young man. To make a long story short, I met a guy in early 1973 who thought I was wasting my time digging latrines in East Africa. He had a better offer for me.

At the time, terrorism was on the rise and I was assigned to learn as much as I could about it. Most early acts of terror were specific, personal and damage was focused on a distinct, definable enemy. But terrorism was beginning to change its strategy to the familiar, senseless chaos we recognize today. The death of political figures no longer seemed to bother us as much as these new, random attacks against our children. Targets of innocence became preferable to these people because it was the kind of shock and hurt that hit closer to our hearts. The fear inside us grew larger with each incident.

All of the characters in The Hollow Man are real or based on real people though most of the names were altered. I drew them as I remembered seeing them at the time. To create your own characters, simply watch people and interact with them. Pay attention to their actions, thoughts, and motives. Don’t worry if one person is not interesting, unique, strong or weak enough. Take pieces from these people to make the special character you need.

 

I minored in political science and I’m conjuring images of the Rome Airport, Belfast and Baader-Meinhof. What sort of research do you do for your novels?

The Hollow Man series is based on incidents and facts occurring forty years ago. As a result, my research is extensive. I want to be as historically accurate as possible so I explore everything from actions prior to documented events to reactions in the aftermath to local cuisine and currencies, and so on.

I use the internet for most of my research. Over the past twenty years, the web has grown from an enigma of secrets and codes to a modern oracle of answers. Ask a question and I’m immediately presented with pages of explanations, observations, interpretations, comments, and justifications. My first inclination is to believe what I find but since it is the Internet, I always double check the sources.

 

Yeah, the Internet — there’s a reason they call it “the web”. You must figure out which strands are safe to step on. If someone who hasn’t read any of your novels asked you to describe your writing, what would you say?

My writing style is very visual. It’s important for me to completely immerse the reader, drawing him/her totally into each scene. I want the reader to see what’s going on around them, feel the excitement, and hear the voices. When readers say The Hollow Man should be on the big screen, I feel like I’ve made the story completely real.

 

Do you write from an outline or are you a discovery writer?  Why?

I write from a very shallow outline. Because my work is mostly character driven, the plot is laid out in chapter boxes using a few sentences to keep the action moving with the characters. As the characters come alive, change, grow, etc. the plot changes in the same way. Though I try to remain true to the plot outline, occasionally it strays because of character development.

 

But generally, the drift is minimal. It’s important to me that plot and character exist in sync like words and music. Otherwise, a fully plot-driven novel is just a story told without the sound and passion of real life and a wholly character driven novel is at best, characters looking for something to do to give their lives meaning.

 

I’m going to need to read this book, I think. What point of view do you prefer to write, and why?

I prefer to write from the first person point of view.

Like life, the protagonist doesn’t and shouldn’t know everything. S/he learns through interactions with other characters, the environment, experiences, actions, etc.  The character is giving you their personal view of what’s happening, and yet it’s clear to the reader that it’s not the whole story. It’s the natural way we all perceive the world.

In first person, I believe it is easier for the reader to identify with the protagonist.  Everything the reader sees is infused with the narrator’s personality and pathos. Things don’t just happen in a first person narrative, they happen through the narrator’s perspective.

Having said that, I occasionally include a third person viewpoint to give the reader insights into character development and build suspense around the first person protagonist.

 

Do you head-hop?

I do head hop occasionally when I write in first person. Though it isn’t possible for the narrator to know all via a first person viewpoint, the reader sometimes deserves a bit more information than the narrator can provide. I use this technique to increase reader knowledge, enhance plot suspense, and expand characterizations.

 

I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

Being a city boy, I’ll assume there is no electricity, not even a generator snuggled between the wolf den and the bear cave. It’s a good thing I just bought a 45-day battery for my laptop because I’ll need to write. Since I failed penmanship in the fourth grade and my handwriting went south from there, I’ll require something more than pencils.

I’ll also be bringing an automatic weapon. No offense but I’ve been to Alaska and the mosquitos are bigger than single engine planes. Mosquito spray is useless against them. They fly two hundred miles per hour and can instantly mummify your carcass without slowing down.

Thinking about it, I won’t need any books. After a month’s total isolation, when you return to pick me up, you’ll find me sitting in a dark corner, sucking my thumb, and talking to my demons.

 

We will have a generator, maybe next year. You are totally right about the mosquitos, though it is entirely possible that I have built up such a concentration of DEET in my system that it actually does keep them off me. 

Talk about your books individually.

 

The Hollow Man is based on true events during the early 1970’s, and traces some of my experiences as a young man traveling in Europe. At the time, terrorism was on the rise and I had been assigned to learn as much as I could about it. Most early acts of terror were specific, personal and damage was focused on a distinct, definable enemy. But terrorism was beginning to change its strategy to the familiar, senseless chaos we recognize today. The death of political figures no longer seemed to bother us as much as these new, random attacks against our children. Targets of innocence became preferable because they hit closer to our hearts and the fear inside us grew larger with each incident.

I’m working on a sequel to The Hollow Man, called London Bridge is Falling Down.  By the early 1970’s, animosities between England and Ireland had become razor sharp. Mass bombings and cross border clashes were constant reminders of Ireland’s struggle to be united and free. The media had dubbed these conflicts “The Troubles” which had already claimed almost a thousand lives and there was no end in sight. Militant activities were spiking amid rumors the IRA had developed a list of targets designed to bring England to her knees. Like The Hollow Man, London Bridge is Falling Down is based on true events and includes some of the same, unforgettable characters.

Surviving Prague is scheduled to be the third installment of the series.

 

What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

I want readers to think I am a decent writer who entertained them for a while.

 

What influenced your decision to self-publish?

I totally understand there are hundreds of thousands of inferior books in the marketplace today, each vying for a portion of the reader’s attention and money. Someone needs to be a capable gatekeeper to separate the wheat from the chaff.  Those guardians are today’s agents since it’s difficult to get to a publisher unsolicited.  I also understand both agents and publishers are in the business of profits.

However after eight months of submitting the first three chapters of The Hollow Man to countless agents with very few responses, I finally understood our goals were mutually exclusive. Agents scour submissions for the next great formulary bestseller and I just wanted a chance to present my entire novel to an industry expert in exchange for an honest appraisal. It was at this point I realized the Internet was full of readers and reviewers who were more than happy to offer their opinions on the weaknesses and strengths of my novel. So the decision to self-publish became easy.

 

I would mostly agree with that assessment from my own experience. What do you find to be the greatest advantage of self-publishing?

The greatest advantage, and disadvantage, of self-publishing is having full control of the process.  It can be daunting for many, thinking about writing, publishing, marketing, etc. But the control can be empowering too.  The author can make every decision from cover art to font size to sales techniques. If s/he wants to change the title, finds an error, needs to rewrite parts, wishes to sample changes in the price structure or whatever, the path to a better publication is quick and easy.

 

Conversely, what do you think self-published authors might be missing out on?

In a few words, we’re missing out on professional marketing.  As self-published authors, most of us struggle after a book is published with such tasks as building an author platform, soliciting reviews, marketing, etc.  We just want to write and let the books take care of themselves.

That’s where professional marketing supplied by a publisher becomes a key component of a book’s success. A publisher is able to apply proven techniques to promote and sell books. But like everything these days, a publisher’s marketing doesn’t last forever. But it can be self-sustaining if an author can learn from the publisher’s actions.

 

Who designed your book cover/s?

The cover art on the self-published edition of The Hollow Man was designed and created by me. I had a vision of exactly what I wanted; an image of excitement, adventure, and mystery.

 The cover for the relaunched edition of The Hollow Man was a collaboration between my new publisher, the agent, and myself. We created two potential covers and allowed my fans to choose the cover they liked best.

 

Do you believe that self-published authors can produce books as high-quality as the traditional published? If so, how do you think we should go about that?

It is certainly possible to produce high-quality books to rival traditional publications. But it can’t unfortunately be accomplished on a shoestring budget. At a minimum I would recommend professional cover art and professional editing – possibly as many as three in depth rounds (spelling / sentence structure, developmental and character arc).

 Top quality or not, if sustained paid marketing is not included, the sales will fall short of expectation.  Book sales require either money and / or many hours of the author’s time.

 

Where can interested readers find you?

Social media links:
Amazon:              http://www.amazon.com/HOLLOW-MAN-Paul-Hollis-ebook/dp/B012RNPSAO

Website:              http://www.thehollowmanseries.com/

Blog:                      http://www.thehollowmanseries.com/blog
Facebook:           https://www.facebook.com/TheHollowManSeries
Twitter:                                https://twitter.com/HollowManSeries
Goodreads:        https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7151833.Paul_Hollis
Trailer:                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4lp4N5hGK4
 


 

Book Goodies Interviews with Lela Markham   Leave a comment

This Book Goodies interview ran a while ago and the notification got lost in my email.

http://bookgoodies.com/interview-with-author-lela-markham/

Lela Markham Davidson Ditch CorrectedAbout Lela Markham:
Hi, my name is Lela Markham and I told stories from the time I could talk. I eventually started writing them down and publishing some of them.

I’ve been a journalist, worked construction and outside sales, been an administrator for a mental health center for more than a decade and now work in transportation.

In 2015, I fulfilled a lifelong dream to become a published novelist. Currently, I’m focusing on epic fantasy and dystopian thrillers, but I write other genres. Watch this space.

When I’m not writing, I pursue the adventure of a lifetime in Alaska with my risk-taker husband, two fearless offspring and a sentient husky who keeps a yellow Lab as a pet.

What inspires you to write?
Human narratives fascinate me. We strive to be better than what we are and yet we are so often far less than we were made to be. It is that struggle that inspires me to write my characters’ stories. I often describe my writing process as putting into words what my characters tell me about their lives.

Willow Branch Blue White Recreation CoverTell us about your writing process.
My writing always starts with a character who often starts talking to me while I’m doing something unrelated to writing — filing at my money job or driving to Anchorage from my home in Fairbanks (380 miles). If the character hangs around and tells a decent story, I eventually get around to seeing if he or she would fit into a setting I feel like writing about. If the scene comes together, then I will decide what the purpose (the end) of the book will be and loosely plot out how I mean to get there. So, I am both a seat-of-the-pants writer and an outliner. Usually, I just list the major plot points at the end of the Word document I’m writing. As I fill in sections, I move to the next plot point. Nothing is set in stone until the rough draft is complete and even then, I will expand some sections on rewrite. I see plot as a braided river. There are multiple ways to get where I want to go and sometimes the side journeys are far more scenic than the straightest route.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I listen to my characters. I have, as part of creative writing exercises, tries to talk to them, but that’s largely been unsuccessful. They tell me their stories and I write them down. If they stop telling me their story, they almost always die in the book. If they don’t like a way I’m trying to take their character, they will express their displease by not talking to me until I revise my direction. It is really a fairly one-way discussion.

Front Cover LAWKI no windowWhat advice would you give other writers?
I’ve learned that people are fascinating and crappy to one another and that villains can have redeeming qualities while heroes definitely need faults. None of us is perfectly anything and the minute that I as a writer try to make a character perfect, I discover I’m writing boring garbage that I wouldn’t want to read.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
I chose to self-publish. I basically just got tired of being told “It’s a great book, but you need to define your audience better and write to them.” I just didn’t feel that was right for me. With self-publishing, I don’t have to conform to a market share analysis.

Of course, self-publishing means I have to work that much harder to be a professional at publishing. Not only do I have to write a great book, I have to edit and proof read it. I have to decide whether beta-readers are giving me good advice and which advice to incorporate into the book. I have to choose cover art and write blurbs. And, hardest of all, I have to market my books myself. And I have to do this while also writing the next book.

I would advise new authors to realize that success takes time and commitment and the willingness to stick with something even when you don’t see immediate success. Be patient and write the book you want to read.

Front Cover RedWhat do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think publishing is going through a huge transition right now as traditional publishing has lost its death grip on the industry to the new self-publishing field. Some of this was the inevitable result of tradition publishers insisting that writers must write to certain genres with an eye to the “hot” markets, a system that restricted a lot of writers out of the market and, frankly, as a reader, left a lot of readers bored. Self-publishing somewhat broke that blockade, though it really has a long way to go, mainly owing to inattention to detail and lack of professionalism. I don’t think the resurgence of self-publishing means that traditional publishers are going away. I think the two groups are going to adapt to one another and it is entirely possible that many new independent publishing houses will arise that are smaller and more competitive, more willing to work with independent authors in a changing environment.

What do you use?: Professional Editor, Beta Readers

What genres do you write?: I’ve published in epic fantasy and dystopian, but I also write mysteries, YA, and paranormal. Most of my books have some element of faith in them, but I do not consider myself a Christian-genre author.

What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print

Website(s)
Lela Markham Home Page Link
Link To Lela Markham Page On Amazon

Your Social Media Links
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit, to allow you, the reader, to hear the author in their own voice.

Posted November 6, 2015 by aurorawatcherak in Writing

Tagged with , , ,

Stay Tuned for Writing Wednesday   Leave a comment

There will be an interview.

And Life As We Knew It ebook is on sale this week. You save $2 if you buy now.

Interview with EJ Norris   1 comment

LELA: Quick change of direction because my previously scheduled author has delayed his book launch. I’m rechecking with him on his interview details since some time has passed and may run in concurrent with the launch.

E.J. Norris photo.Today’s interview is with EJ Norris, author of The Mirror and the Sword. Welcome to the blog, Emily. Tell us something about yourself.

I’m from the wonderful state of Maine. It’s a fantastic place for books to grow up.

I love Maine! My husband is originally from New Hampshire, so we’ve been to Maine a few times. At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I always loved writing. It was such fun to create whole new worlds where anything I wanted could happen. Most of my very first stories were prompted by grade school assignments. Later I started to really branch out on my own, exploring the art of the novel.

Yeah, fiction writing started from a school assignment for me also. Tell us about your writing process.

Well, developing a process took a bit of trial and error, but I finally settled on the following:

  1. The idea. Perhaps born in a daydream or a prayer. I think it over, ask myself questions about the plot and the characters.
  2. Rough draft. When I have a general idea of where I’m going I begin a handwritten draft.
  3. After I’ve written the story, I type and revise it.

You are a rare breed in modern circles. Handwritten drafters exist — I interviewed one last year — but it’s truly uncommon in this day of keyboarding. I still resort to it when I need some poetic infusion into my novels. Something about handwriting really kicks poetry into gear for me. What is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

I love reading and writing fantasy. There’s so much freedom in the fantasy world. I also like to read British literature. I swear, when I enter a book store I can find something British. It’s like a Brit Lit magnet in my forehead!

The Mirror and the SwordWhat a great skill for a fantasy author, though! What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about my faith, writing naturally, reading, music, in depth conversation, and friendships.

What is something you cannot live without?

Christ in my life.

Have you written any books that made a transformative effect on you? If so, in what way?

Well, The Mirror and The Sword was the first ever novel I gave to God and that decision has forever altered the motivation behind my projects. I now weave Christ into nearly every single one of my projects.

Where do you get the inspiration for your novels?

Inspiration can come from anything. A song, something someone says, a daydream. Inspiration is unpredictable, but when it hits there’s no missing it.

If someone who hasn’t read any of your novels asked you to describe your writing, what would you say?

I would say vivid, adventurous, and well thought out. I write stories with a good balance of elements to them so that there’s something for anyone.

Do you have a special place where you write?

In a car, on a plane, whether in the sun or in the rain. I can write pretty much anywhere.

Are you a plot driven or character driven writer? Why?

Both. The plot is the car and the characters are the gas.

I like that analogy! Do you write from an outline or are you a discovery writer?  Why?

Discovery. I’ll go with the basic idea and then keep writing to see what wonders appear.

What point of view do you prefer to write, and why?

I’ve recently taken to writing in a combination of the first and third person. This began when I started The Mirror and The Sword. I wanted the character to narrate, but I also knew there were some things that the reader needed to see that said character didn’t. So, I started switching back and forth. Thus far it’s proved most efficient.

That’s interesting. I think I’m going to have to try that technique. Tell us about your books.

I’d be delighted. The Mirror and The Sword is a stirring adventure story of one boy’s quest to escape a convoluted world of lies. It’s an epic journey that you won’t soon forget.

Then there are the others. The Mirror and The Sword is not meant to stand alone. There are two others. The sequel is getting some spit and polish while we consider its opportunities for publication. The third is in its roughest stages and I am considering prequels.

Was it your intention to write a story with a message or a moral?

Yes, it was. I hope that people see Christ in my work.

What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

I hope they say, “I WANT MORE!!!!”

 

This is a fascinating subject for me because you and I are both Christians who write fantasy. I didn’t write my books necessarily for Christians and I don’t market them as Christian literature, but Christian themes undergird my writing because I am a Christian. Do you write specifically for a Christian audience? Why or why not?

Well, a Christian reader might recognize the symbolism more readily, but it is my hope that it witnesses to the non-Christian audience as well.

 

What do you think are some of the special challenges of being a Christian writer?

For me, I tend to worry about doing the message justice. Therefore I pray quite fervently about it.

 

Christians are told to be “in the world, but not of it.” As a Christian writer, how do you write to conform to that scripture?

As I work on this story I hope it will represent spiritual matters in a physical way, much like Christ’s parables brought a new understanding to many who followed Him. Of course this will get more and more complex as the concepts become harder for my physical mind to comprehend. In such times I will pray on my face for God’s guidance. Without Him I can do nothing.

Do you feel that Christian writers are expected to conform to some standards that are perhaps not realistic to the world?

Well, to call yourself a Christian writer there are certain things that shouldn’t be there. For instance, I don’t write detailed descriptions of sexuality. Famed fellow writers may find that old-fashioned as well as unrealistic in today’s book market.

 

Do you feel that Christian writers should focus on writing really great story or on presenting the gospel clearly in everything they write? Or is it possible to do both?

One should strive to do both. I remember this was one of my earliest struggles in Christian writing. Then I thought over the works of C.S. Lewis. I noted that he didn’t have a representation for every single biblical event in all four gospels. All that was needed was the iron hard, back bone of Christianity. That should leave plenty of room for creativity and personalization.

 

 

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