Meet Diana Wilder: Author, Historian, Animal Rescuer, Cat Shows’ Judge

Read & Tell

 

 

 

 

A philanthropist,  animal rescuer, cat shows’ judge, historian, journalist, researcher, and an author who works in the insurance business, Diana Wilder is the creator of fabulous historical books “THE CITY OF REFUGE”, “PHARAOH’S SON”, “A KILLING AMONG THE DEAD”, and “THE SAFEGUARD”. This weekend, she has kindly agreed to grace my Read & Tell with her visit.

 

DMW with cat

Diana Wilder: “The most important character in my books is the character that is reading it. That person is the reason the book was written—to entertain him or her, to tell him or her a story, to take him or her on an adventure, and meet others. They are why the books are here. They are the most important.”

 

Hello Diana, thank you for stopping by. Would you be so kind to give readers a one-sentence synopsis of “The City of Refuge”?

A routine inspection of the ruined city becomes a quest for vengeance, understanding and healing.

How real are your characters? Who did you base Lord Nebamun and Khonsu on?

Lord Nebamun and Khonsu came fully into being during the course of the story—who they were, what they were trying to do.  Their types were people of different classes, each with its own particular characteristics.  Khonsu is what we would call a middle-class working man.  His family has served the governors of his province as messengers for years, and he has risen to command their armies.  Lord Nebamun, on the other hand, is a man without a past who seems to be a wealthy aristocrat, born to privilege and trained to warfare, as the sons of such families were.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I had read of the city of Akhet-Aten (sometimes called ‘Amarna’ now).  The pharaoh Akhenaten (Nefertiti’s husband) had commanded that it be built for him, clean, new, in a site never used before. It was beautiful.  But when he fell from power it was abandoned and ruined.  I had a picture in my mind of a group of people who had traveled to that ruined city for a reason and were camped by the river Nile waiting for supplies.  I wondered why they were there, what were they expecting, who were they?  My thoughts solidified into the story.

 

cityofrefugecoverfixedsmaller1

THE CITY OF REFUGE by Diana Wilder:
“But you must know that Horus does not challenge Set because he is assured of victory, but because it’s the right thing to do. He fights because it is wrong to hold back for fear of the cost. If he knew at this moment that he might fall through treachery, he would face set nevertheless for the sake of Honor and of justice.”

 

How long did it take you to write the book?

From start to finish, it took me about six years.  But is any story ever really finished?  The danger with being a writer is that the temptation is always there to tweak wording, to adjust descriptions.

True, that’s the danger. As an assessor I’d say the challenge is to assemble this danger into a compact final product, but I have seen the extensive work you put into The City of Refuge and the result is awesome!  How did you come up with this title, by the way?

The ancients understood justice and vengeance, and they understood degrees of wrongdoing.  If a person was murdered, it was the duty of a kinsman—usually the eldest son—to exact vengeance on the murderer.  It is a recognized theme throughout ancient literature.  But what if the death was an accident?  Was there a way to escape the avenger?  In biblical times Cities of Refuge were set up to allow guiltless (accidental) killers to take refuge and escape death.  Vengeance plays a large part in the plot of The City of Refuge.  WAS Akhet-Aten a city of refuge?  That question is answered during the course of the story.

From your writing I can read that you have a very kind heart, deep wisdom, and you have huge tolerance to those who are different. I have many favorite lines in The City of Refuge. What is your favorite paragraph?

Something Lord Nebamun says:  “But you must know that Horus does not challenge Set because he is assured of victory, but because it’s the right thing to do.  He fights because it is wrong to hold back for fear of the cost.  If he knew at this moment that he might fall through treachery, he would face set nevertheless for the sake of Honor and of justice.”

What’s your opinion about today’s historical fiction? What makes your books stand out from the others?

There are a great many truly fine historical novels available to read nowadays, and it’s a privilege to have my work among them.  History is about people, and people are enjoyable, interesting and amusing.  I remember once being told that the best way to learn a period of history was to read good novels set in that period—and to understand that different writers would interpret the facts differently.  How are mine different?  Well…  They are different because I wrote them, and it is I who am telling the story.  They have my own philosophy and understanding.  Otherwise, they are part of a good group.

Who is your favourite Egyptian personage? Why?

History is about people, and people are very amusing.  Aside from Ramesses the Great—who was the only Egyptian king with a nickname, and was known as ‘Good King Ramesses’—I like the little brat of a child in Alexandria who sent a letter to his parents scolding them for traveling without him and threatening to hold his breath until he died.  I laugh whenever I think of it, speaking as one who was a counselor at a children’s summer camp.  I think I knew that boy.

You did thorough research for your material. Why Egypt? Why not ancient Greek/Viking/Chinese/etc.?

The story was set in Egypt and arose out of Egypt.  I have other stories set in other places and times…  Paris in 1830, Imperial Rome, the Middle Ages, the American Civil War.

When did you first know you just had to write?

I was nine-years old, and my teacher had been talking about writing poetry.  I thought it was a good idea, so I wrote a poem.  Being a nine-year-old girl, I was horse-mad, so I wrote about a horse.  The praise I got from my very kind famille made me decide that I LIKED writing.  I was hooked.

Who would you say have been the most influential authors in your life? What is it that really strikes you about their work?

I’ve loved a lot of books—Tolkien‘s magnificent trilogy, Elizabeth Goudge‘s work—books that brought history alive for me.  I have to admit that one book really caught my imagination for a rather odd reason.  It is Richard Adams‘ book WATERSHIP DOWN, a splendid tale of hardship, treachery, revenge, heroism—it has characters that could have fought at Troy, leaders who match for the most admired leaders of history.  Love, suffering, mysticism—it is all there.  I was transfixed… And I kept forgetting that it was about rabbits.  Rabbits, by golly!  Amazing!

And you put all those elements in your own beautiful writing. What story would you like to share about the joy, challenge, or hardship of writing?

It is something you have to experience yourself.  It is hard work, and you have to be honest about it and do your best.  Often it is thankless.  But then—someone contacts you, writes you—however it happens – and tells you that what you wrote touched them to the heart, gave them an insight into something that troubled them, expressed something they had always loved.  And that makes all the hard work, all the sneers (people do sneer at writers from time to time), all of it well worth the effort.  You sit back and smile.

Who gives you the most encouragement? Why is that important to you?

I have friends who are honest with me (honesty is necessary everywhere) and they encourage me, even if they aren’t crazy about what I write about.  They can understand what I am saying. Encouragement is hard to find, especially in the early years.  I wish I had joined a writing group.

 You’ve produced commendable covers. Tell us about your graphic design.

Well…  I like art, I come from an artistic family, and I really wish I was an artist.  It’s enjoyable, engrossing (infuriating at times) and I haven’t yet struck anyone blind with my endeavors.  What more can I ask?

Do you see writing as a career or distraction? Why?

es.  No, don’t hit me!  It’s something I have to do.  It’s part of me, a way I express myself, a gift to others.  I can’t stop doing it.  By the same token, it intrudes at the most inopportune times.  Sitting at dinner and someone says something, and I crow with delight, whip out my notepad and start jotting, ignoring the friends and family sitting around me and rolling their eyes.

Hahaha! I’m sure they are used to it and love you nonetheless 🙂 What are you working on right now? Tell us your latest news.

I’m trying to finish a sequel to The City of Refuge.  MOURNINGTIDE takes place eighteen years later and has many of the characters from City.  It follows one man—Seti, one of three major characters in City—as he deals with the death of a son through a needless mistake.  He is a man of power and influence, and he needs to go away from his own world to a place where he can be private and deal with the loss of a child, however he may have grown up. 

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MOURNINGTIDE by Diana Wilder: a man of power and influence needs to go away from his own world to a place where he can be private to deal with the loss of a child.

That promises to be interesting—I remember the brave, young Seti. And we may have something in common in our WIPs.

If you could pick a time to exist in the past, would you pick Egypt and what period would that be? Why?

If I were to pick Egypt, I would want to live in what they called the ‘Middle Kingdom‘, several centuries before the time of The City of Refuge.  It was a time of peace and stability, with a strong government and people that were not encumbered by the notion of being a superpower.  That was a very stable society, ruled by the rhythms of a great river, prosperous, content (as much as people can be).  Food was plentiful, people smiled.

I see. The Middle Kingdom was the period which started with Prophet Joseph being the treasurer and adviser to the King of Egypt, and they helped the refugees from their famine-struck neighboring countries. Right?

 

Diana Wilder: "I would like to live in a more simple time, where everything is not done for us, where we can use our imaginations and spend the day handling our own concerns."

Diana Wilder: “I would like to live in a more simple time, where everything is not done for us,
where we can use our imaginations and spend the day handling our own concerns.”

 

I would like to live in a more simple time, where everything is not done for us, where we can use our imaginations and spend the day handling our own concerns.  If you think about it today everything is done for us, food is packaged for us, and unless we watch carefully, we miss a chance to do the small things that make life interesting and enjoyable.  So…  when did they have a chance to do that?  Let’s say prior to the Industrial Revolution. 

That’s the ease of living in a modern country. I suppose you are right. I had lived in a few simpler countries. One was my grandparents’ village in Sumatra, where I spent my 7th grade. There you first had to build a single-use stove using the grain’ husk before you could cook, but the flames made the food taste better. And the hard work didn’t make people unhappy; I watched my grandma’s workers working the fields and singing poems. That was how they “talked”—they bantered by singing instant, clever poems; clearly enjoying life. I don’t know whether they still do that, now that they have electricity and modern machinery.

How much do you have in common with your protag, Diana?

Khonsu is observant, affectionate, tends to stand his ground on important subjects, and has a good imagination.  He solves problems and he can ‘get inside the head’ of someone he is trying to understand.  I’m observant and affectionate, certainly.  And I try to be understanding.  I don’t think he’s ideal by any means, but he has in him qualities that I admire (though he’s a bit of a worrier…)

You are such a compassionate animal rescuer.  Tell us about this.  And tell us about cat shows.  What would you say to FB-ers who say cats should be banned from FB.

Who can resist anything that needs to be rescued and loved?  We have so much to share, let’s share it!  And cat shows—in the US—have classes for all sorts of cats, from the tiniest purebred to the three-legged family pet rescued from a pound.  They’re all beautiful, and I enjoy watching them all and letting people know that their pets are absolutely special! (I have dogs, too…)

I’ve seen cats and dogs on Facebook. Some of them speak far more sensibly than their owners.  I might say that Facebook would do better to ban idiots from their pages.  The problem is that under some applications, all of us being human, that would depopulate Facebook. Oh, my!

Hahaha! Oh my indeed J Tell us also about your love for horses, sailing, and your other hobbies.

Can I tell you about my love for cooking Chocolate Stout Cakes?  That is a real smile-spreader! …although if you love the feeling of speed, there is nothing that can compare with sailing close to the wind on a one-man sailboat.  Perhaps one day I can do that in Sydney harbor!

Oh yum, I can smell heavenly chocolate… mmm we really must meet someday! A fireball? Cool!

You moved around a lot while growing up and have travelled a lot. How has this shaped you and influenced your writing?

I was very fortunate to have parents that enjoyed people and encouraged my family to see different sights, experience different cultures—and respect them—and realize that we all are fabulous in different ways. We would pile in the car on a Sunday and just drive around looking at the scenery, stopping to talk to people… Getting acquainted with our surroundings and enjoying what was unusual and beautiful about them.  I thought everyone did that, but I learned that many people, camped on the doorstep of Heaven, prefer to look back where they came from and cry because they aren’t there.

Right, many of those who go out can’t wait to go back home to their Facebook or electronic gadgets; they are so chained to these they don’t know what else to do.

What is your other profession? When do you find the time to write?

I work in the insurance industry.  I think we all know how difficult it is to find time in our busy lives to do the things we enjoy, that are important to us.  The best of us find a way to find the joy in whatever we do.  Practically speaking, I carry a notebook down and jot things as they come to me.  

And loving it, I believe 🙂 Tell us a bit about who or/and what matters to you.

Being content in my own self is important.  Knowing that others know how much they mean to me, knowing that I am important to others.  It’s hard to express.

How has your published work influenced others and their attitude towards you?

I hope it has entertained people.  I do believe most people think writers are either completely nutty or fabulously exotic.  As a group we can be nutty, but then so can all humans. 

You’re definitely of the fabulous variety, Diana!

What one thing is important for your readers to know about you? Why?

My readers need to know that the most important character in my books is the character that is reading it.   That person is the reason the book was written—to entertain him or her, to tell him or her a story, to take him or her on an adventure, and meet others.  They are why the books are here.  They are the most important.

Any tips for us on reading and/or writing?

I’d say sit back, enjoy the story.  But if a story does not appeal to you, if you dislike it—there is absolutely no reason to suffer through a bad story, even if a million other people like it. I knew someone who made it a point of pride to finish any book she started no matter how wretched.  I honor her perseverance and courage.  If I did that, they would have to put me in a straight-jacket.

What a considerate writer! Lovely to chat with you, Diana. Thanks again for visiting 🙂

Diana writes "real" historical books with thorough research for each one. Click here to check them out on Amazon.

Diana writes “real” historical books with thorough research for each one.
Click here to visit Diana’s website which has links to her blog, her books, and sample chapters.

 

One Sentence Synopses of each of Diana published works:

Pharaoh’s Son(a fast-paced romp set in Egypt of Ramesses the Great): Something great and terrible is stirring, hidden deep within the temple, something they must bring into the  light before those who walk in darkness take it and turn it to  evil.

A Killing Among the Dead(set in the dying days of Egypt): It is up to Wenatef to discover who is robbing the royal tombs and disfiguring the dead, how deep does the conspiracy run, and who among his friends can he really trust?

The Safeguard (set during the 1860’s in the American Civil War): A passel of wounded Yankees quartered in her house, a troop of freed slaves and the local Confederate militia combine to provide  an unforgettable summer of courage, loss and love for Lavinia.

Diana’s books available from Amazon US and Amazon UK

 

My review of The City of Refuge by Diana Wilder:

 

A richly detailed intriguing mystery.

The former glory of Pharaoh Akhenaten’s reign, the imperial city of Amarna has been abandoned after his death, and now lies in wreck on the edge of the Nile. To study the viability of reopening of the city’s stone quarries, the ruling pharaoh sends a delegation from the Memphis temple of Ptah, headed by its second-ranking priest, an enigmatic man without a past who is not afraid of ghosts, curses or the dead.

Police Commander Khonsu from the nearby city is assigned to guard this expedition, only to find himself entangled in a web of betrayal, murder and revenge from the city’s dark past.

Presented in a skillful flair of the English language, Diana Wilder peoples her story with real humans and uses practical philosophy as she visits the paths of righteousness and peril of these scrupulously developed believable characters.

From an author with a degree in Ancient History who has done extensive research for her writing, you can expect The City of Refuge will enrich readers’ knowledge with fascinating details from the past. But The City of Refuge is so much more than a well-written historical novel because  Diana Wilder is, first of all, an observant human being with deep empathy for those around her.  She brings the ancient world to you and makes it look and feel so real, as if you were together with her characters and could see what they wear, observe what they do, as well as understand their perspective. Diana shows us the human side of seasoned war generals that is touching, and keeps us in suspense until the end.

KIRKUS REVIEWS on Sydney’s Song

KIRKUS will publish this on their site next week, but I’m just too happy not to share now. So here it goes:

KIRKUS

 

 

TITLE INFORMATION

SYDNEY’S SONG
Uaro, Ia
CreateSpace (310 pp.)
$24.00 paperback, $8.99 e-book
ISBN: 978-1478157458; September 19, 2012

 

BOOK REVIEW

In Uaro’s debut novel, a young girl must adjust to life after her parents’ divorce.

Seventeen-year-old Sydney, who lives in Australia, details the shock and heartache of learning that her parents, seemingly the perfect couple, are divorcing. She discovers this the day that she gets her first real job, working at a call center. She wanted to tell her parents about the new gig, but she catches her mother kissing another man, and everything sours. Sydney throws her energy into work, a job that is made all the more exciting by the upcoming Olympics, which generates many calls to the Transport Information line, where Sydney works. But nothing prepares her for the biggest excitement of all: Pete, a handsome young man from Boston who charms Sydney. As she withstands endless rude phone calls and navigates a steep learning curve at her job, she builds new friendships and a budding relationship with Pete. But Pete has secrets of his own, ones that jar Sydney as they stir up the trauma of discovering that her parents were cheating on each other. Sydney faces her fears and works through her concerns with Pete. But as her life finally seems to be turning in a positive direction, Pete returns to Boston and falls out of touch, leaving Sydney to suspect the worst. Something far more tragic has occurred, however, and it threatens both of their futures. As Sydney continues to transition into adulthood, she becomes all the more aware of how pain can change a person.

Told with the breezy, fanciful narration of a young adult, Sydney is a lovable, memorable character. Her trials through love, disappointment and betrayal help shape her as the novel traces her development. The well-drawn characters she meets and the lessons she continues to learn keep the plot riveting, with no telling what will come next.
A warm, enjoyable coming-of-age tale.

 

Kirkus Indie, Kirkus Media LLC, 6411 Burleson Rd., Austin, TX 78744
indie@kirkusreviews.com

 

 

sydney song cover final 5.25 x 8

“Told with the breezy, fanciful narration of a young adult, Sydney is a lovable, memorable character. Her trials through love, disappointment and betrayal help shape her as the novel traces her development. The well-drawn characters she meets and the lessons she continues to learn keep the plot riveting, with no telling what will come next.”
– KIRKUS REVIEWS

Meet Matt Posner, Author of the Shocking “THE PARING KNIFE”

 

Read & Tell

 

My guest today is Matt Posner, another author of the fabulous Carnival of Cryptids. Author of sevral books, Matt is a writer and an English teacher from New York City, where he is also a performing poet and percussionist with The Exploration Project, New York’s premier avant-garde multimedia club band.

 

matt posner headshot

Matt Posner, author of “The Paring Knife”:
I want my writing to change lives for the better. I want to be entertaining, but I also want the reader to feel more at ease with the universe.

Thanks for having me, Ia. I’m here today to promote Kindle All-Stars 2:  Carnival of Cryptids. It’s an anthology featuring short stories by seven up-and-coming independent authors, selected and introduced by our leader, kick-ass author and kick-ass cop Bernard Schaffer. Cryptids are mysterious creatures suspected but never proven to exist, like Bigfoot or Loch Ness monster, or your homeland’s equivalents, Yowie and Bunyip. Buyers of this anthology get a dual benefit. They get the stories, which are all suspenseful narratives by publishing professionals, and they get their full purchase price donated to The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a magnificent charity here in the United States.

Carnival of CryptidsCOMING SOON

Carnival of Cryptids. Proceeds from this book will go to
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

 

Hello Matt, what a noble endeavor! And what a fantastic collection; I am deeply impressed by the high quality of every story in Carnival of Cryptids. Could you please let our readers know about your contribution to this anthology?

I wrote a story called “The Paring Knife,” and I am helming the publicity campaign for the book.

Would you be so kind to give them a one-sentence synopsis of “The Paring Knife”?

It’s a dark underground cooking TV show in which some of the ingredients are cryptids and the losers get attacked by children with knives.

How real are your characters?

They are modeled on the people I see on Food Network and The Cooking Channel. Not on specific people, just on the various types who are there. If you watch competitive cooking, you will find a lot you recognize.

Yes, your characters marvelously represent those in real TV shows. Great observation!

Who or what inspired you to write this story?

Since I was in Kindle All-Stars: Resistance Front, I’ve made it my ambition to be a part of the regular roster for the series. I was happy Bernard Schaffer picked cryptids as a theme, since I have been studying them since childhood.

How long did it take you to write The Paring Knife?

I started it in July and submitted it at the end of October. I was stuck at the end of the second round of competition for a while, not sure who would be eliminated or why.

But you ended up with such a shocking, delightful story. Man… I’ll never eat pakoras again! But you must be a wicked cook. How did you come up with the title?

I wanted something that featured both the idea of elimination of contestants (paring away) and contained the menace inherent in the situation (losers are attacked with knives).

Brilliant! And what is your favorite part in the story?

I mock one of 2011’s bestselling novels at a certain spot. I like that part.

I noted that! Perhaps you mocked more than its title, I wouldn’t know though.

Who would you say have been the most influential authors in your life? What is it that really strikes you about their work?

I read voraciously growing up, so there are really far too many to name or even recall. Every time I think I have that nailed down, I remember another one I should have mentioned. So for variety’s sake, I’ll say which authors I really DON’T like:  Virginia Woolf, Henry James, Virginia Woolf, William Golding, and Virginia Woolf (barf!)

Hahahaha… In my country of birth I chose science, and am I glad we were never forced to read books we didn’t want to read 🙂 How about writing? What story would you like to share about the joy, challenge, or hardship of writing?

Writing—I think I have that figured out. It’s marketing myself that is the challenge now. I wish I had a marketing degree.

Looks like effective marketing is either costly or time-consuming; a real challenge for me too as I must focus on my family first. I wish you success in your effort. Who gives you the most encouragement? Why is that important to you?

My beloved wife Julie makes me a functional human being. Having read Sydney’s Song, I know you know what it’s like to feel someone completes you that way.

What are you working on right now? Tell us your latest news.

I’m working on School of the Ages:  Simon Myth. It’s the fourth book in my series. It’s damn hard to finish because my plotline has turned out to be unreasonably ambitious. I hope I can finish it before the summer.

Do you see writing as a career or distraction? Why?

I’m a professional teacher. I have a union job. I wouldn’t give that up unless I had just ridiculous amounts of money rolling in. Is writing a distraction? No, it isn’t that either. I think about writing all the time and I am constantly getting ideas with no time to execute them. Even when I went on European vacation last time, I wrote as much fiction and nonfiction as I could.

Yes, it was in your third School of the Ages: The War Against Love. I will include my review on that one at the end of this interview so our readers can learn more about the series.
How much do you have in common with your protag?  

As far as “The Paring Knife” is concerned, it’s the script of a TV cooking show, so it doesn’t precisely have a protagonist. Instead, I used the story as a chance to be much more vicious and wicked to my characters than I would ever be to real people—and to be funny doing it.

As far as the protagonist of the School of the Ages series, Simon, I have a lot in common with him.  I was a dark-minded brooder when I was his age. The difference is that he’s heroic and bold, and I never was those things.

That’s the joy of writing, isn’t it? One of my best friends was always a shooting champ in her writings, because in real life she never won the first place. What are your hobbies?

Book promotion has mostly replaced my old hobbies. I still like to go to art museums. Julie and I travel, especially overseas, when we can afford it. We are also movie and TV aficionados, seeking out not only the standard Hollywood fare, but also great foreign, independent, and older movies.

Book promo! My family is allergic to that, so I’m done with methods that don’t work to be with them. Good luck with your effort though. And give us a shout whenever you’ll visit Aussieland. Foreign movie? Check out Intouchables if you haven’t seen it.

Tell us a bit about who or/and what matters to you.

I wish I could do something to get the generation of students I am teaching to value and enjoy reading. What’s most frustrating is their almost instantaneous rejection of things that are not in their immediate world-view, and their experience of reading as a difficult, burdensome task to which most anything else is preferable. I wish I could change all that.

That is sad. My daughter’s friend wrote recently that a boy’s best friend is no longer a dog. It’s now a computer, where he mostly play games such that kids in non English-speaking countries don’t know how to write in their native alphabets anymore. But I noted you always make sure your writing is something that kids will find entertaining. What is important for your readers to know about you? Why?

I am friendly to readers and happy to hear from them about my work. Don’t be shy about writing to me. You’ll make me smile like a proud papa.

I want my writing to change lives for the better. I want to be entertaining, but I also want the reader to feel more at ease with the universe.

Any tips for us on reading and/or writing?

Do both as often as you can. Writing:  try to be interesting. If you aren’t feeling it, your readers won’t. There are things that work and things that don’t work, but the words you don’t like writing, no one will like reading.

Thank you so much Matt, that’s a precious advice.  Thanks for visiting and sharing with us. And oh, as regard The Parting Knife, tell your Belinda to use fresh lime leaves to eliminate any meat smell before or during processing 🙂  No other citrus will do—I even grow a lime tree for its leaves.

 

Schoof of the Ages

Matt’s books are available for Kindle from all Amazon bookstores and also for Nook. In India, the School of the Ages series is sold exclusively by Times Group Books in their online venues or in bookstores.

 

My mini review of The Paring Knifeimages (1)

Three very experienced chefs are invited to show off their culinary skills in the Underground Food Challenge at the Underground Food Network. As in your usual real-TV cooking show, these contestants are given unexpected surprise ingredients to work with; but unlike your usual show, Matt Posner has invented creatures man wasn’t supposed to know, and you’d never guess what’s going to happen.

Whipped up with clever details by a teacher who obviously enjoys cooking, THE PARING KNIFE is gross and shocking. You will laugh, but first you will cringe. Bon appétit!

 

 And here’s what I reviewed a few months ago: 

School of the Ages: The War Against Love

A grim YA Urban Fantasy, this entertaining read is the 3rd in The School of the Ages series.

Brilliant young wizard student Simon and his friend Goldberry must face dangerous, vicious foe after vicious foe right from the start to the end, starting from the attack by Nazi magicians in New York and on to new villains in Europe as they travel with their mentor Dr. Solomon Archer. Along the way, love happens too, in the form of a tempestuous beauty who is the daughter of the all-powerful Arch-Mage of Prague, which brings further threats of life-threatening dangers and devastating loss. In the end the student wizards, along with their friends and teachers, must face their most formidable enemy.

In this meticulously plotted book Posner has deftly developed memorable main and supporting characters from diverse cultural backgrounds. In this book we learn about Simon’s family, his grandmother, and his intriguing new friends and his remorseless enemies.

THE WAR AGAINST LOVE is a well-written action-packed majestic epic of romance and feud with a message of tolerance, written by an author who has worked closely with his audience and understands them well.

 

Check out Matt’s website schooloftheages.webs.com. Follow him on Facebook,  Twitter @schooloftheages and Pinterest. Matt is also a goodreads author. 

 

 

Meet Her Awesomeness Susan Smith-Josephy, Author of “The Ogopogo Club”

 

Read & Tell

 

 

 

 

My guest this week is Susan Smith-Josephy, author of  “The Ogopogo Club”, the only short story  written by a female author that was selected to be part of the Kindle All Stars “Carnival of Cryptids.”

 

Smith-Josephy_Susan

Susan Smith-Josephy, author or LILLIAN ALLING and THE OGOPOGO CLUB: “I’ve always been fascinated by the bizarre, the awful, and the unexplainable.”

 

Hahahahahahaha! OMG… Carmen, oops, Susan, please tell our readers here a one-sentence synopsis of “The Ogopogo Club”!  (*in tears, laughing*)

A woman, married to a jerk, learns just how real The Ogopogo Club is.

How real are your characters?

Um, for legal reasons, I must say “they’re not real at all!” However, in reality, they’re based on composites of people that I know very well.

You are so mischievous! I knew I was going to be entertained even before I read it! And I wasn’t disappointed at all 🙂

So what inspired you to write this story?

I’ve always been fascinated by the bizarre, the awful, and the unexplainable. So when an opportunity came up to contribute to the Kindle All Stars 2 “Carnival of Cryptids” I knew I had to do it.

You’re the only female author of Carnival of Cryptids, so I knew from the beginning there must be something very special about you and your writing. When did you first know you just had to write?

I’ve written for a number of years but I’ve become a lot more prolific now that I’m doing it full time.

How long did it take you to write this piece?

The writing didn’t take long, maybe a few days. But the editing took a lot longer.

How did you come up with the title?

I wanted a local cryptid. The Ogopogo is a watery, bumpy-backed water creature that lives in Lake Okanagan in British Columbia. I love B.C., but its wilderness can be scary. Especially when you’re out on a remote lake, alone with two drunk men.

What is your favorite line in the book? (or paragraph)

“She imagined how it would be if they really existed.  They could come up under a small boat like ours and lift us up, and over we’d go.  No one would know, and no one would find our bodies.  Rumor had it that each time the Ogopogo ate a man, the creature grew a new hump.”

And little did she know… 🙂  Really brilliant, Susan 🙂

So who would you say have been the most influential authors in your life? What is it that really strikes you about their work?

Patricia Highsmith comes to mind. Her stories are a mixture of mystery, the bizarre, and shocking characters. She had a talent for writing a likeable villain which is not an easy thing to do.

Not easy, but you did it very well! Susan, share with us your story about the joy and the hardship of writing.

I enjoy writing because I can do it by myself. No matter how much someone would like to help you, you simply have to do it yourself.

The joy comes from finding the first kernel of an idea. The challenge and hardship then is turning that idea into something worth reading.

And finding more joy in the end, I’m sure. Who gives you the most encouragement? Why is that important to you?

I have a friend from university that lives half a country away, yet we e-mail each other regularly and talk about our writing projects and encourage each other.  I value this feedback very much.

I get a ton of support from my husband and my mother, too. My husband’s driven me thousands of kilometers to help me solve a problem with geography in my research. My mom is an avid reader of everything, and has an instinct on what’s right in a story.

Aren’t you lucky! And they must love the process too, seeing how talented you are. Are you working on another story right now? Tell us your latest news.

Right now I’m working on another non-fiction book. It’s a biography of a local old timer. He came to British Columbia for the gold rush in the 1850s, and soon turned to mule train packing to make a living. He was a character, well-loved, and continued with his career well into his 80s. I love to research and write about every day people who do extraordinary things. He probably didn’t think he was doing anything special, but he worked for more than 50 years in a physically grueling profession, during some of the most fascinating times in our province’s history.

I also have an ebook of fiction anthology coming out later this year. In keeping with my love of the macabre and weird, it’s a collection of stories I’ve written over the years with a general theme of the dark side of human nature.

It seems that my non-fiction focuses on the good in people, and my fiction spotlights the bad. I need to figure out why that is.

Methinks you’re a well-balanced all-rounder, Susan. I’m so going to check out your other books!

Do you see writing as a career or distraction? Why?

It’s neither, really, and also both. It’s a career because I do it all the time, every day. But it’s also a distraction because every time I try and do something else, I feel like I should be writing.

How much do you have in common with your protag? 

Not much in that she keeps her mouth shut, and I am loud and opinionated. But some, in that I hate being around groups of drunk people.

I see, so you sort of vent your dislikes both aloud and in writing—and why not? Isn’t that one of the joys of being a writer? I too sometimes take my vendetta against obnoxious people in my writing 🙂 

What are your hobbies, Susan?

Reading, papercrafting, gardening, photography, travel. Can I count “cleaning my closets” as a hobby? I like to do that.

You must be very organized. What is your other profession? When do you find the time to write?

I’m a retired journalist, so I’m at home. But I also do social media for a local company, and do other stuff as well, so I usually write in the middle of the night.

How nice. I can’t wait to be a wise, retired lady of 70, and writing full time.

Who and what matters to you, Susan?

My family and a few good friends mean everything to me. I need not to be around dysfunctional people, and I’ll do a lot to avoid them. Physical health is vital. I’ve had some friends with serious health problems, and it changes absolutely everything.

How has your published work influenced others and their attitude towards you?

It means a lot to me when someone takes the time to buy and read my book. And if I get an email or a letter from them, I just love that. And when a reader reaches out to me on Twitter and reviews my book, I am just thrilled that they wanted to take the time to do that.

And why not? You’re awesome!

Anything important for your readers to know about you, Susan?

I love it when readers write to me and give me updates on my research subjects. After the Lillian Alling book came out in print, I received some wonderful letters from descendants of the people in the book. It was very moving.

And Lillian Alling was such an inspiring personality; what a woman! I’ll have to read that book.

 

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Susan’s first book, “Lillian Alling: the journey home” is a true account about a woman who, in the 1920s, walked from New York to Siberia via Canada and Alaska.

 

Any tips for us on reading and writing?

I’m a fan of both print and ebooks. I have about ten print books that I’m reading now, and an equal amount of ebooks just waiting for me on my Kindle. Reading is reading! I believe you cannot be a writer if you’re not a reader.

Thank you so much for stopping here Susan. Best wishes for your work!

 

Susan Smith-Josephy is a writer, researcher and editor based in Quesnel, British Columbia. Susan has a degree in History from Simon Fraser University, and also studied journalism at Langara College. She has worked at various community newspapers throughout British Columbia as both a reporter and an editor. She is also researching some particularly gruesome British Columbian historical crimes.

Watch out for Susan’s next non-fiction book is about Jean Caux, the famed packer, who is known in British Columbia as Cataline.

Find Susan on her website www.susmithjosephy.com, her blogs http://writersglob.blogspot.com and http://writingsnoir.blogspot.ca/, Pinterest, Google+, Facebook, and follow her where  most action happens: on Twitter @susmithjoseph

Her book Lillian Alling: the journey home is available from the following outlets Caitlin PressAmazon.com,  Amazon Canada and every other Amazon.

I hope you have enjoyed meeting her. This is my third interview with the authors of Carnival of Cryptids, a new-released anthology for charity purpose, specifically the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Come back next week and meet the next brilliant author of Carnival of Cryptids.

 

My mini review on “The Ogopogo Club”:

The OGOPOGO CLUB is the story of Carmen, a very obedient wife, and the abuse she receives from her despicable husband.  One stormy afternoon, they go out fishing with his drunken friend to the scary Lake Okanagan in British Columbia, where Ogopogo, a watery, bumpy-backed water creature is rumored to have lived. 

A short story with a huge twist. Susan Smith-Josephy knows well how to give her readers a good time. Thoroughly entertaining.

 

Carnival of CryptidsCOMING SOON

CARNIVAL OF CRYPTIDS is an anthology
about creatures man was never supposed to know.

Sadie Duarte: Her Moving Fight To Survival in The Dance Of Silence.

Read & Tell

 

Today, we are honoured by a visit from an angel, my very special friend Sadie Duarte, who, I originally stumbled upon on Twitter. When my son accused me of having thousands of fake friends, he was sorely mistaken. Like in real life, cyber friends are humans too, and they come in all kinds of quality. Sadie Duarte, is among the most precious. When I shouted out an invitation to review my book, Sadie Duarte took it up. She happened to like it, especially, as I found out later, she herself has been living with disabilities for quite a time. When I asked her, Sadie promptly went on to translate my work to her native language, Castilian Spanish, which, to my astonishment, she completed amazingly fast. This brilliant author and poetess is very thorough, and works very efficiently.

Born in Zaragoza (Spain), Sadie Duarte is a writer/scriptwriter who holds a B.A. in English Studies at UNED and an M.A. in Textual and Cultural Studies in English Language (British & Hollywood Cinema) at the University of Zaragoza. She has received eleven literary & academic awards and also works as a teacher of English & a translator.

 

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Sadie Duarte, Spanish author and poetess: “When I read a book, I also want to ‘feel’ something. That’s what matters to me the most.”

 

Hello Sadie. Thanks for visiting. Would you be so kind to give readers a one-sentence synopsis of Alas para Soñar (Wings to Dream)?

“Silence can dance too”

What inspired you to write this book?

When I was a child, my dream was to be a dancer. Not that I dreamt of being famous, but I needed to escape from the world I was living in, my daily life, the everyday problems… I wanted to be free. Nobody taught me how to dance, but I had some kind of talent which I used to participate in the school festivals and with my friends, just for fun. I was hoping to take up dancing classes, but then, I had an accident which led to a major operation when I was only 18. All my dreams shattered. There was very little chance for me to walk again, but the worst thing to me was when I was told that I’d never dance again.

It was so difficult for me to face up reality and start living a life where the word “disability” was in front of me, just like a label attached to the strings of my heart. Since that day, I devoted myself to trying to get my life back. I thought there had to be a way to bring back the same person I used to be. It was incredibly hard, but fortunately, I recovered from everything.

I’ve always said that no matter how difficult life can be, you just need to have will power to fight and get what you want. Nobody can silence you for even silence has so much to say… even dance to the dance of life.

I thought that I could tell my own story in a fictionalized way so other people, especially teenagers with similar problems and their own families, would know there’s always an open door waiting for you. In this way, Alas para Soñar should be considered not as an elaborated short novel, but more like a teenager’s diary where feelings are much more important than the story.

That is very touching, Sadie. I congratulate you on being a survivor and on your contribution in motivating others. How real are your characters?

They’re all true to life. My friends inspired me as well as other people who I found along the way, though I changed their names and jobs. The two sisters in the story, Marcy and Eileen are both myself. Eileen is the voice of the conscience, the one that tells you where you should go, which road to take and what’s best for you. She’s supposed to be sensible, though sometimes she’s wrong. Marcy is the voice that comes from the heart, the rebel, the one who needs to shout out to the world that she has something to say.

Brilliant! You and your alternate ego. Don’t we all need one? I wish you success in helping people with that one. Now please tell us about your upcoming book, Almas de Fuego (Souls of Fire). What is it about? How did you come up with the title Almas de Fuego?

This is an illustrated fantasy novel for young adults and is part of a trilogy. I wanted to write a story involving mythology, alchemy, magic, reincarnation, love and passion, without forgetting to give readers the chance to unveil a message between the lines.

The story is set in mysterious places like Shamballa, Hades and the African desert. It has exotic protagonists like a water-diviner, a thief of souls and the legendary alchemist Fulcanelli. The storyline conveys some kind of a dreamland atmosphere where everything is possible.

The book brings to the fore the old-time confrontation between good and evil and also makes readers wonder to what extent people’s destinies can be influenced or changed. One way or the other, most people are looking for something: happiness, love, a comfortable life… I guess we are all ‘souls of fire’, just trying to make our dreams come true.

How much do you have in common with your characters? 

Well, there’s always something about me in all the stories I write, though not in every character. Those characters that stumble, fall, learn from their mistakes and keep trying are very much like me.

What’s your latest news?

Almas de Fuego (Souls of Fire) will be published in English and Spanish versions in March 2013. The book will be available worldwide in paperback, PDF and Kindle. I intend to have an illustrated tale for children published later on this year and also have an ambitious project to shoot a short movie in Spain.

You translation of Sydney’s Song has received glowing praise. Readers have come to me to say they like your work. Why did you agree to translate it? How long did it take you to translate this book?

It was the first time I was offered to translate a book into Spanish, so I really liked the idea. At the same time, I knew it would give me the chance to let other people know about the kind of work I can do, so I agreed. I really enjoyed the experience as Sydney’s Song is such a compelling story, so touching and full of life. I’ll always be grateful to Ia Uaro for thinking of me as a translator.

 

La CANCIÓN de SYDNEY, Spanish edition of Sydney's Song by Ia Uaro, fabulously translated into Spanish by Sadie Duarte

La CANCIÓN de SYDNEY, the Spanish edition of Sydney’s Song by Ia Uaro, fabulously translated into Spanish by Sadie Duarte

 

The translation took me about one month and a half. I spent about 15 hours per week each time and once it was finished, I also revised, re-read and corrected the manuscript a couple of times too. I’ve always been a perfectionist, so if I ever feel that something should be improved, then I go for it!

Thank you! My deepest gratitude for a job very well done!

What is your favorite line in Sydney’s Song, Sadie?

I’d choose the line where Nina tells Sydney, “No one will think badly of you, except the low people. Nobody will honour you, except the honourable.”

Would you visit or live in Australia, Sadie?

Sure! I love travelling and as I’ve never been to Australia, it’d be great to make a trip there in the near future.

Looking forward to your visit then, I really hope we can meet for real.

Now, wo would you say have been the most influential authors in your life? What is it that really strikes you about their work?

I believe the Spanish author Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (1836-1870) has been the most influential to me. His rhymes and legends are so romantic and inspiring. The same goes for Antonio Gala and Alberto Vázquez Figueroa, who are not only good writers, but brilliant poets. I love good literature in general, Ovid, Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Jerome K. Jerome, Jane Austen, E. M. Forster, Nicholas Sparks and… even Hugh Laurie! When I read a book, I also want to ‘feel’ something. That’s what matters to me the most.

I hope one day you can introduce the great Spanish authors to us by translating their work into English; perhaps someday when you aren’t busy.

What story would you like to share about the joy, challenge, or hardship of writing?

I’ve been writing since I was 7-seven-year old. I still keep several folders full of short stories, tales, poems and two novels. They may not be very good and I have no idea if I’ll ever have them published, but they’re part of my life. No matter what happens, they’ll always be there, in writing, waiting for someone to read them, hoping to inspire. So many times people have told me to stop writing ‘cause ‘it’s a waste of time’. I disagree.  I believe if you have a talent, you should not put it aside. My piece of advice is that everybody should be free to try and make their dreams come true.

Who gives you the most encouragement? Why is that important to you?

Other artists, not only the famous ones, but also normal people who are good at something and yet don’t know what to do to be noticed. That’s why I opened my Twitter and Facebook accounts. I want to give artists from all over the world the chance to be heard.

You have a caring soul, Sadie.

You are also a perfectionist with attention to details. Any tips for us in writing or translating?

Just listen to your heart. We all have something to say, so take a look deep inside your soul and try to put it in writing. If it’s hard to do it, if it’s painful and takes you some time, then you bet it’s something good.

What courage! Very inspiring when plenty of people simply give up when faced with difficulties.

Would you take translating a career besides writing?

Yes, I would. Actually, I’d be very pleased to translate into Spanish other author’s books. I enjoy doing many things and being busy, so I’m looking forward to that.

I can attest to how fabulous your work is!

What are your hobbies? When do you find the time to write?

I enjoy listening to all kinds of music, going to the cinema, theatre… anything that has to do with the performing arts. I absolutely love musicals!

I only write if I have something to say. When I have a good story in my head, I try to write it in a couple of months. It’s compulsory. I sit in front of the computer every single day and write until the story is finished, even if I don’t feel like it.

Excellent discipline. What one thing is important for your readers/audience to know about you? Why?

To be or not to be a best-selling author is not important to me. I only want to make people ‘feel’ when they read my stories. I want them to close their eyes and think of the message between the lines. That’s the meaning of success. You’re successful if you manage to touch people’s hearts. And that’s not easy. So many times we read stories that are easily forgotten. If they remember mine, then I’ll be grateful.

Looking forward to read your work, Sadie. Tell us about your Spain.

In my opinion, Spain is a fine place to go on your summer holidays, but not a very good country to live in because of the economic crisis. More and more people are going to live overseas now as there are no working opportunities here. I truly hope that things change in the near future, though many of us are already sad and disappointed.

 

Sadie’s first fiction novel for young adults, Alas para Soñar (Libros Certeza)—a story about a ballerina who has to deal with disability—was published for charity purposes in November 2000.

 

Readers, watch out for Sadie’s upcoming book. Authors, contact Sadie for a translation that you will be extremely pleased with. Find her on:

http://www.sydneyssong.net/sadieduarte.htm

http://www.facebook.com/sadie.duarte.3

http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/sadieduarte

Twitter: @sadieduarte
Book Purchase Links: http://www.certeza.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Simon John Cox, Author of “The Cage”

Read & Tell

 

This is my second Read & Tell on CARNIVAL OF CRYPTIDS, a new-released anthology for charity purpose, specifically the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

 

Carnival of CryptidsCOMING SOON

Carnival of Cryptids, a fantasy anthology for the purpose of charity,
especially the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

 

My guest this week is British author Simon John Cox, author of The Cage, one of the fantastic short stories in this anthology. As Jeff Provine has told us last week, Carnival of Cryptids is a collections of stories about creatures man was never meant to know, and Simon’s chosen creature is Yeti.

 

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Simon John Cox: “Honesty and integrity matter most to me.”

 


OMG Simon, what a story! The Cage simply left me speechless! Congratulations on this short story. Would you be so kind to give readers its one-sentence synopsis?

Yeti! Circus! Ringmaster! Money! Moral dilemma!

It felt so much more than that! How real are your characters?

They’re all based on bits of real people. As such the Yeti is either the most or the least real…

Who or what inspired you to write this story?

I had such a positive experience with the first Kindle All-Stars project that when I heard there was going to be a second I decided that I had to write something. I think I picked the Yeti because I like the idea that it’s potentially so similar to Man—that gives a lot of scope. That’s what prompted the story—at its heart it’s an exploration of the moral questions behind the objectification of a living, sentient, intelligent creature.

How long did it take you to write The Cage?

I think I worked on it on and off for a couple of months, but I was sweating right up to the deadline as writing the story changed the direction of the story such that I couldn’t resolve the ending. I wrote a blog post about how I did so, in case anyone’s interested: http://www.simonjohncox.com/2012/10/flowchart-writers-block-technique-and.html

Yes, I could see so much thought and reflection had been poured into this one. The result is brilliant! How did you come up with the title?

I usually find it difficult to come up with titles for my stories, because I write with a story in mind rather than a title. It’ll often take me as much thought to come up with a title as it does to come up with a plot. It was only after I’d finished writing this one that I realised that the thing that was causing all of the conflict in the piece was the cage.

What is your favorite line or paragraph in the book?

Modesty forbids me from picking one, I’m afraid.

You are so humble! I would say it’s extremely hard to pick one, because all of the paragraphs have been so deftly crafted.
Who would you say have been the most influential authors in your life? What is it that really strikes you about their work?

I’d say probably Thomas Pynchon for his imagery and turbulent imagination, Gabriel García Márquezfor his imagination and poetry of prose, and Cormac McCarthy for his precision of writing. They’re the ones that I aspire to (and fall far short of).

Not far at all, Simon. The Cage showcases your superb imagination and precision, besides being soulful and thought provoking.

When did you first know you just had to write?

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing something or other…

What story would you like to share about the joy, challenge, or hardship of writing?

The real joy of it is when a stranger contacts you out of the blue to let you know how much they liked something that you’ve written.

Definitely count me as one!

Who gives you the most encouragement? Why is that important to you?

Apart from my partner, other writers. I’m a member of the Tunbridge Wells Writers Group, and I know various writers from the internet (many of them from the KAS1 project). They’re always very supportive in terms of encouragement, constructive criticism, advice and designing book covers (that last one’s mostly Keri Knutson and Tony Healey).

What are you working on right now? Tell us your latest news.

I’m trying to finish a second novel. It’s about one man whose records are erased and as a result gradually ceases to exist, and another man who is brought into existence by a series of clerical errors. It’s better than it sounds, honest.

Do you see writing as a career or distraction? Why?

It’s not a career, because I don’t make any money from it, but I wouldn’t call it a distraction either, as that sounds as though it’s something that I shouldn’t be doing…I’d say it’s an escape. It’s a great way of exploring the various ideas that are always rattling around in my skull.

How much do you have in common with your protag George Penny?

We’re both English. Beyond that…not much, I think. Although I expect there’s more of me in him than I realise…

Dumb question; I could see so much of you in this fine piece.

What are your hobbies?

Aside from writing I do a lot of running, and I also do Taekwon-Do.
I always think you need those to stay sane. What is your other profession? When do you find the time to write?

I’m a marketer, and I generally write during my lunch hour at work. Otherwise I’ll sit down at the blank page if I find myself home alone in the evenings or at weekends.

Tell us a bit about who or/and what matters to you.

Apart from my partner Saveria, I think honesty and integrity matter most to me. It sounds corny, I know, but it’s true.

Wonderful qualities—I wouldn’t worry about how it sounds. I’m sure they make you a blessing to those around you.  How has your published work influenced others and their attitude towards you, by the way?

The one thing that people say to me regularly when they hear that I’ve written and published fiction is that they’re impressed. I suppose anyone can say they’re writing a book, whereas not nearly as many can say that they’ve written one…

I will look for your other work. What one thing is important for your readers to know about you? Why?

That I am genuinely overjoyed if they like anything that I’ve written.

And they will want more from you. Any tips for us on writing?

I need to know the beginning and the end before I can write anything. I need to know the two points that I’m connecting.

Thank you for stopping here, Simon. Best wishes for your work!

 

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Simon has been busy. Click here to find out more about his fabulous work.

 

My mini review of The Cage:

THE CAGE deceptively opens with a group of happy sailors seeking entertainment in town, singing and drinking without a care in the world. However before you know it Simon Cox rips your heart apart with a relationship so moving,  truths so deep.

The Cage follows the beautiful interaction between an ambitious ringmaster and his captive, and asks thought-provoking questions about our very existence and what matters to us humans. Superbly told in a fast pace, carefully thought-out presentation, by a writer who makes us care.

 

Visit Simon’s home www.simonjohncox.com and follow him on Twitter @simonjohncox. His book links are   AmazonBarnes & NobleSmashwords.

Carnival of Cryptids’ is now available from  Amazon USA and Amazon UKCome back next week and meet more of its fantastic authors.