Meet RJ Mirabal, Rio Grande’s Author, Retired Teacher, Rider, Musician.

 

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RJ Mirabal, Southwest Contemporary Fantasy author of The Tower of Il Serrohe, a retired award-winning teacher of  Los Lunas High School in New Mexico, is with us today. Former president and rally chairman of the Land of Enchantment BMW Riders, RJ remains active in the club. RJ is a board member of the New Mexico Dulcimer Association which puts on a yearly dulcimer music festival.

 

RJ Mirabal, Southwest Author of The Tower of Il Serrohe

“People tend to put themselves in little groups and the groups come into conflict with each other… I think people from different cultures are a bit suspicious of each other. The clans in the book have some elements of New Mexico, but they are also universal; they could be from any part of the world.”

Hello RJ, thank you so much for visiting. First, congratulations for the accolades from your readers so far. They’re all fascinated by your home the Middle Rio Grande Valley, where you have lived most of your life. Please share this this place with us.

The Middle Rio Grande Valley is located in New Mexico midway on its journey from the Rockies of Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico. The river itself is small in terms of volume, but rather exotic as it works its way through mountains, across deserts, and deep canyons all while nurturing its bosque: a narrow band of mostly cottonwood trees, willow bushes, and countless species of plant and animal life. I grew up along the Rio Grande in the small towns of Peralta and Los Lunas and couldn’t think of any better setting for my writing.

You are a retired teacher of the award-winning Los Lunas High School. Come tell us about this school and your time there.

My life’s work was teaching high school students English, Speech, and Drama in Los Lunas, New Mexico. I enjoyed the challenge of helping students communicate more effectively and explore their world. The difficulty was getting students to appreciate their role in their own education. I was able to succeed some of the time, but I occasionally wonder about those I couldn’t reach. I was active in the National Education Association (NEA) at the local level because teachers have to have an equal voice in the direction of education in America. I was humbled when I earned the NEA-New Mexico Excellence in Education award in 2006 two years before I retired.

That’s wonderful! Congratulations!

And past president and rally chairman of the Land of Enchantment BMW Riders, you’ve remains active in the club. How nice! Share with us your adventures with the club.

Being able to ride throughout this beautiful state, country, and world on a motorcycle is an experience for which I’ll always be grateful. And the people I’ve worked and ridden with are among the best!

After retiting, you have pursued writing and music. Playing the hammered dulcimer is a big interest for you and you’re a board member of the New Mexico Dulcimer Association which puts on a yearly dulcimer music festival. Tell us about playing hammered dulcimer, and the music festival.

Hammer DulcimerThe hammered dulcimer is a rather unique and little known instrument of ancient origins. It has a very charming and exciting sound because, coupled with the singing strings, there’s a strong percussive element that makes playing and listening great fun. Our New Mexico Dulcimer Festival is a wonderful opportunity for many people to learn more and appreciate the beauty of these unique instruments including the mountain dulcimer which is actually a different instrument.

You enjoy exploring New Mexico’s wilderness areas on his four-wheeler and travelling with your wife, Cheryl. When you’re not writing or promoting your book, you explore back roads and wilderness trails throughout the state on your Polaris RZR four-wheeler. Tell us more about the wilderness trails and the four-wheeler. Which one interest you the most? The wilderness or having fun with the car?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABoth the 4wheeler (which is something like a micro-Jeep with a motorcycle engine) and the wilderness are equally attractive. It’s great to get away from civilization and humanity to simply enjoy nature. It’s also fun to go fast, climb hills, and cross difficult terrain. It’s a wonderful blend of the man-made and God-made. Of course, I also believe in preserving the environment and sticking to official trails so wildlife can go about its business without some crazy guy on a Polaris RZR (the brand of 4wheeler I ride) disrupting their day!

What a way to enjoy life! Now tell us about your novel The Tower of Il Serrohe. What compelled you to write this book?

The Tower of Il Serrohe is the result of a lifelong interest in fantasy and fiction stories that have unexpected plot twists. I also wanted to place the story in the landscape of the Southwest where I grew up and now live. It’s fun to find mystery and wonder in the “ordinary” places of our everyday lives. Thus I call it a Southwest contemporary fantasy.

Fantastic! Would you be so kind to tell us about The Tower of Il Serrohe?

Wrenched from a deteriorating lifestyle when his promiscuous wife kicked him out, anti-hero Don Vargas rents a dilapidated casita which – unknown to him, of course – is actually a portal to another world. Vargas takes readers through a dusty portal on a Southwest contemporary fantasy quest into a larger-than-life alternate Rio Grande Valley, where local clanspeople expect him to save them from the wily Soreyes’ mysterious Tower.

Will Don find purpose to his pointless life? Will he find love and friendship in a place he wouldn’t have believed possible? Where will his next beer come from?

The Tower of Il Serrohe front cover final

The Tower of Il Serrohe follows the misadventures of Don Vegas—who reluctantly passes through a portal—on a quest to help the clans of the Valle Abajo, a valley in another dimension that resembles the Rio Grande Valley of present-day New Mexico.

 

Please share your favourite paragraph in this book.

This paragraph ends chapter “fifty two” summing up the nature of Don’s personality and still to be revealed abilities to take on the quest to save the clans of the Valle Abajo. It also makes me laugh visualizing it:

“His (Don’s) departure seemed to create an enormous vacuum in the room. The two clanspeople (Raquela and Nersite) felt this was the closing of a big circle. Don had to be the one to save the Valle. Just look at his heritage and his abilities. That is, in spite of the fact—though they had no word for it—he seemed to be a bit of a prick.”

How long did it take you to write this first volume, RJ?

In total from initial idea and a couple of short stories that gave birth to the much more complex novel it took 30 years to complete this story. Of course, I wasn’t working on it that whole time. I actually spent the last three years writing, editing, and then getting it published by 2012. But the story ideas and my writing style improved over those years. I, of course, read continually taking inspiration and tips from every author I read.

 “The places and the people are fully realized and totally involving, and become friends you want to continue to know.”

How real are your characters?

Some of my characters are obviously fantasy, but based on interesting human peculiarities of most every person I’ve ever met. Even Don, though a regular human, is not based on any one person, but a collection of individuals I’ve known and other characters I’ve encountered in literature. I’ve tried hard to “test” my characters—even the fantasy ones—against reality so that I hope readers will find them believable given the setting and plot I’ve created.

RJ, you have said,  “People tend to put themselves in little groups and the groups come into conflict with each other… I think people from different cultures are a bit suspicious of each other. The clans in the book have some elements of New Mexico, but they are also universal; they could be from any part of the world.” What message would you tell the world? Does this book have an agenda?

The message is: “All of what we perceive to be reality is a function of our perception which is informed by our normal senses and our emotional and philosophical states of being.” And, as always: evil is bad, kindness is good, and love is essential to life.

No big agenda other than entertaining my readers who will share in my imagination as they read the book.

On the sequel, do you accommodate fans’ requests on your sequel?

I’m trying, but I’m taking some risks, too. I can’t be specific because I like readers to be surprised when they read my work. The main thing is that the story continues. I had originally intended this to be a self-contained story, but I’m enjoying the challenge of developing the story and characters further.

Why is this sequel a must-read?

I want readers to learn more about the clanspeople and the evil Soreyes. Plus, I love sharing more about the landscape.

What is the proposed title, RJ? And how did you come up with this title?

The title is: “Extreme Dust Storms May Exist”. This title is a slight variation of a very strange sign near the setting of the novel along the highway past the real Los Lunas (Rio Luna in the book). Dust and dust storms are a constant reality in New Mexico plus the implications of dust and wind play a part in the story. Also there is a key event at the beginning of the story that involves a dust storm.

Right. In Australia it will be a sign of extreme fire danger 🙂 

When is the proposed release date of this sequel? Tell us your latest news.

No idea on a release date. I’m still working on the first draft and haven’t sent it to my publisher to gauge his interest in publishing it. I’m continuing to market and publicize The Tower of Il Serrohe by attending book fairs, signings, presentations to the Southwest Writers (my professional writing association) and doing media interviews like this!

Good luck with your marketing efforts! About writing. What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of a good fantasy?

A good fantasy has to take the reader away from the “real world” into a place and events that fascinate, hence the term: fantasy. Yet at the same time, the world and characters of the fantasy story has to be believable and follow its own internal rules and the normal rules of what it means to be a human being. If a character is totally out of the realm of humanity, then we can’t relate and the story loses relevance.

When did you first know you just had to write?

When I was a kid, I used to entertain my friends making up stories as we rode the bus to school and back home. I didn’t know that meant I was to be an author, but that’s where the impulse started. Plus, I’m an only child, so I had to create stories when I played since I didn’t have siblings.

RJ, you said, “When you have a story, once you’ve developed it into a manuscript, get an editor.  No matter how good you think you are, you’re not. Somebody else should look at it who knows what they are doing. You need to have people read what you’ve written, especially people who will be honest.” Now, how did being an English teacher prepare you for criticism?

Being a teacher prepares one  for all kinds of criticism from students, parents, administrators, politicians, media pundits, etc. Since I graded writing for a living, it’s not hard putting myself at the receiving end of criticism. I actually welcome it as long as it’s honest and constructive.

How much do you have in common with your protag?

Few of Don’s major characteristics are shared with me such as alcoholism, constant cynicism, being so out-spoken, etc. It was a great challenge to create and maintain a persona very different from me. However, some of the small ways and things that annoy him annoy me, too. Nersite is most like me in my opinion.

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

My wife, my late parents, and the great family of friends I have are most important. Also, enjoying life and spending most of my time doing what is fulfilling to me. I enjoy some attention, but not a lot. I would like more attention paid to my writing which is what I’m working on now.

Yes, I can see you are a very people person with real interest in those around you. Thank you so much for the wonderful chat, RJ. Best wishes on writing Extreme Dust Storms May Exist!

And readers, I hope you have enjoyed meeting RJ Mirabal. He can be found on  rjmirabal.com  or his current main site rjmirabal.blog.com. Check out the latest news from RJ on Facebook,  Google Plus, and  Goodreads. RJ’s book The Tower of Il Serrohe is available from Amazon.com and  Barnes and Noble . I will let you know when the sequel will be available.

What readers say on The Tower of Il Serrohe:

  • Mirabal does a fine job of capturing the spirit of the Rio Grande Valley and transporting you to a new dimension with likable characters… What a fresh style for fantasy.

  • Man, Mirabal sure has some imagination! … I was able to picture so much of it in my mind, even the house north of Rio Luna. The map was a great idea and helped me with my vision as I read.

  • A fascinating journey to the desserts of New Mexico and the alternate world that parallels it. The whimsical characters remind me of the Hobbit, only with a New Mexico twist. Mirabal’s descriptions of New Mexico sunrises and sunsets are beautiful…The mystery of the other world is carried through to the surprise end, and a satisfying conclusion that stays long after you put the book down.

  • This book creates a solid new world with the feel of the Southwest, and yet with a difference: The alternate world is strange but haunting—and mysterious. Like the protagonist, you sometimes wonder whether it is real or just hallucinatory. But then, when you get to an explanation of sorts—WOW. Totally unexpected and made me rethink—and want to reread it all.

 

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Meet Harper Dimmerman—Lawyer, Professor, Author of JUSTICE HUNTER

 read-tellOur guest today is Harper Dimmerman, Esquire, a leading trial lawyer who is also a frequent lecturer to other attorneys, long-standing columnist with a seminal legal publication on the East Coast and an adjunct professor at Temple University. After obtaining his degree in English literature from Vassar, he went on to found his own law firm. Following his passion for fiction and drawing upon his own experiences from the courtroom, Harper writes legal thrillers devoted to the precarious exploits of the Chicago transplant, the dashing and cerebral Hunter Gray.

Hello Harper, thank you for visiting. Your debut novel JUSTICE HUNTER was released mid-April of 2012 to great fanfare, with Hunter’s plight disproving the pithy pearls of wisdom bandied about by Clarence Darrow, “There is no such thing as justice—in or out of court.” Would you be so kind to give readers a one-sentence synopsis of JUSTICE HUNTER?

JUSTICE HUNTER is a legal thriller set in my hometown of Philadelphia. A successful big-firm lawyer is on the verge of making partner but his plans are derailed by an explosive first amendment case.

JUSTICE HUNTER is a legal thriller set in my hometown of Philadelphia. A successful big-firm lawyer is on the verge of making partner but his plans are derailed by an explosive first amendment case.

Set in the City of Brotherly Love, this series is devoted to the precarious exploits of the dashing and cerebral attorney Hunter Gray, with whom you spend every available millisecond. How real is your character Hunter?

Hunter Gray is friend I never had, a big-hearted lawyer who sort of fell into the practice of law. He represents the large-firm world I never knew firsthand either, so I suppose he’s largely a product of my imagination.

One of the best criminal lawyers in Pennsylvania has heralded you, comparing your no-holds-barred style to that of the late fiction icon Mickey Spillane and the novel as “an electrifying, chilling page-turner.” As its author, please share your favourite part in this book.

I really like Dillon Wright these days. He’s naughty and I suppose that’s where I am in my life right now.

You have completed three novels and is currently wrapping up your fourth, the third installment in Justice Hunter series. What are the titles? Would you be so kind to give readers a one-sentence synopsis of each?

 

I wrote a spy thriller first, a manuscript I shelved very early on. That title, TOKYO GHOST, brought me back to my days living in Tokyo, where it was set. I quickly realized that finding your voice as a writer is an exercise, probably one not worth sharing with the free world.

 

JUSTICE HUNTER is the first in the Hunter Gray series. That was based, very, very loosely on a case I’d worked on involving civil rights in Philly.
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The next in the series is DIE BEFORE WE WAKE, basically a serial-killer thriller starring Hunter as well. It’s about a very bad guy killing kids, some sick pedophile type with a bunch of nasty psychological conditions. It’s ugly yet suspenseful, hopefully.

 

The third is STRIPPERS INFERNO, which I guess is sort of self-explanatory. Hunter takes the lead there too and comes face to face with a sociopath lawyer who gets off chopping up dancers of the sexual variety. It’s very dark and disturbing.

 

I started the fourth in the series too but haven’t made much headway yet, lost in a dark comedy I started around the New Year. This one, at least I hope, will be read by every reader out there. It’s about a loser dying of cancer whose sexual fantasies become reality. Naturally, considering he’s terminal, the notion of fantasy has changed pretty dramatically in this dude’s mind.

Why are they a must-read series?

Did I say that? Shit that’s bold! I guess, if I try to justify that one, and I’m not so sure those were actually my words, some momentum would be good. It might help my agent score a couple big sales. All kidding aside though, I think they’re pretty entertaining. They’re true to Philly and the legal scene. I guess there’s some value in a lawyer writing about law. I suppose that’s worth something (I would hope).

No, Harper, not your words—you must be a good lawyer! That was me, being a punishing interviewer 🙂
So, how long did it take you to write each of them? What story would you like to share about the joy, challenge, or hardship of writing? Please share some interesting moments.

This is another tough one. The first one was a real bitch. It took a couple years, I think. I sort of last track. It was right around the time I got married I think. My life was a big blur unfortunately. A very lonely time. You’ll have to take my word for it. After that, I started writing two solid pages a day. I tried to take weekends off at first because I was still so busy with building my law practice, something I still do every day with the help of a couple other people though. Lately, I’ve realized that I cannot not write, unless I’m with my kids because I don’t see them very often these days.

It’s a drug and compulsion I suppose. I’m always thinking about it and have never been more intrigued with the way everything looks. Every detail on every face on every street. So two good pages, with constant re-writing, is how I do it. Sometimes I get lost and I never outline.

I have a sense of the characters as I go and certainly they develop. If they don’t mix or work, I frequently nix them altogether and start again. What they say and how they see things is important. Mannerisms, quirks, stuff like that. I tend to gravitate to blonds (joking).

Some days feel unproductive and there are certainly intervals where I wonder whether I’m going to make the words match with the ideas that are important to me at the time. I try to make things as timeless as I can and that can be a real bitch.

Overall, it’s who I am and if I died today I’d be happy as hell, knowing that I did what I loved every day for a while.

That’s wonderful!
Now, the series was inspired by your own experience as counsel to the city of Philadelphia, where you played a key role in one of the most racially and politically charged cases in the city’s history, a case which gripped the nation for its first amendment implications.
Would you like to elaborate on this?

Not really. Intolerance persists the way it does. It’s dressed up and better concealed. But the concepts at the root of the case in that book are still everywhere.

After obtaining your degree in English literature from Vassar, you went on to found your own law firm. When did you first know you just had to write?

I think I’ve always known but I was in denial a while, like most things in life I guess. Aside from my folks and a handful of friends, I had no real encouragement. It’s a long story but I was trying to fit in to a new world and sort of felt behind academically. My self-confidence took a toll. Vassar was a boost and I had this one teacher who really helped me. Mr. Amodio. I’ll never forget the lessons he taught me, especially the import of the words matching what you want to say. Never just assuming words that seem to do the trick, the recycled ones, actually do. Say it your way and make sure the reader’s impression is what you intend. It’s not easy but it’s an idea worth holding on to.

Great tip, thank you! Now, one top mystery editor has said that your work is “easily on par with John Grisham and Scott Turow.” Who would you say have been the most influential authors in your life? What is it that really strikes you about their work?

That was actually an editor I worked with so that was a big deal. Hands down, I would say Martin Amis. He’s a genius, a badass, an innovator and he’s got balls as writer. Love him or hate him, he does it his way and for that he will always be remembered. I like artists, writers, musicians, strippers (not strippers) who take chances. 

Who gives you the most encouragement?

I guess all the writers out there who are doing it every day and grinding it out, working through the blue periods. But having said that, Martin Amis is an inspiration. I think about him and know that I’m on to something to. I have my own voice. You’ll have to trust me on that.

Here’s the email I wrote to his people when I published my first book (seriously):

“From: “Harper J. Dimmerman, Esq.” <harper@hjdlaw.net>photo
Subject: Inspiration/Martin Amis
Date: February 28, 2012 11:00:40 AM EST
To: mailto:mail@wylieagency.co.uk, keulksg@wou.edu, capeeditorial@randomhouse.co.uk

 

Sir/Madam,

 

As cheesy, in every American sense of the word with all its commercial and crude connotations, as this note may seem, I must extend my debt of gratitude to Mr. Amis. He’s been inspiring me for years.  And although the subject of my inevitable death may seem a bit morbid, before I kick the bucket, I must get something off my relatively hairless 30-something chest.  I am more and more of an ass every day and have never felt so comfortable expressing this in my hack writing because of him.  He’s given me the power to be a prick and for that I will always be grateful.

 

All bullocks aside, or whatever hackneyed British saying is being spread these days amongst the masses, he is the greatest.  I am a law professor and have my own law firm.  Within a matter of days, my second novel, a legal thriller, is set to be published, assuredly to be followed by a lukewarm reception, my closest friends and family uniting to celebrate my masochism and pretending to give a rat’s ass hair about the words drizzled off my fingertips.

 

The third, a completely fucked up serial killer recount, starring my protagonist, the only character my mind is capable of cultivating beyond the size of his cock or regimen of SSR’s, is under first edit.  The fourth is even more deranged and is under works, going swimmingly.  Strippers are mutilated.  How obvious and delightful.  Finally, in case you give a shit, my first was shelved, perhaps the best decision I’ve ever made, especially in light of the onslaught of self-publishing, the great equalizer promising to make even bigger hacks out of the existing hacks, massaging their denial like a prostitute going to town on an enlarged prostrate, fixing to steal an organ once the medicine kicks in.

 

Anyway, assuming this email is not disregarded by a hater and somehow manages to pass discretionary or non-discretionary muster as the case may be, please take the liberty of sharing this compliment with him.  He is one of the only writers, still alive, whom I would care to meet.  I do not expect a reply naturally and have no desire to publish with you.  I also generally despite lit agents, something I can say with utter confidence considering I nearly made the unfortunate mistake of becoming in Hollyweird.  This is not a disguised attempt to get anything.

 

Just wanted to get this off my chest.  The time felt right.  You only get published a first time once I suppose.

 

Sincerely,

 

/s/ Harper J. Dimmerman, Esq.                 ___

“How’s that for inspiration? He didn’t reply but I suppose I wasn’t really expecting one. I just had to do it.

Yes, I can hear your voice loud and clear 🙂
Any writing tips?

Write what you know, love and keep writing. It’s not a race. Do a little everyday, however shitty you think it is. Also, don’t be delusional. Don’t let the pressure of commercialism trick you into thinking every word you write is saleable. It ain’t that easy.

JUSTICE HUNTER will be published in mass-market paperback later this month, after breaking onto the Amazon Kindle Hot New Release List on April 27th. Congratulations! And when are you going to release the installments? Tell us your latest news.

I got this great agent last summer so I am sort of laying low. I’m about to have a third manuscript completed and ready to be purchased. I am deferring to them. They believe in me and I’m confident they will get the Hunter Gray series into the mainstream before I’m dead. As for this dark comedy I’m finishing, I think this one may actually get my name out there for real. It’s unique and angry and honest. People might not love me but they’ll know me. This one is the closest one to the way I want something to be. Maybe I’m just getting old…

Good luck with that. How much do you have in common with your protags, Harper?

By definition I guess they’re all part of me in a way. But hopefully not too much. I try to pick people I want to learn about, learning something from. I try to make it a party in my head because I think I’m a much lonelier person than I want others to believe. And of course writing this here probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do as far as keeping that a secret. But what the f—

What are your hobbies apart from writing?

Reading and other adult recreational activities. Soccer sort of. Not exercising my body really. And painting. One of them is actually hanging in someone else’s living room, which could mean a few things I guess. Its owner is too kind not to or maybe she takes it down when I’m not around and puts it back up before I come over. It’s actually not bad really. Bloody and full of angst, a lot of angles and force, but not bad.

Ohh your novels must be  funny 🙂 Tell us a bit about what matters to you.

Honesty and personal growth. These are major for me. I have these amazing little girls and a super beautiful girlfriend too but they are a given. If you’re not learning, might as well be pushing up daisies somewhere in a graveyard of stupidity.

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

 That I’d rather be dead failure than a living fake success.

Anything else?

I think I’ve covered it. Or at least as much as any reader can stomach about one writer, especially me. I’ve gotta be making someone sick somewhere. Someone is spitting I’m sure. I see a lot of that. 

Thanks for the interesting chat, Harper! My best wishes for your books!

And readers, I hope you have enjoyed meeting our celebrity guest Harper Dimmerman. You can click on the book cover above for JUSTICE HUNTER purchase link. Come follow the latest news from his Twitter, and watch out for this upcoming book:

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Praise for JUSTICE HUNTER: 

Whether you’re looking for yet another legal/crime thriller or want to try it out, JUSTICE HUNTER is a fantastic representation of the subgenre that will keep you interested and engaged.

– Reviews by Annie


“Harper Dimmerman has penned a truly captivating story, that you’ll want to go back and read over and over, leaving you anxious for his next release.”

– Dewain Johnson

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Meet Uvi Poznansky, California-based Author, Poet and Artist

 read-tellOur guest today is the awesome Uvi Poznansky, who earned her B. A. in Architecture and Town Planning from the Technion in Haifa, Israel. At the age of 25 Uvi moved to Troy, N.Y. with her husband and two children. Before long, she received a Fellowship grant and a Teaching Assistantship from the Architecture department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she guided teams in a variety of design projects; and where she earned her M.A. in Architecture. Taking a sharp turn, she earned M.S. degree in Computer Science from the University of Michigan and became a software engineer, software team leader, software manager and a software consultant with an emphasis on user interface for medical instruments devices.

Uvi wrote and painted constantly, and exhibited in Israel and California. In addition, she taught art appreciation classes. Her versatile body of includes bronze and ceramic sculptures, oil and watercolor paintings, charcoal, pen and pencil drawings, and mixed media.

Uvi published two children books, Jess and Wiggle and Now I Am Paper. For each one of these books, she created an animation video. She won great acclaim for her 2012 novel, “Apart From Love”, and for her poetry book, “Home”.

Welcome Uvi. Could you pease share with us an interesting moment while writing your contemporary fiction book, Apart From Love?

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My novel, Apart From Love, gained speed and purpose when right in themiddle of writing it I stopped, and turned to write the last chapter, called ‘Editorial Notes’ which is appended at the end of the book. In this chapter, a character called Mr. Bliss comes to visit the Santa Monica Apartment after Ben and Anita have left the place for good. The description given by Mr. Bliss provided the ‘stage set’ for the last scene: the white piano is gone, and the mirror lies broken on the bedroom floor. How would these things happen? I did not know yet, but now I had the end waiting for me.

You wrote “Home” in tribute to your poet and writer father, Zeev Kachel. Share with us about your father, your interaction with him, and your book Home.

933969_581130818594733_1139084828_nI started telling stories and composing poems before I knew how to hold a pen between my fingers. My father, who was a poet, writer and artist, would write these for me, and even quote words I invented. He would also ask me to ‘help’ him rhyme his poems, and so he opened the door for me to a world of creativity.

When he passed away, I went back home for the traditional Shiva-a, the seven days period of mourning. It was then that I discovered his poetry, which he had never shown anyone, because it had come out of a place of pain. It took me six years to sort through this body of work, translate it, and add my own poetry and prose. I hope the readers will be awakened to the same questions that haunted me. At the core, what does home mean to you? When you close your eyes, what image comes to mind? What memories?

Perhaps the grief did something to change the way I viewed things, or else it was sitting in that space—my childhood home—in a spot I rarely sat before, discovering it from a new angle, observing how light penetrated the far reaches of this place, how the furniture signified

relationships in the family. I drew what I saw on a napkin; wiped my tears with it, and later discarded it. This image later became the inspiration for my book, and the cover art for it.

Tell us about your new-release, “Twisted”. And what a great artwork you have created for the cover!

Twisted, by Uvi Poznansky, US author, poet, artist

In this unique collection I bring together diverse tales, laden with shades of mystery. There are four of them: I Am What I Am; I, Woman; The Hollow; and The One Who Never Leaves. Here, you will come into a dark, strange world, a hyper-reality where nearly everything is firmly rooted in the familiar-except for some quirky detail that twists the yarn, and takes it for a spin in an unexpected direction. The word Twisted related both to the yarn of the story and to the mind of the writer. Reviews are coming in almost every day. Here is a quote from one of them, written by Top 1000 Amazon reviewer Sheila Deeth:

“From lilting poetry to feline’s fearsome claw, these pieces draw the reader in, enticing with intriguing depths and surprising with sudden light. Twisted, puzzling, but perfectly put together, the collection has the feel that it was meant to be this way, no random grouping of fiction but a twisted exploration that turns and returns this reader to the singular question: What is woman?

Share with us your Get-Twisted event.

Well Ia, I learn from the best… Several months ago I attended one of your launch event and it was so much fun, so sparkling with creative ideas that I took it as as a model for my own book launch events. Right now there is a fabulous happening on facebook: the launch event for my newest book, Twisted.

I believe that it’s the journey that matters, so unlike any other facebook events you might have attended, this one is happening every day between now and August 21, the end date. Every day there is a something new, such as a cover reveal, or sharing the inspiration for the writing, or a voice clip of the actress narrating the audiobook edition.

Also, there are ongoing activities in the event, for example a Writing Contest as well as an invitation to Come Into My Twisted Universe. The first is a competitive activity, the second—a cooperative one. Both of them are hugely popular with everyone and a great fun for me to orchestrate!

Good luck with the event! And your audio books are impressive, congratulations! Now, who would you say have been the most influential authors in your life? What is it that really strikes you about their work?

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I appreciate the nuances, the overloading of words, and the musical rhythms used in the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe, the sonnets by Shakespeare, and the lyrical descriptions of Virginia Wolfe, to name but a few. I love American authors as well as authors from around the world, for example The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky, and Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, for their expressive use of ‘stream of consciousness’.

Any writing tips?

Read your story aloud in front of a live audience, and listen not only to their comments and suggestions, but more importantly—to their breathing pattern while the story is being read. Are they holding their breath at the right moment? Do they burst out laughing, or wipe a tear when you intended? If not, you must go back to the drawing board and adjust your sentences.

What’s cooking? Tell us your latest news.

I am writing my next novel about the life of David. At this stage, I am still considering what the title should be: perhaps ‘A Crown Within My Reach’ or else ‘Larger Than Life’. Either way, the novel might well be developed into two or three volumes, because this is a richly dramatic life, rife with vices, sensuality, pride, and deadly ambition. Here he is, serving as an entertainer in the royal court, watching King Saul:

“No longer do I ask, what was it in him that allowed him to become who he is. Instead I wonder, whatever it might be, is it in me? Do I have what it takes to become a leader? A king, even? And on my way up, how do I overcome my shortcomings? How does a kid like me—who is too young to grow even a single hair on his chin, let alone a fancy beard like his—find a way to project himself into an iconic role, a role that will become memorable for ages to come? In short: how do I become larger than life?

Intriguing! Best wishes with David. Happy writing! But before you go, what one thing is important for your readers to know about you?

You may have seen my art, and you may have read my books, or at least excerpts from them. Perhaps you even know that I design my own book covers, based on my art. But do you know that I combine my writing and art to create animations? If you visit my Amazon Author Page,you will find two of them under the subtitle Author Video (on the right-hand side, about the middle of the page.) Check it out.


Thanks you so much for your precious time, Uvi!

Readers, I hope you have enjoyed meeting the great Uvi Poznansky. Come follow her blog,  Twitter and pInterest; and visit her art siteFacebook pageAmazon PageGoodreads PageAUTHORSdB and Audible Author Page. Click the followings to purchase Uvi’s books:

TWISTED:   AudiobookEbook,  Print
A FAVORITE SON: Audiobook Ebook,  Print
APART FOM LOVE: Audiobook  Ebook,  Print
HOME: Audiobook,  Ebook, Print

And readers, here is my review of Uvi’s book of prose and poetry, which was cowritten with her father:

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“HOME” ~ Reviewed by Ia Uaro

 

Book Title: Home

Poetry and prose by authors: Zeel Kachel and Uvi Poznansky

ISBN: 978-0-9849932-3-9

 

Zeev Kachel, son of a Russian Jewish family, was born in 1912, on the eve of the First World War. When German declared war on August 1, 1914 and its army marched into Russia, his parents bundled him and his sister into the wagon, leaving behind their store and worldly belongings, to escape for the lives.

“Ma, why did you fool me,” Zeev was still bleeding as 70 years later his pen dripped “We Were Born in Darkness”,

“what was it for,

When you sang me a lullaby, not a song of war?

Oh why did you hide the fateful truth from me

We were born in darkness, our life—not to be?”

Welcome to the poetry world of Zeev, beautifully rendered into English by his daughter Uvi Poznansky. He was a man of passion with the ability to capture it in his work, as Uvi aptly calls it. You can’t but be emotionally affected by Zeev’s powerful laments of loss. Of a child after his mother has departed,

“I had travelled to a place so alien, so cold

How bitter it had felt, to you I never told.

How you waited to receive a word from me, a letter…”

I feel a very special connection to Zeev. To me his moving words provoke long-forgotten memories, tucked away because they were too painful to remember, or to share. I could just imagine his agony as he wrote,

“You’re asking me to record, on paper to pour

All that I lost, my esteemed counselor?”

And bravely he wrote, and wrote and wrote and wrote. Of very beautiful things that are only beautiful while they last, “Lie to me boldly, don’t misgive”

Poetry is cruel honesty—and here is Zeev baring his soul, driving us to share his pain of the well-captured memories,

“For that lost moment, how I pine!”

of his confusion,

“Is this really the path I envisioned?

Then why is the night here so black?”

And yet even as he anguished over his loneliness, “In a night with not a friend, all’s bleary,” his daughter had understood him. His lucky daughter, in whom he has carved: “I am a poem, I inspire

Five stars.

 

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TRANG SEN: Why War Is Never The Right Path Towards Problem Solving

read-tell

 

 

 

My guest today is former U.S. diplomat Sarah-Ann Smith, author of Trang Sen—a love story that puts a human face to the Vietnam War and historical novel capturing the painful suffering of the Vietnamese. I will upload my review of this book at the end of this post, for now I will briefly quote the book blurb to introduce the subject matter.

 

 Overview 

 Trang Sen is the Vietnamese heroine and title character (her name means “White Lotus”) of Sarah-Ann Smith’s acclaimed new novel. War and loss dog the heels of her family, yet Trang Sen is defiant. Rebellious and headstrong even as a child, she struggles to make more of her life than seems possible. As she moves from her parents’ rice farm to the streets and alleys of Saigon, her world opens up. But as new paths become visible, others are shut off.

As much as she loves her brother, Trang Long, she also loves an American diplomat stationed in Saigon. Caught between her own dreams and the needs of her family, between her love for learning and the excitement of war-time Saigon, Trang Sen embarks on a memorable journey that requires heartbreaking choices.

 

 Author’s Bio

 South Carolina native Sarah-Ann Smith’s passion for Asia led to a degree in international relations and Asian studies and to a career in the U.S. diplomatic corps. Her tours of duty took her to Taiwan to study Mandarin Chinese and to the American Consulate in Hong Kong, as well as within the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the U.S. State Department. Smith’s interest in Southeast Asia was originally piqued by encounters with a number of Asian students and their critiques of U.S. policy at the height of the Vietnam War. Her professional and personal focus on Asian political and cultural life led her to write about it in fictional form in this, her first novel.

Smith’s life after the Foreign Service has focused on writing and teaching. In addition to Trang Sen, she has published numerous op-ed pieces and has taught China- and Southeast Asia-related courses at universities in Maryland and North and South Carolina. After leaving the State Department she moved to Asheville, N.C. for fourteen years, and now lives in Spartanburg, S.C.

 

And now, on to our interview.

 

Sarah-Ann Smith, former U.S. diplomat, author of historical novel Trang Sen. What matter to her: “Justice, reconciliation among peoples, living in harmony with others and with our physical world, equal sharing of resources across ethnic, economic, geographical lines. I think fiction and film often are the best ways to understand a culture different from one’s own.”

Sarah-Ann Smith, former U.S. diplomat, author of historical novel Trang Sen. What matter to her: “Justice, reconciliation among peoples, living in harmony with others and with our physical world, equal sharing of resources across ethnic, economic, geographical lines. I think fiction and film often are the best ways to understand a culture different from one’s own.”

 

Hello Sarah-Ann . I could relate so much to what you have written in this book. I feel humbled and it was a pleasure and an honour to review your beautiful work. Thank you for agreeing to this interview.

Would you be so kind to give readers a one-sentence synopsis of Trang Sen?

Trang Sen is the story of a young Vietnamese woman seeking her own identity and destiny amidst the terrible circumstances of the Vietnam War.

Several of your deftly drawn characters fit the people I knew. How real are these characters?

None of the characters are based on actual people, though the circumstances of their lives are drawn from reality.

“Years of professional and personal focus on Asian political and cultural life impelled you to write Trang Sen”. Who or what inspired you to write this book? When did you first know you just had to write Trang Sen?

My first assignment as a diplomat was in the State Department’s Indochina section during the final two years of the Vietnam War, 1973—1975. In that capacity, I watched almost firsthand the unwinding of that war and the lives — Vietnamese and American — which were uprooted in that conflict and its aftermath. It was several years later, in the early 1980s, that I often watched the comings and goings of Vietnamese immigrants in an area outside Washington, D.C., where many had settled, and knew I was going to write a story about them.

It is very detailed and meticulously written. How long did it take you to write the book?

I began the first draft in the mid-1980s, and worked on it periodically. Many things intervened, mostly personal issues such as the final illness and death of my parents. About six years ago, the book was complete, and Andrew Reed, editor-in-chief of Pisgah Press, helped me polish it into final form.

How did you come up with the title?

I’m not very good at titles, slogans, catch words. I struggled to find a good phrase that could be used as a title, among other things scanning The Tale of Kieu in hopes something would appeal. Nothing did, and finally I decided simply to go with the name of the main character.

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

My goodness, this is difficult. I find myself torn between rather amusing lines, such as the one in chapter 12 when the manager of the Roy Rogers fast-food restaurant instructs Trang Sen to say “Howdy, partner” and “Happy trails” to the customers, the meaning of which she of course has no clue. On the other hand, I still find this sentence from chapter 6 quite beautiful – “Unaccountably, a bougainvillea still bloomed there, its dark branches etched in shadow on a broken wall.”

Yes! I like those parts too. There are many poignant moments as in chapter 6 is very moving. And that chapter 12 is really funny. Word choices can be funny too. I’ll tell you what happened once when I took my children back to Indonesia, and they could only speak English. After a week travelling, our 10-year-old son boasted, “I know the word for ‘toilet’: it’s ‘wanita’!” I had to laugh, “You’ve been using the wrong washroom!”— because ‘wanita’ actually means ‘ladies’ 🙂

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

Three, quite different from each other, come to mind. Ursula K. LeGuin, for the way a turn of phrase paints a vivid picture. For example, “On soft sand by the sea’s edge a little boy walked leaving no footprints.” That sentence, with its simple words and lack of commas, immediately conveys to the reader that we are in another dimension. Jane Austen, for her amazing insight into the psychological sources of her characters’ actions and choices. And, finally, Yasunari Kawabata, for the utter simplicity of his style.

I loved Yasunari Kawabata!  Will check out the others.

Now, after the Foreign Service you have focused on writing and teaching. What story would you like to share about the joy, challenge, or hardship of writing?

I love writing. It is a joy always to be composing something, whether fiction, political analysis, whatever. Really, the only hardship is the difficulty of finding time to do as much of it as I would like. As for the challenge, specifically in relation to Trang Sen, it was finding the good way to get it published and in front of readers, which I definitely did finally find in Pisgah Press. A lot of the difficulty for first-time, unknown authors in general has to do with the conglomerate, sharply business-oriented approach of American publishing.

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

At the top of the list is Andrew Reed, my editor and publisher. Since Trang Sen has been published, the universally positive reaction of readers has been both gratifying and humbling. How could I have managed to come up with a book that is garnering so much praise?

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

Well, right now my time and energy has been taken up with publicizing Trang Sen. I do hope and plan to write a memoir in the form of reflective essays. I’ve met with a number of book clubs who have read Trang Sen, and the question of a sequel invariably comes up. I have no plans for such, but I find intriguing the comment of one reader, who found herself wondering about Laura, the wife of the attaché who becomes involved with Trang Sen. I didn’t deal with her in the book at all. I can’t imagine a sequel that fills in details of the characters I did write about, but it might be fun to write about Laura. 

Or heartbreaking! You must be very strong to stand the bleeding of the writing process.
How much do you have in common with your protag?

It seems to me that any writer has something in common with all her characters. In some ways I am like each on of them. I do not identify any more with Trang Sen than with any of the others, except that I know from my own experience how important it is for any young woman to try to figure out how to make her way in the world. When I was a young woman it was much rarer for a woman to enter the diplomatic service; the hurdles Trang Sen had to overcome included the traditional assumptions of what a village girl could and should do and the difficulty of access to an education.

“Friendships with a number of Asian students piqued your interest in Southeast Asia”. Care to elaborate? What makes you so deeply empathetic towards others’ plight?

I seem always to have had an affinity with Asians — Chinese, Japanese, Southeast Asians. Despite the cultural differences across that vast region, there is something about its many peoples that resonates with me. As a graduate student and as a teacher, as well as in my diplomatic career, that affinity has often seemed to work the other way as well, so that individuals from that part of the world have gravitated toward me. More generally, whatever empathy seems to have been part of who I am from as early as I can remember. I really don’t know where that came from. Perhaps part of it was from the example of my parents, who often befriended those that others in the tradition-bound southern American society shunned.

Do you have an unforgettable experience about adjusting to living in a foreign country, learning the local culture and using the local language for the first time?

The unforgettable experience is really how easy it was, in terms of lifestyle, cultural patterns and habits. I did have difficulty becoming fluent in Chinese. The first few months of living in Taiwan were frustrating because of that. I often found myself coming out with French when I meant to be speaking Chinese. Much later, it was the other way around. Traveling in francophone Quebec, I would find myself speaking Chinese when I meant to be stumbling along in French.

Would you like to share your favorite thing from lessons learnt in the East?

I suppose the best thing I learned from my years in Asia, among Asians, was to be silent, to wait to hear what people might say to me, not to fill the lulls in conversation with my own chatter.

You wrote, “Trang Sen is not intended as a historical account of the Vietnam War.” But you show readers a vivid portrait of Saigon during the maelstrom of the war that is sure to move many hearts. I think this book should become a recommended read in high school because it has the potential to encourage diplomatic solutions and prevent more wars. In your opinion, what is the best solution to international conflict?

First, I want to say that the feedback from readers has demonstrated that whatever I intended, Trang Sen is to many of them a book that illuminates for them that time and place that was wartime Saigon. The best solution to international conflict? Negotiation, negotiation, negotiation. Listening, listening, listening, trying to understand the other’s point of view. With very rare exceptions, war solves nothing. Certainly, the most recent wars, from Vietnam to Afghanistan, have caused much suffering, upheaval and death, with little, if anything, accomplished by them. 

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

Justice, reconciliation among peoples, living in harmony with others and with our physical world, equal sharing of resources across ethnic, economic, geographical lines.

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

I taught several courses about China during and just after the cultural revolution, using Chinese films and fiction of the 1980s for insight into how those events impacted individuals in China. I also used fiction and films in courses I taught on Southeast Asia. I think fiction and film often are the best ways to understand a culture different from one’s own.

What are your hobbies?

Cooking, especially Chinese; films, especially foreign; figure skating as an observer.

Thank you so much for the chat Sarah-Ann. Best wishes for Trang Sen!

Readers, I hope you have enjoyed the interview with Sarah-Ann. Grab your copy of her book, highly recommended. Check out my review here:

 

Trang Sen by Sarah-Ann Smith: a human face on Vietnam war, a love story and historical novel capturing the painful suffering of the Vietnamese.

Trang Sen by Sarah-Ann Smith: a human face on Vietnam war, a love story and historical novel capturing the painful suffering of the Vietnamese.

 

Why War Is Never The Right Path Towards Problem Solving

TRANG SEN, Reviewed by Ia Uaro

of http://www.sydneyssong.net/ and  BookPleasures.com 

This is the story of Trang Sen, or “white lotus”, a brave and brilliant Vietnamese girl who had to grow up during the Vietnam War. Masterfully written by a diplomat who has extensive experience and knowledge of the cultures, the settings and human psychology, the book follows Trang Sen’s journey from her first encounter with an American when she was a child in a Vietnamese village in 1957, her teen years in the alleys of Saigon as the war raged, her coming-of-age and love life as the war worsened, to her life in the late 70s after the U.S. army pullout from Vietnam.

Trinh Trang Sen is different from all other children in her village. She dreams to be allowed to work the fields with the buffalo like the boys do instead of doing a girl’s chores. She dreams to read books and get proper education like amazing Eldest Brother who is away in a university in France. She dreams to ride an elephant and lead her people like her country’s proud queens of old.

Before she knows it, her first dream is granted. Not as she wished it though, but because Second Brother and Third Brother must go to the war, and help her parents she must. She toils in the fields in great hardship in the following years, miserable despite being a successful plough-woman.

When refined Eldest Brother comes home from France, Trang Sen’s dream to study is granted too and she moves to a convent school in Saigon. She still studies even when the war eventually necessitates that she look after her remaining family members. Trang Sen is so smart that she wins further scholarship—they are making plans for her to attend a university in France when love happens.

U.S. officer Arthur Billings cannot forget the very beautiful girl he once met deep in a humble Saigon market where local refugees dwell. When they meet again, he is determined not to let her go. Alas, unlike the tea-girls who live at the beck and call of the foreigners, Trang Sen is not your average peasant girl. She is respectable, principled, proud and has set her sight for higher education. What can he offer her in the war-torn Saigon, to change her mind about going to France? 

Trinh Van Long has returned home from his beloved Paris to do his duties to his family and his country. The war has torn the land, destroyed villages, displaced families and divided his people. While the American army in Vietnam is guaranteed supplies for their living, the hapless Vietnamese suffer abject poverty and being ruled by foreigners who don’t understand them. Long has secrets and blood in his hands, and if in the middle of all this chaos and heartaches one good thing could be salvaged, it is First Sister, the beautiful and intelligent Trang Sen who has worked so hard for her studies while looking after the family. Long contrives to get her to Paris, because only there can she be safe and indulge in her dream of intellectual pursuit. He owes her that.

Caught in the maelstrom of the war in fears and hopes, what choices will Trang Sen make? She alone will have to live with the consequences. 

Trang Sen is the kind of those very rare books that grab your attention from the first paragraphs, take you on a journey to where you knew not, entertain you, educate you, make you care about the people and the topics visited, and then leave you reeling, stunned, and you emerge at the other end thinking, looking back, and thinking again—because the author has changed your understanding forever. The characters are very human and the events flow naturally that reading this book I found myself looking at the cover again and again, staring at the words “A Novel”, because the author has the skills to connect readers to her characters and make the story feels very real.

Sarah-Ann Smith opens Trang Sen with the legend of the brave queens of Vietnam and proceeds to show us the portrait of a beautiful land teeming with lives, in vivid colours that we can see, sounds that we can hear, along with scents, tastes and texture. Not only does she introduce us to the exotic culture and habits of the attractive locals, she delves deep into their fascinating minds with intriguing insights —expertly with the skills that reminds me of the long ago Pulitzer award winner Pearl S. Buck, whose work once upon a time I read when, as a charity case, I learned the English language in a Catholic high school eerily similar to the one Trang Sen attended.

That is before Sarah-Ann empathically touches the issue of the war, which scenes remind me of Sartre. She opens our eyes to what it was really like out there. I had followed the Vietnam War as it was all over my mother’s newspaper when I was learning to read, and I followed their plight in the aftermath when thousands of refugees were stranded in the islands off Sumatra where they had to wait for so many years in limbo before finding new homes. I remember they were viewed as burdens and treated with hostility. I don’t remember anyone writing anything close to Trang Sen then, but I wish there had been because this book certainly opens eyes and powerfully evokes compassion.

That war is over but others are still raging. I would like people to read this book. Trang Sen is an excellent read for high school students, all other young people, and all adults who have the power to make a difference, because this book clearly shows why a war is never the right path towards problem solving, achieving peace, or preserving human dignity. Love for all, hatred for none.

 

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Meet Carlyle Labuschagne, author of Young Adult urban fantasy.

Read & Tell

 

 

 

 

My guest today is urban-fantasy author Carlyle Labuschagne, a firm believer in YA saves!  This South African PR and Marketing Manager holds a diploma in creative writing through the writing school at Collage SA.

 

Carlyle Labuschagne, South African author of urban-fantasy novel The Broken Destiny, voted #3 in Goodreads Debut list 2012

Carlyle Labuschagne, South African author of Young Adult urban-fantasy:
” My goal as an author is to touch people’s lives
and help others love their differences and one another.”

 

Carlyle is working her way into the hearts of international readers. Her debut novel “The Broken Destiny” was voted #3 on the Goodreads Debut list for 2012. Today, she has agreed to chat with me about its sequel, which is due to be released later this year .

Before we start, let’s visit the first novel for a bit to help readers who are yet unfamiliar with The Broken series.

 

Book One in The Broken series: The Broken Destiny 

Prologue

All my life, I had searched for something, something I thought I ought to be. I felt like I was living someone else’s life, waiting for the awakening of my own. I felt like an empty shell burning for life. That was, until the day I lay dying in the prince’s chambers. I could no longer feel the pain from the tear in my gut. The only sensation left was a hollowed-out feeling that I had made a huge mistake in assuming that taking my own life, would have stopped the ancestors’ spirit from raging out. I had given up. I didn’t want to see myself killing the ones I loved. I was the Chosen one, but I threw it all away for what I thought would save a life. Could you end a life to save a life? I did, and I have regretted it ever since. I realized then that things like me are not meant to exist. What had been missing my whole life? It was I. To find myself, I had to lose myself in the worst possible way. The consequences of my actions became the legend of The Broken.

 

The Broken Destiny , YA novel by Carlyle Labuschange, South African urban-fantasy author. This is the first book in The Broken series. "The Broken" is genetically enhanced human race. They live with other races in planet Poseidon after the destruction of the earth.

The Broken Destiny, urban-fantasy YA novel
by South African author Carlyle Labuschange. This first book in The Broken series was voted #3 in Goodreads Debut list 2012 .
“The Broken” is genetically enhanced human race. They live with other races in planet Poseidon after the destruction of the earth.

 

The Setting

Poseidon, a complex dystopian planet where humans migrate to after the earth was destroyed. Beautiful, mysterious, exotic. The Council rules Poseidon’s inhabitants the humans, Minoans, and Zulus races.

 

Blurb

“The Broken” is a race of genetically enhanced humans. 16-year-old Ava, third generation of The Broken, knows much more, and feels much more than she is allowed to. When she starts questioning her origins and the destruction of Earth, things go horribly wrong for her. She is saved by a Minoan boy from an attempted kidnapping on her life–the perpetrators are evil Zulus and their dark ancient magic. Humans and Minoans are forbidden to interact with each other, and as she is taken back to their village she finds out why–they know of her, her kind and her destiny to save a dying race. Ava must rid them from the Council’s ruling and free the galaxy of The Shadow. Her destiny is to rise above the fall, because within her soul is the key to an archaic weapon that has been missing in the mix of a genetic code since the time of the ancients. As the prophecy unfolds she learns of her bloodline–a bloodline that makes her less human than she could ever have imagined. She alone has the power to destroy or save, but the mind-shift is a horrible thing. Ava will become what she hates to save the ones she loves. Beaten, poisoned, possessed and betrayed by her own emotions, she has no choice but to rise above it all… for that is her Destiny. 

 

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16-year-old Ava discovers her destiny is to save a dying race.
Beaten, poisoned, possessed —and betrayed by her own emotions,
she has no choice but to rise above it all.

 

Now let’s meet the fabulous author and check out the sequel.

Hello Carlyle, thank you for stopping by. What is the book title of Book Two?

Evanescent A Broken Novel

Would you please give our readers a one-sentence synopsis of Evanescent?

Her fall has just begun and only HIS touch can save her from the mind-shift that could destroy it all.

Where do you get your inspiration for this sequel? Did you base the sequel on what readers like from the first book or your own inspiration? 

I knew with my first book it was going to be a series. Sequel is a bit of what my imagination had in mind for me and a dash of what my readers liked from book one.

Tell us about the characters. Which actors would you choose to play these characters in a movie rendition?

I have a vast cast, form Zulu’s to Ancient Minoans and then the genetically enhanced kind. Please visit my Pinterest board.

What sets Evanescent apart from your first book? Is this a repeat or are there new excitements?

This book is very very different from book one. Its an entire new world!

Why is this a must read?
I’ve incorporated so many hard hitting issues that teenagers and most people crave for closure, I just did it in a creative way:

-Love in all its forms. Of one’s self , the good and the bad.

-Differences between races and people.

-The journey, the struggle, anger, betrayal, disappointment, rape, suicide, murder.

-Of believing in one’s self.

-Fighting to make your own destiny.

Sample paragraph, please?

It had been written many times over, been portrayed in so many Earth movies. Those flashes that pass through you before you die. But to me, it was not my life I was leaving behind, it was the choices I had made which had brought me to this moment, the moment before the reckoning. The shift had caused a rift within me. When the first blood-shift came, it tore through flesh and blood, threatening to bend me, break bone, shatter my mind and entrap my heart with its honeyed seductive poison. It came with vicious intent, moving my thoughts, altering me forever. It had many ways out, and when it was released, there was nothing that could stop it. No one was safe when it entrapped me in its claws of foul lust. Crooked, damnable, depraved, destructive, hideous – your kind would call it many things. In my blood, runs the thing our kind call The Shadowing disease. It shadows over, and turns everything to its will. I, however, had the only antidote against the evil that becomes me – his touch alone has the power to release the spurs of a sweet darkness that clung on for dear life. I knew what I had to do; the desperation pulled my mind with the deep determination of a hungry predator. But, by the time the revelation lifted me from the dark dungeon of our bounds – it was too late.

When is the planned release?

Evanescent due for release late 2013 – between Oct and Nov.

And we’ll be looking forward to Evanescent. Now, would you like to share a bit about yourself? What are your hobbies?

I love to swim, fights for the trees, and I’m a food lover who is driven by passion. I also write for IU e-magazine—an inspirational non-profit magazine that aims at inspiring the world through words.

What matters the most to you?

The drive behind my author career is healing through words. My goal as an author is to touch people’s lives and help others love their differences and one another.

Very commendable, Carlyle, my best wishes on that.

Want to share your latest news?

Latest news: The Broken Destiny just hit the local bookstores!

Congratulations! Good luck for The Broken Destiny, and thank you so much for visiting Carlyle—keep in touch!

Readers, I hope you have enjoyed meeting Carlyle. Follow her on Twitter @CarlyleL , Goodreads, Facebook, and check out her website, blog and book trailer. Her book The Broken Destiny is available from Amazon and Barnes and Nobles.

And of course, here’s my review of the first book:

 

The Broken Destiny, reviewed by Ia Uaro

 

Author: Carlyle Labuschagne

ISBN: 978-1612048727 (paperback),  ASIN: B009I3TE9S (eBook)

 

“The Broken” is a race of genetically enhanced humans, survivors of the destroyed earth who have migrated to Poseidon, an exotic dystopian planet. Three races cohabit this new planet: the Broken (humans), the Minoans, the Zulus—but strict apartheid segregation rules forbid them to interact. Poseidon is ruled by The Council. It is here 16-year-old Ava, third generation of The Broken, questions her existence, challenges the boundaries and gets into trouble.

Meanwhile some evil Zulus want to take over the planet for sinister purposes and they want Ava because she alone has the key to save the planet—whether she is willing or not. Ava learns more about herself after being abducted by the Zulus and saved by the Minoans. Apparently, she is The Chosen One. She has been predestined to be the planet’s Savior.

And her path isn’t easy. It involves internal and external struggles—and boys and black magic and various dangers. Dealing with these complex issues, the headstrong girl reluctantly journeys from being a self-absorbed teen to become a responsible savior. Yeah, this part reminds me of a book from the 80s about a reluctant Jesus who’d rather stick with his day job as a mechanic instead of becoming the Savior as predestined, if only he had a choice. However, despite traces of influences from the South African local politics and a rigid salvation dogma, the talented and imaginative Carlyle Labuschagne has invented a highly original new world packed with actions and tangled with intrigues that is sure to delight fans of dystopian fantasy.

THE BROKEN DESTINY is a complex weave of dystopian science fiction and urban fantasy, paranormal, mystery, and YA romance with mild sexual references. An entertaining coming-of-age novel with message.

 

 

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Meet Alex Knight, a Canadian Accountant Who Plots Murder During The Day

Read & Tell

 

 

 

 


Meet Alex Knight, author of murder mystery novels born in Toronto who have lived in a number of cities in Canada and the United States.

 

"I admire those who stand up for others and who protect those who cannot protect themselves, whether they are protecting people or animals."

“I admire those who stand up for others and who protect those who cannot protect themselves, whether they are protecting people or animals.”

 

Hello Alex, so happy to have you joining us. Would you be so kind to give readers a one-sentence synopsis of BODYGUARD, The Adventures of Anya Orlova?

This is the story and back story of a young woman who had to grow up with an unusual gift that often threw her into the path of danger.

How real are your characters?

Almost all of my characters are composites of people I know or have known so some of them are all too real.

 

Bodyguard by Alex Knight

Bodyguard by Alex Knight

 

It started as a short story in September 2010, inspired by a random comment a colleague had made about a little tavern. That’s usually all it takes to get me started, a random word or comment that brings out the best (or worst) in me.

But always entertaining, Alex. When did you first know you just had to write?

Like many other writers, I’ve been an avid reader from an early age. I knew that I wanted to entertain others the way that I had been entertained over the years. It’s always hard to take that first step, especially if you’re plagued with self-doubt. After putting it off for decades, I made it a goal to be published before I reached my 50th birthday. I was and I haven’t looked back.

 


How long did it take you to write Bodyguard?

As mentioned earlier, it started as a short story in 2010. Over the course of the next two years the protag whispered to me constantly, telling me her back story. In 2012 I started working on it again and released it in January 2013. While it didn’t take three years of writing, it did take that long to realize it was going to be a novella and to get it written and published.

How did you come up with the title?

The working title changed a number of times from start to finish. When it was time to create the cover I had to provide a title; eventually it presented itself.

What is your favorite paragraph in Bodyguard?

“Heed our advice and our warnings. When you are no longer a child we can no longer guide you.”
“But Grandmother, I stopped being a child yesterday.” This terrible truth was confirmed by the gravity of my tone and my solemn expression.

And she was only six, poor Anya. Alex, who would you say have been the most influential authors in your life? What is it that really strikes you about their work?

Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, John D. MacDonald, and Mickey Spillane were the authors I read and admired the most when I was growing up. I think one of the things I like the most about their writing is that it stands the test of time. Their stories are still quality entertainment.

 

"The Haunting" by Alex Knight  is a collection of ghostly tales with unusual twists

“The Haunting” by Alex Knight is a collection of ghostly tales with unusual twists

 

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

When I first started to write I enjoyed some immediate success and so I thought I was ready for bigger and better things. Apparently, according to the much copied, photo-copied rejection letters I received from a major magazine, I wasn’t. (I didn’t even merit an ‘original’ photo-copy, addressed to me, or signed.) That brought me back down to earth pretty damn fast. However, if you don’t try you’ll never succeed.

But many likes your story.Who gives you the most encouragement? Why is that important to you?

Alongside of my family, it would be a great group of writers that I have had the pleasure of knowing for well over a decade. Write Stuff is comprised of several very talented writers that I often refer to as my extended family. We have shared each other’s joys and sorrows and celebrated each other’s victories as if they were our own. Their belief in me has made it possible for me to believe in myself.

What are you working on right now?

I have six NaNoWriMo novels that I have done nothing with since having ‘won.’ My goal is to revisit them and do some serious editing this year. I hope to release them all before the end of the year.

Tell us your latest news.

I am working on a love story. It’s a bit out of the ordinary for me and it’s going to be extremely difficult not to throw in a murder, or two.

And why not? 🙂

Do you see writing as a career or distraction?

It definitely isn’t a distraction, but I don’t see it being a career until I retire.

Why?

There aren’t enough hours in the day to continue to work full time, work part time at home, run a household, and write and edit my writing. Until I can devote at least eight hours a day to my writing and editing of same, I can’t call it a career.

How much do you have in common with your protags?

Every protag is a bit of me, a bit of my daughter and a bit of my sister. Of course being the eldest, both of them tend to be rather like me so perhaps all of the protags are a lot like me. The humor, bits of sarcasm, the courage, the second-guessing, the self-doubt, the loyalty, the willingness to pack up and start over – all of that is me. The physical characteristics are mostly a combination of the three of us.

What are your hobbies?

Besides reading, I love watching old classic movies, listening to music, making jewelry (natural gemstones set in silver or copper) knitting, cooking, and fishing.

A woman of many talents! What is your other profession?

I am, what is affectionately known as, a bean counter (accountant.)

 

“What Luck” is about greed, violence, unconditional loyalty and a love that refused to die; not your typical vampire fare.

“What Luck” is about greed, violence, unconditional loyalty and a love that refused to die; not your typical vampire fare.

 

When do you find the time to write?

I often plot about murder during the day. Finding the time to actually write it all out is more difficult; like most other writers I grab spare minutes here and there.

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

I admire those who stand up for others and who protect those who cannot protect themselves, whether they are protecting people or animals.

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

I mostly write about murder so I truly hope I haven’t influenced too many people. As to their attitudes towards me, they either love me or tend to avoid me.

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

They should take everything I say with several grains of salt.

Why?

Seriously, the first thing that comes out of my mouth is usually not serious at all. Often the second thing that comes out of my mouth isn’t much better. I laugh at life and myself a lot and if we can’t laugh at ourselves then the joke is truly on us.

Any tips for us on reading and writing?

Read as much as you can, whenever you can. Open yourself up to new genres. (I used to say that I loved all music except Country & Western and Opera. Having explored both, I can no longer say that.) You can like one genre more than another, but if you don’t explore and open your mind you can miss so many wonderfully written books that could truly change your life for the better. As to writing, you need to read as much as you can in every genre, not just the one you want to write in. Do not let family and/or friends discourage you. Like everything else in life, if you want it badly enough you have to work for it. If you don’t give it a shot you’ll never know.

I hate research. I love reading about a wide variety of topics—for entertainment purposes. The minute I ‘have to’ read about something—it becomes work.

And we can only give readers something that we love, right?  Thank you so much for chatting with us Alex. Best wishes with the books!

And readers, here are here you can find Alex and her books:

Find Alex on The Web Links:
Alex_Knight_1 (Twitter)
https://www.facebook.com/alex.knight.940
http://www.amazon.com/Alex-Knight/e/B004O4K35A

 

Click here to buy Alex's books on Amazon.

Click here to buy Alex’s books on Amazon.

 

 

 

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Meet Sue-Ellen Holmes—Neuroscientist and Science Fiction Author

 

read & tell

 

 

 

 

 

Sue-Ellen Holmes, Australian author of several science-fiction and urban-fantasy novels for young adults is with us today. Sue is different from most authors. She is very shy, humble, but she writes about outspoken, passionate heroines who would fight for justice.

 

SueEllen Holmes, Australian author of best dystopian Young Adult novels

Sue-Ellen Holmes, Australian author of best dystopian and urban fantasy Young Adult novels

 

Hello Sue, lovely to have a neighbour stopping by J It was so entertaining your book BRINK. Would you be so kind to give readers its one-sentence synopsis?

In the near future where the intellect rules and science offers civilisation’s only salvation, a mad-man bio-terrorist is determined to purge the planet of its human stain and the only one standing in his way is defiant hyper-immune girl called Io, whose ridiculed physical gifts may just give her the upper fist.

The setting of Brink: Maverick Institute of Advance Thought, in the near future.

The setting of Brink: Maverick Institute of Advance Thought, in the near future.

 

How real are your characters?

Well it’s really important to create characters with the full range of human emotions, complexity and depth, but whether I succeed or not is for the reader to judge. Often what’s in your head is not always transcribed well on the page no matter how hard you try because real people are actually quite confusing and their motivations are often obscure. I have a Psych degree, but as in life, I find that’s no help at all. As you can tell, I’m good at nailing confusion!

You’re good at building the characters! Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I’m a Neuroscientist, so many aspects of the physical world fascinate me. If I had my time over, I think I’d specialise in bacteria and viruses—they’re such perfectly nasty little suckers. So, it was only natural that I wrote about something I’m very interested in. Also, many people write about catastrophe in retrospect and I thought it would be fun to see an extinction event as it unfolds. BRINK was actually the first full length novel I attempted and it’s ten years old now. Unfortunately, if I’d had the skills back then to clean up the story and edit it to a higher standard, I might have beaten the current slew of dystopian/post-apocalyptics flooding the market. Still, despite the poor timing, it’s a far better story now that I’ve practiced and schooled myself in the art of writing and I’m grateful for the delay.

 

Brink by SueEllen Holmes: a mad-man bio-terrorist is determined to purge the planet of its human stain and the only one standing in his way is defiant hyper-immune girl called Io, whose ridiculed physical gifts may just give her the upper fist.

Brink by SueEllen Holmes: a mad-man bio-terrorist is determined to purge the planet of its human stain and the only one standing in his way is defiant hyper-immune girl called Io, whose ridiculed physical gifts may just give her the upper fist.

 

The catastrophe is well detailed. When did you first know you just had to write?

I’ve been writing creatively since primary school—poetry and short stories—but didn’t attempt a full length novel until I was an adult. Now writing’s like breathing and I can’t imagine a day without it. I resent anything that interferes, such as mortgage-paying jobs and maintaining personal hygiene. All of my jobs involve either academic writing or educational writing, so I guess it’s always been deep in my bones.

How long did it take you to write Brink?

The writing process is very quick for me, it’s the editing and fine tuning that takes a long time. I finished an entire re-write of the first version of BRINK for a contest (ABNA 2011) in four frenzied days. It’s taken months since to fine-tune.

How did you come up with the title?

I wanted a word that represented not only the visual image of teetering on a cliff, but also one that auditorily came to a screeching halt. I spent a long time messing around with crappy titles, until BRINK finally hit me.

What is your favourite phrase in Brink?

“They’ll come” because it encapsulates a particularly unexpected instance of treachery and provides a bit of a cliff-hanger in a book that is mostly stand-alone.

 

Coming soon... Click here to find out more about Sue's next novels

Coming soon… Click here to find out more about Sue’s next novels

 

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

The list evolves, as there have been so many. I know it’s cliché for fantasy writers, but I love Tolkien or any author who can transport the reader to a place that, although utterly strange and unreal, seems likely (of course, J K Rowling). Dr Seuss is the earliest genius I remember encountering. Everything he’s done is just so gleeful, yet also imparts a subtle, valuable message. I read Dune when I was quite young and even though it necessitated a dictionary and periods of extensive confusion, I just loved the grand scope of that series, the tantalising possibility of it all. At the moment, I’m enjoying Laini Taylor and her exciting new spin on angel mythology. It sounds harsh, but I cherish any writer who can effortlessly keep me turning pages. Currently, I put so many potentially good YA stories down unread due to boredom and it’s such a shame.

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

I’m a fairly solitary creature so the great stretches of time alone writing don’t bother me, as it does some people. Besides, I’m surrounded by the characters I conjure on the page. It’s when I’m forced to venture outside the comfortable sphere of my study, even in virtual realms that I find being an author testing. Discoverability is something I’ve struggled with and failed miserably to master—letting the target reader know you’re actually there. And reaching teens is not the easiest in reality, let alone across the world wide web. Plus, if you’re not determined to overcome the self-doubt, the lack of financial reward, the constant rejection and less than glowing opinions, forget about it. So in essence, real thick-skinned writers never give up!

But getting immersed in your writing is a wondrous adventure and a reward in itself, right? Who gives you the most encouragement? Why is that important to you?

Selling the odd book tends to give me an enduring high… My family, while not effusive in their encouragement, are stoically non-critical of my crazy dream to work full-time as an author. They weather the tears and gin-abuse with eye-rolling fortitude. My adorable  long-suffering husband no longer bothers to compete with the computer for attention and now sleeps with his surfboard. It doesn’t matter how much external validation you get, if you don’t ‘back’ yourself nothing anyone can say will make a difference—which is supremely ironic given this entire career choice is about the subjective opinion of others. Go figure…

Sounds rather like my long suffering, accepting family! What are you working on right now? Tell us your latest news.

I’m attempting to work on completing the trilogies for each of the novels I’ve published on my website http://www.unrealya.com . Unfortunately, I’ve a few rather annoying jobs that eat up far too much time, so the endeavour is patchy at best. And I’m toiling to complete a space opera that is my own personal favourite, Able Unwilling.

You’re very creative  and courageous! Do you see writing as a career or distraction? Why?

A career, without doubt, because it’s the thing I most love doing (except in my pesky day jobs, which are the true distractions!). You know that old adage ‘do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’? It’s true. Now, if I could just make enough/any money as an idle, gin-swilling, hammock-swinging writer…

 

Other books by SueEllen Holmes, now available. Click here to find out more about these books.

Other books by SueEllen Holmes, now available. Click here to find out more about these books.

 

And we can’t possibly give to readers something that we can’t love. How much do you have in common with your protag?

Io is head-strong, highly strung and anti-authoritarian, while I am as meek as a lamb. <I read this aloud and assorted family members were on the floor in tears of hilarity. I admit to being slightly miffed at the implication I am in any way oppositional. I am so not!> Okay, so maybe Io and I share some character traits. But she is also elegant and athletic, the opposite of clumsy old me (her abilities are wishful thinking on my part, perhaps).

I could see you when I was reading her 🙂      What are your hobbies?

Writing, painting, writing, running, writing, reading, writing, surfing (sort of, see comment above)… Oh, and that elusive past-time of doing absolutely nothing for a stretch longer than thirty seconds. Not to mention shamelessly embarrassing my adolescent children at every opportunity.

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

I’m a Neuroscientist by trade, but am working as a monkey-slave running research for several sets of doctors at the moment. Squeezing time out of the day is the biggest challenge right now and writing is relegated to the weekend, much to my irritation. This means I’ve been working seven days a week now for two and a half years. My body is frozen in the seated position, which makes jogging particularly challenging (and fairly awkward).

Sue, come tell us a bit about who or what matters to you.

My husband and my children are the world. They provide me with that other essential ingredient in a life worth living: laughter (even if it’s often at my expense).

Wonderful family!  🙂  Now, how has your published work influenced others and their attitude towards you?

I’d have to say it’s barely made a ripple to the exchanges I have with others. In the beginning, I had too many friends apologising for ‘not getting around’ to reading my stuff, which just made everyone fidget and stare at the floor. Unless I morph into Stephanie Meyer overnight and people beg me for a profound sound-bite (and despite what people think of her technique, that woman is a brilliant example of connecting with her target audience. I’d take tips from her any day), I’ll be sticking to my ‘keep quiet and don’t startle the nervous/apathetic/guilty associate’ approach. Clearly, self-promotion is not my forte.

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

I work my bum off to avoid boring readers… I study television and movies to see how tension is maintained, strive to first and foremost write entertaining adventure stories where the protagonist struggles to prevail, much like everyday life, only bigger, harder and in much weirder places, usually with a generous helping of the supernatural or technology or my friend ‘the germ’. Boredom is the enemy of good story-telling.

Any tips for us on reading and/or writing?

If I were to offer tips on writing technique, the underlying inference seems to be that I am somehow an expert, which I do not feel is true. There is always something more to learn about writing. Reading good books is the best thing an aspiring writer can do—find examples that you love and try to discern why they push your buttons, what you admire. See if you can somehow emulate them with your very own twist. The best I can suggest is to keep writing and endure—never give-up on yourself. Oh, and remember when receiving criticism that planet earth would be a very boring place if we all liked the same things. Even Harry Potter got a one star now and then. So, have a laugh and go in search of a large gin to toast the honest effort.

What you’d like people to know about you apart from the questions above?

That I sing like a nightingale, am exceptional at ballet, have an IQ to rival Hawking and speak ancient Hebrew at parties just for the smart-arsed hell of it… I harbour a secret desire to be a dark avenger and right society’s wrongs ala Dexter Morgan, only a little less messy as I’m averse to doing housework. Well, Ia, you didn’t specify it had to be true (except for that last part)!

 Hahahahaha… you forget to mention your sense of humour!  

It’s been fun Sue, good luck with all these marvelous books, thanks again for coming!

 

Readers, I hope you have enjoyed meeting Sue. And now my review of BRINK, here it goes:

 

Book title: Brink

ASIN: B007DMWZXS, 306 pages

Author: Sue-Ellen Holmes

 

The year isn’t clear, but BRINK takes place in the future when science dominates our earth. This first book in the Maverick trilogy is the story of 17-year-old Io Calypso, originally of Maverick Institute of Advance Thought. Here intellectual brilliance and obedience are the most valued assets, but alas, rebellious Io is a freedom-craving girl with physical gifts and a penchant for rock climbing instead.

On the day Io gets into trouble for challenging Maverick’s constrictive rules, a mad bio-terrorist places humankind at the brink of extinction by permanently covering the land with hazardous pollution and deadly disease. To survive, Io and 14 other survivors must take refuge in a shielded subsurface pod, protected from harm. Io loses her entire family in the disaster, except her grandmother. Or so she believes as she grieves.

Concerns for her grandmother’s health cause Io to sneak back to Maverick, their former luxurious home, one year later. Unexpectedly, impossibly, she encounters a surprise survivor, and learns that the disaster which she had thought was an accident was actually a sabotage staged by a devious and dangerous enemy, and that more survivors exist. Is her beloved brother Iz among them?

Enter Io’s pod members, geniuses who have shielded the deviant girl from the truth for her own “good”. At the head is her bossy, crafty grandma; at her side is Wim—an over-protective friend; around her is an assortment of interesting characters who now must back Io as this tough girl embarks on her lethal mission to free Iz from the clutch of menacing evil.

BRINK is a gripping dystopian science fiction that will delight smarter readers. Io is of your typical teen-against-the-world variety, but she has an extra-ordinary immune system and splendid determination. Sue-Ellen Holmes plays the early events by flipping the present and the past back and forth. These frequent flips wouldn’t allow me to lose myself in the mood of the scenes at the beginning, but once the story flows Io’s adventures through dangers are carefully plotted and original, the catastrophe and treacherous grounds vividly detailed, the descriptions imaginative, and the narration at times chilling.

 

 

 

Click here to enter Sue's website

Click here to enter Sue’s website

 

 

 

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. 

mtideunderconstruction1

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.

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.

 

lillian_alling_bookcover

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.