Meet Jacky Gray—British Author of YA adventure novels “Hengist: People of The Horse”

 read-tell

 

 

 

Meet Jacky Gray,  British author of YA adventure novels in the Hengist: People of The Horse chronicles. Jacky has extensive experience in software writing and teaching maths in high school. Her  first career was engineering and after 23 years writing software for telephone exchanges, she spent 13 years teaching children, occasionally introducing them to the delights of mathematics. She lives in the Midlands with her husband and three children, where she watches a lot of movies and some great TV shows like Merlin, Robin Hood, Dr Who, Ashes to Ashes and Being Human. She also listens to a lot of Journey and Queen and reads (apologies to the adverb police) voraciously, in addition to the names above: Preston/Child, Wilbur Smith and recently George RR Martin.

 

Jacky Gray, British author of Archer, first book in Hengist: People of The Horse

Jacky Gray, British author of Archer, first book in Hengist: People of The Horse



Hello Jacky, thank you for stopping by! Would you be so kind to give readers a one-sentence synopsis of Archer?

Archer – One boy’s fight against adversity to find friendship, romance and the generosity to love his enemy.

How real are your characters?

Archer is like another son—as are Reagan, Slater and Geraint. Being a high-school teacher has given me plenty of role models to help all the characters seem like modern-day teens.

Who or what inspired you to write this book? When did you first know you just had to write?

Kevin Hicks was the bowman at Warwick Castle for over a decade. When I watched him firing 100 arrows in rapid succession through a loop of rope, approximately the size of a human head, it woke up the warrior buried deep within me. By the time I reached home that night, Archer was born, initially in a military thriller as the thirty-year-old bodyguard to a girl who could read people’s auras.

 I have been writing since I was about twelve—my first full length novel was based on a dream I had when I was 18—it took over 30 years until I published it.

But your perseverance has brought novels that will delight teens who are your target audience. How long did it take you to write the first book?

Archer took 18 days from start to finish—the words just tumbled out every night starting about 10pm and going on until 3 or 4 the next morning. The weird thing was that when I got up the next day and started researching what I had written about, it was all backed up by websites and experts in the various fields.

And hence the believable fantasy, as if they are real people and real events! How did you come up with the title?

Each book in the series is named after the protagonist—each boy has very different personality and skills. The sub-title “Hengist: The People of the Horse” refers to the fictitious people who live in a parallel universe where there is no electricity, computers or cars.

What is your favorite part in the book?

Catching hold of Patricia’s arm, Archer tried to think of something smart to say. In an instant that seemed to last an eternity, she glanced down at her arm; then up into his face. Her expression reflected extreme distaste; although he couldn’t for the life of him think of anything he had done to deserve it.

The right words would not surface and those that did tumbled out involuntarily. ‘Don’t you want to kiss the May King for luck?’

Her look seared his fingers on her arm with a frostbite so intense he had no choice except to release her. ‘I think the May King’s lips are still wet with the kisses of his adoring subjects.’

 

ARCHER: One boy’s fight against adversity to find friendship, romance and the generosity to love his enemy.

ARCHER: One boy’s fight against adversity to find friendship, romance and the generosity to love his enemy.

 

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

Bernard Cornwell—he will always be the Master for me – his ability to transport readers back to bygone times is inspirational. I have also learnt a lot about creating realistic, engaging characters from Stephen King, Jodi Picoult and Stephenie Meyer and about credible, fascinating settings from JK Rowling and Suzanne Collins. For the leanest, meanest writing style and an enduring, character-driven action series, I am smitten with Lee Child.

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

Archer is like another son—as are Reagan, Slater and Geraint and Rory is another daughter. Every minute I spend in the company of my extended family is absolute joy—I love to watch their lives unfold and share in their adventures. The challenge is to tell their stories in a way that other people can enjoy them as much as I do and the hardship is in coming back to spend time in the real world. If I could, I would spend every minute of every day writing, but unfortunately I have to earn a crust and my family do appreciate the odd minute or two of my attention, especially around Christmas and Easter.

I can relate to that. I hope one day soon you can write full time. Who gives you the most encouragement? Why is that important to you?

My very first supporter was my daughter Jo—she gave me so much confidence at the beginning. Several dozen people since then have given me plenty of support and encouragement, but the biggest compliment are the amazing comments from other writers – particularly the kind words from the ABNA competitors.

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

The sixth book kinda finished itself on a serious cliff-hanger. I now have to wait for some free time so Aurora and Archer can tell me how this adventure concludes. It may be book number seven, or it could be that book six goes super-size.  

Have fun writing all that! And how do you see writing, Jacky? Why?

Writing is a way of life. It gives me more joy than anything else I could do (even dancing). I would love to spend every day of my life writing or promoting my books.  

May you wish come true soon!

 

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“Archer has the same bad time at school that I did, digging deep inside to find the courage to survive the torment. Like me, he never fitted in and relies on himself to fight the demons that plague him, but it doesn’t stop him from helping people or trying to be honourable and do the right thing.”

 

How much do you have in common with your protag?

Everything. Archer has the same bad time at school that I did, digging deep inside to find the courage to survive the torment. Like me, he never fitted in and relies on himself to fight the demons that plague him, but it doesn’t stop him from helping people or trying to be honourable and do the right thing.

That’s beautiful, Jacky.

What are your hobbies?

Reading, walking in nature and any kind of live entertainment (especially theatre and rock bands). Watching movies and well-written TV shows, exploring the country, particularly historical/spiritual sites. And if I don’t have music playing, I’m quite sure my life will end.

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

I teach high school mathematics, but for the past few years this has only been part-time, allowing me to focus on writing the rest of the time. It has been bliss, but I started a new full-time job in March so there is way less time to write. L  The good thing is, this job is encouraging reluctant readers to read—awesome! 🙂

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

Showing respect and taking responsibility. Whether it is respect for yourself, another person or animal or the world around you is immaterial—I grieve for how little respect is shown in today’s self-centred, throwaway society. If everyone would take responsibility for their own actions instead of trying to blame someone else when things go wrong, it would be much easier to live in a state of joyful harmony.

A caring soul. Good on you, Jacky! Now, any tips for us on reading and/or writing?

Read everything you can get your hands on in your genre so you know what’s out there, and can find out what works for you and what doesn’t. More importantly, read outside your genre—there are always lessons to be learnt about how to write good/bad characters, scenes and dialogue.

Listen to the way people speak and read your whole manuscript out loud (not just the dialogue). If you feel uncomfortable saying it, your readers will feel uncomfortable reading it.

Write a little bit every day—even if it’s just a few lines, it’s good to do something that is creative and brings you joy.

And yours is one that is sure to bring joy to your target audience! Well done Jacky, and thank you so much for the chat.

 

RORY: How a naïve stranger can rise above his aggressors  and teach them about courage and honour. REAGAN: The chosen boy who decodes the mysteries of  white horses, crop circles and ley lines to save his people.

RORY: How a naïve stranger can rise above his aggressors and teach them about courage and honour.
REAGAN: The chosen boy who decodes the mysteries of white horses, crop circles and ley lines to save his people.

 

Readers, I hope you have enjoyed meeting Jacky. Come visit her website, blog, book trailer, video interviews on Archer  and on Rory.

Click here for her to buy her paperback or eBook  from Amazon UK, paperback or eBook from Amazon US, or from Barnes & Noble.

And now my mini review of the first book in the Hengist series:

Archer, reviewed by Ia Uaro of www.sydneyssong.net

WHBlaise5bTitle: Archer

Subtitle: Hengist: People of The Book

Author: Jacky Gray, ISBN: 978-1446150191

Archer is an orphan teen with special gifts. He is stronger and faster than other boys his age, and a champ at sword fights and shooting arrows. His personality and abilities win him female interest, but also jealousy from an ardent competitor who, for years, tries his best to give Archer a hard time.

Archer is the first book of the refreshing YA adventure novels Hengist: People of The Horse. Set in a new parallel world which is a mixture of the Middle Ages and modern England, these chronicles follow the lives of Archer and his friends as they go to compete in jousting and shooting arrows like medieval knights at Beltane, the Festival of the May, in well-executed exhilarating action-packed and fun-packed scenes.

This series comes from an author who has spent three decades writing software and teaching maths at high school, and it looks like these experiences have greatly shaped her habits, including in writing. Her flow of thoughts is systematic, the settings and the characters are well detailed, and her presentation of the story is very clear. You get immersed in the engaging storyline instead of trying to figure out what she’s trying to say. There isn’t a single confusing moment, even as she teaches us new vocabulary, fascinating historical details, and the intricate arts and fun of jousting and archery that make you see these characters and events.

ARCHER is a well-researched book that will entertain its teen target while showing them an example of honorable attitude.

 

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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 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 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.