Writerly Questions with Margaret Lesh

Summer has gone and the fall has arrived, making it time to start thinking about what to read for school, for book clubs, or just to while away the evening while relaxing with a nice cuppa tea. To help you prepare your autumn TBR list,  I will be talking with some really fabulous authors about their latest or upcoming books. So be sure to check out Monday posts, both past and present! 

To kick off the new school year, I’ve chosen the author of a contemporary young adult novel. Margaret Lesh is here to chat about her upcoming book Normalish. It is being published by Euterpe on October the 5th, 2012. You can check out her website, tweet her, or find her on facebook.

 

Margaret Lesh lives in Southern California with her creative genius husband, their son, and a very shaggy dog. She writes middle grade, young adult, and women’s fiction as well as the site blog and children’s stories for StoryRhyme.com. When not writing, she’s thinking improbable thoughts and trying to remember awful jokes. She spends too much time on the internet and makes her living as a freelance court reporter listening to other people tell their stories. 

How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
A witty, insightful teen copes with high school, her sister’s breakdown, and heartbreak while searching for normal in this bittersweet coming-of-age story.

Regular high school life then! *L0L* How long did it take you to write this book?
About two months, but then I spent one year working on revisions with a literary agent. I sent her four pretty extensive revisions. That took a year’s time. So all told, I’d say seven months of writing over the period of a year and a half.

How many drafts did you go through?
Six with Normalish. (Not so many with my other books, but that was my first.)

When do you write best: in the morning, afternoon, or at night?
If I had to choose, it would be afternoon, but I have no set writing schedule.

Where is your favorite place to write?
In the corner of the living room, I have a small red desk I bought for $20 at IKEA. I often write with the television on in the background. (I’m pretty good at tuning stuff out.)

Oooh, a red desk would be cute! What is on it, a typewriter, computer/laptop, or pen & paper?
Laptop!

What do you drink or eat while you write?
Crunchy things like pretzels, potato chips, or a bowl of cheese crackers.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what kind?
Not usually. But during breaks I’ll listen to something on Youtube, current or classic rock.

What do you wear when you write?
Comfy clothes. Usually a T-shirt and worn jeans.

 Do you have any other writing rituals?
No rituals. Just write, and screw around on the Internet too much.

The Internet is definitely addictive… How do you plot? Chapter by chapter or an overall synopsis? Do you use detailed outlines?
I’m a pantser and write chapter by chapter. Usually I have an idea how the story begins and ends. It’s the middle I’m not so sure of.

How do you decide which narrative point of view to write from?
It’s just what feels right for the story. Personally, I love first person, but I also write third. Almost all of the short stories I’ve written have been in third; my novels have all been in first.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
Put on my thinking cap. Sometimes I’ll change them down the road if I notice I have two names that are too similar. My biggest concern is a name that sounds weird that will stop readers in their tracks. (As a reader, names are very important to me.)

I do rather dislike when characters names are too much alike *shakes head* Who is the first person to read your manuscript?
Usually my poor long-suffering husband (who is very patient and is not afraid to give me criticism.).

What did you do immediately after hearing that you were being published for the very first time?
After I read the email to my husband and son, I called a friend. She’s also a writer, and we were discussing my book over dinner that night. Then I called my mom.

If your book were to become a movie, who would you like to see star in it?
Emma Stone as Stacy York or Mae Whitman.

What is the first book you remember reading?
Grimms’ Fairy Tales with the gorgeous illustrations.

I can imagine that book would have been rather awe-inspiring. What book is on your nightstand right now?
The mini version of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Really good advice on being a better person.

Do you have a guilty pleasure read?
Not so much a guilty pleasure as I have my comfort books that I’ve re-read, like Pride & Prejudice, The Hobbit, or Bridget Jones’s Diary. I also read Martha Stewart Living when I’m looking for fantasy.

I adore Pride and Prejudice! How do you organize your library/book collection?
Organize? Hahaha. As many books that can fit on the shelves do. The others are scattered here and there throughout the house. (Not counting the ebooks.)

Did you always want to be a writer?
It’s something I’d thought about and had in the back of my mind for many years but didn’t take seriously until about four years ago.

Well, we’re glad you finally did. If there was one book you wish you had written what would it be?
Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

If you could talk to any writer living or dead who would it be, and what would you ask/talk about?
I’d love to have been a fly on the wall when J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were sitting with their friends at Oxford having one of their deep philosophical discussions.

 That would be interesting to take part, or even just eavesdrop on. If you could be any character from any book, who would you be?
Hmm, something I’ve never really thought about, but I really like Elizabeth Bennet from Pride & Prejudice. She’s smart, sophisticated, funny, independent, and she ends up with Mr. Darcy. (Swoons.)

I’m with you there! What is the best gift someone could give a writer?
Chocolate. And gin.

Mmm, chocolate… What is the best advice someone could give a writer?
Try not to be self-conscious with your writing; be true to your characters and story. And keep writing.

What is one random thing most people don’t know about you?
I have monkey toes.

 Previous Interviews:  Lauren Hunter InterviewSharon Ledwith InterviewEmma Lane Interview

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Writerly Questions with Devin Hodgins

Warm weather has finally arrived and it is time to start thinking about what to read as you lounge around the pool, while your kids play in the park, or during your hour-long commute on the transpo. To help you prepare your summer-time TBR list, every Monday for the next few months I will be talking with some really fabulous authors about their latest or upcoming books.

It always gives me great pleasure to interview authors from the Urania Imprint  for not other reason than that is the department I work for! I may not have had the opportunity to edit this particular book, but I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to interview Devin Hodgins about Day Dreamer. No need to wait for this book as it was released October 2011, and be sure to stop by Devin’s blog here

Devin Hodgins lives in Casper, Wyoming, surrounded by mountains, prairies, and wind. He writes mainly fantasy, some science fiction, and even a wee smattering of horror, along with a few verses of poetry. His principal influences include Kafka, Borges, and Archambault. He is presently working on a novel-length poem involving “the awakening wonder of dream.”

How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
It is the tale of a dreamer who dreams every night about the next day, but instead of being liberated by his sleeping visions of the future he is haunted by every passing moment he is awake.

You’ve certainly piqued my interest, it sounds like an intriguing story! How long did it take you to write this book?
It’s a novella, so, originally, only a couple months. I finished it, and then shopped it around for a few years. I would polish it up again and again after each rejection, trying to use whatever snippets of criticism or editorial advice I was given to improve the story and endeavor to grow as a writer.

How many drafts do you go through?
Three–to start with. But, again, I kept tinkering at it. When Musa finally contracted the story for publication, I went through a few drastic yet dramatically helpful edits. Even though no major plot points were really altered, those final drafts’ edits significantly improved the story.

Editing can be a painful process, but it usually makes the manuscript stronger. With all the editing and rewriting, you must have figured out when you write best. Do you prefer to work in the morning, afternoon, or at night?
Morning. Although, lately, it’s whenever I get the chance–usually in the evening. Writing in the morning allows me to start each day’s work with renewed energy and ideas. Evenings, though, have the advantage of working with ideas that have been mulled over and refined.

Where is your favorite place to write?
I keep a room in the house in which I grew up. I have a dusty desk in a dark corner. I lock the rest of the world away and hunch over my pages. I write elsewhere, of course, wherever I need to, and although I am constantly turning pieces over in my mind, I have scrawled the vast preponderance of the words I have ever written right there in that very room.

At that hidden away desk, do you write using a typewriter, computer/laptop, or pen & paper?
Pen and Paper! Typewriter for personal drafts; Computer for submissions. But pen and paper: the beginning and the end.

What do you drink or eat while you write?
I don’t eat, and I drink only water. I used to smoke while I wrote, but I gave that up a few years ago.

Congratulations on quitting smoking! I’m all for anyone who can as too many people do. Did you replace that bad habit with a more healthy one, such as listening  to music while you write? If so, what kind?
Indeed. Metal mostly. Progressive preferably. Fates Warning, Rush, that sort of vein. If a new album is out, I listen to it quite a bit, with old favorites mixed in.

I can’t say I’m a fan of the genre myself, but don’t let that stop you if it helps your writing process! So here you are tucked away in a darkened corner scribbling away with music playing in the background… What are you wearing?
I’m not a pajama kind of guy, if that’s what you mean. But neither am I a scarf and tweed jacket type of person. Whatever I am wearing, which is usually a nice comfortable ensemble consisting of jeans and t-shirt.

Other than the music and your preference for long-hand, do you have any other writing rituals?
None–that I would wish to divulge, anyhow.

Well, I suppose authors must have their secrets *wink* How do you plot your stories, chapter by chapter or an overall synopsis?
A blend, I suppose. When I reach the point of actually beginning a story, I usually have a good idea of the tale I wish to tell. But especially for novel-length pieces or series, an outline–however detailed or however vague–is all but necessary if I want to keep characters and events straight. Breaking the narrative into chapters and completing an action or thought can help a great deal in moving the story forward successfully, too. However, I tend not to get too rigid with plotting, always sure to leave space for new and developing ideas as well as to respect any unexpected directions the story, itself, might wish to take.

How do you decide which narrative point of view to write from?
That comes in thinking about a story before ever putting pen to page, in how best to tell a tale. But even then the decision can be, and should be, changed if a better way of viewing the point of the story is ever unveiled in the writing.

What about character names, how do you choose those?
Research. I usually decide on the sense of the character and then pour over dictionaries and etymologies, disguising languages and derivations and spellings. Take “Steven Wespers,” for instance: “Steven” is an archaic form for “voice.” “Wespers” I developed from “vespers” or “evening prayers.” So, his name, to me, means “singer of nightsongs,” but it still sounds natural. Other names are not so darkly veiled, like “Dawn.” The process can be pretty arduous. Deciding on names, for me, is one of the hardest parts of writing and characterizing–not to mention becoming a new parent! I agonized over my twins’ names for well over nine months.

If only all parents were so careful about naming their children *shakes head* While you may end up “testing” your manuscripts on the twins rather than the usual bedtime story, who is the first person to read them now?
My wife. She’s a school librarian and reads a lot. She can have useful insights.

What did you do immediately after hearing that you were being published for the very first time?
I caught my breath.  I read the e-mail once more just to be sure that I was reading what I thought I was reading, and then I chased upstairs out of my writing-room and told my Mom and Dad that I was finally going to have a story published. They quietly started bawling. To keep from joining them, I called my wife. She kept telling me, “I knew it. I just knew it.” Everyone said they were proud of me and that my hard work was paying off at last. It was a joyfully solemn occasion that I was honoured to share with my family.

If your book were to become a movie, who would you like to see star in it?
I can’t think of anyone in particular. Perhaps someone unknown who could fit the role perfectly.

Unknown actors do seem to well in book-to-movie adaptions, just look at Harry Potter! Speaking of doing something for the first time, what is the first book you remember reading?
Little Golden Books–I can’t see any specific titles in my mind, just the shimmering spines. The first book I read which seriously made me want to write was probably “On A Pale Horse” by Piers Anthony.

And what book is on your nightstand right now?
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. I admit, though, I’m a couple months behind. I am still not used to their shift to bimonthly publication.

Do you have a guilty pleasure read?
I am reading too much children’s literature right now, I’m afraid. My excuse is that I am pursuing a degree in Elementary Education, but there is a lot of good stuff out there for children which can be addictive for adults.

There are some really cute children’s books out there, and I don’t think the age of the intended audience should stop people from reading them… but at least I can say I write book reviews when I get funny looks from other library patrons *L0L* Speaking of libraries, how do you organize your personal book collection?
Organize? It used to be by subject; now, it’s wherever I can find the space.

If you could be any character from any book, who would you be?
“Silverlock” (by John Myers Myers). How awesome it would be to so explore “The Commonwealth.”

It sounds like you still remember that book, so there’s nothing to stop you now from trying to write it now. It may have helped if you had an author-mentor to encourage your creativity when you were younger, but if you could now talk to any writer living or dead who would it be and what would you ask/talk about?
Whoever wrote the Voynich Manuscript. I would be very interested to find out what its pages truly say.

What book  do you wish you had written, been the author of?
Not some famous book and not even a book I personally admire. I wish I had written the book I had in mind way back when I was in high school, the one I never fully realized, thinking that I did not have what it took to write it.

So you had a passion for writing when you were younger. Did you always want to be an author then?
I always had intimations, I suppose, but it was when I discovered what I liked in my teen years that I began seriously considering the possibility.

What is the best gift someone could give a writer?
A few moments of peace and quiet in which to write.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
To keep writing.

Just one more question…What is one random thing most people don’t know about you?
That I like to draw. If I had not pursued writing, I just might have pursued illustrating.

 Previous Interviews: Janis Flores InterviewMarySPalmer InterviewLauren Hunter InterviewSharon Ledwith InterviewEmma Lane Interview

Writerly Questions with Emma Lane

Warm weather has finally arrived and it is time to start thinking about what to read as you lounge around the pool, while your kids play in the park, or during your hour-long commute on the transpo. To help you prepare your summer-time TBR list, every Monday for the next few months I will be talking with some really fabulous authors about their latest or upcoming books.

It may be the last week of June, but that doesn’t mean this blogger is taking a holiday! Today we have an interview with the lovely Emma Lane, author of Dark Domino. This short story was released by Aurora Regency this past April. Be sure to check out her blog here

How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
Young love faces the challenges of life in the early 19th century and endures.

How long did it take you to write this book?
Two days, but the idea had been simmering for a while before I sat down to the computer.  It’s a short story.

I suppose short stories wouldn’t take nearly as long as a fifty-thousand-word novel *L0L* Did you go through very many drafts in those two days?
Three drafts, and some random tweaking afterwards.

When do you write best: in the morning, afternoon, or at night?
Whenever I get the chance.  I own and operate a plant nursery and ‘herbtique’ with two partners. This time of the year (spring and summer) is manic as we help set up gardens and suggest plants. Don’t get me wrong. I love my work, but there’s just so many hours in any given day. I’m a bit tired in the evenings, but I manage to read. Mostly I do my writing in the fall and winter.

Where is your favorite place to write?
I have a lovely office that overlooks a park across the street, and a door to the room that closes firmly whenever I need it to. I’m not a tidy person and I like having piles of material, books, thesaurus and other reference books, favorite authors, and a stash of chocolate close by.

Doors definitely come in handy when you need solitude, especially ones that have locks on them *wink* Do you prefer to write with a typewriter, computer/laptop, or pen & paper?
Desktop computer, and laptop when I’m out of town.  My equipment is ancient. The lappy is older than my desktop but it travels with me whenever I leave home.

What do you drink or eat while you write?
Whatever I can cram into my mouth. I especially like cheetos, but they make the computer orange. I like ice tea/lemonade in the can.  I keep M&M’s with peanuts around for emergencies.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what kind?
Nope. Music has a strong voice. It invades my soul demanding I listen with all my attention. TV rarely manages a flicker of interest and provides me with ‘white noise’.

I know how you feel about music. IF a song is playing, more often than not I’m the one singing along or dancing around to it *L0L* Do you have any other writing rituals?
Whenever I finish a chapter, I print it to discuss it later with my hubby. He likes to read it and make notes on paper, and then we discuss. This routine helps me anchor my thoughts.

The chapter discussions with your husband, do you have a set time to sit down with him to talk about your writing?
I work with my hubby who is retired. He is one of my partners in the plant business and we are almost always together. He is a good listener and an excellent supporter of my writing.

Sounds like a wonderful man, your husband. This now makes me wonder if you plot chapter by chapter or an overall synopsis or detailed outlines?
I have occasionally used an outline. I needed that when I wrote sequels to MY PASSIONATE LOVE. I needed to remember names and places.  For my short story, DARK DOMINO, it wasn’t necessary.

Did you already have Dark Domino all planned out in your mind then, or did you just have an idea for it and let the story flow where it would? 
Dark Domino was a enigma with no rational explanation.  I was working on another novella when this ‘voice’ kept tugging at my attention. (No, it wasn’t the TV.) Finally I sat down and wrote Sarah Louise and Ethan’s story in one sitting.  Who knows where these thoughts come from as they coalesce in the back of our minds?  It was a total mystery to me. I wrote their story to clear my thoughts for another story line.  DD turns out to be one of my favorites. Who doesn’t love the scamp, Sarah Louise?  I think it was probably she who bugged me to write the story. Ethan provides a solid counterpoint for her antics.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
I just grab them from the sky. Sometimes I use family names, and once I used a variation of a couple of my friends’ names. They were amused.

Who is the first person to read your manuscript? The second?
My husband. He doesn’t often read the entire manuscript after I’ve edited it several times. I take pity on him. My daughter teaches college English. I sometimes wrangle an edit from her, but she is very busy with her job, hubby and two delightful children. I have a good friend who does a great critique.

What did you do immediately after hearing that you were being published for the very first time?
High-fived with my husband. Ate chocolate. You won’t believe it, but my life runs at such a swift pace, I rarely have time to dwell on anything. I’m more of a ‘do’ person. My daughter and her family gave me a framed copy of the cover of my first published novel, A SCANDALOUS AFFAIR. I was so touched.

That is sweet of them. If your book were to become a movie, you could put a framed autograph of the actors next to that picture. Who would you like to see star in Dark Domino?
George Clooney would be the Dark Domino, his heroine would be Sandra Bullock. I like them both and would love to see them star together. Sandra could perfectly play the hoyden, Sarah, in my opinion. George is just eye candy. He can do anything–twiddle his thumbs, comb his hair, eat boiled peanuts– and I’d watch.

Sandra Bullock is one of my favourite actresses, and I have to agree that George Clooney is gorgeous! I am keeping my fingers crossed your story gets options, because I want to see these two in it *grin* But let us get back to books… What is the first book you remember reading?
See Dick, See Jane, See Spot.  I read the comic strips with my dad before I knew I could read. How often, I don’t know, but if I learned to read, it must have been frequent. Hey, I was only three years old. My younger sister was sickly and my Dad ‘babysat’ me a lot of the time while my Mom took care of her. I liked the pictures and he taught me the words to go with them.

What book is on your nightstand right now?
Several. JD Robb, Lee Childs, Georgette Heyer, a Grisham, an old Jo Beverly and a Steinbeck. I’m an eclectic reader.

Do you have a guilty pleasure read?
I have no guilt about reading.  I  am an adult.  I keep a paperback in my purse so as not to waste time if I am in line for something.  I am never interested in the décor of my friends’ houses, but I love to peruse their books. I am always sure they have some treasure I didn’t know about.

I admit, the bookshelves at someone’s house is one of the first things I usually look at myself *L0L* How do you organize your library/book collection?
Hard back and paper backs.  I try to keep authors together, but then I reread them and they get all mixed up again.

Did you always want to be a writer?
Yep. There was never an epiphany. I grew up in a family of achievers.  Our parents expected and encouraged us to have goals. That was mine.  Actually I wanted to be a newspaper reporter like Lois Lane and live in New York. I achieved half of that. I married a pilot, but he needed a machine to fly–unlike Superman.  We won’t discuss the ‘man of steel’ part.

You write and your husband flies… Yep, sounds pretty close to me! If there was one book you wish you had written what would it be?
I have a collection -vignettes, sort of- that I wish I would sit down and finish. Some really good stuff in there, mostly contemporary.

So the book you wish you had written is one of your own ideas you wish to work more on?
Reading Regency Romances was an addiction for me like eating potato chips.  At some point, I wondered if I could write one. One day I sat at my computer and did just that. It was so much fun I did it two other times and called them ‘The Vicar’s Daughters 3.’ Then I veered off into another of my addictions and wrote two Contemporaries with heavy nature/environmental settings.  I love the outdoors. SANDPIPER AFFAIR and, just epubbed with Desert Breeze Publishing, GONE TO THE DOGS was the result of that flurry of activity. How much fun can a lady have? I hope all occupations provide as much sheer joy as writing does for me.  Look for another Regency from me called BELOVED SOLDIER RETURNS to be epubbed by MUSA  in August.  It has gypsies—I did quite a bit of research for that one.

If you could talk to any writer living or dead who would it be, and what would you ask/talk about?
Probably Nora Roberts. I’d ask her to describe her workday and tell how she manages to write so much.  Oh, and William Shakespeare, also I kind of like Blake… Just one? I wouldn’t mind chatting with an apostle or two. They were formidable authors inspired by God.

If you could be any character from any book, who would you be?
Lois Lane -that’s a comic book, but just the same.  She gets to write, have all sorts of adventures, and have a hunky boyfriend who can fly.

Oooh, good choice. I can totally understand the appeal of that one! *wink* Since authors generally don’t get to have a gorgeous flying superhero in real life, what is the best gift someone could give a writer?
Uninterrupted time. Oh, maybe a computer if they don’t have one.  And after all that, how about an acceptance of a submission.

I don’t think any other author has yet given me the answer of a contract as a “gift”  *L0L* Do you have any advice for writer’s themselves?
Write, write, write and write some more. It’s difficult to edit a blank page.

One last question: What is one random thing most people don’t know about you?
I am a wild flower buff and an avid bird watcher.  Nature is a favorite thing.

 Previous Interviews: PattiYDelagrange InterviewLauren Hunter InterviewSharon Ledwith Interview

Writerly Questions with Sharon Ledwith

Warm weather has finally arrived and it is time to start thinking about what to read as you lounge around the pool, while your kids play in the park, or during your hour-long commute on the transpo. To help you prepare your summer-time TBR list, every Monday for the next few months I will be talking with some really fabulous authors about their latest or upcoming books.

It is my pleasure to have interviewed Sharon Ledwith about her new book The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis. This latest addition to the time-travel series was released exactly one month ago on May 18th from Euterpe. Don’t forget to stop by Sharon’s WebsiteBlogFacebook PageThe Last Timekeepers Series Facebook Page

When not writing or digging up the past, Sharon Lewith enjoys reading, yoga, kayaking, time with family and friends, and single malt scotch. Sharon lives in the wilds of Muskoka in Central Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, a water-logged yellow Labrador, and moody calico cat.

How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
Children are the keys to our future. And now, children are the only hope for our past.

That is technically two sentences, but I’ll totally let that slide *L0L* How long did it take you to write this book?
I started writing The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis in 1999. If my memory serves me (and sometimes it doesn’t) it took about nine months to complete the first draft.

Well, they do say an author’s books are like their baby, so I would say the time frame sounds right to me! How many drafts do you go through?
Hmmm—I’m going to say with this particular novel, at least six, but maybe more.

When do you write best: in the morning, afternoon, or at night?
Mid-morning to late afternoon is the best time for me. Nights are a struggle.

I on the other hand don’t seem to be a functioning person until after noon… Where is your favorite place to write?
In my writing studio, facing the forest full of fairies and gnomes. Honest.

You never know what might be hiding in the woods, and that seems the perfect vista to stare at while dreaming at your… At your typewriter, computer/laptop, or pen & paper?
Laptop when writing. Pen and paper when planning.

What do you drink or eat while you write?
Coffee in the morning. Tea in the afternoon, chased by a piece of dark chocolate. Water throughout the day. And the occasional dram of scotch with home-made pretzels in the latter afternoon.

Chocolate does seem to be a daily necessity in my opinion. How about music, do you listen any while you write?
I’ll admit, I like it quiet. It helps me concentrate. But when I started writing I had some favorite CDs I’d pop on—movie soundtracks like Braveheart or Titanic. Don’t judge me.

At least half of my CDs are soundtracks, no judging here! I don’t know if your writing studio is at home or elsewhere, so what do you wear when you write?Comfort clothes (anything fleecy) in the cold months. I’m Canadian, go figure. And in the warmer months (which unfortunately, aren’t long) I go for shorts and T-shirts and my Crocs.

I am also Canadian, but I do that backwards: shorts and T’s in the winter and fleece in the summer -mainly because I have no control over the building’s thermostat *0y* Do you have any other writing rituals?
When I start a new book, I usually burn incense. My hubby protests, but I insist it’s for the good of the whole.

How do you plot: Chapter by chapter or an overall synopsis?
Honestly, this is a toughie. I do a little of everything. I research first, with the idea of the book in my head, because I’m writing in the time travel genre. That said, I’ve taken a liking to creating a chapter by chapter mini-synopsis complete with chapter headings. I started out as a pantster—writing with a notepad beside me and jotting down ideas, then moving ahead with the scene, but my writing has evolved since then, and I find more detailed outlines have helped me tremendously. Although, I do give into my muse’s rants now and then.

And how do you decide which narrative point of view to write from?
I’ve always done third person. It’s comfortable to me and I love it. When I first started the Last Timekeeper series, I wrote it so that the first chapter was in one character’s point of view, then the next chapter was in another character’s point of view, until I’ve been in each of the five character’s heads, then started again. My editor with Musa Publishing suggested that I stick to one character’s point of view throughout the whole book so it wouldn’t be so confusing. I agreed, signed the publishing contract, and revised the entire manuscript. It turned out to be a fresher, better story because of my editor’s wise advice.

Editors are incredibly smart if I do say so myself *wink* How do you choose your character’s names?
I have a character-naming source book and use it constantly. Most of my character’s names literally pop into my head when I’m creating them, and I check out what their name means. Most times it fits that character to a ‘T’. Amanda Sault, who is the first point of view character in The Timekeeper series, is special. She is half Native American and I named her after Bill Sault, a Native American elder and teacher at a Native Awareness course I took in the 90s.

Who is the first person to read your manuscript?
Kelsey Bolt—then twelve—now twenty-three. She was a huge Harry Potter fan and a voracious reader. When I originally wrote my book (1999),  I tested it out by giving it to a friend’s daughter. This was around 2001. I wanted to know if my story appealed to her. It did, though there was some changes I had to make. Believe it or not she still has that manuscript!

She sounds like the perfect person to be having critique your manuscript! What did you do immediately after hearing that you were being published for the very first time?
I freaked. This is it, I thought. There’s no turning back now! Then told my hubby and phoned my family. They were all so proud of my accomplishment. After that, I poured myself a shot of 21-year-old single malt scotch.

If your book were to become a movie, who would you like to see star in it?
What do you mean ‘if’? Grin. The kids would be hard to pin down to any specific actor or actress, but the adults are easier. I thought Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap fame) as Professor John Lucas and Amanda Tapping (Stargate and Sanctuary shows) as Melody Spencer. I can see the ‘Rock’ Dwayne Johnson playing Belial. And I would love to see Taylor Swift playing Lilith.

Yoohoo, Hollywood, please option this book if only to put this cast together! All right, back onto the topic of books what is the first one you remember reading?
I’d need a time travel portal for that! Hmm—I’m stumped here. Wait – Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. Loved it! I also remember my grade seven teacher, Mrs. Greer, reading To Kill a Mocking Bird to us. I loved it too. In fact, Mrs. Greer influenced me so much I gave her a cameo in The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis as the principal of White Pines Elementary School. Payback is sweet!

What book is on your nightstand right now?
I’m reading Tempest by Julie Cross and Cannibal Island by Cornell DeVille on my Kobo Vox ereader. In hard copy I’m reading Napoleon Hill’s Keys to Success—The 17 Principles of Personal Achievement.

Do you have a guilty pleasure read?
Anything by Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series, but to be honest, those books are so damned thick and time consuming! However, I do read a lot of self-help books. Go figure!

I kept hearing how wonderful the Outlander series is, and now have the anniversary edition waiting on my bookshelf. How do you organize your library/book collection?
My books are all in sections. I have everything supernatural on one shelf and everything historical on another shelf. My writing and self-help books are on other shelves, as well as my fiction books. It works for me!

Did you always want to be a writer?
No. In fact, I’m a late bloomer. I started a graphic trade business with my hubby in the mid-80s, and didn’t get the writing bug until 1995. I read a lot of romance books during the 90s, and one evening while I was reading, I thought how simple the structure and dialogue was. You can write, you can do this, a voice urged inside my head. Let me tell you, I almost fell off my chair. But the words sounded authentic, true to me. So, I took writing courses, met a great couple of gals, started a writing circle (or trinity in our case), and wrote my first novel—a paranormal romance.

If there was one book you wish you had written what would it be?
Such a hard choice. Oh, crap, no it’s not—Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. You said book, not a series, so I took the first one!

Who wouldn’t want to have written Harry Potter? At least half of the world’s population loves those books! If you could talk to any writer living or dead who would it be, and what would you like to ask/talk about?
Another hard choice! Drat you! Okay, this is a serious answer—Anne Frank. I know she was only writing her private thoughts in her diary, but they were pure and real. I would ask her how she felt, really felt about her situation as a young girl trapped within the horrors of the Nazi regime. I would tell her that she touched the world in a way no one else would dare. That she had talent, she had pluck.

If you could be any character from any book, who would you be?
Quasimodo. Think about it. He rings bells for a living. He brings awareness. How cool is that?

I agree, that would be a pretty sweet job to have! Just a couple more questions… What is the best gift someone could give a writer?
Inspiration. Hands down.

How about the best advice someone could give a writer?
Keep at it. It will happen.

And finally, what is one random thing most people don’t know about you?
I’ve recently been contacted by One Match, as a possible bone marrow donor. This organization matches bone marrow transplant recipients with donors. This is something near and dear to my heart—to make a difference in someone’s life by giving them a second chance.

 Previous Interviews: June Kramin InterviewJanis Flores InterviewMarySPalmer Interview

Writerly Questions with Lauren Hunter

Warm weather has finally arrived and it is time to start thinking about what to read as you lounge around the pool, while your kids play in the park, or during your hour-long commute on the transpo. To help you prepare your summer-time TBR list, every Monday for the next few months I will be talking with some really fabulous authors about their latest or upcoming books.

I have been looking forward to this interview, as I could hardly wait to talk with Lauren Hunter about her book The Coffee Shop. I haven’t read the book yet myself, but I fully intend to as it was released by Thalia in October of last year. You can find Lauren on her blog, website, Twitter, or Facebook

How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
You’re talking about a tagline, which has to be one of the hardest things we have to do as a writer. To sum up an entire novel, its characters, subplots, and all the complexity that is part of the story, in one line…

If Derrick thought experiencing alternate timelines and glimpses into the future was strange, then he had no idea it was about to get far more strange than he ever imagined.

I know what you mean about the difficulties when it comes to writing taglines. I also have to deal with those as an editor!  Speaking of the editing process, how many drafts do you go through?
The more I write the less I need to do a second draft. Now by that I am not saying it is perfect, what I mean is I am getting it closer to a draft I am happy with the first time through. Of course you now go through and tidy it up.

As I am writing I am aware I am doing things I shouldn’t, but if I stop to fix them in mid sentence it completely disrupts my creative flow. So I just write it as it comes to me, and then when it is all done I go through and fix all those little things, correcting and polishing it as best I can.

But it also depends on the story itself. How long it is? Does it deal with an extremely complex storyline that needs to fit together like puzzle pieces? You want to have all bases covered, and all questions addressed. You don’t want any loose ends. You have to go over it with a fine tooth comb and make sure you haven’t forgotten anything, and that it all makes sense in the end, or as close to that as you can get within the confines of the story.

Of course once it is accepted for publication the editing process begins and you have two thorough edits, finding and fixing any and all problems to make it reader ready.

I cannot imagine only needing to write one draft of a manuscript. I doubt I could ever manage to do that. So how long did it take you to write this book?
I wrote The Coffee Shop in nineteen days. When it comes to writing it varies a great deal. I worked on my first novel, on and off, for years. But now that I am more focused on my writing I can be much more productive, creatively speaking.

When do you write best: in the morning, afternoon, or at night?
I am a night owl so, biologically speaking, I am most alert and creative during the middle of the night. But this also serves me extremely well in other ways. In the middle of the night everyone is asleep, and it is dead silent. No noise of any kind, no one clomping around the house, no one walking in on you in the middle of writing an intricate or detailed scene and just talking to you without a thought! It’s perfect.

It seems wherever you like to work is prone to interruptions, but just where is your favorite place to write?
Seeing that I don’t have a laptop, I have to make do with wherever my computer is set up. My first book was written long hand. I don’t recommend it! What a nightmare when it comes to making additions or corrections. I also wrote my second regency by hand as well, because I like being able to sit comfortably on my bed, or wherever I please. But I won’t ever do that again. Right now I have my computer set up in a spare bedroom so I can go in there and close the door against noise and distractions. Unfortunately that doesn’t always stop people from walking in and talking to me.

I guess that pretty much answers my next question of: Typewriter, computer/laptop, or pen & paper?
Computer works best. Being able to edit on the fly is a dream come true. BUT you need to save OFTEN! And when you’ve done for the day, or take a break, ALWAYS back it up, not only on the hard drive, but a flash drive as well. Maybe even two flash drives, and keep one in a fireproof file box.

Of course if I am out somewhere, and inspiration strikes me unexpectedly, I will grab pen and paper and get it all down. I write poetry by hand.

On these breaks of yours, do you go to the kitchen to grab a snack or do you have a stash you can access while you write?
That’s kind of funny actually. When writing my sci-fi I would write from the moment I got up until I was too tired to keep going. I did this every day. Not because I was disciplined or dedicated, but because I LOVED doing it.

Now here’s the thing, when the ideas are flowing non stop you don’t interrupt that process. So, I would start to get really hungry as I did not want to stop the ideas that were flowing from me. So, it occurred to me the only way I will get a chance to eat anything is if I prepare something ahead of time, and have it sitting next to me on the desk. That could be fruit, an apple, nectarine, a bowl of grapes. Or I could make a sandwich and wrap it up in plastic wrap to keep it from drying out. I can then quickly grab a bite while I am writing. If I want a cold drink I need to set up a small cooler chest.

I’m not sure why that particular project was so intense. That was the one and only time I never worked with any kind of an outline. I would sit at the computer and just write as the thoughts came into my head. I would do that until I was too tired to keep going. Go to bed. Wake up the next day and do it all over again. I would deliberately not think about the story or where it was going, because not thinking about it was working for me.

I don’t know why I did that. I was standing in the kitchen and a scene just started unfolding in my mind. I felt an overwhelming need to get it down. And that was the start of the novel, an eighteen-year-old girl in dirty t-shirt and jeans, alone in some cheap hotel room, exhausted, afraid, and running from someone. Little did I know the story that was to unfold as I sat every day at the computer and wrote, a paranormal sci-fi with all sorts of psychic abilities, explosions, and car chases.

But I digress, sorry about that, my mood has a lot to do with what foods I gravitate towards. If I am dealing with a stressful or depressing aspect of a storyline then I may be inclined towards comfort food, and that can range from pizza, to ice-cream, to chocolate. But I try to avoid that if I can and eat delicious healthy foods.

If you don’t like interruptions, even for food, do you find music disruptive or helpful? If so, what kind do you listen to?
I know there are people that find music helps to set a mood, and it does, but in order for me to completely concentrate I need dead silence. I can’t even have someone walking down the hall. The noise distracts me. That’s why night time is perfect for writing.

 If you write a lot during the night, are you in your pajamas when you work?
Comfort is key. I usually wear lounging type clothes around the house.

 Do you have any other writing rituals?
By that do you mean superstitions? No. I try to approach things in an organized fashion and do them in a certain order, like checking off items on a list. Then I know they are done and I can relax and forget about them, like checking your email for any important communications first thing. Then I’m not wondering or worrying, and it doesn’t get in the way of the creative zone I trying to create.

You mentioned a little while back that you have only once not used an outline when writing. How do you plot: Chapter by chapter or an overall synopsis? Usually, I start with a very general idea, which then evolves into a slightly more involved outline. Then as I am writing it I do a general outline for the chapters. It isn’t until I am actually writing it that the details of exactly what is said and done are formed. And what is interesting about that is sometimes the story takes a turn you weren’t planning for.

In the moment of the scene you let the actions or dialogue take you wherever it may, and sometimes that may be somewhere totally unexpected. In one novel a secondary character suddenly became one of the main characters as the scene unfolded. Of course when all is said and done you have to decide if that really works. Does it enhance or harm the story?

How do you decide which narrative point of view to write from?
As the writer you know who has the most emotional risk or involvement within a scene. You know whose perspective it would be best to experience that scene from as you delve into internal thoughts, that otherwise wouldn’t be known to the reader.

It’s best if you can relate that through words and actions, but some things cannot be expressed any other way than through the most intimate of private thoughts. They cannot be shown through words or actions, not completely, or as specific or detailed as intimate thought. They may be the type of person that hides their thoughts and feelings quite well and therefore would not say, or do, anything to indicate those thoughts or feelings outwardly in an obvious manner.

Or you may wish to keep a character mysterious by taking the perspective of a character witnessing that other character’s demise. It creates questions in the reader’s mind along with the character that is wondering. It puts you into the story right along with what is being thought and felt.

 How do you choose your characters’ names?
Good question. They just come to me. They have to have a certain feel or sound to them or they don’t seem to fit, in my mind. I may play around with sounds a little bit to get that perfect combination, but it’s usually something that just comes to me. Now if I am dealing with a storyline with many characters, like at a ball, or servants, then I will use a name generator to speed things along. But again, the name has to sound right, if that makes sense, so I don’t just choose the first one I see. I’ll find the perfect first name, and then the perfect last name to go with it.

 So now you have plotted and planned, written and fine-tuned your work. Who is the first person to read your manuscript?
The person at the publishing house that deals with submissions would be the first. That could be an intern checking your query and sample chapters, or it may be an editor. As for the full manuscript, again that could be an intern or an editor, depending on where you send it.

If you meant family or friends, I never ask them to. My nephew asked me once if I would mind, I explained I wasn’t comfortable with that. If they tell me they love it are they doing so to spare my feelings, or do they really mean it? And if they do hate it and are honest with me, I don’t want to hear that either. I would rather leave that up to strangers. I don’t want to place them in a difficult position. And I wouldn’t want to feel the hurt and disappointment in the knowledge that someone I love does not like something I’ve written.

Yes, I can be hard to have loved ones read your manuscript. It is probably best to merely announce to them when your book is being published so they can celebrate with you instead *L0L* What is it that you did immediately after hearing you were being published for the very first time?
I was sitting at my computer checking my email when I read that one of my novels had been contracted. There was a split second of shock and disbelief that someone actually wanted to publish my manuscript, then a rush of thrill and excitement that cannot be described adequately, unless you have experienced it yourself.

I have had moments of achievement, or accomplishment, in other areas where you experience a moment of shock and excitement, but this was different. The difference for me was subtle, but to know my novel was accepted and would be published had a feel to it that as a writer cannot be matched, especially if you have been receiving rejections.

You reach a point where you brace yourself for it, preparing yourself mentally for the let down. That first acceptance for a novel will never be matched again. Yes, each time is still a thrill, but not quite the same as that first time. A couple of days later I mentioned it to my mom. She was the one that continued to encourage me to keep writing, when I felt discouraged by rejection. It saddens me deeply to know she never had a chance to actually see it happen. She did get to know two of my manuscripts had been accepted though. I think of her often, and wish she could be sharing all of this with me every step of the way.

Your mother’s encouragement will always be there, so in a way she is sharing the experience with you. Tell me about the first time you shared a book together, what is the first book you remember reading?
See Jane run. Run, Jane, run. I don’t remember the name of the book, I just remember reading that. I recall the first word I ever learned. It was look. Why I remember that I have no idea.

I am going to assume that your reading material has changed and matured since then. What book is on your nightstand right now?
If I have time to read a book I would rather spend that time writing one.  By the time I am finished writing at the end of the day I am drained, because I am physically tired, and when that happens my concentration is gone. I know we are to read a lot in the genre we wish to write in, but as I am writing I am also very concerned that if I am reading someone else’s work I may subconsciously take aspects of their writing style and incorporate it into the story I am writing.

To avoid that I don’t read at all during writing, unless it’s to check something, a fact, or research. I love to read but now that I am more immersed into my writing I get extremely anxious if I spend time reading, because that is time taken away from my writing. But when I do read, or have read, my choices are very eclectic with books in a wide variety of genres.

How do you organize your library/book collection?
I used to have two bookcases full to the brim, then got rid of half of them. But I like to organize them by genre, like all ghost, all horror, all classic and so on.

I have a hard time giving away any of my collection, I tend to read books over and over again. Do you have a guilty pleasure read?
Sorry to be so boring, but no I don’t. That is to say, I greatly enjoy many books but I don’t consider any of them a guilty pleasure.

Your writing seems to take over a large portion of your life. Did you always want to be an author?
It never occurred to me I could do that as a living. I’ve always enjoyed it, and the teacher was always reading my stories out to the class, so I thought she must like them. I have been writing poetry and have had numerous poems published. I wrote some short stories, and then decided to take a stab at a novel, and just kept going. It then became a task of finding a publisher for these works. That’s when the submission process started, with fingers crossed, hoping that someone, somewhere, would actually like something I wrote.  If I did find someone that would get me started, my foot would be in the door and it could lead to more novels getting published.

How about the book you didn’t write, if there was one you wish you had written what would it be?
Oh…that’s impossible to say. There are just too many to pin it down to one. If I named just one then I would feel I am leaving out another. But with all the ideas I keep having for new and different stories, those are the ones I truly can’t wait to write.

If you could talk to any writer living or dead who would it be, and what would you ask/talk about?
You know, I never think about that kind of thing. Again, to have to name just one would be impossible. And to name them all would be equally impossible, as I am sure I would be leaving someone out.

How about a character from any book, which would you want to be?
I always thought it would be fun to have magical or paranormal abilities. Of course in the land of imagination all things are possible, in the real world that would come with all kinds of headaches and complications that no one needs, were it possible.

You’ve mentioned that you like silence when writing, and that your mom supported your writing, but what do you think is the best gift someone could give a writer?
Encouragement to keep going regardless of adversity.

And what about the best advice someone could give a writer?
Never give up.

One last thing: What is one random thing most people don’t know about you?
I was an extra in a really awful movie that has in more recent years started to acquire a cult-like following.

I wonder what that could be… 

 Previous Interviews: Peter Lukes InterviewKarenKSamoranos InterviewJune Kramin InterviewJanis Flores InterviewMarySPalmer Interview

Writerly Questions with Sarah Alderson

Warm weather has finally arrived and it is time to start thinking about what to read as you lounge around the pool, while your kids play in the park, or during your hour-long commute on the transpo. To help you prepare your summer-time TBR list, every Monday for the next few months I will be talking with some really fabulous authors about their latest or upcoming books.

It may not be a Monday, but as a little something extra for all y’all wonderful book-lovers, I am posting a second interview this week! I was asked by Simon and Schuster to be part of the Canadian blogger tour for a debut author from the UK. Here is Sarah Alderson talking about writing and her brand new novel, Hunting Lila. You can also check out my review on this book here

Having spent most of her life in London, Sarah quit her job in 2009 and took off on a round the world trip with her family on a mission to find a new place to call home. After several months travelling the world, they settled in Bali where Sarah now spends her days writing by the pool.

How long did it take you to write this book?
Hunting Lila took about three and a half months to write, but I was working full time also, so I wrote it in the evenings after work and edited it on the train in the mornings. It was a real labour of love. I wrote Fated in about 2 months (I was no longer working then), and then I wrote the sequel to Fated in 30 days just because I wanted to see if I could. It was exhausting. I wouldn’t do that again. Nowadays it takes me about 6-8 weeks to finish a book. But then I tinker with it over the twelve months or so it takes for it to reach publication. A book is never finished!

When do you write best: in the morning, afternoon, or at night?
I write all day most days, from about 7am until about 10pm (if I’m not out with friends in the evening). I take breaks obviously, for Pilates and to dance, for the odd lunch date, and I take a few hours out every afternoon to pick my daughter up from school and to hang out with her being a mummy… but at the moment I put in at least 10 hours a day.  I am really lucky because I live in Bali and I have someone who comes to my house every day to do all the housekeeping and she makes me coffee, too, so yeah, I don’t have much to do other than write.

I’m writing several books at once, editing others, I guest blog on several blogs and have my own blog, I also do lots of travel writing and am addicted to social media so yeah, I write a lot. I’m at my best depending on when I’ve had my coffee.

That is a long day! Where is your favorite place to write?
I can write anywhere, on trains, buses, planes. Nowadays I tend to write at my desk which overlooks the rice paddies in Bali. But my all-time favourite writing spot was here. This is the beach in India where I wrote most of Losing Lila. I would sit at a chair right here, drink chai, eat a fruit salad and tap away…it was HEAVEN.

 Okay, I am in envy. I would love to be able to work on the beach… Well, maybe not. I doubt I would get anything done! What is your preferred method of writing, by typewriter, computer/laptop, or pen & paper?
Laptop always. I can’t remember how to write with a pen anymore. Plus my handwriting is terrible and I can type about 90wpm. My hand can’t keep up with my flyaway brain.

You also wouldn’t have to worry about fly-away papers landing in the ocean either *wince* It seems to be the latest thing to listen to music while writing, do you and, if so, what kind?
Always. Right this second I’m listening to Noah and the Whale. I create playlists for all my books and when I’m writing that book I spend most of the time listening to that playlist on repeat. All my soundtracks are on my website www.sarahalderson.com

Who is the first person who gets to read your manuscript?
Every book I write I send to my two best friends as I go. They get it chapter by chapter and that’s the way I will always do it. I love writing for them. After I’m done I send a copy to my dad and to my agent! Although, I just wrote a very steamy adult book and haven’t told my dad about it as I’m way too embarrassed to have him read it, especially as he always refers to my protagonists as ‘you’ when he’s talking to me about them. Once my agent has given me her edits I work on those and then submit to my publisher.

Um, yeah, I can totally understand not mentioning the steamy novel to your dad *LoL* Since your besties and your father are the first ones to see your works-in-progress, are they also the first people you called when you were signed? Please tell us about what you did after hearing you were being published for the very first time!
I burst into tears. It was a long-time of waiting to hear and the relief was so great. Then I opened a bottle of champagne. It was very sweet actually because we had some friends over for a party that night and I got the text half-way through the evening. I was upstairs on our balcony with my husband, and our daughter was playing with her friend right by us. They looked up when they saw me burst into tears and then I was hugging my husband and we were laughing and the children started throwing bits of torn up paper over us like confetti.

What a wonderful way to celebrate getting your first book published, it sounds like perfect timing to me! I’m sure other writers had a similar reaction, so let me ask you about some of the authors you like. What is on your nightstand right now?
I read mostly on my Kindle these days. I just read Your Voice in My Head by Emma Forrest, which I loved. And also The sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes.

You have mentioned travelling a lot with your family in search of a perfect place to call home. What’s your favourite city in the world?
Oh crikey, I was born and bred in London and that will always be my city – the place I know like the back of my hand and on practically every corner I’m assaulted by memories (places I worked, places I got fired from, first kisses, break ups, first meetings, birthdays, anniversaries, childhood adventures with my grandmother…I find it quite overwhelming visiting). But I love New York and San Francisco, too. I also used to live in Italy so I have a soft spot for Florence and Naples, and obviously for Paris because I used to go there every year with my husband who was born there. I also love the wide blue skies and stunning waterfront of Perth. I love the food and chaos of Asian cities – Bangkok is crazy. Wow. I can’t decide. I love cities – the pace, the vibe and energy, the shopping and culture. I’m a city girl at heart.

One last question, for all the aspiring authors out there: What is the best gift someone could give a writer?
I can’t speak for other writers but for me it would be peace, quiet, great music and chocolate. Also Tequila. 

 Previous Interviews: JLA Interview,  Avery Olive InterviewPeter Lukes Interview,  Janis Flores Interview

Writerly Questions with Peter Lukes

Warm weather has finally arrived and it is time to start thinking about what to read as you lounge around the pool, while your kids play in the park, or during your hour-long commute on the transpo. To help you prepare your summer-time TBR list, every Monday for the next few months I will be talking with some really fabulous authors about their latest or upcoming books.

To kick off the first of these interviews, I have Peter Lukes discussing his science-fiction novel Perchance to Dream. This e-book hit the shelves on Friday April 27th, and is published by the Urania Imprint.   

Peter Lukes grew up in Massachusetts, where he also went to college, law school, and graduate school.  He took an early interest in science fiction that was brought on by tv shows like Space: 1999Buck Rogers, and Start Trek. His addiction worsened when the original Star Wars came out, and once he discovered comic books and Dr. Who it was all over. From there he started reading authors like C.S. Lewis, Roger Zelazny and Isaac Asimov.   The unfortunate distraction of a career in law and academics prevented Peter from dedicating his time to dreaming up fantastic scenarios and impossible worlds, but eventually he returned to the passion that brought him so much joy in his youth.  Peter still lives in Massachusetts.  He is married and has a son (who was introduced to Star Wars as a toddler and has loved it ever since).

In one sentence, how would you summarize your  debut novel?
Perchance to Dream is a wild, surreal adventure where anything can happen and often does.

I bet writing it was an adventure, too. How long did it take to write?
That’s hard to say because it started as a short story, worked its way into a serial, then transformed into a novella, eventually to finally end up as a novel…  Probably two years total.

That must have meant a lot of drafts!  How many did you go through?
It was probably edited about 30 times, but speaking in terms of “drafts,” I’d say three.

So when is it that you write best: in the morning, afternoon, or at night?
Morning or late at night- when nobody is around! I’m also one of those rare people who has no trouble working from home.  The tv and refrigerator don’t call my name and, for whatever reason, I feel comfortable and not distracted.

Where is your favorite place to write?
My sunroom.  I can smoke cigars out there.

Now I know why you prefer writing when no one is around, it is because of your cigars! So how is it that you write in your sunroom, do you have a computer set up there or do you take a pen and paper?
Pen and paper first for notes and ideas, then it’s all about the laptop.

I know you have your cigars, but do you drink or eat while you write too?
I rarely eat when I write because stuff gets on my fingers and then it gunks up the keyboard.  I will usually drink a spring water, coffee, or when I really need inspiration, tequila.

How about music, is there anything you listen to while writing?
Occasionally.  I like listening to ballads when I write.  Simon and Garfunkle, believe it or not.

You mentioned you write at home, so what do you wear when at “work”?
Preferably sweats.  That’s what makes writing such a great job -no suits and absolutely no tie!

I would say I am envious, but I do a lot of work from home, too.  Do you have any other writing rituals?
I usually go through all the news websites and my emails before I start writing.  This way I don’t worry that the world may be ending and maybe I missed the warning.

Moving away from the writing process and getting a little more into your actual novel, how do you plot: Chapter by chapter or an overall synopsis?
I am meticulous when I plot.  I break out every section, chapter, and scene by general word count and I map the sections so that no character is left out too long.  I sometimes storyboard as well.  I find that this process is crucial to maintaining flow for the overall plot and keeping the reader’s interest.

I think doing a storyboard is a great idea, and being so organized probably makes you an editor’s dream! Speaking of those characters, though, how do you decide which narrative point of view to write from?
I don’t know that I make a conscious decision with choosing the narrative point of view, it just feels right.

Is that also how you choose your characters’ names, by what feels right?
Naming characters is one of the hardest things for me.  I’ve read a number of articles on the subject.  I usually try to find a name that applies to the character, so if it’s an elderly wizard I may look to latin or greek sounding names.  For modern background characters, I’ve sometimes used the names of relatives and friends.

Okay, you have written your story and polished it to perfection. Who is the first person to read your manuscript?
My editor.  I’m funny like that.  Unless it is a professional in the field, I don’t really want anyone’s random thoughts because I feel that it can become too much of a distraction.  I do take a professional editor’s comments very seriously though.

An editor’s comments are always important, they usually know what might make or break your novel with readers. So what did you do immediately after hearing you were being published?
Told my wife. It wasn’t the first time that a piece of my writing had been accepted, however, so we didn’t jump up and down or get all excited. Because the previous two times fell through for random reasons that were no fault of my own we were both excited, but we also held our breath.

I’m sorry that happened! It must have been such a let down, but these things can occur I suppose. Another industry known for that is film, so if your book were to become a movie who would you like to see star in it?
Tobey Maguire.  He looks and sounds a lot like how I pictured my main character.  My protagonist is also similar to several of the characters that Maguire has played (Spiderman, Seabisquit) where he’s a nice guy who trusts people a little too much.

I loved both those movies and thought Tobey was fantastic in them. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed your novel gets optioned *L0L* Since the first story you remember reading was also a book-turned-movie, why don’t you tell everyone about it?
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. I was amazed that a book could take you away like that, to another world.  I’ve always had a love for portal fantasies ever since.  Some people think they’ve been overdone since the Harry Potter avalanche, but I still think that type of story can provide an escape that’s fun, exciting and worth reading if it’s done right.

I’m a big Harry Potter fan myself, I have all the books and movies. Do you have a guilty pleasure read?
Zombie fiction.  Absolutely love zombie stories ever since I saw the cheesy Dawn of the Dead sequels in the ‘80s.  This is another genre that many people say is oversaturated.  Once again I disagree because if you give me a good zombie story, with good characters, solid writing and some originality, I’d like to read it.  The thing I dislike is the new trend in zombie fiction with writers trying to get too original.  Zombie romance?  Really?  Zombie poetry?  No.

I have to admit I recently finished reading a zombie romance called “Dearly Departed” by Lia Habel which actually I enjoyed… unlike “Dawn of the Dead” when I saw it *blush* What book is on your nightstand right now?
Rise of Empireby Michael Sullivan. I’m not normally a big epic fantasy reader but this series sucked me in.  The author is also a bit of an inspiration because his books started not only as e-books, but self-published e-books.

Self-publishing and e-books are definitely on the rise, no longer considered to be of a lesser quality than print books; I still have a preference for paperbacks over an e-reader, though. How do you organize your library/book collection?
Science Fiction on the left, Fantasy on the right.  That is all.

If there was one book you wish you had written what would it be?
Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum

I love the title of that book, it is so true! *L0L* What would you ask or talk about with any writer of your choice if you could?
Mark Twain and I’d like to talk about politics with him. My guess is that all of his insights about government and politicians would still be applicable today.

Mark Twain has some pretty famous characters in his novels. If you could be any character from any book, who would you be?
Dracula.  I think it would be fun to be any vampire, but the Big Guy beats them all.  I know he had a tortured life in most versions of his story, but how much fun would it be to live in his castles, scare the hell out of everybody, and be immortal?  The antagonists are always more interesting to me than the protagonists.

No sparkly vegetarian vampires for you then! Writing can be such a unique and imaginative process… Did you always want to be a writer?
In the back of my mind, yes.  A legal, academic, and political career got in the way before I finally got around to it though.

Well, thankfully you started writing again. What do you think is the best gift someone could give a writer?
A good review!

I have already heard great things about your novel, so I don’t think you have to worry about that. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Never quit.

One last question: what is one random thing most people don’t know about you?
I love building elaborate stuff with Legos.

 Previous Interviews: JLA Interview,  Marie Landry InterviewAvery Olive Interview