Meet the Author: A Very Important Teapot by Steve Sheppard

Today we’re traveling to Bampton in west Oxfordshire to chat with Steve Sheppard about how bingo, prison, Yackandandah, and cricket come together as part of Steve’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born and brought up in Guildford in the heart of the Surrey stockbroker belt but, having failed to meet any stockbrokers, I moved to west Oxfordshire 23 years ago, where I now live with my wife, Anabel and the latest in a long series of recalcitrant cats in a quintessentially quirky, not-quite-Cotswold village called Bampton. This is of course the UK we’re talking about as nowhere else in the world can legally describe itself as not-quite-Cotswold. There used to be a son living here too, but apparently he moved out three months ago.

I have been many things in my time, including Bingo Manager, Estate Agent and Prison Officer, not forgetting many years selling unwanted goods and services to uninterested buyers. I now sit in the corner of an office four days a week making lots of coffee and trying to explain how offices used to function with just a Gestetner printer and one phone between ten people. I spend hours answering questions along the lines of: Was the whole world in black and white or was that just television? To which the answer is of course Yes.

I’m also on course to be the world’s oldest active cricketer, although active is an entirely relative term.

In which genre do you write?

Comedy fiction; in particular, as I have so far written just the one book, comedy spy thrillers, although I hope to branch out once I’ve written a couple more books in a series that has begun with A Very Important Teapot. The first draft of Book 2, as yet unnamed, although with a working title of Bored to Death in the Baltic, is almost finished. There may be some serious editing to go through, although hopefully I won’t have to knock 20% (20,000 words) off it like I did with Teapot.

How many published books do you have?

One, A Very Important Teapot, published by Claret Press, London in October 2019. Despite being older than Methuselah, I sincerely hope it won’t be the last (see above). I’d like to spend my life writing full-time but my bank manager does not currently think that is possible. Hopefully though, not too far hence.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I’ve always been a writer (probably inspired by my older brother) but it has taken me 45 years to actually turn that into an actual book. I had some poems published in an anthology back in 1972 but stopped writing poetry for good in my early 20s, advisedly as none of them were particularly good. Some weren’t awful though. My collected poetical works disappeared during a house move in the mid-nineties and the world is not a poorer place for their loss. Since then I have written short comic pieces, trivia, tomorrow’s fish and chip paper, for captive audiences (work mags, cricket clubs, drama groups, unfortunates like that). Over the years I’ve started several books that were intended to become full-length but always ended up 15 pages long. Good at starts, it’s the middles and ends that defeated me.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

It would look nothing like what it actually looks like, which is currently a small corner of the dining room with a wonderful view of a shed and the kitchen cooker. However, my son’s ex-room is being turned into a writing and music den. Somehow the room is smaller than it used to be, but at least I’ll have a bigger desk and a proper chair (and a view of the roof of the aforesaid shed).

What are you currently reading?

I only have about 20 books currently in my to-read pile. Mainly I’m reading Mick Herron. I only discovered him late last summer, so my research must be atrocious. I pride myself on my snappy dialogue but I am absolutely an amateur in that respect compared to Mick.

Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?

I was on holiday in south eastern Australia in March 2017. Literally on the flight home, I said OK, I‘m going to write from now until the end of the year and see where I get to. Don’t worry about an A to Z plot (I always managed to convince myself I couldn’t come up with a full-length plot), just do it and see. The result was A Very Important Teapot and, surprise surprise, it is very largely set in south eastern Australia. I even went to Yackandandah (yes, it’s a real place) and its folk festival, which feature heavily.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? 

No, although I did for many years through my 20s and into my my 30s. Think how many potential books those millions of wasted words equate to.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? Or, what do you do to prepare yourself?

I wouldn’t listen to a song. I’d go to the toilet a lot instead.

How do you prepare yourself to discuss your book?

I’ll let you know. I have a library event coming up in Carterton, Oxfordshire on 24 July.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Not having to answer the phone. Who the heck had a phone back then? And I mean a landline. In a house. It was a novelty when we had one installed. All my mates came round to marvel at it.

If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do? 

I already have. Dawson is me, well for the first few chapters anyway. Except that he has more hair.

A giraffe knocks on your door and is wearing a bowler hat. What does he say and why is he there?

Well, clearly he’s a wrong delivery from a company called Animazon. In case that’s a confusing answer, you may wish to read http://stevesheppardauthor.com/short-stories/giraffe …. And actually, he doesn’t say anything but he does eat some toothpaste.

If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?

1. How the heck do you manage to sleep so much?

2. How the heck do you manage to sleep so much?

3. How the heck do you manage to sleep so much?

What are you currently working on?

I am currently desperately working on a title for Book 2. I set the titular bar pretty high with A Very Important Teapot. I need to find one before it gets published. I never expected this to be a thing. I’d come up with A Very Important Teapot almost before the metaphorical ink was dry on the first page.

It was such fun learning more about you, Steve. Love your sense of humor and the fabulous short story you wrote about the giraffe. Wishing you all the best, with much success on this book and future books! –Camilla

Where to find the book:

A Very Important Teapot is available everywhere. Obviously on Mr Amazon (.co.uk and .com) and all other online retailers in the UK, including Waterstones, Foyles, WH Smith etc, as well as many abroad (that’s abroad from where I’m sitting, obviously). Any bookshop can get it for you although only those in my immediate part of Oxfordshire will actually have it siting on their shelves. You can get it, signed if you want a damaged copy, from me via www.stevesheppardauthor.com.

Amazon UK:

US:

Kindle too!

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46690093-a-very-important-teapot

Publisher: https://www.claretpress.com/idk

Blurb

Dawson is going nowhere. Out of work and nearly out of money, he is forlornly pursuing the love of Rachel Whyte. But Rachel is engaged to Pat Bootle, an apparently successful local solicitor who has appeared from nowhere.

Then, out of the blue, Dawson receives a job offer from his best friend, Alan Flannery, which involves him jumping on a plane to Australia to “await further instructions”. But instructions about what?

This is the start of a frantic chase around south eastern Australia with half the local underworld, the police and the intelligence agencies of three countries trying to catch up with Dawson.

What is Flannery’s game?

Why has Pat Bootle turned up in Australia?

Who is the beautiful but mysterious Lucy Smith?

What is the teapot’s secret?

What has folk music got to do with anything?

And how do guns actually work?

Dawson’s life will never be the same again.

Connect with Steve:

http://stevesheppardauthor.com/

Twitter: @stevesheppard2

Facebook: @AVeryImportantTeapot

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Book Shelf: Dance of the Sacred Circle – A Native American Tale

Dance of the Sacred Circle – A Native American Tale by Kristina Rodanas

**Throwback to 2016** – From the time Thomas and Lillian were born I read to them nightly before going to bed; leading to some time in 2017 when we all decided to discontinue doing so. Their tastes in what interested each of them had solidified by this point. We all continue to be heavy readers, reading daily.

A tale of bravery and magic based on a Blackfeet legend …. “The old ones spoke of the Great Chief in the Sky, whose breath gave life all the world. They said he lived in a wonderful land far above the stars …. ” Another one we really enjoyed … –Camilla

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/39xmlgJ

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(The above are amazon affiliate links.)

Meet the Author: Mad, Sad Dysfunctional Dad by Stephen Gillatt

Today we travel to Faversham in the South East of England to talk with Stephen Gillatt about how country walks, mental health, escapism, writing in the maternity ward, sea lions, climbing fences, and Denise the Menace come together as part of Stephen’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Stephen Gillatt, I live in a town, my hometown, called Faversham. It’s in Kent, in the South East of England. I live here with my wife and two young daughters. I refer to them affectionately as ‘my three beautiful ladies’. I write anywhere, as long as my phone has battery! But for self-care, I like going on country walks and going fishing. As well as reading autobiographies – I like reading about the challenges, successes, complexities, struggles and beauty of life. People are staggering.

In which genre do you write?

At the moment I write non-fiction (memoirs). I’m writing what I know!

How many published books do you have?

I was lucky enough to publish my first book in July 2019. It’s about fatherhood and mental health. But also explores addiction, self-harm, therapy, relationships and suicide. I talk and write about things a lot of people won’t or can’t. My friends describe my writing as uncomfortable but important. Being a parent is such a wonderful privilege, but for so many there can be a darker side, which is felt, but rarely talked about. I try to write in a way people can identify with; that might help someone who’s struggling, and hopefully provide their partners’ with a window in the lives of the people they love and worry about.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

When I was very unwell, I started writing as a form of escapism. A lot of people say it’s cathartic, but for me, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes facing how you really feel and are, is painful and uncomfortable. But then I began to realise I might be able to use my experiences to help others.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

I write at any time, any place, anywhere. I’m only bound by my phone battery! And I do very little editing. Most of my writing is ‘one-take’ so to speak. It’s literally just like putting thoughts and memories on to paper. I also wrote an entry for my first book in the maternity ward, after the birth of my second daughter. But I’m not sure whether this is quirkiness or madness …. That’s for other people to decide! If you see me on my phone, I’m more likely to be writing than texting or using social media!

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

I’m a fanatical Liverpool Football Club fan! I’ve supported them for as long as I can remember. So it would have to be the (mythical) Liver Bird. Which is on the club badge.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

I wrote my first book on my phone. On buses, trains, at work, before and after therapy. In bars, hospitals, everywhere. The world is my writing space! If I had the time to have a writing place; it would be sitting by the lakes near my house. The only background noise being birdsong and the lapping of the water against the bank.

What are you currently reading?

I have a ridiculously short attention span, so I have a few! Happyslapped by a Jellyfish (Karl Pilkington), The Rum Diary (Hunter.S.Thompson) Being Gazza (Paul Gascoigne) and A season on the Brink (Guillem Balague).

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

I went to a full moon party in the world’s highest city – La Paz, Bolivia

I once had to eat my Christmas dinner through a straw

I swam out half a mile to swim with wild sea lions in Iquique, Chile. It was totally unsupervised. Five of them surrounded me. I felt totally safe. I was amazing.

Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?

My second book, which I am currently trying to place, is the culmination of years of people continually saying I should write a book about my life. My friends say you couldn’t make it up. So I started writing it. And the few people who’ve read the manuscript, love it. Now I just need to find an agent or publisher who loves it! But you know what? I absolutely love it. So I might even self-publish. I want my daughters to be able to read about the ridiculous and fun-filled life I have had. And not just my first book; about my challenges and pain. People are so much more than their mental and physical illnesses.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I work full time! I work in social housing, with organisations who provide support and housing to vulnerable people in society. I also have two young children… So time is at a premium! If I do get spare time, or time for self-care, I like walking, fishing, sport and reading.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with a famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Paul Gascoigne. I was lucky enough to see his greatest goal against Scotland in 1996. I want to ask him, (after the way he was treated by the press beforehand) how scoring that goal really felt; what the rush was like. He watched his best friend die when he was ten. I’d like to ask him, today, if he has forgiven himself. Or if he still blames himself. I’d like to ask him if he thinks there is enough support for men in society today. I’d like to ask him if he lived his life again, would he change anything? Would he swap being free of addiction and mental illness for not being a professional footballer? And I’d like to ask him what he would say to men who are struggling in their lives, in order to try and help them not go through what he has. What I have.

Muhammed Ali – I’d like to ask him about the stand he took against the Vietnam War. How he found the courage, to, at the height of his career (March 9, 1966) give up everything. And if he ever regretted the way he sometimes ridiculed opponents in the build-up to big fights.

I’d also love to sit with Lance Armstrong and just ask him ‘why?’

I generally only read non-fiction to my daughters at bedtime!

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

That I can write poetry. I now write a lot of micro poetry, so a poem the length of one tweet. I’m not even sure how it started, but I publish quite a bit on Twitter. And some people seem to like it, although it can be very dark. But I like them, and am proud of them. Writing should make us happy.

What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?

That I’ve found a creative avenue that helps me process my struggles, while helping people with the struggles in their own lives.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot or to help you remember something if writing a memoir?

I’ll be honest. Despite having a short attention span; the memories I’ve used in my books are vivid. Like dreams I’ve captured and stored in my head. When I write, it’s often because I have a surge of memories (or creativity). I write them down. Then see how they fit into the manuscript I am working on. And then some random things when I reminisce with friends!

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?

My first book is a diary! It was written over eighteen months. One year of daily entries, including from a set of therapy sessions. I was given permission to use exit and exit questionnaires, it’s real life. Then six months after I stopped, I experienced a very severe bought of paternal post-partum depression (PPPD). Research says about ten percent of men experience this. So it spans eighteen months in total. Which was my wife’s full labour, the birth of our second daughter, and then a very difficult time afterwards. Now my Twitter account is my (interactive) diary.

What is the most amusing, crazy or inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?

I was knocked over by a bus in the early hours of the morning in the car park of The Ataturk Stadium, Istanbul, after the 2005 Champions League (football) final. I traveled on my own, via Bulgaria, and it was an epic trip. I’ve written a sport travel memoir called ‘4000 miles of mayhem – An imbecile in Istanbul, and other countries’. Oh, and I’m the imbecile!

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? Or, what do you do to prepare yourself?

Well, I am lucky enough to have been invited to speak about my book at a Literary Festival on February 22nd, In Faversham, Kent. Where I live. I think I’ll have a cup of tea. Chill out, speak to a few of the people who have paid to come and see me (I’m donating all ticket proceeds to the mental health community garden where I’m speaking). As for a song? There are so many, Maybe ‘Mummy’s Boy’ by Wretch 32, or ‘Porcelain’ by Moby. I love travelling and The Beach is a favourite film of mine.

How do you prepare yourself to discuss your book?

I’ve been fortunate to have been asked to do telephone, podcast and broadcast interviews in the last year. The first time I was nervous, but as I got used to the way things work, the nerves ebbed away. I also absolutely believe in what I am trying to do. And I really enjoy it, and remember how lucky I am to be able to talk about things that are so important to me, and that people relate to. Mental health and mental Illness (I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Depression in October 2019) has, and always will be, a big part of my life. I’m now trying to do things in my professional and personal life to help people who are living, and especially struggling with mental health problems and mental illness.

What do you miss about being a kid?

How free I felt. The excitement of waking up on a Saturday morning. Meeting my friends. Climbing over a fence, so we could play football on a crisp, immaculate, school football pitch. The crunch of the frost underfoot. Falling over, laughing at ourselves. How the sun warmed us up, and we slowly stopped seeing our breath. Imagining being a professional footballer. And during those times, sharing our dreams, and on those mornings, the three of us, making them our reality. Walking home, just feeling warm. Not because of the sun, but because of the unconditional friendships we had back then. And the laughs we had, the stories we could tell, and the memories we were creating.

At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?

Don’t regret what you have done, your choices, and where your life it as. Be grateful for the friends you have and the memories you’ve made. Nobody is perfect, but you are trying your best to make a difference. And you still have time. But above all, do not feel like a failure.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

Definitely Dennis The Menace! I wasn’t exactly well-behaved as a kid, so his antics would be right up my street!

If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do? If you write non-fiction or memories, what fictional character would you invite into your story and why?

As I (currently) write memoirs, all of my characters are real.

But I’d like to invite Vito Corleone ‘The Godfather’ into my world for a day. I’d like to share authentic Italian food and fine wine with him. I’d love to hear his musings about health and family, mental health too. As well as his take on respect, values, success, failure, and leaving a legacy.

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

The Irishman (Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci). I love reading about the history of gangsters and the mafia. I love films made about it too. This history of the Bufalino crime family is really interesting. I watch the Godfather trilogy a few times a year. It’s a masterpiece.

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

He’s out of ice, and wants to go out for chilli!

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

Yes, I believe in fate… I was supposed to go fishing in Morocco for my 30th birthday. I missed my flight, so traveled to Leeds to party with some friends. Shortly after being back I met my second wife. We connected instantly. Now, we have been married eight years in April, and have two beautiful daughters. There is no way I would have met my wife if I had not missed my flight. I was planning to try to get a job in Morocco, and never return to England.

If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?

I have a cat. I’d ask what it would really like to eat? Why can’t you just sleep in the comfy bed we have bought, instead of the bloody sofa! Why do you wait until just before I want to go to bed before you want to do out! (we don’t have a cat-flap).

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

Empathy. I have had a difficult life (who hasn’t) so I never judge anyone. You never really know what people are going through. You only ever know what they decide to tell you. Everyone leads a double life to some degree.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

I live on the coast. So I’m lucky to have beautiful beaches a few miles away. I love water. I suppose this is why I like freshwater (catch and release) fishing. There is also a nature walk very near my house. I have been going there regularly for the last six years with my wife and daughters, and at the right time of year, we pick wild blackberries. It always makes me happy, even when the weather is bad… We just go puddle-jumping!

Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.

I’d take myself to a lake. Arrive under darkness and watch the sun rise. Cast my rods out and chill out on my bed-chair. Turn on the radio or a podcast, and maybe read a little. Even have a snooze. Then bask in the glory of the sunset. Enjoying a large hot chocolate (with a little splash of something as a treat) as I’m enveloped by dusk, eventually darkness, and a star-sprinkled sky.

What are you currently working on?

Finding a publisher for my second book, and writing my third book about mental health and social media. Its working title is ‘Making mental health social’ But most importantly, maintaining my (decent) mental health, and just enjoying every minute of family life as me and my wife watch our amazing daughters grow up.

It was wonderful learning more about you, your background, and writing style. Thanks much for being a part of MTA, Stephen! All the best to you and here’s to success with your writings! –Camilla

Where to find the book:

‘Mad, Sad, Dysfunctional Dad’ is available in paperback and kindle version:

On Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mad-Sad-Dysfunctional-Stephen-Gillatt-ebook/dp/B07TVLBPGQ/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=stephen+Gillatt&qid=1580309131&sr=8-1

The Conrad Press https://theconradpress.com/product/mad-sad-dysfunctional-dad/

Connect with Stephen:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/talkingcl

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephen-gillatt-26383816b/

Email: stephen@talkingchangeslives.org

A short television feature Stephen recently did for the BBC: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/stephen-gillatt-26383816b_mentalhealth-resilience-depression-ugcPost-6625164227432730624-HO53

About Stephen:

Stephen is a customer service, public relations and housing practitioner with twenty years’ experience across three sectors. Most recently working in income recovery within social housing and local council community development.

Stephen has been living with mental health problems for twenty-five years and was diagnosed as living with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) in October 2019. In his teens and early twenties, Stephen battled a gambling addiction which resulted in him dropping out of University. Six years ago, Stephen had a nervous breakdown. And two years later began writing his fatherhood and mental health memoir ‘Mad, sad, dysfunctional dad’ (published July 2019) in which he opens-up about post-partum depression, self-harm and therapy. The joys, and struggles of being a dad, and the pressure to just keep going. And how this pressure broke him. But also, how great things can come from the darkest places.

Over the last eighteen months Stephen has featured in several local and national interviews, and in January of this year, featured in a special report aired on the BBC. During this time, he also started event speaking, his first, a Housing Quality Network (HQN) which focused on income recovery, rent arears and mental health. He is now confirmed at an additional six event in 2020.

In February 2020 Stephen will be speaking about his book at the Faversham Literary Festival; and is now writing his second and third book. As well as writing for HQN in his spare time.

Stephen is passionate about mental health (especially men’s), and mental health in the workplace; recently designing and writing a set of workshops for staff, managers, students and prisoners under the banner ‘My mental MOT’. He is currently exploring other ideas to improve mental health in business and society.

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Meet the Author: Mud and Glass by Laura Goodin

Today we’re traveling to Melbourne, Australia, by way of Wollongong, to chat with Laura Goodin about how Fafnir, juggling, being a bellringer, getting whupped with birch twigs, fencing, and the Pocono mountains come together as part of Laura’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a born and raised American who has been living in Australia for the past 24 years (the first 19 in a small, gritty city called Wollongong; more recently in Melbourne, a large, eccentric, and very artistic city). While I’ve been writing since I was seven years old, and have always worked in jobs where writing was a key element, I only stared into the abyss and started writing creatively on any serious basis (meaning, I finished what I started and I submitted my work to publishers and agents) in my mid-40s. Since then I’ve published several dozen stories and two novels, and had my plays, libretti, and poetry performed internationally. I also attended the Clarion South Workshop in 2007 and received a PhD in creative writing from the University of Western Australia in 2015. I’m currently working on some academic papers (and serving as co-editor-in-chief of Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research), a novel, a radio play, a stage play, and too many stories.

In which genre do you write?

I mainly, but not exclusively, write fantasy and science fiction.

How many published books do you have?

Two: After the Bloodwood Staff, which is a humorous, genre-disrupting look at Victorian adventure fiction, and Mud and Glass, which is at once a fond satire of academic life and a manifesto of resistance against a nascent totalitarian regime, and is also funny (I’m told).

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

When I get stuck, I can sometimes get unstuck by juggling (albeit badly).

What are you currently reading?

The geekiest book in the world. It’s not a book about Shakespeare – no, no, no! It’s a 600-page book ABOUT books ABOUT Shakespeare.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

I’m a bellringer (tower bells, the big ones). I have a pilot’s license (airplane, single-engine, land) and a second-degree black belt (tae kwon do). I once got whupped with birch twigs in a steamy Siberian sauna.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

The list is endless. I earn money with a mix of editing (I run an editing business that specializes in academic editing), coaching fencing, and grading assessments for one of the universities here in Australia. Non-money activities include looking after my geriatric racehorse, ringing bells, running a fencing club for immigrant kids, camping and hiking at highly irregular intervals, and generally trying to be as much like Xena, Warrior Princess as possible. I also occasionally produce plays and other performance events and sing in choirs.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?

I do write in a journal. I seldom go back and reread it; the object of the game is to integrate the physical act of writing with the mental act of reflective practice. Putting words to what I’m thinking and feeling creates a still pool of understanding and perspective in my otherwise chaotic brain.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What do you do to prepare yourself?

Oddly, I don’t do much. Unlike most writers, I adore public speaking, and the most I’ll do is take a few deep breaths and make sure one last time that all the technology is in order. It’s the same when I teach: I really enjoy going just a bit over the top to make everything energetic and engaging. Moreover, I feel much more authentic when I speak candidly to groups. At one point I had a job that required me to give literally thousands of live-to-air radio and television interviews, and I got quite comfortable with public speaking. Then I started lecturing, and found that the more authentic I was, the more the students were willing to work with me. So I got to really enjoy talking to groups, because they seemed to enjoy listening to me. That’s quite satisfying, and I willingly seek out opportunities to teach, do readings, perform poetry, and just plain talk about things that are important to me.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Absolutely nothing whatsoever. Except maybe the perfect eyesight I enjoyed until I was about seven years old. I sometimes have dreams where my vision is spectacularly clear, and I can only assume it’s based on memories from my early childhood.

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

I do not believe things happen for a reason, and I feel that saying so cheapens the grief and horror that people legitimately feel at the tragedies and crises in their lives. Sometimes life is just plain bad, and to try to “make it better”, especially by saying that somehow it’s “for the best”, is incredibly disrespectful toward the people who are suffering. I need to state outright here that I’m an ardent Christian, and I still don’t believe “things happen for a reason” in any way that humans can possibly make sense of. It’s almost insulting (particularly to God) to pretend we can understand what such a purpose might be. Honor people’s pain and grief. Don’t try to wish or explain it away.

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

My karate teacher, who is a very wise woman, says, “Our greatest strengths are our greatest weaknesses.” My anxiety has been both for me: sometimes it drives me to accomplish superhuman feats; sometimes it traps me in trembling immobility. I’m still figuring out why one or the other manifests at any given time.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

In the US, there’s a small town on the Pennsylvania side of the northern Delaware River called Milford. It’s not only incredibly beautiful, set within the Pocono mountains and hard on the banks of the river, it’s also incredibly peaceful, and it has an impressive history as a retreat for creative people from all disciplines. In fact, it was one of the hotbeds of American science-fiction and fantasy writing in the 1960s and 1970s. Maybe it’s ley lines or feng shui or something. I can’t explain it. But it’s where I’m happiest.

In Australia, it’s the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, especially if you include the Wollemi National Park. Amazing, deep, uncanny scenery for as far as you care to hike.

Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.

This is the perfect solo date I used to take myself on when I lived in Washington, DC: I’d ride my bike down to the Mall in the morning and spend all day hanging out in museums. The best weather for this was either spring or fall, because in the summer, DC gets disgustingly hot, and I’d get all sweaty riding to the museums, and then I’d get chilled to the bone once I went into the air conditioning. Then I’d ride my bike back home, and get a pizza at the neighborhood pizza place (Vace’s Italian Deli, in case you’re wondering), and spend the night alternatively eating pizza, reading, looking for interesting stations to listen to on my shortwave radio, and dancing to Springsteen records as night fell. Solitude holds no terrors for me.

What are you currently working on?

The sequel to Mud and Glass – more highjinks in academe!

Tell us about your most recent book.

I wrote Mud and Glass as a love letter to university life – the kind of university life that is rapidly being destroyed by a focus on profitability and the idea that students are, at once, customers of the university (or what’s left of it) and products to be marketed to corporations. I wrote the book as a humorous – in fact, satirical – adventure fantasy set in a second world because I wanted the freedom to exaggerate in unexpected ways (including lots of literal cliffhangers and other acts of derring-do), and thus draw attention to what we’re losing in this world with the commodification of education. I’m pretty sure I was successful: one colleage, an academic whom I asked to give a blurb for the book, read the book and promptly refused to be associated with it because it cut too close to the bone. However, another academic colleague said, “I’ve not read comedy this clever since Jasper Fforde,” a compliment that I have clutched to myself ever since. (I LOVE Jasper Fforde’s writing.)

It was wonderful incredibly interesting learning about you and your books, Laura! Thanks for being a part of MTA! Here’s to all the fun it sounds like you’ll have writing the sequel! And, I like the trailers you created! –Camilla

Where to find the book.

Anyone who loves learning and loves universities, and also loves to laugh, can find Mud and Glass on all the big online retailers.

Book Trailer:

Trailer Mud and Glass by Laura E. Goodin from Laura E. Goodin on Vimeo.

For anyone who then becomes insatiably curious about my other novel, After the Bloodwood Staff, the trailer:

After the Bloodwood Staff trailer from Laura E. Goodin on Vimeo.

I wrote, filmed, composed the scores, narrated, and edited them myself, and I’m desperate for approval.

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Book Shelf: Tomorrow to be Brave – A Memoir of the Only Woman Ever to Serve in the French Foreign Legion by Susan Travers with Wendy Holden

Tomorrow to be Brave – A Memoir of the Only Woman Ever to Serve in the French Foreign Legion by Susan Travers with Wendy Holden

My interest in this book was due to having interviewed Wendy Holden on MeetingtheAuthors.com. I really enjoyed meeting Wendy and getting to know her, so went in search of any books my local library had authored by Wendy. They have several that I’m making my way through. I’ve also requested the library purchase her newest book!

A gripping true story that left me in awe of this courageous woman. An up close and intimate tale of what was endured by those who fought World War II, told through Susan Travers’ eyes about what she experienced.

Follow the link to learn more about Wendy and her other books …

Meet the Author: One Hundred Miracles by Wendy Holden

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2tr2dgC

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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla

(The above are amazon affiliate links.)

Meet the Author: Katherine – Tudor Duchess by Tony Riches

Today we’re traveling to Pembrokeshire, Wales to chat with best-selling historical fiction author Tony Riches about how a life-sized Henry Tudor statue, a dark oak writing desk, working as a senior project manager, riding zebras, and playing tenor sax come together as part of Tony’s past and present writing life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I write full time in Pembrokeshire, Wales, and was born close to Pembroke Castle, birthplace of Henry Tudor. I used to be concerned that so few people knew about Henry being born here, so a group of us raised the funds for a life-sized statue in front of the castle, which is now a popular tourist attraction.

I’ve followed in Henry and Jasper Tudor’s footsteps from Pembroke Castle and sailed across to see where they ended up in exile in remote Brittany. I then visited Mill Bay in Pembrokeshire, where they returned to an unlikely victory over the army of Richard III at the famous Battle of Bosworth, and Henry was made King of England.

In which genre do you write?

My best-selling books are all historical fiction, although I have written a number of non-fiction books, and one contemporary thriller, The Shell, based on an incident when I visited Mombasa in Kenya with my wife.

Historical fiction covers a wide range, from historical fantasy to ‘alternative’ history, but my books are all based on actual events. I spend at least a year researching original sources and visiting the real locations, so over the years I’ve become an expert on the lives of the Tudors.

A US reader recently told me her son was using my books to help with his history schoolwork, which I take as a great compliment – as well as quite a responsibility to tell the true story.

How many published books do you have?

I’ve written two best-selling trilogies, as well as three ‘stand alone’ historical fiction books, The Shell, and my non-fiction books. My current work-in-progress is the first book of my new Elizabethan series – and my tenth novel.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I worked as a senior project manager of major engineering projects, and noticed project management training was focussed on the process, so decided to ‘distil’ my experience in a short eBook about engaging the people effectively through an ‘Agile’ approach. I was amazed when my book became a best seller on Amazon US – and haven’t looked back since.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

I sometimes wake up with an entire dialogue between my characters in my head, and have to write it down before I forget it. Some of my best work has ‘emerged’ this way, so I always keep my laptop by the side of my bed – just in case.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

I was recently listening to author Philip Pullman talking about how he wrote the His Dark Materials trilogy. He said it was easy after he wrote the first sentence – ‘Lyra and her daemon.’ If I could choose my daemon, I’d like it to be a lion, as I’m a Leo.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

I treated myself to a dark oak writing desk, with a green leather writing table, and thought it would be my ideal writing space. Instead I often find I’m writing in my lounge on my laptop with piles of books to each side of me, and a cup of tea. I try not to write when I’m on holiday, but a Greek beachside taverna in Cephalonia (where we went on holiday last summer) would be my perfect place right now.

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading Ian Mortimer’s wonderfully evocative  book, The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England. It’s full of fascinating details – many of which will find their way into my current work in progress. (For example, he points out that Queen Elizabeth’s teeth were quite yellow from a young age, and eventually turned black due to her sugar-rich diet.)

List three interesting facts about yourself.

I lived in Nairobi as a child and used to ride a zebra.
I joined the Royal Air Force when I was fifteen years old.
I played tenor sax in a pop group, where I met my wife (who played guitar and sang)

Tell us about your most recent book.

My latest book is Katherine – Tudor Duchess, about the fascinating life of Katherine Willoughby.  Attractive, wealthy and influential, Katherine Willoughby was favourite of King Henry VIII, and knew all his six wives, his daughters Mary and Elizabeth, and his son Edward, as well as being related by marriage to Lady Jane Grey.

Following Anne Boleyn’s dramatic downfall, Katherine marries the king’s best friend, Sir Charles Brandon, and becomes Duchess of Suffolk at the age of fourteen. Katherine’s friend, Catherine Parr becomes the king’s sixth wife, and they work to promote religious reform. Katherine’s young sons are tutored with the future king, Prince Edward, but when Edward dies his Catholic sister Mary is crowned queen. Katherine’s Protestant faith puts her family in great danger – from which there seems no escape.

Katherine’s remarkable true story continues the epic tale of the rise of the Tudors, which began with the best-selling Tudor trilogy and concludes with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, in the Brandon Trilogy.

It was wonderful to meet you and learn more about you, Tony. Thank you for being a part of MTA! –Camilla

Where To Find the Book:

You can find  Katherine – Tudor Duchess on Amazon in eBook and paperback, and an audiobook edition is in production:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07YCV3RJV

Connect with Tony:

Find out more at Tony’s author website: https://www.tonyriches.com/ and visit his  popular Blog ‘The Writing Desk’: https://tonyriches.blogspot.com/ . You are welcome to follow Tony on Twitter @tonyriches (where he has over 31,500 followers), and his author Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/tonyriches.author

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Book Shelf: The Year of the Blue Water by Yanyi

The Year of the Blue Water by Yanyi

This is a Yale Series of Younger Poets book that I came across while pulling holds at the library. The title and cover caught my attention.

One of my favorite pieces from the collection:

“Form gives space for something to exist. You have to dig in yourself to find what you’ll put in it. Places you don’t know appear. Poems are a way to ask for what exists, to invite what wants to be visible.”

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/30ZcqNR

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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla

(The above are amazon affiliate links.)

Latest News: Contact Form is Now Open

The time has arrived to re-open the Contact form for authors! The form will only be open long enough for about 20 authors to apply. This could happen within an hour or up to two days. At that time, the Contact form will close once again.

This is to avoid having a back log of wonderful authors who wish to be interviewed. The first time around the wait list was so long that by the time I reached a few authors they had already published another book and we had to adjust their answers to the questions.

If you have been interviewed on MTA in the past, please wait at least 1 year (and with a new book published), before reapplying.

In addition, I’m adding a spotlight or interview of top notch book bloggers once or twice per month. If you are a book blogger, and wish to be spotlighted, please complete the Book Blogger contact form.

Go here – Contact Form

Don’t miss out – Come on over!

Thank you for your continued support of these authors and the interviews on this website. A great deal of work goes into these interviews by the authors and me. Deep gratitude! –Camilla, Founder & Host

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Latest News: Top 17 Meet the Author Interviews with the Most Views for 2019

Top 17 Meet the Author Interviews with the Most Views for 2019

#1: Butterflies by Lily Hayden

#2: Hear Me Cry by Amanda J Evans

#3: Dropzone by Stewart Giles

#4: Poppy’s Recipe for Life by Heidi Swain

#5: Story of a Country Boy by Val Portelli

#6: A Daughter’s Truth by Laura Bradford

#7: Barefoot on the Cobbles: a Devon tragedy by Janet Few

#8: Eat, Pray, #FML by Gabrielle Stone

#9: Becoming One With the Universe by Al Duncan

#10: Dinner at the Happy Skeleton by Chris Chalmers

#11: Stella’s Christmas Wish by Kate Blackadder

#12: A Summer to Remember by Sue Moorcroft

#13: Horseshoes & Hand Grenades by S.M. Stevens

#14: The Man in the Needlecord Jacket by Linda MacDonald

#15: Spirits of Vengeance: The Stone of Spirits by Andrew John Rainnie 

#16: A Rhyme of Dark Words by Jeremy Smith

#17: The Duke’s Regret by Catherine Kullman

Top Eight Countries With the Most Traffic to Meeting the Authors in 2019:

Stay tuned! This week or the following week the contact page will once again open for authors to apply to be interviewed. We will also be adding interviews with top book bloggers! The contact form will ONLY STAY OPEN for a brief period, one day maybe, so as to prevent backlog.

Thank you for taking the time to read more about these authors and sharing the interviews on this website. A great deal of work goes into these interviews by the authors and by me. Deep gratitude! –Camilla, Founder & Host

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Latest News: December 2019 Meet the Author Interviews with Most Views

Meet the Author Interview with Most Views for December 2019:

#1: Depression Hates a Moving Target by Nita Sweeney

Meet the Author Interview with Second Most Views for December 2019:

#2: Walks: A Collection of Haiku by Cendrine Marrouat and See A Dream Within: Found ‘Poe’try Based On The Collected Poetry Works Of Edgar Allan Poe by David Ellis

Meet the Author Interview with Third Most Views for December 2019:

#3 Maternal Instinct by Rebecca Bowyer

Top Three Countries With the Most Traffic to Meeting the Authors in December 2019:

Thank you for taking the time to read more about these authors and sharing the interviews on this website. A great deal of work goes into these interviews by the authors and by me. Deep gratitude! –Camilla, Founder & Host

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