Meet the Author: One Hundred Miracles by Wendy Holden

Today we welcome Wendy Holden as we travel to Suffolk and learn what dogs, Goldie Hawn, Ganesh, a woodland cemetery, and The Wacky Races mean to Wendy. Slip on your gardening gloves. Let’s go …

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a British author, originally from London but now living in Suffolk, three hours north east of London, near the sea. I was a journalist for almost 20 years, including time as a war correspondent, and have been writing books full time for 22 years. Have more than thirty titles published, ten of which are bestsellers.

In which genre do you write?

Non-fiction historical and war biographies mostly but also fiction, humour, celebrity memoirs and novellas. I have written two bestselling books with the actress Goldie Hawn and I wrote Lady Blue Eyes with Frank Sinatra’s widow Barbara.

I also love to write about dogs, who are one of my great passions. I wrote the number one bestseller Haatchi & Little B, about a disabled boy and his three-legged dog, and Uggie: My Story, about the canine star of the Oscar winning movie The Artist. I also wrote Mr Scraps, the little dog with the big heart, a novella about a dog caught up in the London Blitz –

How many published books do you have?

Thirty-two, most of which are listed on my website –  www.wendyholden.com

         

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

I always wrote poems and kept a diary but wrote my first school play when I was six years old. It was called The Queen’s Birthday Cake and featured a naughty knave who switched the baker’s flour for cement so that the Queen broke a tooth when she bit into it.

The play won a schools’ competition and was put on by the drama students so my career path was set. It was not as if I ever had a choice. Writing comes as naturally to me as breathing.

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

I’ve worked with Goldie Hawn who introduced me to meditation and to the Indian elephant god Ganesh, who is said to remove obstacles on your life’s path.

Twice a day, I stop writing and meditate for 10 minutes, slowing my breathing (and my thoughts) and then I rub my little Ganesh’s feet for good luck.

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

My two adorable German wire-haired pointers, Eli and Huxley.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

The one I work in now – upstairs in our 17th century oak-beamed cottage with green-painted walls. I write at my grandfather’s leather-topped desk with my father’s oak desk to one side and am surrounded by the framed book jackets, photos, cartoons and art that mean the most to me.

What are you currently reading?

Educated by Tara Westover and The Pianist of Yarmouk

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

Walk the dogs on the beach, read, garden, cook, entertain friends, travel, and paint.

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

Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women whose character Jo I immediately identified with. I have been to her house in Concord, Massachusetts, and see the tiny table where she sat and wrote longhand and I would love to invite her to tea and ask her how a young woman with very little life experience from a rural background was able to conjure up such vital, life-changing characters.

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

How much of myself comes out in the books I write, even when they are about other people. There is something of everyone in each of us and when you really focus on someone you often realise that the nature of the human condition is universal.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done in researching for a book?

I found myself deep in a woodland cemetery in rural Poland on the edge of dark hunting for the grave of someone I was writing about in quiet desperation. I found it just as the light was fading and then had to feel my way back to the car and civilisation.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary?

I did up until my teens but I found that I have such a visual memory so that I no longer needed to.

What is the most inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?

Meeting my husband and accepting his marriage proposal three weeks later. I was 19 and we have been happily married ever since.

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

I do ten minutes deep breathing to clear my mind of clutter. I remind myself to talk slowly and take deep breaths in the pauses. If I were to listen to any music it would be Paul Simon’s Late in the Evening and I would have a dance to loosen myself up.

What do you miss about being a kid?

My dearly departed parents who were my greatest champions and blessed me with a happy childhood, from which I emerged feeling invincible.

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

The Wacky Races. I wanted to be Penelope Pitstop, but I also loved Mutley.

If you write non-fiction or memories, what fictional character would you invite into your story and why?

Jo from Little Women so that I could spend time with her and tell her how much she inspired me as a girl.

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

Tolkien. It was on locally and we went because I love films about writers. I was much more impressed than I’d expected and gave real insight into his life and inspirations without hardly mentioning The Hobbit (of which I am not a great fan). It is a lovely, well-rounded film.

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

He escaped from the local zoo when his keeper went for ice cream and accidentally left the gate open, so the penguin waddled off down the road looking for something to eat.

At the seaside, he accidentally caused a commotion outside one of those stores that sells everything from joss sticks to water pipes, backed into a hat stand and a sombrero dropped onto his head.

Hardly able to see, he staggered on and – lifting his beak – detected the unmistakable scent of fish. Padding up to my front door, he tapped his beak on it and made his little penguin cry so I opened the door with a fillet of sole in my hand.

Before I knew it, he had snatched it from fingers and gobbled it down in one. He has lived with me ever since. We have called him Charlie because he looks and walks like Charlie Chaplin in his little penguin suit.

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

I always have and I always will. Whenever one door closes for me, another opens, often taking me in a direction I never expected and which excites and challenges me.

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

Why don’t you ever get a cold?
What do you dream of when you twitch and whimper?
Why can’t you live as long as us?

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

Resilience and fearless optimism

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

Suffolk, England, which is why we moved here having had no previous connections. Endless beaches. Huge skies. Fabulous stars. Great seafood. Lovely people. Old-fashioned atmosphere. What’s not to like?

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

Umbria, Italy. Early autumn. Watching the sun set over the golden hills and ripened vineyards with a chilled glass of prosecco in my hand.

Tell us about your most recent book.

I have three books out this year:

A relaunch of my novel The Sense of Paper. A Novel of Obsessions, it is set in Suffolk and is full of passion, secrets and lies. Please see the trailer —

One Hundred Miracles, a memoir of music and survival with Zuzana Ruzickova, published by Bloomsbury UK and several European publishers. The remarkable story of a Holocaust survivor and internationally renowned musician who not only lived through the war but under Communist ant-Semitic rule for decades. This is my first Holocaust book since writing my international bestseller Born Survivors: Three Young Mothers and Their Extraordinary Story of Courage, Defiance and Hope

   

A Woman of Firsts, the woman who built a hospital and changed the world with Edna Adan Ismail, to be published in this month. The story of the ‘Muslim Mother Teresa’, an indomitable force of nature who survived great hardship and civil war only to return to her ravage country and create something wonderful.

Thank you Wendy for being a part of MTA. It was incredibly interesting to learn more about you, your history, and writing style. I am a Goldie Hawn fan, as well as having a mindfulness and meditation practice. I found your interview to be deeply moving. And, oh my goodness! I LOVE the short story you created with the penguin question! Thanks again! –Camilla

Where to find One Hundred Miracles:

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/31xG9wc

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/31v9VSm

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

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Meet the Author: A Rhyme of Dark Words by Jeremy Smith

Today we welcome Jeremy Smith as we travel to Oxfordshire, England to learn how The Forgotten World, Cthulhu, an octopus, and Warwick Davis fit into Jeremy’s writing life. Grab your flashlight. Let’s go ….

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in Oxfordshire, England only about 5 miles from where I was born and grew up. I did venture away to college for a few years and then to London to work but, as the saying goes, “there’s no place like home”.

In which genre do you write?

I write contemporary fantasy for teen/YA.

How many published books do you have?

I have three! A Rhyme of Dark Words is the first in the Tilly Hart series and is available on Amazon as is Rise of the White Witch (Tilly Hart book 2). The third in the series, The Witchfinder’s Betrayal, was published on 30th June 2019.

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

I guess I realised I wanted to be a writer when I was about 7 years old and got my dad to type up my personalised version of The Forgotten World. It took him quite some time using just one finger on a clunky old typewriter!

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

I like to insert references to Cthulhu into the Tilly Hart books. They’re not too difficult to spot if you know what you’re looking for.

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

I would have an octopus because they can change colour and fit inside a jam jar.

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading, “The Revenant Express” a Newbury & Hobbes investigation by George Mann.

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

I go to pub quizzes and also play computer games. I once appeared on the ITV quiz show, “Tenable” where I had to answer a question about kedgeree! It was all worthwhile though as I got to meet the actor Warwick Davis who I’m a huge fan of.

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

That I can write a whole book. I still can’t really believe I’ve done it – three times!!

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot?

I walked through a graveyard at midnight. As one of my character’s observes in Rise of the White Witch, “Why does it always have to be when it’s dark? ………. We never get to be anywhere spooky when it’s light”.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? 

No, just in case it falls in to enemy hands.

What do you miss about being a kid?

The freedom of endless summer days and the excitement of Christmas.

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

I would choose the world of Scooby-Doo so I could solve mysteries with my dog, Jack, and eat a stack of burgers without putting on a pound.

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

‘I’m sorry about the sombrero, I couldn’t find my bowler.’ He’s come round to visit the walrus.

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

Where are my slippers? Why did you eat my dinner? Do you want to go back to the dog home?

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

I love Oxford for the dreaming spires, coffee shops and museums.

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

A trek in the woods on a golden, autumn day, with a flask of coffee and a cheese sandwich.

Thank you Jeremy for being a part of MTA. It was wonderful to learn more about you and your background! –Camilla

Blurb for A Rhyme of Dark Words:

Tilly Hart is grieving for her mother when she moves to the ancient village of Witheridge. Finding friendship and love, she also finds a place steeped in witchlore and the legend of a beast that stalks the moor. Supernatural events and a hidden diary guide her to a village lost in time, a place where magic exists and demons walk the land.

With her newfound friends and the deadline of Halloween drawing near, she sets out to prevent an ancient evil destroying all she loves.

Being both the hunter and hunted, she discovers she can control magic. But magic is an addiction that can lead to evil.

A Rhyme of Dark Words has been longlisted for the 2019 Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition.

Where to buy “A Rhyme of Dark Words”:

UK Kindle: https://amzn.to/31yjzUo
US Kindle: https://amzn.to/2H0VU7c
Paperback for the UK: https://amzn.to/2Toe8nU
Paperback for the US: https://amzn.to/2KIM4bf

Connect with Jeremy:

Website is https://jeremysmith-writer.com/

Pinterest address is www.pinterest.co.uk/Jeremy_Smith_Writer/

Twitter address is https://twitter.com/lanticcrossing

Facebook address is https://www.facebook.com/Jeremy-Smith-Writer-1282723938575171/

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

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Meet the Author: The Girl in the Dark by Susan Willis

Today we welcome Susan Willis as we travel to a small town in Co-Durham, North East England to learn how recipes, setting an alarm, the garden shed and Cinderella comprise the ingredients of Susan’s writing life. Get the simmering pots ready, let’s get cookin’ ….

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

I didn’t start writing until I was 48 years old.

I develop new recipes and products for food companies, mainly Marks & Spencer.

After ten years I still love the fact that people enjoy what I write. Good reviews to me are like winning the lottery.

What was the first thing you ever had published?

Lamb in a Pot, a short story in a USA magazine 2009. I’d written the story on a long train journey because I’d been using sensory terms for lamb at work. I decided to weave them into a cook’s story when her boyfriend turns the tables and makes a meal for her. Caramelising onions, garlic and rosemary, majestic chunks of tender lamb, pebble-like new potatoes, black olives, and plump juicy tomatoes: all simmered for hours. Mama Mia! The cook had cried – this is the type of food to make me feel faint with pleasure and desire!

Do you have a writing routine?

When I’m not working and intend to write, I set my alarm for one hour only to do emails and social media. I need to limit this because it can take over your day and reduce the time left for actual writing, and, after all, that’s what I love to do!

Do you have any writing rituals?

I try to move from my chair every two hours and take a walk around the garden to think. If it’s raining, I end up in the garden shed! I often find if my character is stuck in a certain situation the fresh air helps to clear my mind and I can usually think of a way forward.

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

A couple of years ago I decided to move more into relationship themed stories instead of focusing on food. I enjoyed writing the conflict scenes and, teasing the reader so much that I’ve moved into romantic suspense. The Girl in the Dark, is based in a photography studio with a food stylist and two photographers. I read somewhere that Alfred Hitchcock was dubbed, The Master of Suspense, and was one of the first to move away from, the who done it concept, knowing exactly how to manipulate the viewers in the cinema to keep them watching the film. I was intrigued and delved into psychological suspense.

Who was the first person you shared your book with?

My dear friend, Rosie Jones, who is also a writer. I’d waited in trepidation for her comments knowing she’d tell me the truth, warts and all. Thankfully, she loved the story, and told me it was the best thing I’ve written!

Do you have a current work in progress?

Yes, I have a new novel and am looking for a publisher. It’s called, His Wife’s Secret. Does anyone know where I could submit?

Do you have any advice for budding authors?

Don’t Give Up! If you have a story to tell, then do it!

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

George Clooney! Do I need to say more, girls? I think I’d just sit and drool….

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

Cinderella – I love shoes!!

Thank you Susan for joining us on MTA. It was wonderful to learn more about you. –Camilla

Book Blurb

The Girl in the Dark is the latest Grip Lit novel from Susan Willis. A thrilling romantic suspense story that will keep you turning pages long into the night.

When Kim goes to old friend, Sidney’s, photography studio to start a new food styling contract she meets his new assistant, Alex. Kim is catapulted from her mournful existence into an explosive romantic relationship with Alex. Sidney, however, is wary. He thinks, there’s something not quite right about Alex, and urges caution.

Will Kim look back and wish she’d listened…

Where to buy the book:

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2ThnjGL

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2GT7EbH

About Susan:

Susan Willis is a published author of three novels, and five novellas’. She lives in the North East of England surrounded by family and friends. Following publication of a love story about a chef and her boyfriend, she wrote more foodie-based love stories and wove them into her first novel, ‘Yes Chef, No Chef’.

Now Susan has ventured into romantic suspense with her latest novel, The Girl In The Dark.

Set in her hometown of Durham City, this storyline is not a who done it thriller, but, a psychological page-turner which she loved writing.

Connect with Susan:

Website: www.susanwillis.co.uk
Twitter – @SusanWillis69
Facebook – m.me/AUTHORSusanWillis
Instagram – susansuspenseauthor

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

Buy Me A Coffee

Meet the Author: Mysterious Monsters Series by David Michael Slater

Today we welcome David Michael Slater as we travel to Reno, Nevada USA to discover how Jorge Luis Borges, being a teacher, unplanned stories and Richie Rich come together to create the foundation of David’s writing life. Buckle your seat belt and let’s get this ride started …

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m originally from Pittsburgh, PA. I lived in Portland, Oregon for 20 years, but have been in Reno, Nevada for the past eight.

In which genre do you write?

I’ve written fiction for children, teens, and adults, along with some nonfiction for adults. Lots of different genres.

How many published books do you have?

Heading toward 25!

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

I did not grow up dreaming of being an author. But in graduate school I read some short stories by Jorge Luis Borges, and they just blew me away. I decided to try to write some myself, and things just kept going from there.

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

I don’t plan out my books. I just start the story and when I run into a dead end, I just start revising from the beginning. That usually gets me a bit further into the story, and when I end another roadblock, I start over again. I just repeat this until I find my way to the end.

What are you currently reading?

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

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

I’m a full-time teacher. I teach 7/8th grade English in a middle school in Reno.

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

I love the thrill of reaching the end of story that I never saw coming.

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

Getting a publishing offer never gets old! My adult novel, Fun & Games, was recently optioned for film and a screenwriter is working on the script right now. That’s pretty exciting for me.

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 don’t get too nervous. I just always have my thoughts written out ahead of time.

What do you miss about being a kid?

The time and freedom to be 100% engaged in whatever excited me.

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

I used to love reading Richie Rich comics. I’d love to live his life for a while!

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

Rocketman. I am a die-hard, life-long Elton John fan. And I was so happy that the movie was great.

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

Just one, for my cat, Ruby: Do you actually love us, or do you just tolerate us?

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

I’m pretty even-keeled and also stubborn — both are important traits if you want to endure the constant rejection that is part of must authors’ lives.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on my first (I think) YA book, a fantasy called Sparks.

Tell us about your most recent book.

Book four of the Mysterious Monsters series was just released. (There will be six books total.)

The Mattigan kids don’t believe in things that go bump in the night. After all, their dad is famous for proving such things are impossible. But, when their long-lost Grandpa Joe shows up with his Mysterious Monsters journal, begging for help, the siblings find themselves drawn into a search for Bigfoot.

Along the way, they’ll have to deal with meddling babysitters, suspicious psychics, a YouTube disaster, and their furious father. To solve this mystery, Maddie, Max, and Theo must rethink what’s possible ― and make lots of peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

Thanks for joining us on MTA David. It was incredibly interesting learning more about you, your books, and your writing style! David was our “neighbor” at the Barnes & Noble book signing this past June 2019 (for my daughter Lillian’s debut book, Where Would You Fly). He and I chatted about traditional schooling vs homeschooling. It was wonderful to have you as our book signing neighbor and wonderful to interview you here David! I’m incredibly excited to hear about and follow the journey of Fun & Games to the big screen! Very cool! –Camilla

Where we can find the book?

You can get it wherever books are sold.

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2GR61eC

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/31qc9m8

Connect with David:

Website: www.davidmichaelslater.com
Social media links: @DMSauthor

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

Buy Me A Coffee

Meet the Author: Dinner at the Happy Skeleton by Chris Chalmers

Today we welcome Chris Chalmers as we travel to South West London and learn how copywriting, Greg Rutherford, the Dutch Embassy in Prague, the Galapagos Islands, and Dr. Who share roles in the life of Chris. Tighten your funny bone and get ready for a bit of quirkiness. Let’s go ….

In which genre do you write?

Contemporary fiction. Quirky stuff for grown ups like me, who have difficulty finding books they like. Helicopter crashes, tsunamis, aging porn stars, the celestial manifestation of Margaret Thatcher — it’s all there…

How many published books do you have?

Three for adults, one for children. Two more coming down the pipe.

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

At school. I was good at creative writing, not so good at anything else.

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

I can see trams while I’m writing.

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

Meet Larry. We keep washing him but he’s always dirty. I don’t know why.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

I’m lucky, I have a study overlooking the garden (and the trams en route to IKEA). But mostly, I think worrying about the perfect writing space is an excuse, and you should get your arse down and write.

What are you currently reading?

Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen. Hmm…

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

Copywriting, currently for Holland & Barrett.

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

Louis Smith, gymnast or Greg Rutherford, long jumper. To be honest, I’d be lucky to ask them anything before I poured coffee in my lap.

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

God I’ve got some stories!

Do you write a journal or keep a personal diary? Has it helped with your writing?

Every night since 1st January 1976. Never missed. It’s kept me sane and probably helps the memories stick.

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

Amusing: An incident involving me and two boxers at the Dutch Embassy in Prague. See Dinner At The Happy Skeleton.

Crazy: On my first trip to Australia, my suitcase went to Abu Dhabi. It was returned to me in Melbourne two days later by a van driver who shared my name.

Inspiring: Visiting the Galapagos Islands. See Five To One.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Dr. Who was scary.

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

Eight Grade. It’s about how teens use social media. Worth knowing in case I have to write about one.

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

I used to be terrified I’d still be single when I was 40. People always say the right one comes along when you’re not looking — so I told myself I wasn’t looking, but it never worked. Then I reached a stage when I was 39 where I was actually, honestly, genuinely happy being single. I met my husband a fortnight later.

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

A natural inclination for sticking to routines.

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

Stromness, Orkney. I see myself living there one day.

Tell us about your most recent book.

Dinner At The Happy Skeleton is the story of Dan the advertising man. Made redundant just before his fortieth birthday, he decides to spend his payoff tracking down the ex he blames for the thinly-veiled chaos of his life … Via misadventures on and offline from London to Ljubljana, Helsinki to Trieste, Dan seeks closure on his past — and meets his destiny where he least expects it.

It was wonderful to have you be a part of MTA! I enjoyed learning more about you and your history Chris! –Camilla

Blurb for Dinner At The Happy Skeleton:

Dan is the kind of gay man for whom the Noughties might have been named. Warm, witty and serially promiscuous, his heart melts at the sight of a chocolate brown Labrador — but with men, it’s a different matter. He’s thirty-nine and as single as ever, not counting the couple he just met online. An arrangement that looks oddly like it’s going somewhere, until Dan gets fired from his job in advertising. With time out and a payoff in his pocket, summer presents a world of possibilities; just as memories surface of the ex he blames for the thinly-veiled chaos of his life.

From London to Ljubljana, a yen for closure sets Dan on the trail of the man who fed his ego into a shredder. Through an eerie encounter at the home of the Olympiad and a sleepover at the Dutch Embassy, run-ins with a fading porn star and the celestial manifestation of Margaret Thatcher, he ultimately confronts his past. Until, with his Big Four-O rapidly approaching, destiny beckons from where he least expects it.

‘An eye-opening, always entertaining romp through modern sexual mores, with a sweet beating heart of true feeling at its core.’ Suzi Feay, literary journalist

‘Full of wit, comedy and unflinching honesty … Like reading a gay Nick Hornby. This is clever contemporary fiction at its finest.’ Bleach House Library

Where we can find it:

Dinner At The Happy Skeleton is available in paperback and ebook.

**Dinner At The Happy Skeleton ebook is currently 99p on Amazon.

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Khvb8w

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

Connect with Chris:

Website: www.chrischalmers.net

Social media links:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/chrischalmersnovelist/
Twitter: @CCsw19

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

Buy Me A Coffee

Meet the Author: The Sand Between My Toes by Ailsa Craig

Today we welcome Ailsa Craig as we travel to Far North Queensland to learn how Fairy Rock, dogs, dolphins, a mountaineer, and Scotland Yard relate to the ocean of Alisa’s life. Slip on the hiking boots, or perhaps the beach shoes, let’s begin this voyage …

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Ailsa Craig, an actual little island off the West Coast of Scotland. My mother, a Scot, named me after the rock. It has quite a little history and it sits like a large, ominous presence on the horizon overlooking the village of Girvan. It is also called ‘Fairy Rock’ which I can relate to as my mind is constantly running off to places in my imagination where the beauty of magic exists.

I grew up surrounded by books. Every Christmas one of my uncles would give my sisters and I a beautiful picture book which we always managed to get lost in and the prizes at church and school were always story books full of adventure, secret societies or horse stories. One of my loves from a very early age was Africa; I wanted to live in the jungle, ride elephants and live in a village hut – so my first book was about a young village girl called Nada. I loved any books to do with Africa, especially biographies about explorers, their adventures and discoveries etc. thus my love and intrigue about others’ lives and their journeys through life. I haven’t as yet visited any part of Africa on my travels, but do have a close friend in Botswana, who I plan to visit one day. I have though lived for quite a few years in Papua New Guinea.

Another of my loves is romance, the initial bloom of love and the journey it takes you on which led me to my poetry and pouring my heart out in poems from early teens to now.

Growing up in a science and mathematics family, I was always a bit different to my lovely sisters who are very highly sought-after tutors in both these areas. I was more theatrical and studied for awhile with The Melbourne Theatre company youth theatre which I loved – escaping into someone else’s life or feeling the joy of dancing and comedy. However, after never really finding my niche in study at University, I found a great job in a medical college then took time off, packed my backpack and headed off overseas to find my story, which I certainly did. I still love to travel, to talk to interesting others about their lives and see the beauty and magic of another country.

I am a mother of three beautiful children who are spread far and wide and three gorgeous grandchildren all under the age of six. My husband still works in PNG while I live in the beautiful tropics of Far North Queensland and write. I can find a story anywhere; romantic, travel, within nature or in the mountains and seas.

In which genre do you write?

Poetry and life stories.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

Well, I’m in my office at the moment and surrounding me are all my happy and inspiring memories – photos of Nepal, the sea, Scotland, musicians I like, my grandies and my children. My guitar sits next to me as well as my dog. This is where I write stories. However, my poetry can come at any time so I carry paper and pen with me to jot down lines that come into my head, then melt into my favourite spot by the window overlooking the garden and put it into poetry. I also write a lot in my head, while walking in the bush or by the sea or wandering through an interesting place with friends – I just hope I remember my thoughts but usually the feeling I come away with is enough to jot it all down.

What are you currently reading?

One of my loves and studies is health and wellbeing – holistic approach to weight management and selfcare, so I’m currently reading a book about hormones.

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

I have a lovely gold dolphin I have been wearing around my neck for many years, representing my love of the sea and my love of dolphins; I love their spirit, their spirit of play and connection and freedom.

While fishing with friends in PNG, we were always surrounded by a pod of dolphins – they were beautiful. They would swim beside us, glide through the water and do somersaults around us. One of my friends used to say, it was because of me they would come and have a laugh. Maybe my spirit animal.

But I have always had a dog in my life and by my side and have connected very deeply with each so maybe that’s my mascot.

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

I am currently studying to better equip myself in helping people become who they want to become. After I qualified in weight management, I started to study mindset, the brain, physiology and exercise/movement etc so that I can honestly help people and know how I can help people.

I have a love of natural foods so am always experimenting with cooking tasty meals and snacks that are truly good for your body. Other than that, when I’m with friends we’ll go somewhere interesting and listen to good music, enjoy a few drinks or find a nice beach to visit and walk.

How do I prepare myself to discuss my book?

I love acoustic guitar so listening to this type of music gets me in mood in such a good way I get excited about discussing anything. I take my mind back to a time and place that meant the world to me and put myself back there so I can pass on that feeling in my voice. Or I might have a swig of whiskey to calm the nerves and get the smile going – only joking, or am I?

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

Well I think I have covered that in another question but I will say my month in Nepal was a turning point in my life. I was so fortunate to travel with the inspiring people I was with; they were the best thing to happen to me. The whole journey was physically tough, emotionally all over the place and mentally inspiring from every view I saw, every person I met, my little Nepalese school friend who I adored and adopted me as her friend, the guidance of the Sherpas and our guide, their lives, their families, the simplicity of their lives and the toughness of their lives. It was something I needed and absorbed and I fell head over heels for a mountain climber who inspired so much poetry – it flooded out of me.

One crazy thing I did, with the help of friends, was try to find my mountaineer, so we wrote to Russian, Ukrainian and British mountain climbing groups and sent a photo, hoping to turn a lovely moment into a lovely story, but our efforts were in vain until a Russian mountaineer checked me out on Facebook and then I seemed to attract lots of Russian climbers following me on Instagram – quite amusing really and still not the one I shared a beautiful moment in time with; a moment though which inspired many heartfelt poems.

PNG inspired me for a couple of the same reasons. Becoming a mother to three amazing human beings and a grandmother, that’s crazy and wonderful and to meeting beautiful friends who seem to find a place in your heart and curl up and remain there for a while.

I have also done a couple of unintentional somersaults, one in camp in Nepal which made all the Sherpas run to my aid wondering how on earth it happened – I looked sheepishly at them and said the shoelace from one boot hooked onto the other boot – lucky it wasn’t on the side of a mountain. I won’t go on about the other incident only to say, it was enough to make my daughter go into labour with her gorgeous little son on time and have a quick labour to boot. All these times and many many more, inspire me to write about so many things.

A penguin knocks on your door wearing a sombrero. What does he say to you?

“Excuse me, my name is Pedro, I seem to have had too many tequilas and ended up in this ‘penguin’ suit with your address in the pocket. Do I know you; do we have a date?”

How many published books do you have?

I have just published my fifth book.

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

I don’t sit down and think I am going to write about this topic today – for some reason, I will hear a word, a sound, a song which will bring me the first lines of a poem, like a memory or vision of something meaningful in my life, that I have to write then and there. There is no rhyme or reason, it just appears in my mind and then on paper; it can be anywhere at any time and a lot of times in the middle of the night or before I go to sleep.

If I try and think too hard about something, it just won’t appear and I don’t like what I write – poetry wise. If I’m writing a story, it’s totally different and I usually get a run on once I get started.

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

I would love to sit down and chat with so many who have had interesting personal stories. There are many authors that I have read, who have written about their lives and I have felt like I was sitting in the room with them listening to their story, they’re the ones I would love to share a coffee with and just be inspired by their journey whether through life, countries, climbed Everest, reached heights in business or battled illness – I am in awe of them. Too many to name just a few.

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

I would be Tinkerbell due to the fact I came from ‘FairyRock’ , love making magical things happen for others, if I can, love her outfit and being in nature and most of the time, wear my hair up like her ..

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot?

Well I have done many things strange and otherwise over and through my lifetime, some that just happened – like being saved by Scotland Yard after nearly being kidnapped, and other like stories. Chased through the streets of Istanbul because I didn’t want to pay for an uncooked chicken dinner. Been locked up in a windowless room in Spain then learning how to say (in Spanish) I would meet my captor the next weekend for a ‘get together’ if he let me go to meet my friends who were waiting for me and many other stories like this. The best one was my trip to Nepal which captured my heart, found my physical strength, found love, freed my soul and gave me back to myself – this reinspired me to write again and remember and tune into, all of the above and everything that has followed on ever since.

So probably not intentionally strange but all added up to an interesting story that could probably only happen to me because I have been told many times, ‘You certainly attract strange things and people into your life. You have to learn to walk away.’

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

I try to as I feel its very important to close the day with; to write down what you’re grateful for, or wins for the day or accomplishments etc, your feelings.

I think my poetry is a kind of diary because of the messages that seem to come through and remind me of a time or person that have meant so much to me and I have to write about it or them – a bit like a clearing of the mind. It has certainly helped with my books and always takes me on an emotional path while I write what comes to me and I hope this comes through in my verse and is relatable to the reader on some level.

What do you miss about being a kid?

The fun my friends and I had just being ourselves. The imaginary adventures we went on in the back yard which still seem so real, the great friendships, feeling invisible, being able to run and climb without fear and the joy of Christmases and birthdays; so much fun and smiles.

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

I have been watching some pretty heavy shows lately and wanted something light so picked ‘Wine Country’ on Netflix with a cast of some funny ladies. It was very enjoyable, a bit sad too as the women were confronting a few issues we all face and the prospect and freedom of getting older.

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

My sensitivity comes into play quite a bit and lets me feel so much and connect to certain elements around me and my friendliness will sometimes lead me down paths I maybe shouldn’t wander but my inner ability to work things out, gets me through somehow. I have very strong intuition which I get from my mother, so more than usually my senses are right and then I have to deal with whatever is occurring both good and bad. This all helps me to write and understand where my writing journey is taking me to and why.

What is your favourite place to visit in your country and why?

Well I guess I would have to say the coast line up here is absolutely beautiful – where the mountains kiss the sea (literally) and the fact that the Great Barrier Reef is all around me with gorgeous little islands dotted here and there. Just a lovely place to sit and contemplate one’s life.

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

Early morning wander or early evening wander along an isolated surf beach, just as the sun is rising so I can greet another day and watch the colours light up the morning sky or watch the sun set and melt into the horizon and know I have lived to see another day through. I would have my camera and dog with me, and, as well as just absorbing the beauty and listening to the waves rolling in and crashing along the shore, I would be snapping away trying to capture it exactly as it is.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My recent poetry book is called ‘The Sand Between My Toes’ and is the fourth book of my series of poetry books representing my journey through many relationships, travel, connection with nature, friendship, sadness and happiness – it is a wander through my emotional memories which have remained in my thoughts and heart or drawn from other’s experiences that I’ve felt deeply about.

It also represents the footprints left behind over the many years included in my writing and the many connections I’ve made as I wander the shoreline in my little world.

Thank you Ailsa for being a part of MTA. Ailsa and I have been “digital” friends for more than a year now. I am blessed by her kindness and friendship, and loving that I got to interview her. She sent me the sweet gift of her book; which I just received upon returning from a trip. I cannot wait to enjoy your beautiful book. Oceans of fairy love to you! –Camilla

Where can we find your book?

It is available on Amazon and most online book seller sites or in my own little bookshop I have at home.

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2yIId89

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/31kejUd

AU Amazon: https://amzn.to/2yzkbN4

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

Buy Me A Coffee

Meet the Author: Death in Avignon by Serena Kent

Today we welcome Serena Kent as we travel to the Provencal area of the Luberon and a Kentish village near London as we discover how robust English tea, an aardvark, a puffin, the Luberon mountains, trees, David Bowie, and Mary Shelley come together to create the husband and wife writing team of Serena Kent. Grab the lantern and the magnifying glass. Let’s go ….

Serena Kent is the pen name of husband and wife partnership Robert Rees and Deborah Lawrenson. Deborah is a best selling novelist and has had eight novels published previously, including the bestseller The Lantern which was featured in the UK TV series The TV Book Club. Robert Rees, after retiring from the City of London has had one book published, A Season in the Sun.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Robert: I am from the UK and worked for most of my career in the City of London. After finishing with this about 10 years ago, I have been able to concentrate more on the type of work I enjoy, writing music, songs and plays. A few years ago I began to think about writing novels, and after the first was published some three years ago, I and my wife have joined forces to produce a series of cozy mysteries based around the Provencal area of the Luberon, where we have a house. In the UK we live in a Kentish village near London.

Deborah: I’m also British but grew up in various countries around the world as my parents were in the diplomatic service. I worked for some years as a journalist in London while I gathered the courage to write a first novel.

In which genre do you write?

Light humoured murder mysteries.

How many published books do you have?

Robert : Death in Avignon will be my third

Deborah: Death in Avignon will be my tenth

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

Robert: I thoroughly enjoyed writing the local pantomime (words and music) for our village, and it seemed a logical step to move to books, after I had an idea for a novel which became eventually ‘A Season in the Sun’. I have always enjoyed writing, though in the City it was more legal than imaginative.

Deborah: I always wanted to write. I was the kind of child who bought notebooks and set out to fill them with deeply derivative adventure stories that ran out of steam by the third chapter.

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

Deborah: I have to earn the cups of robust English tea that fuel my writing by achieving word counts. Tea is the stuff. I have never been able to understand how Fitzgerald and Hemingway can have been so brilliant while drinking strong liquor – I can’t write a decent sentence after just one glass of wine!

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

Robert: An aardvark – I feel sorry for them as they get a pretty bad press and are not chosen nearly enough.

Deborah: A puffin. Puffins are stocky, loyal and vocal at their colonies but silent at sea while they concentrate on their work.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

Robert: I particularly like writing at our house in France, on the kitchen table (close to food and wine). It has a low ceiling of provencal beams, a truly magnificent cooking range, and a view out to our garden with the Luberon mountains in the background.

Deborah: I prefer writing in my study in Kent, where the red walls are gradually getting covered in floor-to-ceiling bookcases and my desk faces out onto trees. I love writing through autumn and winter especially on grey, rainy days when the pictures in my head seem to get more vivid.

What are you currently reading?

Robert: The latest Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child , the Life of PG Wodehouse by Frances Donaldson (brilliant) and ‘Guns Germs and Steel’ by Jared Diamond .

Deborah: Pulse, a collection of masterly short stories by Julian Barnes, the biography of Agatha Christie by Janet Morgan and Christie’s Murder in Mesopotamia because I now know that it is based on her own experiences of archaeological digs in Iraq in the 1930s.

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

Robert: Play the piano and take part in music shows and plays locally.

Deborah: Walk, exercise, have lunches with friends, read, paint, travel.

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

Robert: David Bowie – and I would ask him how he remembers the words to all his songs (I never can). More seriously I guess, Albert Einstein. I studied science at Cambridge and still find it fascinating.

Deborah: Mary Shelley. If possible, when she was only 20, so I could see for myself what kind of young woman could have written the brilliant and prophetic Frankenstein. I’d also like to warn her that Romantic poets were all very well on paper, but in real life Percy Bysshe Shelley would make a terrible husband.

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

Robert: I can occasionally make people laugh out loud.

Deborah: I am extremely and stubbornly determined to achieve what I set out to do.

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

Robert:. No, but it is extraordinary how certain events in one’s life are definitely locked away for future use in stories. This is not always conscious, but I do find myself now looking at objects and considering how they could work as murder weapons…

Deborah: I have kept a diary since 1974. It reminds me of all kinds of details and sequences of events, though it’s of no help at all with writing.

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

Robert: I once had to audition Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie for singing in the Cambridge Footlights Pantomime. Not that I would have dared criticise any of them! Even by then they were outstandingly good and extremely funny.

Deborah: When I was a journalist on the Daily Mail, I once had to ambush the actor Michael Caine on a street near Piccadilly. He was not only very charming and forgiving, but unexpectedly tall for an actor. Proving yet again that one should never judge people before actually meeting them.

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?

Robert: A glass of rosé (if it is after six o’clock). I tend to listen to music most of the time, so I wouldn’t have any favourite song in particular.

Deborah: I’d join Rob in a glass of rosé and hum something jazz-bluesy.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Robert: Anticipation and the passing of time so slowly. And those wonderful summer parties where we drank lemonade and played games on the lawn until it was quite dark and getting chilly.

Deborah: The sense that anything was possible.

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

Robert: Not quite a cartoon world, but I always longed to be able to visit Narnia. Talking animals, magic, and that feeling that the side of right would always win.

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

Robert: They say your characters have a bit of you in them, so I could say any of them, but I do like my main character in my first novel. Henry is a slightly diffident bon viveur who discovers hidden strengths when tested.

Deborah: Hate to say it, but it’s the other way around: there’s a lot of me in Penelope Kite!

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

Robert::I saw Bohemian Rhapsody with Deborah in a rather nice cinema in Apt, a small town near our French house. It was subtitled and so the dialogue was still in English. The actors playing the parts of the Queen group were outstanding – Brian May in particular. It is a great story with a suitably tragic ending and the songs have stood the test of time.

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

Robert: ‘Can you hide me? The polar bears are on my tail and the Mexican disguise just hasn’t worked!’

Do you believe things happen for a reason? 

Robert: I do have a certain fatalist element in my make up, and sometimes I feel that there is a karma about us. But most of the world is a mixture of randomness and luck. I remain cautiously optimistic.

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

Robert: A measure of stubbornness, and an optimistic outlook.

Deborah: Stubbornness has also worked for me, but allied with a romantic nature and belief that eventually most things work out for the best.

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

Robert: In England it would either be Grasmere in the Lake District, the most idyllic lakeland scene, or standing on one of the London Bridges on a clear night.

Deborah: I’ve always loved the sea and am particularly drawn to the Kent and Sussex coasts, and to Northumberland out of season. Bambrugh with its brooding castle over the beach is spectacular.

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

Robert: Beauvallon Bay, the Seychelles, in the dry season, snorkelling mask at the ready to dive down amongst the coral and the fish. With a plentiful supply of Mojitos and a radio broadcasting England thrashing the Australians at cricket.

Deborah: Sanary-sur-Mer in the south of France, in September. A wander around the market, followed by lunch overlooking the port. It’s warm but not stifling, and the perfect time to go along the coast to swim at Bandol. After that, a glass of local rosé at sunset.

Tell us about the book.

It is a sequel to ‘Death in Provence’ and follows our heroine Penelope Kite as she gets caught in yet another web of deceit in Provence. This time the Southern French art world conspires to drag her into the shady underworld of fraud, poison and murder.

Thank you Serena Kent (Deborah and Robert) for being a part of MTA. It was incredibly interesting and inspiring to learn more about each of you. – Camilla

DEATH IN AVIGNON – BOOK BLURB

When Penelope Kite attends a gallery opening on the arm of the gorgeous mayor of St Merlot, her dream life in Provence seems finally to have become a reality.

But beneath the glamour, scandal is brewing. Shockwaves ripple through the art world when a controversial painter, Roland Doncaster, chokes on an almond-stuffed olive.

A tragic accident? Or a ruthless poisoning? Embroiled once more in a murder investigation, Penelope discovers that any number of jealous lovers and scheming rivals could be in the frame. And with dashing art dealers to charm, patisseries to resist, and her own friends under suspicion, Penelope will need all her sleuthing talents to uncover the truth…

Where to find the book.

Death in Avignon (published by Orion in the UK) came out on June 27th and is available in most bookshops and on amazon.

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2K8cPqw

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Mzm2K5 

Harper Collins US link to Death in Provence: bit.ly/2X0racY

Instragram link @serena.kent
Facebook @serenakentauthor
Twitter @SerenaKentBooks
Website http://www.serena-kent.com/

Here are some reviews of Death in Provence – our first novel together.

“As scenic murders go, it’s hard to beat the dead man floating in the swimming pool of Le Chant d’Eau, a stone farmhouse hilltop-high in Death in Provence…. Who could resist a vacation in Provence?” (New York Times Book Review)

“Riffing on Peter Mayle and his year in Provence—as well as Alexander McCall Smith and his Ladies’ Detective Agency—this is the first in a breezy mystery series set among the vineyards and olive groves of the Luberon.” (National Geographic)

“Peter Mayle fans will enjoy this first novel and series opener.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Penelope sparkles, turning what could have been a lightweight Shirley Temple into champagne. Although Kent makes no promises, updates on her heroine’s further adventures would be most welcome. “ (Kirkus)

“Charming…. While the quirky characters are enjoyable, it’s the details of the details of Provençal life that will attract armchair travelers, fans of Peter Mayle.” (Library Journal)

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

Buy Me A Coffee

Meet the Author: Divine Intervention by Spencer Stoner

Today we welcome Spencer Stoner as we travel to Reno, Nevada USA and learn how doughnuts, Stan Lee, humor, and He-Man inform the game of Spencer’s writing life. Pour the hot chocolate and have a seat ….

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Spencer Stoner. I live in Reno, Nevada, USA. I was born and raised here, although I did live in Idaho for a few years. I still found my way back here.

I’m forty years old. I love reading novels, comic books, RPG video games, whatever I can get my hands on!

As a writer, the most egregious thing about me, I hope, is that I don’t drink coffee. That seems to be an almost defining trait in the community! But, still, where I lack in caffeine consumption, I make up for in sugar with a love of hot chocolate and doughnuts.

In which genre do you write?

I don’t think that authors should be only allowed to write in only one genre. That being said, most of my published work is fantasy. Although my first published work was a horror short story. Also, I am working on my first science fiction novel.

How many published books do you have?

I have a grand total of five, currently. That is, if you count the anthology novel that my first published short story, On the Way Home, was in (the book is In Creeps the Night, if you’re curious). Three are my Ophelia Legacy fantasy adventure series. In August, my first graphic novel releases, a spin-off of the Ophelia Legacy called Divine Intervention. 1+3+1= equals five, right. I don’t want a chandelier to get shot off the ceiling or something because I am lazy at math! (Anyone who gets the movie reference receives the coveted No-Prize, as made famous by the legendary Stan Lee!)

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

I’d say it was when I was twelve years old. Several things hit all at once. I had just moved to Idaho and had zero friends in the same time zone. So, I made a kind of oasis in the school library. I discovered the Xanth series of novels by Piers Anthony, which taught me that fantasy didn’t have to always be formal and noble (not to disparage the Lord of the Rings but, for me, it was a bit of a slog because of that). Not to mention that the injection of humor really helped me in those days! For good or ill, I still think puns are the pinnacle of humor.

But what really, figuratively, revved my engine to want to become a writer was when I started reading comics. I fell in love with the work of Chris Claremont, who was writing X-Men at the time. Then I discovered Neil Gaiman and his Sandman series and I was hopelessly hooked to the idea of writing. In fact, I wanted to write comics before I actually wrote my first novel!

Back then the internet wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is now, so I had no idea how to write a “script”, nor any way I was aware of then to find out. So I started writing short stories. Then I started playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends that came into my life as it moved along. We ended up almost ignoring the source books because we had ended up creating our entire world to adventure in.

Finally, I decided to find out if I could actually write a whole novel. The result of that was Ophelia and Lyan are Dead Meat. I found that I not only had a novel in me, but many, many stories I wanted to tell!

What are you currently reading?

In addition to my monthly rotation of comics, which currently includes titles like Monstress, Unnatural, and Sunstone (as well as Superman and Saga), I recently finished Neil Gaiman’s retelling of norse mythology. Gaiman is always worth reading. I also picked up the complete works of H.P. Lovecraft.

Now, I always thought I had a robust vocabulary but with reading Lovecraft, which never fails to illicit the feeling of existential horror, I’ve come to realize how many words have fallen out of general use in the relatively short time since he was alive! I’ve had to look up more than I care to admit but it is truly an adventure amidst the insanity.

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?

Thankfully, whenever I’ve had to speak in public, at a convention or other venue, I’ve often had friends and/or family to keep me relaxed before heading out on stage or in front of large group. On those rare occasions where I am alone, I’ll pick some music that never fails to give me goosebumps and pump me up. It can be anything from a movie score like The Anvil of Crom, from Conan the Barbarian by Basil Poledouris, or from a video game like the Sephiroth Choir from Final Fantasy VII by Nobuo Uematsu, or a piece of classic music like Night on Bald Mountain or just about anything by AC/DC.

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

When I was really young, I loved the cartoon He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (in fact, Teela was one of my first crushes but that is a different story). I think I would like to live there, the mix of magic and sci-fi technology was always interesting to me. Not to mention all the potential for adventure!

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

He’s probably looking for my sister, Kalani. Her obsession with penguins is well known. I would probably be their designated driver when the penguin takes her out for tequila shots!

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on my first science fiction novel, entitled Dimensional Schism. It is an eclectic mix of the movie Alien Nation, shadow governments, the Mandela Effect, and Harlequin Romance. Anyone who has read any of my stories knows that romance doesn’t come up very often.

Also, I am working on the sequel to my most recent release, which just happens to be the next question so…

Tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it.

My first graphic novel, called Divine Intervention, is written by me but drawn by a very talented artist named Stephanie Haigney. It is set in Honua (the same world as the Ophelia Legacy novel series) and follows the story of a young cleric woman named Appelonia. She is recruited by another woman called Narasumas to find a murderer before the turn of the seasons in two days. If they fail, a spiritual force will descend upon the city and destroy everything and everyone (innocent or guilty) until the criminal is punished!

Thank you Spencer for joining us on MTA! Spencer and I met at my daughter, Lillian Darnell’s, Barnes & Noble book signing this past June. It was great fun having him as a neighbor and Lillian enjoyed borrowing from his huge collection of colored sharpies to use for signing books. Take care Spencer and we’ll see you around! –Camilla

BLURB FOR DIVINE INTERVENTION

Narasumas is hunting down a murderer and needs the best tracker in the region. That would be Appelonia—a godless young elf formerly of the Order of Kuan Yin with the uncanny ability to find those who try to hide. She’s familiar with the barren fields in the Land of the Long-toothed Rabbit and knows how to survive.

There’s only one complication. The notorious mercenary Ophelia has already contracted Appelonia to help her search the frozen landscape for an exiled barbarian—and she doesn’t like to share.

But divine intervention won’t wait. And with it comes the destruction of the town and all the innocents living within.

Narasumas must find the criminal she seeks before her promise causes every unwary man, woman, and child unlucky enough to be around her to be torn to pieces…

Divine Intervention is available for pre-order online now but will be available at any bookstore and comic shop (online and physical) officially on tomorrow, August 3rd. I hope you give it a look and want to see more of “Apple” and her friends!

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

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Mu3PgQ

WEBSITES AND SOCIAL MEDIA

Spencer’s website: www.authorspencerstoner.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/AuthorStoner
Facebook: www.facebook.com/sjcloudxiii
Instagram: www.instagram.com/sjcloudxiii

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

Buy Me A Coffee

Meet the Author: Seacity Rising by Elika Ansari

Today we welcome Elika Ansari to Meeting the Authors as we travel to Dubai, and ten other countries, and learn what a turtle, yoga, Masters Degrees, and Dexter’s Laboratory have to do with Elika’s writing journey. Grab your yoga mat and get comfy ….

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a writer, social scientist, and humanitarian professional. Other than writing my book, I have spent the past few years working in refugee camps across Greece, trying my best to lend a hand in bringing some semblance of normality to people whose lives have been turned upside down by international policies and politics. I love education and learning, and therefore have a small ‘collection’ of Masters degrees in the fields of International Relations, Anthropology, Development Studies and Cultural Narrative Studies from 4 different universities in Europe, and will soon be wanting to pursue my Ph.D. studies.

As to where I am from: I am of Iranian origin, born in Dubai, grew up in Europe, namely in Spain and the UK. I have lived in over 10 countries worldwide (so take your pick!), which is cool but at the same time perhaps a little overwhelming. At this point in time, I am spending the summer vacation with my family in Dubai.

My first book, Seacity Rising, was published by Black Rose Writing on June 6th, 2019 and is being distributed worldwide.

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

A turtle, because they are such calm and spiritual creatures. I feel zen just by looking at one resting on a rock. But at the same time, I think they have a dimension of adventure that I feel only comes out when they are not being watched.

What are you currently reading?

‘Tuesdays at the Castle’ by Jessica Day George. It is an uplifting fantasy story about a castle that changes itself sporadically and three royal siblings trying to protect their kingdom from invaders. Enjoyable for both kids and adults alike.

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

I’ve been doing humanitarian work in refugee camps across Greece for the past two years. At the moment though, I am on a break, dedicating more time to writing, studying, and just being with my family.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

I have lived in over 10 countries worldwide.
Yoga gives me peace of mind.
I sing sometimes.

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

Tahereh Mafi, author of the Shatter Me series. I don’t really have any questions in mind, I just wanted a chance to tell her how inspiring and unrestrained I found her writing style to be. It’s commonplace to fall in love with a story, but falling in love with a style; that for me, is rare.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Summers, where my creativity was unleashed. I would create comic books, write up stories on my typewriter (yes, I had a typewriter XD), draw designs of theme parks, come up with songs and poems, ‘invent’ cleaning products, you name it. Every summer, I would undertake a different creative project, which made going back to school in September all the harder.

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

Dexter’s Laboratory, because I immensely enjoyed both Dexter’s and Didi’s worlds. Dexter was always working on nifty inventions which I would have loved to witness from up close, and Didi (whenever she was not messing with Dexter), was in her pink haven, playing on her own or with her friends and just being Didi.

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

I would want to be Lo the turtle because it would be so cool to be the princess of Seacity Pond for the day. As Princess of Seacity I would mark an Earth Day, where all Seacitians would be instructed to volunteer to help clean Dark End, the part of Seacity pond where garbage keeps piling up and everyone except for Babak the frog seems to avoid.

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

“Ms. Elika Ansari? Author of Seacity Rising?”
“Yes?”
“I came as fast as I could. The glaciers are melting, and the penguins are all drowning. The animals in your book were right. The black smog is consuming our world; it is real and it is happening right now. We need to do something. Can you help?”

Tell us about your most recent book.

‘Seacity Rising: A Tale of Unwatery Adventures’ is the first in a trilogy series, which touches on themes of friendship, self-development, trust, diversity, displacement, and climate change, as well as other important ideas that children (and adults!) should be familiar with.

Imagine your world is so incredibly small and sheltered, that you can only begin to fathom murmurs of adventures abroad in storybooks and legends of old. It may be a dull life, but it is certainly a familiar and comfortable one, and one that does not easily invite danger. That is, of course, until danger appears at your doorstep, and you are forced to leave your home behind searching for answers on how to save it.

Thank you Elika for joining us on MTA. It was incredibly interesting learning about your journey thus far. May our paths cross again at some point! –Camilla

Book Blurb:

When the underwater creatures of Seacity pond learn that their home is in danger, they decide to investigate further by doing something no one has ever done before – go up to land to seek the answers they need. An unlikely team of two royal turtles, a genius goldfish and a timorous frog are then assembled to embark on a series of adventures. Whether they are racing the fastest tortoise on earth, falling in love with native mice theatre, or bringing peace to warring ant colonies, each unique experience is taking the group
of friends closer to the heart of what is really going on. But will they make it back in time to save Seacity before the Winter’s Slumber?

Where to find the book:

Seacity Rising is available on Amazon, Waterstones, Blackwells, Foyles, Barnes and Noble, Thrift Books, and others!

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

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2jShBy3

Website / Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.elikaansari.com/

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/elikaansari/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19226072.Elika_Ansari

Instagram page: @elikaansari

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/maryam-elika-ansari-56b5685b/

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

Buy Me A Coffee