Meet the Author: Life is Yours by Abigail Yardimci

Today we travel to Devon to chat with Abigail Yardimci about how mindfulness, creative living, a seaside coffee shop, body acceptance, Nina Simone, postnatal depression, dark chocolate, and Elizabeth Gilbert come together as part of Abigail’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Abigail and I’m an author, blogger and creative mindfulness teacher. I live by the sea in Devon with two terrifying kids and a Turkish husband. I love to write and get my kicks through mindful parenting styles, creative living and chocolate.

In which genre do you write?

I guess my books span several genres including women’s fiction, positive psychology and self-help fiction. ‘Life Is Yours’ would sit comfortably under chick lit too (although I’ve had lots of male readers send me messages about how much they love the story!)

How many published books do you have?

I have one published novel called ‘Life Is Yours’. It’s the first part in a trilogy and the next two parts will be hot on its heels.

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

My mam and dad were both journalists when I was growing up so I remember knowing right from the start that writing was a thing you could actually do for a living. I loved the clickety-clackety sound of my mam’s typewriter (yes, I’m old enough to remember those!) and I felt very important and grown-up sitting there typing my own stories even from the age of 7. It just felt like an entirely magical process from the start and I always felt I was ‘in the zone’ when I was writing stories.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

I’m very lucky in that a few years ago my husband and I decided to move our little family from the North East of England to South Devon. I always loved the idea of looking out at the sea as I wrote and now I get to do that! My favourite thing is to take my laptop to a seaside coffee shop, order a latte and get writing. Plus I like to find a quiet little corner in the cafe so I’m not too much in the hustle and bustle otherwise I get sucked into other people’s stories! The ocean is absolutely THE best place to stare out at when I’m stuck on a plot point or struggling over a certain character. One day I will have my own at-home writing desk with a huge window and an ocean view. A girl’s got to dream . . .

What are you currently reading?

Funnily enough, the book I’m currently reading isn’t fiction, although I do love a good yarn. It’s called ‘Health at Every Size’ by Dr Linda Bacon and examines how society has given us a lot of untruthful ‘facts’ about the relationship between health and weight. I’m very much a body positivity advocate and try to weave some aspects of body image into my stories. It’s not difficult as I get a lot of my inspiration from my own experiences and body image is something I used to struggle with a lot. I try to be realistic and sensitive about it as I write – and reading books like this help me to understand the science behind the growing activist movement of body acceptance and body positivity.

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

‘Life is Yours’ is based on my own lived experience. At the beginning of 2006, my fiancé and business partner of seven years just decided he didn’t want that life any more. He left with hardly a whisper of warning and I felt like all the rugs had been pulled out from under me. Ultimately, I had to decide if I was going to disappear into a shadow of my former self, or, eventually, pick myself up and open my eyes to the world in a different way.

I chose the latter and because the repercussions of that were so life-changing, I decided to record my experiences as a novel. I’m so glad I did because not only did it help me work through what had happened and make sense of it all, but I now have readers all over the world telling me they identify with so much of the story and, in particular, they love the self-help element to the tale.

We’re all likely to suffer from heartbreak at least once in our lives – whether it’s from the end of a relationship or something completely different – so tales of recovery and renewal are always going to be important.

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

I work part-time for a charity that supports mums with their mental health and wellbeing around the time of having a baby. I suffered from postnatal depression myself with both of my boys, so it’s good to be able to give back and share the skills that got me through those difficult times.

I also teach mindfulness meditation to young people and families across South Devon which I love. When I’m not doing those things, I tend to indulge in at-home yoga, dance fitness videos on You Tube, long put-the-world-to-rights chats with my mates, heaps of dark chocolate and giggling with my lads.

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

I would most definitely be inviting Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat Pray Love) to my coffee table. In fact, when I first read Eat Pray Love about twelve years ago now, I panicked that she had already written my book! Although we have entirely different stories, we were both writing about a break-up and heartbreak and self discovery and circling back to yourself. I worried that she’d beaten me to it. But, the further I got into the book, and the more I had very stern words with myself, I realised we’ve all got our stories to tell and our own unique voices to tell them in. I’ve since read many of her other books and particularly love what she has to say about creativity. My background is in creative arts and I’ve always had a highly creative soul so Elizabeth’s frank and empowering relationship to creativity intrigues me. I guess I’d ask her about that – I’d love to talk with her about creativity into the wee small hours over a bottle of something nice and a huge bowl of pasta – I think she’d like that.

I’m an Elizabeth Gilbert fan, too. I think Big Magic is a powerful book, and love following her career and activism. Can I join you two?

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

That when it’s flowing it’s the most amazing feeling and the best way to have fun with yourself.

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

I don’t currently keep a journal, but there have been episodes of my life when I have done and it has been enormously helpful. When I went through a particularly awful break-up in 2006, I started a journal with a list of reasons why ‘Being Young, Free and Independent is Bloody Brilliant’. That morphed into further empowering lists and dreamy diagrams and silly sketches and poems and lines and observations. I had no idea what I was doing at the time, but now that journal has turned into the ‘Life Is Yours’ trilogy. It was a particularly lovely experience to go back through that journal as I was editing the final draft of the first book, and picking out hand-written excerpts to actually be included inside. It made me feel really happy and satisfied that creativity is something we should never block and just go with when the mood takes us as we never know where it might lead.

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 absolutely thrive on talking about ‘Life Is Yours’ – it’s one of my favourite things to do! That’s not to say I don’t get nervous though. I’m a mindfulness teacher so I definitely try to practice what I preach and spend some time breathing mindfully, soothing my nerves and fully accepting I’m in the right place at the right time. I have a lovely mala meditation bracelet that I tend to wear before speaking publicly and I breathe in and out deeply as I squeeze each bead alternately. A nice hot cup of tea (or a glass of something stronger if the gig was in a pub) helps too. If I had to pick a track (I absolutely love music) it would be ‘Ain’t Got No – I Got Life’ by Nina Simone.

I’m a Nina Simone fan, and adore this song. Another two of my favorite Nina Simone songs: “Here Comes the Sun” and “Sugar in My Bowl”.  What a powerhouse of deep soulful singing! 

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

I’m an Eastenders addict
I’d sell my soul for a parsnip chip
My kids think I’m a hippie

What do you miss about being a kid?

The freedom to do what I like all day.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently editing the second book in the ‘Life Is Yours’ trilogy and getting it ready for publication. It’s called Destiny Is Yours and will be out this year although The COVID19 breakout has sadly put things back a bit. I know all the ‘Life Is Yours’ fans are eager to read the next part in the adventure, so I’m working with my publisher to get it in their hands as soon as possible.

Tell us about your most recent book.

‘Life Is Yours’ – From heartbreak to heart awake . . .

Who can say what has brought Jess and Lindy together? Maybe it’s the beach, the stars and the warm Turkish night air. But they may as well get settled for the night, because Jess has a story to tell and Lindy is ready to listen . . .

Jess had life sorted. A gang of great mates, an adoring fiancé and a thriving business – she couldn’t have asked for more. But the proverbial rug is whipped out from under her feet when the fiancé makes a sharp exit on New Year’s Eve. Therein follows the Week From Hell, eternally streaked mascara and Chardonnay-a-plenty.

But this is the story of a woman on a path. Sure, there are a number of trips and falls along the way but Jess is on a journey that will change her life. On a boring business course, she remembers what she really wants. Strange new friendships are made, new ideas grow; and a last-minute discount holiday to Turkey helps her heart wake up to a whole new rhythm. A rhythm that is just beginning to get going . . .

It was was wonderful to have you on MTA, Abigail. I’m adding your book to my list to read. It’s not my favored genre, but knowing it’s based on your own experience, makes me want to read it! Sending you oceans of blessings! – Camilla

Where to find the book:

You can buy ‘Life Is Yours’ from the following sites:

Amazon UK (Paperback):

Amazon UK (Kindle):

Amazon US (Kindle):

Life is Yours Online Boutique (signed copies, original artworks, tote bags, badges, postcards etc):

https://www.abigailyardimci.com/shop

Want to find out more about Abigail and ‘Life Is Yours’? The best place to be is on Abigail’s reader list and if you sign up now, you get a FREE hidden prologue to Life Is Yours. This is not available in the book but can be sent straight to your inbox as soon as you sign up! Just visit this link to go straight to the sign-up form:

www.abigailyardimci.com

Abigail also kind of thrives on social media so make sure to follow her there too:

www.facebook.com/AbigailYardimci

www.twitter.com/AbigailYardimci

www.instagram.com/abigailyardimciauthor

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

Latest News: Chat and Spin Radio

I was recently on Chat And Spin Radio, an Internet Radio Station based in the UK. My interview begins at 1:35 if you’re in a hurry.

 

They’ve asked me to invite all the authors I know to be a guest! Here’s the information:

We Broadcast to half a million UK & International Listeners per week 24/7.

We are looking for Book Authors, Writers, Artists, Bands & Singers and Businesses to come on the Radio Station over the Phone or by Skype

Please email IAN JOHNSON on [email protected] for more information.

You must mention CAMILLA DOWNS so you can get on air this week.

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Meet the Author: Gone Viking by Bill Arnott

Today we travel to Vancouver, Canada to chat with Bill Arnott about how traveling, socializing with other artists, coffee, a sense of humor, acoustic Indie Folk, a belief that we’re all the same, a weatherproof journal, throwing away ten years of research and writing, New Zealand, a giraffe in a pub, and a miracle in a book store come together as part of Bill’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hey Camilla, thanks so much for the invite. I love MTA and it’s a privilege to be featured!

I’m Bill Arnott, author, poet, songwriter, and my home is Canada’s west coast, in Vancouver. I spend most of my time writing, travelling, or socializing with other artists. Bill Arnott’s Showcase is one of the ways I feature and promote creative peers.

In which genre do you write?

My first five books were nonfiction, published over fifteen years, but I recently leapt into poetry and fiction and love the breadth of genres.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

A decent view and access to coffee, a pint, and buddies with a sense of humour!

What are you currently reading?

I’ve just reread two favourites by mentor/friends Tim Winton (Land’s Edge) and Anna Badkhen (Waiting for the Taliban).

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

I perform a lot – acoustic Indie Folk and spoken word, so I’m often rehearsing. If it’s my poetry, I rarely read, but instead LEARN it (different, I feel, than memorization). It takes a lot of time but shows respect for an audience.

If you could have a fantasy coffee date with an author or famous person, who would it be?

I have a circuitous answer but stay with me, I think it’s worth it. I adamantly believe we’re all the same. I’m not one for pedestals. Yes, I have role models and folks that may view me that way but we’re still all the same. So when I encounter a famous (living) writer I’d like to visit with, I reach out to them. If they’re surrounded by gatekeeping agent/publicists, well, I’ve gained some insight into that individual and probably won’t be as keen to connect. But most often, a sincere intro to a genuine person results in a lovely exchange. I’ve in fact had great visits and connections with most of my heroes – good people who’re in the very same boat as all of us.

This is beautiful, Bill. I believe we are all the same, too. I just wish we could all see that and treat one another as equals.

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

I was surprised to realize I no longer care what people think of me. Not much, anyway.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve experienced or remember while writing a memoir?

Every performance, even a performance you KNOW will be brutal, results in a memoir story, which is why I won’t shy away from a potentially bad gig. A favourite was the event with ZERO attendees. Now THAT’S good material!

This is such an excellent point. Thanks for sharing it with us!

Do you journal or keep a diary? Has this helped with your published writings?

When I’m working on travel memoirs, a weatherproof journal’s essential – my writerly bread and butter. A story I like to share as a life lesson is the time I finished a 110,000 word manuscript – ten years of travel, research and writing. I had it in a Word doc. But we were moving (packing boxes, paring down). This, combined with the fact I’m lazy, I threw out all my journals and notes. Every bit of it. I had my Word doc after all, so I was solid. (Of course you know where this is going.) Did I back it up? Certainly not. I’m too busy and important to waste time on such trivialities. Suffice to say my computer crashed, my manuscript vanished, and I had to start again from scratch with a handful of photos. The lesson? I’m a moron.

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

I just watched Hunt for the Wilderpeople, New Zealand being a place that I love. I trust Taika Waititi as a filmmaker and LOVE artists who create poignant stuff and still pepper it with zany humour.

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

Here’s the thing about a giraffe in a hat. He’s spiffed up, right? So he and a buddy go to the pub. They get there and the giraffe has a lie down. Bartender says, Oi, what’s that lyin’ there?! The buddy says, Ain’t a lion, it’s a giraffe! (Needless to say this a joke for telling, not writing, but YOU brought up the giraffe.)

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. I was shopping for, dare I say, a spiritual book, at a colossal retailer. And chose to release into the moment, simply let go (I actually closed my eyes) and a book fell from a high shelf – literally dropped, and I caught it midair – James Redfield’s The Celestine Prophecy. And I thought, if I ever have the confidence or indifference to share this story, it was one of those moments Deepak Chopra talks about. It shifted my perspective of everything.

Lovely story, Bill. I can see and feel how this would cause a shift in perspective. Wow!

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

I actually have a couple, radically different stuff I’m equally proud of. Firstly, my travel memoir Gone Viking: A Travel Saga, a Whistler Independent Book Awards Finalist, now with Rocky Mountain Books. And secondly, Allan’s Wishes, an all-ages graphic novella I created with brilliant Vancouver artist Brett Jasch.

It was great having you be a part of MTA, Bill. I really enjoyed getting to know you better. Wishing you all the best and if you’re ever near Reno, Nevada, look me up and let’s have coffee! – Camilla

Blurb:

Gone Viking: A Travel Saga. Bestseller Bill Arnott takes readers on a personal odyssey, trekking Europe to Asia, the UK to Scandinavia, Iceland, Greenland and the New World in the wake of history’s greatest explorers. With a small pack and weatherproof journal, Bill writes with a journalist’s eye, a poet’s prose, and a comedian’s take on everything else. Prepare yourself for an armchair adventure like no other!

Praise:

This is definitely one of the best reads of the year. – Silver Bow Publishing.

An extremely well-documented travelogue with beautiful imagery. – Ottawa Review of Books.

Where to find Bill’s books:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/billarnott_aps

Gone Viking: A Travel Saga here: https://rmbooks.com/book/gone-viking/

And fun mini tours of my Viking trek here:

Connect with Bill:

Bill’s Website: https://billarnottaps.wordpress.com/

Bill’s Showcase: https://mailchi.mp/dd5400632582/bills-artist-showcase

Facebook: Bill Arnott

Twitter/Instagram: @billarnott_aps

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

Meet the Author: The Sword of Red by Jackie Marchant

Today we travel to Greater London UK to chat with Jackie Marchant about how walking in the woods, a great big comfy bed, birdsong, volunteer work, experimenting with food, watching videos of tarantulas, penguin-friendly door-knockers, and stubbornness come together as part of Jackie’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born near Nottingham, the middle of three sisters. My father was a mining engineer and we moved with his work – to Scotland, Zambia, South Africa, South Wales and London. I still love travelling and meeting up with friends I made along the way. Now I’m settled in Greater London UK with my husband and fellow traveler. I spend a lot of time walking in the woods, which have provided much of the inspiration for my Sword of Red Series. Luckily we have a dog who loves long walks and doesn’t mind me muttering to myself (aka plotting).

In which genre do you write?

I write what is called epic low fantasy. ‘Low’ means it is set in a world pretty similar to ours, ie no wizards, elves, etc (Game of Thrones is a low fantasy, despite the dragons). Imagine the world of Robin Hood, but one in which everyone, including men and women, are equal – that’s why it has to be a fantasy!

I also write mid-grade humour, which is completely different.

How many published books do you have?

I have three mid-grade children’s books published in a series about a trouble-magnet called Dougal Daley. The Sword of Red is my first fantasy.

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

I was about six. At school, we had to draw something and then write a sentence about it. I don’t remember what I drew, but I still remember how long I took to write that sentence. It had to be just right. I still have that need, with every sentence I write. Even a text.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

A great big comfy bed with a pile of soft pillows and a fluffed up duvet. A cup of steaming herbal tea on the bedside table, a fresh breeze bringing in birdsong.

That sounds like such a wonderful, cushy writing space. I’d love to read there, too! What are you currently reading?

The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks

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

Normally, I’ll be visiting schools and libraries, which I love. Or speaking at a festival or other event, or maybe just visiting as a reader. I’ll be out researching, nipping into London and wandering around a museum, toiling in the garden, walking the dog, planning a trip, travelling, setting questions for a children’s literature quiz, volunteer work for a small charity I’m involved with, trying to complete a giant jigsaw puzzle, experimenting with food, watching as many films as I can, reading avidly and thinking about my next writing project. But, now we are in lockdown and most of that has gone out the window, I’ve taken to making videos for my fledgling YouTube channel. You’d be surprised how long it takes to make a video, especially when you have to teach yourself how to do it as you along.

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

Meeting my readers, especially the children. There is nothing better than having a long signing queue and children bouncing up and down with excitement because their book is being signed by a real author.

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

I spent a whole day on YouTube, watching videos of tarantulas eating live mice, giant frogs eating crickets and various other creatures’ eating habits. All in the name of research for a Dougal Daley book in which he has a pet tarantula called Sybil.

Oh my goodness! I don’t think I could have done that. HA!

How do you prepare yourself to discuss your book?

It’s vital to prepare well for events. I spend a lot of time practicing on my dog – he knows every detail of my writing process. I also read the book I’m going to be talking about. It might sound strange, having spent so much time writing it, but I still need to refresh my memory.

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

He’s there to ask me to sign a petition for penguin-friendly door-knockers, as it’s very difficult to knock on a door when you are short and only have little wings.

Hahaha! Love this response, Jackie.

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

My stubbornness. Without it I wouldn’t have stuck to my aim to be a published writer. And my propensity to daydream – vital for meeting my characters and talking to them. Often out loud.

What are you currently working on?

I’ve just delivered Book Two of the Sword of Red series to my publisher (yay!) and I am now writing a new mid-grade book, which is the second in a new series about a girl who tries to sell her grandmother. Book 1 in that series is out later this year.

Tell us about your most recent book.

The Sword of Red:

A land of plenty where everyone was happy? Pool couldn’t think of anything worse. What this place needed was a famine. Or a war.

For generations Rebels have been risking their lives over treacherous seas, razor sharp rocks and fierce currents to flee from the tyranny of Kamoria, seeking refuge in the land they call Langrinia. For generations the descendants of the surviving Rebels have done all they can for those who still struggle over. For generations they have lived in peace with the Forest and its elusive people.

But now a new survivor has washed up, battered and bleeding to death, insisting that he be tended by no one but the apprentice healer, Neekra. But when Neekra discovers that he is none other than Pool, bastard son of Supreme Lawmaker Daner of Kamoria, the most feared High Ruler of all, she needs more than her healer skills to help him lose his violent past and accept their peaceful ways. And why is he so interested in her?

Now a war with Kamoria is brewing and Pool their only hope – but whose side is he really on?

Teach him to love, my Neekra. Do not let him burn us.

It was lovely to have you on MTA, Jackie! Wishing you all the best and hopefully you can return to all of your fun activities very soon. – Camilla

Where to find the books:

The Sword of Red –  Amazon.

Dougal Daley – I’m Phenomenal:  All good bookshops or direct from the publisher. https://www.wackybeebooks.com/product/dougal-daley-im-phenomenal/

Connect with Jackie:

Website https://www.jackiemarchant.com/

Trailer – Sword of Red –

Trailer – Dougal Daley series

Twitter – https://twitter.com/JMarchantAuthor

YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/user/marchantjackie

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

Meet the Book Blogger: Christopher Adam


(Ottawa river)

Today we travel to Ottawa, Canada to chat with book blogger, Christopher Adam, about how living in Budapest, the Berlin Wall, a handwritten journal, being an author, long-form book reviews, Oscar Wilde, visiting Transnistria, having lunch in the town of Chernobyl, and being pen pal to a couple of inmates come together as part of Christopher’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in Ottawa, Canada, where by day I work as the director of a charity, which runs a soup kitchen, a day program for marginalised populations and outreach to those who find themselves on the edges of our community. By night, on weekends and whenever I have a moment and some tea or coffee readily available, I read, write and try to reflect on both. I am fortunate to have travelled overseas frequently during my undergraduate and graduate studies and also to have spent my formative teenage years living in Budapest, Hungary, after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Seeing a society go through such a dramatic transition with my own eyes, even at this young age, is an experience that has stayed with me.


(Lost in reading in Budapest)

The charity you direct sounds like a great benefit to your community. What a wonderful organization to be involved with.

Why did you choose to be a book blogger or how did you come to be a book blogger? How long have you been bookblogging?

I blog to share with others my reflections on what I’ve read and to suggest books that have left an impact on me, as well as to create a personal written record of my own development as a writer, reader, thinker and as a person. More than two decades ago in high school, one of my teachers had us keep a handwritten journal. We would paste in a news article and then include our observations on what we’ve read. At the time, sometimes it felt like an onerous task. Decades later, however, I see so much value in maintaining a log of our impressions on what we have read and tracking how reading has the capacity to form and change us.

I began book blogging shortly after I published my first collection of fiction, I Have Demons, in November 2018. I experienced firsthand the difficulties of getting that book into the hands of book reviewers who really care about what they read and who took pride in what they wrote. I recall how encouraging it was to receive meaningful feedback on my work. My own passion for reading seemed to cross paths with the value I saw in sharing thoughtful book reviews. That’s how I became a book blogger.

Are you accepting requests at the moment? How do you prefer to be contacted?

I am always open to reviewing works of literary fiction and literary nonfiction. I do work full-time during the week and writing book reviews is a hobby — so it may take a little time for me to get back to you. Take a look to see if your book is a good fit for my site and if it is, please use the contact form on this page to reach out to me: http://christopheradam.ca/contact/

What information do you want to receive with the request?

In addition to sending me your book’s synopsis, please share with me how your book is a good match in light of the types of books I review and my book blogging style.

What types of book blog posts do you offer? Reviews, interviews, book spotlight, guest posts, etc.

I try to offer thoughtful and reflective long-form book reviews. Most of my reviews are over 1,000 words in length and I aim to give each book a close, careful read. Sometimes, I’ll draw connections between books, I will look for literary devices and techniques, I will see how each book may be relevant to what we are experiencing in the world today and I will seek to share details about the author whenever this knowledge adds depth to the post. To that end, I may reach out to you with some follow-up questions.

What is your preferred book format to read? If digital, what digital file do you prefer?

I work best with paperback, hardcover or a PDF version of your book. If you send me a paperback or hardcover version, I will donate the book after reviewing it to my charity’s modest library.

Do you only participate in official blog tours or do you accept requests from authors? Do you accept requests from indie authors, or indie publishers? Would you like to share a few of your favorite blog tour operators?

I usually communicate directly with the author and occasionally with the publisher. Indie authors, emerging authors and established ones are invited to contact me if their literary fiction or nonfiction is thematically and stylistically complementary to the type of books I usually review on my site.

What is your preferred genre? Do you read nonfiction, memoirs, or any style of poetry? What genres do you NOT read?

My preferred genre is literary fiction with a philosophical, existential or theological perspective, and books that reflect critically on society. What does this mean in practice? If we take the classics, some of my favourite authors are Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh and Oscar Wilde. Each of these authors approached their writing from a thoughtful, broadly speaking Catholic perspective. These authors compel me to think and reflect on my own life and beliefs, and as a reviewer, I feel that I can work meaningfully with the themes that they cover. I don’t review books that are simply religious tracts or those that proselytise. I look for works that challenge, are thoughtful, paradoxical, critical and maybe unorthodox.

I do consider literary fiction that may explore other themes. I would not, however, be a good fit as a reviewer when it comes to works of fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction or romance.

Do you write a review if you did not like the book? Do you use a star rating system for reviews you write?

If I agree to write a review, I will complete it even if I did not especially enjoy reading the book. I don’t use a system of star ratings for my reviews, as this rarely does justice to the book, nor does it allow me to capture what I really thought in a nuanced way.

Once contacted, when can the author or blog tour operator expect to hear from you?

I try to respond within five days. If the initial email and the book synopsis really catch my attention and seem to be a great fit for my site, I will often respond sooner. Please know that if I do review your book, I will spend time reading it closely and I will try to give much thought to the review itself. This reflective approach, combined with the reality of a full work week, means that I have to be selective when it comes to the books that I agree to read and review.

What is your favorite aspect of bookblogging?

Book blogging helps to level the playing field for indie, emerging and established authors. On my site, I love reflecting on the works of a classic or established author one week, only to follow it up with the debut work of an indie author later the same month. There is a morsel of justice in this for the talented, diligent and thoughtful indie author.

I appreciate that you have a mixture of classics and indie authors on your book blog. So wonderful of you. Can you tell us 3 interesting facts about yourself?

1. I visited a country that technically does not exist, namely Transnistria, and spent a rather surreal day wandering the Soviet-flavoured streets of Tiraspol.
2. I visited the abandoned town of Pripyat, in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and had lunch in the town of Chernobyl itself (mercifully, the food was brought in from the outside).
3. For a number of years, I have been a pen pal to a couple of inmates in the United States. We often discuss books and one of them is better read than I am. On many occasions, he has given me book tips.

Definitely interesting facts, Christopher. I just had to research Transnistria, so I’ve included a map for everyone else. I bet it was unlike any other experience to visit Chernobyl.

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

I think that I would have to choose Oscar Wilde. I imagine that he would select a splendid restaurant or café in either Britain or France for the occasion, order for us something decadent to drink or eat and all I would have to do, in terms of asking a question, is turn to him and say: “So then, how’s it been going?” and he would likely offer a perfectly fulsome response.

It was wonderful and incredibly interesting to have you be a part of MTA. Wishing you all the best, Christopher! – Camilla

Connect with Christopher:

Website: http://christopheradam.ca/
Contact and review policy: http://christopheradam.ca/contact/

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Meet the Author: Hiding in Plain Site by Eoghan Egan

Today we travel to County Roscommon in Ireland to chat with Eoghan Egan about how Southern Italy, sitting on his Dad’s knee, Irish Mythology, asking “What if” questions, AC/DC, the spontaneity of youth, Def Leppard, being a book hoarder, being an introvert, and visiting Manhattan come together as part of Eoghan’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born in County Roscommon, the 12th largest county in Ireland. At college, I studied Computer Programming and now work in Field Sales Management & Marketing, but I’ve always had a passion for reading and writing. (I wrote my first short story aged 9).

I’m a graduate of Maynooth University’s Creative Writing Curriculum, and Curtis Brown’s Edit & Pitch Your Novel Course. I’ve had pieces shortlisted for the 2018 Bridport Short Story Prize, and Listowel’s 2019 Bryan McMahon Short Story Award Competition and my novel was a contender in U.K. literary agent David Headley’s opening chapter Pitch Competition. In March 2019, my submission was included in another U.K. based contest, which I’ll tell you more about anon.

Hiding in Plain Sight is the first in a trilogy, and it was released in January 2020. I divide my time between Roscommon, Dublin and Southern Italy. 

In which genre do you write?

Crime Fiction

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

My earliest memory is sitting on Dad’s knee, listening to him read me bedtime stories. The characters in one of my favourites, ‘Three Boys in a Tree,’ had great names: Dead-Eyed Dick, The Shadow and Fierce Fred.

Dad was an avid reader, mostly crime fiction, true crime and westerns, but he read everything.

When Dad’s uncle, a National School teacher in Co. Monaghan retired, he returned to Roscommon and lived close to our home. Every day, ‘The Master,’ as he became known locally, called to our house for morning coffee, read the daily paper and taught me words. Later, he introduced me to Emily and Charlotte Brontë, Mark Twain, Jane Austen, etc. and he got me to transcribe lines from these books.

Dad also loved playing cards. Every Sunday night during the winter months our house became a hub for 6-7 seasoned players. So, between my bedtime adventure stories, ‘The Master’ starting me off on a steady diet of diverse reading material, plus listening to old men reminisce around the card table, it was inevitable one day I’d write something.

I don’t recall anybody reading me any Enid Blyton books, although I’m sure her Faraway Tree series or Noddy collection must have been. I do remember my first Famous Five, though, ‘Five on a Treasure Island,’ a hardback with its dust cover missing. Not sure at what age I read my first crime novel, but it was Agatha Christie’s The Body in the Library.

My National School teacher, Brian Mullooly, played a crucial role in widening, developing and nurturing my reading skills. The County library van called to our school every few months and swapped out library books – that’s how I met The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and Richmal Crompton’s Just William – but Master Mullooly also had a personal archive he’d built up over the years, and we could read this rich corpus of Irish mythology once a week. It opened my eyes to Irish Folklore: Fionn MacCumhaill, Oisin, Diarmuid & Grainne, Cuchulainn, Ferdia and The children of Lir. He also implanted a love of poetry. I still have great memories of a tome containing verses by Patrick Joseph Hartigan, who wrote under the pen name John O’Brien, Oscar Wilde’s Ballad of Reading Goal, Song of the Brook by Alfred Lord Tennyson and Oliver Goldsmith’s The Deserted Village. My favoured picks were The Ballad of Shamus O’Brien by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, and decades on, I can still recite (most of) ‘O’Rourke’s Request,’ by T. D. Sullivan – about O’Rourke of Breffni, County Sligo, who, in 1588 helped rescue sailors when the Spanish Armada sank off the Donegal coast. The images these poems and stories evoked, coupled with my home experience, started my lifelong adventure of reading and writing.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

Well, you asked, so here’s a current snapshot from my desk, as is … in all its glory.

What are you currently reading?

Dead Wrong by Noelle Holten. It’s my Book Club read for June. Yep, even Coronavirus can’t stop us; we’re continuing our book discussions courtesy of Zoom.

https://www.facebook.com/noelle.holten

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

In 2012, I read a newspaper article about a spate of disappearances and wondered how people could vanish, literally, in broad daylight, so I wrote the story, with a lot of “What if” questions in mind.

I set the first (bad) outline of 150,000 words in the U.S. somewhere near Greenville, South Carolina. In my novel, I called the town Gainsville but realised I didn’t have enough geographical knowledge of that area, so I moved the next draft (still bad) to the U.K. between Manchester and York, and my fictitious hamlet became Gainstown. That worked better, but it didn’t feel right. Only after the third draft where I relocated the setting to the Irish Midlands, and the town became Ganestown that everything clicked into place. (I had to change the spelling because there’s a real Gainstown near Mullingar, County Westmeath). Adding in an actual January date and heavy snowfalls, making the weather another character, gave me a perfect panorama for a crime novel.

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?

That’s an interesting question, Camilla. I would love to meet Bon Scott, the late lamented lead singer with AC/DC. I remember their first song I ever heard, was the live version of High Voltage from the album If You Want Blood… You’ve Got It. His voice blew me away, and as I got to know more about him, I realised Bon wasn’t just a brilliant, charismatic frontman with a unique voice; he had the soul of a poet as well. I’ve seen the band live dozens of times, but regret never seeing Bon perform. On second thoughts, I don’t think we’d be having tea or coffee, more likely a bottle or two of J.D.

Author-wise, I’ve so many favourites I’d love to shoot the breeze with. Ed McBain, (deceased, unfortunately) or Edward Stratemeyer (the man who championed irresistible juvenile fiction adventure and mystery stories including The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, The Bobbsey Twins, Tom Swift etc.). Andrew Vachss is a favourite author of mine, very dark writing, but would be an interesting man to have a coffee with. The one author who stands out for me is John Sandford. I still remember the ‘maddog’ character in ‘Rules of Prey’ and have been an avid fan of the Prey series since way back. What would I ask him?

I’d thank him for the many hours of pleasure he’s given me. (I know, I’m gushing).

As a writer, I’m always interested in other author’s writing process, so I’d ask him about that.

Also, what are the common traps for aspiring writers?

What was the best money he ever spent as a writer?

What was his hardest scene to write?

Does he prefer writing about Lucas Davenport, or Virgil Flowers?

Is creating new storylines the most challenging part of his writing process?

Will you read my next novel, Mr Stanford, and endorse it? Please? Or introduce me to your agent? Or all three? (I know, I’m begging).

In reality, I’d probably spill coffee all over him and be tongue-tied, and he’d get up and leave…

AC/DC fan here! I saw them in concert in the late 1980’s and in the 1990’s. What are the most enjoyable things you’ve found through writing?

So many. The great community spirit among writers. Nowadays, with Social Media, getting to know authors is an e-connection away. Case in point: A few months ago, I wrote a blog about taglines, and I reached out to 15 authors, asking if I could include their book slogans from particular works. Twelve of them got back to me immediately saying yes.

One of them, Belinda Bauer, https://www.facebook.com/BelindaBauerBooks/, who is another incredible crime writer, messaged me and we e-chatted back and forth. She was also good enough to include the piece on her blog page, which was a lovely gesture from an extremely busy lady. I’ve e-connected with lots more since, so it’s wonderful to know that most authors are accessible.

I never realised the incredible work that book bloggers do for writers. They build costly websites at their own expense and then spend hours writing blogs and reviewing books, purely for the love of literature, with little or no financial reward – and sometimes with zero thanks. So, a big shout-out to all bloggers and reviewers. You’re much appreciated. All of you. And I’m really enjoying connecting with you.

Something else that’s really gratifying is the unpredictability of readers. Most readers either like, love or hate a book, and once it’s read, they put it on the shelf or pass it on. They don’t understand the importance a review is to a writer, and I totally get that; until recently, I never bothered either. It’s an unnecessary hassle that the reader gets no benefit from, but for a writer, reviews are pure gold dust.

My aunt, 83, who’s a teacher and a nun, decided she wanted to read my novel. Now, I certainly didn’t have her in mind while writing it, so I was surprised when she sent me an email on 11th April last:

I hope your book sales are going well. Not long ago, I asked one of the teachers who was ordering from Amazon to include your book for me. It came on Friday, she called me and said she would throw it in at the gate at 6 p.m. I am glad I had asked her to order it, as we have not had mail since mid-March. Of course, we are unable to send out letters/cards. Anyhow, now that we are in isolation, I have plenty of time to read. I will let you know my evaluation of your story when I write again.

My “evaluation??” Ouch.

Fast forward to 30th April, I received my “evaluation.” The email subject line was:

I HAVE FINISHED READING YOUR BOOK!

(cold sweat)

I must say the novel is a profoundly riveting story. A novel of continued non-stop action. It surely is a moving meditation, about the best and the worst of human beings. Your story is bursting with unforgettable characters, vividly etched, Adam Styne = power gone mad, Madeline, a type of martyr, as she comes to her senses, and reminisces on all she had endured under Adam.

Madeline’s letter in itself, Eoghan, is a prize-winning piece of prose!

The theme is skillfully handled and developed.

Over time, many similes we use in everyday language, have become clichés – ‘They fought like cats and dogs,’ ‘he is as strong as an ox’ etc. – but, you have used unique and novel similes (and sometimes metaphors) throughout the story, I just loved your creativity! The sweeping dialogue used throughout, is typically Irish.

What I did not like, were the many curse words (and horror of horrors, God’s name used in vain, in anger).

You are a talented author. I am proud of you and thrilled to have read your debut novel. Congratulations!

Hopefully, you will continue writing. I look forward to your next masterpiece.

Phew. That was a relief and a pleasant surprise. Looks like there could be a new book reviewer in town, y’all, and her name is Aunt Ethna. And I didn’t even know she read crime fiction! Hmm, I must find out more about what goes on behind convent doors. Perhaps there’s another book waiting to be written! But seriously, it’s wonderful when something unexpected like that happens.

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

No music. I prefer to be on my own, going through notes, thinking about what I want to say and trying to find ways to make it interesting. Before any public speaking situation, my brain is whirling too much to be fit company for anyone.

What do you miss about being a kid?

1. The Spontaneity of youth. Life makes you cynical and forces you to question yourself.

2. The endless opportunities of where life could take you. Everything is possible. A fireman today, a pilot tomorrow. (I always hankered to be a librarian).

3. The build-up to, and the excitement of Christmas morning.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

I once spend a weekend on a rock ‘n’ roll tour in Italy with Def Leppard. (Thanks, Joe Elliot). Motörhead and Whitesnake were also on the card. Having access to backstage and watching band members being interviewed was unreal.

I’m a book hoarder. A few years back, I converted a garage into a library. (see pic for a glimpse) Definitely one of my better decisions! It’s not that I’d too many books, I didn’t have enough shelves.

I enjoy cooking.

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

Don’t second guess yourself. If there’s something you want to do, don’t think you’re too old to do it. Just … start the process. Want to write a novel? A memoir? A short story? Always wished you could swim or knit? Do it. If it doesn’t work out initially, so what? You’ve learned throughout life not to worry about what others may think about you or your plans; you know that can lead to a cycle of despair. So, begin your pursuit again. Now. Today. Try harder. Keep persevering. This time next year you’ll be glad you did.

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

Oh yes. I truly believe everything happens for a reason… but you’ve gotta keep your eyes open for breaks and be prepared to go with them. (Sometimes opportunities don’t knock, they tap very softly). For example, answering Camilla’s thought-provoking questions will take me a while: write, edit, delete, change, edit again… you get the picture. This is time I could be adding words to my next novel, or writing a short story, or… whatever. However, when I saw Camilla’s post on Book Connectors, https://www.facebook.com/groups/1466353170351020/,  asking for writers to contact her, I jumped at the chance, because I’ve no idea where this post might lead. A publisher or agent might read it, like my writing style and look me up. Or, a reader may consider buying the book or audio or perhaps connect with me on Social Media. I see this as an opportunity, and the possibilities are endless. And if nothing happens, so what? I’m having fun here. (Now, if John Sandford reads this and contacts me to meet him for coffee, I’ll let you know).

So, here’s a real-life example.

Remember I mentioned earlier that in March 2019, my submission was included in another U.K. based contest? U.K. Literary agent, Peter Cox, runs a Pop-Up Submission broadcast every Sunday, through his website https://litopia.com/

This is a window into how Peter assesses and deals with the manuscripts that writers submit. Book blurbs and the opening 700 words are read and reviewed by Peter and two other skilled “Litopians,” while other members comment and offer feedback from an online chat room. For writers, receiving instant manuscript reaction and appraisal is priceless, and every Sunday, I find it compulsive viewing. Over the past year, I’ve learned so much from watching this broadcast. (This, by the way, is not a plug, I’m not affiliated with Litopia at all.).

Past shows are accessible through Litopia’s website, or on YouTube, https://twitter.com/Litopia and any writer, or anyone interested in seeing how the submission works through the eyes of a literary agent, they’re definitely worth a view. If and when you’re ready to submit – and you’ve got the courage – go for it. My piece was read on 10th March 2019:

If anyone’s interested in watching, I’d suggest skipping the first 6 minutes of introductions, and cut straight to the reading and the reviews.

The fascinating part of this preamble is that just after the panel had reviewed my work, the lady panellist, (Emily) mentioned that her brother, had actually worked with a serial killer some years previously when they were both employed as construction workers. Well, long story short, I found out Emily lived about 80 miles from me, and when I contacted her, she agreed to ask her brother if he’d meet up. I met Michael and Emily one evening, and Michael gave me some excellent background on his real-life observations of a serial killer. Also, I learned that Emily narrates novels, and I asked if she’d narrate mine, and readers, she said yes. This has been a bit longwinded, I know, but there’s an example of being open to grasping opportunities. I submitted a story, which led to conversations with someone who knew a real serial killer, and I got a brilliant narrator too. (Oh, and my entry may or may not have won the competition on the day. (Hint… it did).

I’m also one who keeps her eyes open for breaks. It’s fun to see where they lead! You’ve self-published Hiding in Plain Sight. Was that your choice, or did you try the traditional route first? What differences, if any, did you encounter?

As I mentioned, I began writing this novel back in 2012 and, after a lot of mentoring, writing courses, and…. writing, I believed it was ready to submit to agents in 2017. An Irish editor requested the whole script and liked it enough to pass it onto her submissions department. It didn’t get any further. The shortlist in a Novel Pitch Competition? I met with David Headley, but ultimately he decided it wasn’t for him, as he’d just taken on another author with a similar writing style. I continued sending out my work, and in 2018 another agency requested the full copy. The reply? Another positive “no.”

Rejection is a bitter pill that makes staying motivated much harder, but you’ve got to believe in yourself and your work. Writing is subjective. One person’s dismissal is someone else’s masterpiece, so I kept submitting to agents – I’ve lost count of the number, but only a handful bothered to mail me back. I learned that in literary circles, no reply means we’re not interested. Personally, I still can’t fathom that, but there you go.

On the other hand, it’s impossible to publish every manuscript, so literary agents look for reasons to justify a rejection. However, agents aren’t infallible. They don’t always get it right, and I can quantify that in two words: Harry Potter. J. K. Rowling’s first book was passed, as they say in the trade, 12 times, and while the publishing landscape has changed utterly in the past decade, this trait hasn’t altered. Back in 1974, Stephen King’s novel ‘Carrie’ became a bestseller, after being rejected 30 times, and ‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding has sold many millions of copies despite 20 publishers declining it before its publication in 1954. Even earlier, Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 classic ‘Gone with the Wind’ was rejected 38 times before Macmillan published it. It then won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction the following year. In 1902 Beatrix Potter couldn’t get a publisher, so she self-published ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit.’ To date, it has sold 45 million+ copies. The moral of the story is: If you’re writing, don’t give up on your dream. Keep submitting to agents and publishers. Two of my favourite U.K. authors, Mel Sherratt and Caroline Mitchell, had successful self-publishing careers before securing a top literary agent. Listen. Learn. Adapt. Keep reading. Try again. Try harder. Start something new. Don’t. Ever. Give. Up.

At another writing course led by a well-known Irish publisher, I was told to consider self-publishing because “it’s another way for agents to notice your work.” That really was the catalyst that veered me onto the self-publishing track. Also, as I learned more about publishing, I realised that while agents are a superb addition, it’s a myth that they do everything for their authors. Yes, they negotiate with publishers who have the clout to execute a lot of the heavy lifting with regard marketing muscle and distribution before, during and immediately after a book launch, but authors have to promote themselves, now more than ever. When the book launch euphoria dies down, they must keep the momentum going by becoming their own agent, publisher and marketeer, while simultaneously growing their writer platform … and deliver the next book on deadline.

What I like about self-publishing, is that it gives writers creative control, but it requires several extra skill sets. The options are:

1. Do everything yourself.

2. Continue writing, and project manage the operation by delegating social media, book cover design, copy editor, formatting, audio narration, advertising, publicity and promotional activity.

3. A mixture of A & B. It’s an exceptional person who has a flair for every phase of the procedure, so C is the preference for most indie authors. Each writer has to do the best they can with their own talents, and then buy in the services of professionals to cover the rest. Today, freelancers can deliver any piece of the process writers aren’t comfortable doing.

Another alternative – which I didn’t opt for – is hybrid publishing, also called “author-assisted,” “partnership” or “co-publishing.” This model allows writers to find high-quality publishing services within one company. In some cases, the publisher will carry a portion of the financial burden for editing, printing or marketing since both author and publisher will share in profits from the book sales. That’s what differentiates this standard from vanity presses.

What advice would you give people who want to write but don’t know where to begin, or writers who may have a book ready to publish, but can’t find an agent?

To anyone who wants to fulfil their writing dream?:

1. Think about the story you want to write.

2. Plan out the location and add shape to characters.

3. Don’t feel you need to know everything. You’ll learn on the fly. If you wait around to figure out every detail, you’ll never progress.

4. Start writing and write every day. I repeat: Write. Every. Day. Success rarely occurs from what you do occasionally; it comes from what you do consistently.

5. Start developing your social media base, and at the same time, attend some literary courses. I guess there’ll be more online now, thanks to Covid-19.

6. Ask your peers to read and critique your work – you’ll never improve if you don’t benchmark yourself against other writers. Listen to their feedback, but remember, they’re telling you how they write and what works for them, so use this advice as a foundation to build your own style.

7. When your manuscript is ready, submit to agents, or self-publish. Acquiring a literary agent is most writer’s popular route to market, and even if you decide to self-publish, I’d recommend submitting to agents. Any feedback you get will improve your manuscript.

There are no short-cuts. Writing is like climbing a mountain covered in mist; the way forward is obscure, yet every step takes you closer to the summit. Then, you reach the top, the fog clears … and that’s when you see the struggle has been worthwhile.

For writers with a book ready, you can upload your manuscript on Amazon in less than an hour, and it won’t cost you a dime. Amazon formats your work, and supplies an ISBN number – plus a book cover if you wish. However, I’m not proposing being that hasty. It’s worth spending money on an editor to proofread your work before uploading, (you don’t want reviews saying “book was fine, but full of typos”) and it’s also worth getting a good cover designer to create the best book cover possible.

Think about your own trips to bookstores. You scan the shelf. Your eyes drift past a dozen books before you pick up one. Why choose that one? Did you recognise the author? Maybe. Was it because you liked the title and cover? Absolutely. Book covers are a writer’s first chance to interact with a reader, so unless you’re a graphic designer or a book cover specialist, I’d suggest getting a few quotes and picking the most suitable.

Perhaps I’ll secure a traditional publishing deal at some stage, which would be great for foreign rights, pushing books into new territories, potential film deals etc. I’m also curious to see what life is like at that end of the scale, but for now, self-publication has been – and continues to be – scary and at times an overwhelming, but ultimately rewarding practice. And just when I think I’m getting a handle on things regarding editing, along comes a new batch of processes to manage: Q.R. codes, trim sizes, bleed lines, digital rights management, copyright registration, eBook formatting… and once you publish, there’s marketing, Facebook advertising, Amazon advertising, SMO (Social Media Optimisation) – don’t ask, because, I’m only getting to grips with it now – but isn’t life great? There’s still so much to learn.

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

Deep down, I’m an introvert, which sounds daft for someone working in sales, but there are massive parallels between writing and sales management. Both skills require long periods alone in an office or at a desk, followed by spells of frenzied activity where presentations get delivered, i.e. a story gets told, and products are launched and placed in the public domain.

Thankfully, another of my traits is that I genuinely enjoy meeting and chatting people and learning about their lives (or as much as they want to tell me). Books are a fantastic way to bond and connect.

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

Manhattan is my favourite city. I’ve been on several trips to the Big Apple – and I’d fly there again in a heartbeat, if I wasn’t self-isolating. I love the bustle and pace of the city. The weather doesn’t matter … because what I really go for are the bookshops. And it would have to be for a weekend because there’s a lot to pack in.

Friday:

Fly into JFK early afternoon. Taxi to a hotel somewhere around Time Square. Check my bearings, book a Broadway show, grab something from the street vendors and stroll down to Barnes and Noble on Union Square (the best B&N in my opinion) and after an hour or so, take a taxi ride to Warren Street, the home of Otto Penzler’s Mysterious Bookshop. For a crime reader and writer, this place is my idea of heaven. Then a taxi back to the hotel, change, go to the show, followed by some decent food. Late to bed.

Saturday:

Breakfast in one of the cafes. Visit Macy’s and buy some clothes, before crossing over to Barnes and Noble on 5th Avenue. (Some years back I’d wander up to Murder Inc. on the Upper West Side, and Borders near Lexington Avenue, but sadly, both those great book shops are now closed).

Early lunch in Saks restaurant on 5th Avenue. (Starter and lunch. No dessert). I think the restaurant is on the 8th floor – I know you have to go through a shoe department to get to it.

Then, a walk back to Union Square and a visit to Max Brenner’s for coffee and delicious desserts. From there, it’s a short hop across to Strand Book Store, where I could easily spend the whole weekend. The Strand remains open late so I’ll stay there until 8-30 or 9p.m and then get a taxi to Congee Village Chinese Restaurant and meet up with friends. If there are no friends allowed on this date, no worries, I’ve got a book to read. Either way, it’ll be another late night.

Sunday:

Rise early, and walk from Times Square all the way to Wall Street. It’s a long walk, but I love it, passing through the Soho, Tribeca, Little Italy and stopping off at the World Trade Centre to reflect and remember 9/11.

Taxi back to the hotel and head to JFK.

I know that’s a dull weekend for some people, but for me, it’s heaven. Each to their own, eh?

What are you currently working on?

I’ve finished the first draft of book #2 in this trilogy and working on an outline for #3. I’m also writing two short stories that have to be completed by the end of May, and I’m halfway through putting a presentation together. (Hence the state of my writing space above)

Tell us about your most recent book.

Hiding in Plain Sight is set in the Irish Midlands and tells the story of a successful businessman who has found the perfect recipe for getting away with murder. No bodies. No evidence. No suspects. When graduate Sharona Waters discovers a multi-million euro art scam in play, high art and low morals collide. She delves in, unwittingly putting herself on a direct trajectory with danger as the killer accelerates his murder spree. When Sharona gets drawn into the killer’s orbit, she peels away his public persona and exposes the psychopath underneath. Suddenly, the small rural town has no hiding place…

This had been thoroughly enjoyable, Camilla. Many thanks for interviewing me for Meet the Author. Wishing you continued success and best wishes and happy reading to you, yours and all your readers. Stay safe, everybody. Oh, and please consider reviewing any book or Ebook you read, or audiobook you listen to. Even a one liner would be really beneficial to the author. Thanks for reading.

It was great to have you on MTA, Eoghan. I really enjoyed learning more about you. Wishing you all the best and here’s to much success! – Camilla

Where to find the book:

It’s available on Amazon in paperback, Kindle and audio (through Audible)

Connect with Eoghan:

Website: https://eoghanegan.com/

Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eoghaneganwriter/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/eoghanegan

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/eoghanegan/

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Meet the Author: Grace & Serenity by Annalisa Crawford

Today we travel to Cornwall, in the UK, to chat with Annalisa Crawford about how Doctor Who, being a fitness instructor, William Shakespeare, writing long-hand, being stubborn, Yesterday, and hot chocolate come together as part of Annalisa’s present and past.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Annalisa. I live in Cornwall, in the UK. It’s a great place for inspiration – from angry waves on a winter’s morning to the haunting calmness of Dartmoor, or my daily dog walk around the nature reserve at the end of my road with views across a beautiful river. In my spare time (by which I mean, my day-job) I’m a fitness instructor at my local gym, and a bit of a Doctor Who geek.

In which genre do you write?

I hover around women’s/contemporary/literary fiction with a hint of paranormal. Sometimes the hint is so subtle you might miss it, but I know it’s there.

How many published books do you have?

I have four books published at the moment – ranging from flash to novella-length. My fifth book, Grace & Serenity, is my first novel and will be published in July.

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

I’ve always written, and I’ve always known I was going to be a writer. I started writing seriously when I was about 13, submitting stories to Jackie and Just 17 although I never had anything accepted. My dad bought me a subscription to a writing magazine when I was about 15, which is when I realised there were journals out there devoted to short stories without the annoying posters and articles about boy bands. This was before the internet, so my access to that kind of information was limited. My first two short stories were published when I was 20.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

It would be a cozy room with a view of the sea. I’d have a wall completely covered with bookshelves, a sofa for reading and writing my long-hand first drafts, and an antique desk. It wouldn’t be tidy – I love a bit of chaos!

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

Grace & Serenity is about a teenage mother, domestic abuse, and homeslessness. I always start with a character – in this case I saw Grace standing in front of her boyfriend, telling him she was pregnant, and him rejecting her. I don’t plan, so from then on I was guided by Grace – some parts of the story came as a surprise to me, a couple of characters that I thought were just popping in became a little more important.

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

My usual response to this type of question is Margaret Atwood, so today I’m going to say William Shakespeare. I’d want to know if he was the true author of his plays and if not, who was? That info would be worth a lot!

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

I act out the facial expressions of my characters – sometimes I can’t tell what they’re feeling, but I can see it on their faces. So I make the face. Sometimes I forget where I am, and do it in public!

What is the craziest thing that has ever happened to you?

When I was doing my A-Levels, I’d have free periods when I didn’t have to be in school. One day I was walking to school and realised that the street was completely silent – it was a quiet town at the best of times, but this was overly quiet. Not a single bird, cat, car, bird. Nothing at all. So I was a bit spooked when I arrived. I walked in, and all the classrooms were empty. I went up to the sixth form area – no one. I peeked into the staff room. No one there either. I went right the way through the building and out through the back doors, where everyone was lined up for a fire drill. I had never been so relieved in my life!

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

I watched Yesterday with my family. We saw it in the cinema last year, and it was on TV recently. I love this film because I love the Beatles, it’s a quirky idea, and they don’t try to explain it. If you like to laugh and sing Beatles songs, I highly recommend it.

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

I’m stubborn. I think there are probably many traits that can be useful for a writing career, but being too stubborn to listen when someone says writing isn’t a proper job, or to look at piles of rejections and think “I know it’s good enough to keep trying”, has served me well.

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

I’m spoiled for beautiful places where I live, but my favorite is Plymouth Hoe. It’s a wide bay, with headlands hugging either side, and it’s so tranquil despite being 5 minutes from the city centre. If I’m shopping in town, I’ll often sit up there with a hot chocolate and just stare out towards the horizon – it’s quite meditative. I love it so much, it’s the setting for my new novel!

What are you currently working on?

My current WIP is based on a short story I wrote about a woman who wakes up and her town is deserted. It’s inspired by an incident from the question above. It turned itself into a novel when I read an article, completely unrelated, that I thought entwine nicely with the idea I already had.

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

Grace & Serenity is about a teenage mother whose life spirals out of control at the hands of an abusive husband. She ends up homeless and desperate, and does whatever she needs to to survive.

It was wonderful to have you on MTA, Annalisa. I loved the movie, Yesterday. It was such a feel good movie. Wishing you all the best! – Camilla

Blurb for Grace & Serenity:

Living on the streets is terrifying and exhausting. Grace’s only comforts are a steady stream of vodka, and a strange little boy who’s following her around.

At nineteen, Grace has already had a child and endured an abusive marriage. But she’s also had her baby abducted by her vengeful husband and been framed as a neglectful mother. Even her own parents doubted her version of the story. So she did the only thing that made sense to her—run away.

The streets are unforgiving. Winter is drawing in. And Grace isn’t prepared for the harsh realities of survival. At her very bleakest, a Good Samaritan swoops into her life and rescues her. With a roof over her head and food in her stomach, she longs to see her baby again.

But nothing ever comes for free.

Book Trailer:

It is being published by Vine Leaves Press on 7 July, and is available for pre-order now.

Connect with Annalisa:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annalisacrawford.author
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnalisaCrawf
Website: https://www.annalisacrawford.com/

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Friday with Friends: Desert Island Disc Challenge

Welcome to a new series on Meeting the Authors …. Friday with Friends. On select Fridays we will feature a unique guest post/interview with an author that has previously been interviewed on MTA. Welcome to Derek Thompson to help kick off this new series.

Craig Wild’s Desert Island Disc challenge

The radio programme Desert Island Discs first aired on BBC Radio in 1942 and since then it’s become an institution. It’s a deceptively simple format where guests talk about their journey and pick eight songs that have accompanied them, often at key points in their lives. Choices range from classical music to R&B, jazz, 70s prog rock, etc., and aren’t always what you’d expect. At the end of the programme the guest chooses that one special song to take to their desert island (not sure how they’d play it!), as well as one luxury item. Here’s a link for the archive. (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qnmr/episodes/player)

And here’s a link in case you feel like putting together your own list: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/5q0Ls856XYZ5VzlMQ1Lgjxf/desert-island-discs-challenge-and-how-to-choose-your-list

As Derek Thompson was previously interviewed for one of his spy thrillers we thought it would be fun this time to have his new protagonist, Detective Sergeant Craig Wild, choose a few tracks and explain how they relate to Long Shadows. (He managed four!)

LONG SHADOWS – A SECRET THAT WON’T STAY BURIED. A KILLER WHO CAN’T FORGET.

Detective Craig Wild couldn’t cut it in London – that’s a long story for another time. Now he must swap the Met for Mayberry, a sleepy Wiltshire backwater where ambition goes to die. It was supposed to be a second chance. Then Wild is faced with the most baffling case of his career.

Eccentric farmer Alexander Porter is found shot dead in his own field. It could be suicide but Wild knows better than that. Determined to uncover the truth, he teams up with PC Marnie Olsen, whose abilities outshine his own, and they set off to navigate a twisting trail of lies and omissions.

Over to you, Craig…in his own inimitable voice…

“My first track has to be Country House by Blur. Why? Because I never wanted to transfer out of London in the first place. I like pubs and darts and nicking people who deserve it. I don’t like cows because you don’t see many of them in the city. I can tolerate sheep as they generally keep to themselves.”

“My second track is The last day of our acquaintance by Sinead O’Connor and I dedicate it to my ex-wife, Steph. I’m not bitter that she remains a favourite at New Scotland Yard while I exist in a rural backwater. No, I’m bitter about other things!”

“Track three is Cool for Cats by Squeeze. I get on with one or two colleagues at Mayberry police station, and I’m not saying the others are savages out of The Wicca Man, but I miss the old team at Kentish Town nick (and West Hampstead for a time). This song reminds me of the banter and the way that the job pulls a team together.”

“My fourth track is Lies by The Black Keys. I’ve been getting the runaround in Mayberry ever since I started on this case. Lies and omissions at every turn. I almost wish I was tracking down stolen tractors or finding vandals instead, like some of the other muppets. Nah, who am I kidding? I like a case I can get my teeth into. Give me a juicy murder any day of the week.

My luxury item on my desert island? That’s easy. A set of permanently sharp darts.

Thanks, Derek, for this fun, imaginative, and unique post. Love it! Wishing you all the best. – Camilla

Where can you buy Long Shadows?

UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B089GXTB47

US https://www.amazon.com/dp/B089GXTB47

AUS https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B089GXTB47

CAN https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B089GXTB47

Or the Amazon page for the country where you reside.

Derek’s other books can be found here:

UK Author Central: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Derek-Thompson/e/B0034ORY08

US Author Central: https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Thompson/e/B0034ORY08

About Derek:

Derek Thompson is a British writer of novels and short fiction. He believes that all good stories contain a grain of truth, and that sometimes it’s better that way. Long Shadows is his first foray into crime mystery, having written five Thomas Bladen spy thrillers. His first ambition was to be an astronaut, which is a giant step indeed when you’re five years old!

Go here to read Derek’s interview …

Meet the Author: Flashpoint by Derek Thompson

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Latest News: Top Interviews With Most Views for May 2020

Interview with Most Views for May 2020:

#1: Meet the Author: Being Greta by Maxine Sinclair

Interview with Second Most Views for May 2020:

#2: Meet the Book Blogger: Louise Cannon of Bookmarks and Stages

Interview with Third Most Views for May 2020:

#3 Meet the Author: Victorine by Drēma Drudge

Interview with Fourth Most Views for May 2020:

#4 Meet the Author: Wishes Under a Starlit Sky by Lucy Knott – This is a FIRST! First time we’ve had an interview in the Top Interviews for two months in a row! Way to go Lucy!! 

Top Three Countries With the Most Traffic to Meeting the Authors in May 2020:

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

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Meet the Author: Deadly Secrets by H.R. Kemp

Today we travel to a beachside suburb of Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia, to chat with H.R. Kemp about how a sheep farm, picking cherries, being a Statistician, the Adelaide Writers’ festival, sunburst diagrams, a messy desk, and collecting newspaper clippings fit into her current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m an Australian author and I live in a beachside suburb of Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia. We have great beaches, wonderful wine regions and a great arts community, and I take full advantage of having them close and within easy reach. I grew up in a country area just outside Melbourne and my family moved a lot; hence I lived on a variety of different properties: a horse farm, a dairy farm, and a sheep farm before we finally settled on a small acreage with goats, loganberries and fruit trees. My school holidays were spent picking fruit, mostly cherries, for pocket money (although I didn’t earn much, I tended to eat more than I put in the basket resulting in many tummy aches.)

My first degree was a Bachelor of Science, Chemistry and a few years later I gained a Graduate Diploma in Education. Besides the usual casual jobs, I spent most of my working life as a public servant working in several different government departments and my career spanned roles as diverse as Management Trainer, Team Facilitator, Statistician and Laboratory Assistant.

In 2011, I got serious and successfully completed a Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing at Adelaide University. I’ve completed many short courses at Writers SA and WEA (and still do). Recently, several of my short stories have been published, most notably one was included in the anthology, When Stars Will Shine. Two others were published in The Writers’ and Readers’ Magazine, Jan 2020 & Oct 2019 and another was previously published in the anthology, Fledglings, by Birdcatcher Books, July 2016.

Besides writing, my passion for travelling and discovering new places means I have visited many fabulous countries and cities around the world. I’m an avid theatre-goer, enjoy art exhibitions and galleries, and of course, I love to read. In March each year, I take full advantage of the Adelaide Writers’ festival to discover new authors and to hear my favourites.

In which genre do you write?

My novel, Deadly Secrets, is a socio-political thriller, with suspense and mystery. It is a multi-layered thriller and the plot weaves together several threads. My protagonists are ordinary people who are stretched by extraordinary issues. They’re not government agents, spies or professional advocates nor are they gun-toting police officers but everyday people who become embroiled in a powerful conspiracy and need to make choices.

My short stories, however, are more focused on the human dilemma and relationship issues and don’t have the thriller element.

How many published books do you have?

Just one, although, I have a second novel at the first draft stage.

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

I’m not sure there was a single time or moment that I can identify. I’ve been an avid reader all my life. When I was young, I wrote mystery stories for my little brother’s entertainment. As a teenager and young adult, I wrote (bad) poetry and (equally bad) short stories. I’ve scribbled snippets of stories and scenes all my life but they rarely ended up in any coherent piece of work (it was fascinating cleaning out the desk drawer when I retired). It wasn’t until I retired that I had the time, brain-space and determination to take it seriously.

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

I used sunburst diagrams as a tool for facilitating groups. They look pretty, but they’re also functional. I now use them when I first plan my novel to identify different plot threads, sub-plots, who, what, where, and the connections and overlaps.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

Not at all like my desk. I often write while sitting in my local café, it involves coffee, background chatter and soft music and works well for me. I dream of going on a writing retreat to somewhere exotic: France, Spain, a tropical Island; but I fear I wouldn’t actually get much writing done. My rather messy desk (I’m normally a tidy person but piles of notes, newspaper cuttings and notebooks overflow my writing space) will have to do.

What are you currently reading?

I have an entire tall bookcase of books to be read. I keep promising that I won’t buy any more, but it’s a promise I find much too hard to keep. I have just begun Lock by Andrew Barret, and The Secret Pilgrim by John Le Carré.

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

I collect newspaper clippings, non-fiction books on a range of topics and I often wake in the early hours with ideas or character profiles. (Luckily I keep a notebook and pen by the side of my bed to capture these, although reading what I wrote in the dark is a challenge.) Deadly Secrets grew from my ‘what if’ musings about the world’s political landscape leading up to 2009. Issues like asylum seekers, climate change and corporate misconduct, all feed into the plot.

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

I pick up grandchildren from school a couple of times a week and my time with them is precious. Spending time with family and friends is a big part of my life; it made the pandemic social-distancing hard. I love walks on the beach, day trips to wine districts, going to the theatre or art exhibitions, and doing the newspaper Sudoku/crossword/9 letter word puzzles.

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

Although I love to talk and write, I have such clear visual images of scenes and characters in my head. When I’m writing, I can see the setting, the people and hear the dialogue.

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

The helpfulness and support of the writing community has amazed me. I’ve made friends from around the globe, connecting through our love of writing and our willingness to share, help each other, and offer critiques and advice.

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

For research, I sat in on a court trial of four bikie gang members, charged with kidnapping, assault and belonging to an illegal organisation. It was fascinating to watch the process from beginning to end (although I didn’t go every day) and to observe the jury, judge, the accused, their family members, and barristers in action. I chatted to other observers (often law students) and some of the police officers who were following the trial. I filled an entire notebook with notes.

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

I only write a diary when I travel. Every day, I fill pages with detail, impressions and thoughts. It’s the perfect accompaniment to the thousands of photos I take. Some might call it obsessive, but my travels are the one thing I get nostalgic about. I also draw on the details to write scenes. In Deadly Secrets, besides Adelaide and Sydney, there are scenes set in Paris, Normandy, Nice and Barcelona.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

– I have difficulty selecting a favourite in anything. Even my crockery is a collection of oddments. I like all the different patterns and I don’t have to pick only one.

– I love languages. I speak some French and German and have done short introductory language courses in Italian, Spanish and Greek.

– I lived in France for 6 months in 2009. It was a long-term dream come true.

What are you currently working on?

I am editing and rewriting the first draft of a second political thriller, another stand-alone story set in 2006.

Tell us about your most recent book.

Deadly Secrets, a socio-political thriller, was released end of March and is available in both paperback and ebook. This novel has mystery, drama, and suspense. It’s a story of fighting the odds to do what’s right.

Shelley and her friends uncover an extraordinary conspiracy. Their choice is; stay silent and condone unspeakable injustice, or speak up and risk everything. It’s more than principles, it’s about lives.

Can ordinary people thwart a powerful conspiracy?

Shelley Ormond’s life is about to change forever. Her friend, a young refugee, dies suddenly and the federal police have shrouded her case in secrecy. Shelley has never been bold, but she will have to break the rules and jeopardise her safe, public service career to learn the truth.

Her new friend Adrian, a medical researcher, is studying a mysterious illness in outback communities. Young children are falling fatally ill, but there’s no obvious cause although suspicious mining activity in the area is worth investigating.

Shelley delves deeper and is drawn into a sinister world of police cover-ups, organised crime, corporate greed, and government corruption. If she obeys the law, the powerful will continue to break it.

The stakes are high and the treacherous schemers will do anything to keep their deadly secrets. Lives don’t matter, not even hers.

Can they expose the plot before more lives are lost?

Will the formidable and ruthless forces behind the conspiracy stop them?

It was wonderful to have you be a part of MTA! If a sunburst diagram is anything like a mind map, I’ve used those for years. I’ve found them to be quite helpful. Wishing you all the best, with many more travels in your future! – Camilla

Where to find the book:

Amazon (eBook & Paperback):

Australia: https://www.amazon.com.au/s?k=9780648766308&ref=nb_sb_noss

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=9780648766322&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_noss

USA: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=9780648766322&i=stripbooks-intl-ship&ref=nb_sb_noss

eBooks only:

Draft2Digital UBL https://books2read.com/u/bzoZVZ (for Digital Stores: Apple, Barnes and Noble (Nook), Tolino; Subscription services: Scribd & 24 Symbols; Library Services: Overdrive, Baker and Taylor, Bibliotheca, and Hoopla)

Kobo link: https://www.kobo.com/au/en/ebook/deadly-secrets-66

Paperback:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/deadly-secrets-h-r-kemp/1136661961?ean=9780648766308

Connect with H.R. Kemp:

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/hrkemp01

Website: https://www.hrkempauthor.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hrkempwriting/

Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/hrkemp

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19757948.H_R_Kemp

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