Meet the Author: heckler by Jason Graff

Today we travel to Richardson, Texas to chat with Jason Graff about how bewilderment, poetry, being a cat person, talking less, and listening more are a part of Jason’s past and present life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in Richardson, Texas with my very supportive wife, somewhat less supportive 4 year-old son and completely indifferent cat. I have published poetry, essays and short stories in a number of different genres in journals around the world.

Like most writers, I find people endlessly fascinating. I’ve always been interested in why people do what they do. Sometimes, inspiration comes from bewilderment at my own behaviors and reactions to situations. I believe that for the most part, any good story is partially a mystery in which the writer reveals the reasons for why characters are the way they are and by extension, tries to offer humanity some sort of explanation for our existence. I suppose that sounds kind of lofty and naïve but then, I make up things for a living, so my thinking isn’t exactly what you’d call totally clear-headed.

In which genre do you write?

I primarily write literary fiction but dabble in a bit of everything. I find genre labels limiting as an artist and really just want to tell great stories.

How many published books do you have?

I have three. Two lit-fic, heckler and Stray Our Pieces and a dark fantasy romance, In the Service of the Boyar (Kindle title The White Wolf’s Secret.)

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

I started writing poems in high school when I was supposed to be doing my school work. Back then, I was writing to get the attention of the girls I had crushes on, sometimes with disastrous effects. (One girl, whom I will not name, had a boyfriend who punched me for my efforts. Everyone’s a critic was a lesson I learned early on.) So, I think I was a writer before I even thought of it as a career path. I just was one.

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

I’m a cat person, so I have to go with a cat. They’re not made happy that easily and can be difficult to deal with for no apparent reason, and I think that pretty well describes my relationship to my work.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

My couch has a chaise lounge. I am perfectly happy stretching out on that with my computer propped on a lap desk.

What are you currently reading?

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson

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

heckler started off as a short story about a boy flipping through the pages of his family’s hotel registry and trying to guess who his father was. He traced his fingers over the names, tried to remember their faces, tried to remember if they looked like him. A generating scene that I don’t think made it as far as the second draft.

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

Talk less and listen more. You’re not as funny or insightful as you think are.

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

Why do you eat plastic?

Are you interested in at least trying to learn to use the toilet?

Did we know each other in a past life?

What are you currently working on?

I am working on a story about a romancing conman who gets older women to fall in love with him, then takes their jewelry. It’s told not just from his prospective but that of his current quarry, his wife and other members of his family. I saw an episode of Unsolved Mysteries about one such figure years ago and have always been kind of fascinated by the psychology that would lead to such a life.

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

heckler takes place in a rundown family hotel in a made up town somewhere in the American Rust Belt. The chapters alternate over a two year period that traces the life of the family who owns the place and a couple of the lodgers that come to stay there. Everyone in the story searches for a way to make their life their own, so the narrative draws much of its tension from the tendency people have for self-sabotage.

It was wonderful to have you on MTA, Jason. My cat, who has long ago crossed the rainbow bridge, used to eat plastic too! In addition, she ate all my house plants, which I replaced with fake plants. She ate those, too. She was interesting, to say the least. Wishing you all the best!! –Camilla

Back cover copy:

“…you’ll learn as you get older that time goes by quickly, especially for adults,” Ray Davis writes in a letter to his son that he hopes will explain why he’s been away for so long. In the two years since he last saw his father, Bruno, who once yearned to be entrusted with manning the desk of the family hotel on his own, has grown to resent every moment he’s forced oversee its empty lobby.

His mother dreams that he’ll take over the business one day, but Bruno has more immediate concerns. Adjusting to the changes his teenage body is going through is complicated by the attraction he feels to both sexes. His only escape is to the movie theater across the street, where he loses himself in the black and white world of Hollywood’s Golden Age. After being turned away from a showing of Psycho, he runs into his former tutor, Rick French. While the academic substance of those sessions largely has faded, Bruno never forgot how Rick had first awakened feelings that he’d been too young to understand. As they renew their relationship, Bruno begins to glimpse the man he can become. Though he’d like to act on his desires, he cannot help but still feel like a callow pupil in Rick’s presence. Stuck somewhere between maturity and childhood, Bruno strives to avoid the lonely future of a hotelier.

Where to find the books:


Stray Our Pieces

In the Service of the Boyar aka The White Wolf’s Secret

Connect with Jason:


Facebook: Author Jason Graff

Twitter: JasonGraff1

Instagram: photograffing


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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: Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution by Jordan Bell

Today we travel to Adelaide, Australia and chat with Jordan Bell about how being a psychologist, music, crowdfunding, walking in nature, Leonard Cohen, the art of tattooing, and Battle of the Planets come together as part of Jordan’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a psychologist by training, with a lifelong love of science, and I live in Adelaide, Australia. I love reading, music and walking in nature. When my daughter was born, I knew I wanted to make sure she had lots of books which inspired her to love science as much as I do. So as a nerdy mama I had no option but to write one! Aimed at kids 7-11 years, Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution explains the basics of this key scientific concept in a fun and engaging way.

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

I’ve loved writing my whole life. As a child I thought being a writer would be an amazing future career, and I used to spend a lot of time writing and illustrating little books, which I’d bind up with electrical tape. As a teenager, poetry really captured me, and I was in a small poetry circle with two other poets for several years. It wasn’t until I finished my PhD a few years ago (106,000 words!) that I really knew I could write a book. And then when I got the inspiration to write this book, I knew I had to put it out into the world. One wildly successful crowdfund later (we raised 210% of our original goal!) and it seemed like the rest of the world also agreed with me!

What does your ideal writing space look like?

My favourite place to write is in a cafe around the corner from my house – I take my laptop in and they bring me endless cups of tea while I’m tapping away. It’s a gorgeous calm space with delicious food and great local arts and crafts for sale. (Update – due to the new COVID-19 social distancing/shutdown rules, I can’t make use of this great venue at the moment! So I am mostly writing from my dining room table these days – there’s not as much tea-on-demand, but I can work in my pyjamas, so swings and roundabouts!)

What are you currently reading?

I am re-reading the Philip Pullman “His Dark Materials” trilogy as a preparation for reading the new book he’s released, The Secret Commonwealth. I forgot how much I loved it when I read it 10 years ago – it’s beautifully written. I have high hopes for the new adventure!

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

I love singing and once put on a show of Leonard Cohen songs in my hometown.

My favourite genre to read is science fiction – it comes from my love of science and my general sense of wonder about the world.

Although I am very interested in the art of tattooing, I only have one teeny tiny tattoo myself. If I was going to get something else tattooed on me, it would be the Auryn from The Neverending Story, which was my favourite book as a child.

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

I am the Dean at a residential college for university students, so I support students through their academic and personal challenges, to ensure they can continue to succeed at in their studies. I love my job! It’s always interesting and I really like helping people, so I get to do that a lot.

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

That I’m quite persistent, and that I get more satisfaction from “having written” than from the writing itself. And that I’m quite good at explaining things to kids – which I guess is a legacy of my time as a children’s tutor. I was also really surprised at how much fun it was to work with an illustrator – Gabriel Cunnett ( did all the illustrations for the book, and he seemed to have the magical ability to reach into my brain, see what I wanted to characters to look like, and call them into existence on the page.

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

I really enjoy the “project” of book creation. The learning curve for writing and then self-publishing my first book was virtually straight up – but apparently that’s a space I thrive in, since I love to learn.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Oh gosh, not paying bills! And the chance to spend so much time reading, and the wonder of learning about human biology for the first time.

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

Without question, it would be Battle of the Planets (the English-dubbed version of Japanese anime series Science Ninja Team Gatchaman) – I used to act out invented scenes from this with my cousins all the time. As a kid I wanted to be Princess, but today I’d probably want to be Mark, the team leader.

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

I re-watched The Princess Bride – one of my own childhood favourites – with my daughter last weekend. It’s amazing how well it holds up as a film! It’s got humour, adventure, romance and a happy ending. And Cary Elwes is fantastically handsome, so there’s also that. I read the book it was based on a few years ago and honestly it’s probably even better than the movie. So I wanted to share that story with my daughter.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a follow-up to my first book, called Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Climate Change. In a similar way to the Guide to Evolution, it explains and unpacks all the science of Climate Change, from chemistry, to physics, to biology and geology, in a science adventure that is fun to read. The research load has been intense, but I’m really enjoying it!

Tell us about your most recent book.

My first book, Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution, gives kids a fun and fascinating understanding of the key concepts underlying the theory of evolution, using real science. Perfect for parents who want to inspire a love of science in children aged 7-11yrs, start a child’s science education early, or who want female role models in science for their kids.

Not just another boring bedtime story, this science adventure into the ancient past makes learning about the basics of evolution fun and engaging, and uses words and concepts that are right for kids in middle and upper primary school. For anyone new to science, Aunt Jodie’s Guides also include an easy-to-read glossary, explaining the scientific terms used in the book and how to pronounce them.

It was wonderful to have you on MTA, Jordan. This and your upcoming book sound like great fun to read. Wishing you much success! – Camilla

Book Blurb:

Join Sophie and Matt as Aunt Jodie takes you on an imagination-expanding journey back in time. Learn about evolution in two different species, millions of years apart: the Plesiads, ancient lemur-like creatures from 55 million years ago, and colour-changing Peppered Moths from the 1800s. What happens to the Plesiads when a volcano erupts? How do the moths survive when their camouflage stops working? Discover the secrets that help all creatures transform and develop when big changes happen in the world around them.

Parents, Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents: Do you know what happened after the dinosaurs died out, but before humans existed? Could you explain Darwin’s theory of evolution to your child? Parents, learn along with your kids as we explore the key contributors to evolution: inheritance, variation and selection. Not just another boring bedtime story, this science adventure into the ancient past makes learning about the basics of evolution fun and engaging, and uses words and concepts that are right for kids in middle and upper primary school. Story-based learning helps everyone remember scientific concepts. For anyone new to science, Aunt Jodie’s Guides also include an easy-to-read glossary, explaining the scientific terms used in the book, and how to pronounce them. So give a gift of knowledge to your children and set them up for a lifetime of STEM success!

Where to buy Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution:

Connect with Jordan:

Follow me on Facebook for more information:

I’m on Twitter at @AuntJodiesGuide

And my website is

 Illustrated by Gabriel Cunnett:


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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: Kayleigh Whittle of Cooking the Books Review

Welcome to this new series! We’re shaking things up at Meeting the Authors. Once or twice per month, MTA is turning the tables to feature Book Bloggers. A huge and hearty welcome to the second book blogger to take the Turning the Tables Plunge!

Today we travel to South Yorkshire to chat with Kayleigh Whittle of Cooking the Books about how guinea pigs, chocolate, becoming a teaching assistant, coffee, the smell of a paperback, and Indie authors come together as part of Kayleigh’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in the UK originally from Norfolk. I now live in South Yorkshire with my two boys, 9 and 5, who keep me on my toes! Our two Guinea pigs and my partner of 14 years. A long term sufferer of anxiety, reading is my escape. I am your typical stay at home mum our family dynamic has meant that I have stayed at home whilst Daddy goes to work.

Reading is my main hobby and the past two years almost is when I have really gone at it and found some pretty fabulous authors. Now that my youngest son is at school full time I am pursuing a career as a teaching assistant, something I have wanted to do for a long time. Whilst reading I love to snack! Probably not the best idea when reading a paperback! My favourite things to eat are, chocolate, nuts and crisps and of course coffee. Although I have to drink decaf because it plays havoc with my anxiety, sorry coffee lovers! That’s me.

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 became a book blogger purely because of the fantastic Indie authors I have discovered over the past 18 months. They get little or no recognition and I wanted to change that. They need and deserve to be seen. I have been book blogging since around May last year so almost a year. I do love it, especially when it’s a book or an author I really love. I love to be able to share such great books.

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

I do accept requests and have had authors email me after finding me on Book Connectors facebook group.

What information do you want to receive with the request?

When they contact me I found almost all of the time they ask if I would like to review, what genre the book is and a blurb and most of the time a purchase link. This is perfect for me I don’t really need any other information apart from that.

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

I offer reviews, reviews for blog tours and I offer Indie author spotlights once a month which can be anything that the author wants me to blog ie a review, Q&A or an extract from a new book or one that needs more exposure.

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

I love a paperback! The feel, the smell, the fact it’s yet another book filling my bookshelf I mean what’s not to love? I do have a few hardcovers but I don’t typically buy those. I do read digitally via the kindle app on my fire 7 and prefer a Mobi or epub file. But I much prefer a paperback.

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

I typically only take part in official blog tours organised by blog tour operators. I mainly do blog tours with Rachel from She is fantastic at what she does its always a breeze and I have never had any issues. She gets some great books for tours. I have and always will jump at the chance to read for review for an Indie author or Indie publisher. #iheartindieauthors they are my absolute favourite authors. That is not to say I don’t love trad pub authors because I have some great interactions with them and a lot of them are genuinely lovely people.

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

I am pretty eclectic when it comes to reading and will read most genres. Now I am going to contradict myself a little bit here. Non-fiction is something that I rarely read if at all if I am honest. I read to escape. To get lost in a make-believe world or a new place with a fun story. My favourite genres are Rom-com, Historical Fiction especially world war 2 based although I am partial for to historical fiction that has a fantasy element, for example, Helen Pryke’s The Innocenti Saga. YA fantasy, horror, sci-fi and contemporary fiction. So quite a few genres.

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

Never, never, never. No, absolutely not. If I really dislike a book, and it’s a rarity then that is my opinion and one I keep to myself. I find it pointless to publically slam and slate an author and rip apart their hard work. Who is it really helping? It’s a no-no for me. Yes, I do use a star rating 3 being a minimum but again that is very rare.

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

When a blog tour organiser or an author asks me to review or be on a blog tour I try my best to reply to their email the same day. I always try to get back to everyone sometimes a few here and there might slip through.

What is your favorite aspect of bookblogging?

My favourite aspect of book blogging is showcasing the talents of Indie authors. They are very much underrated in my opinion. They give so much yet receive so little. The attitudes surrounding them as authors are poor in some book circles, I personally happen to think they are brilliant. So anything I can do to shine a light on the fantastic stories they write and to give them much needed exposure I will do.

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

If I could have a fantasy coffee, always coffee, with any author, and it will be a reality one day, it would be my beautiful Indie author friends Helen Pryke and Sarah Northwood. I know I’ve cheated and picked two but these two lovely Indie authors have given me so much. They are an inspiration to me. We are very close even though we have never met. We have shared similar journies in life, we get each other and we support each other in whatever it is we are doing. I would be lost without them.

It was wonderful having you on MTA! I very much enjoyed learning more about you Kayleigh, and I know MTA readers will enjoy it, too! – Camilla

Connect with Kayleigh


Twitter is


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