Meet the Author: Dragon Mage by Arisha Grabtchak

Today we travel to Halifax, Nova Scotia to chat with the family of Arisha Grabtchak about how beaches, rocky shores, biology, creative writing, a Manchester Terrier, horseback riding, scuba diving, coral reefs, and making movies influenced Arisha’s life and her writing.

Tell us a bit about Arisha.

Arisha Grabtchak lived in Halifax, capital of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. Halifax is the largest city in Atlantic Canada situated close to many picturesque beaches and dramatic rocky shores. These beautiful landscapes became Arisha’s favorite places she often described in her stories. She always wanted to become a writer and was very passionate about it. Arisha graduated with honors from Dalhousie University, majoring in Biology and Creative Writing and had started graduate school in biology. She was a bright, remarkable artist with so many interests in her life. Unexpected death disrupted Arisha’s plans – she passed away in 2016 at the age of 23. Her family works to realize her dreams and embody her visions of this fantasy world and characters. We could only wish that some things would have happened sooner in her life…

In which genre did she write?

The Red Dragon Chronicles are written in epic high-fantasy genre. The series were to include eight books, Arisha was working on the fifth one.

How many published books does she have?

Two, including Dragon Mage. Arisha wrote her first novel at 17, a self-published work featuring intelligent killer sharks eating teachers on vacation, appropriately titled Doom of the Teachers. The work was written on a whim during her final year of high school and published the year after.

What would Arisha choose as her spirit animal and why?

A dragon. Since she was little, Arisha was fascinated by dragons – mysterious creatures from a different world. Not surprisingly dragons became major characters in her fantasy stories.

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

The actual character of Danzi was created when Arisha was 16, in a story written for English class. It was based on a vague, dragon-related story that had been spinning around her head since childhood. Arisha began work on the dragon series while attending Dalhousie University. It took her two years to finish her book, but she did not want to approach publishers until she reviewed her manuscript numerous times. At the same time, she started writing several other books from the series.

What did she do when not writing or marketing her books?

Arisha adored her dog, a Manchester Terrier named Jenna. They both enjoyed playing, cuddling, going for walks, watching TV together. Arisha loved animals, she volunteered at dog shelters and enjoyed horseback riding since she was 10.

She mastered in digital art, entirely self-taught, and horses always were her favorite subject for drawings. Arisha personally created all the illustrations for her books. An accomplished graphic designer and Photoshop whiz, she had also no problems designing and formatting her own covers.

Scuba diving was another of Arisha’s passion. She became certified at fourteen years old. Arisha was always fascinated by coral reefs and loved filming underwater life. She collected sea shells from every place she visited and could identify every one of them.

Arisha was very interested in making movies. It all began with an assignment for her Computer Science class in high school. In the following years, she produced three more action-adventure films where she was directing, shooting, writing scripts, editing, creating special effects, and playing a main character. Jenna also played a role in each film!! Arisha’s dream was to direct movies based on her own books. Coming from the original creator, these films would be delivered exactly as they were intended, ensuring all novel-specific details would be visually recreated for the screen.

If Arisha could turn into one of her characters for a day, which one would it be and why?

It would be Danzi, the Red Dragon. Arisha admitted that they had a lot in common. His character came from within her, and expressed some of her hidden intentions, unlike some others that came from the ideas and expressed fabricated notions. Danzi is a protagonist in the story, starting out as an anti-hero. Over the course of the book he must come to grips with his own misgivings and become the leader that will eventually topple the Empire.

What was her favorite place to visit in her country and why?

Arisha loved nature and wilderness, she was fascinated by the ocean and was a dedicated sea shell collector. Arisha always enjoyed visiting the numerous beaches and forested parks in Nova Scotia.

Describe the perfect solo date Arisha would take herself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.

That would be diving in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the world’s largest coral reef system. Arisha felt so natural in the water. She accomplished many dives in Caribbean, always with her underwater camera. Some of the footage she used later in her movies. Arisha hoped to visit Australia some day for a lifetime experience in scuba diving.

Tell us about the most recent book.

The Dragon Mage is the first book from the Red Dragon Chronicles series. It is about a war in the fantasy land of Shotang between the evil Emperor and a resistance movement, led by Danzellius Daggoras, the Red Dragon and a mage. The book takes the reader on a thrilling, epic journey as it follows the dragon and his band of allies, among them a young mage named Eiryanne, who is Danzi’s protégé and the principal human character.

It was an honor to host Arisha’s family on MTA. Arisha sounds like a fascinating person, with an adventurous life. I am blessed to be able to help her family spread the word about her books.  – Camilla

Book blurb:

Eiryanne, an orphan, is on the run after her village is brutally attacked and destroyed by the evil Emperor’s soldiers. Little does Eiryanne know that her chance encounter with a strange man would change her life forever and reveal her true destiny. The man, a shape shifter, is Danzellius Daggoras, the Red Dragon, The Lord of Fire, an ancient warrior and a mage. Eiryanne learns she is a descendant of a long line of human mages and her only possession – The Necklace of Tairung – was left to her by her parents for safe keeping against its malevolent creator, the corrupt black unicorn, Tairung. Together, Eiryanne and Danzi must navigate their way to Boyerin Cavern where the necklace can be destroyed and its evil creator silenced forever. As they set out, Eiryanne is uneasy about her alliance with Danzi and is frightened by his violence and ease at which he kills. She knows she has no choice, her destiny is in his hands, but to what end?

Where to find the book:

The book is available on Amazon in eBook and paperback formats:

Connect on Social Media:

Twitter Danzi Daggoras writer @daggoras

FB Arisha Grabtchak books @ArishaGrabtchak

FB Danzi Daggoras @danzi.daggoras


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Meet the Book Blogger – Corinne Morier of The Discerning Reader

Today we travel to California to chat with Corinne Morier of The Discerning Reader about how living in Japan, teaching English, having autism, being hyper-focused, reading outside of comfort zones, the inability to recognize social clues, online role playing games, readathons, Pokemon, and a Rainbow Bookshelf come together as part of Corinne’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a reader-turned-writer-turned-book reviewer who taught herself to read Clifford the Big Red Dog in preschool. At eight, I proudly DNFed my first book, The Diary of Anne Frank, with a very astute observation: “Anne. Frank. Is. Dead!”

I share the book love on my blog, The Discerning Reader, which I started in September 2018. Up until that point, I was writing sporadic blog posts about what it was like to live in Japan, but after returning home to California in August 2018, I decided to change my blog to a book blog.

Along with blogging and writing my own novels, I also am a passionate Booktuber, proudly choosing my monthly TBR with my Lord of the TBR game. For more information, please feel free to visit my latest video; which I always have a lot of fun filming, though it’s not as much fun editing them. xD


Why did you choose to be a book blogger?

Up until August 2018, I was living in Japan and teaching English in the public school system. I was also attempting to write sporadic blog posts about life in Japan, though my job kept me very busy and I often didn’t have the time or energy to do so.

My friend Ellie came to visit me in Japan and we went traveling during Christmas vacation.

After finishing my contract in summer of 2018 and returning to my native California, I thought it would be fun to rebrand my blog into a book blog. I did so after “careful” consideration (read: within about an hour of first getting the idea) and have never looked back. I used to post all the reviews of every single book I read, including negative reviews and DNF reviews, just to be able to have content, but when 2018 ended, I decided to only post reviews of books I’d enjoyed and would recommend so I didn’t have to sling hate. Because what’s the point of talking about a book if I didn’t enjoy it? Obviously my readers aren’t going to rush out and buy a book if I only rated it two stars.

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

I am open to requests! I am really picky about the books I accept, but in general, I like most subgenres of YA speculative fiction, including fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary, and dystopian. (Though I recently have been unable to read dystopian because of the current world situation–hits too close to home, if you know what I mean.) The only subgenre I don’t accept is urban fantasy and paranormal romance–it takes a lot for me to get into that sort of story and I just don’t enjoy reading it.

I’m a little bit pickier about middle grade–I only accept MG fantasy or sci-fi, not any other subgenres. I don’t really accept adult books, but I do make exceptions for epic fantasy or sword and sorcery in the style of Brandon Sanderson or Robert Jordan. Also I have a soft spot for books set in or about Japan or for fairy tale retellings.

Interested authors should read my submission guidelines at and then fill out the contact form. This is because I have a filter set up to mark emails from my contact form and it’s easier for me to stay organized, and if someone doesn’t use the contact form, it tends to end up in my spam folder or get lost in my inbox.

What information do you want to receive with a request?

If you’re filling out my handy-dandy contact form, there’s already places to put everything I ask for, but in general, I need your book’s metadata and a writing sample (usually this can be solved by providing me with the Amazon link to the Kindle version of the book so I can read the free sample; if the book is still on pre-order, then you can simply upload the first chapter to Dropbox or your website or Google Docs or what have you and then give me the link to that so that I can have a taste of your writing and the story.) Authors also are given an option to put in a request for a preferred month in which the review should be posted, as well as give any comps that they might be able to provide, though this is not required.

I know that authors sometimes feel frustrated about not receiving replies from bloggers, so as long as you’ve followed my rules, you will receive a response, no matter what! 🙂

What types of posts do you publish?

Mostly just reviews, though occasionally I’ll do cover reveals or promotional posts for books if an author would prefer that. Over on my Youtube channel, though, you can find more overview-type posts such as top tens, trope talks, and of course, my TBR game. 🙂 At the end of the year, I also release an overview-style blog post discussing my reading challenge and yearly reading stats.

What is your favorite book format to read? What digital formats do you prefer?

I definitely am an old-school physical book girl. This is because I don’t have a specified ebook reader, so I have to read ebooks on my computer or my phone, and I get easily distracted by the Internet. Also because I get a lot of reading done at my job, and let me explain. I work in a customer service position, and if it’s a slow day, my boss is cool with us reading books at our stations as long as there’s no customers, though they have to be paperbacks or hardcovers, because we’re not allowed to have our phones or any other electronics with us when we’re out where customers can see us.

Also should be noted that I am not an audiobook person. I need something visual to read, and if it’s just audio, I cannot follow the story whatsoever, so I am definitely not a good fit for audiobook requests, lol! Ebooks should be in mobi format, though if that’s not possible, I would also be able to accept epubs or PDFs.

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 do blog tours as well as requests from authors and publishers. If a book is interesting, I’ll read it, whether it’s a book from a blog tour or from an indie author, or an indie publisher, or what have you. I’m always super honored to get requests for book reviews, so I don’t care who sends it to me. 🙂

I would like to give a big shout-out to the Queen of Blog Tours, Lady of Book Love, and God of Bookish Things, Anne Cater. She runs Random Things blog tours and is super awesome. She does all the bookish things, including blogging, running blog tours, and being the admin for the awesome Book Connectors Facebook group, and if you’re looking for a blog tour organizer, Anne is the lady to go to. She can be found at

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

My favorite genres are fantasy (of course) and just speculative fiction in general. I like fantasy and sci-fi in both YA and MG, and I also enjoy YA contemporary romance and YA dystopian (though recently I have not been able to read dystopian because of the current world situation–hits too close to home). I have also been trying to get more into thrillers and historical fiction lately, though I am a hard sell for historical fiction and it has to be specifically an East Asian setting in either Japan or China. You may think I’m being picky, but because of my autism, I get hyper-focused on certain areas of study and ignore everything else. East Asia is one of my special interests (considering I got my degree in Japanese language and culture, it’s not surprising!) and I’m not interested in reading about other countries or time periods.

I definitely will not pick up urban fantasy, paranormal romance, or anything in the adult age category that isn’t epic sword-and-sorcery fantasy like Robert Jordan or Brandon Sanderson. I’m not really interested in poetry or memoirs–I can count on one hand the number of memoirs I’ve read, and they were all by athletes or actors I admire or by famous kidnapping survivors like Jaycee Dugard or Michelle Knight, and I’ve read literally one poetry book in the past fifteen years, and that was a haiku book my dad gave me for a Christmas present. I am definitely not the best fit for poetry, nonfiction, or memoirs, lol!

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

I don’t review a book on my blog if I didn’t rate it four or five stars.

I use Goodreads to track my reading (actually, my Goodreads account is always super up-to-date, so it’s the best place to see what I’ve been reading lately and what I like to read), so I will always write a review, short or long, on Goodreads. For my star rating system, I use the five-star system found on Goodreads, for the most part.

For a book to get a five-star rating from me, it has to either be a book that either:

defies genre expectations and sets the bar for new books in that genre,

I want to shove in everyone’s faces and reread immediately after finishing,

or makes me just sit and stare at the cover for a few seconds and be like “Wow, that was a super-good book. I can’t believe I just spent time in such a good book.”

A four-star book is one that I’d still recommend to other people and that I could see myself rereading, though that reread is probably far off into the future. Also common in four-star books is if it activates the darned “editor brain,” where the entire time I’m reading I’m just like “BUT THIS WOULD BE SO MUCH BETTER WRITTEN THIS WAY INSTEAD!!!” but I still enjoyed the overall story.

If a book gets a three-star rating from me, it’s a good book, just not one that I’d want to reread or recommend to others. It didn’t have that “rereadability” factor, but otherwise, it wasn’t bad. I probably forgot the entire story as soon as I closed the cover, or I just was like “Meh,” the whole way through.

I will rarely rate a book one or two stars, unless it has a damaging trope of some sort (for example, the “bury your gays” trope), and for the most part, I don’t rate indie books less than three stars because it’s hard enough for indie authors to get reviews to begin with, and a one-star rating on an indie book could tank its average overall rating, when it’s hard enough for indie authors to get reviews to begin with. If I didn’t enjoy an indie book, I’ll omit the star rating and just write a short review explaining why I didn’t enjoy it.

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

I always respond to review requests, blog tour offers, etc. within 48 hours of receiving an email, either with a “no thank you, but thanks anyway” or “sure I’d love to.” The 48 hours thing is to allow me to read your book sample, check my blogging schedule, make sure I have availability, things like that. Also I do have a day job, so that is a big time-sink, as you can imagine. xD

What is your favorite aspect of book blogging?

That I get to shout about my favorite books, shove them in everyone’s faces, and make them read things that I like. Also I’ve met so many awesome people through blogging, and set myself so many challenges and goals to read more books outside of my comfort zone, and loved said books.

One that I recently loved that I never would have picked up had I not been a book blogger and Youtuber is Katherine by Anchee Min. Last July, I joined the Year of Asian Stories reading challenge hosted by my good friend Ari at Bookish Valhalla, which was a challenge intended to get us to read more Asian-based stories.

Katherine was one of those I picked up because of that challenge–this was a historical fiction novel set in 1980’s China about an American who came to China to teach English and how her students come to love her, despite her complete rebellion against anything in the Chinese system, to the point where she gets deported for showing her students a Playboy magazine. I would have never picked this book up if it hadn’t been for the reading challenge.

Tell us a little more about what it’s like to have autism.

I have Asperger Syndrome, which is a disorder on the autism spectrum. I make no secret of it and talk about it openly whenever anyone asks, which is definitely not how I viewed it as a teenager! Back when I was in school, I was embarrassed and always tried to hide it. Having Asperger’s means that I have certain obsessions, like Japanese and Lord of the Rings, and I’m unable to process sensory input properly, like loud sounds or strong tastes or smells. I’m also really sensitive about my clothes because some materials don’t feel right against my skin, and I’m unable to recognize social cues.

You might have heard this analogy before, and I am definitely not the one who invented it, but imagine that life is just a big board game. All the allistic people (people without a neurological disability) are having fun and playing together, but there’s no rule book that comes with the game and everyone else just seems to know what to do without being told. You can’t figure out the rules just by watching everyone around you, and you have a rule book that you were given before you sat down to play, but no one else is following the rules in your rule book.

Everyone’s conversations hurt your ears, but you can’t ask them to be quiet, and you’d rather be in a separate room reading a book or watching TV, but for some reason, you’re being forced to sit at the table and play this game with everyone else. So you end up just having to pretend you know what’s going on, because when you try to play it according to your rule book, they tell you “you’re doing it wrong” and to “do it the right way.”

In terms of reading, it means that sometimes even if an allistic person would understand why a certain character was upset, or would be able to understand the unwritten context of a situation, I don’t understand it. (eg. sarcasm: a recent example would be from just the other day. I went shopping with my dad to help him with his groceries, and we got three or four different kinds of cheeses. When my mom saw how much cheese we got, she remarked, “I don’t really think you bought enough cheese.” I took her at face value and asked her, with all seriousness, “Oh, we got a lot already. Maybe I should go out and get some more?” at which point she had to explain to me that she was being sarcastic.) Also I have very limited interests as to what I will and will not read. Sometimes it comes off as picky, but that’s why I’m The Discerning Reader. 🙂

What is an interesting reading quirk you have?

Can I say two? Because I can’t decide which one of these is more worthwhile.

The first is that I twirl my hair when I’m reading or thinking about something. Some autistic people have “stims,” physical or verbal repetitions that help us focus better, and for me, twirling my hair is my stim–it helps me to focus on the book.

The other one I’d like to mention is that I can’t stop reading in the middle of a chapter. If I’m going to stop and take a break, I have to finish the chapter first. Even if the chapter goes on for another ten pages or I’m running late for work! xD

What are you currently reading?

As of writing this, I’m currently in the middle of a reread of Where Carpets Fly, my favorite indie book of all time, as well as reading House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones, though it’s rather bittersweet to think that I’m going to finish that series and there won’t be any more books to look forward to. xD

What do you do when not reading or writing book blog posts?

Usually you can find me filming my Youtube videos, writing my own novel (a pirate adventure! Yargh, mateys!) hanging out with my doggo, or playing my favorite MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), a side-scrolling 2D fantasy adventure game called Maplestory.

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

I don’t know, lots of things! Let’s see…

After starting my Youtube channel, I browsed other bookish channels to see if I could get ideas for mine and see how to make mine a successful channel and got inspired by all those other Booktubers making their bookshelves look fancy! Now I have a gorgeous Rainbow Bookshelf that I was inspired to make from watching those other creators.

My TBR game is another one. I think that even if the day comes when I decide to quit Youtube/book blogging, I’ll still play the game to decide what books I’m going to read because it’s just so much fun and it forces me to read books I wouldn’t normally read, rather than just deciding to reread The Hunger Games every month! xD

That’s another thing. I didn’t know I liked dystopians, but then I gave The Hunger Games a try, and… I love dystopians! Almost every single dystopian I’ve picked up since then, I’ve enjoyed.

Also being able to read and enjoy new books. I used to have a really hard time trying new things, but since starting my TBR game, I’ve read so many new books that I ended up loving!

Not to mention being able to track my reading on a site like Goodreads. Being able to set goals for reading, and then go back after a certain amount of time and feel a sense of accomplishment having read a certain number of books, especially ones that were out of your comfort zone!

Need I go on?

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

The last one I watched (well, rewatched) was A Silent Voice, for about the twelfth time. What a movie! Amazing exploration of bullying, how it affects victims even years later, and FRIENDSHIP! SUCH A GREAT STORY ABOUT FRIENDS LEARNING TO FORGIVE EACH OTHER! I AM IN A GLASS CASE OF EMOTION EVERY TIME I WATCH THAT FILM!! *cries*

What is the most anticipated book you have on your TBR that you just haven’t gotten to, for whatever reason?

That’d be Seventh Tower by Garth Nix. Nix is my favorite author of all time, and whenever I get my hands on one of his backlist books, I always try and prioritize it. I still have his Seventh Tower series sitting on my unread shelf, but that’s just because I couldn’t get it to fit any of the prompts I needed for the readathon I’m doing this month, so I decided to save it for June, which is also my birthday month, because I deserve to read my favorite author on my birthday. 🙂

Do you participate in readathons? Which ones are you currently doing?

Glad you asked! I love doing readathons, and they’re so much fun! Last month, I did the Magical Readathon hosted by Book Roast on Youtube, which is a readathon inspired by the exams that Hogwarts students take. We had to “take exams” by reading certain books that fit certain prompts, and it was so much fun! This month I’m doing the Bookemon readathon, which is a readathon inspired by Pokemon Go. Team Mystic for the win!

I also have plans to organize and run my own readathon, which will start in July, inspired by my favorite movie and book series of all time, Lord of the Rings! It’ll be a three-month long challenge, and you have to choose if you want to be on the side of good or the side of evil, and each month, I’ll give you prompts inspired by various parts of the Lord of the Rings story, and it’ll be tons of fun! The two teams will compete against each other and whichever gets the most books read is the winner! Keep watch on my social media for the announcement.

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

Pokemon, without a doubt, Pokemon. Are you kidding me? Get to travel around the world meeting different Pokemon and becoming a Pokemon master? And the only thing standing in your way is Team Rocket, who are pretty much the most cartoonish villains ever and have gone hundreds of episodes without winning a battle once? I’d probably get homesick on my journey and have to return to Pallet Town every other weekend, but I’d love to be trapped in the world of Pokemon!

It was lovely to have you be a part of MTA, Corinne! I love how you took this post and made it shine with your personality, taking the time to create memes to match your responses. I appreciate how you’ve made it clear what types of books you enjoy reading and those you do not! HA! And, I adore this photo of you! Here’s wishing you all the best! – Camilla

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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


Meet the Author: Celeste Three is Missing by Chris Calder

Today we travel to Markfield, England to chat with Chris Callaghan about how sprinkling a bit of humor, becoming an accidental author, being hospitalized in France, learning shorthand and typing, being an aviation nut, Charles Dickens, Downs Syndrome, and India come together as part of Chris’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Chris Callaghan and I write as Chris Calder. I am probably the oldest author you will interview — put another way, I ‘m gifted with more Life Experience than most. I live in Markfield, a village close to Leicester, in England. Another fact: I really do not take myself too seriously.

In which genre do you write?

Usually light thrillers. “Light” because I don’t do gratuitous gore, also I like to sprinkle a bit of humor into my stories. And sometimes subtle (I hope) comments or observations. An example: In Celeste Three is Missing, there are two FBI agents who appear as agents Spencer and Marks. In the text they are referred to as Marks and Spencer. As a US citizen you may not have heard of them; Marks and Spencer is an upmarket store chain here.

How many published books do you have?

Four to date, three thrillers, the fourth not. It is called My Brother’s Keeper and is about a Catholic priest who has been ordered to help other priests with problems. But he has problems of his own.

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

I’ve always loved writing but became an author by accident. Already retired and living in France I was diagnosed with Cancer. After surgery I was recovering in hospital but because my French language skills were poor at the time, I was unable to communicate with the people around me. Frustrating! So I picked up a pen and drafted the bones of a story based loosely upon my experiences whilst owner of a small engineering business. It was called PAYBACK and was published a year later. There have been four more books since. No longer retired, I have just changed professions.

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

The humor thing — perhaps gently teasing the reader who has to be ‘tuned in’ to spot it.

What would you choose as your mascot and why?

A very tame tiger. As a child at a hill school in India I was twice privileged to see tigers in the wild. Wonderful creatures, sadly they no longer inhabit that part of India. They were wiped out by poachers many years ago.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

A shambles. Desktop pc and keyboard in my bedroom. At age sixteen I was sent, kicking and screaming, to a place that taught shorthand and typing. My mother had to be obeyed! That was in 1954, many years before the internet was conceived. Thanks, Mum, you were right!

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

I have been an aviation nut all my life and had been following the progress of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic craft since its inception. It is likely that in the near future something similar will be taking wealthy joy-riders around the world. That thought led to a ‘what if’ moment. What if the space plane disappeared? How? Why? Who would be on board?

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

Writing (love it) and marketing (hate!) keep me from getting under the feet of my long-suffering wife. Now elderly, I am content to keep writing and to stay alive. She reads two or three books every week and is an invaluable, wonderful help to me in my writing. I like to say that we have a marriage made in heaven: she reads, I write; she cooks, I eat.

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?

Charles Dickens, who through his writing did more to combat social injustice and child exploitation of his time than any philanthropist or politician. I would tell him what a mess the world is in now and ask how he would fix it, so that I could pass his wisdom on to our politicians.

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

Our youngest (of seven children) is called Christian. He was born with Downs Syndrome, dislocated hips and no right heel. All the fixable stuff was done early; he is one of five residents in a wonderful, well managed care home and he is always happy. Here’s the thing: Christian is now 33 and every time he has needed anything it appeared, somehow. Here’s just one example: when he was 17 and due to leave his special needs residential school, we were already too old to manage his daily needs. Unable to find him a suitable home, we had begun to despair. The only available places were in mixed mental and geriatric care homes — not suitable at all. Then we had a phone call, totally out of the blue, to tell us that our local authority was constructing a care facility suitable for five young adults just a few minutes’ walk from the house we lived in at the time. And that’s where he has lived happily ever since. We have never needed to wonder how his special needs will be met. As they say, “Go figure”.

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 know the story well enough to deal with any questions on the book. But now that you mention it, I would relax beforehand by listening to Faure’s Requiem, preferably the Sanctus. Divine, literally.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Unquestionably, the carefree life. Ironic that I appreciate now, something that at the time I did not realize I had. C’est la vie!

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

1.) I was born in India just before WW2, raised there in relative comfort and lived through the Partition of that country in 1947.

2.) I can still read and write Hindi passably well, a language based on Sanskrit.

3.) All my life I have had an almost telepathic relationship with my pet animals. Spooky, and inexplicable.

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

Write, dammit. Don’t wait until you are in your seventies; by then it’s almost too late.

Where can readers find an extract from the manuscript of your book?

If you are considering buying a book by an author whose work you are not familiar with, there is no better way to assess it than to read an actual extract from the manuscript, even if the book comes highly recommended. As an author who is also a reader I prefer always to do that if I can, to get a feel for the story and for the author’s style. You can find a short extract here, or visit my website,

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

Of course everything happens for a reason. The best example I can give you is my answer to your earlier question about the most inspiring thing that has ever happened to me. The moral: Learn to appreciate truly what you have been gifted. The secret of life is acceptance.

It was great to have you be a part of MTA, Chris. It certainly seems as if you’ve had an interesting life so far! I adore what you shared about your son. Just beautiful. Wishing you all the best and here’s to much success! – Camilla

Book blurb:

The sensational Celeste Three, the world’s first earth-orbit passenger-carrying plane, takes off with six passengers on a routine flight from its base in Arizona, the only place it can land on its return. The craft disappears without trace. On board is Viktor Karenkov, billionaire oil magnate who has used his wealth to evade prosecution for a murder he committed years earlier.

Gregory Topozian, the murdered man’s friend, has been waiting for a chance to bring Karenkov to justice. With dogged determination and considerable ingenuity, he conceives an audacious plan. Getting the craft down in total secrecy is key. And someone has to pay the huge costs involved.

Where to find the book:

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Connect with Chris:


Twitter handle: @CalderAuthor


Instagram: chriscalder80

Author page on Amazon:


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Meet the Author: Haven Wakes by Fi Phillips

Today we travel to North Wales to chat with Fi Phillips about how a new creative path, blue sky watching, being knocked down by a car, freelance copywriting, being a visual person, writing murder mystery play scripts, Mary Shelley, and Dungeons and Dragons come together as part of Fi’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m an author, playwright and copywriter living in North Wales, just over the border from Chester. For years I worked in an office environment until motherhood and my husband’s career moves tugged me into self-employment, dumped me onto a new creative path and turned my dream career into a reality.

I share my home with my husband, our two teenagers and a pooch called Bailey. We live in a green patch in the middle of nowhere where it’s easy to do a lot of blue sky watching.

In which genre do you write?

Fantasy. My current series is futuristic fantasy with lots of sci fi elements.

How many published books do you have?

At the moment just the one – Haven Wakes – which was published by Burning Chair Publishing in October 2019. It’s the first in a series so there are lots more books in the works.

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

I was knocked down by a car when I was eight years old and spent several months in hospital recovering. That was when I started to write stories for myself. When I returned home, I wrote more and by the time I had started high school and the teachers were talking about careers, I had decided that I wanted to be an author.

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

I’m a visual person. Pictures inspire me much more than any of my other senses, especially vibrantly coloured pictures.

So when I’m writing a scene, I like to picture it happening in my mind and I often look for pictures online to inform my writing.

For instance, when I was writing Haven Wakes, I looked for pictures of old abandoned underground railways stations.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

It would have to be a room of my own with a beautiful view of trees, birds and sky.

My actual writing space ticks some of those boxes. I’ve commandeered the dining room for my study (unless we have an extended family get-together in which case my things are cleared away so we can use the dining table) and outside my window I can see our garden with trees and plenty of sky.

The décor in this room hasn’t been touched since we moved in though and is a little depressing (hence the need for the view outside of the window). Maybe I’ll decorate this room next.

What are you currently reading?

The Infernal Aether by fellow Burning Chair author, Peter Oxley. It’s the first in a gothic fantasy series set in Victorian times where an exiled demon attempts to create Hell on Earth using the ‘Aether’ in the title.

I’m about halfway through and it’s incredibly exciting and swashbuckling.

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

I’m a freelance copywriter, working with small to medium businesses and marketing agencies. I specialise in writing blog posts and web articles, but also offer a social media service. The magic of the internet means that even though I’m based in North Wales I can help businesses all over the UK and beyond.

In a previous life, I wrote murder mystery play scripts for small fundraising organisations such as theatre groups and schools. Although that business has been put to rest, I still write the occasional murder mystery play for returning clients.

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

Could it be a tea party? I’d love to have afternoon tea with Mary Shelley, Aphra Behn and Stephen King.

I’d ask Mary and Aphra how they felt they fared as writers in an ostensibly male-centred world back then, and I’d ask Stephen how he manages to be so prolific.

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 actually did this last year at Chester Literature Festival. I don’t remember using music to get me in the right mind-frame. Instead, I prepared by reading the excerpt from my book out loud at home so I could get the right intonation and character voices, and to practice my breathing too.

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

You’ve achieved the first part of our dream (having a book published), so don’t waste the opportunity to make this into a career. I’m depending on you to make my future amazing.

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

I’m torn between Scooby Doo and Dungeons and Dragons. The appeal of both cartoons is that here is a group of friends taking on the villains together but if I had to choose one, it would be Dungeons and Dragons. Fantasy is my genre after all.

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

It would have to be Hartley Keg. He’s not the best or most powerful magical in the world I’ve created but I would love to have his travelling magic.

I wouldn’t need to hop on a plane to visit all those holiday places I’ve visited and loved. I could open a door and be in Venice, or Crete, or Malta, and what is even better is that I could take my family with me too. Wouldn’t that be brilliant?

What are you currently working on?

My current work in progress is the follow up novel to Haven Wakes and Book 2 in the Haven Chronicles. It doesn’t have a title yet, but it takes the same group of friends from the first book and tosses them into a new adventure where they must face the consequences of their heroic acts from Haven Wakes.

Tell us about your most recent book.

Haven Wakes is a futuristic fantasy set in a world where robots are commonplace and nature has been largely pushed back in the name of technological progress. Underneath this sterile existence, however, lies a hidden world of magic.

The story is told through the eyes of two characters, a seemingly normal 12 year old school boy called Steve Haven and a dark fairy figure known only by the name of her race ‘darkling’.

They are joined in their adventure by a whole host of magical individuals and creatures, and their quest to keep a magical device out of the hands of the bad guys will show Steve exactly how strange and dangerous the world he lives in really is.

It was wonderful to have you be a part of MTA, Fi! Congratulations on your first published book. All the best to you! – Camilla


The year is 2110. Everyone has their own robot, and magical worlds are just behind the next door.

Steve Haven always thought he was just another ordinary twelve-year-old boy. Well, as ordinary as he can be given that he’s the nephew of Rex Haven, founder of the Haven Robotics Corporation.

But when Rex dies in mysterious circumstances and Steve is given a strange artefact known only as the Reactor, he finds out that the world he thought he knew is a lot stranger and more threatening than he ever imagined.

On the run from dangerous villains, Steve finds himself plunged into a hidden and dangerous magical world. With his parents missing and no one in the normal world he can trust, Steve must join with his new-found magical friends to discover the truth about the Reactor and his uncle’s death.

Haven Wakes is the debut novel by Fi Phillips and the first in The Haven Chronicles, an exciting and enthralling journey through new worlds, both futuristic and magical.

Where to find the book:

Haven Wakes is available through most well-known book retailers. You can find the full details by visiting

Connect with Fi:

Links for mentions:

Burning Chair Publishing –

The Infernal Aether –

Peter Oxley –

Chester Literature Festival –

Scooby Doo –

Dungeons and Dragons –


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Book Shelf: Mr. Sagittarius: Poetry and Prose

Mr. Sagittarius: Poetry and Prose by M J Mallon

I absolutely adore this book and will be sharing it with my 18 year old daughter. I enjoyed the different styles of poetry and prose mixed together with photography. It flowed beautifully. An uplifting, magical, sweet gem of a book. – Camilla

I interviewed the author of this book in March 2020. Follow the link to read more about M J Mallon.

Meet the Author: Mr. Sagittarius by M J Mallon

US Amazon:


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

(The above is an amazon affiliate link.)

Meet the Author: Shadow of Justice by Jess Faraday

Today we travel to Edinburgh, Scotland to chat with Jess Faraday about how family time, outrageous stories, a standing desk, martial arts, a mohawk, Scooby Doo, being supernaturally patient, and monsters fit into the journey of Jess’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi Camilla! I’m a writer and editor living in Edinburgh, Scotland.

In which genre do you write?

I write historical mysteries, many of them with LGBTQ main characters and themes.

How many published books do you have?

I have four novels, two novellas, and a short story collection. I’m currently working on novel number five.

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

Whenever my family gets together, we spend a lot of time cracking each other up with funny or outrageous stories, complete with different voices and getting up and acting out the different parts. It was only a matter of time before one of us started writing stories. Actually, Julian May (a distant cousin) beat me to it. But, like I said, it was only a matter of time.

How did you figure out that it was what you should be doing?

At some point I realized that no matter which job I was doing — and I’ve had a lot of different jobs — I always hurried through my work so I’d have time to write stories at the end of the day before going home.

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

I can’t sit still. I work at a standing desk, and work out all of my plot kinks while running or walking the dog.

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

I have two mascots: my dog and cat, who curl up near my feet while I write, and hang out with me in the back yard while I run through my martial arts routines.

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

I’m a keen runner and martial artist. Before the pandemic, I ran 10K and half marathon races and was a member of my local taekwondo club. Now I do my taekwondo in the backyard. =)

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

Recently I decided I was bored with my hair. I had a very nice stacked, angled bob, but I’d had it for a while. So I went to my regular salon. The woman who usually cuts my hair had left, so they asked if I wouldn’t mind working with a newly-qualified stylist. He looked about 16, had sleeve tattoos and the sides and back of his head shaved. I was feeling adventurous, so I said “Sure!”

I explained to him what I wanted and showed pictures. “Oh, like mine?” He asked, pointing to his own hair. “No,” I said. “Nothing like yours.” I showed him the pictures again. He nodded and went off.

Suddenly there’s a buzzing noise, and before I know it, he’d mohawked me on my left side. We looked at each other, wide-eyed. Then he glanced over at his boss. He looked very worried.

“It’s all right,” I said. “It’s only hair. It’ll grow back. But perhaps you could leave a bit more on the other side so I’m not completely bald.”

In the end, it turned out to be one of the best haircuts I’ve ever had. I tipped generously.

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

Oh, hands down the original Scooby Doo. It was in reruns by that time, but it’s still my most favorite kind of story: humorous ghost and monster tales that turn out to be greedy humans in the end.

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

I’m really enjoying How to Get Away with Murder right now. Viola Davis is incredible, and the storytelling is absolutely astounding.

Do you believe things happen for a reason? 

I believe that events have causes — usually complicated chains of interlocking events. Sometimes those chains of events make great stories.

But do I believe that there’s some Great Plan? No.

Things happen, people react to them, other people react to the reactions, and sometimes this creates unexpected results. Sometimes those results are serendipitous, and these are the chains of events that make great stories.

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

I am almost supernaturally patient. This is really important when it comes to getting everything right. It can be maddening to go over and over the same story until everything is exactly right. But it’s one of the most important parts of the process.

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

All of Scotland is gorgeous, but I really, really love Edinburgh, with its rolling green hills, cobblestone streets, and centuries-old buildings.

I first saw Edinburgh years ago, while my husband and I were visiting his brother’s family in Aberdeen. At that time, I told my husband that if he ever had the opportunity to find work there, he wouldn’t even have to ask. My bags would be packed by the next morning.

It took many years, but it finally happened. We live here now, and I’ve never been happier.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on my first monster story with actual monsters in it! It’s a blast!

Unfortunately, it’s a different kind of story in every other way, as well, and it’s a bit of a challenge to bring it to heel. This story is actually teaching me how to write stories like that. The process is slow and there’s a lot of stopping and starting over, but…I’m patient and a good student. It’s going to be excellent.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My most recent book is a short story collection called Shadow of Justice. It is eight interconnected novelettes featuring 19th century constable Simon Pearce. There’s also a personal/romantic arc that connects the stories.

It was wonderful to have you on MTA, Jess. I was fortunate to visit Edinburgh in November of 2000. I didn’t get near enough time there, yet, what I saw took my breath away. I’m adding your book to my list. Sounds really interesting and I love the cover. All the best to you! – Camilla

Where to find the book:

Shadow of Justice is available from all of your favorite e-tailers, and also in paperback.

You can find it here:

Also, check out the other fantastic stories from Blind Eye Books!

Connect with Jess:



Twitter: @jessfaraday


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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 Girl on the Roof by Debra Moffitt

Today we travel to the French Alps to chat with Debra Moffitt about how spirituality, psychic abilities, deep yearnings, a hawk, high perspective, cozy spaces, vivid images, South Carolina, being in the flow, and intuition come together as part of Debra’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

​I’m an American author living in the French Alps and my books are very much influenced by my travels. My first books were non-fiction with a focus on spirituality, intuition, and self-awareness.

But my first love has always been fiction. As my psychic abilities expand, it has added a multidimensional experience to my writing which is visible in my first novel, The Girl on the Roof. I experience the world in a unique way, very much aware of the energies and beings around us, from angels to departed souls. Readers on a spiritual path really connect with The Girl on the Roof, even though they might not usually read a WWII book.

The scenes from local culture – like wrapping a shrouded body and placing it on the North side of the roof – are the kinds of things one learns from being in a place and hearing someone’s grandmother tell her stories. I love these kinds of inspirations. I also love that so many readers are telling me that “The Girl on the Roof” is a book that stays with them as they contemplate the many dimensions it touches on that reach beyond the visible one.

In addition to writing, I also mentor writers and do intuitive readings and workshops. My annual French Alps retreat has been really popular with writers for the last seven years.

In which genre do you write? ​

This is a fun question because I write different kinds of books – from non-fiction books on spiritual practices and intuition, to a book of short stories, and my first novel, The Girl on the Roof, was released in March. It’s set in WWII Annecy and is a blend of mystery and historical fiction. It has a very strong spiritual element that falls outside of categories.

How many published books do you have?​

So far I have four published books and I’ve also been published in an anthology. If the translations count, then you’d have to add my books that were translated into Spanish, French, Chinese, Lithuanian…and maybe some more languages.

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

I can recall being very young – maybe 4 or 5, and simply knowing I’d be a writer. As a teenager I recall walking into a sort of New-Agey book store and I felt a really deep yearning to see my books on the shelves there too. It was fun to see my books on the shelves when there were more brick and mortar stores.

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

Oh this is an easy one – a hawk. I love the high perspective and the clear vision. When writing, I have amazing moments with perceptions that give this vast overview of a story, and then I have to bring it down to earth.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

​I love spaces that are cozy and cocoon-like, with a window. This doesn’t mean narrow or tight spaces, but spaces where I feel like I’m surrounded by beautiful things and music and images. I create these spaces when I write in different locations.

What are you currently reading? ​

I’m currently looking for some good books to read. It takes time to find authors I love and that feel good to me. Reading is very intimate and opening a book and allowing someone into my most intimate space, into the heart of me, is not something I take lightly. This is why I am very respectful of the energy and words I share with readers. Writing for me is like sharing an alchemical experience that creates sensations in the reader. When I write the images, colors, smells, and sounds are vivid and readers tell me they pick up this experience too.

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

Writing The Girl on the Roof was a fascinating and unusual experience. I’d been working on a book set in Charleston, South Carolina, when I started to perceive images of WWII Annecy. I was living in the French Alps in an 1840’s farm house, so maybe that held some influence. As I paid attention to the images, I decided to move forward and write down what I was seeing. Then I would research the information and it was quite accurate. I’m convinced that many authors especially of historical fiction receive information this way. ​​

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

I love hiking, being in nature, biking, reading. Gosh there’s so much to do and to discover.

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

​I discovered my psychic abilities! They just opened up! I was participating in a spiritual circle in Geneva, Switzerland just before The Girl on the Roof was born and one morning while sitting in meditation quite early I felt a presence come in and say my name. I knew from the spiritual circle that this was a departed soul. He knew that I could hear him, but it was a shock to me. It took me some time to adjust to that discovery and eventually with The Girl on the Roof, the girl who became Aurelie appeared and so did many of the Resistance fighters.

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

The flow. I love being in the flow of drafting a new book, a new scene. The edit process can also be intuitive, but different.

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?​

At the moment I love to listen to Robert Haig Coxon’s channeled music. It’s amazing. And I will often just take a moment to move inward and align with my heart space and trust what wants to come through.

How do you prepare yourself to discuss your book?​

This is a tough question because after a book is written and edited, I often forget huge chunks of it. Of course when I go back and read it again I remember, but it’s just a part of my process.

What do you miss about being a kid? ​


List 3 interesting facts about yourself. ​

  1. I’m very private and don’t like to talk about myself.
  2. I’m highly intuitive and do intuitive readings, but don’t usually publicize it.
  3. I love to teach people how to also tap into their intuition as everyone has this ability.

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

Intuition has to be number one. It warns me and also brings me a lot of information about good things to come. It can be a little daunting when I hear people’s thoughts though. I was leading a workshop and at lunch time we did a silent period with an outdoor space that had walking paths. On one path, one of the participants walked toward me in silence. She put her hands together and bowed. So I bowed back, thinking it was an odd behavior. When the woman bowed, I heard, “Screw you.” The words were spoken so strongly and clearly from her head that I straightened and my mouth dropped open. Her posture and behavior was completely contrary to her behavior and I was stunned.

Tell us about your most recent book.

​The Girl on the Roof begins when Aurelie watches her family and friends at a funeral during the period of the state of siege in WWII Annecy. It’s dead winter and the ground is frozen solid so her father and brother take the shrouded figure and put it on the North side of the roof awaiting the thaw for burial. People seem to treat Aurelia differently than what she is used to and she must discover who died, how and then prevent the same terrible fate from happening to her best friend.

Here are some pictures of the area where I am located. It’s also the setting of the WWII fiction mystery, The Girl on the Roof. It’s the lovely French Alps town of Annecy, which is also referred to as the “Venice of the North” because of its lovely canals and lake-side setting.

It was lovely to have you be a part of MTA, Debra. I feel similar about books that I read. I am very deliberate about choosing books. I listened to one of Robert Haig Coxon’s recordings, and loved it, so just had to include it for the readers. These are amazing photos. It looks incredibly beautiful! All the best to you Debra! – Camilla

Girl on the Roof

A WWII Mystery with a Supernatural Touch

As the people of Annecy in the French Alps meet the Gestapo’s brutality with surprising resistance, a teenaged girl cannot rest until she solves the mystery of a death in her family. Aurelie watches as her father places a shrouded body on the North side of the roof of the family home. It’s winter, under a Nazi-declared state of siege, and they must wait until the spring thaw for the burial. But who died? And why is no one speaking to her anymore? Aurelie cannot rest until she discovers the truth and fights to prevent the same terrible fate from happening to her best friend.

Rich with historical details and forgotten customs, The Girl on the Roof introduces both harsh and vulnerable characters that sear the imagination. Against every moment’s tension between life and death, the story blends the themes of deprivation, courage, trauma, sexual obsession, and unconditional love.

“A haunting, beautiful book.” – Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times Bestselling Author

Connect with Debra:


Goodreads page:


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Friday with Friends: Timeless Stories of Remarkable Women

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 Wendy Holden to kick off this new series.

Counting My Lockdown Blessings

It’s not every day that an author finds herself with not one but two books coming out within the space of two weeks, but that’s exactly what is about to happen with me. One is the paperback of One Hundred Miracles, released this week (May 14, 2020), and the other is a special new edition of my international bestseller Born Survivors to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.

What should have been a double celebration of this momentous milestone in a writing career spanning four decades has turned into something of a nightmare. The coronavirus pandemic has closed all bookshops and massively disrupted distribution, marketing and sales. Up until ten days ago I had a European and Brazilian tour lined up, a television interview, book launch parties, literary festival appearances, radio slots, public speaking engagements and fully booked creative writing courses. Instead, as publishers and publicists, the media and festival organisers decamp to their homes to juggle schooling with the day-to-day running of the business we all earn our crust from, everything has fallen away. To add insult to injury, Amazon has decreed that books are ‘non-essential’ items and are stocking only limited supplies of new titles.

At a time when it seems to this author that books have never been more essential, the systematic amputation of almost every limb that moves the publishing process forward is potentially devastating. No matter how much I try to promote my two new ‘babies,’ the bottom line is that even the most loyal of my readers are likely to experience difficulties in buying them. And by the time the virus has finally burned itself out, those outlets that have survived will be inundated with a tsunami of new titles that will have been held back for that very moment.

I realise that this is a ‘First World problem’ and appreciate that I am far more fortunate than most. Nobody I love has caught the virus or died from it, thankfully. I live in a beautiful part of Suffolk, England, where we grow our own vegetables and can walk the dogs every day. I have worked from home for over twenty years so the concept is both familiar and comfortable, plus I don’t have young children to home-school. My husband is a capable smallholder and occasional builder and can keep us warm, fed and safe. But we still do rely on my income for what we have and after poor health kept me off work, what was going to be my bumper comeback year has the potential to be our worst in decades.

When my friends ask me how I can remain so cheerful in the face of this latest catastrophe, I tell them that the answer lies within the pages of the very books I’m talking about. They are both Holocaust memoirs in which three young mothers and a teenage girl with everything to look forward to suddenly found themselves in unspeakable circumstances and in daily fear of their lives, having lost everyone they ever loved. It is these singular women I look to now and whose experiences have marked me for life. Writing about them so immersively, I feel that I came to know them well and only hope that some of their courage, wisdom and resilience has rubbed off on me.

If three pregnant women can defy the Nazis and give birth in the camps, and if a young piano prodigy with hands broken by slave labour can go on to become one of the world’s foremost musicians, then who am I to complain? The stories of these women are timeless. They will not disappear and both chronicle remarkable lives that are waiting to inspire future readers. As I embark on virtual launches, blog tours, podcasts and whatever I can to tell the world about them, I am confident that the light these courageous women shine on our troubled world will not go unnoticed.

What drew you to help Holocaust survivors write their stories? Why is this important to you?

I feel as if my whole life has been moving me towards writing about war. My father fought the Japanese in Burma and my mother lived through the London Blitz. She also lost her 19-year-old fiancé parachuting into Holland. When I worked for the Daily Telegraph I was a foreign and war correspondent for a while so I saw first hand the cruelty and brutality of war. As a journalist I was always looking for the humanity in the inhumanity and when I gave that up to write books full time, I looked for the same.

Born Survivors came to me by chance after I’d written two other books about war, Behind Enemy Lines, the memoir of a diminutive female Jewish spy, and Tomorrow to be Brave, the true story of the only woman in the French Foreign Legion (soon to be a film). Through these remarkable stories, I became even more obsessed with the subject of war, the Holocaust, and especially the way women had to step up and become something far more than they might have been because of terrible circumstances. This is endlessly fascinating to me.

Have you met the subjects of these memoirs in person, or any of their relatives?

Yes, almost all of them. Sadly, all three mothers in Born Survivors had died by the time I came to their stories, but I worked very closely with the three surviving ‘babies’ and other relatives, one of whom I flew to Nashville, Tennessee to meet. Their gracious contributions to my research made all the difference to that book and helped bring these stories to life.

With One Hundred Miracles, I met Zuzana Ruzickova in Prague and worked with her closely right up until a week before her death at the age of ninety. She was a tiny powerhouse of a woman with twinkly grey eyes and an infectious smile. She was such an inspiration after all she had been through and remained surprisingly positive, thanks to her passion for music. She taught me so much about resilience.

How can those reading this post help you to spread the word about these powerful books?

I spend much of my time talking to children in schools in the hope of educating the next generation about the important values of tolerance, compassion and understanding. Born Survivors has been widely adopted into the curriculum in the UK and the US for Year 9 and above. One Hundred Miracles is also being used widely in classrooms. People can’t possibly identify with 6 million dead but they can identify with three young mothers.

The only way we can combat hate speech and the rise in nationalism is by learning more about these dark times, reading these kinds of books, talking about them, sharing them with our friends and – perhaps most importantly of all – teaching the next generation, especially in this special 75th anniversary of the end of WWII. The events within these pages books happened within living memory and there are still a few survivors left who bear witness to what happens when good men and women do nothing. Within a few years, the three babies from Born Survivors will be the only living Holocaust survivors walking on this earth and that is a very salutary thought. We must never forget.

Thank you Wendy for sharing a powerful post and books with us. I’m thrilled to hear that Tomorrow to be Brave will be made into a movie! I thought it an incredibly moving story. I’ve also read Born Survivors and found it to be emotional, moving, and deeply powerful. – Camilla

Wendy Holden has moved her creative writing courses online and the next one is June 9. See or for more information.


One Hundred Miracles: Music, Auschwitz, Survival and Love by Zuzana Ružičková with Wendy Holden. Bloomsbury £9.99

o “[An] extraordinary memoir … A moving record of a life well lived in the face of appalling obstacles” – Nick Rennison, Sunday Times
o “A compelling story of terrible suffering surmounted by incredible bravery” – Anne de Courcy, Daily Telegraph
o “Zuzana’s humanity shines through all the inhumanity …Vivid and moving” – The Jewish Chronicle
o “Through Auschwitz and the brutalities of the early Soviet era, the music of Bach shines like a beacon of hope” – Financial Times, Books of the Year

Born Survivors: Three Young Mothers and their Extraordinary Story of Courage, Defiance and Survival by Wendy Holden, Sphere £8.99 (special WWII 75 th anniversary edition with a conversation with miracle ‘baby’ Eva Clarke added to the audiobook)

o “An exceptionally fresh history, a work of prodigious original research, written with zealous empathy.” New York Times
o “A work of quite extraordinary investigative dedication. Born Survivors is a moving testament of faith.” Sir Harold Evans
o “A sensitive, brave, disturbing book that everyone should read.” Rabbi Baroness Neuberger DBE
o “Packed with harrowing detail and impressively well researched…. intense, powerful and moving… a worthy testament to these three women and the miraculous survival of the children.” Jewish Chronicle

About Wendy:

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

Follow the link below to read Wendy’s interview of last year …

Meet the Author: One Hundred Miracles by Wendy Holden


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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: Top Interviews with Most Views for April 2020

Interview with Most Views for April 2020:

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Interview with Second Most Views for April 2020:

#2: Maria and David Marvin of Scintilla

Interview with Third Most Views for April 2020:

#3 Wishes Under a Starlit Sky by Lucy Knott

Interview with Fourth Most Views for April 2020:

#4 The Lilith Trilogy by Kim ten Tusscher

Top Three Countries With the Most Traffic to Meeting the Authors in April 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: Being Greta by Maxine Sinclair

Today we travel to Norfolk County in England to chat with Maxine Sinclair about how sign language, Batman, table tennis, Cliff Richard, ballet, Hitler, being over-prepared, and having a sense of humour come together as part of Maxine’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Having moved around most of our married life, we came to Norfolk in 2005 and I love it here – I’m not moving. (Hubby misses hills, but I think they’re overrated.) I am a sign language interpreter by day and a women’s fiction novelist by night: a bit like Batman but without the outfit.

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

I kept a diary in my youth and then wrote terrible angst poetry inspired by several cases of unrequited love. I then didn’t write for many years (busy with family life) until a few years ago when I took an online writing course. At the end of the course you had to plan out the first three chapters of a novel. And I didn’t stop.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

Haven’t flown in years and I don’t intend to through fear.
I have a bronze badge in table tennis and a grade two in violin.
When I was four I didn’t know if I wanted to marry Cliff Richard or be him.

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

My latest book, Being Greta, was inspired by over thirty years of being in and around the Deaf Community. Deaf people live in a world where people can hear and they constantly find themselves having to adapt to fit in. Greta’s story is about trying to make it in a hearing world, but ultimately hers is a love story.

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

I took up ballet at the age of forty-two and completely fell in love with it. I do two classes a week, plus pilates and yoga. I’m blessed with wonderful teachers.

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

Hitler. I want him to talk me through his beliefs and convictions. My father was an Austrian Jewish refugee and his father was killed at Auschwitz, so it’s a part of my personal history.

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?

I would listen to I Can See Clearly Now as that song oozes optimism. I’m one of those who enjoys public speaking and I’d have notes and will have rehearsed repeatedly in front of the mirror. Over-prepared is my middle name.

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

Penny-Dog – ‘Why won’t you let us put a collar on you?’
Winnie-Cat – Why do pat my face in the night when I’m asleep?
Turbo-Tortoise – Where are you?

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

Last night we wanted something comfortingly familiar so we chose…Kindergarten Cop. Don’t judge us.

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

I think my sense of humour has served me well and I try to channel it into my writing. I’m also quite an optimistic person and that comes in handy when submitting manuscripts to publishers.

What are you currently working on?

I have just finished editing my latest novel, Summer Sparks. It is the story of a fifty-something woman who is living a colourless life until her long-time husband ups and leaves. She is heartbroken and in pieces until her bubbly best friend whisks her away on a life-changing summer working abroad.

Tell us about your most recently published book.

My most recently published book is Being Greta.

Greta is a young deaf woman in a hearing world. Trying to find happiness despite a controlling boyfriend, Olly, and a disapproving mother, she (drunkenly) applies to feature in a television disability arts documentary where her head is turned by the attractive sign language interpreter, Connor.

As filming continues, the cracks deepen in her relationship with Olly. Will she stay with him or succumb to Connor, a man who signs her own language?

And should she undergo a cochlear implant to be able to fit in with the people around her? Or should she embrace her deaf identity, follow her heart and determine her own future?

Whichever route she takes, it’s not always easy being Greta…

It was lovely to have you on MTA, Maxine. I am fascinated by the topic and characters of Being Greta. My daughter has a chromosome deletion (called 18p-), with some of her peers being deaf. She has partial loss of hearing in one ear, too. It sounds like you’ve touched on some hot topics! I also love the song, “I Can See Clearly Now”, it’s one of my favorites. Wishing you all the best! – Camilla

Where to find the book:

Being Greta is available at Amazon –

Also available are my first two novels that focus on the lives of a group of adult ballet dancers as they journey to win a local talent competition.
Dixbury Does Talent –

Return to Dixbury –

All books are available in ebook and paperback and are part of Kindle Unlimited.

Connect with Maxine:

Amazon author page –

Website –


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