Meet the Author: Lost Innocents by Jacquelynn Luben

Today we travel to Surrey, England to chat with Jacquelynn Luben about how a bungalow in a field, a mature garden, being a daydreamer, a theatrical agency, and a police car come together in the garden of Jacquelynn’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Having worked for my husband for many years, as his secretary/bookkeeper and general factotum, I am now, in theory, a free woman. (The saying – I married him for better or worse, but not for lunch – comes to mind.) I live in a country village near Guildford in Surrey, England, where, many years ago, we built our bungalow in a field, which was full of blighted apple trees. For the first six months of our life there, we had no laid-on gas or electricity because an awkward neighbour wouldn’t let us take pipe along a lane in front of our house.

During that time, we had to heat our water in saucepans on an old gas cooker, converted to bottled gas. We lit candles every evening, and had a log fire in one room of the house – our only source of heat. Now it is an idyllic spot and we have a lovely mature garden, which gives us both a great deal of pleasure. I try to have something flowering in every month of the year, from early bulbs – snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils to more exotic rhododendrons later on.

I am a daydreamer, and do not enjoy housework, but I am a reasonable cook. I go regularly to both a writing circle and a reading circle, and I also am part of a small independent publishing company run by three very different writers, including myself. I deal with the accounts, and also contribute to the editing of other books. Some years before forming this company, I self-published one book under my own imprint, and sold it to numerous bookshops. When my commissioned non-fiction book was published, I went on a publicity tour of many radio stations in the UK.

In which genre do you write?

I do not stick to one genre, but in my fiction, I prefer writing about the present time – give or take 20 years or so – whenever that happens to be. I don’t write fantasy, sci-fi or historical novels (though my genealogical novel does dip into the past). I have also written many short stories, which are about anything and everything. My most recent book is a crime novel, but with a strong human interest element. I like to write about human relationships with a definite plot, and there’s always a bit of romance thrown in. I don’t write what I would describe as ‘literary’ novels, and I will never win the Booker Prize. My first two books were non-fiction and and I’ve also written and published a few articles.

How many published books do you have?

Six.

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

I wanted to write when I was a child, but I had an optimistic view of a writer’s life. I envisaged sitting in an armchair, notebook in hand, while my children frolicked around me. Later on, on leaving school, I was discouraged from pursuing a career in journalism. Instead, I worked as office junior in a theatrical agency, and started a short story correspondence course, but my interest fizzled out.

Later on, after my marriage, my 8-week old daughter died as a cot death victim, and I was overwhelmed by the need to write about the experience. I wrote several articles, but this was not enough, and I went on to write an autobiographical book – The Fruit of the Tree. This book, inspired by my daughter’s death, covered five years of married life and included two early miscarriages and the births of my other children, but also other aspects of our family life. This is still in print and also published as an ebook by Untreed Reads.

What are you currently reading?

Just finished ‘Old Baggage’ by Lissa Evans. Just started ‘I Capture the Castle’ by Dodie Smith.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

I was once on a BBC Radio Four programme, investigating ‘Vanity Publishing.’

For my degree, as a mature student, I wrote a dissertation on the four Harry Potter books written at that time, and compared them with other children’s books from the 20th century.

When I was a fairly new driver, I drove into the back of a police car.

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

A news item on TV.

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

The pleasure of mixing with other writers of all age-groups through writing groups, etc. and giving talks to groups interested in books.

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

Writing a love scene in a scary thunderstorm.

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

I no longer keep a diary, but I used to. When writing my genealogical saga, Tainted Tree, I used it to remind myself of events and feelings in my teenage years, and put some entries into the mouth of one of my characters. (On the assassination of President Kennedy, for example.)

What do you miss about being a kid?

Having my whole life and opportunities in front of me.

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

Couldn’t you be a bit less sensible?

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

I would choose to be Adrienne Heron from Tainted Tree, my genealogical saga, because she was much more of a risk-taker than I am.

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

I am logical and I think that the structure of the book is important and being logical has a role in creating a good structure.

What are you currently working on?

A sequel to my crime novel, Lost Innocents.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My most recent book is Lost Innocents, a crime novel with a human interest thread running through it.

It was wonderful to have you on MTA, Jacquelynn! Your garden sounds amazing and beautiful! Wishing you all the best! – Camilla

Book Blurb:

Nick Delmar has left his well paid job in the City to write a novel and is enticed by an acquaintance to work on a local paper, in a suburban Surrey town. In this area where, normally, nothing much happens, a man is found dead on a local estate with an unconscious woman at his side. A few days later, a ten year old boy goes missing on the same estate. Nick gets involved in both stories and is drawn into the lives of the people involved, putting his career and life in jeopardy.

Where to find the book:

Lost Innocents (paperback) can be found at:

Goldenford Publishers Ltd.
http://www.goldenford.co.uk/ourshop/prod_6944456-LOST-INNOCENTS-by-Jacquelynn-Luben.html

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1911317067?pf_rd_r=ZSA07FYYJQMSATBJK4MV&pf_rd_p=e632fea2-678f-4848-9a97-bcecda59cb4e

Also available as an ebook from Amazon:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lost-Innocents-Jacquelynn-Luben/dp/1911317067

It can be ordered from Waterstones and other bookshops.

The Fruit of the Tree: https://www.untreedreads.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=8_107&products_id=508 or p.m. me for a paperback.

Connect with Jacquelynn:

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jacquelynn-Luben/e/B0034P5MQ0?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1587639223&sr=1-1

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1247610.Jacquelynn_Luben

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/jackie.luben

Lost Innocents, FB page: https://www.facebook.com/lostinnocents/

Tainted Tree FB page: https://www.facebook.com/TaintedTreeJackieLuben/

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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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To support this website and the author’s 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, https://www.chriscalder.com.

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: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Celeste-Three-Missing-Chris-Calder-ebook/dp/B07VNKPYCM

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Celeste-Three-Missing-Chris-Calder-ebook/dp/B07VNKPYCM/

Connect with Chris:

Website: https://www.chriscalder.com

Twitter handle: @CalderAuthor

Facebook: www.facebook.com/chris.calder.549

Instagram: chriscalder80

Author page on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/chriscalder

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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: 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

BLURB:

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 http://fiphillipswriter.com/books/.

Connect with Fi:

http://fiphillipswriter.com/

https://www.instagram.com/fiphillipswriter/

https://www.facebook.com/FiPhillipsWriter

Links for mentions:

Burning Chair Publishing – https://burningchairpublishing.com/

The Infernal Aether – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Infernal-Aether-Book-ebook/dp/B00QO5K8VQ

Peter Oxley – https://peteroxleyauthor.com/

Chester Literature Festival – https://www.storyhouse.com/literature

Scooby Doo – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scooby-Doo

Dungeons and Dragons – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dungeons_%26_Dragons_(TV_series)

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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: 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: https://books2read.com/u/meg6zY

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

Connect with Jess:

https://www.jessfaraday.com

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

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jess.faraday

Twitter: @jessfaraday

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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? ​

Nothing!

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:

Website: https://debramoffitt.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DebraMoffittAuthor/

Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4719632.Debra_Moffitt

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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 www.wendyholden.com or strangemediagroup.com/courses for more information.

REVIEWS

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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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 – www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1790608384

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 – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1520195214

Return to Dixbury – www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0779XM7ZZ

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

Connect with Maxine:

Amazon author page – https://www.amazon.com/Maxine-Sinclair/e/B06XFXZNMC/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Website – www.maxinesinclair.com

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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: Dangerous Destiny by Chris Longmuir

Today we travel to Montrose, Scotland to chat with Chris Longmuir about how imaginary friends, turning to a life of crime, piles of books, building computers, Dirty Dancing, determination, and hiding a penny under her tongue come together as part of Chris’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi, I’m Chris and, although I was born in Wiltshire, I’ve lived in Scotland since the tender age of two, so I count myself a Scot. I live in a seaside place called Montrose, a wee bit further north than Dundee where most of my books are set. I’m a mum, a granny, and I’ve lived alone since my husband passed on a few years ago. But I’m not lonely. I have too many voices in my head, and my imaginary friends rarely leave me alone for any length of time.

Apart from that, there’s nothing special about me, it just so happens I like to write. When I was little, I used to imagine writing a book; I had a great imagination, but I thought that was something beyond me. I’d never met a writer, so never thought in a million years I could be one.

What else can I tell you? I live a very quiet life. I don’t smoke, drink or swear, although you’d never guess that after reading one of my books. My characters do enough of that, so I don’t need to. I don’t have much of a social life unless it’s connected to reading or writing, and I’m never happier than when I have my head in a book, or I’m closeted away in my study writing, so you might find me a little dull.

In which genre do you write?

I write contemporary crime thrillers and historical murder mysteries, although when I started to write being a crime writer wasn’t in my game plan. My first book was a historical saga, A Salt Splashed Cradle, set in a fishing community and my plan was to be the next Catherine Cookson. However, my timing was off because sagas went out of fashion with the publishers just as I finished writing it and popular saga writers were losing their contracts. That put paid to my plan. But, not to be beaten, I turned to a life of crime.

How many published books do you have?

At the last count, I had eight novels and two nonfiction books. I have two well-established crime series. The Kirsty Campbell Mysteries set during and after the first World War, and the Dundee Crime Series, contemporary crime thrillers. My new book, ‘Dangerous Destiny: A Suffragette Mystery’ is the first book in a set of suffragette mysteries. And, of course, my solitary saga which I mentioned before (it’s published now).

What does your ideal writing space look like?

Ideally, it would be a small orderly book-lined study with all my research books in one place and near to hand. My desk would be tidy with nothing out of place. It would be a quiet haven where I could dream to my heart’s content. The reality, however, that’s a different thing. Oh, I have the small study, but it’s messy. Papers and folders everywhere. Book shelves stuffed with books in no particular order. A filing cabinet with books piled precariously on top. More piles of books on top of the book-cases. I live in daily fear of an avalanche and reckon I’d need to be dug out if it ever happened.

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

I’m afraid I don’t do a lot of marketing. I prefer the writing side and most of my time is taken up with writing and researching. I’m curious by nature and I love to research. But that curiosity sent me down another path. I like tech. Anything to do with computers and I’m your girl. Anyway, back to curiosity. I simply had to find out how computers work. Picking and pecking at the keyboard wasn’t enough for me. So, you’ve guessed it, I took a course on how to upgrade and build computers. After I did the course I started doing some minor upgrades to my PCs but that wasn’t enough for me. Now, I wouldn’t consider using a computer I hadn’t built myself.

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

Knives Out. I watched it because it was billed as an Agatha Christie type murder mystery movie and I cut my crime reading teeth on Agatha Christie. I love the puzzle element and I always try to incorporate that into my own crime thrillers and murder mysteries. Apart from that, I love musicals and have recently watched Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody. An all-time favourite of mine is Dirty Dancing!

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

Determination. If I hadn’t had that I wouldn’t have published ten books. Before I started writing novels I had been publishing articles for more than ten years. However, breaking into the book publishing world is far harder than writing and publishing articles. You keep on hitting your head off a brick wall which won’t give way. But my determination kept me going until I eventually broke through after about ten years of trying and four novels under my belt.

And, even then, I didn’t make the breakthrough until my crime thriller, Dead Wood, won the Dundee International Book Prize. Winning that prize made me an overnight success after twenty years of hard slog.

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

The idea for Dangerous Destiny: A Suffragette Mystery came from the back story of my main character in the Kirsty Campbell Mysteries. Kirsty, who is a pioneer policewoman, was originally a suffragette. You probably don’t know that the women’s police services in Britain at the start of the First World War were set up by the suffragette societies and, as I explored Kirsty’s police career, I became more and more interested in the suffragette histories. So, I went back in time to 1908 for Dangerous Destiny and wrote the first book in a new suffragette mystery series.

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

It has to be the penny in the mouth! It was for an attempted sabotage scene in a munitions factory in one of my Kirsty Campbell Mysteries, Devil’s Porridge. One of the jobs the munitionettes did at Gretna was to make an explosive paste. Anything dropped into the mixture would cause an explosion and the munitionettes were searched before they entered the mixing area to ensure they took nothing in with them. My munitionette, intent on sabotage, hid a farthing under her tongue with the intention of causing an explosion. Now, you no longer get farthings but they were about the same size as a penny so, I stuck a penny under my tongue to see what effect it would have and assess what speech would be like with the penny in place. Needless to say, it rather restricted my speech.

What are you currently working on?

I’ve just started to write another of my contemporary thrillers in the Dundee Crime Series. It doesn’t have a title yet, I’m just calling it ‘Tony’ for the time being. And, as the name suggests, it’s about Tony who is a gangster and nightclub owner in Dundee and he’s being framed for the murder of one of his pole dancers. I did a bit of pole dancing research on YouTube in order to describe the pole dancing moves. You have to agree a writer’s life can follow interesting paths.

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

My most recent book was published on 26th March, this year. It’s so new the ink is still wet. It’s called Dangerous Destiny: A Suffragette Mystery and is meant to be the first book of a new suffragette series of mysteries. This one is set in Dundee, Scotland in 1908, and in future books I’ll take Ethel and Kirsty to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

It was wonderful to learn more about you, Chris. Your life doesn’t sound boring at all! Thank you for being a guest on MTA. All the best to you! – Camilla

Book Description:

Suffragettes are dying. The police aren’t interested, taking the attitude ‘good riddance to bad rubbish’.

Three suffragettes band together to find the truth.

Kirsty, a naive young girl unable to escape her controlling family and the secret of her past, lives a sheltered life with her parents in their Broughty Ferry mansion. When she becomes interested in the suffrage cause she is aware her father will disapprove and does not know if she will have the courage to defy him. Despite this she becomes increasingly involved with Dundee suffragettes.

Ethel is a working class mill girl fleeing from her abusive home and vicious father who has sworn to kill her rather than allow her to be a suffragette.

Martha is a seasoned suffragette seeking justice for her friends.

Kirsty and Ethel come under the wing of Martha, who protects them and encourages their aspirations. But when suffragettes are found murdered with ‘Votes for Women’ sashes wound around their necks, they band together to hunt the killer.

Will Kirsty and Ethel forge a new destiny for themselves?

Will Martha unmask the killer? And will she survive?

A coming of age story with murder and mystery at its heart.

Find the book here:

UK Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dangerous-Destiny-Suffragette-Mystery-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B0867Z66NN

UK Amazon Paperback: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dangerous-Destiny-Suffragette-Mystery-Mysteries/dp/0957415389

US Amazon Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Destiny-Suffragette-Mystery-Mysteries/dp/0957415389

US Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Destiny-Suffragette-Mystery-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B0867Z66NN

Connect with Chris:

Website: https://www.chrislongmuir.co.uk/

Blog: https://chrislongmuir.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Chris-Longmuir-Crime-Writer-136958079724875/

Twitter: Chris Longmuir (@ChrisLongmuir) | Twitter

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Meet the Author: Victorine by Drēma Drudge

Today we travel to Indiana in the Midwest of the United States to chat with Drēma Drudge about how corn, cows, hummingbirds, writing outdoors, a sombrero wearing penguin, journal writing, and the Indiana Dunes are a part of Drēma’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Drēma Drudge, author of the newly released novel, Victorine, about Victorine Meurent, the artist Édouard Manet’s favorite model who, history has forgotten, was also an artist. My musician and writer husband, Barry, and I live in Indiana in the United States. That’s in the Midwest, for those who aren’t familiar with it, the land of corn, cows, and us. We host a podcast, Writing All the Things.

In which genre do you write?

I write literary fiction, though my debut novel is also historical fiction.

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

Maybe a hummingbird, because I love to flit from idea to idea. My curiosity knows no bounds. Hummingbirds are beautiful, glistening, and yet if you don’t watch carefully, they are there and gone. Maybe as a person I’m a bit that way – I want to talk, but I also want to be off writing my next book. And, too, I probably flap my wings just as fast trying to stay airborne with my newest idea until I realize what it is I’m trying to say!

What does your ideal writing space look like?

On days when it’s warm enough, I go to our local café and write outdoors on their lovely porch all afternoon. Not only do I get visited by the café’s patrons, but by squirrels, birds, and a whole host of nature’s lovelies like butterflies and beautiful, fat bumble bees while being surrounded by the season’s flowers.

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

I’d love to have coffee with Victorine Meurent, the main character of my novel. Since she was a real person, I’d ask her if I even came close to getting her story right – she’s someone who, because she was a woman and from a poor family in the mid-19th century in Paris, we don’t know lots about. Mostly what we know of her comes from the paintings others – men – did of her.

I’d ask why she went to art school, and how long she had wanted to. Was there one particular thing that drove her to it?

Until the past few years, it was believed that only one of her own paintings had survived. Now we know of four, most importantly, her self-portrait. What a triumph, getting to see how a woman who was painted dozens of times by men saw herself.

Her work was shown in the prestigious Paris Salon six times, and all history typically remembers her for is being a model. I would like to ask her how she feels about that, and if I’ve done enough to bring her back to life.

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

While my husband and I were in Paris, we stood in front of Manet’s painting of Victorine as Olympia, and I felt like there was more she wanted to say, but I couldn’t hear what. There was something strange with the model’s nose. I started crying, and then a tour group came by and the guide spoke about the painting. She said the one thing that explained what I was feeling: she claimed Victorine had dated a boxer who had messed up her nose, and it sent me off on this journey to write about Victorine. (Interestingly enough, I never found proof about that story, but it set me to researching her, so it did what it was intended to do, I suppose.)

Do you journal write? Has this helped with your published writings? 

I journal often. Not every day, but every few days, at least. It helps me to empty my mind of the tedious and everyday and prepares me for creating. I wish I wrote erudite, meaningful journal entries, but I don’t. My journals would be worthless to anyone but me.

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

I think the penguin would take me by the hand and tell me it’s time for an amazing adventure. He’d say “Let’s go,” and we would waddle down the street, stopping to say hello to everyone. At the end, what I’d discover is that everything I’m writing about is alive, too, is out there, in one way or another, and my penguin friend was sent to invite me to enjoy the real world, which, too often, writing can cause one to forget.

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

I adore the Indiana Dunes. Going there is like visiting the ocean, though it’s really on Lake Michigan. I can relax there in a way I can’t anywhere else. My mind gets to recover there, something it doesn’t often do, because it races all the time, seeking writing material. But at the beach I sit (or collect shells and stones, or climb the dunes) and I may read or I may not. I may just sprawl on my towel and forget about everything, or I may have a deep, philosophical conversation with my husband about literature, about life. Or maybe we buy chocolate-covered bananas and flip through magazines. It’s pure paradise to me.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My debut novel, Victorine, features Victorine Meurent, a forgotten, accomplished painter who posed nude for Edouard Manet’s most famous, controversial paintings such as Olympia and The Picnic in Paris, paintings heralded as the beginning of modern art. History has forgotten (until now) her paintings, despite the fact that she showed her work at the prestigious Paris Salon multiple times, even one year when her mentor, Manet’s, work was refused.

Her persistent desire in the novel is not to be a model anymore but to be a painter herself, despite being taken advantage of by those in the art world, something which causes her to turn, for a time, to every vice in the Paris underworld, leading her even into the catacombs.

In order to live authentically, she eventually finds the strength to flout the expectations of her parents, bourgeois society, and the dominant male artists (whom she knows personally) while never losing her capacity for affection, kindness, and loyalty. Possessing both the incisive mind of a critic and the intuitive and unconventional impulses of an artist, Victorine and her survival instincts are tested in 1870, when the Prussian army lays siege to Paris and rat becomes a culinary delicacy, and further tested when she inches towards art school while financial setbacks push her away from it. The same can be said when it comes to her and love, which becomes substituted, eventually, by art.

The best place for people to learn more about my writing, about art history and news, is through my mailing list. Sign up on my website at: www.dremadrudge.com. When you do, I’ll send you a free historical fiction story.

Thank you for being a part of MTA, Drēma. It was wonderful to learn more about you and how Victorine came to be. The Indiana Dunes sound beautiful and wonderful. I think I’m going to add that to my bucket list! All the best to you! – Camilla

Victorine is a compelling rendering of the life of a model working for Edouard Manet in the 1860s, who longed to be a painter in her own right. In this book, you will feel paint flow onto the canvases of Manet, Monet, Degas, Morisot, Stevens, Meurent, and others. You will imagine life on the streets of Paris in all its beauty, harshness, and fragility. And you will see a relationship between painter and model unfold with remarkable clarity and sensitivity. Victorine Meurent s body is the vehicle for Manet s artistic vision, while her robust courage, irreverence and honesty, and her longing for her own agency, shapes the painter s vision. The intimate collaboration between two artists creates life-changing revelations on both sides this dance of color and light complicated, sensuous, and intense. –Eleanor Morse, author of White Dog Fell from the Sky

The model for great impressionist artist, Manet, the sassy, sexy, smart and artistic Victorine is as vivid as his best paintings. Yearning to paint herself, she questions Manet and his artist friends closely annoyingly about what they paint and how they paint it, treating the reader to a sequence of fascinating exchanges about art, its creation and demands. In a gallery of episodes, narrated in the gaudy, evocative voice of the protagonist, author Drema Drudge renders Victorine Meurent from flesh to soul. Applying bold strokes of language, Drudge animates the story of a life lived at high intensity sparkling, inventive, imaginative, ambitious a totally original life. You can t help but love them both. –Julie Brickman, author of Two Deserts and What Birds Can Only Whisper

Book trailer:

https://animoto.com/play/tygbwF6hU7OSTakpSLHMEw

Connect with Drēma:

Facebook: The Painted Word Salon

Twitter: @dremadrudge

Instagram: Drema Drudge

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