Meet the Author: Hiding in Plain Site by Eoghan Egan

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

Tell us a bit about yourself.

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

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

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

In which genre do you write?

Crime Fiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does your ideal writing space look like?

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

What are you currently reading?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also, what are the common traps for aspiring writers?

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

What was his hardest scene to write?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My “evaluation??” Ouch.

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

I HAVE FINISHED READING YOUR BOOK!

(cold sweat)

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

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

The theme is skillfully handled and developed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you miss about being a kid?

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

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

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

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

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

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

I enjoy cooking.

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

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

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

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

So, here’s a real-life example.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Do everything yourself.

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

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

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

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

To anyone who wants to fulfil their writing dream?:

1. Think about the story you want to write.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday:

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

Saturday:

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

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

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

Sunday:

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

Taxi back to the hotel and head to JFK.

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

What are you currently working on?

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

Tell us about your most recent book.

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

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

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

Where to find the book:

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

Connect with Eoghan:

Website: https://eoghanegan.com/

Social Media:

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/eoghanegan

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

**************************************************************************

Here are a few suggestions on how to further support this author:

  • Comment on the interview
  • Share the interview using the social media buttons
  • Click through to learn more about the author and their book(s)
  • If interested, buy the book and leave a review

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

Meet the Author: Grace & Serenity by Annalisa Crawford

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

Tell us a bit about yourself.

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

In which genre do you write?

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

How many published books do you have?

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

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

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

What does your ideal writing space look like?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are you currently working on?

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

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

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

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

Blurb for Grace & Serenity:

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

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

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

But nothing ever comes for free.

Book Trailer:

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

Connect with Annalisa:

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

**************************************************************************

Here are a few suggestions on how to further support this author:

  • Comment on the interview
  • Share the interview using the social media buttons
  • Click through to learn more about the author and their book(s)
  • If interested, buy the book and leave a review

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

Friday with Friends: Desert Island Disc Challenge

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

Craig Wild’s Desert Island Disc challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where can you buy Long Shadows?

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

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

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

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

Or the Amazon page for the country where you reside.

Derek’s other books can be found here:

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

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

About Derek:

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

Go here to read Derek’s interview …

Meet the Author: Flashpoint by Derek Thompson

**************************************************************************

Here are a few suggestions on how to further support this author:

  • Comment on the interview
  • Share the interview using the social media buttons
  • Click through to learn more about the author and their book(s)
  • If interested, buy the book and leave a review

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

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

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

Tell us a bit about yourself.

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

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

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

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

In which genre do you write?

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

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

How many published books do you have?

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

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

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

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

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

What does your ideal writing space look like?

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

What are you currently reading?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

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

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

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

What are you currently working on?

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

Tell us about your most recent book.

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

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

Can ordinary people thwart a powerful conspiracy?

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

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

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

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

Can they expose the plot before more lives are lost?

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

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

Where to find the book:

Amazon (eBook & Paperback):

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

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

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

eBooks only:

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

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

Paperback:

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

Connect with H.R. Kemp:

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

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

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

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

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

**************************************************************************

Here are a few suggestions on how to further support this author:

  • Comment on the interview
  • Share the interview using the social media buttons
  • Click through to learn more about the author and their book(s)
  • If interested, buy the book and leave a review

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

 

Meet the Author: You Can Change The World by Margaret Rooke

Today we travel to London to chat with Margaret Rooke about how dyslexia, a byline in the newspaper, working with charities, a view of the sea, a full English breakfast, failure to ‘Mind the Gap’, mental health problems for teenagers, ‘Don’t Stop’ by Fleetwood Mac, and Scooby Doo come together as part of Margaret’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a kitchen-table writer of nonfiction books, based in London. My life is so much easier since my husband finished his Christmas jigsaw in the middle of April. In his defence, it was a tough one. There’s a lot more space to work now.

How many published books do you have?

I’ve had three books published over the past few years. The first two were about dyslexia. We found out that our daughter was dyslexic when she was 13 and this was a big shock to us. At primary school she seemed to be taking learning in her stride, but at secondary school she came to a standstill. I was determined that, whatever label she was given, she would still achieve whatever she wanted in life and wrote books to inspire her and others in her situation. The first was called ‘Creative, Successful, Dyslexic’: a book of interviews with successful people with dyslexia, from Dame Darcey Bussell, to David Bailey, Zoe Wanamaker, Mollie King, Marcus Brigstocke and many others. The second was ‘Dyslexia is my Superpower (Most of the Time)’: a book of interviews with children and teenagers with dyslexia about the advantages and difficulties they face.

Then I decided to write about something else – this time a book about inspiring teenagers called ‘You can Change the World!’ What links these three books is a strong sense of positivity. There’s an underlying message that we can achieve what we want to achieve if we have the right support, focus and drive.

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

I was sitting having breakfast when I was around ten and I noticed a byline on a newspaper that had been delivered to our house, Mind blown. I asked my mum, ‘Is that a job – writing things and getting your name on them?’ When she said yes, that was it. I trained to be a journalist, then worked for charities helping with communications, now I’m back to writing again.

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

I love being able to see out of a window when I’m working. Write, pause, look out of window, write, pause, window… It seems to help me put what I’m about to write in perspective.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

My ideal writing space would have a great view of the sea, with a window or door that could be opened to see and hear the waves crashing against the rocks. There would also be a kettle and teabags in easy reach and somewhere to go for a full English breakfast close by. Perfect.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

I was single for seven years before meeting my husband.
I find it hard to forgive myself when I get things wrong.
Two years ago I failed to ‘Mind the Gap’ on the London Underground and broke my leg which was trapped between the tube and the platform. This was terrifying, especially when the doors began to close. I was rescued by a London Transport worker called George who flapped his arms round like a windmill to attract the driver’s attention. My hero always.

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

I was hearing so much about mental health problems for teenagers, some of this in my local community. I knew that teenagers listen to other teens more than anyone else so thought a book of interviews with young people who make good decisions benefiting themselves and others: campaigners; volunteers; fundraisers and other role models; might be of great benefit. The book’s called ‘You can Change the World! Everyday Teen Heroes Making a Difference Everywhere.’ I knew this book might not be the answer for teenagers who were seriously depressed, but I thought this could work well for children and young people who feel a bit stuck.

The teenagers in the book are amazing. They have stopped supermarkets selling eggs from caged hens, fought period poverty, raised money for charities, found ways to help beat online bullying, worked to save the environment and help the homeless… So many great achievements from a generation we often overlook and misunderstand.

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

For three days a week I work for a fantastic charity for older people, Independent Age. I interview the people the charity helps, their families and volunteers to help with all areas of its work.

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

I don’t listen to music before speaking, but when I was much younger I was depressed for a long time and music really helped me then. I remember ‘Only Yesterday’ by The Carpenters and ‘Don’t Stop’ by Fleetwood Mac in particular were often on my mind. I still like really positive songs like Take That’s ‘Let it Shine’. However I’m a big Bruce Springsteen fan and I like his gritty songs as well as the joyous stuff.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Maybe the sweets, but the truth is the older I get the happier I get. I really recommend ageing, though good health is paramount.

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

All that anxiety and fear and worry you went through and things turned out well. Who’d have guessed? Maybe you could still tune the worrying down a bit when it takes over.

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

I think it would be great to be one of the Dream Machine gang in Scooby Doo. They seem to get on well, have a good laugh and have a 100% success rate in what they do. A win, win, win.

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

Fourteenish years ago I worked for Fairtrade and specifically with Harry Hill on a brand of Fairtrade nuts called ‘Harry’s Nuts!’ Harry watched the film Juno when we were flying back from meeting peanut farmers in Malawi and told me he thought I’d like it. For some reason I never forgot him saying that and I watched it last week. I thought it was brilliant. Such great characters, so well written and well acted. Harry was right!

Tell us about your most recent book.

‘You can Change the World! Everyday Teen Heroes Making a Difference Everywhere’ is an award-winning book of interviews with teenagers from many countries who talk about how they make the planet a better place. Some are campaigning to improve the environment and to deal with bullying, others are supporting Black Lives Matter, educating about LGBTQ rights, keeping teens from joining gangs,  or are simply great role models refusing to take no for an answer despite their own difficulties or disabilities. This is a book to encourage and inspire children and teenagers; to help them see that they can help to make changes in their own lives and in the world around them.

Recent research has shown that adults tend to view teenagers harshly, viewing them as ‘lazy’, ‘selfish’ and ‘antisocial’. Read this book and change your mind!

It was wonderful having you on MTA, Margaret. I love to be able to see out of a window when I’m writing, too. Lovely. I just had to include a link for “Don’t Stop” as I adore this song! Wishing you all the best. – Camilla

Where to find the book.

It’s available at Waterstones, local bookshops and online.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/You-Can-Change-World-Difference/dp/1785925024

https://www.jkp.com/uk/you-can-change-the-world.html

Connect with Margaret:

Website: http://www.margaretrooke.com

Twitter @margsrooke

Instagram @margsrooke

Linkedin: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/margaret-rooke-3b45848

*************************************************************************

Here are a few suggestions on how to further support this author:

  • Comment on the interview
  • Share the interview using the social media buttons
  • Click through to learn more about the author and their book(s)
  • If interested, buy the book and leave a review

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

Meet the Author: Still Water by Catherine Marshall

Today we travel to Rawtenstall, a small town in Lancashire, England, to chat with Catherine Marshall about how Jackie magazine, visiting the south of France and southern Africa, being bored as a child, the idea of revenge, teaching creative writing, procrastination, freedom, and St Ives in Cornwall come together as part of Catherine’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in Rawtenstall, a small town in Lancashire, England with my husband. I’m originally from Longbridge, on the Birmingham/Worcestershire borders, and left when I was eighteen to do a degree in Literature and Theatre Studies. I began writing for Jackie magazine when I was a teenager, and went on to contribute many short stories and serials to various women’s magazines. I sold two romantic novels and had some deluded idea that my career as a writer had begun. Since then, I’ve had several agents, written and published a few more novels, and worked mostly in education.

In which genre do you write?

My first published novels were romances, because I’d been to the south of France and southern Africa and I knew exotic settings were often a key feature of romantic novels. After a long break, I wrote Masquerade, which my agent said she was going to sell as a psychological thriller. It’s a genre I love to read, so I wrote two more, and they are all currently published by Sharpe Books. My latest novel is a family saga, because the characters have been in my head for years and I wanted to tell their stories.

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

When I was a child. During the summer holidays between primary and secondary school, I complained about being bored and my mother suggested writing a story. The story became a book, called The Ravenscroft Family, which I also illustrated. I look back at it and cringe, but at the time it felt like such an achievement. After that, I wrote all the time, mostly for my own amusement, and dreamed of one day becoming an author. It has always been the only thing I’ve wanted to do.

What are you currently reading?

I’ve just finished The Guest List by Lucy Foley, which is a master-class in writing a page-turner.

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

The idea for Still Water came from wondering how far someone might go if pushed, and what ‘being pushed’ might constitute. What extreme might someone go to due to rage and disappointment? How far would other factors (eg the character’s back story) make a difference, and how could I write about that so that the extreme act seems both shocking and psychologically true? I’m very interested in the idea of revenge, and what form that might take; it’s the theme of all three of my psychological thrillers.

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

I work, usually short-term and part-time, usually in education. I particularly enjoyed teaching creative writing and drama in primary schools. I also love crafts and interior design, though on a very amateur basis.

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

That I am very good at procrastination! And that it’s ok (though perhaps this is more about the process than about me) because writing has to happen in your head before it can happen on the page or screen. Even when I’m procrastinating I’m thinking about the story. So that’s another surprising thing, that often it helps if you’re not sitting in front of a blank page. I had the best idea for one of my books whilst crossing a busy road. Luckily I didn’t stop for too long to think about it!

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

The freedom. Not only the freedom of being your own boss, but the freedom of being able to create worlds. Playing God with your characters. Of course, it’s only freedom up to a point, in terms of the insecurity that comes with being self-employed as well as needing to write something that someone will buy, but still. Freedom.

What do you miss about being a kid?

I miss: the sense of my whole life being in front of me, untrodden and full of promise; lying in bed hearing my parents’ voices downstairs and feeling utterly secure; spending time with my grandparents.

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

Laura in Glories, as her relationships with all the other main characters are so varied. Also, she’s ahead of her time in that she goes to a London art school while most of her contemporaries are becoming secretaries. If I were her, I would pay as much attention to the people around me as to my own ambition, but that might be because I know what happens!

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

I do, largely because I find it reassuring and it gives me hope. I did really badly in my English A level and couldn’t go to my university of choice. But I did get a place elsewhere, and met my husband there. He turned out to have applied to some of the same courses at the same universities I had, so we might have met anyway. It sort of felt like Fate.

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

I’ve always been a good listener, and found it easy to see other people’s points of view. I think this is hugely important in the creation of characters, and everything I write is character-driven. I’ve found that listening to people helps to understand motivation, and to write believable dialogue.

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

St Ives in Cornwall. It is the most magical, inspiring place. I first went there on a family holiday when I was thirteen – so a very impressionable age! – and have returned many times since, more recently on an annual basis. It’s the setting for Still Water so I could be there in my head whilst sitting in my study in Lancashire.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a few different projects. The first is my family saga, Glories, which is intended to be a trilogy. The first book, set in the 1960s, is on query with a few agents. I’m very keen to write the second and third books, but want to wait to see whether there’s any uptake on the first. I’ve just adapted Masquerade as a stage play, primarily for a competition but also to see whether I could. And the third is a novel called Past Life, which is a ghost story.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My most recent published book is Still Water. It’s a psychological thriller set in Cornwall. One of the characters is emerging from an emotional crisis and attempting to rebuild a normal life. For a short time it seems that she has been successful, indeed, her life becomes so much better than she had dared hope. And then it’s all taken away.

It was was wonderful to have you on MTA, Catherine. It sounds like you are working on some fun projects! Wishing you all the best with future books and your amazing projects. – Camilla

Blurbs:

Still Water

Every summer Gil Hunt escapes to the same small town on the Cornish coast. He rents a studio overlooking the bay from Cecily, who owns the café below, and spends his evenings at the bar on the pier or at beach parties with his surf dude friends. Every summer is relaxed and hedonistic and exactly the same – which is just the way Gil likes it.

Except this year, Cecily seems subdued and hankering after change for reasons she cannot or will not explain. Gil, mindful of her restlessness, is distracted by a series of chance encounters with Jemima Gregory, daughter of a local artist. As Cecily spirals away from him and Jem draws him ever closer, Gil’s own actions tie him into a web of other people’s secrets from which there is only the most violent and shocking escape.

Excluded

Stephen Lord is one of the good guys. He believes in justice, second chances and the power of redemption. He is also the headteacher of Rapton Community High School, where the pupils are running wild and the staff on the brink of mutiny.

Dean Bywater too is interested in justice. Fresh out of prison and seeking retribution for a tragedy rooted in his past, he returns to Rapton to find his fifteen year old nephew Callum poised between dreams of an army career and burgeoning criminality.

Meanwhile, A* student Todd is carrying a burden he cannot share even with ace teacher Finn Macallister or his sympathetic form tutor, new recruit Leigh Summers.

As the new school year begins, one small act of cruelty sets in motion a series of events which will have dreadful consequences for them all.

Masquerade

A week marooned among strangers seems to Anna to be the perfect opportunity to reinvent herself. Leaving behind the mess that her life has become to attend a Psychology summer school in Bath, she is hoping for some sense of perspective, perhaps even an escape.

But Anna comes to realise that she is not the only one searching for answers. Among her fellow students are Carys, who is being stalked by her abusive ex-husband, Michael, grieving for the loss of his wife, and Jack, enigmatic and nonchalant and hiding troubles of his own.

As the hottest week of the summer draws on, unsettling events spring from the shadows of their pasts. Reliving old passions and discovering new ones, Anna becomes aware of sinister undercurrents. And amid disappearances and death and the threat of violence, one of her new friends is guarding a terrible secret.

Where to find the books:

Still Water is published by Sharpe Books and is available in paperback and on Kindle from Amazon.

Links:

Connect with Catherine:

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/catherinemarshallbooks/?eid=ARDZ5Nf5wTR8IYOODnbRjWpxP7YnwNjsNXUt501gTnBRH3VAWDH7pNpTrOclrt4Ml_Gs9A4WhdAmpmT4

Twitter

**************************************************************************

Here are a few suggestions on how to further support this author:

  • Comment on the interview
  • Share the interview using the social media buttons
  • Click through to learn more about the author and their book(s)
  • If interested, buy the book and leave a review

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

 

Meet the Author: London Crime by Barry Faulkner

Today we travel to London to chat with Barry Faulkner about how sarcasm and humour, English Springer Spaniels, the River Wye, the Forest of the Dean, butterflies, Literary Festivals, gangs and geezers, Morley Academy of Dramatic Art, petty criminals, and the Richardson gang come together for the making of Barry and his writings.

In which genre do you write?

Crime, police procedural and factual.

How many published books do you have?

Eleven and one at the editors.

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

When I was at secondary school and English Literature was my only interest, other than football! I won a London County Council writing competition and that was it, next stop the Booker Prize! 😃

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

Humour, readers comment on my DCS’s sarcasm and humour. The books may be about serial killings but I guarantee the reader will laugh out loud at least once! 😂

What would you choose as your mascot, and why?

English Springer Spaniel, I’ve got three and they are totally faithful and never give up.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

A crowded office at the top of Faulkner Towers overlooking the River Wye, PCs, lots of ideas on pieces of paper and reference books on English Law and UK criminals.

What are you currently reading?

I don’t read much, I’ve read all the authors I like as they issue and my last read was Robert Crais. A Dangerous Man, from the Elvis Pike series.

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

I have no idea, I have been writing ideas and plots down for 30 years so have a plethora of notebooks to get the brain cells into overdrive. Ideas can strike an author at any time so I always carry a small notepad. ( usually forget the pencil)

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

Walk the dogs in the Forest of Dean where I live and vegetable and fruit gardening at Faulkner Towers. Her indoors does the flower gardens. 🙂

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

The human imagination is a wonderfully powerful instrument.

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

That’s an easy one…. friendship with readers and other writers and being involved in Lit Festivals.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Butterflies.

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

Start writing earlier.

What are you currently working on?

Book number 11 in the DCS Palmer Serial Murder Squad series.

Tell us about your most recent book.

‘London Crime’ My first factual book about the UK big criminals’, major heists and gangs from the Messina Brothers of the 1930s through to today’s top guns.

It was great to have you on MTA, Barry. Your background is so very interesting! Wishing you all the best! – Camilla

Where to find the book:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/B.L.-Faulkner/e/B00ND8R6OO

Connect with Barry:

Website: geezers2016.wordpress.com

Biography:

An Amazon Best Selling Author of the DCS Palmer Detective books. 10 out, number 11 coming in April 2020.

Author of London Crime (March 2020) the only available factual book about the UK major robberies from 1930s to the present day, the gangs and geezers that planned and did them plus the aftermaths.

Faulkner was born into an extended family of petty criminals in Herne Hill, South London, his father, uncle and elder brothers and cousins running with the notorious Richardson gang in the 60s-90s, and at this point we must point out that he did not follow in that family tradition although the characters he met and their escapades he witnessed have added a certain authenticity to his books. He attended the first ever comprehensive school in the UK, William Penn in Peckham and East Dulwich, where he attained no academic qualifications other than GCE ‘O’ level in Art and English and a Prefect’s badge (though some say he stole all three!)

His mother was a fashion model and determined that her youngest son would not follow the family career path, she had great theatrical aspirations for young Faulkner and pushed him into auditioning for the Morley Academy of Dramatic Art at the Elephant and Castle, where he was accepted but only lasted three months before being asked to leave as no visible talent had surfaced. Mind you, during his time at the Academy he was called to audition for the National Youth Theatre by Trevor Nunn – fifty years later, he’s still waiting for the call back! After several sales jobs and sending advertising ideas to various agencies he was taken on as a copywriter with the major US advertising agency Erwin Wasey Ruthrauff & Ryan in Paddington during which time he got lucky with some light entertainment scripts sent to the BBC and Independent Television and became a script editor and writer on a freelance basis. He worked on most of the LE shows of the 1980-90s and as personal writer to Bob Monkhouse, Tom O’Connor and others. During that period, while living out of a suitcase in UK hotels for a lot of the time, he filled many notebooks with DCS Palmer case plots and in 2017 he finally found time to start putting them in order and into book form. Ten are finished and published so far, with number 11 at the editors.

Faulkner is a popular speaker and often to be found on Crime Panels at Literary Festivals which he embraces and supports wholeheartedly.
He has recently been seen on screen in the Channel 5 Narcos UK series, Episode 2 The London Gangs and his DCS Palmer book ‘I’m With The Band’ has just been serialised in 16 parts by BBC Radio Bristol. He has been a subject of Corinium Radio’s Writer’s Room programme, Manchester FM’s Hannah Kate Book show, Hawkesbury Upton Lit. Festival ‘Best of British’ panel, Evesham Festival of Words Crime Panel and Bristol Crime Fest Indie Crime Author Panel amongst others

Faulkner publishes a blog about the ‘geezers’ of his youth, the criminals and their heists. It goes in depth about the Krays, Brinks Mat, Hatton Garden , ‘Nipper’ Read and all the other major heists and who ‘dun ‘em’. Take a look at geezers2016.wordpress.com.

He also speaks about that era in illustrated talks for social clubs, WI and others.

As a crime writer Faulkner is quite particular about ‘getting it right’ and as well as his own Facebook page he publishes a page called ‘UK Crime Readers and Writers Page’ which has lots of information about the forensic crime detection methods, police procedurals and other facts of use to both reader and writer of crime and detective books.

Faulkner now lives in the glorious Forest of Dean with his wife and three dogs.

**************************************************************************

Here are a few suggestions on how to further support this author:

  • Comment on the interview
  • Share the interview using the social media buttons
  • Click through to learn more about the author and their book(s)
  • If interested, buy the book and leave a review

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

 

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/

**************************************************************************

Here are a few suggestions on how to further support this author:

  • Comment on the interview
  • Share the interview using the social media buttons
  • Click through to learn more about the author and their book(s)
  • If interested, buy the book and leave a review

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

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

**************************************************************************

Here are a few suggestions on how to further support this author:

  • Comment on the interview
  • Share the interview using the social media buttons
  • Click through to learn more about the author and their book(s)
  • If interested, buy the book and leave a review

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

**************************************************************************

Here are a few suggestions on how to further support this author:

  • Comment on the interview
  • Share the interview using the social media buttons
  • Click through to learn more about the author and their book(s)
  • If interested, buy the book and leave a review

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