Meet the Author: Your Story, Well Told by Corey Rosen

Today we travel to San Francisco to chat with Corey Rosen about how new beginnings, Jabba the Hutt, interesting experiences, Harrison Ford’s ear, Visual Effects, improvisation, We Are the World, Star Wars, and a Chinese Theme Park come together as part of Corey’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Corey Rosen. I am a writer, actor and storytelling coach that lives in San Francisco, California. When not writing, I perform at BATS Improv and teach applied improvisation, storytelling, and stand up comedy writing. I also work in Visual Effects and have worked on some of the Star Wars movies. Lately I’m writing a movie that will be shown in a Chinese Theme Park.

In which genre do you write?

I focus on Storytelling, both my own, and helping people craft and tell their own stories. We all have interesting experiences. I love hearing those, and the lessons and learnings people have collected through our lives.

How many published books do you have?

“Your Story, Well Told” is my first published book! Woohoo!

What is your favorite season and why?

Fall. I grew up in Rochester, NY and, while I miss having a winter, I don’t miss shoveling snow and skidding on the ice. The weather in San Francisco, where I live, is a Mediterranean climate, which feels like autumn most of the time – not too hot and not too cold. I think fall is my favorite season because I associate the fall with change – changing weather, changing colors… it’s also when the new school year starts. For me, it’s a reminder that a new beginning can be just around any corner.

Can you play a musical instrument?

I play a bunch of instruments. I love to make music. I recently discovered the joy of recording and harmonizing with myself on parody and personalized songs I’ve written for friends as a fundraiser for my improv theater, BATS Improv. The trailer for my book is an example of this – I’m playing all the instruments and singing 6 parts in a parody of “We Are The World” to introduce my book. Check out the trailer here:

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

I teach applied improvisation, storytelling, and stand up comedy writing. I also work for a visual effects studio founded by Oscar-winner Phil Tippett, who designed and animated the most iconic creatures in the original Star Wars movies, like Jabba the Hutt and the AT-AT snow walkers. As a creative director, I write and direct movies shown at theme parks around the world.

Have you ever had any Do It Yourself disasters?

There’s a classic children’s book called “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie,” by Laura Numeroff. In it, a simple action leads to increasing complications. My DIY prowess often unfolds in this way. A few weeks ago, my wife asked me to hang a picture on the wall. Looking at the wall, I couldn’t help but be irritated by the chipped paint and holes from prior screws and pictures. Within an hour I’d bought new paint and spent the rest of the afternoon taping, spackling, and repainting the entire wall. When we sat down to dinner, my wife quietly said, “maybe tomorrow you could hang that picture?”

What’s the weirdest thing that has happened to you while working at your current or a previous job?

When I was hired at ILM, George Lucas’ visual effects company, I was tasked with (digitally) removing specs of dirt and dust from the original Star Wars movie for the Special Edition re-release. This was the movie I saw as a child that made me want to tell my own stories, and work in the movie business. It was a heavy responsibility. One of the first shots I had to “clean” was a shot of Harrison Ford (Han Solo). I cleaned what I thought was a spec of white dirt from the same spot in every frame, only realizing when I was done that I’d actually removed Han Solo’s entire ear! I was so scared that I didn’t tell anyone, and, to this day, there is a moment in the Star Wars universe where Han Solo doesn’t have an ear, thanks to me!

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently writing a few movies for a theme park near Shenzhen in China! The movies will be seen on large dome screens, with the audience feeling like they are flying from Earth to Mars. It’s really fun to write this kind of experience because you are working in many dimensions – the audience is in motion having physical sensations while you are telling them a story.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My book will teach you fun and easy strategies to get inspired to develop stories, structure them, and tell them, well! My favorite discovery after writing the book has been all the stories others have told me – many by people I’ve known a long time, telling stories I’ve never heard! I hope this book helps you remember and tell stories that connect you with others.

It was wonderful learning more about you, and having you be a part of MTA, Corey! Here’s to your success!! – Camilla

Book Blurb:

Learn the art of telling stories and make the sale, land the client, propose a toast, or impress a date – maybe all at the same time! Moth veteran and master teacher Corey Rosen is an Emmy-award winning writer and actor with years of experience as a skilled storytelling coach. His book, Your Story, Well Told, is crafted to help ordinary people tell extraordinary stories. This laugh out loud handbook covers everything from how to tell a good story to going off script.

Book Trailer:

Where to find the book:

www.coreyrosen.com: Has links to independent and BIPOC-owned bookstores where you can order “Your Story, Well Told: Creative Strategies to Develop and Perform Stories that Wow an Audience.”

Connect with Corey:

Website: www.coreyrosen.com

social media links:

facebook & Instagram: @storyrosen
twitter: @coreyrosen

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Meet the Author: Chasing Shadows by Steven Smith

Today we travel to Stotfold in Bedfordshire to chat with Steven Smith about how LEGOs, book reviews, Jack the Ripper, gaming, Discworld, Elton John, coffee shops, winter, an out of control roller coaster ride, an electric guitar, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show come together as part of Steven’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi, I am Steven, or Steve – either works for me! I live in a little town called Stotfold in Bedfordshire. It’s about an hour by train from London. I live with my wife Vanessa and my tuxedo cat Rey.

When things are a little more normal I love to travel and get out with my camera, too. I’m also an avid video gamer, armchair athlete and absolute Lego fanatic.

In which genre do you write?

My debut novel Chasing Shadows falls into steampunk – an alternate history set in a Victorianesque world where everything is steam-powered and electricity did not expand quite as it did. I have also written a number of short stories in a wide range of styles and genres.

How many published books do you have?

At the moment, just Chasing Shadows. Its sequel As the Crow Flies is well underway. I am also considering releasing a collection of short stories when I get the chance to write a few more.

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

Hmmm, now this is a tough question. Back in primary school, I remember doing something the teachers called “Extended Stories”. Everyone spent the lesson just writing anything we wanted. This carried on throughout the year. I loved those sessions. But then exams, needing a career, all that kind of thing waylaid my writing.

I’ve always been an avid book reader, so in March 2015 I started a blog where I review books, interview authors and take part in a range of other bookish features. In 2017 I decided the time was right to try and write a novel of my own. I set out to write a fictional account of the infamous Jack the Ripper – who he was and how he managed to evade arrest. It didn’t work out though – I became exhausted by the level of research to get the historical facts accurate, and it faded into nothingness.

I dabbled with some short stories after that until, in late 2019, an idea struck me. To begin with, it was just as the concept for a character, closely followed by another. Then I had some ideas for adventures they might find themselves in. And that was it, the early ideas for Chasing Shadows was formed.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

I do love my home office space. It’s filled with all manner of things that are so homely to me. My wife and I have a range of similar interests, so we’ve made this space very much our own. There are signed Discworld prints and special framed stamp display pieces themed around Harry Potter and Elton John. There are framed signed comic books, a display cabinet brimming with video game paraphernalia, another bursting at the gunwales with Lego. That’s a habit of mine that has spread beyond the cabinet and throughout the house! Then, on the wall immediately behind the desk is a huge The Nightmare Before Christmas poster, my most beloved film. It really is a little slice of nerdvana for me.

Aside from there, I love writing in coffee shops. I can people watch and get inspiration for characters and events from what I see and hear. I’ve even done a spot of writing on the terrace of a wonderful cafe in the town of Riva, sat on the shore of the beautiful Lake Garda!

What are you currently reading?

Right now I am test-reading the first draft of a novel by author and good friend Richard Dee. It’s something a little different genre-wise from him, and I have to say I am absolutely loving it!

What is your favorite season and why?

Winter, without a shadow of a doubt. I am not built for the hot days of summer. I love nothing more than a cold, crisp, bright winter day. Blue sky, biting cold, your breath a freezing fog out in front of you. I love it! Plus, I am a massive Christmas fan, so it’s a no brainer for me. Indulgent food, festive music, cheesy films and an overabundance of decorations. It always fills me with joy!

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

The honest answer is that I am not really sure. I’ve always loved steampunk. It’s utterly fascinating to me – the inventions, the vehicles, the outfits, the airships. I love it all. As far as Chasing Shadows, well it was a series of disconnected ideas that hit me. First, it was an idea for a character, my leading man. Then there was the beginnings of another main character. Then I saw a few events. Nothing too large, just an underlying theme as such.

The connective tissue needed to hold the bare bones together wasn’t planned. Much of the book wasn’t planned. I only learned what came next after I had written it. The whole process was a frenetic, out of control rollercoaster ride that I thoroughly enjoyed. I don’t think I’d have it any other way.

What movie can you watch over and over without ever getting tired of?

Now this one is easy, especially as it’s indelibly inked into my right bicep. That would have to be Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. I was six years old when it came out back in 1993. I saw it then and was transfixed. The creepy world of Halloweentown and its denizens, the wonderful vibrance of Christmastown, Burton’s bizarre story and the incredible score and songwriting of Danny Elfman. All of these things have been forever imprinted on my mind, and guarantee I will watch that film multipe times a year. And yes, I do know it almost word for word.

If you pressed me for a second choice, that’d have to be The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Another weird, wonderful, riotous sing along movie.

Can you play a musical instrument? If not, which instrument would you like to be able to play?

I actually own an electric guitar – a stunning piece bought for me for Christmas by my wife. I haven’t played it nearly as much as I’d like. I want to learn it though. I used to be able to play real simple chords like the basic riff from Wonderwall by Oasis. I’d love to learn some more though. I am a huge rock music fan – Rolling Stones, Iron Maiden, Kiss, AC/DC, Foo Fighters. That would be a definite goal to play a few of their songs one day.

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

Reading is an obvious answer for this one. I am also a massive video game freak. I lose hours at a time to a good game. Travelling is another passion of mine. I dabble with photography, I love playing around with the camera and trying out different things. And then there is Lego. It’s one of my biggest hobbies. I find the process of following the instructions and seeing the set come together really therapeutic.

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?

Wow, now there’s a killer of a question. How do I pick just one? First up there would have to be the authors Terry Pratchett and Stephen King. They are two of my very favourite authors. Then there would have to be a few musicians in there, more likely whole bands – I just don’t think I could pick one.

Fantasy people, now that is interesting. I think I’d love to meet both Roland Deschain and Randal Flagg from The Dark Tower series. I love the series of books and these two characters are so deep, there is a lot to them that I’d love to uncover. Without sounding too narcissistic I’d also love to meet my own leading man, Edison Crow. I know he came from my mind, but there is so much about him I’d like to get to know over a coffee.

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

That I can do it. That I can actually start the process and see it all the way through to the end and hold my book in my hand. That’s something else. Early on, I’d have been happy to reach 30 or 40,000 words. To make it to a complete novel, weighing in at over 78,000 words is a pretty incredible feeling!

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

I tried planning the story as I went along, but it just didn’t work out for me. I found it easiest to just write and see where the story took me. I loved this approach. It meant I got to discover the story much like the readers do! I only knew what was happening in the fractions of a second before I typed the words out. I know many people love to plan things meticulously, but my mind is too disorganised and chaotic for that, it just doesn’t work for me.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? 

I don’t in the traditional sense. I’ve started keeping a movie journal though. I am a film lover, but I am also aware there are a lot of films that always appear on ‘top movies to watch before you die’ lists that I’ve somehow not seen. I am using this as a way to motivate me to watch some of those films.

How do you prepare yourself to discuss your book?

With the UK having not long come out of COVID restrictions, I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to do anything like this. I hope to, though. And if I do, Obviously I would prepare a choice chapter or two to read. Beyond that, I feel passionate about my book, so I would just like to get that across to those listening.

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

American History X. My team at work has started doing a movie club – someone recommends a film and everyone watches it ready to discuss the following week. It’s a great way to start watching films I might not have seen otherwise. And I have to say I really enjoyed it – fantastic visuals, deep story, tragic finale. A great film.

What are you currently working on?

I have a few things on the go right now. After finishing my first draft of Chasing Shadows, I dove headfirst into the sequel – As the Crow Flies. On the side, I am also working on a short story set in the same world. It’s following a young Edison Crow and Selah, just after they meet. Ideas are swirling for yet another short in that world, but in no way related to these characters.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My most recent book is my debut novel, Chasing Shadows. It’s a steampunk novel with action and adventure along the way. It follows the roguish airship captain Edison Crow, his childhood friend and second in command Selah, and a ragtag crew of the most loyal rogues a captain could hope for. Seeking a big payday, Crow hopes to put his childhood as a street orphan firmly behind him. A series of unfortunate incidents and nearly failed jobs land the crew in the heart of a mystery with potentially dire consequences.

It was great having you be a part of MTA! I thoroughly enjoyed your interview, Steven. My mind is also disorganized and chaotic. I’ve only written nonfiction and poetry to date, but should I write a fiction, what you describe is how it will have to be for me, too! Wishing you all the best, with much success!! – Camilla

Blurb:

As captain of the airship Arcos, Edison Crow and his childhood partner in crime, Selah, lead their crew in search of a big payday. When it comes to the pursuit of wealth, nothing is out of the question for this band of charming rogues. Smuggling. Theft. Embezzlement. It’s all part of a daring game.

But all is not smooth sailing when you’re a high profile thief with a target on your back. A job gone wrong will thrust Edison, Selah and those aboard the Arcos upon a journey straight to the heart of the shady United Republic of the High Commission in pursuit of the truth.

Troubled by his own personal demons, Edison must navigate dark skies if he hopes to gain answers. Will it be enough to help the infamous Captain Crow clear his and his crew’s names? Or will he end up Chasing Shadows?

Where to find the book:

It’s available on Amazon for Kindle, Kindle Unlimited and in Paperback. I also offer personalised paperbacks directly from myself – just pop me an email to discuss!

Connect with Steven:

https://authorstevensmith.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorStevenSmith
https://twitter.com/ATCFpublishing
https://www.instagram.com/stevensmithauthor/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21297044.Steven_Smith

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Friday with Friends: Doing the Dishes with Allen Klein

Doing the Dishes

When I was in grade school, I wrote a poem that was published in the school paper. If my memory serves, it went something like this:

The Dishes

We have a little system that we do each night,
And when we do this, we never fight.
Mom is the one who washes, of course,
Dad dries them off, the father the boss,
And I am the little boy who puts them away,
Who goes to school every day.

Certainly not a great poem but it was the first piece of my writing ever to be published. Little did I realize it at the time, but that experience unexpectedly came full circle years later during my midlife. While this latter career was based on my writing talent, my first career was based on my artistic talent.

When I was seven years old, I was taken to see my first Broadway show, Oklahoma. From then on, I wanted to be a scenic designer…the person who creates those pretty stage pictures. Growing up in New York City, I saw nearly every show that opened on Broadway. I studied at various places to become a designer. I got into the scenic design union after passing a very stringent test and worked at CBS-television. There I designed such shows as Captain Kangaroo, The Merv Griffin Show and The Jackie Gleason Show.

Things were going well…until they weren’t. The TV shows moved out of New York, and I was left designing soap operas and commercials, which didn’t suit me. Since my wife was from San Francisco, a city we both loved, we decided it was an ideal time to move across county. I had no steady job at the time, my daughter was not yet enrolled in a regular school, and the landlord gave us a bunch of money to vacate the apartment so he could renovate it and raise the rent. We took the money and moved across country.

I got work with the San Francisco Opera painting scenery and we found the Victorian house we always dreamed about. Again, things were going well… until they weren’t. My wife, Ellen, contracted a rare liver disease. There was no cure nor liver transplants at the time. The prognosis was three years. And indeed, she did die three years after the diagnosis.

It was an extremely difficult time, but Ellen had a great sense of humor that helped us cope with the situation. It also surprisingly thrust me into a speaking and writing career. After Ellen died, I realized how beneficial therapeutic humor was during her terminal illness. It helped us rise about the situation and, if only momentarily, gave us a reprieve from the challenging time we were going through.

I wanted to share with the world what I had learned about how humor could enable us to rise above any situation. I joined the National Speakers Association to find out about the ins and outs of being a professional speaker. I had almost failed speech in college because I feared getting up and speaking in front of a group. But here I was speaking to groups of upwards of 1,500 people because of my passion about the value of therapeutic humor. And it was the speaking that led to my writing career.

At one speaker’s convention, I kept hearing colleagues say, “If you want to accelerate your speaking career, you need to have a book.” It seemed like every speaker I heard that year was saying, “You need to have a book, you need to have a book.” When the conference ended, I went back home, put together a book proposal on the benefits of humor. After numerous rejections and revisions, my literary agent sold The Healing Power of Humor to a mainstream publisher.

The book hit a nerve with readers. I think it was, in part, because of Norman Cousin’s book, Anatomy of an Illness, which talked about his personal journey of healing himself with laughter. Even though my book was published way back in 1989, The Healing Power of Humor is still going strong today with a 40+ printing and a 9th foreign language translation.

One book led to another. For example, the hundreds of uplifting quotations I didn’t use in the first book became the basis for the second. That book led to a series of quotation books that got reprinted in many different formats with several different publishers. And those publishers continued to release several of my other non-quotation books.

Who knew when I wrote that poem for my school paper that years later it would lead to my writing of 30-plus books? ……. © Allen Klein, June 2021

To see Allen’s previous interview on MTA, go here:

Meet the Author: Embracing Life After Loss by Allen Klein

About Allen Klein

Comedian Jerry Lewis has said that Allen Klein is “a noble and vital force watching over the human condition.” Klein, also known as, “Mr. Jollytologist”® and “The Ambassador of Light”, shows audiences worldwide how to use humor and positivity to deal with life’s not-so-funny stuff. He is an award-winning professional speaker, a TEDx presenter, and author of 30-plus books including, The Healing Power of Humor, You Can’t Ruin My Day, and Embracing Life After Loss. His latest book, The Awe Factor: How a Little Bit of Wonder Can Make a Big Difference in Your Life was named by SpiritualityandPractice.com as “One of the Best Spiritual Books of 2020.”

Connect with Allen

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.allenklein.com

TedX talk: http://tinyurl.com/z4hfsx5

Amazon book page: https://tinyurl.com/y5cwgocv

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Meet the Author: The Inside City by Anita Mir

Today we travel to London by way of Lahore, Pakistan to chat with Anita Mir about how journalistic work, the Blasphemy Law, comic pieces, Fordham University, Greek myth, a dolphin, Singin’ in the Rain, breathing deeply, Shakespeare, and a penguin in a sombrero come together as part of Anita’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Anita Mir. I seem to have flitted back and forth from Pakistan and England all my life. I was born in Lahore, Pakistan, where my novel is set. I grew up in Wales and County Durham in the UK. Then we went back, as a family, to Lahore. After college, I worked as a journalist and then in the NGO field. Most of my journalistic work was investigative reports on human rights issues, particularly pertaining to the Blasphemy Law, which is often used to target religious minorities such as Christians and Ahmedis.

I wrote what I then thought of as fluff -reviews, comic pieces, short stories- under a pseudonym, not understanding why I enjoyed writing that stuff so much. Through both jobs I got to see a Pakistan I’d never otherwise have seen.

I currently live in London where I teach at Fordham University and write plays. I’ve been in Lahore for the last eight months. That, though, is another story….

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

As a teenager I wrote poetry – embarrassingly bad poetry, full, I think, of Greek myth characters who popped up incongruously on our street, near the sweet shop, and did Greek myth kinds of things. Pretentious is too generous a word to describe my ‘poetry’. But thank God, in all our moves, it’s been lost.

At college, I was Editor of my college magazine and then straight from college, walked into my first job as a journalist – where I stayed for years, only leaving when the paper folded. But until I had my first short play on, a short story published and then my novel published I don’t think I had the guts to say I wanted to be a writer.

My novel, ‘The Inside City’ was longlisted for the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize and shortlisted for the UBL Prize.

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

A dolphin. Just so I could say that wonderful line from ‘Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy’: “Thanks for all the fish.”

What does your ideal writing space look like?

A bed.

What are you currently reading?

Academic stuff on death for a paper I want to write, ‘Hamnet’ by Maggie O’ Farrell and dipping back into ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ to try and understand how a real poet writes with such precision.

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

I’m currently writing a kid’s book about an autistic boy whose beloved grandfather dies and whom he tries to bring back to the world. Two aspects of the story: the autistic boy and the grandfather are both biographical, though nothing else in the story is.

What movie can you watch over and over without ever getting tired of?

Can I choose two? ‘Wings of Desire’ -for its beauty and ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ – which always cheers me up.

Can you play a musical instrument?

I play piano.

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?

Shakespeare. ‘You were having bloody fun when you were writing, weren’t you?’

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

That writing is an addiction I don’t ever want to give up.

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

I write a journal. Short short stories. When I stop, the ‘proper’ writing comes harder and worse.

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

I breathe deeply. I’d like to do what I’ve seen Tim Robbins do as prep: Jump on a trampoline. But unless I can find a collapsable one, it might be difficult carrying it on the Tube.

What do you miss about being a kid?

My speed at running.

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

Just go for it. Come out, guns blazing. As an old actor said, ‘There is no rehearsal. This is it.’

You can have anyone fictional as your imaginary friend, who do you choose and why?

Samuel Beckett or Howard Barker. Because I’d hope a little of their magic would rub off on me.

If mars or another planet was livable, would you accept a one way ticket there? why or why not?

No. I haven’t explored enough of this world yet.

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

‘Party central?’

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

Determination, or as my mother called it, bloody-mindedness.

It was wonderful to have you be part of MTA, Anita. I very much enjoyed learning more about you and your writings. Wishing you all the best, with much success! – Camilla

Trailer and where to find the book:

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Meet the Author: The Borders of Normal by Manuel Matas, M.D.

Today we travel to Winnipeg, Canada to chat with Manuel Matas, M.D. about how being a psychiatrist, paranormal experiences, angels, a life-threatening illness, a hippo, photography exhibitions, Touchdown Quiz, time, nature, and a bowler hat wearing giraffe come together as part of Manuel’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a psychiatrist, author, portrait artist, photographer, and public speaker. I currently live in Winnipeg, Canada. I have also lived in Toronto and Montreal.

My book, The Borders of Normal: A Clinical Psychiatrist De-Stigmatizes Paranormal Phenomena, was a Whistler Independent Book Awards Finalist and an Amazon #1 Best Seller in two genres – Parapsychology and Unexplained Mysteries.

I have had many paranormal experiences, including out-of-body and near-death-experiences, visions from message-bearing apparitions, and precognitive (prophetic) dreams. I share these experiences in my book, along with an exploration and discussion of extra-sensory perception (ESP), telepathy, premonitions, predestination, channeled art and science, and mediums, using a mind-body/spirit paradigm. I also explore the spiritual, philosophical, cultural, and historical aspects of these phenomena.

Many people who have these experiences don’t talk about them, even to their doctors or their closest friends, because they are afraid they are losing their minds. My intention in writing The Borders of Normal was to de-stigmatize and normalize these phenomena and to encourage people to share their own paranormal experiences.

What ignited your author’s flame?

Over the years I have written many articles, poems, essays, and letters-to-the-editor (over 200 letters published by The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper). Although I had many paranormal experiences, I mostly kept them to myself. Everything changed after I saw the angels at my father’s funeral. That was too much for me to keep to myself. Working full-time and raising a family, I didn’t have much time to write, but a life-threatening illness, from which I have now fully recovered, allowed me the time to start writing my book.

What would you choose as your spirit animal?

Oddly enough, I would choose the hippo, because I had a dream about a hippo emerging from the mud and I thought that was a good metaphor for my writing career. I couldn’t actually see the outline of the hippo until he shook off the mud.

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading The Overstory, by Richard Powers. It won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The genre is Environmental Fiction. I’m enjoying it immensely. It’s a series of intertwining stories which all are based on the author’s love of and deep respect for trees.

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

I worked in my profession as a medical doctor and psychiatrist for 42 years. Now that I am retired, in addition to writing, I spend time with my family (mostly on Zoom during the pandemic), reading, drawing, painting, walking, and photography. I am an Elected Member of the Portrait Society of Canada. I have had two solo photography exhibitions.

Do you have an interesting childhood story?

I made my television debut at age 15. I was representing my high school, along with three other students from my school, in a TV quiz show called Touchdown Quiz. We won the grand prize, which was a set of the Encyclopedia Britannica for the school library, and $300 for each student on the winning team.

What is the last movie I watched and why did I choose to watch it?

Two Distant Strangers is a 2020 American short film written by Travon Free and directed by Free and Martin Desmond Roe. It was nominated for a 2021 Academy Award for Best Short Film (Live Action). I was interested in watching it because of the subject matter and because it was nominated for an Academy Award. It is about a pressing social issue – the repeated killing of young, unarmed, Black men by white police officers – and the story is presented in time loops, which I am very interested in. In fact, the nature of time is the subject of my next book.

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

He says,
Top of the morning
Tip of the hat
The Beauty of Nature
Is where it’s at.
He is there to remind us of the healing power of the beauty of nature.

Do I think things happen for a reason? Do you have an example?

Yes. Many years ago, a poem popped into my head and I had no idea what it meant but I always remembered it. About three decades later, while watching the movie Arrival, the meaning became clear. Sometimes things happen and we don’t know why but if we maintain the long view we can eventually understand why it happened.

What are you currently working on?

My next book is on the nature of time. What is time? Time is a mental construct. The word “time” is derived from an Indo-European root which means “to divide.” We divide time into hours, minutes, and seconds. Time divides us against each other, against Nature, and against our true selves.

It was wonderful having you be a part of MTA, Manuel! Your current book and your upcoming book sound interesting. And I completely agree with your giraffe friend, nature is a powerful healer. Wishing you all the best! – Camilla

Where to find the book:

It is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Chapters/ Indigo, FriesenPress Bookstore, Banyen Books in Vancouver. E-books are available from Kindle, Google Play, Nook, Kobo, and the iTunes Bookstore.

Connect with Manuel:

Website: https://www.drmatas.ca
Social Media:
FB – @authormanuelmatas
Instagram – manny.matas
Twitter – @MannyMatas

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Meet the Author: Living the Faery Life by Kac Young, PhD

Today we travel to Ventura, California to chat with Kac Young, PhD about how meditation, traveling, John O’Donohue, flying private airplanes, Irish whiskey, a handyman, and New York City come together as part of Kac’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am an author of 25 books, and also a licensed Religious Science Minister, a Certified Archetypal Therapist and Counselor; a Certified Meditation Teacher; a Career Coach for aspiring actors and directors; and a former pilot of private airplanes. I am a certified Medical Qigong instructor, living in Ventura, CA.

When not writing or teaching, I travel the globe experiencing the energies of international sacred sites and working with advanced masters from many traditions.

In which genre do you write?

I write to the heart and soul. My books are meant to lift people up. There is plenty in the world that drags them down, but I want to be a light in the reader’s life, answer the questions, help them succeed and laugh a lot along the way.

How many published books do you have?

Twenty – five

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

I would definitely want to meet John O’Donohue, poet, mystic and author of some of the finest books ever written. His books move and inspire me to live a bigger life, to care deeply for the planet and to know that life is a series of passing seasons and there is wisdom in each drop of rain. Yes, I would drink fine Irish whiskey with him until the wee hours and my cheeks were sore from laughing and my heart was filled with love.

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

In school the nuns told me I was a very bad writer. It scared me for a very long time. What I learned later was that they were unable to separate the writing from the subjects I was writing about. They made me feel I was a bad writer when in fact, I was just writing like a rebel. I am enjoying my new-found freedom from the scourge of little closed minds. Fortunately now, I see it as ancient history.

How do you prepare yourself to discuss your book?

The first thing I do is sequester myself for 10 minutes, meditate and release the pressures of the day. I spend the next few minutes going over my book to refresh my mind. I randomly flip through the book and stop on a page. I read what it has to say and that will be the guide for my workshop, interview or presentation. I would say the faeries are in charge at that point.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Nothing, I’m still one at heart!

What  actress would you want to play you in the movie about your life, and why?

I would definitely want Rachel Brosnahan to play me. She would look great as a redhead and she has the femininity and bravery to play me and my wild courageous life. I flew a plane at 15 and got my pilot’s license at 16. Of course she could play me! She’s got the chops. (The Marvelous Mrs. Mazel.)

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

Pilot, Minister, TV Producer

How handy are you when it comes to fixing things?

I can fix most things. My father taught me to be independent, to take care of myself, to have an equal measure of taking care of myself and of helping others. My tool collection is wide and filled with gadgets ranging from plumbing to electrical parts and everything in between. I can rewire a circuit, fix a clogged sink and install a toilet. When I was 12, I asked for a power drill for Christmas. Thereafter, I received tools for my birthday and Christmas. I graduated college with enough equipment to open a handy service. When my father passed away, my mother saved every tool for me. You have a door that sticks? Give me a minute and I’ll be right there!

One story I remember from my twenties is that a guy asked me out to dinner and said he was waiting for some handyman to install a broken lock on his door. It got later and later and he said he might have to cancel because the guy hadn’t arrived. I told him no problem. I’d come over and have it done right away. His parents happened to be visiting. I packed up my tools, drove to his house, fixed the problem while they all stared at me. A few twists and turns and I had it working. Done! Okay then, all I had to do was wash my hands and I was ready to go. His parents were astounded. They asked him after the date, “Did you ask her to marry you?” He said he hadn’t. His mother smacked him upside the head, “What’s the matter with you…she’s worth her weight in tools!” His parents never forgot the little redhead in high heels who could fix anything in a flash.

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

New York City, the place of my birth, is stirring, invigorating, leveling, extraordinary, inspiring, teeming with opportunities and the most exciting American city on earth.

It was wonderful to learn more about you and have you on MTA, Kac!! Here’s to the Faery Life! Wishing you much joy and success! – Camilla

Where to find Kac’s most recent book:

My recent book is Living the Faery Life. You can find it where most books are sold, at Amazon and other online booksellers.

Connect with Kac:

www.kacyoung.com

More about Kac:

Kac Young has been a producer, writer and director in the Hollywood television industry for over 25 years. Kac has also earned a PhD in Natural Health and a Doctorate in Naturopathy. She completed 36 courses in nutrition from Baylor University. Clients come to her for advice on health, nutrition and spiritual wellbeing. Using her third Doctorate degree in Clinical Hypnotherapy, she helps people manage weight control, smoking cessation, behavior modification, stress reduction, past-life regression, and phobia management. She teaches workshops and classes in Metaphysics including, Crystal Healing, Essential Oils, Bach Flowers, Pendulum energy, Moon Energies, Feng Shui and practical classes in healthy eating and finding the perfect partner.

She is the author of 24 books.

“Crystal Power, 12 Essential Crystals for Health and Healing,” “Essential Oils for Beginners,”, “The Healing Art of Essential Oils,” “The Art of Healing with Crystals,” “The One Minute Cat Manager,” “The Enlightened Person’s Guide to Raising a Dog,” “Heart Easy, The Food Lover’s Guide to Heart Healthy Eating,” “Discover Your Spiritual Genius,” “Feng Shui the Easy Way,” “Dancing with the Moon,” “21 Days to the Love of Your Life,” “Gold Mind,” “Cheese Dome Power,” The Path to Fabulous,” “The Quick Guide to Bach Flower Remedies,” “Chart Your Course, and “Supreme Healing.” She also creates the annual Essential Oils wall calendar for Llewellyn Books, and has written two novels.

Her entertainment credits include General Hospital, The Showtime Comedy Club Network, Politically Incorrect, Circus of The Stars, The People’s Choice Awards, The Golden Globe Awards, The Genesis Awards, and several dozen talk, dramatic, variety and entertainment specials with Hollywood’s biggest stars. Most recently she was Vice President of Television Production and Development for Universal Studios Hollywood and has also served on the boards of The Director’s Guild of America and Women in Film. She won an Iris Award for her work as producer of “Mama” and a Golden Acorn Award for “Cleaning Up Your Act.”

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Friday with Friends: The Viking Way – Beyond Boundaries with Bill Arnott

Gone Viking II: Beyond Boundaries

I was coming up for air following the release of Gone Viking: A Travel Saga, delighted and humbled by the connections with new friends and readers around the world. And while that odyssey took me across half the planet, the explorer in me, unsurprisingly, remained unsated.

Much of that journey’s appeal were those moments of mystery akin to the original Scandinavian Sagas, when there wasn’t always a conclusion. No answer, solution, nor even a clearly marked finish line. Those dreamy expanses where horizon and cloud comingle in misty swirls. You convince yourself where you are is real, and beyond that, perhaps, lies the magic that fuels everything. Meanwhile, tangible, imagined, physical, emotional, geographical and spiritual boundaries remain. At times by our own making, other times, imposed upon us.

While Gone Viking: A Travel Saga embraced the adventure, playfulness, and discovery inherent in travel it remained, I believe, within acceptable parameters. Now I’ve gone “viking” again, a series of voyages toward the unknown. Only this time I’m setting rule books aside. We’ll play fair; make no mistake, just not necessarily within guidelines. And I welcome you. There’s always room for another adventurous wanderer, another Viking. But this time, our destination lies elsewhere.

This venture was unlike any I’ve experienced—the result of travel restrictions, yet through it all the world opening anew—a depth and breadth of connectivity that simply wasn’t there before pandemic was our norm. This may also be the most ambitious expedition I’d undertaken. As a recently appointed Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, I felt an obligation to do justice to what every traveller craves, the experiences we pursue—exploration no longer being shuttling one’s husk between locales accumulating passport stamps, but mental, emotional and tactile transport between places, times, and sensory touchstones, occasionally glimpsing just what it is we’re doing here.

Gone Viking II takes place over a number of years—before, during, and after the voyages of Gone Viking: A Travel Saga—what preceded the first epic trek, what else occurred at that time, and what followed. All of this reflecting a changing world in which travel restrictions became our new normal. Invariably these wanderings, recording the world around us, emerge as scribbles in journals, our present day version of scribes putting quill ink to velum. Once more I’ve done the same; with a weatherproof pack and blank notebooks. Again I’ve gone viking. Only now, it’s a journey beyond boundaries.

This, from what may be my favourite journal, dog-eared and embossed with a map of the world, frayed pages held in place by an elasticized band, while taped to the inside back cover is a photo of me and my dad:

“Travel. The allure of escape, exoticism, and yes, for some, bragging rights. For the rest of us it represents time-warp slivers of childhood—when this world remained a place of mystery, adventure. Where you can live, for a spell, a hero’s life—desert sand, high seas and buried treasure. X marks the spot to other worlds, imagination, moments when the universe is nothing more than pure potential.”

I was on the sofa in our tiny highrise apartment, the ambient score a rattle of shopping cart wheels on sidewalk, reminiscent of passenger trains slowing through town, crossing roadways. Clack-clack, clack-clack … clack-clack, clack-clack. Identical journeys in their way. Somehow synesthetic. The same familial line of sensory sounds associated with every peregrination—whirr of rubber on bitumen, rumble of engines asea, and the wind-fueled rustle and snap of mainsail and jib.

I remembered losing myself in the incubating whoosh of a bow parting ocean in feathers of froth, a blend of cocooned isolation combined with utter connection. And the comforting, familiar yet foreign hum of coach tires speeding on sand—coastal highway where road was literally the coast, low tide sand that stretched for miles to the dunes at Te Paki. Speed limit on the beach: 100 km/h. The light there at that time was the same as where I am now—flat, dampened sunshine, the kind that makes you squint, tear-up, and question your emotions. Every photo from that long, dreamy trip is over- or under-exposed, muted in a way I now realize captures the experience precisely.

Back to the train, or more accurately, trains. We’d been living with covid for what seemed a very long time—numbers spiking again at an alarming rate. And I was attending a lecture, virtually. Propped up in a nest of plump pillows, feeling like a sultan, a steaming cup of coffee to hand. Travel author Monisha Rajesh spoke to us through laptop screens, as she was the presenter for London’s Royal Geographical Society lecture series. The subject? Her travels around the world on eighty trains, some of the world’s most scenic.

It had been a year since my own travel plans had been cancelled as a result of the pandemic—flights, accommodations, rental cars and commuter trains—refunds received, some forgone, airline points reinstated and turned into cash. From a traveller’s perspective things looked dire, other than a pleasant but fleeting debit balance on the credit card. So along with a stack of travel-lit, -logues and -memoirs, I was doing my best to quell wanderlust as best I could. And for a jonseing dromomaniac, Monisha’s globe-spanning lecture was an ideal, albeit temporary cure.

When we eventually swapped messages, I was pleased to learn one of her favourite experiences on that expansive journey had been her travels in Western Canada, specifically through British Columbia and the Canadian Rockies. Interestingly, the same pockets of planet a globetrotting friend from Greenland described as her favourites as well. When I rode a similar route aboard Via Rail, I felt much the same. Even as a local I was awed, slicing through mountains of sandstone, limestone and shale, a route I’d bisected many times in a car, but somehow from the sliding perspective of a train the same land’s renewed. Invigorated. Old stone reborn.

I hope you’ll join me for this excursion. While the beauty of our ongoing journey, individuals met, and windows onto life’s meaning remain ajar, I believe this new viking voyage, shared space and travel, resonates now more than ever.

(From Bill Arnott’s travelogue Gone Viking II: Beyond Boundaries, sequel to his award-winning bestseller Gone Viking: A Travel Saga.)

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Bill Arnott is the bestselling author of the award-winning Gone Viking: A Travel Saga, the travelogue sequel Gone Viking II: Beyond Boundaries, the suspense-thriller series The Gamble Novellas, the poetry collection Forever Cast in Endless Time, and the #1 bestseller Bill Arnott’s Beat: Road Stories & Writers’ Tips. For his Gone Viking expeditions he’s been granted a Fellowship at London’s Royal Geographical Society. When not trekking the globe with a small pack and journal, or showing off cooking skills as a culinary school dropout, Bill can be found on Canada’s west coast, making music and friends.

Connect with Bill on social media: @billarnott_aps

To see Bill’s previously published interview, go here …

Meet the Author: Gone Viking by Bill Arnott

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Meet the Author: Plus Sign by David Wake

Today we travel to Bournville, in the UK, to chat with David Wake about how an alien spaceship, a chocolate factory, a junk yard, a manual typewriter, theatre writing, Captain Kirk, Agatha Christie, an MRI scan, rhythm guitar, a full size TARDIS, and a sombrero wearing penguin come together as part of David’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi, I’m David Wake and I live near Birmingham in the UK in Bournville within smelling distance of the chocolate factory.

In which genre do you write?

Ah, well, I say ‘Science Fiction, steampunk and more…’, which is the positive spin on the truth. I’m an ‘eclectic writer’. The SF is I, Phone and the Thinkersphere books, starting with Hashtag. The Victorian based adventures are the Derring-Do Club series and then it’s Ancient Japan, Roninko, and bloke-lit, Crossing the Bridge. The next book is cosy mystery. But I think, to answer that perennial ‘where do you get your ideas from’, ideas just pop into people’s heads and the good ones demand to be written.

How many published books do you have?

I’ve published 11 books with 7 first drafts to rewrite.

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

Looking back, I think I always did. I won a writing prize at primary school for a story about a kid finding an alien spaceship in a junk yard. It blew up once I’d reached the three pages requested. I bought a manual typewriter at University which I used to torture my flatmates into the early hours. It wasn’t until I started writing for theatre that I found a niche that reached an audience. I won awards for various plays. I do remember celebrating with the cast and crew in a curry house and drinking lager from the Rose Bowl, a big piece of silverware and thinking, I like this writing lark. And then, suddenly, I switched to novels.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

Captain Kirk’s quarters on the original Enterprise. I mean that seriously. I’m redecorating a room in my house with that design vibe in mind. It won’t be the Captain’s as it’s a much smaller space, but maybe someone of a lower Star Fleet rank like the ship’s writer-in-residence.

What are you currently reading?

V2 by Robert Harris. Before that I was reading Agatha Christie’s Marple books.

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

I have a photograph of my brain, an actual MRI scan, taken when I came up with the idea for my most recently published book. Where do I get my ideas from? There! Look! Bottom left!

I was going to the hospital and I had a theory that the strange sounds an MRI scanner makes, and they are very strange, were similar to the soundtrack from Forbidden Planet. So, on the drive over, I listened to the beeps, warbles and woo-wooOOoo, and then, trapped in the scanner, I heard the beeps, warbles and woo-wooOOoo of the MRI machine. Yes, they are the same and, boy, was I spaced out by the end.

My mind wandered, what else was there to do, and ping! An idea for a sequel to Hashtag appeared. There! Look! Bottom left! This turned out to be two ideas and became Atcode and Plus Sign.

Can you play a musical instrument?

I played rhythm guitar in a band. We were world famous in Formby.

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

Fans. I’ve made some good friends amongst my readers and my fellow writers.

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

I’ve kept a diary and written every day for three quarters of my life! Good grief! That’s a long time. And, of course, it’s helped with my writing. Endlessly trying to make what I ate for tea or what I watched on TV interesting is a real challenge. As with everything, practice makes, if not perfect, at least better.

What actor or actress would you want to play you in the movie about your life, and why?

Me! Me! Finally, a part that’s within my acting range.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

1. I have a full-sized TARDIS in my front room.

2. I starred in an episode of Captain Tartan filmed in Hollywood, California.

3. I invented the literary form, the Drabble.

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

The sombrero won’t fool me, it’s Frobisher back for the TARDIS.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on book 5 of the Derring-Do Club series. One of the heroines has just… ah, wait, that would be telling.

Thank you! Hmm, is that chocolate I can smell?

It was a blast having you be a part of MTA, David! Wishing you all the best and here’s to much success with your writing and future books. – Camilla

Blurb

Plus Sign
The dark sequel to Hashtag and Atcode

Fourteen teenagers dead!

San Francisco, Santa Monica, St Petersburg… and now another mass suicide, here, in Newtown.

Or is it murder?

The case drops into Inspector Oliver Braddon’s inbox. The world demands answers. With everyone’s thoughts shared, liked and monitored, why haven’t the police solved the case in the usual 20 seconds?

As the pressure builds, Braddon’s suspicions focus on a disturbing cult, the Church of the Transcendent Cloud, and tech-billionaire, Jacob Lamb, the creator of the Thinkersphere app, After Life – except that he’s dead.

With more deaths due, Braddon needs to act… and soon.

Plus Sign is a gritty, dystopian neo-noir that questions our obsession with religion and exposes a mind-bending picture of what life might be like when your very thoughts are no longer your own.

Where to find the book:

Book Three of the Thinkersphere series is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk as an ebook and a paperback.

Connect with David:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/David-Wake-Author-287522215449564
Website: http://davidwake.com/
Amazon.com author page: https://www.amazon.com/David-Wake/e/B0034OBZRQ
Amazon.co.uk author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/David-Wake/e/B0034OBZRQ

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Meet the Author: Caribbean Moon – Shipwrecked in Paradise by Jeanne Ainslie

Today we travel to the west coast of Canada to chat with Jeanne Ainslie about how pink cherry blossoms, long walks, picking flowers, purple twilight, Ink Spots, journal writing, wild raspberries, compassion, and gratitude come together as part of Jeanne’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a published author (novels, articles, and short stories) and an experienced editor. My background is science (BSc (Hons), MSc) and my clients have included scientists, government, consultants and authors. My passion is writing. I live by the sea on the west coast of Canada in White Rock, BC.

What genre do you write?

Romantic adventure/erotica.

How many published books do you have?

Two traditional and three ebooks.

At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Age 14. A strong desire to communicate.

What am I currently reading?

Burning The Days by James Salter.

What is my favorite season and why?

Spring. White and pink cherry blossoms, jasmine, fragrant mock orange and lilac.

What do I do when not writing or marketing?

Read, take long walks along the ocean promenade, watch the tide come and go, see movies and plays, pick flowers.

What songs hit you with a wave of nostalgia?

“If I Didn’t Care” Ink Spots and “You Are My Flower” The Carter Family.

What is your favorite time of day and why?

Twilight and long summer nights. I love the purple twilight and warm summer nights. The day never ends.

Do you journal or keep a diary?

I’ve kept a journal since I was 25 many years ago. I’ve always scribbled notes on scraps of paper. My journal entries have been invaluable for my published books. They capture the immediacy of the experience so that writing is easy.

What do you miss about being a kid?

My aunt’s farm in southern Ontario. I love the smell of fresh mown hay, driving my uncle’s tractor, the open fields, the vegetable garden, picking wild raspberries, the barn cats and feeding the pigs in the barn.

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

Hang in there.

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

Tenacity, resilience, determination, setting goals, compassion and gratitude. Compassion is essential for a writer. And gratitude for my friends and family and all the good things in my life.

What are you currently working on?

A nonfiction book “First You Have to Learn to Live Alone–A Compassionate Guide to Living Alone and Aging”.

My most recent published book is Caribbean Moon–Shipwrecked in Paradise.

Thanks for being a part of MTA, Jeanne. Wish you all the best and much success! – Camilla

Where to find the book:

http://www.amazon.com/author/jeanneainslie

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Meet the Author: Martyrs of the Mind by Andrei Cherascu

Today we travel to Timisoara, Romania to chat with Andrei Cherascu about how his grandfather, comic books, music journalism, Garden of Rama, science fiction, augmented reality, classics, Game of Thrones, detailed outlines, improvisation, playing the guitar, and living on Mars come together as part of Andrei’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Andrei Cherascu. I live in Timișoara, Romania with my wife, Ioana and our Bichon puppies, Jazzie and Teyla. I’m a full time writer, editor and music journalist.

In which genre do you write?

I write science fiction. It was the genre that really made me fall in love with storytelling. I started reading very early on in my childhood, mainly because I idolized my grandfather, who was a voracious reader. I loved bonding with him over books. He would read just about anything. Once he was done with a book, he’d pass it on to me and then we’d talk about it.

When he handed me “Garden of Rama” by Arthur C. Clarke and Gentry Lee, it opened up a whole new world for me. It was an experience unlike any other. On a purely emotional level, the grandeur of these “big idea” stories and these monumental events made me feel like I was part of something important. It made me feel like life was important.

It was an organic transition from cartoons and comic books and all these fantastic tales of childhood to something that was equally wondrous but made even more impactful by the fact that it used reality as a reference point. Over time, though I enjoy reading almost anything, it was always the scifi stories that stuck with me the most. They were pivotal to my development — emotionally and intellectually.

When I decided to become a writer, it just felt natural to write scifi stories. I wanted to write the kinds of books that impacted me the most. That’s why my tagline is, “Science Fiction in the Style of the Classics.” I actually took that from one of the reviews for my first book; it just fits perfectly.

The “augmented reality” of science fiction stories gives you the opportunity to place characters in moral and ethical situations they could never encounter in the real world. That’s what always drew me to these stories. It wasn’t the science and technology, but the way these things shaped the characters’ inner lives, their moral philosophy, their emotional spectrum.

My series takes place in a world where telepathy is common and people called Mindguards are tasked with protecting other people’s thoughts from intrusion, essentially preserving their mental integrity. So I was able to contemplate the concepts of privacy, information security and especially responsibility in a setting that presented these topics in their most extreme form. It was the concept of responsibility that I was particularly interested in. If people presented themselves to you in their most vulnerable form and you were responsible for the wellbeing of their very minds, what kinds of consequences would this responsibility have on your own mind? It would essentially be an unprecedented exercise of empathy. Would that be a privilege or a burden? Or both? As a person who tends to be excessively protective of people, these questions are very important to me. This series allowed me the space to think about them very deeply.

How many published books do you have?

I’ve published four novels and two novellas, all in the same universe. My series is called “The Mindguard Saga.” It centers around a character named Sheldon Ayers, who is an extremely powerful telepath tasked with guarding “information packages” in his clients’ minds. I came up with this character almost a decade ago, when my wife was going through a difficult time at work. I tried to comfort her but was constantly frustrated with my own limitations in doing so. It made me wish I could truly guard her mind from everything that was upsetting her. So I came up with the concept of a Mindguard and then imagined the kind of world that would have to exist in order for somebody like Sheldon Ayers to become who he was.

I started from this complete character and then built an entire universe around him. It became a really complex story with several plot lines coming together at the end. It was really interesting to explore all the layers of this world just based on this character’s place in it.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on the fifth and final book in the series.

“Mindgod” will come out at the end of the year and will bring all these narrative threads together in what I’m hoping will be a satisfying finale. This is really important to me. No matter what I’m going to be writing in the future, this series is fundamental to who I am, as a writer and a person. I want to make sure that, when it’s all over, I will have done justice to these characters. I want the conclusion to truly feel like it matters. I want to be able to still feel comfortable with it a decade from now.

I remember how disappointed I was in the final season of “Game of Thrones.” Remember that? It was almost universally hated. As a fan of the show, it just left me lamenting all the wasted opportunities. If I felt that way as a fan, I can only imagine what it would feel like to be a writer and be disappointed in your work. I don’t want to be haunted by regrets. That’s why this last book has taken longer to write. But I’m done with the first draft and I’m happy with how it turned out. Hopefully the readers will be too.

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

Just how the mind works, really. There are so many things in the back of your mind that you never consciously realize. It’s interesting how many things you can come up with on the fly.

I write a detailed outline for every story — it’s the only way I can work. However, I do leave a lot of room for “improvisation.” When I write the first draft, I do it almost without thinking. I use the outline as a guide and just furiously type away, just pouring everything onto the page. It’s like a trance. I’m always surprised by how many things pop up that I’ve never really thought about consciously, in spite of my detailed outline. Most of these things come in the form of conversations and musings about all sorts of things and just character development. But sometimes it will be something that takes the story in a completely new direction. Then I have to adjust the outline. At the end, I’m left wondering where all of that came from. It’s an interesting exploration of one’s own psyche.

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

I think it’s the ability to integrate so many interesting things into your life. I’ve always been interested in all sorts of things. Growing up, it was difficult to decide what to do with my life. There were so many fascinating things to which I wanted to dedicate my time. There was never really one dominating area of interest for me.

I love art, I love music, I love history, I love wine, I love doing all sorts of physical exercise. But I don’t love any of those things more than the other. I have a good singing voice and I can play a bit of guitar. Sometimes, I get together with friends and we do jam sessions and it’s really fun. But I could never be a professional musician. I’d have to dedicate so much time to it. That time would come at the expense of reading about art, or practicing my photography, or training. I train every day and do all sorts of things, from running to martial arts to weightlifting. But I couldn’t be a professional athlete because, firstly, I would have to dedicate myself entirely to one sport and then I would have to train for so many hours a day I wouldn’t have time to practice guitar. I’d have to watch what I eat and I wouldn’t be able to drink wine on a daily basis. And I love wine.

So, basically, writing is a result of an indecision regarding what to do with my life. Because writing practically gives you an excuse to pursue anything you’re interested in for exactly as long as you want. When you’re a creative person, especially a storyteller, anything you do in your life is conducive to creativity. You get to indulge in information without actually having to specialize in anything and thus restrict the time you can spend learning about something else. This jack-of-all-trades nature of writing really fits my personality. I might never be a professional athlete, but I can make up a character who is and then imagine what that would be like for a little while. There’s nothing I love more than imagining what things would be like.

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

When I’m not writing my own books, I’m helping other people write theirs. I run expanse-editing.com, where I offer developmental editing and professional beta reading for indie authors.

Since 2012, I’ve also been active as a music journalist, covering adventurous music from all over the world (jazz, world music, experimental, indie, avant-garde and the like). On my website, The Music and Myth, I post reviews, news articles and interviews with musicians like Bill Frisell, Al DiMeola, Thana Alexa and Jazzmeia Horn.

What are you currently reading?

I’m actually currently reading one of my clients’ manuscripts, a lovely literary fantasy novel that’s going to be the first in a new trilogy. This is a client I’ve been working with for years and the stories I’ve read are all set in the same universe, so it’s been great to revisit this world and watch it grow.

If Mars or another planet was livable, would you accept a one-way ticket there? Why or why not?

No. Despite my predilection for scifi, I’m good here. I’m a socially active person. I love traveling to different places, meeting people, spending time in cafes and restaurants, going to museums. The breadth of experience on this planet is more than enough for me. Mars would get really boring really quickly. That soil is probably terrible for wine production and I can’t imagine walking my dogs in that gravity.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My most recent published book is “Martyrs of the Mind,” the fourth novel in my Mindguard Saga. The events in this book directly influence the series finale, which I’m working on now.

For my series, I used the same structure that Frank Herbert used for his Dune Saga, which is my all-time favorite work of fiction. In the Dune Saga, the first three books are kind of similar in their structure, pacing and themes, with “God Emperor of Dune” kind of sitting in the middle as its own separate entity and then the last two books once again connected. It should have been the last three, but he passed away before he could publish the series finale. He wanted to have this balanced structure, with his God Emperor at the center of the universe, so to speak. It’s really elegant.

I wanted to do a similar thing as a tribute to my favorite author. So the first two books in the Mindguard Saga introduce this universe, its characters and the dramas and tragedies they have to deal with while the third book sits by itself as a sort of character study of Sheldon Ayers (who, at least symbolically, is my version of a God Emperor). The final two books chronicle the unavoidable classic scifi “war to end all wars.”

It was wonderful to have you on MTA, and to learn more about you, Andrei. I am inspired by the thoughts you shared. Beautifully conveyed. I wish you all the best and much success! – Camilla

Book Blurb for Martyrs of the Mind:

In the aftermath of Earth’s battle with the Vintages, an unlikely messenger delivers a shocking revelation: the existence of an advanced civilization that threatens to change the very core of human identity.

As the world falls into panic, a terrorist organization once thought extinct rises from the ashes of its violent past to embrace the dawn of a new era. Led by a charismatic prophet – a telepath with unprecedented powers – the Martyrs of the Mind wage a holy war on the Federation in the name of the God Revealed.

Now the de-facto leader of mankind, Enforcement Unit Commander Tamisa Faber must step up as the world’s last guardian. But Tamisa is no stranger to war. As the crimes of her past return to haunt her present, Tamisa is faced with her own chilling revelation: humanity will need the Mindguards she herself has all but destroyed.

Where to find the books:

All of my books are available in digital format pretty much wherever e-books are sold.

Connect with Andrei:

andreicherascu.com

expanse-editing.com

themusicandmyth.com

http://www.andreicherascu.com/martyrs-of-the-mind/

https://www.facebook.com/AndreiCherascuAuthor

https://www.instagram.com/andreicherascu.author/

https://themusicandmyth.com/

http://www.andreicherascu.com/

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