Meet the Author: Wolfe Trap by Matt Cost

Today we travel to Brunswick, Maine to chat with Matt Cost about how a video store, Fidel Castro, teaching history, jazz music, the Cuban Revolution, great advice, Jukebox Hero, and a blind pony come together as part of Matt’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Over the years, I have owned a video store, a mystery bookstore, and a gym. I have also taught history and coached just about every sport imaginable.

I live in Brunswick, Maine, with my wife, Harper. We have four grown children: Brittany, Pearson, Miranda, and Ryan. A chocolate Lab and a basset hound round out the mix. I now spend my days at the computer, writing.

In which genre do you write?

I write histories and mysteries. Historical fiction and mystery.

How many published books do you have?

6. Joshua Chamberlain and the Civil War; At Every Hazard, I am Cuba; Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution, Mainely Power, Mainely Fear, Mainely Money, Wolfe Trap. I am under contract for Love in a Time of Hate, Mind Trap, Mainely Angst, and Mouse Trap.

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

I had an inkling I wanted to be a writer when I was eight, but this did not ignite into flame until my senior year in college when a Latin American History teacher got me excited to write a book about Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution. It was his sheer passion for the subject that burst me into flames.

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

My desk is in a corner of the living room, and I write with headphones on listening to jazz music. My wife and four kids and three dogs could be having a party behind me, and I wouldn’t know it.

What are you currently reading?

Celestine by Kevin St. Jarre

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

A story in the paper about a mother who was wiping the residue from her heroin bag on her infant daughter’s gums to get her to stop crying. While in the short term it worked, the end result was not good. This is the premise for Wolfe Trap.

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

Travel. I’ve been to Cuba, Iceland, Russia, and all over Europe to name a few places.

What songs hit you with a wave of nostalgia every time you hear them?

Jukebox Hero by Foreigner

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?

Robert B. Parker. Where did Spenser come from?

What’s a great piece of advice you’ve received lately?

Write true to yourself.

Share an interesting or funny story from your childhood.

When I was seven, I owned a blind pony. He used to get spooked by chickens and other sounds when I rode him. One day, startled, he took off running and I was unable to rein him in. We rode straight into a swimming pool. No ponies or young boys were injured in this incident.

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

Spenser. I like his amusing, affectionate, but no-nonsense style.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently writing the first draft of the fourth book in my Clay Wolfe/Port Essex series. The first book, Wolfe Trap, came out June 23rd.

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

Wolfe Trap is about heroin being smuggled through lobster traps in a coastal Maine town. When a woman comes into the office of PI Clay Wolfe to hire him to uncover who sold the drugs that killed her grandbaby, he has no idea of the storm that is going to follow. The book is filled with a colorful setting and flamboyant characters. The plot twists its way through the underbelly of Port Essex, from hardworking fishermen to wealthy summer residents. The end is as shocking as the beginning and will leave the reader rapt within the pages.

It was great having you be a part of MTA, Matt. Wishing all the best and much success with your writing! – Camilla

More About Matt:

Matt Cost, from Brunswick, Maine, in the U.S., is the highly acclaimed, award-winning author of the Mainely Mystery series. The first book, Mainely Power, was selected as the Maine Humanities Council Read ME fiction book of 2020. This was followed by Mainely Fear and Mainely Money.

I Am Cuba: Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution was his first traditionally published novel in March of 2020. A second historical, Love in a Time of Hate, will be published in August of 2021.

Wolfe Trap was the first in the Clay Wolfe Port Essex Trap series. Mind Trap, will be published in October of 2021, and Mouse Trap will follow in April of 2022.

Over the years, Cost has owned a video store, a mystery bookstore, and a gym. He has also taught history and coached just about every sport imaginable.

Cost now lives in Brunswick, Maine, with his wife, Harper. There are four grown children: Brittany, Pearson, Miranda, and Ryan. A chocolate Lab and a basset hound round out the mix. He now spends his days at the computer, writing.

Where to find the book:

Wolfe Trap on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Wolfe-Trap-Clay-Essex-Mystery/dp/1645991695/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=wolfe+trap&qid=1624628273&sr=8-2

Connect with Matt:

Website: https://www.mattcost.net

Twitter: @MattCost8

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/matt.cost.3/

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Meet the Author: The Search for Summer by Chantelle Atkins

Today we travel to Dorset, England to chat with Chantelle Atkins about how creative writing clubs, Watership Down, gardening, people watching, dog walking, co-writing, and listening to music come together as part of Chantelle’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Chantelle, I’m a mother of four from Dorset, England. As well as being a writer, I run a community interest company called Chasing Driftwood Writing Group. We provide creative writing clubs for children and adults, as well as events, projects, online courses and workshops! My hobbies include gardening, reading, listening to music and walking my beautiful dogs.

In which genre do you write?

I write in both adult and young adult and in a multiple of genres. Dystopian, post-apocalyptic, family drama, mystery, crime, and psychological thriller, but I’d say the most common theme with all of my books is that they are all very character driven.

How many published books do you have?

I have thirteen! Five are standalones and the rest comprise a trilogy and a five-part series.

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

When I read Watership Down around the age of 10, I became so deeply immersed in the world the author had created, so in love with the characters and so addicted to reading, it just made me want to write too. I wanted part of that escapism, to be in control of characters and their lives, to create a world and direct it – it just seemed like pure magic to me and it still does.

I started writing my own animal-based stories around that time, all influenced heavily by Watership Down! I made front covers for them and write back cover blurbs. From there, it became a true addiction. As I grew older and got into different genres, they would then influence my own writing. SE Hinton was another huge influence on me as was Stephen King.

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

My most recent book was the final book in a trilogy. It’s called The Holds End trilogy and in order the books are A Song For Bill Robinson, Emily’s Baby and The Search For Summer. A Song For Bill Robinson was based on a book I wrote but never finished when I was 16 years old. I found it in an old suitcase when I was sorting stuff out one day and just knew I had to finally finish it. It was all hand-written and I even found a notebook full of character bios, scene ideas and so on. It was just all there waiting for me to pick up again. So, I rewrote it and it then evolved into a trilogy! I do recall that I originally got the idea for the first book after watching the film The Commitments when I was 16. It inspired me to write a story about a grumpy and uncommunicative teenage boy who had a huge talent for singing. The unsolved murder storyline was new to me when I picked it up again!

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

There are so many things that are enjoyable and magical about writing, but if I had to pick just one it would be that because of writing I am never, ever lonely and never, ever bored. It’s impossible to be lonely or bored with a head full of ideas and characters, old and new. It’s impossible to be alone when these people are always with me. That’s a pretty nice way to feel.

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

This is a tricky question because although I love all my characters very, very much, I have given them very difficult and complex lives I’m not sure I would want to live! However, if I had to pick one, I think it would be Bill Robinson from the Holds End books as I am envious of his singing talent and I have always wanted to learn to play the guitar, so I would get his gifts if I became him for a day. I would write songs, play the guitar and sing for an audience!

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

I would have to say being a quiet introvert who enjoys people watching has been very useful. I’ve always been one of those people who lingers around the edges, who shies away from noise and crowds, and I used to be ashamed of this. When I was a kid, people were always accusing me of being too quiet. I’d think, if I only you knew how noisy it is in my head! But the whole time I was watching and listening and noticing body language, tones of voice, facial expressions and all the things people say without actually saying it. I’d notice interactions between people, conflict, jealousies, passions and more and all of this has been invaluable for writing!

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on two projects at the moment. One is a YA post-apocalyptic 4-book series. I’ve written the first two books and I’m currently doing some edits on them before I start book three. I won’t publish them until the whole series is complete. It’s set in the village I live in and is about how a group of kids survive after a series of viruses wipe out the entire adult population. It’s about the natural world fighting back and the kids having to learn the new rules to survive it! I am also working on a YA trilogy with another author. I never imagined I would co-write books with a fellow author but my business partner, author Sim Sansford suggested it and we are in the middle of writing the third book in the trilogy. It has been so much fun! We each write a different character and send it back and forth, swapping messages as we go about what happens next. It has been a very raw and organic and fast-paced experience and I’ve loved it. It’s basically about a strange little town and two teens who discover they have superpowers. Not a genre I’ve written in before but it’s brilliant fun!

Tell us about your most recent book.

The Search For Summer the final book in the gritty Holds Ends series ties up the storylines set up in book one – an unsolved murder and a neighbourhood feud collide with a self-destructive teenage boy’s singing ambitions! There is a love triangle storyline too and plenty of family drama. It also has a very good soundtrack!

It was great to have you on MTA, Chantelle! Wishing you all the best and much success with future books, and the co-writing book. Sounds great! – Camilla

The Search For Summer

When Bill’s desire for the truth pushed Charlie into an impossible decision, he lashed out in horrifying fashion, stealing baby Gabriel and leaving Bill for dead.

Panic-stricken Charlie is now on the run with his three-day-old son. His hiding place reveals a mystery that will drive him further across the country.

Summer was involved with the set-up that pushed Charlie over the edge and she was there when he stole the baby…but where is she now?

As his band The Rebel Anthem attract a manager and a possible record deal, Bill has a lot on his mind. He cannot accept that Summer would run away and fears his own behaviour may have played a part in her disappearance.

In this dramatic climax to the YA trilogy, previous actions and decisions have consequences for all, while Bill and his friends must find Summer and baby Gabriel and finally bring a killer to justice.

Where to find the book:

Available in ebook and paperback on Amazon and other platforms

Connect with Chantelle:

https://www.instagram.com/chantelleatkinswriter/

https://www.facebook.com/chantelleatkinswriter

Website: https://chantelleatkins.com/

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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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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: 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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Meeting the Author: Freedom of the Creed by NJ Coleridge

Today we travel to Nottingham to chat with Nick Coleridge about how corporate life, being a stay-at-home dad, pots of coffee, baking, Dungeons and Dragons, living room raves, a do-it-yourself painting disaster, and The Doctor come together as part of Nick’s writing life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Nick Coleridge (my nomme de plume is NJ Coleridge as there is already a Nicholas Coleridge writing. We are definitely not the same person though might be related, apparently….). I am a father of two and have always had aspirations (read daydreams) of becoming a fully fledged writer.

A few years ago, I made the best decision of my life to become a stay-at-home dad to my lovely daughter. As a hobby and after some encouragement from my long-suffering wife, who I think might have suggested it as a way of making me put my money where my mouth is, I decided to focus on and write in the small windows of opportunity that “nap time” allowed.

Over time what was at best a dabbling evolved into a story and eventually a proper book! And so, Freedom of the Creed was published on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited last summer. After good reviews, even from those unafraid of hurting my feelings, I started writing the sequel in autumn of 2020, titled Better to Die, and I’m hoping to release it later this year.

I am based in Nottingham, UK.

In which genre do you write?

Freedom of the Creed, and its sequel, is a western, though not in the traditional sense. I have written it more like a thriller which just happens to be set in the old west, if that makes sense, taking cues from writers like Elmore Leonard and Lee Child.

I am also planning a thriller set in the British boarding school system as well as a fantasy series.

How many published books do you have?

One and one short story. For now!

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

I have had many careers but the only thing I ever really wanted to do is write. Stepping off the treadmill of corporate life to look after my daughter seemed like a perfect opportunity to scratch that itch.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

Our dining table with a pot of coffee close to hand, facing a window looking out onto any greenery I can find. Either that or a secluded corner of a coffee shop, don’t mind where as long as the coffee is good! Upon reflection it looks like an abundance of coffee is key as opposed to venue.

What are you currently reading?

The Name of the Wind. Book One of the Kingkiller Chronicles. By Patrick Dothfuss. It is amazing.

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

I have always loved westerns, having grown up on a steady diet of John Ford and Sergio Leone, but I was inspired to write about Saoirse and Wolfe after watching Godless. It’s a fantastic limited series on Netflix produced by Stephen Soderbergh and I highly recommend it.

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

I am a full-time/stay at home dad so when not writing you will find me tidying up my children’s toys, baking, singing songs, make things out of playdoh, and organising living room raves (we dance round the living room to disco or club classics……anything to exhaust a small child!) At the end of the day, I curl up on the sofa and collapse before remembering that I have words to write.

Have you ever had any Do It Yourself disasters?

Far too many to count, there is a reason I have been forbidden to ever pick up a paintbrush by my wife. For example –

When we were first married, it seems like an age ago, in our first ever flat. Ever the practical romantic I thought how lovely it would be for my wife to come home to find the decorating (that she had planned meticulously) to be finished, allowing her a well-deserved night off! It was a relatively simple job, essentially paint a part of the wall with very special iron filing paint to make a black board.

However, in spite of its simplicity, I essentially painted the entire kitchen wall black as the paint ran, and ran, and ran. My furious wife had to completely redecorate the wall and the skirting board of the kitchen. Needless to say I was not popular.

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

Two things –

a. Being able to lose yourself completely in a world of your own creation.

b. The problem-solving element of it. Particularly when you write your characters into a corner and then have to write them out of it.

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

Knights of Cydonia by Muse. A piece of pure prog-rock genius.

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

Probably Seth Rogen as I look a little like him and have always got the impression that he and I are quite similar in our general outlook on life. If my life was an action movie, Gerard Butler; because he’s awesome.

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

As a child of the 80s it would have to be Dungeons and Dragons. It was based on the classic role-playing game and is about a group of teenagers who find themselves in a fantasy world of magic, demons, and wizards. I have often fantasised about having magical powers, particularly those that meant I could bewitch brooms to do the cleaning for me; even if it only lasted a few minutes before I was barbecued by an irritable dragon.

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

Frozen 2 with my daughter, her choice not mine. Though I would be lying if I said I didn’t know all the words….

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

The Doctor (from Doctor Who). Because he has a TARDIS, and there are days that I could really do with a time machine. Also, I think he/she would be very good company, just think of the adventures!

What are you currently working on?

I should be proofreading the sequel to Freedom of the Creed, but instead I am working on creating the world and rules for an as yet untitled fantasy project. That and staying sane during lockdown whilst trying to home school a four-and-a-half-year-old and sleep train a nine month old!

It was great learning more about you, and having you be a part of MTA, Nick! Wishing you all the best with the living room raves, and your writing! – Camilla

Where to find the book:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B0876SXTL8

Connect with Nick:

Twitter – https://twitter.com/npichol
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/npichol/?ref=page_internal

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Meet the Author: God and Dragons – The War of the North Saga Book Seven by Kate Haley

Today we travel to Wellington, New Zealand to chat with Kate Haley about how different worlds, imaginary friends, fighting monsters, vivid dreams, Terry Pratchett, Gargoyles, steampunk fantasy, and endings come together as part of Kate’s writing life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Kia ora! (‘Hello’ from Aotearoa/New Zealand) my name is Kate and I am an author from Wellington, New Zealand. Despite loving my hometown, I have never been able to stay in reality very long. I can’t stop wandering between different worlds, and I started putting them on paper so that I could share my imaginary friends with others. I’ve never looked back.

In which genre do you write?

I predominantly write fantasy, but dabble in horror and sci-fi. Which I guess means anything that will let me fight monsters.

How many published books do you have?

I currently have 7 books published – the complete War of the North saga, which is epic fantasy for young adults. I have another two stand alone books scheduled for release later in 2021.

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

Interestingly enough this answer is the same for pretty much every book I’ve ever written… they all started as dreams. I dream vividly, intensely, even lucidly. The War of the North Saga was born from a strange dream I had about a fantasy battlefield. I also had a weird dream last year about goo, which seems to be developing a page count…

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

Terry Pratchett. He’s been my favourite author for a very long time now. I don’t think there’s another sense of humour in the world that I admire as much as his. There’s no particular or pressing question I would want answered, but I would have loved to pick his brain and chat. I would have told him how much I loved his work and what it meant to me (even though we write very different things), because I think authors always need to hear that, no matter how often, and I’m sorry that I never got to let him know.

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

Gargoyles. If you haven’t seen it, you should. Watch from the beginning all the way through to the end of The Gathering, Part II. It is still some of the best writing I have ever seen, even as an adult. You can go to Avalon, sail the whole world, meet mythical figures and gods, and best of all – there are gargoyles.

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

I would not. I love traveling, but part of that love is being able to come home. I have friends and family that I could never bring myself to leave behind forever. Besides, if I want to visit completely alien worlds, I can read a book – or even better, write one!

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

Why do you keep trying to eat plastic?
You know it’s wrong, why do you do it?
WHY DO YOU KEEP TRYING TO EAT PLASTIC?!?!
(My cat is still very young… and special. Thus life is new and full of wonderous things to chew.)

Camilla: Oh my gosh! My cat ate plastic, too. I could not have real plants because she ate them, so I switched to fake plants. She ate those, too! She would also chew on the fake Christmas tree. She was a strange one. We were a perfect match! HA!

What are you currently working on?

I am currently writing a steampunk fantasy book. I’m really excited about it. There’s magic and politics and romance and family drama. It’s delicious. I can’t get enough of it, which is such a wonderful place to be when you’re creating. It is for an older audience than The War of the North, but I’m hoping 2021’s releases will help me target new audiences anyway. I want to do more stand alone books because I prefer them to series. I like being able to sit down to a book and enjoy it without worrying about when and where I can get the next one.

My next releases will be Welcome to the Inbetween – a new fantasy adventure aimed at a 12+y/o audience. June 2021.

And Gateway to Dark Stars – an action horror novel in the vein of Cthulhu meets The Witcher. November 2021.

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

My most recent book is Gods & Dragons: The War of the North Saga Book Seven. The epic conclusion to my dramatic teen fantasy series. The entire series is available on Amazon, and free on Kindle Unlimited.

I have to say, it was a mission to get here. I would obviously recommend that anyone curious should start with book one Steel & Stone, but I am so proud of the end of this story. I have been told a few times that it is an unusual ending, and I know what they mean, but I love it and everyone who told me it was unusual said that they really enjoyed it. That was always what I wanted. Endings are everything to me. What comes first is important, but the real trick is nailing the last 15 minutes. I learnt that doing screenwriting.

It was wonderful learning more about you and your writing style. Wishing you all the best and much success! – Camilla

Blurb:

The end is here.

Satinka and her friends have finally made it to the Five Stars of the North. There is nothing left but to rescue Memnyir and face Sunne in a battle to the death.

In this thrilling conclusion, the team confront Sunne and Āni in a fight they know could cost their lives. The Age of Mankind is tested, and the battle of gods and dragons commences. One way or another, the War of the North will be won, and the fate of the world decided.

Where to find the series:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B089T4BH5F

Connect with Kate:

Website: https://www.katehaleyauthor.com/
FB: https://www.facebook.com/katehaleyauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KateHaleyAuthor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katehaleyauthor/

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Meet the Author: Zahara by Joyce Yarrow

Today we travel to Seattle to chat with Joyce Yarrow about how a nomadic lifestyle, Spain, the Staten Island Ferry, mass transit, Ireland, an invisible horse, and Russia come together as part of Joyce’s writing life.

Where do you live?

I live in Seattle and write suspense fiction that Library Journal says “appeal to readers who enjoy unusual stories with an international setting.”

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

I wrote my first short story in my pre-teen years and although a copy did not survive the chaos of my nomadic lifestyle, one scene remains in my mind: A group of children riding on the Staten Island Ferry in a futile attempt to escape the gang-ridden Bronx. They were led by a little girl with a short haircut and the title of the story was The Children’s Friar. Since there were no religious overtones and I had recently read the original Robin Hood, Friar Tuck and his cohorts were the most obvious source of inspiration. It’s strange that I chose him over Maid Marian –perhaps I was precocious enough to choose healing powers over beauty and charm in my struggle to survive.

A year later I wrote The Subway Poems, an ode to my mass transit adventures that turned out to be my first published work. I learned I could play with words and not take them so seriously, that they had music inside them if only you listened.

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

Ah, where to begin.

I’ll start with the imaginary stallion who followed me through the old neighborhood and gave me confidence I could survive. I didn’t need words to confide in him. He knew exactly how I felt when we approached a hazard and I can still feel his warm breath on my neck telling me to slow down and walk slow. I’d become as invisible as he was and that’s how I’d make it to the safe side of the street. I’ve occasionally wondered why this horse, so well-remembered, has no name (this was way before the song came out). Perhaps he was a projection of the stronger side of myself? Let’s go with that.

How many published books do you have?

So far I have written five novels, four of which are published by different small presses, with a fifth book being brought to market by my agent. Throughout the writing process, my invisible horse has trotted beside me, gradually changing from an untamed Pinto ridden only by me into a domesticated mare with a pen instead of a bit in her mouth. After settling down in Seattle, I created a savvy New York City detective named Jo Epstein and through her was able to safely relive and embellish on the seamier side of life containing my roots. I traveled all the way to Russia to find the solution to one of Jo’s cases and co-authored a thriller/family saga with an Indian journalist exploring the detrimental effects of the caste system.

What are you currently working on?

Most recently, I set a novel –Zahara and the Lost Books of Light—in medieval and modern-day Spain. The protagonist, Alienor Crespo, ventures into the fray to discover her roots while extracting the truth about neo-fascism. I am not nearly so brave as Alienor Crespo but as my new imaginary friend she tackles my demons and has saved my sanity during these perilous and contentious times.

I’m currently working on Book II of the Zahara Trilogy.

What are you currently reading?

I love Adrian McKinty’s novels set during the troubles in Ireland.

Thanks so much for hosting me today, Camilla!

It was great learning more about you Joyce, and a pleasure having you on MTA. Wishing you much success! – Camilla

Book trailer:

Where to find the book:

Connect with Joyce:

https://www.joyceyarrow.com

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Meet the Author: 6 Caledon Street by D. Wells

Today we travel to East Anglia, in the UK, to chat with D. Wells about how a crazy cat, nature, Sherlock Holmes, amateur photography, the eighties, aliens, and Cornwall come together as  part of her past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a married mother of three. I have been writing stories since childhood and started self-publishing in my early thirties. I have published several short stories and one novel. I love writing about different relationship dynamics; the ups and downs of family life, yet funnily enough I am not keen on writing romance. Probably because I know my mum will be reading! I live in East Anglia, in the UK, with my family (and crazy cat) and I adore the countryside. Nature really inspires me.

In which genre do you write?

I would say women’s fiction, though I have been told my writing borders on book group fiction. Because I don’t feature romance as a primary story arc (although most of my characters are in relationships), I don’t fit comfortably into any one box. I do enjoy my dual timelines and as I said, writing about family dynamics.

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

According to many writers I do editing ‘wrong.’ I edit as I go, rather than write each draft down in full and go back and edit. I do draft and attempt big edits in between, but I tweak as I write. It also helps to go back, read, edit and remind myself of the story arcs. No matter how well I plan I do tend to lose track otherwise.

What are you currently reading?

I am slowly working my way through The Entire Collection of Sherlock Holmes. It has taken ages (I think it’s about thirty hours of reading in total) as I tend to read a few individual stories at a time, in between reading other novels.

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

I am usually busy looking after my three children, the house and cat; and this last year with the lockdown, months of homeschooling too. I also enjoy amateur photography and getting outdoors, trying new recipes in the kitchen and lots of reading.

What do you miss about being a kid?

I grew up in the eighties and early nineties and I feel blessed to have done so. As well as being fascinating in terms of music, fashion and film, those years also seemed simpler and happier times compared to the busyness we experience today. I was from a large, one income family and there was never money to spare, yet I grew up in the countryside and the village I lived in had a great sense of community. I miss that.

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

The original Poseidon Adventure. I saw it years ago and I really enjoy action/adventure/disaster films, so I was keen to give it another watch.

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

Not unless the earth was completely uninhabitable. And… I’ve watched Aliens!

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

What her meows mean – we’ve not had her for long and I am clueless trying to figure out what she wants. What she does when she disappears into the neighbour’s gardens. And what she really thinks about the children!

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

It’s between Cornwall which was a favourite holiday location as a child and Suffolk where I grew up. They’re both beautiful and unique places.

What are you currently working on?

I am just finishing the editing of novel three and I have already started writing novel four. Novel two is still out on submission with agents.

Tell us about your most recent book.

6 Caledon Street is a dual timeline novel, which I wrote and self-published towards the end of 2015. I have re-released it since, while writing my next two books. It follows the story of Sarah, who is trying to move on with her life with a series of new starts, yet finds solace in the journals of a young Edwardian girl.

It was great having you on MTA and learning more about you. Wishing you all the best, and here’s hoping you figure out what those meows mean! – Camilla

6 Caledon Street Blurb:

In an attempt to escape her painful past Sarah Miller moves into a beautifully restored Edwardian property in Caledon Street. Soon her life intermingles with not only her concert pianist neighbour, and her landlord, but also upon the discovery of some dusty journals written by an original occupant of the house. Recognising parallels in her life and the young teenage girl’s among the crisp pages of the journal, Sarah is faced with the choice to overcome her past, or allow it to hinder her future.

Where to find the book:

mybook.to/6CaledonStreet

Social media Links:

https://www.facebook.com/authorD.Wells/

www.instagram.com/d.wellsauthor

www.twitter.com/dwellsauthor

Website:

https://dwellsauthor.weebly.com

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Meet the Author: the Boy who Couldn’t by R Coverdale

Today we travel to North East England to chat with Rachel Coverdale about how a school librarian, gardening, living every moment, English literature, Karate, judging others, puppy farms, an over-active imagination, a stealthy night outing, fresh cow poo, squealing with delight, a Norwegian mountain, early mornings, and being an English teacher come together as part of Rachel’s past and current life. You’re in for treat!

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi there, lovely to e-meet you! I come from North East England. Most people in England think the North East is a grim place to live. Us northerners happily perpetuate that falsehood as we, rather selfishly, like to keep its beauty and wildness as a selfish secret – much to the dismay of our local tourist board! I’ve lived here all my life and I still find the area stunningly beautiful.

When I’m not wandering around daydreaming and admiring the view, I have a multitude of jobs: mother and grandmother being the two most important, I also own a dog and a husband! For money, I am a school librarian, which I must admit, is a great way to earn money, although, no, I don’t sit around reading all day and stamping books! It’s a surprisingly busy and pressured role, although very rewarding. Other jobs I say I do are gardening and cleaning the house, but that’s a bit hit and miss.

Then of course there’s my writing. I love writing. I mostly write picture books for toddlers and middle grade books for tweens and teens. It’s such a treat to be able to make up places and characters and play about with what they do, where they go and how they react. It’s sort of a blend between carefree creativity and complete control freak behaviour! Something I intend to spend a lot more time doing . (Writing not the control freak behaviour.) 🙂

In which genre do you write?

Although I also write picture books for small children, my favourite genre to write is action-adventure for approximately 10 – 14 year-olds. It is so much fun to imagine myself in scary places and getting the better of dangerous criminals. I totally live every moment I write – sometimes I have to take a rest because my heart is racing. I even make myself cry at times – much to my husband’s utter confusion. “But Rachel, you know it didn’t really happen – you literally just made it up right now!”

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

I’ve always made-up stories, even as a young child, I used to tell my little brother stories that I made up in my head on demand. As a child and a teenager, I was always reading. Unfortunately, life got in the way, priorities got muddled and before I knew it, I was a divorcee with one child. I decided to study English Literature with the Open University on an evening while my daughter was asleep. This rekindled my love of literature and I became an English teacher. As I kept teaching the children how to write stories, I started to question myself – why didn’t I write a story? I dabbled in picture books, but it wasn’t until a particular incident that my author’s flame was ignited.

My son came home from the park extremely upset. (Oh yes, by this time I was remarried with a son – keep up! 😂) He’d had a fight. I was surprised as my son isn’t a fighter. The boy who had attacked him was also surprised – he didn’t know my son was 1st dan black belt in Karate. Nor did he know that my rather scrawny looking son, packed the hardest punch in his club. Appearances can be deceptive! I was rather pleased that he’d “taught the lad a lesson”. We explained the circumstances to my son’s sensei who said he hadn’t disgraced the club as the other boy had started the fight and had not heeded my son’s three warnings that he’s a black belt (which by the way, the sensei said was unnecessary when you’re actually under attack – my bad advice!)

Unfortunately, my son didn’t go to the park for months in case the boy turned up with a gang seeking revenge. When he eventually did venture back to the park, the boy was there. This time it was my son who was surprised, as the boy went straight over to him, apologised for his behaviour and shook his hand.

This news jarred with my perception of the boy who I had dismissed as a thug and a bully. Speaking to some mums a little later, I discovered that the day the boy hit my son was the day his violent father had returned from prison. I began to wonder what had happened in their house and what thoughts and emotions were running through the boy the day he hit my son. I also felt shame for judging someone I knew nothing about. I wondered what the boy would be like when he grew up – would he be violent like his dad or shun him and become the person he wanted to be, not the person people expected him to be? I wondered if circumstances were different, would he be different?

A variety of scenarios ran through my head and before I knew it, a story began to develop: I loved writing “The Boy Who Couldn’t” although I often cried for Greg and his situation, I was so grateful for the Taylor family who take him under their wing. Eventually though, Greg has to make a choice, between his father and the Taylors. One is blood and we don’t always make the right decisions in life…

Where did the idea for the current book you’re writing come from?

The book I’m writing now is a sequel to “The Boy Who Couldn’t”. The same three boys are on another dangerous adventure. In the first book, the boys try to save a badger clan from a baiting gang with fighting dogs. This time they stumble upon a puppy farm. The idea that they would need to save puppies is something I think about all the time. Every time somebody posts on social media that they’re looking for a puppy, I can’t stop myself from warning them to make sure they are buying from a reputable breeder or supporting a rescue charity. I watch lots of animal rescue programmes and the conditions that the breeding dogs and puppies are in on these illegal puppy farms is unbelievable and heart-breaking.

I hope that through this second book, readers will be less naïve and understand the horrors of puppy farming so they can make sure they never accidentally support these cruel businesses. The idea has been brewing for a while, but during Lockdown the whole country seemed to buy a puppy. Immediately I worried that so many people would unwittingly support these terrible heartless, greedy businesses.

I had to do something and this is the best way I know how. Reading a book is so much more than just pleasure – we’re learning all the time. The readers will learn exactly what these places are like. Good luck to Greg and his friends in this one!

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

Sometimes an over-active imagination can be a terrible burden to bear. For example, if somebody nearly hits my car but we manage to miss, I’ll spend the rest of the journey imagining “what if?” and it becomes more and more exaggerated until I arrive at my destination absolutely furious at the injustice of my prison sentence for not having avoided a collision which caused the other car to mount the pavement and hurt a child and… and…

However, at other times, it can really work to my advantage. The very first two weeks of lockdown in the UK were the most extreme lockdown weeks. I don’t suppose we’ll ever experience anything like it again. We were told we could only leave the house once a day and make no unnecessary journeys. Every company that could possibly close for two weeks did so. Due to the pubs, restaurants and night clubs being closed, the roads were eerily silent at night. I used to just stand in my back garden, straining my ears for any human or mechanical sounds but all I could hear were owls and foxes. It was wonderful.

One night, my young dog needed a wee and I’d already had my one allocated outing. I could let him in the garden but we’ve been training him not to use the garden. I decided to sneak out with him – the stealth would be like method acting a scene in my next book.

My dog is completely black and I tend to wear dark clothes. Despite the warm Spring evening, I pulled my black balaclava over my head (it’s for skiing – I’m not a burglar). I also pulled on my black driving gloves and tiptoed to the end of our drive with him. A solitary car passed as I waited, crouching down behind our wall. Once it was completely out of sight, Monty (my dog) and I ran across the road and into the covering of the trees opposite. The trees are widely spaced and fairly thin, so I couldn’t hide completely. As we heard another car approach, I turned my face away – the only light part of either of us. I also held my breath – I don’t know why! The car slowly crept by.

Once it was gone, I needed to run 200 metres from the relative safety of the trees, past a few buildings, to the safe darkness of the pedestrian bridge over the railway. I hesitated. What if I set off and a car came? I might not make it. But the longer I put it off, the more likely a car would come. I listened carefully. Silence. Running fast without stamping your feet is a new skill I acquired on the spot.

Monty was really excited and nearly tripped me up, but we made it. I then had to walk even more lightly over the concrete bridge as it echoes as you cross. I also had to catch my breath without panting loudly. On the other side of the bridge, the path is adjacent to the road for another 150 metres before leading away from the road. We waited in the shadows listening for cars but none were about. I could feel the adrenaline surging through my body and it needed releasing in the medium of a scream but I kept my lips firmly pressed shut and set off.

Again, we sprinted on tiptoes and made it to the complete blackness of the path that led away from the road. At this point, I could finally walk on the grass which completely muffled my footsteps. Thankfully Monty relieved himself right next to the bin, so we could turn and begin our treacherous journey back. I know now, what people mean when they say their heart is in their mouth. My blood was being pumped so hard around my body I could feel my pulse in my throat.

By the time I got home my body was shaking with an overdose of adrenalin. I’ve never felt so scared and so elated to be home! In reality, what I did wasn’t scary – of course I realise that, but my imagination took hold. The feelings I experienced will now feed into Greg and his friends as they spy on the puppy farm and the dangerous men guarding it.

What is the most amusing, crazy or inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?

Karma loves to have a joke at my expense. I have to toe the line at all times, because it is constantly watching and waiting to bite my behind. For example: I was 12 years old. I had a new pony (I know – I had a pretty privileged childhood). My best friend Tessa had come to visit. Of course, I couldn’t wait to show her my pony, so we went straight into the field to see her. I could have and should have left it at that, but no, I couldn’t resist showing off. I leapt onto the pony to ride her around – without a saddle and bridle because – yep, showing off!

What I didn’t know was the pony had never been ridden bare-back before. She began leaping around like a buckaroo and I went cartwheeling through the air. I opened my mouth to scream and landed, mouth open, in fresh cow poo. I have the unhappy privilege of knowing the difference between fresh cow poo and old cow poo – this was san-crust – squelch if you please! As well as having a mouth full of excrement, it was also up my nostril. As I tried to pick it out, it just pushed further up. It felt like it was going to come out of my eyeball.

What was my friend doing all this time? Was she concerned for me and helpful? No, she was laughing so hard she had fallen on her back. Eventually, between peals of laughter, she managed to recommend I block the other nostril and snort. Her tip worked and a cylinder of poo shot out of my nose and onto my tee-shirt. Tessa couldn’t breathe for laughing. This little escapade made it into “The Boy Who Couldn’t”. If ever I say something tastes like sh**, please know that I’m not talking metaphorically – I actually know!

What do you miss about being a kid?

I miss spending the whole day playing in the woods and not once feeling hungry and needing to pour coffee down my throat. I miss the excitement of creating dens with my friends and not seeing how rubbish and impractical they are, but thinking they’re the best construction known to man. I miss going to sleep with an empty head, no worries (except homework 🙁), no money problems, no planning meals, no thinking of emails to send.

I miss the sheer thrill of life itself and the expanse of an unknown life ahead of you, when you’re young enough to think you can conquer the world. I miss being able to run around screaming and shouting without people staring at you and calling the doctors. Sometimes I watch how my grandchildren interact and think, what would happen if I did that? How long would it take for someone to call for help? A child squealing with delight at the snow falling and then running flapping their hands and throwing themselves on their backs with their legs peddling invisible bikes in the air is cute, yet when I do it…

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

Well first of all we have to assume I’ve matured! Oh, you mean got older 🙁 Yes, I’ve got older!

Although I’ve had some emotionally tough times, I’m not sure I wouldn’t want my younger self to go through them as it has shaped both me and my imagination. I think I would have liked to know that I would be alright in the end though – just a little glimpse of how it all pans out would have been encouraging. As a child I felt quite frustrated at being left out of certain games just because I was a girl (it was the 70s) and so I would always fight harder and be more daring than any boy I hung out with. I think that earned me a bit of respect, unfortunately it meant that none of them really looked on me as a girl, so it backfired by the time I was a teenager and wanting a boyfriend.

On the upside I think my laddish behaviour is the reason I write action-adventure stories – no girly dolls or love stories for me! I have had some real adventures in my life – not all can be admitted to in print, but what a laugh I’ve had having them. So, in summary, I think my advice would be – you’re okay as you are Rachel. You don’t need to pretend to be anyone else, keep being you and it will all work out in the end. Oh, and for goodness sake, start a pension plan early – you don’t die young!

What does your ideal writing space look like?

My ideal writing space would be a log cabin on the side of a Norwegian mountain. I would have evergreen fir trees above and either side, laden with thick heavy snow. There would be a real log fire with a (fake) animal fur rug in front of it. I would be typing on my laptop looking straight out of the window down the mountain to the valley below; thick snow everywhere. No roads would reach my log cabin, you’d have to walk windy paths, or ski. The sky would sometimes be blue or sometimes that white sky that looks like it’s about to collapse to the ground as one thick layer of snow. I would have about five large husky type dogs relaxing in the room (I love all dogs, but they’ll cope with the snow). Have I mentioned I like snow? It’s currently snowing here in England and I love it! Perhaps my next adventure novel should be set in winter.

What is your favorite time of day and why?

I love early mornings. At the risk of sounding like an ageing hippy (which I probably am), I feel most at one with nature early in the morning. If I start walking my dog before sun rise, I get to hear the morning bird chorus, see the most beautiful sun rises and often happen across our shyer animals such as deer before they hide away from the rest of the humans as they surface from their “stinking pits” (as my dad would refer to them).

Nature features strongly in all my stories, even though I didn’t intend it to. I guess my dad instilled my love of nature and wildlife in me, he could name all the flora and fauna and tell me interesting facts about them. Dad and I used to ride our horses for miles on the wild moorlands of North Yorkshire and I always felt completely at peace with the world. To this day, if modern living becomes a bit too much for me and I’m drowning in stress and hectic chores, I’ll take an extra-long walk in an extra-wild part of the countryside and return feeling far more relaxed and at peace.

Just like Dad, I can’t resist educating people about nature, so when the three boys in “The Boy Who Couldn’t” discover a badger clan, I made sure I wove in lots of information about badgers, (having all the facts checked by Craig Fellowes of The Badger Trust). There’s even a fun quiz at the end of the book to discover how much you’ve learnt about badgers!

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

My most recent middle grade book is “The Boy Who Couldn’t”. The story is told through the perspectives of two very different boys. Greg’s home life is abusive and chaotic whereas James is rather spoilt and thinks he’s badly off simply because he’s embarrassed that his dad is a stay-at-home dad and looks a bit odd. Initially Greg bullies James, but James’ parents force him to befriend Greg when they realise what an awful life he has. Along with James’ friend Ahmed, they begin to bond through their shared love of badgers which they watch from a nature den in James’ garden. One night however, badger baiters come with fighting dogs. Can the three boys rely on each other and their tenuous friendship to save the badgers? It gets pretty scary – these men are not the type you would want your boys to be challenging. And there’s a shocking twist…

It was fun learning more about you and your writing style, Rachel. Wishing you all the best, and hopefully no more stealthy night outings with Monty!! – Camilla

Blurb:

The school bully is the only one who can save them.

James’ life has been turned upside down and now the local bully has made him a target. So why would his mother insist he should invite him over? Especially when they’re hiding a secret badger clan at the bottom of the garden.

Now the badgers are under threat from a gang with fighting dogs and the badgers aren’t the only ones in peril.

Danger is approaching and it will make the most unlikely of heroes.

A story about becoming the person you can be, not the person you are expected to be.

Where to find the book:

“The Boy Who Couldn’t” is available through all good bookstores and on line through Amazon.

Connect with Rachel:

You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as on my website. Just search Rachel Coverdale, author and you’ll find me!

https://www.facebook.com/rachellouisecoverdale

https://www.instagram.com/rachellouisecoverdale/

https://rachelcoverdale.com

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