Meet the Author: Sisterhood of the Infamous by Jane Rosenberg LaForge

Today we travel to Los Angeles to chat with Jane Rosenberg LaForge about how the Amherst MFA program, creating a magazine, being an adjunct professor, radio, metaphors, physical problems, hospice, Felix the Cat, a great memory, and journalism come together as part of Jane’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and worked as a small town journalist after I graduated from college. I attended the University of Massachusetts, Amherst MFA program because I wanted to write a novel based on a court case I covered in upstate New York. After graduating, I got married to a New Yorker. We had a daughter, and I worked as an adjunct professor teaching composition, research writing, and African-American literature. I retired from teaching five years ago, and write full-time.

In which genre do you write?

Fiction, poetry, and essay.

How many published books do you have?

Besides the new novel, I have two books of prose (a memoir, “An Unsuitable Princess” from Jaded Ibis Press, and a novel, “The Hawkman” from Amberjack Publishing) and six of poetry (four chapbooks and two full-length collections; a third full-length collection, “Medusa’s Daughter,” from Animal Heart Press, was published Feb. 16, 2021).

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

In fourth grade, we created a magazine as a class project. I wrote something about talking to my stuffed animal, a tiny elephant I called “Conveinyent.” Notice the misspelling of “convenient.” The teacher was impressed, said I had some talent. I think he was talking about one sentence in particular, but I took it and ran with it, I guess.

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

I suppose it would be just how random my writing process is. I used to find a lot of inspiration in talk radio, hearing a particular word and liking the way it sounded, and wanting to build something around it. With my husband working at home now because of the pandemic, I can’t listen to the radio the way I used to, so I’m watching too much YouTube and television in general.

So it’s visuals that are fueling a lot of my speculation, or metaphors I pick up on that seem like they could be applied in my case. Plus I’m much less disciplined than I used to be, probably because I have all kinds of physical problems, repetitive strain injuries from typing. If I can find a way to avoid writing and justify it in terms of preserving my hands or my back, I’ll take it.

What would you choose as your mascot, and why?

See the answer to “If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?”

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading “From Beirut to Jerusalem” by Thomas Friedman. It’s an “old” book (from 1989) and I’ve read it once before, but this time I’m reading it for research for possibly another novel.

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

While my sister was in hospice, it was pretty dramatic. How the nurses took care of her, what was happening with her finances, all the people coming to visit her. There were a lot of people in and out of the house, my friends included. We were only two years apart, so we had some friends in common, although she would say that I stole friends away from her. We had an awful relationship. We never got along. We never recognized it as such but it was a vicious sibling rivalry. Or perhaps we were too much alike.

I always knew this, but the novel gave me a chance to explore the issue, how it happened and what inspired some of the ridiculous ideas we had. I also knew that my sister once wanted a certain kind of life, and because she didn’t get it, she spent a lot of time punishing herself. But even if she had gotten a piece of that existence, it wouldn’t have been enough. It wouldn’t have solved her problems, or what she thought were her problems. I hope that’s what readers will take away from the book, once they’ve digested it.

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

I wish I could tell you. I waste so much time, I know I do. But what do I do with it? I don’t know.

What do you miss about being a kid?

I miss the people. I’m the only one left from my immediate family. I wouldn’t say I’m an orphan but I feel like all of my living points of reference in family life, of a shared family experience, are gone. My parents were together until I was 19 but I had better relationships with them after the divorce, for a million different reasons. I miss them, but I miss the relationships I had with them as an adult. As a kid, I lived around the corner from my uncle and grandparents. I really miss them. My other grandmother and aunt lived fairly close by and when my mother was sick for a while, I spent a lot of time with them. I don’t have any first cousins but my parents had cousins; my father’s are gone though my mother’s are still around. I miss all the great aunts and uncles and my father’s first cousins.

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

I am a fan, a collector, an acolyte, and devoted follower of Felix the Cat, so I would definitely want to be in his universe. The Felix the Cat of my childhood was the Joe Oriolo version. That cartoon was a kind of Cold War metaphor; Felix’s magic bag of tricks was like a nuclear secret. The Professor was always trying to get at it, and not for good purposes.

Except for the characters, it was pretty sparsely drawn. But if I could get in there, I would just want to hug Felix and follow him everywhere. I might prefer to be in the 1930’s Felix cartoons, which were very lush and Disney-like; they were done after Mickey Mouse became a big hit and Felix had to compete with him. The earliest Felix cartoons were very adult; Felix would get drunk, mess around with female cats, have children, and abandon them. I don’t think I could deal with that.

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

My memoir, “An Unsuitable Princess,” was experimental, with fictional characters based on real people. There was a novel, a fantasy I cooked up, and there were footnotes which explained how incidents in my life inspired the fantasy. So if I could be my alter-ego in the fantasy, that might be nice. She had magical powers, and was meant to be a far better, braver, and more physically beautiful person than I ever was, or am. But it would have to be in that sanitized, fantasy world, because if I really had to live like that—as an outcast, someone shunned by the community, homeless—I wouldn’t last a minute.

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

The last movie I watched was “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” It’s a reconstruction/drama of a historical event that took place in my childhood, so of course I have to watch it. I’m obsessed with that time just as I am obsessed with all the non-historical events of my childhood. I admit it.

Camilla: Wow! I’m adding this to my watch list. Thanks for mentioning it!

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

This isn’t really a personality trait, but I have a great memory. Or people used to tell me that. It’s probably not what it once was, but I remember a lot. Or I believe I do. This could mean that I carry a lot of grudges or negative feelings; that I’m obsessive (and compulsive: the compulsion is to get all of this stuff down).

The Buddhists might say I have a lot of bad or negative attachments. But if I didn’t remember all of this stuff—and it is stuff, random pop culture, the names of all the kids and parents in my neighborhood growing up, weird or funny things people said at one time or another—I wouldn’t have any material.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on two things. The first is a poetry book or chapbook, about an illegal abortion my aunt had in the 1960s, and what it did to our family. I published an essay about it here: https://www.thesmartset.com/narrative-reproduction/ and I’ve written a bunch of stuff that needs some polishing. Maybe it will turn out to be something.

I’ve also started a novel about my experiences in journalism. I was a newspaper reporter for about 12 years before I enrolled in an MFA program. I enrolled in the MFA program to write a novel about one particular story I covered. The finished product was somewhat of a disaster.

This new project wouldn’t be anything like that, covering a different part of my experience and some of the people I met when I thought I was on my way up. Of course I wasn’t on my way up; it was quite the opposite. My career was imploding all around me and I didn’t even notice. That’s just the point. I’m working on it, and doing some research, but I don’t know whether I can pull it off.

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

My most recent book is “Sisterhood of the Infamous,” a Hollywood murder mystery on top of a story of two sisters growing up wanting to be artists, or famous. One wanted to be a punk rock star and came close. The other became a ballerina, but still thinks of herself as a failure. The sisters are somewhat estranged, until Barbara, the former punk rocker, is bedridden, dying of breast cancer.

Barbara’s sister arrives from New York to sit at her deathbed. Neither sister expects to be the center of attention until police begin investigating the murder of Barbara’s old girlfriend, the pop sensation Jasmine. Barbara’s sister is stuck dealing with the police, Barbara’s finances, and a parade of friends as they come by to either say farewell or possibly just to gawk. Barbara, meanwhile, relives the life she once had, and the relationship that broke her heart.

It was wonderful having you on MTA, and learning more about your current and past life. Wishing you all the best, Jane! – Camilla

Where to find the book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1734383534/

Connect with Jane:

Website: jane-rosenberg-laforge.com
Twitter: @JaneRLaForge
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jane-Rosenberg-LaForge-Author-269805766510206
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Rosenberg-LaForge/e/B00MDFY2Z4%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

Publisher’s page for the new novel, Sisterhood of the Infamous: newmeridianarts.com

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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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Book Shelf: Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake

I originally got this for Lillian (my daughter), but I wanted to read it too! I very much enjoyed this middle-grade story, getting to know the characters, navigating life with them as they pick up the pieces following a terrible tornado. Picking up the pieces, putting their lives together, learning about themselves, and learning to love and accept themselves and their friends. Wonderful story!

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

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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Meet the Author: Bright Lies by AA Abbott

Today we travel to Bristol, a port in south-west England, to chat with Helen Blenkinsop (also known as AA Abbott) about how listening to music, apple cider bars, club scenes, Spotify, Foo Fighters, dreams, a hotel overlooking the Thames, a suffragette, coffee and walnut cake, and the city of Birmingham come together a part of Helen’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi! I’m AA Abbott, a British thriller writer. You’re sure to guess it isn’t my real name. That’s Helen Blenkinsop, which is not quite so gender-neutral. I live in Bristol, a port in south-west England. It’s noted for its apple cider bars and club scene: the kind of place where you can lose a lot of time. It features in my latest book, BRIGHT LIES. So does the sparky Midlands city of Birmingham, where I used to live.

In which genre do you write?

Thrillers crossing over into mystery, family drama and domestic noir.

How many published books do you have?

Eight, all fiction. My last book and first two novels are all standalones. In between, there’s a series of five thrillers about families at war in the vodka business. Think Dynasty with cocktails.

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

I love listening to music when I write. BRIGHT LIES is about English teenagers involved in the club scene, so I had a Spotify playlist of tracks they would play, like Alan Walker and Ariana Grande. I also listened to the soundtrack of my teens, to recapture those edgy teenage years, all hormones, uncertainty and anticipation. Finally, I got through some of the darker chapters with doom-laden rock from the Sister of the Mercy and the Foo Fighters.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

Anywhere I can put a laptop down. I can write in trains, planes and buses, and often have. Some writers need a beautiful space with peace and quiet, but once I’m absorbed in a story, I shut out everything else.

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

BRIGHT LIES has its roots in a dream I had in my twenties. I could put an excellent short story together at that time, but a novel was beyond me. Decades later, I described the plot to my now grown-up son, and he encouraged me to write it. By the time I did, I’d managed seven full-length thrillers, so I guess I wrote BRIGHT LIES when I was ready to do it.

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

There’s a dramatic shoot-out at a wedding in THE REVENGE TRAIL. I knew it had to happen at a swish venue in London. To my brother’s consternation, I asked his girlfriend (a committed Londoner), “If you could get married anywhere you liked in London, money no object, where would it be?” She named a swish hotel overlooking the Thames. I persuaded the hotel’s wedding planner to show me round. She knew why I wanted to see the function rooms, and was very helpful.

What do you miss about being a kid?

I miss the people who have passed on from my life. My great-aunt was a suffragette and her little sister, my grandmother, travelled throughout Europe as a young woman. I’d love to have a cup of tea with them now. And cake. My grandmother’s coffee and walnut cake was the best in the world.

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

I’d have to be nuts to listen to my younger self – I had no sense whatsoever in my youth. I did meet the love of my life and stick with him, though, so I got something right!

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

There are so many – the mystical village of Avebury, beautiful Bath and the bustle of London. However, actions speak louder than words, and it’s the city of Birmingham to which I return again and again. Friendly and buzzy, there’s no better place to be.

Tell us about your most recent book.

BRIGHT LIES is a dark psychological thriller. Imagine ‘Big Little Lies’ meets ‘My Dark Vanessa’… Emily is only 13 when David becomes her stepfather, and she’s thrilled that the handsome artist wants to mentor her. She doesn’t know she’ll end up running for her life.

Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to be a guest on your blog! I hope you had a lovely Christmas.

It was great learning more about you and your writing style, Helen! Wishing you all the best! – Camilla

Readers’ Favorite gave BRIGHT LIES 5 stars and said: “Compelling drama that will keep you turning page after page. Overall, I would highly recommend Bright Lies to fans of well-penned and deep psychological drama.”

Where to find the book:

BRIGHT LIES is available online in ebook, paperback, large print, dyslexia-friendly print and Kindle Unlimited. https://books2read.com/u/3n88GB

The Bride’s Trail – first in a series about warring vodka makers and villains: http://mybook.to/TheBridesTrail

Connect with Helen (AA Abbott):

AA Abbott website: https://aaabbott.co.uk/

AA Abbott Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AAAbbottStories/

AA Abbott on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/AAAbbottStories/

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Meet the Author: This Year Maybe by Liz Hinds

Today we travel to south Wales to chat with Liz Hinds about how Welsh rugby, walking by the sea, a New York cop, playing the piano, burning a boiled egg, limitless energy, and a picnic lunch have to do with her current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a granny living on the edge of the beautiful Gower Peninsula, in south Wales, with Husband and George, the dog. I love reading, writing, chocolate, walking by the sea, and supporting the Welsh rugby team. But most of all I love my seven grandchildren.

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

A meeting with a NY cop in a small coffee in Wales. Before that I’d written articles and even had some small success non-fiction writing, but my first ‘proper’ book came when, after having met me about twenty minutes earlier, and knowing nothing about me, Mikey Di Sanza asked me if I’d like to ghost-write his autobiography. From there I progressed to fiction and novel writing.

What are you currently reading?

I’ve just finished The Christmas Train by David Baldacci. I’m writing this in the middle of December, and I’ve just reminded myself that I must go to the library before our next lockdown starts.

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

Hm, yes, actually I can tell you that as my most recent book was a secret project! I wrote a book specifically for my eleven-year-old grand-daughter who’d complained because she wasn’t allowed to read my adult fiction (it’s not naughty but has grown-up themes). ‘Please write a book I can read, Granny.’ So I did. In six days I wrote 22,000 words. I spent the next few days designing a cover and getting it ready for publication by Amazon. And all this was done through December so I would be able to give it to her as part of her Christmas present. I just hope she likes it.

Before that, This Year Maybe, my latest novel, which was published on 25th November, was a sequel to my first. Many people (five at least) said they’d love to know what my heroine did next so I answered the call.

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

I would love to be able to play the piano. I was sent for lessons as a child – because we had a piano rather than because I wanted to learn – but never practised so we all gave up. Now I think it is such a wonderful skill to have. But actually I would be happy if I could sing. I have a truly dreadful voice. I love to sing but because I am aware of how painful it must be to listen to me I sing very quietly if at all when in company.

Have you ever had any Do It Yourself disasters?

Oh my. I firmly deny that Alison, the heroine of This Year Maybe, bears any resemblance to me however … I have burned a boiled egg, driven around 24-hour supermarkets at 1.00 am on Christmas Eve looking for a turkey, and fallen off my seat while holding a week-old-baby. (Who was perfectly fine I can assure you, unlike me whose knickers had been flashed to half the neighbourhood.)

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

I think when the story starts writing itself and taking you down unexpected corridors. Sometimes you find a locked door at the end but the search for the key is always entertaining.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced having to do with writing a book?

To be able to spend more time with my NY cop to get his full story I went to meet him in New York. While Husband spent days wandering around seeing sights I sat in a small hotel room interviewing my subject. His story is one of being saved by Christ and one day Mikey, Husband and I were queuing in Times Square to get last minute returned Broadway tickets. As we stood waiting in this long queue Mikey launched into a very loud story about Daniel in the lion’s den and various biblical prophecies. I should add that Mikey spent a lot of time on street corners with a bull-horn – not that he would have needed it with his voice. Have you ever wanted to shrink into the ground?

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary?

Since about 2007 I’ve been keeping a blog. I had tried previously at various times to write a diary but I could never quite see the point and it quickly faded away. I just want to be read, dahlings!

What do you miss about being a kid?

Nothing. I have reached an age where I am happy to play and bounce and scoot and skip with my grandchildren without worrying what others might think. No, wait, I miss having limitless energy. Yes, that’s all I need now.

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

Definitely not. Same reason I won’t emigrate. Too far from the grandchildren.

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

I’ve always been the sort of person that life happens to rather than one that makes it happen. See story above about how I came to ghost-write the story of a NYPD cop. So, yes, I do think things happen for a reason sometimes. I would call the reason God. But sometimes sh*t happens to everyone.

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

What do you mean ‘if you could’? George and I have long conversations covering life, the universe, and why he has to wait so long for his dinner. He has yet to explain to me though why he goes out the front door, wanders around to the back door, and barks to be let in there.

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

Around the cliffs to my favourite spot, for a picnic lunch – that would be set out for me already so I wouldn’t have to carry it – with bread and cheese and crisps, on a sunny day in Spring. With a soft blanket, a book, and George, to stop anyone bothering me.

It was great to learn more about you, Liz! Sounds like you have fun! Wishing you all the best. – Camilla

Book Blurb:

Alison and David have been engaged for so long that even Alison’s mother has given up asking when, but it’s second time around for both of them and they’re not in any particular hurry. That said, Alison is beginning to wonder if living with her has put David off the idea of marriage so when he suggests they set a date she is delighted. But that date is six months’ away and a lot can happen in six months – especially if you’re Alison!

‘My son’s been arrested, Great-aunt Millie’s fallen in love, my best friend suspects her husband of having an affair, and I still need to lose weight. How on earth can I think about getting married?’

This Year Maybe, the sequel to This Time Next Year. Through Amazon.

Connect with Liz:

Home

https://www.facebook.com/LizHindsAuthor

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Meet the Author: A Mystery of Blood and Dust by Danae Penn

Today we travel to south-west France to chat with Danae Penn about how pilgrims, Argentina, an enormous garden, medieval life, giving lectures, going for walks, red herrings, traveling alone, and avoiding buffaloes come together as part of Danae’s current and past life.

Tell me a bit about yourself.

I live in south-west France, halfway between Bordeaux and Toulouse, in a small town called Condom which is where I base my novels. It is on the Way of St James pilgrimage track from Le Puy to Santiago de Compostela and there are thousands of pilgrims walking through the town every year. There were many pilgrims 500 years ago too, and some of them have walked into my novels.

In which genre do you write?

I write historical mysteries with a Gascon woman detective called Belina Lansac who helps her husband William. He has to hide the fact that he is English so he is always known as Guillaume, the Bishop’s Inquirer.

How many published books do you have?

I have just published my second book, A Mystery of Blood and Dust. Book 1 of the Belina Lansac Murder Mysteries is called False Rumours and that was translated into French by David Manson, with the title of Les Princes et le Pelerin. David is translating Book 2 into French now, and I am already plotting my third book which is about Basque sailors reaching America before Columbus did – but keeping that very secret. I have (with difficulty!) found a reason for these sailors to be travelling through Condom and getting involved in a murder mystery.

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

I wrote my first book when I was 22 and living in Argentina but I did not bother to revise the text – so I ended up with rejection slips! My teacher/lecturer husband became an author of topographical guides to England, France and Spain and I helped him a lot with that. I decided to try to write a novel again, bought several how-to books on creative writing, and half way through doing the first draft of my novel I bought a book which I can really recommend: The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery by Robert J. Ray and Jack Remick. They advise working out the characters first: the Killer, the Victim, the Sleuth, and the Catalyst. Only after that should you start on the plotting, and then the crime scene, dialogue, action and setting. That gets the Weekend Novelist to Weekend 13, and the rest of the year is spent on writing and revising drafts.

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

I spent most of 2020 at home, locked down in my house and enormous garden. This was beneficial for the garden as well as for making progress with A Mystery of Blood and Dust. Previous years have been very different. I have given lectures in English and French about medieval life, wearing a gown borrowed from the local dramatic society, and borrowing ancient objects found in friends’ attics and barns to give some idea of the difficulties of life in previous centuries. For example, for my medieval cooking demonstration I piled some logs on the church/museum floor, but did not light them of course, and showed a variety of ancient blackened cauldrons, ladles and mortars. The audience and the local journalists love my lectures. I go to many history meetings and visits, all in French, learn about Gascon history, and sell my books, each one signed and dedicated to the buyer. Every Sunday I come back into the twenty-first century and walk with the local rambling club for three hours, and twice a year we spend a week somewhere in France or Spain and walk all day, every day. It is very healthy!

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

Creating characters, especially those who are red herrings. I try to make them all different and slightly quirky, with plenty of hidden background to their lives. At least, they try to keep it hidden, but I know their qualities and their faults. I also enjoy signing and dedicating my books and talking to journalists about them and then seeing their friendly reviews in newspapers and magazines.

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

I usually travel to far-away countries and by myself, although organised by English tour operators. Rather too often something crazy happens, and a friend of mine once sent me an email wishing me ‘Bon Voyage Danae, but don’t do anything excessively adventurous.’ She had in mind the time I hiked up a remote mountain in Myanmar with two Burmese guides and they insisted I came down it on the back of a motorbike instead of walking down the rocky track among swerving motorbikes, avoiding buffaloes, children and chickens. I thought that was a very dangerous idea and insisted on wearing a crash helmet. The following day I learned that at dusk there was a worse danger: bandits moving into the area and kidnapping me.

Tell us about your most recent book.

A Mystery of Blood and Dust – A Belina Lansac Murder Mystery was published in November 2020 and is the second book of the series, the sequel to False Rumours (and its French translation by David Manson, Les Princes et le Pelerin). Both novels show how my Gascon heroine-detective takes over the murder investigations which her husband William/Guillaume should be doing, but he has to leave Condom in a hurry. I include a town map of Condom at the beginning of each book so that readers can follow Belina as she walks through the medieval town full of pilgrims, pie-sellers, animals, smells, yells – and people trailing Belina.

It was wonderful having you be a part of MTA and to learn more about you and your writing style. Wishing you all the best, Danae! – Camilla

Where to find the book.

All three books can be found as paperbacks and ebooks on Amazon and in bookshops world-wide, and the first chapters can be read as previews on the Home page of my website https://belinalansac.com which has links to Amazon, Facebook and Linkedin and which gives plenty of info about medieval life for all the readers who have time-travelled back 500 years when reading my Belina Lansac mysteries.

Blurb for A Mystery of Blood and Dust:

Gascony 1483. Why is a consul’s daughter lying dead in the Sainte Eulalie chapel when she should be in a mansion attending her betrothal banquet?

Bishop’s enquirer Guillaume Lansac is tasked with solving the mystery – until he is called away by a danger that threatens English King Richard III’s nephews who are travelling to safety in Portugal. He must ride fast to Navarre to save them, leaving his wife Belina to solve the murder alone. But she is more worried about the dangers facing her family. One of her brothers has returned wounded from the war in Granada, bringing a Moorish girl with him, while the other risks being turned out of his mill and robbed of his livelihood and family home. Belina finds herself surrounded on all sides by enemies who seem determined to destroy her.

How can she survive in Guillaume’s absence, let alone solve the crime?

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Meet the Author: Murder at Macbeth by Samantha Goodwin

Today we travel to Leeds, England to chat with Samantha Goodwin about how being a Marketing Manager, handwriting all first drafts, being inspired by a newspaper article, superstitions surrounding Macbeth, a tarantula, and The Lord of the Rings come together as part of Samantha’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a crime author from Leeds, England. In my day job I’m a Marketing Manager for a national charity and I’m married with a two-year-old son who likes to keep me on my toes.

In which genre do you write?

I’m a crime mystery author and Murder at Macbeth is my debut novel. It’s a classic whodunnit that centres around a talented young actress who unwittingly stabs herself live onstage after a prop knife is tampered with. Suspicion soon falls on her eclectic castmates, but who had the motive to kill the leading lady…

A lot of reviewers have likened it to a modern-day Poirot (high praise indeed!) and said it reads like a really good episode of a prime-time crime series, like CSI or Person of Interest.

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

I’ve wanted to write a book since I was about 5 years old. I used to write short stories and poetry all the time when I was younger and it was my husband, Chris, who finally convinced me to take the plunge and write my first novel.

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

I write all my first drafts by hand! I find the ideas flow so much better with a pen, rather than sitting and typing on my computer.

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

I was actually inspired by a newspaper article about a London West End actor who was accidentally stabbed live on stage. That got me thinking; what if that had been intentional? What a dramatic way to murder someone and believe you could get away with it.

I’ve always been fascinated by the superstitions surrounding Macbeth about it being cursed and the fact the play itself is about corruption and deception provided an interesting parallel to the murder mystery. Plus, I found the concept of interviewing suspects who are also actors really interesting; they could so easily be playing a part to hide the truth.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

I love musical theatre and have met Jonathan Groff (Hamilton/Glee/Spring Awakening fans will appreciate this!) I love Marvel movies and my favourite superhero is Spider-Man. I’ve held a tarantula.

(Spoiler Alert: If you have not seen Endgame, do not watch this trailer.)

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

Don’t worry about trying to please everyone. When it comes to writing, inevitably not everyone will love your book and that’s okay. If I’ve learned anything from being in a book club it’s that it is impossible to write a book that everyone enjoys. Focus on the people who enjoy your genre; they are your target audience.

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

Me and my husband have been rewatching The Lord of The Rings movies. Such timeless masterpieces. I find it so inspiring so think that all of that originated from one writer’s imagination!

Do you believe things happen for a reason?

Absolutely. This was actually my Dad’s catchprase, “Everything happens for a reason.”

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

I’m very conscientious, which has been a really helpful personality trait when it comes to writing and editing my books. That attention to detail is definitely useful to ensure that everything I release is of the highest possible standard.

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

This year I’ve been working on a collaborative non-fiction book called Indie Writing Wisdom, which was released on 1st December 2020.

With the aim to inspire the next generation of writers, this book was written by eleven well-respected indie authors who all came together to share our expertise about our own self-publishing experiences and the useful approaches we took to ensure our books stood out effectively in a marketplace that has millions of books vying for attention.

It includes lots of practical advice on different elements of the publishing process from crafting interesting characters, writing motivation and plotting to editing, formatting, book marketing and much more. Our hope is to encourage fellow writers and answer the question we all get asked most frequently, which is, “How did you write and release a book?” And the best thing is that all the profits will be going to the Encephalitis Society (the brain inflammation charity).

It was wonderful to have you on MTA, and to learn more about you and your writing style. Wishing you all the best!!! – Camilla

Biography

Samantha Goodwin has written professionally for her business career as a Chartered Marketing Manager for over a decade before turning her hand to fiction. As an avid crime fiction fan, she regularly participates in the renowned Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate and completed their prestigious Crime Writing Creative Workshop. She also relishes attending literature festivals across the country as well as engaging in numerous online writing communities.

Keen to support upcoming authors, Samantha recently launched the #IndieWritingWisdom initiative on Instagram to collate and share inspiring, original writing quotes and does a weekly #IndieBookSpotlight to showcase indie books.

When she is not writing, Samantha enjoys reading, countryside walks, movies, musicals and almost all chocolate (but controversially not Oreos). She lives in Leeds, England with her husband, Chris, and son, Jack.

Murder at Macbeth is her first novel and was longlisted for the international Flash 500 Novel Award, has won a Gold LIterrary Titan Award, Chill With A Book Award and is an Indie Author Central (IAC) Approved 5 Star Read.

Her collaborative non-fiction book, Indie Writing Wisdom, is released on 1st December 2020. It provides practical advice and inspiring insights on writing and self-publishing from successful indie authors from all over the world. All profits will go to the Encephalitis Society (the brain inflammation charity).

Murder at Macbeth – Book Blurb

Something wicked this way comes…

When a talented, young actress unwittingly stabs herself live onstage after a prop knife is tampered with, suspicion immediately falls on her eclectic band of castmates.

But who had the motive to kill the show’s leading lady?

As the insightful, yet disillusioned, Detective Inspector Finley Robson and his shrewd partner, Detective Sergeant Nadia Zahra, interrogate the seven key suspects, secrets unfold to unveil a web of scandal, blackmail, and deceit.

Bitter rivalries, secret trysts and troubled pasts are just the beginning of the story…

Gold Literary Titan Award / Chill With a Book Award / Longlisted for the International Flash 500 Novel Award / Indie Author Central 5-Star Approved Read

Website: http://samanthagoodwinnet.wordpress.com

Instagram: @samanthagoodwinauthor

Goodreads Link: http://bit.ly/murderatmacbethgoodreads

Amazon Link: http://bit.ly/murderatmacbeth

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Meet the Author: The Black Fire Chronicles by Kim Rigby

Today we travel to Raymond Terrace in Australia to chat with Kim Rigby about how the Royal Australian Navy, Lupus, tropical fish, the realms of spirituality, Billy Connolly, a sense of community, roller skating, singing, Monet, and Sydney Harbour play roles in Kim’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Australian, and I live in a small town called Raymond Terrace, near Newcastle in New South Wales (approximately two hours north of Sydney). Raymond Terrace has been home for the past two years, but I’ve lived in many places in Australia, thanks in no small part to twelve years in the Royal Australian Navy. I’m married for the second time, with no children as I have the autoimmune condition Lupus. I’m the doting fur mum of a grey cat called Max, and of numerous tropical fish!

In which genre do you write?

For the past few years, I’ve written a fantasy adventure series called The Black Fire Chronicles. It started off being middle grade, but it seems my stories are ageing along with the readers, and they are now aimed at young adults and adults.

How many published books do you have?

There are currently five books in the series, plus a novella prequel.

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

I was young, probably eight years old. My brothers were much older than me and not interested in playing with their little sister, so life at home was filled with books. I also had a wonderful school teacher who read to us all the time. I caught up with him 20 years ago, and he presented me with a story I wrote in 1979. It was a blatant rip-off of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but it was the start of all my scribbles!

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading The Healer’s Awakening, an ARC historic women’s novel by the lovely Helen Pryke. This is the third in the series, and I love the gentle overlapping of time and place in each of the books, and the growing story of the healers, their triumphs and tragedies.

I’m also reading The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig. This man has a stunning writing style, and he’s my new idol.

Camilla: I’ve got The Midnight Library on hold at the library. Can’t wait until it’s my turn. 

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

My books revolve around hero Andrew Adler, his extraordinary pets Ralph (and Winston in my work-in-progress), and his human guardians Dorothy, Patrick, and Angus. I wrote Patrick the War Man in 2020 about a man who experienced nearly all theatres of war in the 20th Century through a trick of time. Patrick believed war was the answer to his own anguish. Instead he discovered, friendship, loss, and love. The book is part homage to my own grandfather, who fought at Gallipoli, and part homage to the men and women who have silently served in the defence force.

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

When I’m not writing or reading, you’ll find me in the garden, or pursuing knowledge within the realms of spirituality and self-help. I strive to become a better person, as I feel change must start within ourselves.

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?

I’d love to sit down with Billy Connolly. He’s the consummate storyteller, famous but with immense humility, and now a certain fragility due to Parkinson’s Disease. I could learn a lot from him, and have a laugh along the way!

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

A sense of community with other writers. I’m a fairly shy person, so finding myself in a number of writer’s groups and pages has made all the difference. I’m deeply grateful to Helen Pryke Domi, Sarah Northwood, Kayleigh Louise Brown, and many others who have extended an extremely long arm of friendship all the way to Australia!

Camilla: I agree with you about the sense of community and the lovey group that Helen and the other ladies have created. That’s how you and I met, too! 

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

I learned to roller skate when I was five, but I’m still absolutely rubbish at riding a bike.
I was a soccer goalkeeper at university, because no one else wanted to do it!
I love singing! I had a good voice, but if fails me sometimes, as my vocal chords were damaged when my thyroid was removed in 2011.

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

Hands down I’d turn into Andrew Adler’s kooky neighbour, Dorothy Jordan. Dorothy’s childhood was my childhood, but I envy Dorothy’s ability to time step and visit Monet in his glorious garden, and Vita Sackville-West in her famous White garden at Sissinghurst.

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

My favourite places always involve some form of history, so for me it’s Sydney. You’ll find Sydney popping up in my stories again and again because there are many places where you can stop and imagine yourself stepping into the past. This overlap of time and history has always fascinated me, and you’ll see examples of this in The Rocks area, the older suburbs like Balmain and Paddington, and down by the water on Sydney Harbour.

What are you currently working on?

My current WIP is a continuation of hero Andrew Adler’s story. In The Black Fire Chronicles – The Hag, Andrew discovers he is a key figure in an ancient prophecy. Meanwhile, his personal life is torn apart by the reappearance of a dark and devious character, the Hag. Who is she, and why does she plague Andrew and his guardians? And who is her new and dangerous henchman? If you like a fantasy adventure with love, loss, time travel, and history, The Hag will be out early 2021.

Which book should we read first in the series?

Start reading The Black Fire Chronicles – Origins.

It was lovely learning more about you and your writing style, Kim. Wishing you all the best and I look forward to our blossoming friendship! – Camilla

Where to find the book:

Amazon: http://mybook.to/BFC1

Connect with Kim:

Website: https://kimrigby.com/

Social Media:

facebook: https://facebook.com/kimrigbywriter
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kimrigby27/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kimrigby27
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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host