Meet the Author: The Girl on the Roof by Debra Moffitt

Today we travel to the French Alps to chat with Debra Moffitt about how spirituality, psychic abilities, deep yearnings, a hawk, high perspective, cozy spaces, vivid images, South Carolina, being in the flow, and intuition come together as part of Debra’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

​I’m an American author living in the French Alps and my books are very much influenced by my travels. My first books were non-fiction with a focus on spirituality, intuition, and self-awareness.

But my first love has always been fiction. As my psychic abilities expand, it has added a multidimensional experience to my writing which is visible in my first novel, The Girl on the Roof. I experience the world in a unique way, very much aware of the energies and beings around us, from angels to departed souls. Readers on a spiritual path really connect with The Girl on the Roof, even though they might not usually read a WWII book.

The scenes from local culture – like wrapping a shrouded body and placing it on the North side of the roof – are the kinds of things one learns from being in a place and hearing someone’s grandmother tell her stories. I love these kinds of inspirations. I also love that so many readers are telling me that “The Girl on the Roof” is a book that stays with them as they contemplate the many dimensions it touches on that reach beyond the visible one.

In addition to writing, I also mentor writers and do intuitive readings and workshops. My annual French Alps retreat has been really popular with writers for the last seven years.

In which genre do you write? ​

This is a fun question because I write different kinds of books – from non-fiction books on spiritual practices and intuition, to a book of short stories, and my first novel, The Girl on the Roof, was released in March. It’s set in WWII Annecy and is a blend of mystery and historical fiction. It has a very strong spiritual element that falls outside of categories.

How many published books do you have?​

So far I have four published books and I’ve also been published in an anthology. If the translations count, then you’d have to add my books that were translated into Spanish, French, Chinese, Lithuanian…and maybe some more languages.

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

I can recall being very young – maybe 4 or 5, and simply knowing I’d be a writer. As a teenager I recall walking into a sort of New-Agey book store and I felt a really deep yearning to see my books on the shelves there too. It was fun to see my books on the shelves when there were more brick and mortar stores.

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

Oh this is an easy one – a hawk. I love the high perspective and the clear vision. When writing, I have amazing moments with perceptions that give this vast overview of a story, and then I have to bring it down to earth.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

​I love spaces that are cozy and cocoon-like, with a window. This doesn’t mean narrow or tight spaces, but spaces where I feel like I’m surrounded by beautiful things and music and images. I create these spaces when I write in different locations.

What are you currently reading? ​

I’m currently looking for some good books to read. It takes time to find authors I love and that feel good to me. Reading is very intimate and opening a book and allowing someone into my most intimate space, into the heart of me, is not something I take lightly. This is why I am very respectful of the energy and words I share with readers. Writing for me is like sharing an alchemical experience that creates sensations in the reader. When I write the images, colors, smells, and sounds are vivid and readers tell me they pick up this experience too.

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

Writing The Girl on the Roof was a fascinating and unusual experience. I’d been working on a book set in Charleston, South Carolina, when I started to perceive images of WWII Annecy. I was living in the French Alps in an 1840’s farm house, so maybe that held some influence. As I paid attention to the images, I decided to move forward and write down what I was seeing. Then I would research the information and it was quite accurate. I’m convinced that many authors especially of historical fiction receive information this way. ​​

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

I love hiking, being in nature, biking, reading. Gosh there’s so much to do and to discover.

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

​I discovered my psychic abilities! They just opened up! I was participating in a spiritual circle in Geneva, Switzerland just before The Girl on the Roof was born and one morning while sitting in meditation quite early I felt a presence come in and say my name. I knew from the spiritual circle that this was a departed soul. He knew that I could hear him, but it was a shock to me. It took me some time to adjust to that discovery and eventually with The Girl on the Roof, the girl who became Aurelie appeared and so did many of the Resistance fighters.

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

The flow. I love being in the flow of drafting a new book, a new scene. The edit process can also be intuitive, but different.

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

At the moment I love to listen to Robert Haig Coxon’s channeled music. It’s amazing. And I will often just take a moment to move inward and align with my heart space and trust what wants to come through.

How do you prepare yourself to discuss your book?​

This is a tough question because after a book is written and edited, I often forget huge chunks of it. Of course when I go back and read it again I remember, but it’s just a part of my process.

What do you miss about being a kid? ​

Nothing!

List 3 interesting facts about yourself. ​

  1. I’m very private and don’t like to talk about myself.
  2. I’m highly intuitive and do intuitive readings, but don’t usually publicize it.
  3. I love to teach people how to also tap into their intuition as everyone has this ability.

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

Intuition has to be number one. It warns me and also brings me a lot of information about good things to come. It can be a little daunting when I hear people’s thoughts though. I was leading a workshop and at lunch time we did a silent period with an outdoor space that had walking paths. On one path, one of the participants walked toward me in silence. She put her hands together and bowed. So I bowed back, thinking it was an odd behavior. When the woman bowed, I heard, “Screw you.” The words were spoken so strongly and clearly from her head that I straightened and my mouth dropped open. Her posture and behavior was completely contrary to her behavior and I was stunned.

Tell us about your most recent book.

​The Girl on the Roof begins when Aurelie watches her family and friends at a funeral during the period of the state of siege in WWII Annecy. It’s dead winter and the ground is frozen solid so her father and brother take the shrouded figure and put it on the North side of the roof awaiting the thaw for burial. People seem to treat Aurelia differently than what she is used to and she must discover who died, how and then prevent the same terrible fate from happening to her best friend.

Here are some pictures of the area where I am located. It’s also the setting of the WWII fiction mystery, The Girl on the Roof. It’s the lovely French Alps town of Annecy, which is also referred to as the “Venice of the North” because of its lovely canals and lake-side setting.

It was lovely to have you be a part of MTA, Debra. I feel similar about books that I read. I am very deliberate about choosing books. I listened to one of Robert Haig Coxon’s recordings, and loved it, so just had to include it for the readers. These are amazing photos. It looks incredibly beautiful! All the best to you Debra! – Camilla

Girl on the Roof

A WWII Mystery with a Supernatural Touch

As the people of Annecy in the French Alps meet the Gestapo’s brutality with surprising resistance, a teenaged girl cannot rest until she solves the mystery of a death in her family. Aurelie watches as her father places a shrouded body on the North side of the roof of the family home. It’s winter, under a Nazi-declared state of siege, and they must wait until the spring thaw for the burial. But who died? And why is no one speaking to her anymore? Aurelie cannot rest until she discovers the truth and fights to prevent the same terrible fate from happening to her best friend.

Rich with historical details and forgotten customs, The Girl on the Roof introduces both harsh and vulnerable characters that sear the imagination. Against every moment’s tension between life and death, the story blends the themes of deprivation, courage, trauma, sexual obsession, and unconditional love.

“A haunting, beautiful book.” – Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times Bestselling Author

Connect with Debra:

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

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

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Meet the Author: Victorine by Drēma Drudge

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

Tell us a bit about yourself.

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

In which genre do you write?

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

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

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

What does your ideal writing space look like?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell us about your most recent book.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book trailer:

https://animoto.com/play/tygbwF6hU7OSTakpSLHMEw

Connect with Drēma:

Facebook: The Painted Word Salon

Twitter: @dremadrudge

Instagram: Drema Drudge

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Meet the Author: The Twelve Man Bilbo Choir by Peter Staadecker

Today we travel to Toronto, Ontario, Canada to chat with Peter Staadecker about how Canada’s mountainous West Coast, mushroom picking, Cape Town, South Africa, vervet monkey thieves, being an unwilling soldier, and photography set the scenes of Peter’s past and current life.

Have you lived there in Toronto your entire life?

Not yet. I moved there in 1981 thinking it would be temporary because Toronto is flat and I missed the mountains. All these years later, it’s still flat, it’s still temporary. I’m still here.

Why are you still there?

Ask my wife. I would have liked Canada’s mountainous West Coast. My wife is from France. She says the West Coast is too far from her mother and family.

And you still believe Toronto is temporary?

Don’t trample on an old man’s dreams.

Tell us about yourself.

I was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa. Africa back then had (and still has) some very wild spots. One night four of us were camped in Botswana by the Chobe River under nothing but mosquito nets when a pride of hunting lions walked through the camp. We had thought our campfire would keep them away. It didn’t. Another night, vervet monkeys stole freshly baked bread right off our campfire. We had thought the fire would … I’m not even going to finish that sentence. One monkey also stole some crucial antibiotics out of our parked car. We had detoured three days from Botswana into what is now Zimbabwe to get those precious antibiotics for a sick friend. The monkey thief sat out of reach in a tree, calmly watched our tantrums far below, opened the childproof lid with ease, poured the pills onto the ground, and took off through the trees with the empty bottle, the childproof lid and an enamel mug.

There are also wonderful mountain ranges in Africa. Did I mention mountains?

I’ve had jobs as varied as mushroom picking, salvaging a sunken yacht, being an unwilling soldier, etc. I studied and became a mathematician, worked in business and am now retired with time to write.

What do you do when you’re not working on your books?

You mean aside from time for books, house, garden, wife, children, pets, etc.? It depends on the season. Right now it’s still winter, which is cross-country skiing time if I’m free. For those that don’t know cross-country skiing, if you do it right it’s like flying. Unfortunately, I often plummet. I recently put up a video clip of myself x-country skiing, here https://vimeo.com/393348449. It shows both the flying and the onset of the plummet stage. The clip also contains some of my photography—another hobby when I get time.

What have you been reading recently?

Last year, I was bowled over by J.L. Carr’s “A Month in the Country.” I’ve reread it three times to analyze it and to steal the secret sauce behind J.L. Carr’s magic.

And the secret is?

I don’t know. Each time I read it, I forget that my goal was industrial espionage; I become an entranced reader all over again. I’ve given up trying to analyze it.

Another thing that bowled me over recently was an award acceptance speech by the late poet/musician/singer Leonard Cohen. You can see a video version at

It’s a wonderful example of a poet using language to put a spell on his audience.

Did you like the movie version of A Month in the Country?

For me, the magic is in the book, not the movie.

Did you always write?

Not before the age of about five. But after that, yes. I tried to publish a magazine when I was about ten. I sold one copy. Since then I’ve written occasional journal or newspaper articles and published four books.

What genre?

My first book, and the one I’d like to focus on today, is called “The Twelve Man Bilbo Choir.” The closest genre it approximates is historical fiction. Specifically, it’s based on an actual historical event, but it fictionalizes the event and transports it into modern times.

How did you get the idea for it?

Toronto has no mountains—did I already mention that—so, I started sailing on Lake Ontario. As a sailor, I became aware of an 1884 sailing tragedy that set a legal precedent for much of the world. Three men and a cabin boy survived a shipwreck in the Atlantic. They were adrift in a lifeboat for 24 days. The digits 2 and 4 look so harmless in print, but think about it: twenty-four days. I won’t spoil the story by revealing the key events that took place during those 24 days. The survivors were rescued and returned to Britain. The British Home Secretary took an interest in the events. He decided to bring two of the men to trial in spite of the public support the men had received. Again, I won’t reveal details for fear of spoiling the story. What I will say is that I discussed the trial with my teenage boys. I told them why, although the case was controversial, I supported the judge’s ruling. I found to my surprise that my boys were totally opposed to the judge’s ruling.

Fair warning: do NOT EVER, ever, ever find yourself shipwrecked with my teenagers. They are savage little so-and-so’s. You have been warned.

Anyway, I couldn’t get the case out of my mind, so I wrote the book. I was delighted to find it shortlisted for the Kobo-Rakuten Emerging Authors prize. I’m also delighted that copies are held in the USA by library of The National Registry of Exonerations and by the Equal Justice Initiative.

What advice would your now-self give to your younger-self?

Don’t camp where lions hunt. That’s stupid.
If you like the smell of freshly-baked bread you’ll be at peace with all creatures.
If you like the taste of freshly-baked bread you’ll hate vervet monkeys.
Also, find out in advance where your future wife refuses to move to.

It was great having you be a part of MTA, Peter. I very much enjoyed your sense of humor and wish you all the best with your books! –Camilla

Where can readers find your books?

Two of the books, including “The Twelve Man Bilbo Choir”, can be found on kobo.com in epub format

All the books can be found on Amazon sites world-wide in Kindle format, and in paperback wherever Amazon sells paperbacks

Most bookshops can special-order the paperback versions

Some New Zealand and Oz readers use a paperback ordering service called https://www.bookdepository.com/

Connect with Peter:

My photography is at https://gallery.staadecker.com
My blog on photography, writing and random musings is at https://blog.staadecker.com
My publishing website is at https://publishing.staadecker.com
My author Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/staadecker.books/
On twitter I’m @PeterStaadecker

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Latest News: A Break from Author Interviews

I’m late with posting this. However, I’ll be taking the month of December and beginning of January off from posting author interviews. Since the website launched in May 2019, we’ve shared two to four interviews per week.

2020 will see many more author interviews, along with the addition of book blogger interviews. I’m quite excited  about adding this new feature of interviewing book bloggers.

Stay tuned for an announcement as to when the contact form opens for book bloggers and authors to submit for interviewing.

Until then, I’ll be busy launching and marketing my latest book, ‘Words of Alchemy’. This beautiful book has just been published, with the official launch happening in mid January 2020. Here are a few fun photos of myself and the proof book.

Please let me know if you would like to help spread the word about the book or if you are aware of any bloggers who would like to host a guest post, interview, excerpt, or has time to review the book. Go here to learn more about the book …

Words of Alchemy

I deeply thank you for supporting this website and the authors interviewed! Here’s to a wonderful, successful, prosperous, and joyful 2020!! –Camilla

 

Latest News: November 2019 – Meet the Author Interviews with Most Views

Meet the Author Interview with Most Views for November 2019:

#1: Butterflies by Lily Hayden

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#2: Stella’s Christmas Wish by Kate Blackadder

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Thank you for taking the time to read more about these authors and sharing the interviews on this website. A great deal of work goes into these interviews by the authors and by me. Deep gratitude! –Camilla, Founder & Host

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Latest News: Support the Authors Interviewed and Meeting the Authors

Meeting the Authors has had an incredibly successful beginning. The website launched in May 2019 with interviews from the get go. It has been a pleasure to meet such a wide and diverse group of authors from around the world.

Thank you for being a part of the MTA launch and thank you to those who have asked how you can help. Here’s to many more fun and quirky interviews in 2020! – Camilla


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Latest News: October 2019 – Meet the Author Interviews with Most Views

Meet the Author Interview with Most Views for October 2019:

#1: The Man in the Needlecord Jacket by Linda MacDonald

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Thank you for taking the time to read more about these authors and sharing the interviews on this website. A great deal of work goes into these interviews by the authors and by me. Deep gratitude! –Camilla, Founder & Host

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Meet the Author: Last Village by Audla English

Today we travel to the North East of England to chat with Audla English. She and I chat about how picture books, Tom and Jerry, England’s smallest train station, Roald Dahl, Marsden Bay,  and the special bond with her wonderful grandmother come together as part of Audla’s writings and her life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Lovely to meet you Camilla and thank you again for the interview. I am Audla English- which is quite apt as I am English and live in the glorious North East of the country; a beautiful part which is steeped in history, greenery, sea, sand but perhaps not sun!

In which genre do you write?

I write love stories but with a historic angle so the genre which I fit into most easily is historic fiction: romance.

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

I have always wanted to be a writer and used to make picture books of stories when I was a child, some of which I still have. It took me 15 years of being a ‘grown up’ until I reminisced about those happy days and I was brave enough to write again.

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

The idea for ‘The Last Village’ came from two sources; my truly wonderful late gran and the North East coastline.

To start off I will talk about the coastline. The following things are all included in my novel and incredibly, at one time all actually existed in less than a one-mile long stretch of coastline in South Tyneside, North East England:

· the world’s first electric lighthouse

· the natural phenomenon of a proud coastal arch

· a hidden cave bar

· England’s smallest train station

· the site of a thriving mining village

To understand the area further, I will give a little bit of a history to it. Marsden was the name of this village which was placed precariously on an open clifftop and basked in the glow of Souter Lighthouse whilst looking out onto an uninterrupted blue sea. The village was built by the Whitburn Coal Company in the 1870’s and was a thriving mining community. However, by the 1960’s it had been completely demolished. This in turn also led to the demolition of ‘The Rattler’ which was the small hardworking train which carried the fresh coal linking the town of South Shields to the mine and was also host to England’s smallest train station.

The iconic Marsden Rock, with its arch in full display, was also only a stone’s throw away from the village. This was a naturally formed arch which succumbed to marine erosion in 1996 causing the arch to collapse and splitting the rock into two stacks. By 1997, the second stack was declared unsafe for the public and it was sadly demolished. The cave bar that hides in Marsden Bay and the shadow of the great rock still remains there to this day and is now also a boutique hotel. The remaining Marsden Rock and its surrounding area now holds the status of being the largest mainland breeding colony of seabirds between the Tweed and the Tees rivers.

Today, there is sadly no trace that a village and its thriving community existed in this open grassy space except for the odd piece of brick which may be found lurking in the long marram grasses and which hide a well of memories.

I was always fascinated that this open and sparse piece of land used to house a full community and it was this intrigue which led me to writing ‘The Last Village’. I would often imagine what it must have been like to live there. Despite the harsh Northern winters with no central heating and the hardship of those who lived there, it must have been such a wonderful place to wake up to and witness the impressive view of Souter Lighthouse and the powerful North Sea.

Secondly, I must mention my wonderful gran. I think most people would agree that there is a special bond between grandparent and grandchild and if they have sadly passed on, a grandparent will always hold a special place in their hearts. My gran was North East England born and bred, coming from a coal mining family, to others she will have just been another old lady but to me, she was exceptional. I wanted to convey the love between a grandmother and granddaughter and also love between families and how this love can span generations.


(Audla’s gran)

This is reflected in the novel which is a moving love story and is dual timeline between the 1940’s and present day, telling the story of Lily, the Gran, who lived in the village and Anna, the Granddaughter, who discovers her Grandmother’s past. The change in the area and the attitudes towards love can clearly be seen between the two different timelines, as well as some really nostalgic references. Nevertheless, the novel also highlights how some aspects of love have not changed at all, even across three generations.

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

I would without hesitation, have a cup of tea (English Breakfast Tea) with my absolutely favourite author Roald Dahl. I know that Roald Dahl would often draw on real life experiences in his writing and I would ask him which character he most enjoyed creating.

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

The most enjoyable thing is the escapism that writing brings. I love that writing can take you to places that you can only dream of and that you can fully unleash your mind and your feelings.

What do you miss about being a kid?

I miss the freedom of imagination and innocence of being a child. How brilliant was it when you could spend an entire day making tents (masquerading also as caves, royal ships or lion’s dens) out of old blankets, only emerging ravenous for lunch or for an often-desperate toilet break, to then fully submerge yourself back into that world.

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

I would tell myself to stop worrying about some of the small stuff; it really doesn’t matter!

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

I would choose Tom and Jerry. I would want to be a mouse and be friends with Jerry, he is hilarious and so clever how he outwits Tom. I also could sit and eat cheese all day (Brie please)!

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

I watched X Men: First Class. I know this might be quite surprising as a writer of romance but I absolutely love all things Marvel. I also think this film has an outstanding cast.

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

Mr Pomphrey, the gentleman giraffe, has of course arrived wearing his bowler hat, pinstripe suit and monocle, to take me out for afternoon tea. As I open the door, he says “Jolly good to see you, it has been too long, I am quite simply ravenous, shall we?” He then leads me to his open top vintage British racing green jaguar car and off we go!

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

My favorite place to visit is South Tyneside. As I mentioned previously, it is an area of natural beauty with its golden sandy beaches and coastal formations, it has a cave bar serving fresh seafood overlooking a bay which houses the incomparable Marsden Rock, Souter Lighthouse (the world’s first electric lighthouse) is always welcoming, as well as a rich history and it is not far from my home. I am very very lucky.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a new novel which will also be a dual-time line historical fiction set in the North East of England around the milling and ship merchants’ industries. The genre will also be romance, focussing around the life of the best friend of the Gran of the modern-day character. The modern-day character will unearth a decades long secret…

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

‘The Last Village’, A Chill with a Book Premier Readers’ Award winner and 2019 American Fiction Awards Finalist, is available to purchase on Amazon in both Kindle and Paperback format. The cover photo depicts Souter Lighthouse today alongside the Leas, the former site of Marsden Village.

South Tyneside sounds like a wonderful place! Thank you for sharing about your writing and this amazing place! It was great to have you on MTA, Audla. All the best to you! – Camilla

The majestic Souter Lighthouse stands proudly at the edge of the cliff top surrounded by open grassy empty fields and overlooking a vast blue wilderness. Anna Charles knows nothing of the life that her grandmother once had here. It wasn’t until an unexpected engagement, that Anna discovered the past of her Gran and the truth behind an enduring love.

Seventy years earlier, Lillian Smith, had been part of the close-knit community that once thrived in the village that existed next to the lighthouse. A chance meeting with a sailor one day, would change the course of her life forever.

A moving novel set in the North East of England. The Last Village is an enduring love story which spans the 1940’s and modern day, binding the generations.

Where to buy the book:

Amazon UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Village-Audla-English-ebook/dp/B07JDS2SYC/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1EB3CBN6EICIX&keywords=the+last+village+by+audla+english&qid=1568055985&s=gateway&sprefix=the+last+village%2Caps%2C161&sr=8-1

Amazon USA: https://www.amazon.com/Last-Village-Audla-English-ebook/dp/B07JDS2SYC/ref=sr_1_2?crid=1XB2EVA92O3Q2&keywords=the+last+village&qid=1568056041&s=gateway&sprefix=the+last+village%2Caps%2C217&sr=8-2

Connect with Audla:

Facebook AudlaEnglishAuthor

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Meet the Author: The Duke’s Regret by Catherine Kullmann

Today we’re traveling to Dublin to chat with Catherine Kullmann. She and I discuss how retirement, family trees, table plans, elephants, Jane Austen, dreaming of scenes, and a travel notebook come together as part of Catherine’s life and writing style. Get ready as we’re stepping back into the first quarter of the nineteenth century for this one.

Tell us a bit about you.

I’m Irish and live (again) in Dublin in my old family home. I have been married for over forty-five years, the first twenty-six of which I spent in Germany, my husband’s native country. We returned to Ireland twenty years ago this year. I worked as an administrator in the public and private sectors and took early retirement ten years ago. It was only then that I had the time to write.

In which genre do you write?

I write historical romantic fiction set in the extended Regency period in the first quarter of the nineteenth century.

How many published books do you have?

Four novels and a gothic short story that was the result of a challenge to write about ‘period zombies’.

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

I have always loved writing, and drafting was an important part of my professional life. I did not have the time, energy and mental space to write fiction until my retirement.

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

I draw up elaborate fictional family trees for my main characters, going back several generations. If I am writing an important scene at a dinner, I’ll draw up a table plan, working out who sits next to whom and I draw floor-plans of my characters’ homes. The odd thing about this is that I am hopeless at drawing!

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

I love elephants and have quite a collection of small ones in all sorts of materials. I think they would be good guardians and protectors.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

I am very fortunate to have a lovely study with a bay window. Bookcases for my research library and framed engravings of my period vie for space on the walls. I don’t have a radio or CD player; although I love music I find it too distracting when I write.

What are you currently reading?

Martin Walker’s latest book in his Bruno, Chief of Police series; The Body in the Castle Well. We know the Dordogne area of France where they are set quite well and it is always a joy to return there in spirit. Unfortunately, every time I read one of his books I say, ‘We must go back to the Dordogne’ although there are so many other places we want to visit and revisit.

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

I read, listen to classical music, travel, go to the opera or concerts, meet friends.

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?

Jane Austen. If she did not think it too presumptuous a question, I would like to know why she avoids showing how her characters arrive at their happy end. She tells rather than shows, at times very briefly. No modern editor would let her get away with it. I would love to read another couple of chapters of Mansfield Park, showing us how Fanny’s and Edmund’s relationship change and to hear what Anne and Captain Wentworth said on their walk in Persuasion.

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

That I had the stamina and self-discipline not only to write the first draft of a novel of one hundred thousand words but also to continue through the arduous refining process of editing, editing and editing again. And having done it once, to do it again! And also that I had the courage to present my writing to the world.

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

I have dreamt at least two scenes, out of sequence, but waking with such a vivid impression of them that I have written them down at once and then left them until I reached the appropriate part of the draft. If I’m writing an elaborate dance scene, say with the Regency waltz, I get my husband to walk through the steps with me so that I am sure the arm positions and turns are correct.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? 

I have a travel notebook where I jot down impressions and ideas when I am away from home but that is all.

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

I practise my talk aloud over and over again. I also read aloud the extracts I propose to read to the group and note if there is any section I am inclined to stumble over. Before I start, I square my shoulders, take a deep breath and smile.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Nothing. I had a happy and unremarkable childhood and was more than ready to reach adulthood.

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

None, really, but then the only cartoons I remember are Bugs Bunny and Micky Mouse.

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

He says, “Can you tell me the way to the Ice Bar?”

Do you believe things happen for a reason?

No. I don’t believe in fate but in free will, even if the consequences are sometimes harsh. It is up to us to deal with what happens to us as best we can.

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

I am clear-minded and honest, also with myself.

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

Glenmalure, a valley in Co. Wicklow. You can sit on a grassy bank beside burbling stream and listen to the bird-song as peace envelops you.

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

On the rare occasions where my husband is away for a whole day, I enjoy having the house to myself. I potter a little, cook a nice meal, open a bottle of wine and, ideally, settle down with a new book by a favourite author that I have saved just for this.

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

Some characters slip into your books unplanned and unheralded only to play a pivotal role there. So it was with Flora, the young Duchess of Gracechurch. Flora’s own story reveals itself more slowly. Married before she was seventeen and trapped in a loveless marriage, she befriends young wives whose husbands are ‘distant,’ helping them find their feet in the ton. The Murmur of Masks and Perception & Illusion Books One and Two of the Duchess of Gracechurch Trilogy, tell the stories of two of these wives. My latest book is Book Three, The Duke’s Regret, and Flora herself takes the lead.

Thank you for your interest in me and my writing.

Thank you Catherine for sharing insights into your life and writing style. It was such a pleasure having you be a part of MTA. All the best to you! – Camilla

The Duke’s Regret

A chance meeting with a bereaved father makes Jeffrey, Duke of Gracechurch realise how hollow his own marriage and family life are. Persuaded to marry at a young age, he and his Duchess, Flora, live largely separate lives. Now he is determined to make amends to his wife and children and forge new relationships with them. Flora does not know how to respond to her husband’s suggestion. Can Jeffrey break down the barriers between them and convince her that his change of heart is sincere? Flora must decide if she will hazard her heart and her hard won peace of mind for a prize of undreamt of happiness.

Where to find the books:

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2VCLaFc 

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Hme2YD 

Connect with Catherine:

Website: https://www.catherinekullmann.com
Facebook: fb.me/catherinekullmannauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CKullmannAuthor

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Meet the Author: The Stars in the Night by Clare Rhoden

Today we’re traveling to Melbourne Australia to chat with Clare Rhoden. We’ll talk about how a wolf, a teddy bear, Aurealis Magazine, and reading really, really quickly come together as part of Clare’s life. Watch out for the cow pats … Let’s get going …

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a writer and book reviewer from Melbourne Australia. I write historical novels, science fiction, fantasy, odd short stories, and a whole load of highly unusual genre-mush stuff that I intend to keep in the bottom drawer.

Like, forever.

How many published books do you have?

Nowhere near enough yet! 🙂

My fourth novel will be published in the second half of 2019. Being published is a dream come true.

What would you choose as your spirit animal and why?

I have decided that the wolf is my spirit animal, and I very much hope that the wolf would agree. I’ve collected so many fabulous wolf pictures on my Pinterest boards! They are the most magnificent creatures.

But probably my spirit animal is a teddy bear.

As a child I burst into tears every time my mother washed my teddy and hung him on the line. Poor Big Ted. He looked so miserable pegged out by his ears. As you would.

What are you currently reading?

I review fantasy and science fiction for Aurealis Magazine (https://aurealis.com.au), and at the moment I’m reading the hilarious satire ‘The Year of the Fruitcake’ by Gillian Polack. An alien is trapped in a menopausal human body while researching the planet. No more needs to be said!

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

Even if the scene I am writing is dire, the act of writing takes me to a calm place. For me, writing is a physical kind of solace for the anxieties of the mind. I didn’t realize that before I went full time. Now a day without writing makes me itchy. Really itchy.

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

The dog who lives with me and my family is a seven-year-old golden cocker spaniel/poodle cross called Aeryn. Or Muppet Face, Fluffy Bum, Smoocher. And also Bionic Miss and Ka-ching!, because she has had two complete knee replacements that cost thousands of $$$$s.

I would like to ask her: ‘Why do you hate the rubbish truck so much?’, ‘Why do you have to sit in my lap when I’m typing?’, and especially: ‘What’s so good about rolling in cow pats?’

BTW, she responds to all her names.

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

My only super power is that I can read really, really quickly. I know it’s an unfair advantage, but I’m keeping it.

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

The Stars in the Night is the my latest publication. It’s historical fiction starting with WWI, with a bit of a love story, a fair amount of family saga, quite a bit of tragedy, and the odd bit of wry humour. The characters have lived with me for quite a while and I sometimes take Harry’s advice when I’m dealing with difficult situations…

I’m thrilled to bits to see this book out in the real world. Plus I’m completely in love with the cover.

Thank you so much Camilla. It’s so interesting to see what other writers are thinking and doing.

I absolutely love the cover too Clare! The color combination and scenery is beautiful. I’m glad you’re enjoying the interviews put forth here. That means a great deal to me. Thank you for joining us on MTA!! – Camilla

Book blurb:

Harry Fletcher is a confident young man, sure that he will marry Nora, no matter what their families say. He will always protect Eddie, the boy his father saved from the gutters of Port Adelaide.

Only the War to End All Wars might get in the way of Harry’s plans…

From the beaches of Semaphore to the shores of Gallipoli, the mud of Flanders to the red dust of inland South Australia, this is a story of love, brotherhood, and resilience.

Where to find the book:

Universal Amazon link: viewbook.at/clarerhodenbooks

Connect with Clare:

clarerhoden.com

Twitter: @ClareER

FB: https://www.facebook.com/clareelizabethrhoden/

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