Meet the Author: Music from a Strange Planet by Barbara Black

Today we travel to Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada to chat with Barbara Black about how a porcupine, a magic spot on her couch, the Delphic Oracle, adventure motorcycling, playing the piano, collage, whispering to bees, the William Tell Overture, thriving on the random, a margarita with a Antarctic ice cube, and the Jetsons come together as part of Barbaras life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in the southwest corner of British Columbia, Canada, on big, beautiful Vancouver Island in the city of Victoria. Land of sea, mountains, rainforest, raccoons and seagulls. City of many restaurants and creative people who move here to pursue their bliss.

In which genre do you write? How many published books do you have?

I write poetry, short stories and flash fiction. I’m a minimalist at heart. I love the art of compression and squeezing an entire world into a few lines or pages. Music from a Strange Planet is my first book: a collection of twenty-two short stories, published by Caitlin Press.

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

Since it’s a story collection, I can’t cite just one idea. But mostly my stories start with a character’s voice, or a distinct statement that I know will lead me into a new fictional landscape. Interestingly, for my story “Belly-Deep in White Clover,” about a solitary taxidermist who becomes enamoured with a porcupine, the idea came from Geist magazine’s “CanLit Premise Generator” (as in Canadian Literature). It was a fun generator of random CanLit themes and tropes, including moose, loggers, beavers, hockey teams, Leonard Cohen, French-Canadian clowns, and harsh winters. When I pressed the magic generator button I got something like: an unusually tall man/with an antiquated profession/falls in love with a wild animal. For the longest time, I tried to write a humourous story on this subject, but finally gave up. Then one day, the beginnings of a very differently-toned story arrived, with those same quirky elements, but it was beautiful and tender and mysterious and has been beloved by readers.

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

I have a magic spot on my couch. When I sit there early in the morning, brilliant opening lines come into my head, unbidden. It’s like I’m the Delphic Oracle presiding over the mysterious fumes of prophecy, only with no fumes!

What would you choose as your spirit animal and why?

I discovered my spirit animal at a poetry retreat. Our first assignment was to call in our spirit animal and write a poem about it to share the next morning. I tried all evening to summon up an animal and as the deadline loomed, started to panic. I imagined all the experienced writers in their rooms crafting pieces of brilliance about their totem animals. The solution? I just let go and wrote nonstop, calling in this animal until my pen stopped, then looked at the first line: “Are you the dark brown one of the sweet-smelling soil, the solitary thorn who eats the tender leaves?” It was a porcupine. Of course, there’s the connection of quills with writing, which I only subconsciously realized. But after some research, I was touched to learn that porcupines are mostly solitary (like writers!) and gentle and they sleep in trees, something I actually did as a child. I composed the poem and went to bed after midnight. The next morning, I read it at the writing circle. One of the retreat participants was an editor of a Canadian literary journal. She came up to me afterwards and offered to publish my poem. It was my first publication.

What are you currently reading?

I love to read and write short forms. Short stories, flash stories and compact poems. My latest interest is prose poems. They’re a lyrical, enigmatic hybrid. I’m currently reading two prose poem collections—a heart-breakingly beautiful collection by Allison Benis White, called Self-Portrait with Crayon. She writes in a unique style that somehow manages to convey complex states of mind; and David Shumate’s witty book of prose poems, High Water Mark, inventive takes on everything from Hitler’s barber to Neruda carrying a sea in his suitcase. On the fiction side, I recently finished Madeline Miller’s Circe, which I highly recommend. I’m also working my way through George Saunders’ short story master class book, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain. And I love pretzeling my brain with cryptic crosswords.

What outdoor activity haven’t you tried, but would like to try?

Adventure motorcycling on the backroads. No traffic! Hills, and rivers, mud, dirt paths, and bumps. Plus, I might see a porcupine. Or, at least, the back of one.

Can you play a musical instrument?

I play piano. Currently enjoying a book of transcribed jazz improvisations from some of the greats. What a little jazz can do for a person’s soul. I have over ten years of classical vocal training, but now I prefer singing jazz and folk music. I can also play the beginning of the William Tell Overture on my front teeth, if you care to listen.

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

In the warmer months, I’m travelling, out in the garden whispering to the bees or riding my motorcycle and bagging some curves. In the winter, I read and write and often am busy on a collaboration. This year I’ll be working with a composer in Amsterdam, writing text for his composition, “Seven Colours of the Night.” I also recently took up collage and now collage excerpts from my writing on Instagram. (As a matter of fact, my publisher kindly asked if I would design the front cover for my book and I did!)

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

…that when a story gets stuck, I can just wait until a new scene acts itself out in my head visually. If I allow my subconscious to do its work, the character solves the problem for me. Characters generally come to me unbidden and seem to ask for me to write their story. In this collection, there’s a solitary taxidermist who lives in the woods, a business analyst who yearns to be a sculptor, and a female global traveler who looks for love in all the wrong places. Where these people came from is a mystery to me.

After I finished my manuscript, I was surprised to see inadvertent themes related to my past or to what was happening in my life during the four years of writing the book. I saw in several characters my Dad’s struggle with dementia; and myself in a little girl character who wants to dress up as a very specific kind of beetle (as a child, I loved insects); and my thoughts around mothers and daughters showed up in a story with a mother who mourns her stillborns; one who’s lost her daughter; another who connects with her estranged adult daughter. This is not to say there aren’t moments of humour and subversity in the book. There’s plenty of that, too. So, despite most of the characters not being like me at all, parts of my life are woven into the very fibre of the stories.

As for a writing process, I’m not a planner. I don’t follow the advice to have a writing routine. I thrive on the random. Mostly, I rely on a very strong voice or line to kick-start a story and start the “machine of story-writing.” George Saunders calls this, “Follow the Voice.” Once the kernel of the story is in place, I’m very disciplined at pursuing it.

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. Why is he there?

Never doubt the muse. It might bring a sombrero-wearing penguin to your front porch. Go with it! And say yes to the margarita with the Antarctic ice cube floating in it.

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

I loved The Jetsons. That opening with its crazy, punchy, exciting music (they squeezed in a few notes of “Chopsticks”!), and the family bubble-jet zipping around the futuristic cityscape. It was so neat that, after landing, the jet snapped down into George’s briefcase! Being a bit of a tomboy, I identified with Elmore. Back then, my father read Popular Science magazine and there were always futurist scenarios in there, like moving sidewalks in the city, personal mini-jets and highways layered on highways like a stack of noodles.

If Mars or another planet were livable, would you accept a one way ticket there?

“Livable” is a pretty minimalist term. Why would I leave my little pocket of raincoast paradise of four seasons for a dry red planet with no greenery or coffee shops?

What are you currently working on?

A collection of flash fictions titled, “Little Fortified Stories,” that began with sitting in the Port Institute in Lisbon, sampling port and muscatel and free-writing words that came to me based on that tipple’s unique qualities. The collection has since evolved to include more story-inspiring spirits, from bourbon to gin and other warped, poignant or fantastical tales that relate to my mostly imagined ancestry.

Tell us about your most recent book. And what’s the “strange music” part of it?

My first book is Music from a Strange Planet, a collection of short stories with themes of quirky love, emotional attachment, transformation, grief and the influences of the natural world (and the occasional insect). Among many other characters, you’ll meet a woman who plans a “sologamy ceremony” to marry herself; two insomniac strangers who come together over a raccoon; and an installation artist who transforms herself into a caribou.

The book title comes from a story with the same title which involves a precocious girl named Lucky Bee who, in addition to having a live cricket who helps her predict the future, is a young composer. Her most recent opus, “Music from a Strange Planet,” is inspired by the convergence of cricket choruses. Several stories in the collection reference music, including one about a punk music singer suffering a creative crisis and inadvertently falling in love with a bassist, and another about a love-seeker who meets her true love—a tram-riding musician—in a tiki bar in Prague.

The book is eclectic, or “unusual and unorthodox,” as one of my endorsers says, full of varying characters, all of whom I care deeply about and who seem to exist somewhere in another galaxy, carrying on their unique lives. I’m thrilled to be introducing them to readers.

It was wonderful having you on MTA, Barbara!! Such a fun interview!! Wishing you all the best, with much success, and many margaritas with Antarctic ice cubes! – Camilla

Book Blurb:

Music from a Strange Planet:

A striking and genre-bending debut short story collection from writer Barbara Black.

Off-beat, provocative, philosophical, Music from a Strange Planet transports you to intimate worlds in a quirky multiverse. This unique story collection places characters at the core of their vulnerabilities. Grief, tenderness and longing soak the pages, taking the reader into the intimate places of the heart: An awkward child envisions herself as a darkling beetle; an unemployed business analyst prefers water-walking over “rebranding” himself; a psychologist wants to marry herself; and in the squatters’ district, a biogenetically-altered couple visits an attic to observe a large cocoon. Black takes the reader from the ruins of a dystopian city to inner self-created landscapes with a masterfully crafted tone and a register that ranges from contemplative to comic. Expect your planet to tilt a little to the strange after reading this engaging collection.

Book Trailer for Music from a Strange Planet:

Book Endorsements:

These exhilarating stories, quick and sharp and tender, breach the barrier that separates civilized and wild, human and non. Senses fuse, flesh is transfigured; characters come to themselves at moments of metamorphosis, modulating to new forms of life. Barbara Black’s magic is the kind that illuminates.”

—John Gould, author of The End of Me

“Barbara Black’s debut collection, Music from a Strange Planet, offers tales of obsession and transformation in which the melding of character with the phenomenal world is nothing less than astounding. With a surgeon’s exacting skill, she lays bare the often-strange music of the human heart.”

—M.A.C. Farrant, author of One Good Thing: A Living Memoir

“Be prepared. Be very prepared and preferably with your inner antennae on high alert as you enter into this translucent, transcendent, Kafkaesque world of illusions. Black goes beyond spider-like weaving as she spins her tales. Unusual, unorthodox, but always unique, they will stick to you.”

—Cathleen With, author of Having Faith in the Polar Girls’ Prison

Excerpt:

Music from a Strange Planet

Where to find the book:

Order direct from the publisher here: https://caitlin-press.com/our-books/music-from-a-strange-planet/

Or order from your local independent bookstore.

Order from Amazon.ca here:

Order from Amazon.com here:

Connect with Barbara:

YouTube Author Page:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSf6wfF1zx0-GbnPcZSK8vQ

Author Page at Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57136889-music-from-a-strange-planet?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=ig5ybOCHtw&rank=1

Facebook Writer Page: https://www.facebook.com/barbarablackwriter

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

Website: https://www.barbarablack.ca/book-music-from-a-strange-planet/

Other Links:

Author Interview with Mandy-Eve Barnett:
https://mandyevebarnett.com/2021/05/20/author-interview-barbara-black/

Book Review by Bill Arnott:
https://miramichireader.ca/2021/03/music-from-a-strange-planet-by-barbara-black/

Author Interview with Bill Arnott:

https://mailchi.mp/e1829eb04ddc/from-a-late-bloomer-creative-writer-some-of-the-best-short-stories-ive-read

Author Interview with Oscar Martens:

Taking risks with Barbara Black

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Meet the Author: Psychogenic Fugue by Nikki Marrone

Today we travel to Cambridge, UK to chat with Nikki Marrone about how Grandia, being an adventurer, chocolate, jumping off the Stratosphere, living in a teepee, the Sahara Desert, being seen and understood, an otter, a sombrero wearing penguin, and a wandering poet come together as part of Nikki’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hello! My name is Nikki and I’m a poet/writer/photographer. I’m from Cambridge, UK, where I have a love/hate relationship with the city depending on the season. When I was a kid, I fell in love with a game called Grandia, decided I wanted to be an adventurer and never grew out of that idea. I feel lost if I’m not creating something and feel everything too much and too deeply – so that’s probably why I’m a poet. I love chocolate and will always tell you to eat more cake.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

1. I have jumped off a building. It was the stratosphere in Las Vegas

2. I’ve been lucky enough to spend the night sleeping under the stars in the Sahara Desert

3. I spent 3 months living in a tepee in an “international intentional community” in Germany

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

Like most writers I started my love of writing from a love of reading. I spent all my time living in stories as a child. I take the book I’m reading, create a character for myself and in my head I go and experience my own adventures within that world. From there, I started creating my own worlds and writing them down. As for poetry, it became the best way to express myself and I use it to figure out myself and the world around me.

The first time I performed in front of an audience, I read a poem about my mental health struggles and afterwards a mother came up to me crying and told me that her daughter was experiencing the same thing and how much it meant for me to share my story. When I connect with someone’s art it has this immense power of being seen and understood, when I realised, I could give someone that moment it inspired me to keep going.

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

My spirit animal is definitely an otter. I love to cuddle and definitely see life as a playground. I have fought hard to stay connected to my inner child. However, I also come back to the phoenix over and over in life. I’ve been through hell and resilience is a strength of mine. Can I create a phoenix otter? An otter who carries the raven’s feather and turns into a phoenix? I’ll stop now.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

Once upon a time this would have been my favourite coffee shop but now, I have a toddler…So, I guess my ideal writing space now would be anywhere outside. I’ve travelled a lot and have probably written my best poems next to the ocean or up a mountain.

What are you currently reading?

I’ve just started the Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski. I’m halfway through The Last Wish.

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

Too much. Firstly, I’m a mother so I spend a lot of time with my daughter. I’m also studying for my master’s degree and helping run an indie publisher called ‘Point Positive Publishing’ and an arts collective called ‘Colliding Lines’. Occasionally I sleep or play video games.

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

“Que es Queso? Queso es que?” *

He’s probably there because by the laws of attraction I have manifested him by sending too many penguin memes online…I hope he brings cheese. Imagine, a philosophical penguin gifting cheese. Más queso por favor, señor pingüino!

*This is a terrible inside joke between a Spanish friend and me. I realised you could kind of make a palindrome out of it and because Spanish is not my first language it works and is fun to say.

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

I’m not sure I believe things happen for a reason all the time, but I definitely believe that what you put out into the world you get back. That everything is happening in the way it’s supposed to, although it might not feel good at the time. I also think that the forces in nature or whatever you want to call it will always give you an opportunity to change direction in life or teach you something if you’re open to it.

In my experience it’s awfully hard to stay stagnant and stand still. I believe this because I’ve been challenged my entire life and had to overcome a lot, I’ve lived many different lifetimes already. For example, I’ve been an almost homeless struggling teenager, a student in Canada, a wandering poet in America, a single mother in England – the list goes on and on. If you survive it, you learn something at some point from it in the future.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on two things.

My first full length collection of poetry titled ‘Burning Through the Bloodline’ which is an exploration of shared familial trauma and a testament to resilience and motherhood. This is almost finished and I’m looking for a publisher.

An interactive poetry box set called ‘Witches Brew’ which will be released in 2021.

How many published books do you have?

Currently I have 4 books published. Two poetry pamphlets ‘Lost & Found’ and ‘Psychogenic Fugue.’ A photographic novel ‘Honey & Lemon’ and a non-fiction peer support guide on breastfeeding.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My most recent book is ‘Psychogenic Fugue.’ It’s a collection of poetry and spoken word pieces that were born from my adolescent years spent aimlessly wandering and looking for a home. There are poems about identity, community, mental health, bisexuality, love, and loss.

It was wonderful to learn more about you, your background, and writing style. Thank you for being a part of MTA. All the best to you, Nikki!! – Camilla

Where to find the book:

Online at amazon, waterstones, target or WHsmith.

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

Book Shelf: Mr. Sagittarius: Poetry and Prose

Mr. Sagittarius: Poetry and Prose by M J Mallon

I absolutely adore this book and will be sharing it with my 18 year old daughter. I enjoyed the different styles of poetry and prose mixed together with photography. It flowed beautifully. An uplifting, magical, sweet gem of a book. – Camilla

I interviewed the author of this book in March 2020. Follow the link to read more about M J Mallon.

Meet the Author: Mr. Sagittarius by M J Mallon

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/3btc6dR

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

(The above is an amazon affiliate link.)

Meet the Author: Mr. Sagittarius by M J Mallon

Today we travel to Cambridge, England to chat with M J Mallon about how Hong Kong, a robin, Edinburgh, a dragonfly, the Corpus Christi Chronophage clock, chilled strawberry flavoured cider, and making connections come together as part of her past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a bit of a strange mixture!

I spent my early childhood in Hong Kong and my teenage years in Bonnie Edinburgh. I’m now living in Cambridge, England with my husband, David, who plays rock guitar! My two daughters have ‘almost’ flown the nest but still return. Amusingly, it is they who complain about their dad making too much noise!

Both of my parents have fascinating stories to tell, (and that’s where my love of storytelling originated.) My father couldn’t bear the extremes of Scottish weather, so he worked abroad in exotic locations such as Malaysia, the Middle East, Africa, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and the Caribbean. Conversely, my Malaysian mother didn’t mind the Scottish weather and settled in Edinburgh!

In What Genre Do You Write?

Whatever genre takes my fancy! I started off writing YA fantasy (The Curse of Time Book 1 Bloodstone,) and took a detour into short stories, flash and poetry. I wrote Scrabble Boy, a short story set in an imaginary creepy arcade (published in best-selling Horror anthology Nightmareland, edited by Dan Alatorre.) Thereafter, came another short story: Dexter’s Creepy Caverns, (Ghostly Rites 2019,) (inspired by Edinburgh’s creepy underground haunted caverns.)

I enjoy writing humorous flash and murder isn’t off limits, either. I won first prize with two writing competitions: Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Competition with Mr. Blamey and 1st Prize Bloggers Bash Blog Post Competiton with Queen’s Dress Down Day, which involves amongst other wonders, her majesty The Queen taking off her tiara and going bra shopping!

My latest book, Mr. Sagittarus is different again, it’s a magical poetry, prose and photography book inspired by my mindful walks in Cambridge Botanical Gardens.

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

My spirit animal would either be a robin or a dragonfly, or perhaps a dragon! A robin because they are family orientated and lucky. A dragonfly because they denote change – my life has changed so much since I started writing. My two favourite spirit animals, the robin and dragonfly feature in Mr. Sagittarius. And dragons are dragons! I have plans for dragons…

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

I met with the world-famous inventor of the Corpus Christi Chronophage clock, Dr. John C. Taylor, OBE. https://mjmallon.com/2017/09/17/poetry-inspired-by-the-dragon-chronopage-colleens-weekly-poetry-challenge-no-50-haiku-tanka-haibun-voice-watch/

He took me out to lunch, and we chatted about his love of clocks and crystals and his numerous inventions, including the practical cordless kettle. Afterwards, we walked to the clock, and on the way, he stopped to pick conkers. This is my photo with him. He’s such a lovely man, very down to earth and interesting, such an inspiration.

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

Edinburgh, my home away from home. Every time I visit Edinburgh, I always find something new to marvel at, or enjoy. It’s a great city and I particularly enjoy the buzz of Edinburgh in August during the International Festival, with the excitement of the street acts, dance shows, plays and comedy. There is something for everyone, and there is also The Edinburgh Book Festival—a must see for bookish people such as I! I’d recommend visiting the quirky shops, terrific coffee houses, restaurants and fantastic art galleries. The seaside is just a short drive away. Sometimes I wonder why I ever left!

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

Little Women. I was up in Edinburgh with my eldest daughter. We were both soaked as a small umbrella is useless in windy Edinburgh. Regardless of my soggy back I just loved Little Women. It’s the perfect movie for a writer: such a great story about overcoming all obstacles to achieving a dream. Particularly at a time when females had to write under an alias.

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

My perfect solo date would be a day in Brighton. I’d be strolling along the waterfront, the sun would be shining, music would be playing, and I’d stop for some chilled strawberry flavoured cider, or perhaps a cocktail. It would be a relaxed afternoon, (as is the way in Brighton,) and I would find someone to chat to. Brighton is such a friendly town and there is always a chilled-out vibe. One year, I spent a long weekend writing in Brighton and ended up at a party with people I’d never met before, it’s that kind of place. Awesome.

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

Making connections both online and in-person with like-minded individuals. The most enjoyable aspect of writing is interacting and sharing a love of writing, books and creativity. I’ve met so many people through blogging: via the bloggers bash in London and writing groups such as SCBWI which is an awesome group, very supportive and friendly. Recently, I went to my first SCBWI (The Society of Children’s Writers and Book Illustrators,) conference in Winchester, which was amazing. I loved it: My First SCBWI Conference. Luckily, I’ve been to several blogging conferences before this, so I knew what to expect. Without a doubt this is the biggest conference I have attended, to date.

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

Grab every opportunity! Follow your heart’s desires, don’t let anyone crush your dreams.

When my husband was sixteen he had the opportunity to go touring with a band. Not surprisingly, his dad didn’t let him go! He’s always regretted that he didn’t pursue a musical career. I wish I’d started writing at a younger age, but it is better to follow your dreams when the time is right. This is my time, before regrets become lost opportunities forever.

What are you currently working on?

My next projects for completion are:

To finish the second in my YA fantasy series The Curse of Time Book Golden Healer. I’m currently working through beta readers’ comments.

Thereafter, my focus will be my next poetry collection. Which I intended calling Do What You Love, but my dad suggested Mr. Pisces,(that’s his zodiac sign!) So, we will see…

Tell us about your most recent book.

My latest book is a collection of poetry, prose and photography entitled Mr. Sagittarius.

The collection is inspired by the natural world—flowers, trees, and the magical creatures that frequent the botanical gardens in Cambridge—and by two elderly gents who I saw sharing a coffee in Cambridge. Mr. Sagittarius is an uplifting smorgasbord of poems, stories and images celebrating sibling relationships, the circle of life and magic!

It was wonderful to have you on MTA, Marjorie! Your solo date sounds like me kinda solo date! I’m partial to your dad’s suggestion of Mr. Pisces for the title of your next book, as I’m a Pisces. Wishing you all the best! Keep having fun! –Camilla

Blurb:

Who Is Mr. Sagittarius?

And what is his connection to twin brothers, Harold and William?

When Harold dies he leaves a simple memorial request

Will his sister Annette honour it?

Or, will the magic of the garden ensure that she does.

A magical story expressed via poetry and prose with photographic images.

Available in Amazon kindle, free on kindle unlimited and in full colour paperback.

Buying Link: https://mybook.to/MrSagittarius

Social Media Links:

Authors Website: https://mjmallon.com
Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon and @curseof_time
#ABRSC: Authors Bloggers Rainbow Support Club on Facebook
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17064826.M_J_Mallon

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

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

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/m-j-mallon

Also By Kyrosmagica Publishing:

YA Fantasy: The Curse of Time Book 1 Bloodstone

https://mybook.to/TheCurseofTime

Bestselling horror compilation:

Nightmareland edited by Dan Alatorre

“Scrabble Boy” (Short Story)

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1702784886/

Amazon USA: https://www.amazon.com/Nightmareland-horror-anthology-stories-authors-ebook/dp/B07ZG3ZXP3/

Ghostly Rites Anthology 2019

“Dexter’s Creepy Caverns” (Short Story)

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ghostly-Rites-2019-Plaisted-Publishing/dp/1705367402/

Amazon USA: https://www.amazon.com/Ghostly-Rites-2019-Plaisted-Publishing-ebook/dp/B07ZQV2Y4Q/

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

Book Shelf: The Year of the Blue Water by Yanyi

The Year of the Blue Water by Yanyi

This is a Yale Series of Younger Poets book that I came across while pulling holds at the library. The title and cover caught my attention.

One of my favorite pieces from the collection:

“Form gives space for something to exist. You have to dig in yourself to find what you’ll put in it. Places you don’t know appear. Poems are a way to ask for what exists, to invite what wants to be visible.”

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/30ZcqNR

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

(The above are amazon affiliate links.)

Latest News: December 2019 Meet the Author Interviews with Most Views

Meet the Author Interview with Most Views for December 2019:

#1: Depression Hates a Moving Target by Nita Sweeney

Meet the Author Interview with Second Most Views for December 2019:

#2: Walks: A Collection of Haiku by Cendrine Marrouat and See A Dream Within: Found ‘Poe’try Based On The Collected Poetry Works Of Edgar Allan Poe by David Ellis

Meet the Author Interview with Third Most Views for December 2019:

#3 Maternal Instinct by Rebecca Bowyer

Top Three Countries With the Most Traffic to Meeting the Authors in December 2019:

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: 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

 

Meet the Author: Walks: A Collection of Haiku by Cendrine Marrouat and See A Dream Within: Found ‘Poe’try Based On The Collected Poetry Works Of Edgar Allan Poe by David Ellis

Today we’re traveling to Winnipeg, Canada and to the UK to chat with Cendrine Marrouat and David Ellis. We chat about how sweet and savoury snacks, cuddly animals, movement, photography, being a French instructor, accepting praise, resourcefulness, uplifting others, trust, believing in yourself, and perfectionism come together as part of Cendrine and David’s writing life.

Tell us a bit about yourselves.

Cendrine Marrouat: Originally from Toulouse, France, I have called Winnipeg, Canada, my home for 16 years. I am a photographer, poet, author, French instructor, and the Head of marketing and communications at ConnexionFranco.Coop. I am also co-founder of two projects, FPoint Collective and Auroras & Blossoms Poetry Journal.

David Ellis: I am a UK based author of poetry, fiction and music lyrics. I have been writing poetry and music lyrics for years.

How many published books do you have?

Cendrine Marrouat: I have 13 published books in several genres — poetry, photography, social media, and theatre. I have a few more in the works.

David Ellis: I have published five books so far, with many more planned for the future! Three of them are poetry collections, the other two are short stories collections, one of which is a short story collection with stories written by myself and other writers. I aim to write and publish, in a variety of different mediums and genres.

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

Cendrine Marrouat: I have never been able to work on any idea without a title popping up in my mind first.

As such, the titles of all my books existed before a line was ever written. And only one or two have been changed slightly.

David Ellis: I like to be in my own creative environment when I write. It has to be supplied with sweet and savoury snacks, endless cups of tea, and most importantly of all – cuddly animals. I have Meerkats, a kangaroo and Gromit from the animation comedy series ‘Wallace & Gromit’, along with other ornamental animals nearby too. I’m building an ornamental collection of little elephants, plus I have a giraffe sent to me by one of my dearest friends. They keep me company, while I get down to the business at hand.

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

Cendrine Marrouat: Walks: A Collection of Haiku is a series of short books focusing on the idea of movement.

Movement is part of us. Even the shortest destination, such as going to our car or our kitchen, requires walking. Many people walk without thinking. As a result, they will miss many things that could have brightened their day.

As a photographer with a passion for details, I walk with intent. I pay attention to things around me and I want to help others do too.

David Ellis: ‘See A Dream Within: Found ‘Poe’try Based On The Collected Poetry Works Of Edgar Allan Poe’ is my most recent publication. It is a collection of inspirational and romantic poetry based on the entire collected poetic works of Edgar Allan Poe.

I’ve been dedicating myself to writing lots of found/blackout poetry recently and am thrilled at the results, as they can often be unpredictable, as well as being dependent on the source materials I am using. I chose to write a poetry book centred on Edgar Allan Poe’s works because of my love of his poem ‘The Raven’. I had previously written several found poems based on Edgar’s more popular poems and realised as I was drawn to writing even more of them, I could make an entire book of them, just in time for Halloween!

This poetry book gave me a good excuse to read every poem Poe has ever written or had attributed to him. I aim to do the same with all of his short stories for a sequel in the future. I feel like I am giving myself an excuse to educate and immerse myself in the world of a person I truly admire and am writing them a love letter that honours their memory, which I absolutely feel I have done with Poe. His spirit is still present after all this time, flowing in the words of my book.

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

Cendrine Marrouat: Many things! I am the Head of Marketing and Communications at ConnexionFranco.Coop. This platform seeks to bring together providers of services in French in Canada so that Francophone consumers can find them more easily, no matter where they are in the country.

I am also a photographer and French instructor to adults. Finally, I co-founded FPoint Collective, with Isabel Nolasco. David and I founded Auroras & Blossoms Poetry Journal earlier this year. We wanted to highlight and feature uplifting and inspirational poetry, no matter the topic. Our first issue was released on October 1. You can find it at https://abpoetryjournal.com/issues.

David Ellis: As Cendrine mentions above, we are both Co-Founders & Co-Editors of Auroras & Blossoms Poetry Journal. We have dedicated ourselves to providing an inspirational poetry journal that brings positivity to all those who read it.

I myself provide a variety of creative type interviews, primarily Author Interviews but I also conduct Comic Book/Graphic Novel Interviews, Photographer Interviews, Singer/Songwriter Interviews & Scriptwriting Interviews. My website is a creative resource hub, providing various comprehensive lists and tools to assist a variety of artists and writers.

My website can be found at www.toofulltowrite.com.

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

Cendrine Marrouat: That my voice matters because it is mine. You should never try and suppress your own story. It does not matter if it does not fit current social standards.

David Ellis: I think looking back, I doubted myself when it came to my writing when I first started out. I would look at other poets and admire their writing, wistfully thinking and wishing that I could write as well as they could. It was only when I started my own blog (after being encouraged to do so at my local Writers Circle) that I had a reason to fill up the blog with regular writing content from myself. I always had a keen interest in songwriting but I could not play any instruments, so I wrote poetry as a means to create music with words and was surprised to find that I had a knack for doing it. After I began writing and publishing, I noticed that my peers were taking notice of me, telling me how much they admired my work. This initially surprised and humbled me but I learned to accept their praise. It ended up giving me confidence in my abilities to keep striving to be a writer for my career.

I also constantly surprise myself with my resourcefulness, when it comes to my writing, finding inspiration in almost anything and everything out there, so what I feel I have learned through my own writing is what a resourceful person I am in many aspects of my life, especially when it comes to motivating others.

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

Cendrine Marrouat: The most inspiring thing that has ever happened to me was when one of my readers contacted me to let me know that one of my books (Short Poetry for Those Who Fear Death) had saved their life.

Real art is not meant to boost an artist’s ego. It is meant to help and uplift others, to launch important conversations. Otherwise, what’s the point?

David Ellis: Wow, a tough question! I can usually remember what I had for breakfast in the morning and quotable lines from films, books and songs but everything else in between is mostly a blur, punctuated with what I am going to eat for my next meal.

I think the most inspiring experiences I have had are ones where I’ve been approached by acquaintances who tell me what a positive impact I am having or have had on their lives in these troubled times. This can be from my writing or my constant sharing on Social Media of cute animals photos and videos. It costs nothing to give out positive love and kindness on a daily basis. To this day, I still maintain that I get the biggest thrill out of giving things to others, be it positive support, kindness, hope, love and inspiration. Also, if I know what your favourite animal is then I can’t help but end up giving you gifts based around that too 🙂

As for amusing or crazy things in my life, I always feel like I’m a few minutes away from something like that happening to me, I try to bring fun and a little craziness to the table wherever I may go!

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

Cendrine Marrouat: I have done a lot of public speaking in my career. I will listen to any song from my list of favorites, Genesis’ Ripples being at the top.

I am a language instructor by profession. I always prepare myself in the same way, by considering all questions people may ask me. It is a lot of work initially, but the more experienced you are, the easier it gets.

David Ellis: For me, I have a go to band that I imagine will be obscure to virtually everybody out there but that is just the way I like it 😉 I listen to a band called The Gone Jackals and specifically their album called ‘Bone To Pick’. I became obsessed with this soundtrack after it was featured in a videogame called ‘Full Throttle’. The story in the game is excellent and cinematic (it follows the adventures of a futuristic biker gang) plus since it has elements of a hero doing cool, heroic things, whenever I hear the music, it is easy for my mind to feel confident with it playing in the background. It has a bluesy rock vibe to it, very mellow in places and empowering in others. Go check it out on Spotify, if you have time.

Before publicly speaking, I would personally recommend listening to something that relaxes you and makes you feel confident too. Any genre will do, if it makes your head and spine tingle with euphoria. Furthermore, If you’re an alcohol drinker then have one (and I stress only one to calm your nerves, don’t get drunk!). If you’re teetotal then have a tea, coffee, soda, flavoured water (again just one, any more might end up giving you too much sugar/caffeine and making your more anxious). This should help make you feel more relaxed and mellow before your performance.

I agree with what Cendrine said above, the more speaking you do, the easier it gets. Make sure you have done plenty of research into what you are speaking about. If you are reading your own material, learn as much of it as you can off by heart, as it will come out more naturally when you read it.

Start speaking in smaller groups to get yourself used to dealing with larger audiences and never be afraid to voice an idea that you have in any discussions. If anything, I feel it is better to volunteer as early as possible, so you do not make yourself nervous and feel picked on, if several other people are chosen before it gets to be your turn! I’ve found as I get older, I am less worried about what other people think of me and more concerned about getting across my messages in the best way that I possibly can. Age really does bring experience.

It is important when you are publicly speaking to constantly mentally remind yourself that what you say has value to the audience that you are speaking to, they have come to support you and are interested in what you have to say. If you fumble or falter your words, take a breath, pause and then carry on as normal, as if nothing happened. You are human, people will understand and they will respect you even more for having the courage to stand up there and deliver your speech, so have fun with it and be sure to party hard afterwards once it’s done as a reward!

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

Cendrine Marrouat: Trust the fact that life will be even better than it is right now. Continue taking advantage of every opportunity.

David Ellis: Believe in yourself and your creative talent. You are making a legacy that you can be very proud of for years to come. Keep publishing and know that you are making a difference in the lives of your readers all over the world.

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

Cendrine Marrouat: Ad Astra. In this movie, Brad Pitt is an astronaut whose mission is to travel  across the solar system to uncover the truth behind the doomed expedition headed by his missing father.

I have a soft spot for the dystopian genre and anything even remotely similar to Interstellar in its premise will have my attention.

Brad Pitt has always been a great actor. But it’s probably one of his best roles!

David Ellis: I watch tons of movies and a lot of TV shows. Since we are talking about books, I shall focus on the latest film that I saw that was a book adaption, the 2017 film remake of Stephen King’s book IT. For those who don’t know, IT focuses on the small town of Derry, where children are going missing and a group of geeky teenagers band together to discover who is taking the children, while aiming to put a stop to it.

I have seen the original film version of IT with Tim Curry (made in 1990), which is genuinely frightening in places but with a lot of humour too and I’m glad they remade the original, considering how dated the effects are. The 2017 version is welcomed by me (unlike a lot of film remakes, which seem totally pointless when the films were so perfectly made in the first place), along with the significantly different take on the clown character (a superb performance by Bill Skarsgård).

I was keen to watch IT because of my passion for the TV show Stranger Things. I’m pleased to say that Finn Wolfhard (I really wish I had that surname!) who plays Mike in Stranger Things crops up here and is extremely entertaining throughout the film. The whole cast does a brilliant job of making you care for this intrepid band of geeks and losers, who take on a malevolent force of evil.

With the longer run time, the remake had to be split into two different movies, with the first film following the children and the second film following the children as adults, so we get to see what kind of nostalgia they will bring to the story, as the adults deal with Pennywise the Dancing Clown again many years after their first terrifying encounter with him.

Story is very important to me in films, with a strong, clever story, I can enjoy films and TV shows in many different genres.

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

Cendrine Marrouat: I absolutely believe that things happen for a reason. Call it karma, if you want. I believe in reincarnation. So everything I do, try to remember that it will have an impact on my current life or the next ones.

After completing the first draft of The Little Big eBook on Social Media Audiences: Build Yours, Keep It, and Win, I found myself stuck. I knew there was something wrong with it, but I could not pinpoint exactly what it was. So, I asked some people to read through it and share their honest feedback.

One reader tore my draft apart. He only had nasty things to say. It took me a day or two to get over the harsh criticism. Then, after re-reading his comments, I realized that, even though he could have been nicer, he had uncovered the issue.

So, with his and other people’s comments in mind, I started working on the book again. And this time, everything went according to plan. The book ended up receiving wonderful reviews and won an award.

David Ellis: I believe that if you have an artistic talent or flair for being creative, you were given this gift for a reason and it is up to you to try to share that gift with the rest of the world, no matter what the cost. Don’t let anyone ever discourage you from making your art and sharing your beauty with the world.

My father is an artist who went blind and mostly deaf many years ago due to disease but he never let it stop him from creating art. He found a way to keep making art, in spite of his disabilities and still does so to this very day. The process of making art is healing for yourself and can bring such emotional joy to others. We all have to work day jobs to earn a living but we should never let that stop us from doing what we want to do creatively.

Find your passions, make good art from them and that will give your life both meaning and reason.

You can read more about my father and see his artwork at https://www.blindartist.co.uk.

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

Cendrine Marrouat: In North America, perfectionism is seen as a bad thing. Had I not been the perfectionist I am, I would have had a short, uneventful career.

Instead, my attention to details and desire to achieve the best results, despite limited means, have allowed me to dive into many different fields and acquire a varied, and solid experience. Most people cannot believe that I have done so many things in only 16 years.

David Ellis: I think of myself as a very empathetic, emotional person. I am sensitive to the needs of people, which makes what I do very endearing and relatable. This has helped me to write poetry that connects with people on a spellbinding level. I also have a very determined mindset, like to do extensive, thorough research and construct balanced arguments. My former financial and business career made me a decisive individual, which when channeled with my professionalism is a powerful package. As an artist, it is extremely beneficial to take an interest in marketing yourself well, if you want to be seen by more people and if this does not come naturally to you then you should seek out others who can help market you to larger audiences.

Be generous with your time and support, these qualities will be reciprocated back to you by other like-minded people, whatever activities you choose to do in your life.

What are you currently working on?

Cendrine Marrouat: Volumes 3 and 4 of Walks: A Collection of Haiku. I wanted to release them earlier, but my schedule has been so busy!

Volume 3 is ready. Volume 4 is almost complete.

David Ellis: I have several plans and ideas in the works. I have two more collections of written poetry that I can compile/edit into full length books (one specialising in found poetry, the other original poetry by myself). I aim to be prolific as possible with my poetry writing, emulating my classical poetry heroes from many years ago.

I also want to write a book on creativity giving people inspiration on where to look in their lives for writing inspiration. I’m going to be working on more found poetry collections dedicated to individual poets, just like my Poe poetry book. I’d like to compile some writing prompt books too, in order to help writers with their muses, particularly around the time of National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) and National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo).

Thank you Cendrine and David for joining us on MTA! It was incredibly interesting learning more about each of you. All the best to both of you. – Camilla

Cendrine Marrouat:

Book blurb for Walks: A Collection of Haiku:

“Haiku are unrhymed poems consisting of about 17 syllables spread over three lines. This poetry form started in Japan and has been very popular in many countries around the world for decades.

Haiku force you to be concise. They teach you impactfulness. As such, they are the embodiment of the “Show don’t tell” technique. A technique that allows readers to experience stories in a more personal and meaningful manner.

Walks: A Collection of Haiku is not just a celebration of Cendrine Marrouat’s love for haiku. It is also an invitation to enjoy the flitting moments that make life beautiful…”

Walks: A Collection of Haiku (Volumes 1 and 2) can be purchased via all major outlets — Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. For more information, visit https://www.cendrinemedia.com/Books.

Trailers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVm_JUdAbdY / https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PB5qAv-_SE

Bio:

Originally from Toulouse, France, Cendrine Marrouat has called Winnipeg, Canada, her home for 16 years. She is a photographer, poet, author, French instructor, and the Head of marketing and communications at ConnexionFranco.Coop. She has also co-founder two projects, FPoint Collective and Auroras & Blossoms Poetry Journal.

Cendrine specializes in nature, black-and-white and closeup images. Her photography seeks the mundane to capture the fleeting, but true beauty of life in its many forms.

Cendrine is passionate about haiku. She has studied the Japanese poetry form extensively and written many pieces since 2006.

In 2015, Cendrine was recognized as a Top 100 Business Blogger by BuzzHUMM. Social Media Slant, her former blog, also made Fit Small Business’ Best Small Business Blogs of 2015 & 2016 lists.

Walks: A Collection of Haiku (Volumes 1 & 2) are Cendrine’s 12th and 13th books. Other releases include five collections of poetry, three photography books, a play, two social media ebooks, and a spoken word CD.

Website: https://www.cendrinemedia.com

Email [email protected]

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cendrinemedia

Instagram: https://instagram.com/cendrinemedia

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

David Ellis:

Book blurb for ‘See A Dream Within’:

Decades after his poetry and short stories were published in the early to mid 1800’s, we still respect, revere and admire the writings of Edgar Allan Poe, celebrated master of the macabre, suspense and horror. Within this collection of found poems, David Ellis has examined the collected poetry works of Edgar Allan Poe and crafted new poetry that will move you and inspire you as much as the original works themselves. In this book, you will find many new ways to appreciate the words of Edgar and his distinguished poetic works, as he influences a passionate poet who is keen to breathe modern day life into his magnificent words. Poems like The Raven, Annabel Lee, Lenore, A Dream Within A Dream, Alone and many other literary gems are used as foundations that pave the way for a whole different kind of intimate poetic experience that will surprise you time and again. For Poe fans, this collection is an essential purchase. Edgar Allan Poe may be long gone but within these pieces, his spirit continues to shine and live on.

See A Dream Within: Found “Poe”try Based On The Collected Poetry Works Of Edgar Allan Poe can be purchased via all major outlets. It is available on Amazon Kindle and in print, along with being available on Lulu, Barnes & Noble and many other places.

The Amazon Kindle version has its own unique cover that is totally different to the equally gorgeous looking print version and is priced at about one dollar/one British Pound – a bargain in anybody’s book!

For more information on all of David’s published books visit https://toofulltowrite.com/my-books/.

Bio:

David Ellis is a UK based author of poetry, fiction and music lyrics. He has been writing poetry and music lyrics for years.

His debut poetry book ‘Life, Sex & Death – A Poetry Collection Vol 1’ is an International Award winning volume, having won an award in the Readers’ Favorite 2016 Book Award Contest for Inspirational Poetry Books.

Think of him like the thriller genre in that he is fast paced, relentless and impossible to put down!

Connect with him on Facebook:- TooFullToWrite (FB)

Like his Facebook Page:- Toofulltowrite – The Creative Palace For Artists & Author Resources

Follow him on Twitter:- @TooFullToWrite

For Creativity Resources, Writing Advice, Guides, Author Interviews and Poetry, visit his website/blog at:- www.toofulltowrite.com

For more information on Auroras & Blossoms Poetry Journal, visit https://abpoetryjournal.com.

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Meet the Author: Moonbeams from the Soul by Fay Knowles

Today we’re traveling to Nassau, New Providence Island in The Bahamas to chat with Fay Knowles. She and I discuss how being a newspaper reporter, seeking sunnier climates, travel writing, short stories, a babbling brook, and an old oak tree come together as part of Fay’s past and present writing journey.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a Scottish-born writer who made The Bahamas my home many years ago. I live in Nassau, New Providence Island. I have been writing since the age of nine, penned a children’s adventure story book at eleven and won a school essay competition at age fifteen.

After leaving school at sixteen, I trained in Devon, England, as a secretary, then newspaper reporter. At the age of twenty I set off to “work my way around the world”, first emigrating by ship to Canada. I worked as a production/editorial assistant for the former Canadian Food Journal and Gift Buyer, Toronto. And then, to avoid a Canadian winter and to seek sunnier climes, I took a Greyhound coach down across the U.S. from Toronto to Miami, en route for The Bahamas.

I met my future husband Erskine in Nassau a month after that and we were married the following year. I never did “travel the world”!

As well as getting by-lines in British and Bahamian newspapers, my articles have appeared in Westward News (a former in house publication of British Telecom), the Kennel Gazette (official journal of the British Kennel Club), Christian Herald, and Sports Magazine Bahamas.

My writing assignments have included articles for Bahamas Information Services, travel writing for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, and as a photo journalist for Town Centre Mall, Nassau, Bahamas. I once worked as a “temp” for the late Sir Etienne Dupuch, former Publisher/Editor of The Tribune, Nassau, transcribing his long, captivating editorials.

My short stories have been published in The Lady magazine, London, England, and The Broadkill Review, Delaware, U.S.A.; with poetry in the U.K. magazine Evergreen.

Most of my short stories in Sunbeams from the Heart – A Collection of Twelve Romantic Short Stories were first published in The Lady or The Broadkill Review.

And I also have a new book of short stories “Moonbeams from The Soul: A Collection of Fourteen Provocative Short Stories”.

I drew on my Scottish background and knowledge of The Bahamas when writing my Romantic Suspense novel Love at Sunset, which is now Book One in my Buchanan Mystery Romance Series.

And my mini-memoir The Scottish Connection tells of my journey back to Scotland with my mother and young sons to revisit our Scottish roots.

My writer’s guide How to Be the Best Writer Ever!  is “An informal guide and source of inspiration for new and not so new writers worldwide.”

In which genre do you write?

Mystery Romance, Romantic Suspense, Literary Fiction, Poetry and Non Fiction

How many published books do you have?

Five so far + a short story. I am currently working on another novel “Oleanders End”, which is Book Two in my Buchanan Mystery Romance Series.

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

At age nine I read a lovely poem about a babbling brook, which sparked the passion in me for writing!

What does your ideal writing space look like?

A desk; an office chair that gives good back support; a computer and printer; pens and steno pads; a window with a window seat and view of ocean or countryside; and a comfortable chair for reading.

What are you currently reading?

I have just finished reading “The Guest Children” by Geoffrey Bilson (The Story of the British Child Evacuees Sent to Canada During World War II)

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

I’m “secretary” for any of my family members whenever they need me to help with their business ventures!

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

That I have actually managed to get books published!

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? 

I used to keep a daily diary while growing up, but life interferes now!

What do you miss about being a kid?

Just climbing up onto the branches of an old oak tree and scribbling away to my heart’s content!

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

I’ve been told by a former schoolmate that as a child I was more self-assured than most of the other students and capable of expressing negative views whereas the rest tended to be “yes-men”! I never knew that about myself. I think this trait has helped me get ahead in life.

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

Starbucks! That’s where I meet other writers and chat about writing.

It was wonderful to learn more about you and your writings Fay. Thank you for being a part of MTA! – Camilla

Book Blurbs and Where to Find Fay’s Books:

MOONBEAMS FROM THE SOUL: A COLLECTION OF FOURTEEN PROVOCATIVE SHORT STORIES

From wild temptations to dangerous decisions, an eclectic assortment of thought- provoking short stories.

Available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2PIAgd7

LOVE AT SUNSET – A ROMANTIC SUSPENSE (BUCHANAN MYSTERY
ROMANCE SERIES BOOK ONE)

Facing imminent danger and fierce opposition to love a second time around, Violet and Gordon seek a new life in Gordon’s homeland of Scotland, thousands of miles away from where they had lived in Nassau, Bahamas, but trouble catches up with them in their little loch side cottage. In the meantime, back in Nassau an unscrupulous attorney appears on the scene, along with a crooked realtor. What they do and the extent they would go to leads to a shocking ending.

Available on Amazon as an e-book and in paperback (regular and large print).
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01EVYUSAC

SUNBEAMS FROM THE HEART – A COLLECTION OF TWELVE ROMANTIC SHORT STORIES

“A beautiful keepsake. Love themes in this delightful collection of romantic short stories tell of nostalgia, bright new beginnings, homecoming, second chances – and the unexpected! Heart-warming stories that propel you on a journey through Scotland, England, The Bahamas and rural America.”

Available on Amazon as an e-book and in paperback (regular and large print).
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B019BS227K

THE SCOTTISH CONNECTION: A JOURNEY BACK – MINI-MEMOIR.

“Driving long distances in a short space of time throughout the United Kingdom is the norm nowadays. However, in the seventies it was often an adventure to cover the length or breadth of Britain. In this illustrated mini-memoir Stirling-born Fay Knowles shares memories of her 1978 journey back to Scotland with her mother and young sons, to revisit their Scottish roots.”

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MXVR7R0HOW

TO BE THE BEST WRITER EVER!

An informal guide and source of inspiration for new and not so new writers worldwide- Always wanted to write a book? Or are you a writer whose career is going nowhere? This uplifting writer’s guide outlines the craft and how to become the best writer ever in fifteen straightforward and easy to understand chapters.

FUNNELS (A SHORT STORY)

Annie endures a tedious existence with her baby daughter and irresponsible casino dealer husband in what to most people is a tropical paradise. She sometimes gazes from their dilapidated porch at the distant funnels of luxury cruise ships docked in the harbour. If the wind is in the right direction, she hears the huge creatures wail, promising to take her away. She longs to escape from it all, but is tied down to eking a living with grueling double shifts in a local restaurant. When an unexpected opportunity comes along she has
to make a sudden decision. However, she is torn between her family and the prospect of elevating herself to a better life. What she decides determines their future.

Connect with Fay:

Blog – https://fayknowles.blogspot.com
Amazon author’s page – https://www.amazon.com/author/fayknowles
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/faykwrites
Twitter – @faykwrites
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/fayknowles/
Instagram – @faykwrites

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Meet the Author: Devil in the Wind by Frank Prem

Today we welcome Frank Prem to Meet the Authors. We’re travelling to Beechworth, in the North East corner of Victoria, Australia to hear what storytelling, Psychiatric Nursing, playing the ukulele, photographs, and the Grampians mean to Frank.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I describe myself as a storytelling poet with a forty year apprenticeship behind me. That’s about how long I’ve been writing my poetry – mostly in an idiosyncratic free verse style, that is part poetry and part storytelling.

I live, together with my wife Leanne, in a pretty little town called Beechworth, in the North East corner of Victoria, Australia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beechworth). Beechworth attracts thousands of tourist visitors every year because of its gold mining and bushranging background during the mid to late 1800s. A bushranger is the Australian equivalent of an wild west outlaw, or a highwayman, and we had quite a few around this way, most notably Ned Kelly and the Kelly gang about whom much has been written.

By profession, I’m a Psychiatric Nurse, and have worked across a wide range of roles in Psychiatry though my working career. My next published poetry collection will be a personal memoir of my experience in Psychiatry, tentatively titled – The New Asylum.

In my early days as a poet, I sought out as many opportunities as I could to get my work published, and had a good number of successes, but I grew weary of having my work not accepted, without knowing the reason, so I largely stopped seeking publication, in favour of developing my own writing style and voice, until just three years ago beginning to post my work on a personal creative blog (https://www.frankprem.wordpress.com) and using that as both, an online archive for my work, and as a way of attracting readers to find and engage with my work.

In the six months since December 2018, I have published two collections in book and ebook form. These are:

1. Small Town Kid – a free verse memoir of growing up in a rural setting in Australia in the 1960s and 70s.

2. Devil In The Wind – a free verse poetic rendition of the voices of survivors and victims of the catastrophic Black Saturday bushfires we experienced in 2009.

In which genre do you write?

I write almost exclusively in my own free verse poetry form. I write using very little punctuation, and in quite short lines.

As I’ve gone along I’ve developed my approach so that my line breaks and stanza breaks serve as a form of punctuation – encouraging pause and nuance in the reading, and giving a cue for taking a breath.

I don’t often write a line longer than about 4 words in length, these days.

Regardless of genre, though, I believe every piece, long or short, needs to convey a sense of story – beginning, middle and end. This can be a challenge, at times.

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

I was always a good reader at school and was very engaged with the stories that I read. That interest extended to story writing in English classes at high school as I progressed through the grades.

There was an occasion where, out of sheer laziness, I believe, I decided to cut corners and several hundred words off my assignment by doing it in the form of a poem. Very quickly and very easily.

I was a little dumbstruck to receive a high grade for the work and I think that may have been all the encouragement I needed to set me on the trail of experimenting with poetry as a genre.

I attempted to self publish some of my work in book form quite a few years ago, but the technology wasn’t helpful and the costs were enormous, so nothing much came of the first attempt. Print On Demand technology makes a world of difference to an up and coming poet like myself, but is probably a whole different discussion in its own right.

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

For a few years now, I’ve been playing ukulele and singing in a community choir/ensemble, here in Beechworth.

It has always been a delight to me to sing, but until I started playing the uke, I rarely managed to sing in tune. The uke has changed that.

Last Spring we recorded ourselves in a couple of songs that were pasted on Facebook. Readers might enjoy a listen, so I’ll pop in a couple of links to the songs:

Dog and Mob (written by Leanne and myself): https://www.facebook.com/springsingbeechworth/videos/20339179721516/

Boris and Maria – a very short little love song: https://www.facebook.com/springsingbeechworth/videos/765584533788001/UzpfSTEwMDAyNTI1MTY3NTExMzpWSzoxMzkxOTQ3NDE3NjA2NTU1/?q=boris%20and%20maria&epa=SEARCH_BOX

What does your ideal writing space look like?

At the moment it is my dining room and dining table – very impromptu quarters, but I don’t really need all that much.

We’ve begun planning to build a sort of Men’s Shed outside the back door that will become my Writer’s Den, but that is still to happen. I’m looking forward to it because my needs are changing. As I become more ambitious in my writing endeavours, I think dedicated space will be helpful.

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

I’ve been surprised at something that has become something of a skill for me, which is allowing photographs and other pictorial images to inspire interesting poetry. There is what feels like a kind of empathy that I am able to apply to allow a story to emerge.

Sounds a bit mumbo jumbo, but perhaps I can illustrate with a small poem.

This one was taken from a series of photographs I took while walking through a collectibles barn. I later sat down and wrote the story that each picture suggested.

Voices #15: chill factor

people say
I am cold

my demeanor

my manner

cold

I hardly consider them
worthy
of my time

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

I prepare by reading my material aloud several times in the lead up to a speaking engagement. On the occasion itself, I’m generally a little numb with performance anxiety. It always feels very important to me to present as knowing my material and also my limitations as a presenter, so the audience feels I’m within my range of competence at all times.

Where music is important to me is in the actual writing.

I find I write much better if I can find some music in my head – not a song as such, just music, as I believe that our language is musical and I need to be able to sing my way through the poem, in order to know that it will read well after I put my pen down.

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

I truly do believe things happen for a reason. I went through a long lifetime, doing the best I could – sometimes ok, sometimes not so good – but it was only after passing through a very low ebb that I met the lady who completes my life.

The whole of my life was spent, I now believe, preparing me to be the man I needed to be from that point on.

As an aside, we met at a poetry open mic session in Melbourne. I was reading my 3 poem set and she sang a song. Life is sweet, sometimes.

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

We have a quite wild part of our state named the Grampians (indigenous name – Gariwerd). Strange rock formations, wonderful wildlife and bush. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grampians_National_Park

This area is about a half days travel from where we live and we always find it to be a spiritually uplifting place.

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

My most recent collection is titled Devil In The Wind. This book is a free verse collection of poems that are my interpretation of the voices of survivors and victims of the catastrophic Black Saturday bushfires that took place here in Victoria in 2009.

I personally feel that the fires have left my whole State traumatised and that we haven’t psychologically recovered from the experience yet.

I enjoyed learning more about you, your life, and writing style. I also write poetry inspired by photographs, with a bit of twist from your style as mine are using the nature photographs I make. It’s wonderful to meet someone else who has a similar style. The Grampians sound like my kind of place to visit. I look forward to reading your poetry collections Frank! It was a pleasure having you be a part of MTA! –Camilla

Book Trailer:

I also have recently started a YouTube channel which I’ve begun to populate with a few videos of myself reading from Devil In The Wind.

The link to that is here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvfW2WowqY1euO-Cj76LDKg

Blurb for Devil In The Wind

Devil In The Wind is an account of catastrophic fire and its immediate aftermath.

In this 21st century, the whole world seems to be on fire. America burns. Europe burns. Greece is reeling after its own tragedy of fire.

And Australia burns, as it has always done, but now so much more fiercely.

In February 2009, wildfires burnt through entire communities, taking 173 lives and injuring hundreds, while destroying thousands of houses and other buildings. Up to 400 fires destroyed 450,000 hectares of forest, native fauna and habitat, livestock and farmland.

In the aftermath of the fires, the voices of people who had lived through the experience — victims, rescuers, and observers — were spoken and were heard.

Devil In The Wind is Frank Prem’s poetic anthology of the personal, and very human, accounts of those who themselves experienced and survived Black Saturday. Poetry writing that interacts directly with readers emotions.

The collection is available in paperback book form at all the good online retailers, and in e-book form through Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.

Devil In The Wind (ISBN 978-0-9751442-6-8):

Amazon (Available in all markets): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/097514426X/

Booktopia: https://www.booktopia.com.au/devil-in-the-wind-frank-prem/prod9780975144268.html

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Devil-Wind-Frank-Prem/9780975144268?

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1130932330?ean=9780975144268

Small Town Kid (ISBN 978-0-9751442-3-7):

Amazon (Available in all markets): https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07L6114KS

Booktopia: https://www.booktopia.com.au/small-town-kid-frank-prem/prod9780975144237.html

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Small-Town-Kid-Frank-Prem/9780975144237?

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/small-town-kid-frank-prem/1129995806?ean=9780975144237

Connect with Frank:

Author Page: https://FrankPrem.com

Poetry Blog: https://frankprem.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/frank_prem

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/frankprem2

If it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Founder and Host of Meeting the Authors …

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