Meet Author Kath Engebretson. She’s Talking About Her Book Nineteen Days

Today, I am virtually meeting and chatting with author Kath Engebretson. So welcome Kath, so pleased that you could join us today to answer some questions about your writing life and your new book Nineteen Days.

Nineteen Days cover MED RES

Nineteen Days: Synopsis:
Genevieve hates cruises. All that lounging around quaffing cocktails and too much food. But Peter, her husband, bought this one for her after the worst year of her life, and she couldn’t tell him she didn’t want to go.They are both still traumatised from an  unimaginable family tragedy, and each of them has gone into hiding behind small talk and silence. A cruise is also the last place Genevieve could imagine making a friend, but in Thomas, a morbidly obese man who inhabits a patch of shade on the deck, she meets someone she can talk to. She tells him her story. Thomas himself has an odd past. He is a refugee from an oppressive cult, an experience that poisoned the only relationship he
cared about. In the gentle relationship, a kind of healing takes place, until Peter drops a bombshell. By the end of the cruise, all their lives have changed.
A story about strange and unexpected friendships; about the facades that people wear, and about what happens when they break; about how 

white cruise ship
For many people, a cruise is a dream holiday.

We will talk about you and your writing, but first, some getting to know you questions.

Kath Engebretson portrair 4x6

Late nights or early mornings?  Early mornings, I’m hopeless with late nights, I start to fall asleep in company and its’s embarrassing.

What’s for breakfast?  Usually coffee with toast spread with marmalade or vegemite.

photo of person reading

Night out or night in-with or without Netflix?  Night in with Netflix. There’s no other choice with the lockdown. I’ve just finished watching the first series of Undercover, a Dutch series, which really hooked me in. I loved series 1 of Succession and am waiting for series 2 to come out on DVD. The Sinner also, the main character, the detective, is a deep, complex, lonely and very humane man.

G&T or Tea/coffee? G and T with ice and lemon and really good coffee.

glass of fresh drink on white background

What did you want to be when you grew up? Strangely enough, a writer, but I had to wait for a long time. I became a teacher, then an academic, while having and raising a family. Now that I’m only working part-time, I can write my stories without being distracted by the need to keep up my academic writing.

What brings you joy? Lifts your spirits, chases away a down mood.  My grandchildren, all seven of them, and my Jack Russell terrier Matey. We are a mutual adoration society.

white and brown dachshund with black framed eyeglasses

Your hero? Barack Obama. If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why? Nancy Pelosi, because of her unflinching commitment to restoring some decency and dignity to the leadership of the United States. I love that she’s a grandmother and still tireless in her political contribution.

Paul Keating because in my view he was the best Prime Minister we ever had, he’s witty and blunt and analytical in his conversation, and he had a vision for the country. Then Archie Roach, because through his music he’s told the story of disadvantage and prejudice against First Nation people. He and Paul could talk about the Redfern speech. I wish you’d given me more than three, as there are many people in public and private life I admire for their contribution to humanity.

What is the origin of your unusual surname?  Engebretson is my late husband’s family name. His parents were Irish who came to Australia after the Second World War. Like many people in Ireland, their name is of Scandinavian origin, perhaps going back to the Vikings. There are many variations of the name in England and Ireland.

 What inspired your new book? Being on a cruise and feeling lonely, as if I didn’t fit in. Looking at the other passengers and wondering about their stories. On one cruise I saw a man with Thomas’s physical characteristics and I wanted to get to know him. He was with a younger man, very different from him, and I wondered about their connection. I decided to weave a story around them.

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You can feel alone.

Older characters especially main characters seem to be under-represented in books. Do you find that reader respond to this? It’s natural that we all want to read about our own generation. I prefer books and movies about people my age, I can relate to their history and they tend to be more complex and interesting characters. They’ve done things, made mistakes, and learned something along the way.

older people
Love isn’t simply for the young.

A cruise is a perfect trapped environment, with people you’d love to know better and also those you’d love to avoid! Absolutely. As one of the characters in the book notes, there are the interesting, the weird, the sad, the boorish, the finicky, the complainers, those determined to have a good time no matter what, the seasoned travellers and those on their first cruise. You meet a lot of people but don’t strike up a relationship with many of them.

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Lazy days at sea

Does being both an academic and an author cause any conflicts? No, they are separate worlds in my life, I learned to compartmentalise the different aspects of my life during my teaching and academic life when I had to come home to children and family life.

What time of the day do you usually write? It varies a lot, depending on what other things I have to do. I do the creative part in fits and starts, maybe a page at a time handwriting, just let it roll out. Then I take a long time typing it and editing as I go.

What is the most difficult part about writing for you? Getting the voice of each character right, they have to sound like themselves. I try to put myself in their shoes, think about the kind of vernacular they’d use.

What is your work schedule like when you are writing? I don’t really have a schedule. After a day of marking students’ essays, for example, I may reward myself with an hour of writing.

Notebook Unsplash
A notebook can be so inviting.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? It’s not a quirk, but I scribble in a notebook lines of dialogue I hear, plot twists, I may be cooking or walking and an idea will come, then I’ll stop and write it down. I don’t always use these ideas.

Do you have a favourite character that you have written?  Yes, Simon O’Brien in my first novel Red Dirt Odyssey. Physically he is a dwarf, but a man you can’t help liking and respecting. He’s a gifted artist and photographer,  a thinker and a doer, and he knows what compassion means.

Red-Dirt-Odyssey-Cover

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions?  Personally, I couldn’t, but of course, there is Camus whose response to what he saw as the absurdity of life was to withdraw from emotion.

Best writing advice/ Worst writing advice you ever received? Best writing advice. Stop mucking around and just do it. Worst writing advice, plan the story out before you start. I never do that, I let it unfold.

Best money you have spent as a writer?  Getting my website professionally developed.

person in black long sleeve shirt holding book
The lure of a good book

Do you have a favourite author and why? Tim Winton. He is so essentially Australian the way his books are so grounded in the landscape, the bush and the beach. I love every word he writes. I didn’t want The Shepherd’s Hut to end.

What are you reading now? What books or authors have most influenced your writing?  That’s a big question. I’ve been moved and influenced by numerous books over a long life. The classics such as the Brontes, Dickens, but I really love Australian writing, Tom Kenneally, Kate Grenville, Ruth Park, Peter Goldsworthy, and great murder mysteries such as those by P.D. James and Elizabeth George. Stephen King “On Writing” is the best writing advice ever. It makes you want to sit down and write.

Favourite quote: Christopher Brennan, Australian poet, The Wanderer

and saying this to myself as a simple thing

I feel a peace fall in the heart of the winds

and a clear dusk settle, somewhere, far in me.

Favourite book/story you have read as an adult? Recently Damascus by Cristos Tsiolkas, and The Kingdom, by Emmanuel Carrere, a book with older characters, The Weekend by Charlotte Wood.

Favourite book/story you have read as a child? Gone with the Wind was my first grown-up book.

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And then I sneakily added a couple of bonus questions.

As self-described ‘reluctant’ cruise taker- which was the best or most memorable cruise you took and why? The cruise we took around the Greek islands in 2006 was wonderful. We had a few days in Athens, then boarded in Piraeus. The ship called in at Marseilles and Naples, then cruised around the Greek islands. It’s hard to say exactly why it was so enjoyable. All the ports were fabulous, it was quite a short cruise, with a new port almost every day, and it was a small ship. . We seemed to be the only English speakers on board, most were Italian or Greek, so we often took a table for two at lunch or dinner. It meant that my husband and I had lots of time together without having to make conversation with others. That sounds unsociable, but at that time in our lives, it was just what we needed. However, on the last evening there was a formal dinner, and we were at a table with four Italian couples, one a grandmother with her grandson, and we managed to communicate with each other quite well. They were nice people and we had an enjoyable evening with them. I still have fond memories of that cruise.

white concrete houses on mountain
Greece.

Do you think the covid 19  will have much impact on cruising?

There will always be people who love cruising and will want to continue after the virus is eradicated, but I think the cruise lines will take a long time to recover, because of fears of a flare up. Viruses breed on cruise ships, because you have people from many different countries mingling together, and once a virus is inadvertently left on a handrail or in a bathroom, it spreads like wildfire. On every cruise my husband and I did together, except the one around the Greek islands I’ve described, one of us became ill on board or brought an illness home with us. After Covid 19, I think people will be more wary, but hopefully the cruise lines will have updated protocols for cleaning and disinfecting. Personally, I won’t do another cruise, as my husband died very soon after the last cruise we did, and he was my best travelling companion.

Thank you so much Kath and best wishes for the success of your new book.

About the author:
Dr Kath Engebretson is a Melbourne-based teacher and academic. In her
field of religious studies, she is the author and editor of several academic
books and many student textbooks. Her PhD focused on teacher education,
and she taught in the Education Faculty at Australian Catholic University
for 17 years, mentoring several doctoral students. Kath loves the Australian
landscape and has travelled to many of Australia’ remote places. She also
loves reading and photography. Kath is the mother of four adult children
and grandmother to seven boys and girls. Her first novel, Red Dirt
Odyssey was published in 2016.

ISBN: Paperback ISBN 978-0-6488360-0-1, RRP$29, eBk 978-0-6488360-1-8, RRP$4.99
Category: Fiction, contemporary fiction, women’s fiction. Available: From Booktopia and Amazon.

 

 

Meet Louisa West and her Series Starting with New Witch on The Block.

Hi, Louisa, Thank you for joining us – please tell us about your new book New Witch on the Block. I had it on pre-order so I got it on launch day and I really enjoyed reading it. It’s available online or as a paperback.

 

Louisa author photo
Louisa West.

Thanks so much for having me, Sonia! I’m so excited to share New Witch on the Block (or NWOTB for short!) with your readers. This is my debut novel and is all about a woman who takes a leap of faith in herself and saves her young daughter and herself from an abusive relationship. Starting over in a small town has its own challenges (nosy townsfolk, anyone?), but she sets her mind to making a new home there. When she meets a somewhat mysterious, hulking Irishman he helps her to discover things about herself and her past – not the least of which is that she’s actually an honest-to-goodness witch!

NWOTB-MIM1
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B087KYLF3N Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B087KYLF3N Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B087KYLF3N Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B087KYLF3N

She thought she was running away from her past, not catching up with it.

Rosemary Bell just wants to live a quiet, happy life and raise her daughter as far away from her toxic ex-husband as she can get. But when they move into a decrepit cottage in the woods of Mosswood, Georgia, Rosie realises her life will never be simple.

A gang of meddling neighborhood do-gooders want to run her out of town. The vicious laundromat machines keep eating her spare change. Not to mention her buff Irish stalker who insists that he’s a Witch-King and that it’s her royal destiny to be his Queen.

And to top it all off, strange things keep happening around Rosie when she least expects it…

She could deal with it all, but her ex won’t rest until he tracks her down. When her ability to protect her daughter is threatened, Rosie shows them all that nobody messes with the new witch on the block.

Practical Magic meets Bridget Jones’ Diary in this fun, heart-warming short novel about starting over, putting family first, and finding love when you least expect it.

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And it’s going to be a series with the next one, Jealousy’s a Witch, due out in September .It is up for pre-order now.

You can bet that I have my copy already pre-ordered!

 First some quick-fire questions.

Late nights or early mornings? Early mornings!

What’s for breakfast? Avocado on toast.

Night out or Netflix? Netflix – currently watching The Stranger.

G&T orTea/Coffee?  Coffee all the way.

Perfect weekend? Spending time with my family, probably baking.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A lawyer, or forensic psychologist. Studied both law and psychology – ended up working in public relations before transitioning to writing full time.

What is for dinner tonight? Can you cook? What would you rather be eating? Tonight we’re going out for dinner (not sure where – it’s date night!), but last night we had chicken fettucini – one of my specialities. I love cooking and baking, and do it whenever possible. I would always rather be eating chocolate!

close up photo of chocolate cupcake
Combining the passion of baking and chocolate, a chocolate cupcake.

What brings you joy? Lifts your spirits, chases away a down mood. My daughter (who is ten). She’s just such a joy to be around and is always showing an inherent curiosity about the world around her. When I need smooches I go to my Great Dane. When I need cuddles, it’s my partner! Otherwise, I’m apt to pop on a period drama and soak myself in historical romanticism until I’m feeling back to my old self again.

Your hero? Jane Austen! Her wit, vivacity, and bravery in following her own path in life is a perfect model for any young woman in possession of several unwritten books in her head who is in want of a means of expressing herself.Regency Silhoutte - Pinterest

Oh, I love that! So well expressed.

If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why? Oh, these types of questions are always so tough! Jane Austen (she is my hero, after all!) for lively conversation and so that I can ask her all of the questions I have about her work, Keanu Reeves because I feel like he would very much appreciate meeting Jane, and my boyfriend Lindsay because we both love Jane and Keanu!

And a bonus question. Do you have a favourite screen version of Pride and Prejudice

BBC Pride and Prejudice
Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth

Oh, that’s such a difficult question to answer! I can’t choose just one I will say that I love the 1995 BBC miniseries for its perfect casting, the vivacity of the characters and because Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle are amazing together.

p7 p MovieBut I will add that the 2005 movie with Matthew McFadyen and Keira Knightley is also amazing for the beautiful sets that really highlight the reduced circumstances of the Bennet family, and the piano music throughout is sublime! 


My favourite Austen screen adaptation of all time is the 1996 version of Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow!! Everything about it is perfect!

Questions about Writing.

What inspired your new series? I’ve always loved stories about witches. My maternal line traces back to Romani Gypsy heritage, so it’s something that’s been part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I became a single mother I longed to move somewhere new and start fresh – even though it wasn’t possible for me at the time. So I thought about what would happen for a mother who could. What if she was an outcast in her new town? What if she was an outcast because she was a witch? It all stemmed from there, and Rosie found life inside my brain.

photo of woman looking away
Women of power have always been feared.

Why do you think that stories about witches resonate so strongly with women? There’s a strong undercurrent of sisterhood that flows through witch mythology. I think it calls to a lot of us on different levels, along with the themes it explores – feminine power, fighting to overcome oppression, otherworldliness, the idea that there’s a connection out there that’s altogether more primal than traditional religion.

Jealousy s a Witch
PREORDER AVAILABLE: AMAZON US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B088ZPMG7L AMAZON AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B088ZPMG7L AMAZON UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B088ZPMG7L

What time of the day do you usually write? I typically write from around 9am to about 11am – or through until lunch if I’m having a good day.

What is the most difficult part about writing for you? Plotting! Luckily I have an amazing editor (I call her The Plot Whisperer) and she’s incredibly talented at taking all of my many and varied ideas and helping me make sense of them.

animals dogs dutch green grass
Louisa loves her Great Dane

 

What is your work schedule like when you are writing? I’m a creature of habit when it comes to writing. I get up early each morning, make breakfast, get my daughter off to school, and then sit down to write. I write around 2000 words a day or a little more if I can manage it, and once I feel my brain starting to liquefy inside my skull I move on to other duties. I do freelance graphic and web design work, so I usually do that in the afternoons, and then knock off around 3pm to spend time with my daughter, walk the dog, and cook dinner – all the fun things!

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? I never sit down to write until I’ve had my second coffee of the day, and I always light a candle before I start, and blow it out when I’m done for the day.

background black coffee bouquet chocolate
Coffee and chocolate!

Did you do any research about witches for your current book? No specific research. I’m really into reading about supernatural things (witches included) anyway. For this series so far I’m just drawing on my own knowledge bank and also inventing a lot of other stuff to go along with it. I want the magic in Mosswood to be unique to the series, so it’s peppered with a lot of different things from various types of lore.

Do you have a favourite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special? My favourite character in the series so far is Priscilla (Prissy), Bishop. She’s the wife of the pastor at the Hand of God Southern Baptist Church in Mosswood. She’s blonde and tiny, and she knows everyone’s business in the worst possible way. I’m currently planning her comeuppance, and I can’t wait.  Oh, I enjoyed reading about her – I shall look forward to that!

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions? I think it would depend on what sort of story they wanted to write! I absolutely think it’s possible to write a particular scene involving emotions that you don’t feel at the time of writing.

Best writing advice/ Worst writing advice you ever received? The best writing advice I ever heard is to give myself permission to write the first draft before editing anything. The worst writing advice I ever got was from a very highly-regarded writing coach who told me to make the villain of my WIP at the time the son of my hero ala Star Wars. I didn’t. I think you were right, to follow your own instincts! 

Best money you have spent as a writer?

quote on ipad screen
Louisa loves her iPad

Buying my iPad. I use it only for writing, and have it set up with Scrivener (syncing directly to DropBox – no lost files here, thanks!). It’s got excellent battery life, the keyboard case I have for it is really comfortable, and it’s small enough that I can take it absolutely anywhere – to the park, to a cafe, camping – and still be able to smash out my daily word count.

Do you have a favourite author and why? My favourite contemporary author is a brand new author by the name of Kimberly Jaye. Her debut Regency romantic comedy novel, The Perfect Widow, is due out later this year and I am waiting on the edge of my seat for it! I’ve had the privilege of being in her writing circle for many years, and this book is going to be laugh-out-loud funny! My hot tip is that this is an author to watch – she’ll be taking the historical romance world by storm. Follow her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/kimberlyjayeauthor) so that you don’t miss out on anything!

opened book near ceramic mug
Writers are always readers too.

What are you reading now? What books or authors have most influenced your writing? I’m currently reading The Longing of Lone Wolves by WA-based author Lana Pecherczyk and a true-crime biography about serial killer Ted Bundy. Authors who have influenced my writing include David Eddings, Mary Janice Davidson, R.L. Stein, and Stephen King.

Favourite quote: My characters shall have, after a little trouble, all that they desire. – Jane Austen

Favourite non-Austen book/story you have read as an adult? Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman.

Favourite book/story you have read as a child? Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.

Thanks for being with us, Louisa, and lots of luck with your new series.

 

 

 

New Witch on The Block- Giveaway Today Only! Help me With Questions for Louisa West, Author.

Get in Today for the Fab Giveaway and help me interview Louisa West, Author of New Witch on The Block.

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Here is a little about the book. I’ve read it and thoroughly enjoyed it and reviewed it on Good reads.

Practical Magic meets Bridget Jones’ Diary in this fun, heart-warming short novel about starting over, putting family first, and finding love when you least expect it.

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Here are the details of the giveaway- it’s one that I’d love to win it myself!  Best get in quickly it finishes today.

https://kingsumo.com/g/mipgcv/new-witch-on-the-block-mega-prize-pack

New Witch on The Block is the start of Louisa’s new series Midlife in Mosswood.

Book & Author Details: New Witch on the Block Louisa West
(Midlife in Mosswood, #1) Publication date: June 30th 2020
Genres: Adult, Paranormal

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Synopsis:

She thought she was running away from her past, not catching up with it.

Rosemary Bell just wants to live a quiet, happy life and raise her daughter as far away from her toxic ex-husband as she can get. But when they move into a decrepit cottage in the woods of Mosswood, Georgia, Rosie realizes her life will never be simple.

A gang of meddling neighborhood do-gooders want to run her out of town. The vicious laundromat machines keep eating her spare change. Not to mention her buff Irish stalker who insists that he’s a Witch- King and that it’s her royal destiny to be his Queen.

And to top it all and to top it off, strange things keep happening around Rosie when she least expects it…

She could deal with it all, but her ex won’t rest until he tracks her down. When her ability to protect her daughter is threatened, Rosie shows them all that nobody messes with the new witch on the block.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54331799-new-witch-on-the-block

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Purchase:Amazon: https://amzn.to/3dN5N5T

AMAZON CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B087KYLF3N
AMAZON UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B087KYLF3N
AMAZON AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B087KYLF3N

I’m going to interview Louisa here and for my Chatting with Authors Page over on Facebook. Is there anything  you’d like to ask her?

Did you grow-up watching Bewitched or Sabrina the Teenage Witch or Charmed?

What drew you to writing about witchcraft?

What makes witches such an enduring topic?

Did you make up some rules for magic or does anything go?
AUTHOR BIO:
Author by day, Netflix connoisseur by night.

Louisa likes Pina Coladas and gettin’ caught in the rain. Determined to empty her brain of stories, she writes across several genres including fantasy, speculative fiction, contemporary and historical fiction, and romance.

She lives in Mandurah, Western Australia, and drinks more coffee than is good for her. When she’s not writing or researching projects, Louisa enjoys spending time with her family, and Harriet The Great (Dane). Hobbies include playing video games, watching copious amounts of tv, and various craft-related initiatives.

She strongly believes that the truth is still out there.

Author links: http://www.louisawest.com/
https://www.instagram.com/louisa_west/
https://www.facebook.com/louisawestauthor/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16738794.Louisa_West

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AUTHOR BIO:

Author by day, Netflix connoisseur by night.

Louisa likes Pina Coladas and gettin’ caught in the rain. Determined to empty her brain of stories, she writes acrshe writes across several genres including fantasy, speculative fiction, contemporary and historical fiction, and romance.

She lives in Mandurah, Western Australia, and drinks more coffee than is good for her. When she’s not writing or researching projects, Louisa enjoys spending time with her family, and Harriet The Great (Dane). Hobbies include playing video games, watching copious amounts of tv, and various craft-related initiatives.

She strongly believes that the truth is still out there.
Author links:

http://www.louisawest.com/

https://www.instagram.com/louisa_west/

https://www.facebook.com/louisawestauthor/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16738794.Louisa_West

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Author B. Michael Radburn.

I am delighted to welcome B Michael Radburn to chatting with authors, his latest book Subterranean was released on July 1st.

QA-with-BMichael-Radburn

Here is an extract.

The past is my shadow, forever behind me.’ Cassie Belrose was used to looking over her shoulder. Running away was what she did best – away from a possessive husband who wants her back, running from city to city, from job to job, to stay one step ahead of him. Daniel Woodsman is at home in the dark; in the abandoned railway tunnels below the city where the homeless veteran has built his life since his injuries had taken away more than just his confidence. Fleeing the Suits dispatched by her husband to bring her home, Cassie enters Daniel’s domain in the subway where their two worlds collide. Together, can they stop running long enough to begin living again.’

It’s on my to-read list and I think it should be on yours too.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Aside from the usual childhood desires of becoming either a cowboy or an astronaut, I knew from adolescence that I wanted to be a writer. The path wasn’t a direct one, but I finally got there.

What brings you joy? Lifts your spirits, chases away a down mood.

Playing my guitar or riding my motorcycle will always lift me out of a slump (or writer’s block), but my family is a constant when it comes to the joy of life.

Also, for the motorcycle fans, tell us a little about your Harley?

close up photography of a harley davidson motorcycle
Iconic Harley Davidson

Ah, my bike … She’s a beautiful Road King Classic that has been with me for more than ten years now. A tribute to that Americana road culture of chrome and leather that I love so much. Harley ownership is as much a culture as it is an interest. I can’t imagine life without it.

What is for dinner tonight? Can you cook? What would you rather be eating?

A simple BBQ grill of steak, jacket potatoes, string beans in butter, and corn on the cob with a nice Cabernet Merlot. As it’s Saturday, I’ll be doing the cooking. Can’t say I’d prefer anything else right now.

What are your musical tastes?

guitar-905998_1280 from Pixabay josearaica

Old school country and blues. I’m a product of the 60s and 70s, so am also partial to rock and roll from that era. When I jam with my friends though, it’s usually a bit of all those genres, depending on where the mood (and alcohol) takes us.

 

Your hero?

boy child clouds kid
We all imagine we can be a hero

This is tough. Heroes come and go in our lives, depending where we are and what we’re doing. There are so many people I have admired over the years. A constant is Neil Armstrong. Not so much for what he did, but for how he did it with such focus, heroism, and unassuming humility.

Right now, however, I’d have to say New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. She is such a strong and shining light amidst the current World leadership. A true inspiration.

If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why?

campfire on beach during sunset time
A campfire cookout

It wouldn’t be a dinner party, but rather an open campfire to share a billy of tea. I would have Elon Musk and Bill Gates to discuss the possible future of humanity. My third guest would be Ricky Gervais to keep the conversation grounded. I think that would be neat.

Writing and other topics.

As a woman, I am intrigued by the fact that you wrote successfully for women’s magazines earlier in your career. What allowed you to tap into that market?

girl reading a newspaper

 

It was a calculated decision at first. There was a decade’s gap where I hadn’t written a word while I focused on my young family. When the itch to write again grew too much to ignore, I looked for an accessible paying market which at the time was the significant stable of women’s’ magazines in Australia. When I read a few samples, I recognised a pattern that I felt I could follow but decided to add a unique twist in the tale and stamp my own literary voice. The method worked well, and soon opened overseas opportunities. I think living in a household of women (my wife and 2 girls) also helped me successfully tap into the female psyche.

You couldn’t get much further apart than writing from this perspective and your love for Harley Davidsons and motorcycles.

photo of woman wearing shirt while riding motorcycle
A diverse community

 

Not really. The motorcycle community a diverse one these days, with many riders of all genders. The gap isn’t as wide as you may think. Conversations at rallies and motorcycle pubs and haunts can often turn to books and the arts. Don’t be fooled by the leather, tattoos and facial hair.

Equally, I am interested in your comment ‘no matter the story, it’s always better when told with strong female influences.’

 

young woman reading book at home
Women enjoy many genres including crime.

 

 

Can you elaborate further, especially as many male writers only have token female characters?

I think it’s a matter of balance. My stories are character-driven, so I write most of my books from multiple perspectives. Therefore, it’s imperative that I understand the place where their influences and drives come from; bring their backstories to the surface to better understand their reasoning and actions. I am a fan of so many female writers, top of my list being Harper Lee and Margaret Atwood. Men and woman often process things differently. I think it helps a book to see both the conflict and common ground this can sometimes produce in a story.  In Subterranean, however, I chose to write it entirely from my female protagonist’s point of view to dig deep on the domestic abuse angle. That way I could also keep Daniel’s story mysterious and at arm’s length until he was ready to share it with Cassie.

Do you get much feedback from women on your writing?

All the time. The greater percentage of my readership appears to be female, not an uncommon statistic in the crime genre as I understand it. One of the nicest comments I ever received was from a reader who told me; “You write like a woman.”

The book touches on both homelessness and veterans. What do you think is the main issue contributing to homelessness for veterans?

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Homelessness is such a complex issue. It’s difficult for many of us to understand how living rough on the streets feels safer than where they have come from, but that’s the crux of it. Add the trauma of PTSD to the mix and that rabbit hole some of our veterans find themselves down just gets deeper. Despite the efforts of government bodies to assist our vets, the culture learnt in the military is hard to shake when it comes to talking about these things. There is a line in Subterranean where Daniel tries to explain it to Cassie. He says, “We don’t talk to civilians because they can never understand what we went through; what we are going through; and we don’t need to talk to another veteran, because they do know.”

I applaud all-male champions for change concerning domestic abuse. What can men do to help other men and women?

adult alone black and white blur
Domestic violence a problem for men and women.

Lead by example for a start. If you see a person in trouble, step up and bear witness. I find this passive action can often stem a potential abusive event in a public place without force. Sit with the victim, stand with them, walk with them, make them feel safe.

What time of the day do you usually write?

I find the mornings accommodate my creative writing more productively, and evenings better suited for the more mundane tasks of correspondence and research, although I’m disciplined enough these days to be able to write at any time of the day. It depends on the weight of any deadlines I may have.

The Crossing

What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

Editing … I hate it. Not because I begrudge my editor’s work at making my books the best they can be, but because my headspace is usually in the next project by the time we are at the editing stage. I call it a necessary evil (first world problem, I know).

What is your work schedule like when you are writing?

Not too strict. I have a conservative target of no less than 500 manuscript words a day (any more is a bonus). This means I can comfortably have a first draft in 10 months or so. I like it best when I have several projects on the go at any one time, dipping in and out of each as the mood takes me.

How long do you research for a book?

The Falls

It varies, depending on the complexities of the plot. I am a less is more kind of writer anyway. I’m very fortunate to have a couple of sources within the police force that help me with procedural and cultural aspects in my novels. Research never really stops throughout the process. There are always details surfacing that need to be checked and explored.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I like to place an early model canary yellow VW Beetle car in all my novels. Sometimes it provides a minor insignificant prop, and at other times a major one that’s key to the story. I couldn’t tell you why I do that. It’s just a fun little foible that gives me joy.

I love that!

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Yellow Volkswagen Beetle Coupe

Do you have a favourite character that you have written?

If so, who? And what makes them so special? Firstly, The Librarian (Thomas Leon) from my debut novel, The Crossing. He’s an eccentric retired old-school newspaperman living in a rundown mansion on the cusp of a devastated landscape of past logging in the Tasmanian Highlands. He was one of those characters that wrote themselves; I just had to sit back and take notes. More recently I could say the same about Daniel Woodsman in Subterranean. I found a real affinity with his character as it developed on the page, possible because of the link to my army days.

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions?

I think they could write a great technical manual. But fiction needs to find a pathway into the reader’s emotions. I find it better to set a seed rather than advise what the reader should be feeling. If I do it right, this allows them to discover the level of emotions based on their own benchmarks in life.

Best writing advice/ Worst writing advice you ever received?

Best: Stephen King suggested never to underestimate your reader when we were both speaking at the 84 World Fantasy Convention in Canada.

I am in awe, you met and spoke to Stephen King.

Worst: “Writing is easy”, by my best friend in high school.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?black and red typewriter

$90 dollars for a portable Remington typewriter back in 1978. It was the moment I decided that I could really do this.

Do you have a favourite author and why?

This is tough. There are so many. But the most influential of my favourites is Ray Bradbury. He was always able to write adult speculative fiction with the heart and curiosity of a child. I love that.

What are you reading now?

While the rest of the world appears to be devouring new literature during the C-19 crisis (which is wonderful), I’m revisiting the classics. Currently, I’m reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I recently purchased a beautiful leather-bound hardcover version. The way Stoker has told the tale from a collection of diaries, journals and official documents is so masterful.

What books or authors have most influenced your writing?

Many writers imitate their most influential authors to kick off their career. My early influences were Americans like Bradbury, Bloch and Lovecraft to name a few, but I’d like to think that I have since found my own voice and style.

Balckwater moon

Favourite quote (does not matter the source) Can be from music if you like!

My favourite quote is from British author Clive Baker. You’ll find it in his Books of Blood collection. “People are like books. Wherever we’re opened, we’re red.” Creepy, huh?

Favourite book/story you have read as an adult?

Again, too many to consider as an ultimate favourite, but the one book I can go back to time and time again is Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. I seem to find something new that touches my heart every time I read it.

Favourite book when you were a kid.

Maurice Sendak’s, Where the Wild Things Are. It was the first book that really sparked my imagination as a child, a spark that has since turned into a raging fire of creativity for me today.

Thank you so much for a fun and fascinating interview. 

About the author.

B. Michael Radburn has been writing successfully for
decades with over a hundred short stories, articles and reviews published in
Australia, the UK and the United States.

He was an award-winning short storyteller before his move to novels and screenplays, a move that freed him to further explore his characters, as well as the natural and supernatural environs in his work.

Amidst road trips on his Harley Davidson, and jamming with the local musicians, B. Michael Radburn is a family man and enjoys farming his small Southern Highlands property where the hauntingly beautiful surrounds inspire his stories.

Connect with B. Michael Radburn on his Facebook, Instagram or webpage.

Subterranean: ISBN: Paperback ISBN 978-0-6487093-9-8, RRP $27.00
E-book ISBN 978-0-6487093-8-1, RRP $4.99
Pages: 238pp Category: Fiction, contemporary.
Available: From Booktopia and Amazon.

Website: Publisher: http://www.atlasproductions.com.au/
Also by B. Michael Radburn: The Crossing; Blackwater Moon; and The Falls and more

Chatting with authors-Meet Crime Writer Sandi Wallace.

Sandi has a dual career as a fitness instructor and as a writer. So, she embodies the ‘a healthy mind in a healthy body’ concept.

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That’s a terrific way to put it, Sonia. I also like to think of it as balancing my active, outgoing side with my sedentary, solitary one; both are creative and fun. Anyway, thanks so much for inviting me in for a chat!

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I read every day and it’s almost always crime fiction. I also love to garden, exercise, canoe, relax, visit the country, and be around great people. An evening at home, enjoying a glass of red wine with my hubby, wood fire glowing and popping, the pup at our feet, the cat on my lap, and a crime show on TV is my idea of bliss.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Since about the age of six, my dream was to be a crime writer.

What brings you joy? Lifts your spirits, chases away a down mood.

A walk with the pup, inhaling the pure air up here on our hill, looking across to the nearby hills cloaked in a pretty blue haze never fails to relieve my computer-sore eyes or to put my worries into perspective, and it reminds me just how fortunate I am. Time in our garden, working or just relaxing, or a simple evening with my hubby also lifts my spirits.200508 IMG_1973

 

What is for dinner tonight? What would you rather be eating?

Chicken and salad. Hmm…a medium-hot Indian curry with peas–rice and garlic naan, or a beautiful Italian pasta dish. Mmm.

Can you tell us a little about your books?

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I’d love to! I have three rural crime thrillers—Tell Me Why, Dead Again and Into the Fog— along with a collection of short crime stories with central police characters, On the Job, all being re-released in fresh editions thanks to my new publisher. Even more exciting, two new titles will soon join the others. The second collection of my short crime stories, Murder in the Midst, is out 11 August and it features eight different women with one thing in common: serious crime. And my fourth rural thriller, Black Cloud, publishes on 22 July. I can’t wait!

My novels all star Melbourne journalist Georgie Harvey and Daylesford cop John Franklin. Combining Aussie Noir, parallel stories led by a journalist and a cop, and gritty rural fiction set in a variety of country locations, my novels can be enjoyed as standalone as the crime aspects are wrapped up within each one, though many people prefer to read them as part of the gripping series, following the lives of Georgie, Franklin and other cast members.

If you’d like to know more about my thrillers, please check out https://www.sandiwallace.com/new-aussie-noir/ or visit my Amazon or Goodreads pages.

On-The-Job-low res

What time of the day do you usually write?
I aim for ‘business hours’ for my work and switch focus to quality time with my family at night. In pre-Covid times, that meant my writing sessions fitted around my fitness industry commitments in that work time, but right now I have bonus availability for writing. And of course, I do work outside those hours when the mood or need strikes.

What is the most difficult part about writing for you?
I enjoy all parts of writing—from the first idea right through to professional editing and proofreading the final draft. Marketing is the trickiest part of being a writer for me. What I like most are personal appearances with the opportunity to talk to and connect with readers and aspiring writers.

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How long do you research for a book?

Research can be a big hole that writers fall into, so interesting, that they spend far longer on it than they need to. I try to be disciplined and focused on the process. For my fourth rural crime thriller, Black Cloud, it was important for me to better understand several technical aspects of the situation I was setting up before jumping into the actual writing, as these points held direct consequences for the timeline, action and events. From there, the story evolved quite organically, but there were some further knowledge gaps that I either flagged and addressed after the draft was down, or I initiated the relevant research and added it in as I went.

What drew you to writing crime?

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Another atmospheric cover

I was destined to write crime after deciding it was for me at that tender age of six. Admittedly, I was first drawn to the genre by enjoyment value—books that gave vicarious thrills and danger, broadened knowledge, explored other cultures and places, exercised the brain, and offered an escape from the real world. But I now love crime stories that offer social commentary about topical issues, situations that are believable, are relatable and happening to imperfect people. Reading—and writing—crime fiction makes sense of things and often brings a type of justice or resolution not always possible in real life.

Have you written in other genres?
Crime fiction is my writing passion, but I have written some short stories that aren’t a crime, along with a fair volume of articles and other non-fiction material to develop my writer’s bio and skills.

Did you ever consider using a pseudonym?
Not for my adult crime fiction. My lifelong dream was to write it, so I wanted to put my name to it. One thing I might try one day is writing crime or mystery books for children or young adults. In that case, a pseudonym would be useful to differentiate my books for my audiences.

Do you have a favourite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special?

Dead-Again-low res
Yes, my two main characters, journalist Georgie Harvey and country cop John Franklin. It’s great to wear their skin, get inside their head, be in their world. Georgie is determined, strong, and sometimes reckless. Franklin is intelligent, loyal, and a maverick. Both have vulnerabilities, strengths and weaknesses, and both have character traits I’d like to own, and others I am happy not to. I am also fond of, and in some cases love to hate, other characters in each of my stories.

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions?
We’re asking a lot of our readers. To invest in our stories. To care about our characters and the outcome of the situation we’ve built. To suspend disbelief at times. To care enough to finish the story. We want the story to resonate with readers after they finish and for them to recommend our books to others. It follows, then, that we need to feel it with them. While it can leave us vulnerable, a writer’s empathy and bond with their characters, story and readers are invaluable, is genuine and it shines through. (It is advisable to grow a thicker skin for other aspects of being a writer, though.)

Best writing advice you ever received?
Practice, practice, practice. Keep striving. Keep believing.

Do you have a favourite author and a favourite book, and why?
Oh, no! Naming one favourite author or one favourite book is like choosing a favourite child! I am an avid reader of Australian and international crime fiction. My preference is contemporary novels, and though I read many sub-genres of crime, I’m often drawn to rural crime thrillers, psychological thrillers, and police procedurals I also enjoy a good cosy when the mood strikes. I regularly feature my standout crime reads in my ‘Good Reads’ blog posts at https://www.sandiwallace.com/blog/.

What are you reading now?

fashion woman girl women
Writers are also readers.

Cause and Effect: Vice Plagues the City (Kind Hearts and Martinets Book 1) by Pete Adams, a stablemate in my new publishing house. Pete has a distinctive, witty, British style and his star is Detective Inspector Jack Austin, a ‘self-labelled enigma’ who runs the Community Police Unit from his deck chair, working a variety of cases while struggling with his mental health issues. Only a little way in, I’m enjoying its uniqueness very much already and know it’s going to take a more malevolent turn very soon.

Favourite quote (doesn’t matter the source)

‘You know it’s never too late to shoot for the stars. Regardless’ If today was your last day by Nickelback.

 

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Thanks so much for the chat, Sonia. I’ve had fun. I hope your followers have enjoyed it, too.

Its been fun -thanks, Sandi.

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Website https://www.sandiwallace.com/

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8431978.Sandi_Wallace

Amazon author page https://www.amazon.com/Sandi-Wallace/e/B00TTIYLVS

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sandi.wallace.crimewriter

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

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com.au/sandiwallace_crimewriter/

BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/sandi-wallace

Book buy links

Tell Me Why http://mybook.to/tellmewhy

Dead Again http://mybook.to/deadagain

Into the Fog http://mybook.to/intothefog

Black Cloud http://mybook.to/blackcloud

 

 

Meet Josh Langley, Author, Illustrator, Copywriter, Broadcaster, After-life Investigator and All-Round Good Guy.

I met Josh and his partner Andy, at the Rockingham Writers’ Convention last year. I was slightly star-struck, after reading Find Your Creative Mojo. They are charming and loads of fun to chat with.  Josh has walked the walk, which gives his books such power to help children and adults while dealing with their anxieties.Josh Langley author head shot small (1)

What do you like to do when you are not writing? Sitting on my verandah with my husband watching the sunset over the valley enjoying a glass of wine (or several).

What did you want to be when you grew up? When I was 6, I wanted to be a train driver because seemingly all you had to do was toot the horn and wave at people as you went by. Otherwise, I’ve never had any idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. As long as it wasn’t a normal boring job! I think I’ve succeeded in that; radio announcer, radio copywriter, author/illustrator, photographer, abstract artist, part-time afterlife investigator… who knows what’s next?

Josh recently launched his own YouTube channel.

Mojo

What’s for dinner tonight? What would you rather be eating? Andy is cooking southern style chicken schnitzels and garlic roast veggies and it suits me just fine.

Can you cook? Are you practical? Yes, I can cook and quite enjoy it. I’m lucky, that both Andy and I enjoy cooking so we have lots of yummy meals. My favourite is Tortellini. (There’s a recipe for Lemon and Parsley Tortellini on page 54 of Being You is Enough if you’re interested.)

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Breakfast or dinner? Dinner definitely. Unless breakfast is something exotic like Parathas and onion bhajis…. (Or leftover Tortellini )

Your hero? I don’t have heroes, but there are a few people who I admire, such as Michael Leunig. I got to meet him at last years Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival (we were next to each other in the program guide, Langley / Leunig) and I was a blubbering mess. I couldn’t say anything interesting or clever, just ‘Um, I’m a big fan… Can I have a selfie?’. Sonia comments that’s so much like I was when I met you!

If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, (Living or dead) who would they be and why?

Iggy Pop. He could tell some awesome rock and roll stories. The late Anthony Bourdain. He could also tell some greats stories about people, food and travelling. My husband Andy. I couldn’t let him miss out on all the fun!

What time of the day do you usually write?BSP Its OK to feel the way you feel cover ABIA 2018 sm

I prefer mornings, the earlier the better but not like 3.30 (I did that once when I set the bedside clock wrong after a blackout) more like 5.30 onward.  However, if I’m drawing illustrations, that can be anytime.

What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

I have a really short attention span when it comes to writing and rarely gets into the flow. I’m constantly checking Facebook, getting up to snack on something or walking around outside. Oh, look! Is that packet of pretzels? Yum!

What is your work schedule like when you are writing?

All over the shop like a mad dog’s breakfast. There is no structure. When I was working 4 days a week, I used to get up at early and write for an hour before work, but now that I work from home all the time, there’s no structure at all. I’m trying to write a memoir on childhood trauma at the moment and I haven’t found my rhythm as yet, but I’m hoping it’ll come. Maybe pretzels will help.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I can write anywhere. The kitchen table, office, beach, café etc. It doesn’t matter. I know that’s not quirky, but very handy!

Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?

I get a lot of feedback from parents telling me how the kid’s books have made a big difference in their child’s lives. Especially kids who may be a little different or who don’t feel ‘normal’ for whatever reason. They say that the books have started great conversations and led to all sorts of life-changing insights for both the kids and the parents. That makes all that I do worthwhile.

How has being a copywriter influenced your writing style?

black and silver cassette player
Josh worked in radio

Radio copywriting is all about distilling big concepts down into simple easy to relate to messages, which means using as few words as possible. It’s the same for kid’s books. I take big concepts such as emotional and mental well-being and all that’s associated with them and break them down into powerful short sentences and then marry them with simple cartoon-like illustrations. It’s the art of saying more with less.

I guess that in copywriting you work to appeal to emotions, does that carry over into your writing?

Yep, advertising is all about connecting on an emotional level and that is the same for writing non-fiction and kids books. Even though I’m not a traditional storyteller, the way I shape a story is to go direct to the heart of the reader and make a deep connection that way. Cut straight to the chase but have fun while doing it.

I think you have said that you write your children’s books for the kid you once were. I know that many, many kids and adults relate to them.

Yes, I write the books as though I was giving life advice to my 8-year-old self. I think there are only a handful of kids authors who are in the same boat as me (Todd Parr for example) as most are either teachers, educators, librarians, in the child development field or have kids themselves and I don’t fit into any of that. So writing the books for myself made sense and it was healing as well, as I had experienced childhood trauma and through the books, I was able to reassure the younger me that he is OK the way he was and that he is loved. I think parents can relate to the same message because it’s something they wanted to hear when they were young too.

Do you have a favourite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special?

BSP Magnificent Mistakes cover-2
Graeme the giraffe.

I love Graeme the Giraffe, the cover boy for Magnificent Mistakes. He represents the confident, playful happy go lucky kid in all of us. He’s not too concerned about what other people think of him and he’s willing to give new things a go. He wants to wring the most out of life.

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions?

Everyone can feel their emotions in some way, even if it’s getting angry at a bus being late! However it’s being able to tap into that emotion and transfer it to the page so that everyone can relate to it, that’s the trick.

Best writing advice? Worst writing advice you ever received?

Best: “Adverbs are not your friend” – Stephen King. Worst: “This is crap” – Me.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? My laptop. I love it. I really do. I think I spend more time with it than my husband!

Many people won’t have heard about your exploration into the afterlife. Personally, I’d like to thank you for doing things I have always been too scared to do. You have two books about this, don’t you?

Yes, ‘Dying to Know: If there life after death’ and ‘Turning Inside Out; What is everything we’ve been taught about life is wrong?’ both on my website.

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I’ve always been interested in ghosts, the paranormal and afterlife topics and I was desperate to see if could have a personal experience of some kind myself. When I was planning the outline of Dying to Know I knew I had to include a ghost investigation, however, I couldn’t think of anywhere that I could have easy access too. Then one of my work colleagues mentioned in passing that he thought the radio station he was working at was haunted in some way. I remembered I had worked there many years before and thought the same thing. Bam! I had my haunted building! It’s not often you get to play ghost investigator, but it was heaps of fun, yet very scary at the same. It’s the kind of adrenaline rush I love. While some people like parachuting out of a perfectly good plan, I like to see if I can come face to face with a ghost!turning inside out

 

How many unpublished/ half-finished books do you have?

1 novel, 2 kids books, a photographic book, and other stuff.

QUESTIONS FOR FUN (or maybe not!)

What are you reading now? Irritating posts on Facebook!

Do you have a favourite author? I don’t have a favourite author per se, but enjoy Mark Manson, Anne Lamott and Rebecca Solnit.

What books or authors have most influenced your writing? I really got a lot out of Stephen King’s On Writing.

Is there an author you most admire in your genre? Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are). His personal story always brings a tear to my eye. He kept his homosexuality and his 50-year relationship to his partner a secret from his Jewish parents because he didn’t want to disappoint them. If I could give him a copy of Being You is Enough and give him a hug, I would.

Favourite quote: “Find your own lane” – Diane Evans (my editor)

Favourite book when you were a kid? Rhyme Giggles, Nonsense Giggles, written by William Cole and Illustrated by Tomi Ungerer

Do you think being in a supportive partnership has helped your confidence and creativity?

Hell yes. I’m lucky that Andy is so supportive and encourages me to keep going with my projects. It also helps that he’s a writer and creative type as well, so we’re both encouraging and supporting each other. Mind you have been known to fight over the little writing desk on our library!

Thank you for having me, it’s been fun! Thank you for being here, Josh.

Find all about Josh and his books at www.joshlangley.com.au

https://www.facebook.com/joshlangleywriter/

https://www.instagram.com/joshlangleyauthor/

 

 

 

Meet Author/Poet/Artist/Activist-Annie Hill Otness.

Hi Annie and thanks so much for joining us today. We will start with some getting to know you questions, then move on to your writing and art.

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Annie Hill Otness.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?  My favourite is swimming in the sea and next is sailing

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All the joy of sailing.

 

I didn’t expect to grow up as I am lucky to survive my childhood – my mother was an alcoholic who abused and neglected me. She tried to kill me, the first time when I was about four when she stripped me to my undies and locked me out of the house all day in the middle of a Melbourne winter – I got pneumonia and was very ill. The second time I was about eight and she slashed my right wrist and throat with a razor. Both times were when my father was away. I think she believed she was sacrificing or saving me.  I survived the pneumonia and glandular fever which left me with lung and heart damage. I made 80 last year!

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S B says Thank you for sharing this- what a traumatic experiences

Sometimes I share because telling others who have suffered and survived that you  understand and care can make a difference, and keeping silent, as I was raised to do, perpetuates the damage of child  abuse and neglect

What was your dream job when you were younger? I wanted to sail away, or fly like a bird, or write stories and make pictures.

What’s for dinner tonight? What would you rather be eating? Not sure about tea tonight, but a takeaway would be good. Something new and different – except coriander.

What’s your favourite food? Currently it’s spinach and halva.

Your hero? Greta Thunberg,

If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why? Tyson Yunkaporta; he’s aboriginal and an advocate for indigenous culture, as well as a creative performer and artist. I would love to yarn with him.

Anh Do: came to Australia in a refugee boat, he became a comedian, artist (stunning portraits in his ABC show), and writer for young people. He’s creative in many fields – and funny and smart.

Julia Gillard: past prime minister of Australia. She was an outstanding leader, brave, and ethical and still a mental health advocate and strong woman.

They are all creators in different ways and from different origins that exemplifies our dynamic culture. From all the lands on earth we come – They affirm our unofficial anthem We are one – we are Australian.

What’s your writing space like?

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I have a girl-shed for artwork and a ‘Do not disturb – genius at work’ sign in my corner in the back room with my PC  and my home gym so I can get up and workout a bit when the flow stops. S.B. comments Lovely-love the genius at work sign.

How do you decide if an idea will be a story, a poem or an artwork?

It’s not a decision – some ideas come visually, some in a flash as a poem (usually when I’m travelling or walking) and then some are stories to be told over time.

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For those unfamiliar with your fiction how would you describe it?

I decided to write romances when I retired but was totally no good at it – my attempt turned into the first book in the Travellers Trilogy which could be described as Adventure/Romance, as there’s a lot of adventure and intrigue and a powerful love story. My latest book is The Swagman Saga, a colonial myth, and this could be an Australian historical fantasy, I guess.

swagman saga

 

Is there a typical writing day?

When I’m writing, which I’m not currently, I grab the time when I can. I’m not an owl, so usually in the morning, but afternoons or evenings too, depending on what’s happening.

What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

Editing. It costs too much for me to have my m/s professionally edited, and I’m grateful for a friend who edited the trilogy, but he couldn’t edit the Swagman Saga, so it’s published with all its faults, which I’m sure are many and diverse.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?Don’t think I have one. I just hammer away and try to keep up with the characters as their lives unfold.

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Annie’s picture of Australia’s Pilbara region.

When you’re writing an emotionally draining (or sexy, or sad, etc) scene, how do you get in the mood?

I’m the watcher in my stories, so it’s like seeing a movie. I’m often surprised at what is unfolding, and react to the tragic, scary, passionate or violent events.  I’ve been saddened by the way the lives of some characters unfolded and I usually intervene at the end, as I write to give hope, not to create sorrow and despair.

Do you have a favourite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special.

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The truism that we are all our characters. I most admire the courage and devotion of Aidan, and Matilda; the adventurous spirits of Greta and The Swagman; and the dogged and persistent Old Grey Mare, – as they are the best of me; but I have to acknowledge myself in the troubled Gwen/Selina; and in the evil Tobias, and the shape-changing monster, Captain Sharman.

Why did you choose to self-publish, and use a pen name?

The rejections made me feel like a failure. Although I understand this is usual and it can take many years of rejection before a writer is successful, I was around 70 when I started writing novels and I thought I didn’t have that long to wait. I know my work doesn’t fit a commercial mould so I decided that I would write my own way. I feel I don’t need to write to a market as I don’t expect ever to write for a living, although I’ve covered my costs

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I chose to use my maiden name as I wanted to disassociate my work from my everyday identity. I Googled it, and it wasn’t being used, since then two other M.A. Hills have appeared – one writes about chakras and yogic stuff which is OK, but the other writes lurid romances. Should have stuck with Otness.

Are you currently working on a new book? Will it carry on the stories from the trilogy or The Swagman?

I have started a young adult series called The Theriant, (Theriants are shape-changers).  I find this concept not only fascinating, but a great way to create diverse p.o.v.  I’ve written the first book and the first draft of the second and have the outline for another one. The protagonist is a mutant hero called Crystal Stone whose mission is to save the world. The first one – The Flight of Crystal Stone, is about its/her coming of age but after letting the work rest and coming back to it, I realised I must revise  it, as the first part could be cultural appropriation, and also doesn’t fit the story as it developed

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4 element quilt by Annie.

Who is your favourite author and why? So many: Tyson Yunkaporta –  I’ve just read Sand Talk, and this was extraordinary– confronting – validating some of my concepts and challenging others. I’ll need to read it again.

Peter Fitzsimons; Australian history – he tells the true story and brings it to life.

Kem Nunn, writes stories with so much empathy about surfing and of people that I feel I know.

Liu Cixin  – The three body problem. His dystopian future could become the new reality aka Wells’ War of the Worlds  – Chinese viewpoint is enlightening.

All different and really great reads.

What book is currently on your bedside table? Kim Scott’s Dead man dance, Qi Gong, Me and the boat and a man named Bob, by C.E. Bowman (friends have told me it’s the best book they’ve ever read – Bob is Bob Dylan!) Moab is my Washpot – Stephen Fry.

e book reader turned on
The convenience of e-books

I prefer to read eBooks now as the range is limitless with wonderful free library apps. I have about 3,000 books (I’m used to having shelves of books around I guess after 25+ years in libraries), and eBook loans suit me now.

What books or authors have most influenced your writing?

James Joyce, The Dubliners, I read at 18 and it reset my brain. After being schooled on Eliot and Thackeray, that were so alien to my life and culture, I couldn’t relate to them at all. Joyce opened the window to the wide universe of possibilities.

Tim Winton, because he writes about my kind of world, and I realised that we can tell the stories about places and lives we know. Rabelais Gargantua and Pantagruel because he is wildly inventive and bawdy and funny.

Cervantes because he wrote the ultimate quest,and many other authors.I think everything I read has some influence.

Who is the author you most admire in your genre?

Norman Lindsay, Tolkien and Terry Pratchett – for fantasy sagas, Susanne Collins’ The Hunger Games for YA. I  don’t write to a genre but admire so many authors – I’ll pick  Melissa Lukashenko, Too much lip as adventure romance. Poetry – Les Murray. Don Williams for theatre (I’ve written a few plays that I produced and directed at the Pocket Theatre – great loss that it closed down.)

Favourite quote (doesn’t matter the source)

Change is possible because it’s necessary – James Zerzan.

time for change sign with led light
Photo by Alexas Fotos on Pexels.com

SB. That quote is very pertinent at the moment!

Favourite book/story you have read as an adult / ‘Sea Sick’ by Alanna Mitchell had a life changing effect on me and made me realise that I had to fight for the well being of the oceans that I love and voyage on.

Favourite book when you were a kid? Alice in wonderland and through the looking glass. I was sent to the care of strangers for a few months at about 9 and was allowed to take one book –  Lewis Carrol was in hindsight such a good choice, with a strong, resilient, resourceful girl hero alone in a weird world.

What famous author do you wish would be your mentor? Shakespeare – I think he’s the greatest writer ever even though I don’t read in other languages.

I’ve included a few of the quilts, which are made from silk paintings with shibori dyed panels.

SB I asked what Shibori was .

Shibori is a Japanese tie dye craft that gives a streaky effect.

Buy links Ozartworks: www.ozartworks.com;

Talismans: https://talismans.ozartworks.com/

Ozartworks facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annie.hill.otness/?ref=bookmarks

Elements and visions: http://elements-and-visions.blogspot.com/

Novels available on amazon, etc.

THE AUTHOR:

M.A. Hill  was born once upon a time in Tasmania, lives near Fremantle, Western Australia.  She is an award-winning writer, playwright, poet, and artist – working in paint, textiles, and clay.

A blue water sailor and activist for the marine environment, her journey is one of survival that has taken her on trackless voyages where few have ventured. In her work she strives for a better world. As Annie Hill Otness, she has published –

Collected poetry, Dream Beaches Invisible Landscapes;

Vision  Books – inspirational works illustrated with  original paintings on silk. 

Talismans – ‘anything whose presence exercises a remarkable or powerful influence on human feelings or actions.’  Source: Dictionary.com

As M.A. Hill she is the author and illustrator of The Travellers Trilogy and The Swagman Saga.

Visit TALISMANS : Annie HIll Otness/ M.A. Hill:   or www.ozartworks.com;  to enjoy more of her work.

 

 

 

 

Chatting with Authors- Meet Anna Jacobs, multi published author.

 

Anna ,thank you for joining us today. It’s shame  that your tour of South Western Australia was cancelled, but it has given you the time to answer some questions for us. Anna is usually incredibly busy, and I know  that her talks are very well attended

 

Anna July 2019 leaning
Anna Jacobs photo © Liz Seabrook .

 

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

Read books, chat to my lovely husband, spend time with friends, watch TV.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

From the age of 10 when I figured out some people earned their living by writing stories, that’s what I wanted to do.

What’s for dinner tonight? What would you rather be eating?

Leftovers and salad bits as we had lunch at our daughter’s cafe. I’m rather apprehensive of eating different things as I have several severe food intolerance’s. One of my favourites is curry and we’re lucky to have an Indian restaurant reasonably close to home which understands gluten free needs and avoids cross-contamination.

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Photo by Naim Benjelloun on Pexels.com

Your hero?

My husband. He’s a wonderful man, kind to everyone he meets and has been so supportive of me in my career. Also, he’s just – gorgeous!

Sigh, what a marvellous tribute, but he’s equally lucky to have you.

If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why?

Various friends whom we’ve known for decades. No one famous springs to mind.

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Now to questions about writing .What time of the day do you usually write?

All the hours I can! It’s my favourite activity. I don’t have the housework gene.

What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

I don’t find it difficult, but some stories are easier to write than others, I must admit.

What is your work schedule like when you are writing?

I’m always writing. I work 7 days if I have nothing else on but take days off if I want to do something else.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Standing stock still, going glassy eyed (my husband tells me) and getting ideas either for new stories or ongoing scenes.

Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?

I hear from readers a lot and love it. I have such nice readers.

Do you have a favourite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special?

Bram, in the Traders series. He’s medium height, not good looking and yet he’s a kind, lovely man, my very favourite hero.

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The Traders Series is five books it starts with The Traders Wife,the The Traders Sister,The Traders Dream,The Traders Gift and finally The Traders Reward

Set in Singapore and Western Australia in the 1860s. New set of main characters, but some links with characters from the Swan River Saga

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions?

They could write non-fiction, I suppose. I think emotions are necessary to write good fiction and touch readers’ hearts.

You’ve written contemporary and historical fiction. Do you have a preference?

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I’ve also written fantasy and romances. I like writing them all but there isn’t time to do that, so I’ve stuck to what I call ‘relationships stories’ both historical and contemporary. I don’t have a preference. What I enjoy and need is the variety.

Anna has written over eighty books- now that’s variety.

How do you decide whether it will be a book series or a stand alone?

I only write series these days because readers prefer them, and to tell you the truth, I like to find out what happens to my characters from one story. So they have walk-on roles in the rest of a series.

Which comes first for you, the place to the character?

Beautiful mature woman portrait on the beach

Re place or character, neither, really. The setup scenario comes first – not the place necessarily, but a very rough and minimal concept of whatever is happening or about to happen. Then I start work on putting the character into that situation and things start to take on life.

So,you think of a situation ( for example this horrid virus right now) and the think who would be involved and where?

Exactly. And the character is like the yeast in a loaf, makes the situation come to life.

Best writing advice?

If you’re just beginning, write a story, polish then set it aside for at least a year and write another story. Writing one story doesn’t usually teach a person to write professionally. And do not rush to self-publish too early on, either, for the same reason. A goldsmith wouldn’t expect to sell the first piece he made, nor should a writer – well, not until it’s been re-polished thoroughly and other stories written.

That is good advice, we all know that this takes time but we are too impatient.

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Worst writing advice you ever received?

Plan your story ahead. I can’t and trying only give me a boring outline of a story that will never work. It’s when my characters come to life in the setup stage that my stories come to life. Some writers can plan ahead and some can’t, some can half-plan. We’re all different. It’s the finished product that counts, not how you get there. If you need to stand on your head in a corner to write, do it. Whatever it takes.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Buying books by other authors – you can learn from them both what to do and what not to do. You need to read a lot to understand what makes good fiction. So anyone who wants to be a writer and doesn’t read doesn’t make me want to read their efforts.

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A french translation for one of Anna’s books

Do you have a favourite author and why?

I have several favourite authors, but it was Georgette Heyer who inspired me to become a writer. And Anne McCaffrey who taught me to use my imagination as vividly as possible.

What are you reading now?

Frances Brody – the Body on the Train. She write Miss Marple-esque detective stories set in the 1920s which hang together well, with a central group of characters who also seem real.

What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

Georgette Heyer, CJ Cherryh, Nora Roberts, Robyn Carr, Angela Thirkell, Jean Stubbs, Jodi Thomas, Anne McCaffrey, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury – and countless others. I read 3 novels a week, give or take and always have done.

Who is the author you most admire in your genre?

I’m not sure I quite fit into a genre. I get called a saga writer, but a very wise and experienced editor once said I fit squarely between sagas and straight historical novels. See the list of authors  for my favourites.

Favourite quote (doesn’t matter the source)

“Writing a novel is hard work . . . You have to work long and hard even to produce a bad one. This may help explain why there are so many more bad amateur poets around than there are bad amateur novelists . . . any clown with a sharp pencil can write out a dozen lines of verse and call them a poem. Not just any clown can fill 200 pages with prose and call it a novel. Only the more determined clowns can get the  job done . . . Let’s not kid ourselves. It does take self-discipline.” Lawrence Block “Writing the Novel” p11

 

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Writers are also readers.

 

Favourite book/story you have read as an adult?

At 3 a week, I’ve loved thousands of books.

Favourite book when you were a kid

Enid Blyton’s Adventure series.

What famous author do you wish would be your mentor?

None – not because I’m perfect, but because you learn most by doing i.e writing and by reading other authors’ work IMHO. Writing is something you DO not something you talk about, I think.

Anna Jacobs: Historical stories: ‘Perfect Family’ , ‘A Daughter’s Journey’ (8/19), ‘A Widow’s Courage’ (4/20  Modern stories: ‘Bay Tree Cottage’, ‘Changing Lara’ , ‘Christmas in Peppercorn Street’ (10/19), ‘Finding Cassie’ (1/20)  

Find out more, including list of all books  series at: http://www.annajacobs.com

 

 

Chatting with Authors- Meet Norman Jorgensen.

Hi, Norman, It’s great to be chatting such a versatile children’s author

I must ask, with your surname, do you have Viking ancestry. Some. My great-great-grandfather arrived in Australia from Denmark during the 1850s gold rush in Ballarat, and my grandfather grew up in Coolgardie in the Western Australian goldfields early in the 20th century. I’ve always like Norse myths and legends, though, and think Vikings were a little misunderstood. J   They can’t really have been that bad. Can they?

Norman Jorgensen Edinburgh 2
Norman Jorgensen.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I read, of course, mostly historical fiction, and I love old black & white movies and Westerns, and I love travelling and photography. I am happiest tramping around the ruins of a medieval castle or exploring a smugglers’ village, with my camera running red hot.

What did you want to be when you grew up?  I can’t answer that – I never grew up!  No, I wanted to be Errol Flynn, swashbuckling star of Captain Blood, as well as a bunch of other pirate movies, and also Robin Hood and General Custer. I also wanted to be a Lieutenant in the US Cavalry, a Sergeant in the French Foreign Legion and a Spitfire Pilot in the RAF in 1940. Oh, and a Highwayman, a gunslinger, the Saint, and when I was about 14, I fancied myself as F Scott Fitzgerald, as played by Gregory Peck in the bio of his life called  Beloved Infidel. The idea of being a tortured literary genius appealed greatly at that age. Unfortunately, these days I am neither tortured nor a genius, nor even suave like Gregory Peck, or even Atticus Finch, more’s the pity.

 

black and white skull hanging decor
Pirates fired Norman’s imagination

What’s for dinner tonight? What would you rather be eating? It is Sunday night, so Jan and I are in for a perfect evening. A long hot bubble bath with the steaming water up to our eyes, until we get wrinkly toes, then pizza and red wine while watching a British crime drama on the TV.  What would I rather be eating? I’m happy with that, though a bowl of freshly-made pasta and Chianti while sitting on a terrace on a warm evening in Venice might be pretty good too.

Your hero? I have a lot of heroes, but especially my beloved Jan Nicholls. She is my biggest fan, but never reads anything I write until it is published, which is probably why we still get on okay. She is from Northumberland near the Scottish border where they breed them tough, but she is warm-hearted, kind, gorgeous, as sharp as a tack and incredibly funny.  The poor woman is addicted to books, though, and spends a great time of reading and promoting books in her role as President the Children’s Book Council here in WA.  Jan also likes travelling, so that fits in perfectly with me,  and I admire how she has navigated us across the world in search of exciting places for me to write about.

Another hero is my mother, Barbara, who is kind and gentle but has a backbone of steel. She lived in Broome in the 1950s when it was a derelict shanty town so far from everywhere, and brought up four boys often by herself for long periods while my father was away working. She moved to Perth and had a successful career at Channel 9 and is still a stylish, enthusiastic world traveller at 86 years old.

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Not all heroes wear a cape!

Next on my list is Winston. I am a big Winston Churchill fan, though I am well aware of his flaws and significant errors and subsequent disasters. US broadcaster, Edward Murrow, said of him, “He mobilised the English language and sent it into battle.” I hugely admire that ability he had. He stared down Hitler, ran the government, helped win WWII, and then went on to write 30 books and win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why? My father and my grandparents. You never really get to say goodbye properly, so one lovely last evening with them would be wonderful. I still have so much I would have liked to share with them and so much still to learn. They were all great storytellers too, and I would have felt warm and safe and loved being in the same room with them again entertaining me with their tales of our family from long ago.

Now to questions about writing. I  think readers and writers alike are fascinated by how writers write, and how they get their ideas.

What time of the day do you usually write? I am scatty and erratic, hugely disorganised, and away-with-the-fairies half the time, so there is no pattern to my writing day. My latest manuscript, The Smuggler 3: Dragon’s Blood, was written under a palm tree by a pool in Phuket using an old leather-bound notebook and a fountain pen. It was only the first draft, but I got so much written with no electronic distractions and no reason to stop other than the need for a quick swim occasionally.

book and pen on notebook
Sometimes  pen and paper works better than the keyboard

What is the hardest part of writing for you? Revising and polishing.  I find researching the life and times of my characters and settings and then writing the plot reasonably enjoyable, but the constant need to turn out half-decent sentences while making sure the meaning is crystal clear and exciting at the same time is a real challenge for me.  I need to keep reminding myself not to include every single detail I have uncovered during the research, but to concentrate more on the hero’s journey and their interaction with the other characters.  Historical books often overload the minor details of the past, so the reader gets bogged down, and then fed up, and loses sympathy with the hero, and that can be fatal.

What is your work schedule like when you are writing? My schedule is pure chaos. Sometime I’ll spend all day procrastinating, while others I’ll be on a roll and write like a demon all day, ignoring everything and everyone in the real world around me. Other days, it will be four hours before I get bored with myself.  Ideas come at all times of the day and in odd places, so I have a box full of napkins, slips of newspaper, notebooks and movie tickets with random words and sentences hastily scribbled on them.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? I tend to over-reference old movies, TV shows, books I read in the past, and even jokes, sometimes completely inappropriately for the dire situations in which I have placed my characters.  I am also on the lookout for humour in every case, which can be very annoying when Red, for instance, is seconds away from being eaten by a monster Tiger shark or being fired on by blood-thirsty pirates.

 

person standing on rock formation near body of water during night time

 

Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say? Not too much. I do get great feedback from kids when I am giving school talks, and teachers often tell me how much their students enjoy my books. I did once get the best letter, though. It read, “Dear Mr Jorgensen, I know you don’t make much money from your writing, but rest assured, you are bringing great joy to millions of children all around the world.” Poor deluded fool they must have mistaken me for J.K Rowling.

I am guessing your readership is predominantly boys, am I right? I had imagined that was the case, but I am continually being proven wrong. Jack’s Island is studied and enjoyed in many girls’ schools, and I keep hearing that girls seem to like my character, Red Read, the teenage hero of The Smuggler’s Curse and The Wreckers’ Revenge. Several girls have asked for more romance in the sequels.

We both laugh and I suggest a comprise. Maybe you can write a choose your own adventure book to satisfy both boys and girls? Quick as a flash he comes back with ‘Choice one -Kiss the girl. Choice two -Jump overboard.’

Do you have a favourite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special.   Red Read, son of Mrs Read who owns The Smuggler’s Curse Hotel in Broome, is my favourite. His mother sells him as a cabin boy to Captain Black Bowen, a notorious smuggler. Red is just like 12-year-old me, except he is brave, fearless, athletic and resourceful, unlike me at 12 who was a snivelling coward and none of those things. He handles everything I was too scared to do like he is a full-on junior swashbuckler. And after all his hair-raising adventures, he ends up very rich, also unlike me.

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Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions? I don’t imagine so. You’d have to be pretty good at faking it. There is a saying in writing circles, “No tears from the writer, then there will be none from the reader.”

You’ve written children’s picture books and middle-grade fiction genre. Do you have a preference? I prefer mid-grade by far. Picture books are sooo difficult to write. The industry standard for them is 600 – 800 words over 32 pages, and trying to get the story that fills your head into so few words is nigh on impossible. Picture book stories are also told using a mixture of words or pictures, but not both, so your words are often cut as the illustrator takes over.  If your text reads, “It was a dark and stormy night,” and the illustrator paints a dark and stormy night, then your carefully chosen words become redundant and get cut.

With middle-grade, you can create more elaborate plots and landscapes and explore inside your characters’ heads. You are also leaving a lot more to the reader’s imagination.

How do you decide whether it will be a longer book or a picture book?  I see my stories in pictures in my head, just like watching a movie with a soundtrack and all, but some adventures will be far too long for 32 pages, so have to be turned into 60 to70,000 words instead. Interestingly, the three illustrators I have worked with, Allan Langoulant, Brian Harrison-Lever and my good friend, James Foley, have all had better pictures in their heads that I did, so, occasionally, I feel okay about my words getting the knife or the Viking sword.

closeup photo of black hilt and brown sword

 

You mentioned a trip to the Shetland Isles – did that inspire The Last Viking?

The Last Viking was inspired by my nephew Ben Jorgensen adding horns to his bike helmet years before, and then by me overlooking James Foley’s portfolio where he had an illustration of a boy dressed as a medieval knight. Why not a Viking, I thought? When I approached James with the Viking boy idea, I suddenly had to come up with the story on the spot.

The Shetlands Islands did, however, inspire The Smuggler’s Curse.  R.L Stevenson’s father had been a lighthouse builder, and Robert had stayed in the same room as me as the Sumburgh Lighthouse. Learning this, I tried writing a pirate story just like R.L.S while there. It soon developed into a smuggler story set in Cornwall in 1810 and then, eventually, into an Australian sea story relocated to Broome in 1898, at the suggestion of my publisher, Cate Sutherland at Fremantle Press.

lighthouse on near body of water between rock formation

 

How much input do you have with your illustrators? Normally, none. Editors like to keep writers and illustrators apart, and often they are in different states. Brian Harrison-Lever lived in Tasmania, and I didn’t meet him until he had finished all the artwork for In Flanders Fields, though we did exchange emails.  I met Allan Langoulant once a week for dinner where he showed me his previous week’s work, but I had no say in it as it was already finished.  With James Foley, we did spend time working together on The Last Viking,  sharing jokes and me suggesting scenes and film references, and that seemed to work well as we had a shared love of movies.  The Viking books are heavily movie influenced.  James was able to add in a lot of his own humour, making my original plot and jokes much funnier.

Best writing advice? Don’t get carried away with the traditional, stereotyped idea of being a writer

Waiting for inspiration is for amateurs. Instead, just begin.

Starving in a Paris garret, suffering from TB, drinking yourself to oblivion on Absinthe like many, shooting wild animals like Hemingway, or going on the road like Jack Kerouac will only distract you. Just sit, turn down the lights, and actually type in one word after another until you fill a page, polish it, then do it again the next day until you fill another page. After a year, you will have 365 pages which should be enough for a book. That is advice from John Steinbeck, not me.

Worst writing advice you ever received? A teacher who read the manuscript told me to change the name of the title of In Flanders Fields as kids won’t know what it means, she said.  Luckily, I ignored her as the book is still in print 17 years later.  

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer

black and gold pen

My Lamy fountain pen from Germany and my Chinese fountain pen called The Black Dragon, the same name as the schooner in my latest books. I just had to buy it with a name like that.  Mostly, though, every dollar I ever spent on airfares has not been wasted.  I have visited every place my books are set as I believe it is important to be able to describe the settings in detail,  down to the smell of the drains, the feel of the sand between your toes and the sound of the monkeys screeching in the jungle trees.

How many unpublished/ half-finished books do you have?

Dragon’s Blood: Red 3 (Upper Primary Novel)

Sons of the Desert: The Journal of Harry White (YA Novel)

This Pen for Hire (Adult Comedy Novel)

The Illuminator’s Apprentice (Picture Book)

The Goldminer’s Son (Picture Book)

The Gr8 Escape (Picture Book)

Castaways on a Dessert Island (Picture Book)

Advance Australia Unfair (Picture Book)

The Final Mission of a Flying Tiger (Picture Book)

Mary Christmas   (Lower Primary Novel)

Who is your favourite author, and why?

blur book stack books bookshelves

My favourite authors are Leslie Thomas who wrote The Virgin Soldiers and Dangerous Davies and Tom Sharpe, author of Wilt and Blott on the Landscape, both British writers who generally wrote satirical comedy novels about ordinary people living suburban lives while mayhem surrounds them. When Leslie died in 2014 and Tom in 2013, I was shocked at how saddened I was each time as if I had suddenly lost a part of me and a whole chunk of my early reading years. I didn’t know either of them, though I met Leslie Thomas briefly at a book signing after a talk he gave here in Perth. He answered ALL my questions then afterwards signed my book, “To my greatest fan, Norman”, and he wasn’t the least bit wrong.

I also love the work of Bill Bryson and have read every word of his. We are much the same age, and his gentle sense of humour matches mine exactly. The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America, about him looking for the small-town America of the old movies, is funny but also so sad as he slowly comes to realise that it has been lost and the towns have been devastated by enormous Walmart’s, huge car parks, endless fast-food joints, closed factories, empty shops and despair. His most successful book, Notes From a Small Island, about him revisiting the places he went when backpacking around Britain in the 1970s, is a joy to read. He gave his humour free rein, and I loved it, as I did with all his other books. He has since written 20 more.

What are you reading now? As usual, I have several books on my bedside table. This week it is Grant, a massive doorstop of a biography of General Ulysses S Grant, the US Civil War leader and President, by Ron Chernow. There is also The Last Dickens by Mathew Pearl an exciting books about copyright piracy in the 1870s, Mrs Kelly by Grantlee Kieza, about Ned Kelly’s mother, and to my absolute delight, an advance copy of Goldfields’ Girl by my great friend Elaine Forrestal just arrived this morning. I am really looking forward to reading this one.

What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

Robert Louis Stevenson.  The Smuggler’s Curse has Treasure Island and Kidnapped all over it. I even called a character Bosun Stevenson in his honour.

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Norman loves to sail

I belong to the Society of Writers and Illustrators here in Western Australia, and I am always amazed at the quality of the books that our members produce. I admire so many of them as we really do have some remarkable talent in Perth.

In my genre, closest to my style of recent stories in John Flanagan, who wrote the Ranger’s Apprentice and Brotherband series. His historically-based, overly-brave teenagers sometimes seem a lot like my young characters

Favourite quote (doesn’t matter the source)

“If you are going through hell, then it is probably best to keep on going.”

Or maybe…  “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense.”

Both quotes are by Winston Churchill.

Favourite book/story you have read as an adult

Dissolution by CJ Sansom. It is a historical novel (of course) about a lawyer called Mathew Sheldrake in the times of King Henry VIII when he set up the Church of England and destroyed the monasteries and abbeys across England. Samson captures the life and times of pots medieval Britain so well that you feel positively grimy after reading his work. He has since written a series about Sheldrake, all equally as good and just as grubby.

Favourite book when you were a kid Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, although Enid Blyton and Biggles were favourites when I was younger. 

What famous author do you wish would be your mentor? John Steinbeck, who wrote The Grapes of Wrath. He was the first writer to keep me awake all night reading. He wrote with such compassion for his characters who were based on real people suffering in the Great Depression, as well as perfectly capturing a sense of place of an American landscape destroyed by drought, greed and economics.  His writing is so flawless and seemingly effortless that you do not even notice the writing style as he has so successfully carried you away with the fates of his characters.  

What are you working on now? I am researching for a book called In Search of Constable Jack Kelly, Brother of the Outlaw Ned Kelly. Ned’s youngest brother, Jack, was a world-famous circus star performing stockwhip tricks and stunt riding for Wirth’s Circus in the early years of the 20th century. For a few years, he was, almost unbelievably, even a member of the Police Force in WA where he worked taming wild horses. After that, he left for the USA where he joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and then went onto a glittering career in England and then South America.

horse near trees

Do you enjoy school visits? I do about 120 school visits a year and usually enjoy them very much, especially with kids in upper primary classes. They typically are so enthusiastic and not yet self-conscious like their older school mates, and so pepper me with questions. My book, Jack’s Island, about my father’s experiences as a kid during WWII is studied in depth by many schools and, for some reason, the kids want every episode in it to be true. It mostly is true though sometimes exaggerated, and  I find it fascinating seeing what sections appeal or capture the imaginations of the readers. School visits are also essential for trying out chapters on the potential audiences to see their reactions.  Frequently, some instant editing takes place as I read aloud, and pages are mentally slashed and burnt.

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me- I have really enjoyed talking with you and I am sure you have gained new readers eager to share in an adventure or two.

 

Here is a list of all Norman’s published books and awards

.NJ Publications and Awards. February 2020

Buy Books https://normanjorgensen.com.au/shop/

Email njbooks@bigfoot.com.au

Website http://normanjorgensen.com.au

Facebook http://facebook.com/norman.jorgensen

Instagram http://instagram.com/normanjorgensen

Twitter http://twitter.com,/normanjorgensen

Phone +61 408 932 196

 

 

 

Chatting with Authors: Meet Juanita Kees.

Hi Juanita,

Thanks for joining us and as you are such a prolific author, we have lots to talk about. For those who don’t know, Juanita writes across several genres: rural romance /rural suspense/ small town USA NASCAR /paranormal (Greek gods.) She is also a contributor to the popular Bindarra Creek series as well as Country Shadows, Country Whispers and Country Suspense (3-in-1 paperbacks from Harlequin Mira with various other authors).

Headshot
Juanita busy signing a book for a reader

 

Can you tell us how many books are in each series?

In the first Bindarra Creek series published in 2015 and 2016, A Bindarra Creek Romance, there are thirteen wonderful stories that introduce readers to the town and the characters. Nine of the authors then produced a short and sweet anthology. These stories are now slowly being released as separate titles. In this latest series, A Town Reborn, readers can return to the lovely town of Bindarra Creek for their best reading adventure yet with the return of some of the lovely, colourful characters of the original series. And, of course, meet some new ones too. My book, Promise Me Forever is the eighth (and last) book in this latest series.

Here is a list of series I have written:

  • Wongan Creek: Whispers at Wongan Creek, Secrets at Wongan Creek and Shadows over Wongan Creek
  • Under the Law: Under Shadow of Doubt, Under the Hood, Under Cover of Dark
  • Bindarra Creek: Home to Bindarra Creek, Promise Me Forever
  • The Calhouns of Montana: Montana Baby (previously published as Overdrive), Montana Daughter (previously Fast Lane) and Montana Son (release date 2 June 2020)
  • The Gods of Oakleigh: Finding Paradise
  • FindingParadise_Credit J Kees

 

My goodness, you have been busy I hadn’t realized that you were so prolific.

Let’s start with some ‘getting to know you’ questions

Are you a lark (a morning person) or an owl (late night)? That depends entirely on the muse and what mood she’s in 😊.

What is your best time to write? When I’m alone, the house is quiet and there is nothing to distract me.

What do you like to do when you are not writing? Anything except housework! I’m a keen car enthusiast, terrible gardener, average wine drinker, unenthusiastic exerciser who loves reading, writing and music.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A lawyer so I could put all the bad guys in jail.Under the Law Series_Credit Nas Dean

What was your dream job when you were younger? I once had a job offer to assist in running a holiday resort by the sea. I thought that would be the ideal job.

What will you do for Valentine’s Day? Is Valentine’s something to like to celebrate? This Valentine’s Day I’ll be celebrating the release of Promise Me Forever. Jack and Meg are my favourite characters so far.HomeToBC_Credit J Kees

QUESTIONS ABOUT WRITING

Have you always wanted to be a writer? Even as a little girl, I loved writing, reading and telling stories.

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out? Learn absolutely everything you can about your craft and keep learning. A good writer never stops learning.

What comes first, the plot or characters? The characters. I’m a total pantser. 

Explanation from Sonia – the term ‘pantser’ means someone who does not plot their stories as in ‘flying by the seat of your pants’.

This is in contrast to the other writers who often have an outline and plot everything meticulously

How do you develop your plot and characters? I give my characters free reign to tell the story chapter by chapter and then I edit it.

How do you come up with the titles to your books? I’ll give it a random working title and then as the story develops, I’ll brainstorm a title to suit.

What is the most difficult part about writing for you? Editing the story. By the time I’ve been through it two or three times, I’m convinced its rubbish, lol.

How do you do research for your books? I read a lot, travel, Google, stalk a few people (kidding!) and ask for help from willing professionals.

On a typical day, how much time do you spend writing? As much time as I can juggling a hectic day job, family and real-life commitments.

Calhouns of Montana_Credit Nas Dean

 

Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you? Yes! I love to hear from readers. You can email me via my website contact form https://juanitakees.com/meet-and-greet/ On the same page, you will find links to all the places I am on social media. I’d love to see you in my book club at https://www.facebook.com/groups/607880523038543/ .

How many unfinished manuscripts do you have? Way too many! I have many new ideas floating around in my head at any given time, so I’ll write the first chapter or two, then let it rest a while. In comparison to many authors out there, I am a slow writer. I only manage to write two books a year because I like to let them breathe a little before editing them too.

   QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR BOOKS

How many books have you written? Which is your favourite? I’ve published twelve books to date but have written many more. Picking a favourite is always hard. I’d have to say Whispers at Wongan Creek, because that has been an outstanding favourite with readers.

What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book(s)? That I have a serial killer mean streak when I write suspense. Sometimes I scare myself 😊.

Do you have a favourite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special? Choosing a favourite character is like choosing a favourite child. I love Jack from Promise Me Forever but I also adore Travis from Whispers at Wongan Creek. Both men are strong characters but they have a softer, fun side too

Wongan Creek Series_Credit Nas Dean
Travis captured my heart too.

You’ve written rural suspense/romance genre and small-town USA genre. Do you have a preference? I love writing my Australian stories best. That’s where my heart is.

Do you find writing heroes or heroines easier? It depends on who is ‘talking’ to me on the day 😊.

What gives a hero personality, and do you fall a little in love with them as you write? How he reacts to the heroine defines his personality. I do fall in love with my heroes all the time. I need to love them to make them real on the page.

Where can readers find out more about you and your books? Pop onto my website at https://juanitakees.com/

Which of your books were the most enjoyable to write? The Wongan Creek series and the Bindarra Creek books.PromiseMe_Credit Patti Roberts

 

QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BOOK

Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb? Promise Me Forever is more than just a romance between Meg and Jack. It’s a story about community, loyalty, faith and trust. Between the pages, you’ll find a connection within the Bindarra Creek community borne out of the trials that have strengthened the town rather than broken it down.

Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers? Jack has another love in his life, but it’s not necessarily a flesh and blood woman.

Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? Yes! Meg’s aunty, Phyllis, is colourful character.

If so, what is the future for the characters? Will there be a sequel? Aunty Phyllis may have her own love story one day, who knows?

If your book was to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it? I’d love Chris Hemsworth to star in all movies made from my books 😊. I think for Meg, I’d cast Bella Heathcote (Jane Bennett in Pride and Prejudice)

 

Sonia adds  who wouldn’t want Chris Hemsworth ?

Thank you so much for chatting with us and good luck with the new book

 

Photo Credits – Graphics by Nas Dean, Paradox Book Covers & Formatting and J Kees.

Buy links:

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/4N9Gz9

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B0843CKWKM/

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0843CKWKM/

Blurb:

News correspondent, Jack Hughes, is sent to sleepy Bindarra Creek to escape the spotlight after a scandalous fake video goes viral. He’s in the fight of his life to save his reputation. In a town only determination has kept from dying, the last thing Jack is looking for is love.

The Bindarra Creek Museum is Meg Moonie’s life. But with her granny dead, a murder suspect on the run and the police asking questions, she struggles to keep the museum and Mary Moonie’s dream alive. Jack is a handsome distraction, but Meg has been hurt by a roving reporter before. Men who couldn’t put down roots never promised forever. If only he wasn’t so easy to fall in love with…

Bio:

Finding love and hope in small towns with dark secrets …

Juanita escapes the real world by reading and writing Australian Rural Romance novels with elements of suspense, Australian Fantasy Paranormal and Small Town USA stories. Her romance novels star spirited heroines who give the hero a run for his money before giving in. She creates emotionally engaging worlds steeped in romance, suspense, mystery and intrigue, set in dusty, rural outback Australia and on the NASCAR racetracks of America. When she’s not writing, Juanita is mother to three boys and has a passion for fast cars and country living.

Juanita loves to hear from fans and would love for you to share her writing journey:

Amazonhttp://amazon.com/author/juanitakees

BookBubhttps://www.bookbub.com/authors/juanita-kees

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6454477.Juanita_Kees

Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/kees2write/

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/juanitakeesauthor/

Books2Readhttps://books2read.com/author/juanita-kees/subscribe/1/24801/

Newsletterhttp://eepurl.com/bij79b

Book Love Book Clubhttps://www.facebook.com/groups/607880523038543/