Author Interview: Lisa Hofmann

Book Squirrel chats with Lisa Hofmann, author of fantasy and medieval dark fantasy books. 

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Book Squirrel chats with Lisa Hofmann, author of fantasy and medieval dark fantasy books. 

Hi Lisa, welcome! 

Hi, Book Squirrel! Thanks for having me here!

I love chatting with authors, so it’s great that you’ve joined me today. Tell me, Lisa, what inspired you to write?

I’ve always loved to write, but I never had the courage to really do more than outline my ideas and set them aside for “some other time” before I discovered that indie publishing isn’t so complicated that I couldn’t learn to do that. The concept of submitting my work to a big publishing house put me off the entire process for a long, long time, thinking that the odds were stacked so high against someone with no background in the industry, I truly believed it would be next to impossible to ever get a book out there via the usual channels. I’m a teacher by profession, and I worked at the local university for several years, translating non-fiction specialized books, and that made it seem so unlikely I’d even be any good at writing fiction, never mind fantasy fiction – until a friend began to encourage me, telling me that the little dabbles I was putting on a free reading site were really good, and worth working with.

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

I think I always like the book I’m currently writing best, but I have to say that my favorite story as such is the one I most recently published. It’s a dark fantasy novel titled Trading Darkness, which is set during the time of the witch trials near my own home town. There are historical elements in it which really took place, and the setting is real, of course, and I really lived inside the main characters’ heads for the time I was writing this. Not only is it my most recent publication, though, but also my oldest work. I began outlining this while I was still attending university as a student majoring in (local) Women’s History. I think it took me over 20 years from the first draft to actually publish it.

What’s your favourite thing that someone else has written?

I think I’d have to differentiate there in terms of genre. I like reading Horror, and I love anything by Stephen King. Blaze would be way up there on my list, next to Koonz’ Lightning. YA Fantasy: Reckless – The Golden Yarn by Cornelia Funke. Historical: John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.
What’s the best book you’ve read recently?

Legacy of Hunger by Christy Nichols, who is an indie author. I like reading books by fellow indie authors, and I remember this one because it was quite captivating.

What are you working on writing now?

The third book of my fantasy series. It’s a medieval fantasy fiction about a group of people who have magical talents, though nothing I’d define as sword-and-sorcery in the classical sense. It’s more about the conflict that arises in that particular society, and it’s very character-driven.

Do you have a favourite food or drink that helps you write?

Definitely chocolate. And cappuccino.

Who designs your book covers?

I usually have an idea, or choose the basic raw image from a stock photo site myself, and then I look for someone who I think can work it out for me. I’ve worked with different artists over the past two years.

What’s your favourite kind of music?

Rock music, but I also like classical music, and movie scores.

Forest, country, beach or city?

Always the beach. But not the Mallorca kind. I prefer the rugged west coast of Ireland.

What’s the best vacation you’ve had?

Ireland, of course. I try to go there with my family every other year. It’s the quiet, the landscape, the ocean, the people. It’s just the perfect place to wind down.

What is your pet hate? Have you ever built it into a character or used it in your writing?

Arrogance. I think you can find it in most of my villains.

What’s your favourite TV show?

I don’t really watch a lot of TV, but I do watch most episodes of Game of Thrones when they air here (that can take a while in Germany). I like the quality of that production – the actors are great, and the computer generated images are awesome.

What movie can you watch over and over again?

Hm… National Lampoons Christmas Vacation annually. But The 13th Warrior was great, and I must have seen that about five or six times now.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A teacher or a pilot. I was too short to become a pilot.

What’s your favourite season? Why?

Summer. I really, really, really hate snow.

You should try hibernation! It’s great!

That’s a very good suggestion!

Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?

Cornelia Funke for the get-up-and-go, Stephen King for the success, and any and every indie author for the guts to go and do what they do.

What’s your favourite quote, ever?

“There is magic within every beginning, and it protects us and help us to live.” – Hermann Hesse.

Name three people you admire, and give reasons.

I admire so many people for various reasons, but it’s never anyone famous. It’s people I’ve met who deal with their lives in ways that I find inspiring, so I try to adopt their way of handling things for myself.

What would you like people to know about being an Indie author?

That it’s difficult to find the time to write while you’re working in your day job and taking care of those everyday things that arise when you have a family with children – you’re always in between things, and you have to set priorities. Very few indie writers are able to make a decent living from their books, and I’d love for both readers and writers alike need to know that someone who does this is investing a lot of “stolen” time, sweat, and money in their work. Readers seem to expect to get lots of books for free or really, really cheap nowadays, due to the huge choice of books on offer on the internet, but that is ruining the market in a big way, really, and you get what you pay for – both readers and writers do.

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

Just two? *giggles* No, I love my life just as it is. I wouldn’t change a thing, except for maybe that I’d love to have more time to write without developing a bad conscience for not having done this, that, or the other properly or more patiently with or for the most important people in my life: my kids.

Where can we find your books? 

My books are all on Amazon. They’re available in English and in German.

Where can readers follow you on social media?

I have a website, and I’m also on Facebook.

 

Author Interview: Ammar Habib

Book Squirrel chats today with Ammar Habib, a bestselling and award winning author of paranormal suspense thrillers.

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Book Squirrel chats today with Ammar Habib, a bestselling and award winning author of paranormal suspense thrillers.

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Welcome, Ammar. It’s a privilege to have you here today. 

Thank you, Book Squirrel! It’s a rare thing to be interviewed by a squirrel!

What can I say? I’m a rare squirrel. 

You certainly are.

Thanks! So tell me, what inspired you to write?

The one book that inspired me to become a writer is Og Mandino’s The Choice. I read the book when I was seven-years-old and it is what put me onto the path of becoming a writer and inspired the dream to one day have millions of copies of my books sold around the world.

Outside of books, the other main thing that acting as a catalyst for my writing was my 2nd Grade Teacher at AP Beutel, Mrs. Scott. When I was in her class years ago, she gave me a homework assignment to write a one-page story. This was the first time I ever wrote anything. That experience breathed the love of writing into me and I’ve never stopped since!

I’ve also discovered that I’m not the first author in my family. My great-grandfather was a writer after his career as a police officer in India ended. My maternal grandmother was also a writer, having some of her works published in the newspaper. Although my own mother was not a writer, she has her Master’s degree in Fine Art. So I think this artistic capability probably runs in the family too.

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

I like to say that my favorite and best book is always my next project!

What are you working on writing now?

I actually have quite a few projects in different stages of development. I recently signed a contract for a children’s picture book, which will be releasing next year. I also have a police novel releasing next year as well. My agent is shopping around a Young Adult novel and is also shopping around a non-fiction project of mine. I also have a graphic novel being read by some publishers. So 2018 will be very exciting God-Willingly!

Who designs your book covers?

As of right now, most of my book covers have been created by Fiona Jayde.

What’s your favourite kind of music?

I don’t necessarily have a favorite kind of music in terms of genre. I’m more particular about lyrics and making sure that I listen to something that isn’t going to drag me down mentally. However, I definitely use music to my advantage when writing and find that listening to music that mirrors the type of scene I’m writing helps me nail down the tone of the scene!

So, you are what you listen to?

That’s one way of looking at it!

 What movie can you watch over and over again?

Hands down, it’s The Last Samurai. I love that movie from the characters to setting to plot to theme. The ending still gets me on the edge of tears, even though I’ve watched this movie many times. This film was actually the inspiration for the graphic novel script I recently wrote.

 When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Ever since I was seven, one of my dreams was to one day become a New York Times Bestselling author! I’m still excited about continuing to strive towards that dream.

What’s your favourite quote, ever?

Here’s a quote from President John Quincy Adams: “Duty is ours. Results are Gods.” I love this quote because it reminds me not to worry about the results of my action. I just need to do the best I can and keep my intentions pure, and then leave the outcomes up to a higher power.

I like that. It’s very inspirational.

I agree.

Speaking of inspiration, name three people you admire, and give reasons.

There are definitely more than three people I admire and look up to, but I’ll just keep it at three for the sake of space. The first two are a couple, my father and mother. They’re my heroes in life and gave me the foundation to pursue my dream.

The third would be my brother. He is my best friend and #1 fan and I cannot explain what his support has meant to me through every step of this journey as a writer! Without these three people in my life, I would not be the person I am today and the person I am becoming tomorrow.

They sound like great people. We should all be so lucky.

Indeed!

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

Here’s an answer that most authors can definitely relate with:

1) Getting a publishing deal
2) Raising awareness of your books.

Both are sometimes equally hard as the other and something to celebrate upon achievement. But thankfully as I continue to work in the industry, I’ve gotten more opportunities for both and am continuing to grow more proficient at my craft. All this leads towards growing closer to my dream of becoming a New York Times Bestselling author in the near future!

Where can readers buy your books?

My books are on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

And where can we follow you on social media?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ammarahsenhabib
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmmarAHabib1
Instagram: https://instagram.com/ammar.a.habib/
Blog: ammarhabibblog.wordpress.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Ammar_Habib

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/cTopbv

Thanks for being here today, Ammar. 

Thanks for having me!

 

 

 

 

 

Author Interview: Rebecca Lloyd

Book Squirrel chats with Rebecca Lloyd, author of dark fiction and magical realism.

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Book Squirrel chats with Rebecca Lloyd, author of dark fiction and magical realism.
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Welcome, Rebecca! It’s great to have you here.

Thank you, Book Squirrel!

I’m a big fan of the darker side of fiction. What is your favourite thing that you have written?

My novella Woolfy and Scrapo, available from The Fantasist Magazine, and it’s because, even though the characters are just a pair of gloves, their love for each other, as brothers, is very deep, slightly troubled, but happy. This book along with my novel Oothangbart is very different from my usual literary horror material because they celebrate innocence.

What’s your favourite thing that someone else has written?

Right at this moment it would be Lamb by Bonnie Nadzam, although I could have as easily chosen something from Walter de la Mare or Kevin Barry.

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

The best book I’ve read this year is Lamb, a book which some people were very much against. What a brave writer to have written that and so beautifully.

What would you like people to know about being an Indie writer?

Although the distribution of your books might be a whole lot less than if you were an author with one of the gigantic publishers, there can be a great deal of pleasure in writing for a quite small body of readers, and pleasure as well in having a rewarding working relationship with your publisher if it is a company that is careful and respectful of its writers. Very few writers make much money from their books anyway whoever the publisher is, and so there’s a lot to be said for being involved with decent thoughtful independent publishers and those people they employ to do the artwork and editing. A lot of people might not agree with this thought… but it could also well be a blessing not to be tangled up with literary agents, those gate-keepers of the big publishing houses.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A biologist, and then later on someone who studied parasites. First I became an ecologist and then a medical parasitologist which led me to Africa, which led me to writing.

What inspired you to write?

My very moving and humbling experiences of working as a medical parasitologist in a remote hospital in Tanzania. I wrote my first novel as a result of that work but I’m pretty sure no-one would want to publish it…. it being a very uncomfortable read, and equally sure that I wouldn’t want it published. But it was a great writing exercise.

What are you working on writing now?

I’m thinking about starting something new, having just finished a novel, but I haven’t settled on anything for certain yet. I wrote a horror story called What Comes? that was published in my collection Mercy and Other Stories with Tartarus Press, and I was thinking it could be expanded into a novella and that I should have a go at it. [I always get scared that if I stop writing for too long that I won’t be able to do it again.]

Who designs your book covers?

Usually my publishers have had their own book cover designers and although they will run the idea past me to make sure I like it, I haven’t had a lot of involvement with that side of things. But my novella Jack Werrett the Flood Man with Dunhams Manor Press included illustrations inside and a book cover by the artist Dave Felton, and he worked very closely with me always being careful that I liked what he was producing. Then the amazing and very crazy book cover by Steve Novak for my collection The View from Endless Street [WiDo Publishing], was stunning and I loved it immediately, and still do. Oh! And I nearly forgot that I did design the book cover for my novel Oothangbart with Pillar International Publishing in 2014 and I loved doing that.

Name three people you admire, and give reasons.

I admire the wonderful perfectly mad Irish writer, Kevin Barry for his magical and breath-taking ability with words and language. I admire that strange, highly intelligent man Doctor Samuel Johnson, [1709 -1776] for his wit and kindness to the people he knew and hung out with, not the least of which was the twisted weird guy Richard Savage, poet and liar. I admire President Obama for all he tried to do for the US, the way he attempted to civilise it, and for his elegance and sophistication in a very ugly job.

What is your pet hate? Have you ever built it into a character or used it in your writing?

I don’t think I’ve got a pet hate; there are a few little behaviours that I really dislike such as when cold callers phone me and call me Mrs Lloyd as if even if you weren’t married to anyone you wouldn’t mind being called Mrs anyway, but to my way of thinking that title makes me less than I am because it implies that I belong to someone, and I resent the idea of that hugely. On that same note, I did once use an entire argument that I had with a man in my short story Fetch which is in my collection Ragman and Other Family Curses published by Egaeus Press. I can tell you that it felt so very cathartic to have created something useful out of that argument. I also modelled the main character on the man himself and since I knew him well, I had his pomposity really accurately drawn in the story. [He never read it, nor ever will].

What’s the best vacation you’ve had?

I think that is yet to come, and every Christmas I go away on holiday to another country, so I’ve got plenty of chances to arrive at the best one in time. But one of the most useful was a holiday in Sicily in a little town called Cefalù which was where the terrible Aleister Crowley tried to set up a religious retreat. I was working on Seven Strange Stories, my second story collection for Tartarus Press and I was in need of one extra story to finish it. It was co-incidental that I happened to be holidaying in that town, but it occurred to me that because I had always been fascinated and horrified by Aleister Crowley, that he could be the subject for the last story. It was pretty hard to write, but very inspiring to stare down at the ruins of the ‘Abbey of Thelema’ and imagine Mr Crowley and his followers doing their thing in there. [I didn’t break into the place, not my style, and there are so many photos of it online that I didn’t feel the need to… besides I didn’t want to give myself the creeps!]

That’s fascinating and spooky at the same time!

I know!

Where can readers buy your books?

My books are all available on Amazon.

That’s great! Everyone knows how to find the ‘Zon.  Thanks for being here today, Rebecca!

Thank you, Book Squirrel. It’s been fun!

Author Interview: Dylan Madeley

Book Squirrel chats today with Dylan Madeley, author of the epic fantasy series, The Gift-Knight Trilogy.

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Book Squirrel chats today with Dylan Madeley, author of the epic fantasy series, The Gift-Knight Trilogy.

Hi Dylan!

Hi Book Squirrel!

Let’s get straight into it, eh? What inspired you to write?

My dad was always reading and writing and then talking about how he was going to write, himself; children’s books or whatnot. I was really young at the time and caught the bug. Now I find I have two books on the market and I am waiting for his first, but life is funny that way.

What are you working on writing now?

The third book in the Gift-Knight Trilogy, to neatly close that off: The Masked Queen’s Lament. The first draft was written in 2011 under a different working title, and finally (finally!) I am prepared to look at it, make an outline of what’s actually in the book, make a counter-outline of what I want it to look like, and rewrite the whole thing using the first draft as source material.

Do you have a favourite food or drink that helps you write?

I am very partial to freshly home-roasted coffee, yerba mate, irn bru, or herbal tea during the writing process. Food is more like drifting between sweet and savoury snacks, though like many of my Toronto NaNoWriMo brethren, I am partial to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

*sigh* I love Canada… and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups… oh, *cough* right! Yes! Where were we? 
Who designs your book covers?

For this first trilogy, all cover art is by Rona Dijkhuis and designed in a collaborative process. She did also assist with back cover layout/art once I moved to CreateSpace for print on demand paperbacks.

What’s your favourite kind of music?

I have a good chunk of the Dead Can Dance studio album catalogue sitting in iTunes, but to freshen things up, I will go for just any music that seems to scratch an itch at the time. I like the couple of albums LEGEND (Icelandic dark electronic band) has put out. I can flip fully over to movie soundtracks and harsher industrial music, or straight up pop, but whatever it is has to feel right at the time.

What’s the best vacation you had?

Ethiopia. By far. Also the last. Full range of emotions experienced. I have four separate photo albums of what I saw/experienced there in my Flickr, under the user name “Dylerpillar”.

That sounds amazing. I’ll be sure to check those out!

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

What jumps to mind is “astronaut”. I probably wanted to be whatever had looked coolest most recently to me, but that’s an early one that seems to be more important than the others for some reason. I was also a complete failure at math once you get to Relations and Irrational/Real numbers and whatever we were struggling at by grade 10 or 11. And no better at Computer Science for that matter. Fortunately, one of those things was “writer” too, and somewhat more within reach of the skill sets I have developed.

What’s your favourite season? Why?

I am one of the autumn people, the ones you may have been warned about. It doesn’t have the oppressive heat summer can have, nor the bone-chill of winter, nor the heaps of allergens that tend to get me in spring (though spring would be in a close second for its balanced temperatures and precipitation).
What would you like people to know about being an Indie author?

Your greatest asset is you, being present with your audience in person. This asset has more value than all the high priced marketing things you can sign up for put together. Be with your audience at vendor markets where you have a stall, at autograph sessions and readings, in their libraries, at their panels, in-person. If you have the skill set to make that work, you can probably make online presence work too.

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

I: Editing, namely self-editing, editing my own work. Enough said.
II: Stress-free social interactions with strangers and most other human beings. They’re mostly good but a part of me is often on edge for reasons I could write whole essays about, but wouldn’t try to fit in this interview.
I hear you. People can be so… people-ish. And they don’t always try to understand my Squirrelness.

Right!

Where can we buy your books?

Ebook editions can currently be purchased through Amazon:

and Kobo:

https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-crown-princess-voyage

Where can readers follow you on social media?

Readers can follow @thedylanmadeley on Twitter, and like/follow my Facebook Page.

Thanks for joining me today, Dylan!

Thanks for having me, Book Squirrel!

Meet A New Author: Patrick Williams

Patrick Williams is a brand new author. His debut, Lethal As Love, released in December of 207. 

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Patrick Williams is a brand new author. His debut, Lethal As Love, released in December of 207. 

Thank you for joining me today, Patrick. 

It’s a pleasure to be here, thank you.

 

What inspired you to write?

I’ve spent the vast majority of my life as an amateur and semi-professional actor and musician with occasional forays into direction and technical theatre. While in all of those occupations one works with words and puts their own interpretation into them, they are still someone else’s words. I longed to use my own voice, to take the skills I’ve learned over a lifetime and apply them to creating something original and entirely mine. That being said, I write mostly love poetry and for that, I do best with a muse. A real-life target for the words.

What’s your favourite thing that someone else has written?

I am a huge fan of the late Sir Terry Pratchett. I’ve devoured everything I could find that he wrote and enjoyed it all. But of all his work, I appreciate the Tiffany Aching series most, and of those, my favourite is “The Wee Free Men”.

What are you working on writing now?

Having just published my very first book, I have material enough to publish another and am approaching that (but I guess that really does not answer the question). As I’ve written, most of my work has been love poetry. But world events have recently shifted my focus a bit and I appear to be developing a social consciousness voice. Some of the work that I am currently writing is about the state of the world, equal rights for all people, and justice.

Who designs your book covers? Patrick Williams Lethal As Love

I am quite fortunate to know Brent Jackson from Peacehaven, UK. Brent is a musician, a visionary poet in his own right, and an amazingly talented artist. When I announced that I was going to self-publish, Brent stepped forward and asked if he could design my covers. I immediately accepted with gratitude and joy.

That is a fabulous cover!

Thank you! I’ll let Brent know you think so.

What’s your favourite kind of music?

I have yet to find a style of music in which I cannot find examples to appreciate and enjoy. There really is no way that I could pick one genre as a favourite. I do, however, love cool jazz, punk rock, and classical music.

What’s your favourite TV show?

I haven’t watched television in around fifteen years. I find myself too easily captured by television; I’ll stare at it for hours and get nothing done. I have, of late, been watching a few television programs on the internet, however, and find that I am really enjoying Anthony Bourdain’s series “Raw Craft” and “No Reservations”. Back in my television watching days, I was an enormous fan of “Star Trek, the Next Generation”.

What movie can you watch over and over again?

Oh, this is an easy one. “The Princess Bride”.

Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?

William Shakespeare, Alan Ginsberg, and e.e.cummings. That’s quite a mixed bag, isn’t it? Shakespeare was unafraid of language, he twisted it, he invented words, and his work, all in iambic pentameter, keeps that pulse and rhythm. I strive to keep an internal meter going in my work, too. Ginsberg spoke his heart and in a new and surprising way. His work was raw yet eloquent.Of all the Beat artists, he’s my favourite. I play with word order sometimes in order to surprise the mind of the reader. And cummings? Well e. e. cummings always makes me smile.

What would you like people to know about being an Indie author?

As ‘Lethal as Love” is my first published work, I really do not have a deep fund of experience to go into this answer. I’m finding the whole process, however, to be an enormous challenge. I had no idea how much time and energy I would be spending on formatting, publishing, and promotion. Fortunately, I have experienced friends who are holding my hand through the process. So, what should people know? This is more work than work. Every independent book you see out there is not only months and years of writing, it’s also hours, weeks, and months of constant promotion and really hard work. An Indie Author really has to deeply believe in what they’ve written.

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

Finding your own voice and making money.

Thanks for joining me today, Patrick.

Thanks for having me.

Read the Book Squirrel review of Lethal as Love

Find this great book on Amazon.

Author Interview: James B Peartree

The Book Squirrel sat down recently to interview James B. Peartree, author of Pack: The Three Moons and its soon-to-arrive sequel. 

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Welcome back to the Book Squirrel’s “Nuts About Writers” series of author interviews.  

The Book Squirrel sat down recently to interview James B. Peartree, author of Pack: The Three Moons and its soon-to-arrive sequel. 

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Thanks for joining us today, James. Why don’t you start by telling us what inspired you to write?

What inspired me to write most of all, was my desire to redefine the werewolf mythos sensitively, without dragging it kicking and howling into the 21st century. Although if I’m being totally honest, I’ve loved writing from an early age and was looking for a suitable excuse to do so.

What’s your favourite book by written by someone else? 
My favorite thing that someone else has written has to be Glen Duncan’s The Last Werewolf. It’s a book you actually devour and once finished, you want to go back to the beginning and read it all over again.

What are you working on writing now?
I am currently working on the third book in the ‘Pack’ trilogy and another paranormal novel. I think it’s important to keep another project running at the same time as your primary one. It seems to work for me at least.

That sounds like it keeps you busy! What’s the best vacation you’ve had? 
The best vacation/holiday I’ve ever had was travelling to Sri Lanka with my family when I was 10. I’d never been abroad up until then and it really opened my eyes to the world beyond East London and Essex.

What movie can you watch over and over again? 
The movie I could watch over and over again would be An American Werewolf in London. I still love it to this day and strongly believe that it doesn’t need to be remade with modern CGI methods. If they could do a director’s cut of the original where they added back in some of the deleted scenes, this would be good enough for me and most other die hard AAWIL fans.

What is your pet hate? Have you ever built it into a character or used it in your writing? 
My pet hate is people who are pig-ignorant, bigoted or even worse, both. I wouldn’t say that I’ve made a conscious effort to add these traits to any of the characters in anything I’ve written. Although they are traits that are commonly found amongst evildoers I suppose.

What’s your favourite thing that you have written? 
The one thing I like the most which I have written would be a short story titled Maurice. It would fall into the ‘psychological paranormal’ subgenre if that subgenre even exists. There I go again, creating my own subgenres. It should be published at some point in the near future, probably in a charitable publication.

There’s nothing wrong with creating your own subgenres. That might be an effective way to create a niche market. 
Good point!

Thanks!  What’s the best book you’ve read this year? 
The book I’ve enjoyed reading the most this year was Lies by T M Logan. It had me gripped from the very start and I struggled to put it down; reading until the summer sunrise was repeated until I’d finished it.

What would you like people to know about being an Indie author?
What aspiring writers should know about being an indie author, is that it’s an arduous process from opening chapter to release date. After which you have to get your next book written and out there whilst promoting the first as well. In short, don’t expect to write ‘The End’ then sit back and watch the royalties roll in. This only ever happens for world best-selling authors I do believe.

Name two things in life that you wish were easier. 
The two things in the world that I wish were easier are:
 a)  Getting aid to areas of the world where it’s desperately needed.
 b)  Bringing those who persecute the weak or defenceless to justice.

I so agree! It’s hard for us little guys to know how to help make that happen, though! 
It sure is, Squirrel.

So, James, where can we find your books?
You can find my books on Amazon.

And finally, can we follow you on social media? 
Sure! I’m on Facebook.

Thanks for being here today, James! It’s been great chatting with you.
Thanks, Book Squirrel!

Author Interview: Samantha Bryant

Hello and welcome to another Author Interview by Book Squirrel. Today we’re chatting with Samantha Bryant, author of the Menopausal Superheroes series. 

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Hello and welcome to another Author Interview by Book Squirrel. Today we’re chatting with Samantha Bryant, author of the Menopausal Superheroes series. 

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Hi, Samantha. It’s lovely to have you here.

Hi, Book Squirrel. I’ve never chatted with a squirrel before, so I’m excited.

I’m a very exciting squirrel. 

I bet you are.

So tell us, what inspired you to write?

I’ve written nearly as long as I can remember. It probably started with a love of reading, but it was my first grade teacher who put me on the path to becoming an author. As a handwriting exercise, Mrs. Alsdorf had us first graders copy out classic poems in our nicest hand, illustrating them in the margins, and collecting them in a special folder made out of wallpaper scraps.

That was my first encounter with many classic poets: Robert Frost, William Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, etc. I fell in love with the sounds of the words and when I told Mrs. Alsdorf how much I enjoyed the poems, she knelt down next to my desk (not a far reach for her: she was very short) and said quietly and seriously, “You know, you could write poems of your own, if you wanted to.”

And I did. I don’t really write poetry anymore, except occasionally for myself, but I still love to read it, and I credit that early love of poetry with helping me craft beautiful prose and teaching me that I could write my own pieces.

That’s beautiful. Great teachers are so underrated!

Thanks! I agree!

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

That’s usually the thing I have just finished writing. There’s a glow over something when it’s fresh, and you can’t yet see any flaws it might have. Though it is also a lovely lovely feeling when you re-read something you wrote some time ago and think, “Hey, that’s pretty good!” I’m proud of all my work, even the work I now see flaws in. Choosing a favorite is rather like choosing a favorite child, so I refuse to choose!

all covers

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

Oh my. That’s a hard choice. According to my Goodreads list, I’ve read 44 books this year. I have a yearly goal of 52 (one per week) and I usually exceed that.

I’ve read a fair number of classics because I co-host a classics book club at my library. Of those, Moby Dick is the best one I’ve read this year. I think I’m finally old enough to truly get the book. I saw the dark humor and wit this time, and the poetry.

My neighborhood book club reads mostly literary or historical fiction. Of these, my favorite this year has been Epitaph by Mary Doria Russell, which explores Doc Holliday and the Earp boys from the inside. I’m not generally much of a western fan, but Russell won me over with her beautiful language and strong emotional connection to what these men might have felt.

I’ve made a point of reading books by people I know this year, other writers I know online or from the southern convention scene. Many of them are indie writers, which can often mean a read that steps outside the box and takes a daring or creative turn in the narrative. My two favorites (I know, I’m totally cheating on how many books I say are my favorite) are Reenu You by Michele Berger and Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley. Interestingly, both of those books have quite a lot to say about racial politics, so while a scifi story about a hair relaxer gone rogue and a murder mystery set in an alternate history South Africa may not seem to have much in common, they are exploring some of the same issues.

I do love reading more than quite possibly anything else . . .except maybe writing, so I could go on for quite a while about what I’ve loved reading.

What are you working on writing now?

I was invited to be a part of a book bundle by a writer friend. It’s a collection of young adult, post-apocalyptic, romance. I couldn’t resist that challenge: three things I’ve never written, so I’ve been working on a story, though it’s come out more dystopian than post-apocalyptic. It’s working title is Thursday’s Children, and it follows a sixteen year-old track star named Kye’luh Wade, her cousins, and some other young people she collects along the way as they run away from government persecution to save themselves and rescue their parents. I don’t know if I’ll finish it in time to be a part of the bundle, but I’m grateful to my friend for prompting me to try something new. I’m really enjoying writing it.

What is your pet hate? Have you ever built it into a character or used it in your writing?

I am especially annoyed by narcissism. It comes across in many ways: condescension, man-splaining, pontificating, failure to listen, aggressive driving, line-jumping, etc. But they all strike me as part of the same basic problem.

Patricia O’Neill, aka The Lizard Woman of Springfield, from my Menopausal Superhero series has proven a fun character to grind these particular axes with. She is a no-nonsense woman, with a secret soft spot for underdogs and a bit of a hero complex. Transforming into a giant bulletproof dinosaur did not soften her caustic demeanor. Of course, like many of us, the behaviors that annoy her in others are also found within her, so Patricia is continually coming face to face with the problems her own narcissism causes even while she takes down the bad guys, either with her claws or her wit.

What movie can you watch over and over again?

I have a few perennial favorites. I watch The Quiet Man once a year and am suckered by the chemistry between John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara every time. I love the entire story line of the man wounded by tragedy returning home to make a fresh start and in the process making his peace with his past.

What’s your favourite season? Why?

I’m a fan of fall. Since I’m a schoolteacher, fall is a time of new beginnings and fresh starts for me in at least that aspect of my life. It’s also when the weather cools down enough for me to wear my cozy sweatjacket, but hasn’t yet become so cold that I have to zip it up or find a coat. I’m a tree-person, in that I feel most at peace among trees, and fall is definitely a showcase season for trees, with all their colorful finery on show. Then there’s all the fall pleasures, like hot cocoa, pumpkin flavored everything at the bakery, Halloween, hay-rides and corn mazes, and jumping into piles of raked leaves. Fall is definitely the best. I missed it horribly when I lived in Alaska where the seasons were pretty much “green”, “white”, and “brown.”

Are there many nuts in Alaska? 

You’d be surprised!

Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?

Emily Dickinson speaks my soul more often than anyone else I’ve ever read. I’ve been reading her all my life and even though there’s a finite amount to read, I still find something new in her words every time.

Neil Gaiman combines darkness and whimsy to write seemingly dark stories with a hopeful core. He also loves fairy tales, ghosts, and magic as much as I do.

Stan Lee created so many of my favorite heroes. He could also balance preachy-ness with exploration of moral issues and placed his characters in difficult situations to let them shine. He shared my soft spot for the underdog, too.

Name three people you admire, and give reasons.

As a child, I had a mild obsession with Helen Keller. I researched her life for a speech contest, and read everything our library had about her. Her story is a fantastic inspiration, a reminder that every person has value and needs only the right opportunity to learn to shine so the rest of us can see it. As a teacher, I see how easily her life might have come out differently if not for the support and love she received and I try to offer that love and support to those around me. Her writings are deep and thoughtful and full of kindness and generosity of spirit. The world is lucky to have them.

Josephine Baker according to Wikipedia was “an entertainer, activist, and French Resistance agent.” Shouldn’t we all live to have a biography like that? She was important on so many fronts, fighting for freedom and equality both as a performer and as a human being. She used her art to make a difference and took risks throughout her varied career. She’s a reminder that “safe” isn’t always best.

My great-grandmother Lena Wilhelmina Wurth Taylor. Grandma Lena had it rough in a lot of ways. She was a child of recent German immigrants in rural Kentucky during a time when that could get a person beaten, imprisoned, or killed. She lived nearly all her life just on the respectable side of poverty and pulled herself and her family along through sheer iron will and indefatigable hard work. She married late and lost her husband early, spending more of her life widowed than she had as a bride. But she was determined to maintain her independence and did so until the last day of her life. Strong minded and stubborn, sure of herself, and fierce in her loyalties, she was not an “easy” woman by any means. She could be intimidating, but she would fight tooth and nail for those she loved. I aspire to be as self-sufficient in my own way as she was.

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

Time-management. I want more out of my day than is possible to squeeze most days. I want to write all the words, enjoy all the light, appreciate all the people, enjoy all the love, and still get enough sleep, exercise, and eat delicious things. Most of the time, I feel in a constant push-pull of life’s currents trying to keep my footing on slippery stones. I’d love to feel that I *really* have my balance.

Money. I am fortunate in my life in many ways and our family does not struggle for food or pleasant shelter or even for some frivolous pleasures, but like many middle class folk, I still often feel hampered by financial considerations, unable to pursue opportunities I want or take on work I would find fulfilling because I can’t “afford” to. I would love to have more freedom of cash flow. Unfortunately, I’ve chosen two less-than-lucrative fields in teaching and writing, so I will have to find my riches emotionally rather than in my bank account.

Thanks for being here with us today, Samantha. 

You’re most welcome! It’s been fun!

Before you leave, can you tell us where we can follow you on social media? 

Sure thing!  You can find me at:

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