Author Interview: Aly Locatelli

Today I’m chatting with Aly Locatelli, one of the contributing authors in the upcoming murder mystery anthology, ‘Death Among Us’.
Welcome, Aly!

Thank you, Book Squirrel! It’s so nice to be here.

What inspired you to write?

I began writing when I was 11 years old. My family and I had just moved to the UK from Italy, and my English was very poor. All I knew were the basic school-taught phrases that, unfortunately, didn’t really help in real world situations. My English teacher at the time suggested I try writing short stories in my spare time to practice the language. When I handed in my first short story and she really enjoyed it, I realised how much had enjoyed writing it. From then on, I would write short stories and beginnings of full-length novels and hand them in every week. 

Practicing English also came in the form of listening to audiobooks, reading, and watching shows with the subtitles on (a habit I still have to this day), but writing really cemented my learning.

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

I’ve written a couple of books that I’ve had a blast writing. One of them features a haunted island and a very unlucky teenager and her family; another is high fantasy with dragons, magic, political intrigue and talking sloths. I hope the world gets to read them one day.

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

Oh gosh. I am a huge fan of V. E. Schwab. I’d read her shopping list if I could get my hands on it. A Darker Shade of Magic saw me through some rough days, and is a book I turn to whenever I struggle to live in the real world. The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas is another, even though I haven’t finished it. I have a lot of thoughts on those last two books. Also Tana French and Gillian Flynn, for the murder mystery lover within.

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

*stares at teetering TBR pile*
This year has been hard for me when it comes to reading. I haven’t had the right head to sit down and actually get through all the books I’d planned on reading. However, I absolutely adored Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan and Sadie by Courtney Summers.

What are you working on writing now?

I’m working on a few projects at the moment. I’m trying out the whole “plan, don’t pants” thing and… well. We’ll see how that goes. One of a horror/mystery and the other is, of course, fantasy. 

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

Coffee. Coffee gets me through every single challenge. It’s like the writing buddy I never knew I had.

Forest, country, beach or city?

Forest! Give me silence, solitude and cooler weather any day of the week.

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

I started off wanting to be a lawyer. Then a psychologist. Then a criminologist. And then, somehow, I wanted to work in publishing if not become a published author myself. I guess I’m kind of getting there with the last one, ha!

What’s your favourite season? Why?

Winter. I grew up in the mountains bordering France and Italy, right in the peaks. We had some of the coldest winters with thick snow and blizzards. Something about winter is just endlessly romantic to me. Hot chocolate, thick blankets, fluffy socks… *sighs*

Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?

George RR Martin is top of my list. The guy managed to build an entire world, several languages and a multitude of stories that have captured the world. I’d love to be like him one day.
V. E. Schwab. She’s published quite a few novels, all whilst getting her degree. She’s also public about mental illness and her day to day life living with it and for someone who struggles with depression and anxiety myself, I feel seen by her.
Jay Kristoff. The way he writes is magical and captivating and even his darkest novels (Nevernight and Godsgrave) are humorous with some light-hearted moments. He’s another author I’d love to meet one day. 

What’s your favourite quote, ever?

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.” Delilah Bard, A Darker Shade of Magic. 

Name three people you admire, and give reasons.

My mum and dad are two of the people I admire. I know it sounds cliché, but we truly have been through some stuff in our time. Awful, depressing stuff that most people wouldn’t come out of. My mum and dad have always been my constants, people I could turn to even just for some words of comfort. My mother is so strong — mentally, physically, emotionally — and my father is tough as nails and as wise as can be. I’d be lost without them.

The other person is my boyfriend. We’ve been together almost two years but, again, we’ve been through stuff you wouldn’t think possible. He’s been my rock and his sense of humour and positive attitude has pulled me out of more than one “dark day.” I don’t know what I would do without him, and hope I never have to find out.

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

Life in general would be great if it were simply easier. Joking aside, writing is definitely one of them. If only there was a universal rulebook we could all follow when it comes to writing books, that would’ve been fantastic. Another is accepting criticism, personally. I actively seek out people to criticise my work, but then sit there for days self-hating because of said criticism. It’s helped me grow, that’s for sure, but I wish it were easier for me to brush it off and move on.

Before you go, why don’t you tell us about ‘Death Among Us’?

‘Death Among Us’ is a collection of 23 murder mystery short stories that releases on July 7th. It is a really varied and interesting multi-genre collection by some really great authors.

That sounds great! Where can we get a copy?

It’s available for preorder via Amazon, and you can find out more by watching this video.

Thanks for being here today, Aly. It’s been great to get to know you a little better.

Thank you for having me!

Author Interview: Maria Riegger

Book Squirrel chats with Maria Riegger, author of legal thrillers and the new release non-fiction book, Your Scorpio Child: A Guide for Parents.

Today I’m chatting with Maria Riegger, author of legal thrillers and the new release non-fiction book, Your Scorpio Child: A Guide for Parents.

Hi Maria, welcome!

Thank you, Book Squirrel. You’re looking handsome today.

Oh Maria, flattery will get you everywhere. Tell me, what inspired you to write?

Oh man. Where to begin? I’ve been reading and writing stories since I was around six years old. Reading and daydreaming have always been escape mechanisms for me, especially when dealing with traumatic events. My daydreaming got to the point where I had so many stories in my head that I had to get them out by writing them.
It’s also a creative outlet for me. I enjoy my day job (as a bank regulatory attorney), but it does not satisfy my need to create as much as fiction writing does. As far as inspiration, it’s all around us. You just have to live.

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

The Lines We Cross (the second book in the Jeb Shaw series) by S.A. Bailey is a well-written, page-turning thriller where the author pulls no punches. It’s reminiscent of the movie Taken and is a refreshing, realistic change from much of the fiction I have read recently.

Your book titled ‘Your Scorpio Child’ was released today. Why don’t you tell us about it?

Scorpio is the most misunderstood and enigmatic of all the signs in the zodiac. Much has been written about Scorpio men and women. However, the Scorpio child remains elusive, mostly because Scorpio children do not usually say what is on their mind. Scorpio children are dramatic, suspicious, manipulative, and can seriously try parents’ patience. They are also sensitive, intuitive, and loyal. The key to having the relationship with your Scorpio child that you want lies in knowing how to handle their innate characteristics. My hope is that other parents of Scorpio children will find the information in this book useful.

Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

That sounds fascinating! What are you working on writing now?

I am working on my next nonfiction book, Your Gemini Child: He’s Not Crazy, He’s Just Always in his Head, which is a parenting guide for parents of Gemini children. After that, I’ll be finishing my first novel in the Sabrina and Tex series, which is a Western/sci-fi series.

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

Coffee. I can’t work without it. It’s my only real vice.

Who designs your book covers?

I select the images I would like and I have a graphic designer that I use consistently (his company is pixelstudio on fiverr.com.). He is prompt and fantastic! He designed my company logo as well.

What’s your favourite kind of music?

This is tricky because I love most genres. Probably hard rock, since I grew up listening to Bon Jovi, Journey, and the likes. When I’m editing, I listen to EDM.

Forest, country, beach or city?

This is tough. I prefer to be isolated from people, and I’ll take any environment where I can do that. I love all the cultural opportunities that a city offers, but hate the crowds and noise. I’ll pick an isolated beach. Listening to the surf is relaxing and the salt water exfoliates your skin 🙂

What movie can you watch over and over again?

Lost in Translation. The idea of two random people feeling lost and finding a connection deeply resonates with me. Plus, I’ve loved Bill Murray in everything I have seen him in!

What’s your favourite season? Why?

Autumn. It’s dreary enough that people stay indoors and I can take a walk without feeling hemmed in by crowds, but it’s not cold enough that my teeth are chattering! And the autumn colors are gorgeous!

Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?

Ken Follett, because he researches before writing his novels and because he is a master at suspense and the spy thriller (Eye of the Needle is my favorite thriller of all time).

Patricia Cornwell because her first Kay Scarpetta book, Postmortem, basically gave rise to the entire true crime and forensic files industry, including books and television shows; and because of her thorough research on Jack the Ripper, which is amazing.

Anne Rice, because her Vampire Chronicles were the first books I absolutely fell in love with, because I love a good vampire story, and because Lestat is an irreverent upstart who flouts the rules and makes his own path, which I can relate to.

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

It takes an incredible amount of work to produce a high-quality book. It’s not only about the writing, but about editing, proofreading, finding quality contractors, promotion services, marketing, blogging, maintaining your author website, etc. It takes a huge amount of time and resources. Not all indie books are written or edited well (that is the unfortunate truth); however, many of them are, so please do not discount a book or an author merely because they are self-published. Many of us are indie authors because we do not want to waste our time querying multiple agents and publishing companies. We just to write.

That’s really good advice. I read a lot of excellent Indie books.
Finally, Maria, where can readers find your books?

My books are all available on Amazon and listed on Goodreads.

Thanks for being here and talking with me today.

It’s been a pleasure! Thank you!

Author Interview: Pamela Schloesser Canepa

Today I’m chatting with Pamela Schloesser Canepa, indie author of science fiction books since 2016, who is currently working on her sixth book, which is from the Detours in Time series.

Welcome, Pamela!

Thank you, Book Squirrel!

As you know, I’m a big reader and I always ask what people enjoy reading.
What’s your favourite thing that someone else has written? 

The Help, by Katherine Sprockett.  I really identified with the main character.

What are you working on writing now? 

I’m writing “Malachi,” a story based on a side character in my second book of the Detours in Time series (Undercurrents in Time).  Malachi, a young man with an interesting job, is hired by Milt, a Science professor in Undercurrents in Time to help guard his scientific secrets.  He’s so good at it, I just had to dive into his back story a little bit more.

What’s your favourite kind of music? 

I love electronic music, but with lyrics, like the music of Moby.

What’s the best vacation you’ve had? 

I went to the Bahamas on a cruise with my son who was ten.  We got along so well.  I was fresh off of a ‘soft’ breakup.  I got my hair braided on the beach, sipping a coconut pina colada while he gathered all the coconut shells he could find to make a miniature village.  I sang karaoke at night while he cheered me on.  I never stayed out late, but we had fun.  We also got a taxi van with a bunch of college guys who also loved singing.  I got a tan and sang a lot.  This was right before his tough teen years.

What’s your favourite TV show?  

Travelers, on Netflix.  I love just about everything about it, including the characters.

What movie can you watch over and over again? 

Two of them:  The Game, with Michael Douglas, and either the first or the most recent Bridget Jones movie.  It depends what mood I am in!

What’s your favourite season? Why? 

Fall, because it doesn’t make me as sick as Spring does, and there are so many cool and fun festivals or Halloween events!

And it’s so pretty… and there are nuts! And… oh, yeah. Interview. Right. Where was I? Let’s see… Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?

1.  Stephen King.  2. Margaret Atwood, and 3. Toni Morrisson.

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

I would like people to know that being an indie author is sometimes a lonely undertaking.  You want to learn a lot and end up doing so by taking webinars to save money.  I know there is an answer, which is going to more author events, but I have just gotten started with that.

Name two things in life that you wish were easier. 

I wish getting older was easier, and I wish book marketing was easier, because I think I’ll need to keep doing both.

Where can we find your books?

My books are all on Amazon and in other stores via the Books2Read website.

Where can readers follow you on social media? 

I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads, and I have a website.

That’s great! Thanks for chatting with me today, Pamela!

Thanks for having me, Book Squirrel! It’s been fun!

Author Interview: Odin Oxthorn

What inspired you to write?

It was more of a compulsion than anything. I just keep imagining these worlds and character interactions to a point where I decided that I need to organize them into prose.

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

A lot of my scenes that involve food are my absolute favorite. I am a bit of a food nerd, so I try to put readers in my place when I am describing the meals of my worlds.

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

From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty. It’s a very humanizing read about death rituals and practices around the world. It is a fantastic read to broaden your horizons and gain insight to other perspectives on mortality.

What are you working on writing now?

I am currently writing the sequel to Sleepless Flame, which has an entirely different setting and even genre.

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

My go-to is currently Mango Loco flavored Monster drink, and some form of jerky. I also enjoy the Air-Heads rainbow sour belts. Though now, I got a new favorite: pistachio oreo thins.

Who designs your book covers?

RinrinDaishi of DeviantArt and Instagram. She does amazing work!

I’ll say! That’s a great cover!

Thanks, I’ll pass that on.

Excellent, thanks!
What’s your favourite kind of music?

I listen to a lot of Industrial and Darkwave/SynthWave, but for writing a lot of ambient and Witch House can get me working.

Forest, country, beach or city?

Most likely a forest, with close proximity to a city.

What movie can you watch over and over again?

The Fifth Element. Love the worldbuilding and technology there.

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

Probably like most of my generation, a Paleontologist. I loved dinosaurs then (and still do!)

What’s your favourite season? Why?

I absolutely love Autumn. To me it seems to feel much more alive, with all the smells and sounds of rustling leaves. It just fills me with an indescribable happiness. I love the muted warm tones and the stillness.

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

If you think you are done after you write the book….nuh-uh. There is the same amount of work if not more after the final edits. Marketing and networking is a must!

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

 Being a creative person that can sustain themselves without worry. Opening potato chip packages without them exploding.

Where can we find your book?

‘Sleepless Flame’ is on Amazonand in other digital marketplaces.

And where can readers follow you on social media?

I have a website. I’m also on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube

Author Interview: Greg Alldredge

Welcome to another great author interview! Today I’m chatting with Greg Alldredge, author of science fiction, steampunk and dark fantasy books that are excellent reading.
Welcome, Greg!

Thank you, Book Squirrel. I’m very happy to be here.

What inspired you to write?

For the longest time I had stories in my head. I thought I could tell a good story, and I thought  people might like to read what I thought about things. Finally I took the time to finish the first one, and the ideas kept coming. I will keep writing as long as I keep having ideas.

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

That is like asking a parent which is their favorite child. I like the Helena Brandywine series, They keep selling at a good clip so it seems others like them too. I still have a soft spot for my first “Lights in the Night.” It is hard to market but I love the story.

I’ve read both of those and really enjoyed them.

Thank you! I hope you left a review?

I always do!
Tell us, Greg, what’s your favourite thing that someone else has written?

I have so many favorite books. Most of Alistair MacLean’s work I still enjoy.

What are you working on writing now?

So many… when an idea strikes I need to work on it for a while to get it out of my head. I am working on an Urban Fantasy set in Boston and a Middle Grade reader set in the Pacific Northwest. Both are in their infancy. I love this time of the writing process, I never know if my ideas will gel until I write the first few chapters.

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

Coffee… loads of coffee.

Who designs your book covers? They always look fantastic.

Ryn Katryn, Digital Art Group can be found on Facebook.

What’s your favourite kind of music?

Just about anything…

Forest, country, beach or city?

Depends on my mood, all the above at different times. I am currently living in a small seaside city on an island in the Northern part of Vietnam.

What’s the best vacation you’ve had?

Currently my wife and I are tying to live out of suitcases for the next two years or so. We will travel from one city to another and write about our experiences.

That sounds hard to beat! What is your pet hate?

Hypocrisy.

Oh yeah! I hate that, too. Have you ever built it into a character or used it in your writing?

Always.

What’s your favourite season? Why?

Summer, we are both tired of the cold. The next two years we are going to bounce north and south of the equator to stay in summer. If we are successful we might keep doing it as long as possible.

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

Like many things in life writing takes risk. Indies take on the vast majority of risk straight on the shoulders. It is hard to work on a project and let it loose upon the world to see if it will fly or sink like a lead balloon.

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

Selling books and finding people to read your books.

You’d be surprised how many authors mention those things.

No, I wouldn’t!

You got me. You’re right.
Tell us, Greg, where can readers find your books?

Most of my books are widely available, but most people find them on Amazon.

And where can we find you on social media?

I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Thanks for being here today, Greg. It’s been great talking with you.

Thanks for having me! It’s been fun.

Author Interview: Stephanie Barr

Book Squirrel interviews science fiction and fantasy author Stephanie Barr.

Welcome to another great Book Squirrel author interview. Today we welcome fantasy and science fiction author Stephanie Barr.

Thank you, Book Squirrel!

You’re most welcome. Tell us, Stephanie, what inspired you to write?

I love to tell stories. I love to pretend I’m in a different situation (or some variation of me) and imagine how I could overcome, beat it, react, interact with others, find my way free. I’m a natural problem-solver and I love to both create and overcome problems as I write. I love to help characters grow as they learn and interact with others. Characters are front and center in my own work, my focus, and I love to go adventuring with them and share those adventures with others. 

As for something specific that inspired me, everything kind of does. I love to play what if, and imagine what might happen if I tweaked a few features. Perhaps I was encouraged in that mindset in high school with teachers who didn’t squash that tendency to turn essays into stories, but I can’t remember when I didn’t do this.

What are you working on writing now?

I’m working on cowriting the second book in the Witches and Demons series with Mirren Hogan (called Illusion), focused on an alternate here and now and magic with demons, sort of urban fantasy. 

I’m working on finishing the third book in my Bete series (called Twice the Man) which are sort of science fantasy, science fiction elements (space ship crash landing on a new planet across the universe from their home planet) but adding shapeshifters and psychic powers. I hinted at unfriendly natives in the first two books and now they’re going to make their move, and quite effective it was, with a chemical that removes the shapeshifting and psychic powers of my heroes. Guess they’ll have to outsmart ’em. 

I’m halfway through The Library at Castle Herriot, which is another here and now but there’s a magic library with books that can take you to other worlds including the past, but don’t take them out of the hidden library or you can’t return without living out the book as intended–and you won’t know how it goes. One false step and you’re trapped forever. I’d call it fantasy. 

I’m also coordinating a charity anthology (Challenge Accepted) where all the MCs must be disabled in some way and win the day (proceeds to go to Special Olympics).  And I’m involved in at least three other anthologies at the moment as well as building two of my own based on cat stories. Cats are one of my signatures and you can find one or more in all of my books, so I thought I’d write some stories for them.

Who designs your book covers?

So far, I’ve used two artists and devised some of the covers for my mini-anthologies myself (which are not good covers but the books are free so there’s that). Loraine van Tonder is my go-to cover designer. I love her work and I’ve bought more than a dozen covers from her and will undoubtedly buy more. She’s in South Africa but she is very easy to work with and consistently gives me stunning covers that really make an impression. I stumbled across her FB site from somewhere else, found a premade perfect for Curse of the Jenri with just a little tweaking and she ended up remaking covers for my existing novels (Saving Tessa, Nine Lives, Tarot Queen) except for Beast Within which was created by Brendan Smith. She also revamped my covers for my poetry collection (Musings of a Nascent Poet) and my first anthology (Creating Dreams). Since then, she has built covers for me for Incantation (Book one of the Witches and Demons trilogy), Legacy (my second anthology), and The Taming of Dracul Morsus (as well as several covers for future books). 

Brendan Smith is another cover artist I’ve used several times. He made Beast Within‘s cover within an hour (apparently for fun) and provided a premade perfect for Ideal Insurgent. He also did a cover for my mini-anthology Easy Prey.
He is also very responsive.

Loraine van Tonder can be found on FB if you search Ryn Katryn. Brendan Smith can also be found on FB. 

What’s your favourite kind of music?

I love music I can sing along with: pop, rock, show tunes, Disney tunes. Not a big fan of country (though there are songs that are exceptions), rap or religious music. I like bouncy music as it helps to keep me awake for day job and general everything since I don’t drink coffee. And I can listen to music when I’m doing everything but actually writing. When I’m writing, I need as close to silence as I can get with two kids and ten cats. 

Forest, country, beach or city?

City. I’m not outdoorsy and, if I want something, I want to find it right then, so accessibility to everything is my goal. I don’t want to drive miles to the nearest grocery store or drive half a day to the nearest airport. I live in hurricane alley already so the beach has lost its lustre. I love to curl up in my house with a book or a movie.

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

I don’t have many pet hates when it comes to people. I have a few pet peeves on writing: clunky dialog, characters who have to break character to do something to make the plot go, thesaurus mania (using synonyms when you clearly don’t understand the nuances), and (this is my big one) book that don’t complete a story arc

But you seem to be talking about people and I do have two: rapists and bigoted folks, people so caught up on what someone is that they don’t care WHO someone is. And, yes, I’ve used them both in my writing. Rapists are never anything but antagonists. Bigotry is not uncommon in my antagonists, but sometimes they do grow out of it.

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

I wanted to be a veterinarian until I realized that animals throw up. A lot. I still have a low tolerance to regurgitation even after three children and ten cats. So, sometime around then I wanted to be a writer. But, I didn’t want to be a starving writer so I was going to get a day job (which I did) but I would never, in a million years, have predicted that my day job would be rocket scientist or that I would get a degree in engineering physics – a total fluke. So, I’m still capable of surprising even myself.

What’s your favourite season? Why?

I like the fall. I was born in the fall, is one reason, but the real reason is that I live somewhere really hot (Houston) and, though I hate the hard cold and snow and stuff, I do like the cessation of brutal heat. 

Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?

E.  A. Poe. I started out reading a lot of classics and no one wrote poetry that touched me more than Poe. I love his tricks with suspense, is amazing vocabulary, his understanding that the sound of a word can add to the tension and emotion of a poem or prose.  My early poetry, where I started when I began writing were all poems of the epic rhyme and rhythm type.

Heinlein. Not saying there aren’t some misses in the books, but, of the sheer volume of stories and novels, he’s got more greats than I could count and I’ve read most of them. He had a real turn for dialog, a great voice that made people feel real in nothing but a line or two. That’s a gift. He injects humor in most of his work without in anyway detracting from his speculative fiction, or the tension and pathos. I love that and have tried to do the same. I like his personality, often self-deprecating, when in anyone’s POV and his fondness for cats. Of course, I like his apparently effortless world-building where there are tons of details to build the world without taking any chunks of time to make them so, just weaving it into the narrative in a perfectly natural way. Plenty to learn there, too. 

Georgette Heyer. Yes, yes, why would a fantasy/SF author be inspired by a Regency romance author? Because she’s very good. Not only with very intelligent characters (and with great humor) but her character interactions are fantastic and charming. I’ve read most of her books a dozen times apiece and can read (or listen on audio) to them over and over even now and find myself cheered.  I want people to enjoy my own books in much the same way. 

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

Marketing. I’ve no hand for it at all. As a rocket scientist, I can speak with assurance, backed by data. When it comes to pushing my work (which I love) on people when I know the reactions are subjective, is much more challenging for me. I don’t like to be pushed myself. I have the gratification that many of the people I do know that have read one have been eager to read more, but we’re still talking about a very small number of people. Getting the book in the hands of someone open to fall in love with a new author is not so easy and I haven’t figured out how best to do it. 

Raising children. Not a particularly unique thought, but since I’ve done most of my child-raising as a single mother, I wish I had a better handle on it, especially with my two youngest on the spectrum. They are both, however, two of the happiest children ever so there’s that. And my eldest, while not quite as happy, is quite a accomplished and has the nature to carve her way with distinction.

Where can we find your books?

My books are most easily available on Amazon and Smashwords but you can find them on any ebook and most book retailers.
Ideal Insurgent is also available most places that sell audio books.

Where can readers follow you on social media?

I’m on Facebook and Twitter.
I also have a writing blog, or people can sign up to receive my newsletter.


Author Interview: Stefan Vucak

Book Squirrel chats with Stefan Vučak, author of science fiction and political drama novels.

Today we welcome Stefan Vučak, an Indie author from Melbourne, Australia, who has written eight Shadow Gods Saga sci-fi novels and six contemporary political drama books.

Welcome, Stefan! It’s great to have you here.

Thank you, Book Squirrel.

Why don’t you start by telling us what inspired you to write?

I always wanted to write. Well, not exactly always, but ever since I came across an illustrated book of Jules Verne’s ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’, the printed word fueled my imagination. In high school and university, I breezed through essay and writing assignments, truly puzzled why some of my classmates struggled. Books, of course, particularly science fiction, got my ideas factory churning. If others could write short stories and novels, so could I. I first turned my hand to writing short stories. I yearned for the day when people would walk past a bookstore and see my books on display. Vanity? Perhaps, but the fire burning deep within me that urged me to write, also compelled me to share the products of my imagination. Regrettably, just making my way in the world, I could not indulge my passion. I had to find a way to live and support myself. Hence my IT career, but that fire never went out, although I did allow it to die down a bit, frustrated at not being able to find a publisher. Publishing is a savage game, as I came to learn, and publishers are not keen to publish my books just because I wanted to see them in bookstores.

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

This is like asking a father who is his favourite child! I like to think that all my books have something for readers. For science fiction lovers, I have a soft spot for ‘Immortal in Shadow’, part of the Shadow Gods Saga. For those into contemporary political drama/thrillers, ‘Strike for Honor’ will get them turning pages.

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

Wow, that is a hard one, as I have gone through lots of books this year. However, the one that has caught my attention is Andy Weir’s ‘Artemis’. Yes, he is the one who wrote ‘The Martian’. I love the book and the movie. In ‘Artemis’, Jasmine Bashara is a very smart girl who cannot decide on a career, so she spends her time smuggling for her Moon base customers. She gets caught up in a very dangerous deal that would bring her a lot of money, provided she doesn’t get caught. Andy Weir tells his story with an engaging blend of interesting characters and compelling science.

What are you working on writing now?

Actually, I just finished ‘Lifeliners’. It began as an idea for a short story on a long flight from Europe to Melbourne, Australia, my home. I always have my notebook handy, never knowing when inspiration would strike. Tired of browsing through inflight entertainment, I began jotting down notes to flesh out a story about an emerging new human able to draw energy from someone by touching them. Birthrates in Western countries had been falling for a while, accompanied by growing sterility. A product of our high-pressure technological lifestyle and high density urban living, explained the pundits. Nature decided that lifeliners were the answer who would over time replace the ‘normals’. As expected, this development was not received well by the general population, and governments everywhere began to blame lifeliners for failure of bad economic policies, introducing draconian laws to curtail their rights and freedoms.

That sounds really interesting! You didn’t write the whole book on the plane, did you?

Well, I wrote the short story, posted it on my website, and I thought I was done with it. Time to finish what was then my latest book project ‘Legitimate Power’. Once I had it published, I began reviewing ideas for a new book – and kept coming back to the lifeliners story. It was one thing to write a short story, but fleshing it out into a full-length novel was not something I had in mind, wanting to write another contemporary political drama/thriller. But the bug had bitten me and lifeliners began to haunt my days. The only way I would have peace was to write the damned book.

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

When I knuckle down and put on my writing hat, I don’t pour sand into the creative machinery by indulging in wine or spirits. Once I have new material in the computer and get on with editing, I allow myself a tumbler of nice bourbon. With a particularly good section of writing behind me, I may have more than one tumbler.

Who designs your book covers?

I use Laura Shinn’s services for my ebook and print covers. She does a great job without charging too much. She is very sensitive to my needs and is prepared to make changes.

What’s your favourite kind of music?

Being a nerdy sort of person, I like classical stuff, particularly when editing and proofreading, or reviewing someone’s book. I have a fondness for Austrian and Bavarian folk music. South American folk music is enchanting and allows my mind to soar.

What’s the best vacation you’ve had?

I love to travel! It broadens my horizons and lets me see not only diverse landscapes, but allows me to observe different cultures and how people live. I would rate my trip to South America as one of my top list experiences. The trip took me from Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina, ending in Rio de Jeneiro. I experienced deserts, the Amazon jungle, Lake Titicaca, the Uyuni Salt Flats, and had a chance to stroll along the Copacabana beach.

*singing* At the Copa… Copacabana… oh. Sorry about that.

That’s okay.

I’m a highly impressionable squirrel. 

Barry Manilow, though?

Anything disco, really.
Now… where were we? Ah yes! What’s your favourite TV show?

These days, TV shows leave me unmoved. How many CSI variations are there, four? It is all about crime, reality shows, and cooking programs. Give me a break! There is too much reliance on computer special effects, which sacrifice genuine plotting and characterization. I believe that some of the TV shows from years gone by like Colombo and The West Wing will stand the test of time when others will quietly fade away.

What movie can you watch over and over again?

Ah, movies … I cannot say there is one special movie I could watch forever, as I like a number of them across many genres. If I had to pick a sci-fi movie, I would say that ‘Avatar’ has something special, and I have seen it lots of times. ‘Kelly’s Heroes’, a WWII movie, is eminently watchable, as is ‘The Enemy Below’. The black-and-white version of ‘Jane Eyre’ with Orson Wells and Joan Fontaine gets me moody and thoughtful. If any of your readers like westerns, ‘From Hell to Texas’ is memorable.

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

I have always been interested in technology, astronomy, sociology … the bookworm stuff. I loved physics, although the math part wasn’t all that enjoyable. However, chemistry was something I absorbed through my skin, and was set to make it my career. About to finish high school, computers were an expanding field, and it was something I found fascinating. When it came time to choose my university major, I went into computer science, and I never regretted my career choice, but I have not lost my interest in chemistry.

What’s your favourite season? Why?

I love the Aussie summer, but I think our autumn has some of the nicest weather. It is still warm, and the days are clear without the hot northerly winds. It is a good time of the year for long walks, games of golf … and writing. I write the year around, but autumn has something extra in the air that stimulates the creative process.

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

If there is one thing I learned over the years as a writer, if anyone is contemplating taking this on seriously, he or she should be prepared to spend many lonely hours with a pencil and paper, and sitting behind a computer screen. There will be disappointments, frustration, angst … and moments of sheer exhilaration and satisfaction when the words flow and the creative process produces something wonderful. Writing is a gift, but it can also be a curse. However, once bitten with the urge to create, there is no cure.

These days, it is easy to self-publish, and outlets like Amazon and Smashwords are replete with good books. Unfortunately, they are also full of amateurish efforts, which has contributed to a negative reputation of ebooks. Most authors dream of finding an agent and being published by a traditional publisher. I have those thoughts myself. However, traditional publishers rarely take up new writers, always keeping an eye on the bottom line. They are running a business to make money, not cater to hopeful authors. It is tough, but that is the hard reality. Another tough reality is the ongoing need to market and promote my books. As I mentioned in one of my Tweets, ‘Writing fills my soul, and marketing empties it’.

Where can we find your books?

You can visit my website or find my books on Amazon.  

Where can readers follow you on social media?

I’m on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Thanks for being here today, Stefan!

Thanks for having me!