Showing posts with label Author Spotlight. Show all posts

Today's Author Spotlight is author Tyler Bell! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: September 17th, 2021 Goodreads In the d...

Today's Author Spotlight is author Tyler Bell!
Read on for the full interview.


Publication date: September 17th, 2021


In the dusty agave fields of the Guadalajara countryside, a peasant girl cuts a deal with the insidious thing living beneath her father’s house. An industrial accident aboard a space station in humanity’s distant future forces an unappreciated laborer to survive an unpredictable alien menace. A young man recounts his last days as the caretaker of a reclusive elderly woman in her remote - and possibly haunted - mansion. Welcome to the Westside Fairytales, where nothing is as it seems and everything is connected. A universe of possibility, horror, and madness spanning humanity’s past, present, and future. If you think you’re brave enough, and clever enough, then we entreat you to discover the mysteries of The Eyes Beneath My Father’s House.




Can you start out by telling us a little about your latest work? 


"The Eyes Beneath My Father's House" is a genre-spanning collection of ten horror and dark fiction short stories ranging from the coming-of-age tale of a young peasant girl who finds a demon living below her family home in the Guadalajara countryside, to a worker trying to survive an industrial accident aboard a space station in the distant future. It's available on Amazon and a few select stores in Appalachia!

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?


From the blue collar work I've done my whole life and the people I've met in those jobs. I consider myself a sort of "working class" writer, and I want to represent folks not often seen in fiction.

When you developed the characters, did you already know who they were before you began writing or did they develop organically?


It's always a little of both, like knowing somebody's in a room but not really knowing them until you've met.

Which of your characters was your favorite to write and why?


Abella, the main character of the title story. She has an extremely intense story and things were always going to be hard on her. Seeing her develop and show off how resilient and resourceful she could be was amazing for me. The feedback from my fans on that character and that story has been amazing.

What was more important to you when you were writing: character development or plot?


Character development, for sure. If you don't care about the characters then why would you care about what they're doing?

What was one of the most surprising things you learned (about your story, about yourself, etc.) while writing?


Probably the shape and use of a tool called a "coa" that's used for harvesting agave. It's a really interesting tool (because of how spear-like it is) and it ended up becoming an important part of the story.

In your opinion what makes a good story?


Delivery of expectation. Stories usually come to people in two parts, an introduction that sets up the expectation and the payoff for that expectation. Usually people hunt for a story to feel some specific thing, and if they've felt that way by the end, had that experience, then I believe that was a good story.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?


It didn't at all, really, I'm still a coffee-addled hermit crab clacking away in my room until 4 a.m.

Do you read your book reviews? What do you consider "good" /"bad"?


I read all my reviews, it's like mainlining dopamine. Adrenaline if the review is mean, which I like as well because I'm kind of fucked up that way. I consider a review "good" if it addresses my story according to the expectations I had when writing it. I got a mean review one time that said, basically "these are clearly stories for girls," which is the finest compliment I could have been paid. That was my intention but the person didn't much like that about the stories, which ultimately made my day.

What led you to start writing?


I've always loved reading and I couldn't read when I walked to school, so I would make up stories in my head to pass the time. Eventually I started scribbling those down and here we are.

Do you have any writing superstitions?


Not really. I have a sort of ritual I always do before I start writing, which is to absolutely distract myself as much as I can from the story until I hit the "breaking point." Then I just drop everything and start typing. Usually for like four to six hours at a time.

What attracted you to the genre(s) you write in?


I write in so many genres its kind of hard to say, but I think I just like certain aesthetics of each one. Horror, specifically, mixes well with everything else (sci-fi, fantasy, western, romance) that it's like the salt I use making any dish. Mostly, I think I don't really write in a genre, but a "vibe," like the feeling of pulling a rough, warm jacket tighter over your shoulders while walking through the woods in a snowstorm. The comfort and the discomfort, perfectly juxtaposed and resonating in a perfect way.

What is one of your favorite words? OR Is there a word you find yourself using too often?


"Slipping, slipped." The concept of "slipping" is just so powerful to me. Not so much in the comical context, but in the way the sun slips beneath the horizon or you find time slipping through your hands and one day nobody recognizes the references you make. That powerful, intangible feeling is a wonderful pretense to set in any dark story.

What are you currently reading?


"The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness" by Michelle Alexander. Really good.

A lot of authors have a soundtrack while writing. Are there are songs you had on repeat?


Like, insane nightmare shit nobody should listen to. "Somewhere at the End of Time," by the Caretaker. Random crap from Modulgeek. "City Song" by Daughters usually gets me going, and I'll always listen to all of "Dummy" from Portishead when I get a chance. Special shout out to the soundtrack to Pathologic, as well.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?


"Start now you fucking idiot."

What are a couple of your favorite movies to kick back with to relax?


"Jacobs Ladder" for sure. Absolutely a "try-hard" answer, lol, but that whole film just has a vibe to it that makes me feel very relaxed.

Which animal would you say is your spirit animal and why?


Bears. Sleepy, cuddly, and little grumpy is basically how I live my life.

Would you rather live in a haunted mansion or a cottage surrounded by fairytale creatures?


Haunted mansion surrounded by fairytale creatures. I love home improvement and unicorns, what can I say?

What is something about the genre that annoys you?


Probably the lack of great criticism within the genre. There's a lot of support for traditionally published authors in the critic sphere, but honestly not a lot of honest criticism for bad work from subpar and mediocre authors. Especially those authors related to certain iconoclasts within the genre.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?


I have an EXTREME ocd when it comes to ending the final sentence of a paragraph at more than about 30 percent of the total paragraph length. This sounds insane, but basically my brain cannot accept ending a paragraph with just a single- or two-word sentence carrying into the last line. I'll rewrite entire paragraphs or work around entire concepts in order to get those goddam paragraphs squared to my liking. It's a sickness. 


Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you? What are your links?


I'm on all the relevant socials and I talk to people all the time. I love interacting, answering questions, and even dropping hints at stuff I'm working on at the time. @WSFairytales on twitter, Westside Fairytales on Insta and Facebook, and WestsideTyler on TikTok.

Do you have a favorite line that you've written? What is it and why do you like it?


Probably, "He parted his lips and sang for the tiger, hoping it could hear," from my story "Within as Without" about a former soldier hunting a group of men through an abandoned city after the end of a long war. It's the final line in the story and really sums up the feeling of the whole thing. I don't know exactly why, but I still read it and feel a little emotional. 

What advice would you like to pass on to aspiring writers that is unconventional but true?


Create your own style guide, stick to it when you can, and constantly find ways to amend it and perfect it. Don't necessarily write it all out -- I didn't -- but make sure you have a set of rules that you write by in mind at all times. Know why you're doing things, why you're making the decisions you make, and you'll find yourself happier with your end product more often than not.

Do you have a WIP? If so, can you tell us anything about it?


I literally just finished writing a 210k word monster of a story called "Sin Carriers," about a motely crew of criminals and misfits on a train headed eastbound from the West Coast in the early 1900s. On the way they have to survive encounters with monstrous creatures, horrific locales, and each other as they head deeper into a truly American nightmare. It's going to serve as the sixth season of my podcast The Westside Fairytales, and will start airing hopefully sometime this spring. It's free wherever you listen to podcasts and you can learn more at westsidefairytales.com!

Thanks so much for participating in the Author Spotlight! Anything you'd like to add?


Head over to Amazon and pick up a copy of my book, "The Eyes Beneath My Father's House" in paperback and ebook, and go to westsidefairytales.com to learn more about me and my podcast! Thanks for reading and Stay Safe Out There!



Tyler Bell is a USMC combat veteran, the host, author, and creator of the award winning Westside Fairytales podcast, and a former crime and courts journalist with bylines throughout the United States. He released his first collection of short horror and dark fiction stories "The Eyes Beneath My Father's House," in September of 2021, which LEO Weekly said "… deserves to be considered by the editors of the horror genre’s best-of annuals.” He currently lives in Louisville with his wife, Sam, their two rabbits, Marcel and Rosie, and their dog, Buck. Visit westsidefairytales.com to learn more about Tyler, the Westside Fairytales podcast, and "The Eyes Beneath My Father's House."




Today's Author Spotlight is author Daniel James! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: October 27th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  | ...

Today's Author Spotlight is author Daniel James!
Read on for the full interview.


Publication date: October 27th, 2021


Beneath the streets of Liverpool lives a hunger. One bloody and insatiable. It skulks through the many secret tunnels and passageways that run like sandstone gullets to the domain of an ancient and horrifying madness: The Shelton Family. Good, honest, Christian, and monstrous in mind and body. The hunger is theirs, and it yearns for heathen blood. It yearns for salvation. It yearns for vengeance.
The Merseyside Druids, a sect decimated by the Sheltons and their terrible creatures over centuries of warfare, have one last chance at survival: Abigail Harwood, a young woman raised in ignorance of this long-standing holy war. She is about to learn the truth of her family roots, and the power of blood. She could be the Druid’s last hope.


Read now





What's your latest release? 

Heathens. A novel about a decimated group of modern druids fighting a losing war against the mutant aristocratic Catholics dwelling under the city of Liverpool.

Can you start out by telling us a little about your latest work? 

It's about a young woman raised by foster parents, who learns to her horror, that some suspicious friends of her biological parents need to take her into hiding before some very unpleasant creatures/people discover her. From then on its all guerilla druids and bloodshed and fighting for survival.

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?

I had never written a novel set in my hometown, and felt it was something I should do for variety. Plus, it seemed to work out okay for Clive Barker and Ramsey Campbell.

When you developed the characters, did you already know who they were before you began writing or did they develop organically?

Sometimes I have characters pretty fleshed out beforehand, but just as often I have to develop them around a new story idea.

Which of your characters was your favorite to write and why?

The whole cast of Hourglass, because it's the beginning of a series, which allows me to pour so much into a growing world of supernatural arse-kicking and monsters. It's basically my passion project.

What was more important to you when you were writing: character development or plot?

Both are integral and compliment each other.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned (about your story, about yourself, etc.) while writing?

I learned how anti-social I am, ha-ha. Seriously, I learned how great it feels to purge your ideas onto the page. Like a colonic for the brain.

In your opinion what makes a good story?

Likable characters are paramount. Naturally, the story needs to be engaging, with a good pace and interesting stakes, but even with those elements, the characters have to be likable and memorable enough (villains too!) to carry the reader through.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I realised how bad my first effort was, and knew I had to practice, practice, PRACTICE.
I'd like to say I've improved some.

Do you read your book reviews? What do you consider "good" /"bad"?

Yes, I read them, only because I'm not exactly inundated with them. The first time you get a bad one sucks, but equally, when you get a good one you're floating on air. The most annoying ones are bad ones because the reader/reviewer was a dope e.g. penalising your work because they don't like that genre...? It's like, "Then why pick it up in the first place?"
 

What led you to start writing?

I had grown bored at university, and decided to put some of my ideas down on paper. Turned out I loved it, even though it was woefully amateurish. But time and experience are great teachers.

Do you have any writing superstitions?

Yes, I think that by being a stressed-out and moody ar#!hole it might somehow elevate my craft. Hope it's working!

What attracted you to the genre(s) you write in?

Robert McCammon, Dan Simmons, Clive Barker, and F. Paul Wilson. Pure imagination, with healthy doses of violence.

What is one of your favorite words? OR Is there a word you find yourself using too often?

I swear under my breath too much. So much so I annoy myself sometimes.


What are you currently reading?

Broken Souls (Eric Carter #2) by Stephen Blackmoore, Dogs of War by Adrian Tchaikovsky.


A lot of authors have a soundtrack while writing. Are there are songs you had on repeat?

Whoops, touched on this earlier. Yes, too many too count. Normally fist-pumping rock anthems or super atmospheric 80's synthwave. It's better than caffeine.


If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Do it for the love of creating characters and worlds, because its a damn hard job, particularly the promotional side!


What are a couple of your favorite movies to kick back with to relax?

Anything by James Gunn (particularly Super), or Romero's Day of the Dead.


Would you rather live in a haunted mansion or a cottage surrounded by fairytale creatures?

Are the fairytale creatures ravenous carnivores or playful and whimsical? I'll take a gamble and hope the fairytale creatures aren't fresh from a Brothers Grimm story.


What is something about the genre that annoys you?

I'd rather not say for fear of inciting a torch and pitchfork mob.


What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I like to make my action set-pieces as cinematic as possible. I also like to emphasise on the antagonists almost as much as the protagonists. I didn't realise that was even a noteworthy thing, but a few reviewers have picked up on it.


Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you? What are your links?

I'm on Twitter @DJauthor85


What advice would you like to pass on to aspiring writers that is unconventional but true?

Make some awesome playlists to help tune out and motivate you. Personally, I stick to hard 80's rock and synth wave, but you do you.


Do you have a WIP? If so, can you tell us anything about it?

Well, my next book, The Ferryman's Toll (Hourglass #2) is already finished, but I don't want to release it until I've wrung Heathens dry. So in the meantime I've been working on a horror screenplay, which makes a nice change of pace from writing novels. Some of it is based on my experience as a hospital domestic, but a bit more bizarre, Faustian, and body horror-ish.

Thanks so much for participating in the Author Spotlight! Anything you'd like to add?

Thanks for reading my waffle, Valerie. You're a legend!

Daniel James is a fantasy/thriller/horror author from Liverpool, England.

When not writing, he loves reading genre fiction and comic books, watching movies, listening to music, and playing guitar (he also used to play bass in a few local rock bands).




Today's Author Spotlight is author L.N. Mayer! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: September 30th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  | ...

Today's Author Spotlight is author L.N. Mayer!
Read on for the full interview.


Publication date: September 30th, 2021


The sequel to TELL, OR THE ADVENTURES IN THEMIDDLE.

Some want Tell dead, others want to exploit him. Most want him to go away and never return. Can Tell claim what is rightfully his in order to abolish the decree that made him an outcast in the first place? Or will his quest for power be his own undoing? This time, it will take more than just another adventure. It will take resolution, willpower, and mastering the one thing Tell has yet to conquer... his imagination.


Read now




What's your latest release? 

Yves, or the Man Who Wasn't (the sequel to Tell, or the Adventures in Themiddle)

Can you start out by telling us a little about your latest work? 


My latest work is the sequel to Tell, or the Adventures in Themiddle. It's called Yves, or the Man Who Wasn't. If I had to describe the series in five words: "Strength of will meets imagination."

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?


SPOILER ALERT :) When I was a senior in college, I scribbled the beginning of an idea about a boy trying to make sense of a nonsensical world in the margins of one of my economics textbooks. It was only a few years later as I kept chipping away at the story that I had the idea to write the arc of a would-be villain over the course of three books. The premise: What would be the trials and tribulations of a 12-year-old boy who could manifest anything he imagined, without knowing he had such a power? My drive to finish the story is because I care deeply about the underlying message: Each of us possesses the power to manifest the things we imagine.

When you developed the characters, did you already know who they were before you began writing or did they develop organically?


I developed them ahead of time through character development exercises.

Which of your characters was your favorite to write and why?


One of my favorite characters to write was a double-bodied character named Weekend & Weekday. Simply put, he's a man with two bodies. He was fun to write because his internal conflict and self-doubt manifests as a running conversation he has with himself. I also liked his character because he's someone who always wants to do the right thing despite his inner turmoil.

What was more important to you when you were writing: character development or plot?


Both!

What was one of the most surprising things you learned (about your story, about yourself, etc.) while writing?


Ooh, I like this question! The thing I've learned over the past few years is that if you have absolutely no motivation to sit down and work on your writing, there's a 99.9% chance that once you force yourself to sit down, you'll actually work on your writing.

In your opinion what makes a good story?


The unexpected ;)

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?


I started taking more care to map out my chapter plot structures. I highly recommend this method because it forces you to clear up your ideas. The exercise is simple: 1) Write down what happens in the chapter, then 2) Explain why it happens (how the chapter is contributing to the overall plot).

Do you read your book reviews? What do you consider "good" /"bad"?


Not all the time. For me, a bad review would be one that I feel misses the crux of the story. Unfortunately this is just sometimes the reality!

Do you have any writing superstitions?


I do believe that my most creative writing is late at night... I also am becoming increasingly convinced that good song-writing only happens if you sit down and write song lyrics on one take!

What attracted you to the genre(s) you write in?


I wasn't attracted to the genre so much as I wanted to write a specific story and had to pick a genre. In the case of Tell, or the Adventures in Themiddle (and the sequel), the book is classified as coming-of-age action adventure for upper middle grade and young adult.

What are you currently reading?


On the Shortness of Life by Seneca

A lot of authors have a soundtrack while writing. Are there are songs you had on repeat?


I admire those who can listen to music while writing!

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?


Seek out life experiences--those will make for some of the best stories :)

What are a couple of your favorite movies to kick back with to relax?


Because I'm currently writing for an upper middle grade audience, I'll say The Neverending Story, The Princess Bride, Muppet Christmas Carol, The Labyrinth--all of these movies had a profound impact on me when I was younger. I was completely smitten with the characters and the world-building. The last film I saw that I loved was the latest Dune film with Timothée Chalamet. The soundscape and the images were amazing!
 

Which animal would you say is your spirit animal and why?


My English cocker spaniel, Oslo

Would you rather live in a haunted mansion or a cottage surrounded by fairytale creatures?


Cottage surrounded by fairytale creatures, of course!

What is something about the genre that annoys you?


That readers are often conditioned to expect a certain type of format within the fantasy genre.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?


Again, you have such great questions! I have a silly way of rewarding myself after typing up my hand-written notes on my laptop. To feel like I've accomplished something, I stamp my notes with a date stamp that includes the French word 'SAISI' (the equivalent meaning in English would be something like "logged"). It is so silly... but so effective :)

Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you? What are your links?


Yes! Via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, you can find me at @lnmayerofficial

Do you have a favorite line that you've written? What is it and why do you like it?


"Sensitive sense how senselessness stows lessons sense can borrow." I like it for so many different reasons, primarily because logical explanations are not the answer to everything ;) It's also a reminder to loosen up a bit and to not take oneself so seriously.

What advice would you like to pass on to aspiring writers that is unconventional but true?


Don't wait for someone to label you a writer. Give yourself permission to call yourself one.

Do you have a WIP? If so, can you tell us anything about it?


Yes, it's the third and final book in the Tell Trilogy. I'll tell you that one of my favorite characters in the series makes her debut in Book 3...


L.N. Mayer is the author of the coming-of-age fantasy novel, Tell, or the Adventures in Themiddle and its sequel, Yves, or the Man Who Wasn't. When she isn’t spending her weekend mornings writing or editing, she enjoys reading and listening to The New York Times Book Review podcast.



Today's Author Spotlight is author Sara Barkat! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: December 1st, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  ...

Today's Author Spotlight is author Sara Barkat!
Read on for the full interview.


Publication date: December 1st, 2021


The Shivering Ground blends future and past, earth and otherworldliness, in a magnetic collection that shimmers with art, philosophy, dance, film, and music at its heart.

A haunting medieval song in the mouth of a guard, an 1800s greatcoat on the shoulders of a playwright experiencing a quantum love affair, alien worlds both elsewhere and in the ruined water at our feet: these stories startle us with the richness and emptiness of what we absolutely know and simultaneously cannot pin into place.

In the tender emotions, hidden ecological or relational choices, and the sheer weight of a compelling voice, readers “hear” each story, endlessly together and apart.


Read now



What's your latest release? 

'The Shivering Ground' &/or 'The Midnight Ball,' a kids' book illustrated with pen and ink. The latter is an autumn-themed fun little adventure about a girl who gets an invitation to a castle, but she has to get there before midnight—and she meets a lot of new animal friends along the way, who each join her and bring a special item to the party (one of my favorites is the wolf who brings a cupcake).

Can you start out by telling us a little about your latest work? 


It's a collection called 'The Shivering Ground & other stories,'—soft science fiction, horror, eco-fiction, with a literary twist. It's basically a mashup of everything that interests me as far as genre (except for mystery—I've never tried writing that). And I always tend to get thinking about the environment. It's this unavoidable, huge, world- and life-changing thing but it's rarely talked about from an artistic or personal viewpoint, instead being the reported as facts or politics, when I think people's true experience of how it plays out in their lives is much more visceral. That's kind of what I wanted to touch on in the book. The fear, depression, grief, hopelessness you can sometimes feel because of it—but also the reasons to keep going, the reasons why action and belief matter.

That makes it sound like a really depressing volume, which I hope it's not. I had a lot of fun writing it, coming up with a group of sf/horror concepts to play out in a kind of "magical realist" style. There's a bit of humor, too, as well as a sense of mystery and exploration. It's got stories about: a totally normal town that just happens to live outside an encroaching wasteland; two travelers thrown together by circumstances at the end of the world, telling each other stories; a cross-dimensional meeting between a painter and a playwright; and a prison guard's encounter with a winged being. Just to pick out a few...

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?


I wanted to see if I could write short stories, and I'd had a really entrancing dream about a disturbing garden, which became the seed of the idea for "The Door at the End of the Path." After that, it just followed that I'd try to turn it into a whole collection. Some of the stories—a lot of them, actually—were inspired by things I've read and watched. One's a fairytale retelling I've had in mind for years, but never quite had the framework for until I realized it could exist in the collection.

When you developed the characters, did you already know who they were before you began writing or did they develop organically?


They all developed organically. My stories tend to start with a concept, maybe the beginning of a plot, and a very sketchy outline of a character that becomes fleshed out as I write and see how they react to incidents.

Which of your characters was your favorite to write and why?


Shift, I think. Because of the concept of a kind of alien being—and the way they can offer an outside perspective on humanity. Also the fact that Shift is interested in birds. This allowed me to look up and discover a lot of intriguing things about birds.

What was more important to you when you were writing: character development or plot?


The way I see it, if you can dis-entwine those two things, you haven't written the story tightly enough. The plot should support the character development, and the characters' development should forward the plot. If it comes down to it, though, I have to say: character. That's where the real emotional weight comes from, I usually find--if you've got a great plot but don't care about what's happening to the characters, there's no reread potential; once the twists and turns have been figured out, that's it. But if you have good characters, they bring a whole number of possibilities for reinterpretation.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned (about your story, about yourself, etc.) while writing?


I didn't expect that so many of the stories would end up "existing" in a kind of shared universe. But it makes sense, since I really wanted the pieces to feel like they were supposed to appear together and be read as a whole.
 

In your opinion what makes a good story?


Compelling characters. A plot that makes sense and well-paced writing doesn't hurt, either.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?


The first book I published was 'The Yellow Wall-paper: A Graphic Novel, written by someone else; I just illustrated the classic story and turned it into a graphic novel. It made me freeze up, a lot. The very fact that there was a book out there, just one, meant that everything else I did had to reflect on that, being either better or worse than the one other thing I’d ever published. I'm really excited to finally have two more books. It takes a lot of the pressure off.

Okay—on a more practical level, I pay more attention to gutter space now in the pictures. I didn't have quite enough space on some of my pages for TYW (whoops) and so the publisher had to slightly reduce the size of the illustrations.

What led you to start writing?


I've wanted to write ever since I was a kid. One of the earliest "books" I remember making was made of construction paper, only about 4 pages long, and written and illustrated myself. It was about two frogs who were in love and then one of them died tragically. I thought it was very dramatic.

What attracted you to the genre(s) you write in?


The endless possibility of science fiction, and the hopefulness of it—as it very often projects a possible future, which goes on to assume that there is *indeed* a future, and that the right choices can be made. Here I'm talking about creations like Star Trek, though I also like creepier or less hopeful science fiction, for the way it explores the darker possibilities as a kind of warning. But it's really the hopefulness of science fiction—and just the weird vastness of it—that intrigues me most. Also, the fact that it's not pretentious. It's just there to entertain. And if it happens to create truly brilliant philosophical accounts while it's at it, so much the better!

The same with horror—it's a pulp genre. It's about the viscerality, the effect it has on the reader. It’s something that just hooks you and, hopefully, sticks with you afterward. I'm definitely not the scarier end of horror as far as my writing, but I like to have that undercurrent of unease, that "something terrible might happen at any moment" or even *be* happening. And I think it pairs well with the science fiction and eco-fiction focus, because here you're talking about extrapolating a possible future that is terrifying, in so many ways, and I think to admit that it is, is cathartic.

What is one of your favorite words? OR Is there a word you find yourself using too often?


A favorite word? Defenestrate. It means to throw something or someone out the window. I think it's funny that you need a specific word for that action.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?


Have fun, and don't worry. You will finish stories, long ones, and you'll get published, and you won't stop being interested in writing. You’ll manage to write something you're happy with, occasionally :) You'll even be able to write out some of the ideas you were trying to work on over and over again in your notebook. (Like that one fairytale retelling: you'll keep nothing but the base concept as you rewrite, but you'll manage to convey what you want, while also being surprised at what it becomes as you do so.)

What are a couple of your favorite movies to kick back with to relax?


Mulan [the Disney animated version, not the remake]; Some Like it Hot; & (I know these aren’t movies, instead TV shows, but...) Star Trek The Original Series & Batman: The Animated Series.
 

What is something about the genre that annoys you?

I don't tend to get too annoyed by genres, except for the limits of them, which is why I like to smash together a whole bunch.
 

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?


Unconventional sentence structure.
 

Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you? What are your links?

Yes, and yes. I'm on YouTube and Instagram.

Do you have a favorite line that you've written? What is it and why do you like it?


—When they sat down in the small kitchen with its checkered grey and pink formica it was as if the memory of all those family dinners came and sat beside them. [Conditions]
—*Laugh like your life depends upon it!* it said. The people in the brochure had colorful shirts on and tans. They glowed with tourist-bound enthusiasm. [The Day Before Tomorrow]
—“Perhaps, under the sorbet sky and the soft sharp pinch of new shoes we are all, really, staring into space, seeing just what condenses best into our previous understanding, bisected occasionally by something resembling the truth, and which consequently scares us so much we turn around and thenceforth avoid it.” [A Universe Akilter]

I enjoy these lines because they just *sound* interesting; the second one is funny/ironic, the first ironic in a haunting sense, and the third is not only a reference to a poem (perhaps you can guess which one?) but also makes an interesting point about the world; plus, I love the variation in words.

What advice would you like to pass on to aspiring writers that is unconventional but true?

It's not unconventional except in the sense that too many writers would like to skip this step, but... read. Read everything that interests you. Everything. Without concern for genre. Including nonfiction! It'll give you unusual and vivid ideas.

Also, don't be afraid to rework your stories a host of times. That's how you make them better. There's nothing wrong with having a whole stack of drafts or even changing your mind on where you're going when you're already halfway through.

Don't worry about finishing things. Think instead about getting [something] done. It can be working on description or scene setting. Or how to carry a plot. Or simply dialogue, or creating better pacing. Any time you try something new in your writing you've done something worthwhile.

Do you have a WIP? If so, can you tell us anything about it?


I have an eco-poem anthology coming out in April next year, collecting all sorts of wonderful poems from a wide range of writers, including many works in translation. It’s called 'Earth Song' because the placement of the poems is supposed to feel like movements of an orchestral piece, where each flows into the next instead of being placed statically. It’s meant to draw attention to the connections between the poems, and showcases moments of encounter between humanity and nature, focusing on a variety of emotions. The collection is framed through poems by Sara Teasdale and Gerard Manley Hopkins, and includes both famous and emerging poets. Pablo Neruda, Jane Hirshfield, Major Jackson, W. S. Merwin, Gerald Vizenor, Louise Erdrich, Rabindranath Tagore, and many more.



Sara Barkat is an intaglio artist and writer with an educational background in philosophy and psychology, whose work has appeared in Every Day Poems, Tweetspeak Poetry, and Poetic Earth Month—as well as in the book How to Write a Poem: Based on the Billy Collins Poem “Introduction to Poetry.” Sara has served as an editor on a number of titles including the popular The Teacher Diaries: Romeo & Juliet, and is the illustrator of The Yellow Wall-Paper Graphic Novel, an adaptation of the classic story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.




Today's Author Spotlight is author Lisa Hofman! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: April 5th, 2021 Amazon |  Goodreads A...


Today's Author Spotlight is author Lisa Hofman!

Read on for the full interview.


Publication date: April 5th, 2021

An Island in the lake. A curse. A stargazer's daughter whose time is running out.

The girl in the tower watches the stars from her window – and the black waters of the lake below.

Monsters thrive between the rocks and the fouling weeds, guarding the cursed shore. Her people seem to have forgotten her. It’s easier to forget than to fight.

Only Elnathan still knows she’s there on that island. He would fly on broken wings to the ends of the earth just to be near her, but the dark spell Abaddon cast could cost him everything, and time is against them both.

Enjoy this new magical, thrilling shapeshifter love story by Lisa Hofmann!



What's your latest release? 

Artemis' Wings - a raven shifter love story. It's one of the series of shapeshifter stories I published over the past year, and it probably has the most fairytale-y feel about it.

Can you start out by telling us a little about your latest work? 

It's a collection of short shapeshifter stories with unusual shifters. I loved writing it because they have a sprinkling of fairytale about them all, and they're set in the deep, dark forests of medieval Europe.

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?

I have always loved fairytales, and that's where a lot of the ideas for the shapeshifters we have today originated, so I decided to write a few of my own. I've published four over the past year, and I'm going to publish a collection of five in a single volume in September.

When you developed the characters, did you already know who they were before you began writing or did they develop organically?

I'm a planner through and through, so I knew my characters well. They'd been churning inside my mind for some time.

Which of your characters was your favorite to write and why?

I loved writing Willa from the dragon shifter story Amberflame, because she is so gutsy!

What was more important to you when you were writing: character development or plot?

Both, really. They had to fit together to make the pacing work. In a novella or anything shorter than a novel, both have to be well-managed.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned (about your story, about yourself, etc.) while writing?

Over the past years, I learned that I can actually be patient! With myself and with the process. And I also learned to love editing, which is kinda weird, but here we are.


In your opinion what makes a good story?

Good character development, a steady pace that doesn't kill me, and a few good twists along the way.


How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

It changed everything about my writing process up until that point because I began working with a very cool and competent non-eye-rolling editor, who taught me a lot about finding out what's important and what isn't, and how to further develop my voice and style of writing.


Do you read your book reviews? What do you consider "good" /"bad"?

I do - I don't think any of us can afford not to. I don't think in terms of good or bad reviews - I'm always hoping for the helpful ones. 

I want to know what my readers think and how to improve what I'm doing if something was genuinely off. 

I recall one reviewer telling me they didn't like the book cover, so 2 stars for that, despite the fact that they weren't into fantasy and hadn't read the free book they'd gotten from me... That's what I mean by not very helpful. 

But I also generally get a few that I can really work with, and the ones that are posted to Amazon definitely help me promote my work. 

What led you to start writing?

My love for reading and history, I think. Plus, I've been accused of having an overactive imagination.

Do you have any writing superstitions?

I have to have my cat nearby. She's probably the one who's really working all the magic.


What attracted you to the genre(s) you write in?

Everything. In Fantasy, you can be anyone or anything and go anywhere in a thousand worlds. So much to explore there! 


What is one of your favorite words? OR Is there a word you find yourself using too often?

Shenanigans. I don't think I've ever actively used it, but I just love it. It's cheeky.


What are you currently reading?

Spinning Silver by Noami Novik


A lot of authors have a soundtrack while writing. Are there are songs you had on repeat?

Not really - I need quiet to really get into the deep of things while I write. Sometimes I have music with no lyrics on while I'm still drafting, though. First drafts are always quick and non-wordy.


If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Be a bit more brave and start publishing earlier.


What are a couple of your favorite movies to kick back with to relax?

I like shark movies, which - again - is weird and so not what I write. Whenever I'm ever really stressed out, though, I don't watch a lot of TV. I try to get out and about and into the woods.


Which animal would you say is your spirit animal and why?

The blue-and-gold-glittered Middle-European Coffee Sloth


Would you rather live in a haunted mansion or a cottage surrounded by fairytale creatures?

I'll take a haunted mansion surrounded by fairytale creatures.


What is something about the genre that annoys you?

I love that women play a bigger role in Fantasy now than ever before, but think there are a lot of very similar  characters and story arcs being written, which makes some of the series that started out great quickly become a bit dull. 

I don't like formula-writing because I like the unusual twists and turns that a story can take. I wish there was more of that out there.


What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

In terms of my writing process: I tend to slash and burn my way through my finished manuscripts while revising to the point where my editor shouts stop. In terms of my style: what I hear a lot from others is that I do well with my prose. I like atmosphere, so I try to create one for the reader that's relatable - if you like my type of stories.


Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you? What are your links?

I'm mostly only on Facebook because I can't really deal with more than that between the busy day job and the writing and my family. 
I also have a website, on which you can find a newsletter sign-up. My newsletters are practically non-existent, though, because I have to admit I'm really sloppy about sending them out to people. I never remember... 

But here are the links:
https://www.facebook.com/authorlisahofmann 
https://www.facebook.com/groups/LisasBookdragons (the group is worth joining because here's where you get ARCs and other freebies, as well as some good bookish discussions)
https://www.lisahofmann.net


Do you have a favorite line that you've written? What is it and why do you like it?

I couldn't really pick one because my favorites are always the ones I'm currently working on.


What advice would you like to pass on to aspiring writers that is unconventional but true?

Do your thing and write that book you've always wanted to write - but remember that you're not writing to entertain only yourself. When you finish it, others are going to want to read it, so know who your readers are going to be, and what they would like you to present them with, or you're going to set yourself up for a heartache.


Do you have a WIP? If so, can you tell us anything about it?

I'm currently working on two novels. One is a fourth in a series, and the other is a standalone fantasy novel that is set in the 1920s.

Thanks so much for participating in the Author Spotlight! Anything you'd like to add?

Thanks for having me on your blog! 



Lisa Hofmann's debut novel, Stealing the Light, received top star ratings and reviews on the Writer's Digest and Publisher's Weekly platforms for independently published works.

Lisa is a European-based writer, born in 1975. She was educated in the nerd factories of Germany and the mystery moors of Ireland. Before she began writing medieval and shapeshifter fiction in her late thirties, she worked internationally as an interpreter, translating specialized publications on early education and literacy.

She is a genuine Dr Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde: a teacher of multilingual children by day, and producer of character-driven fantasy novels by night. Since Stealing the Light, she has published three other novels and several shorter works. She writes predominantly in English and works with a weather-proofed Pennsylvania-based American editor.

Lisa lives in Germany with her husband, three outrageous children, and a house full of exceptionally vocal pets. Whenever she finds herself teetering on the brink of boredom, she will generally resort to exploring old towns and castles, walks in the woods, and reading anything that other people throw at her.


Craig, thank you so much for taking the time to be my guest on Cats Luv Coffee! Be sure to check out Human Tenderloin when it releases on the 15th!

Today's Author Spotlight is author Craig Wallwork! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: September 15th, 2021 Amazon |  Goo...


Today's Author Spotlight is author Craig Wallwork!

Read on for the full interview.


Publication date: September 15th, 2021

A prematurely ageing girl learns to fly during the end of the world. A husband makes the ultimate sacrifice for his dying wife. Two brothers endure a rainstorm that lasts five years. A father tries to save his daughter from a sleeping epidemic. A man books into a hotel where the guests check in but never check out. A group of fine-dining cannibals worry where their next meal will come from. And a grieving mother goes in search of ghosts in a haunted house.

Human Tenderloin is a collection of horror stories with heart. Some will goose the skin. Others will leave you bloated with terror. But each one will stay with you.


What's your latest release? 

Human Tenderloin: A Collection of Horror Stories. Think stories that are very dark, but with heart. 

It'll be released September 15th on hardback, paperback and Kindle. I was fortunate enough to get author quotes from some very cool writers in the horror world too. So if you don't believe me that it's a great collection worthy of being next to your Stephen King's and Clive Barker's, listen to these wonderful people: 

“From old school in-your-face horror to quiet dread-fueled chamber pieces, Wallwork infuses a uniquely absurd, macabre sense of humor as well as a sense of the humane. Bon appetite.”—Paul Tremblay, author of Survivor Song and A Head Full of Ghosts.

“These stories don’t just leave you moving through the world differently, they leave you moving through your own head differently. And don’t look behind yourself, either. There may just be bloody footprints.”—Stephen Graham Jones, author of My Heart Is a Chainsaw.

"Craig Wallwork's Human Tenderloin will carve new paths in your heart. Straight through the meat, to dark pockets you didn't even know were there. It will change your emotional geography, and there's no changing back."—Sarah Read, Bram Stoker Award-Winning author of The Bone Weaver's Orchard.

"There is a dark immediacy to the worlds within this collection – a bony finger beckoning us into Wallwork's haunted mind. A compelling blend of bleakness, grief, horror and hope."—Laurel Hightower, author of Crossroads and Whispers in the Dark.

"These stories will slice through the skin, slip into your bloodstream, and shape your nightmares. Craig Wallwork is your curator and guide through this wonderfully macabre gallery of sharp tales. Ranging from the tragic to the mythic, to the heartbreaking and horrific, this collection is sure to leave you unsettled."—Tyler Jones, author of Criterium and Almost Ruth.

Can you start out by telling us a little about your latest work? 

I’ll be jumping back into the Tom Nolan thriller/horror series. The first book is called Bad People, which follows Detective Constable Tom Nolan as he uncovers a strange cult that has been abducting children from a small Yorkshire village in England. The second book, Labyrinth of the Dolls, continues his pursuit to track down a new serial killer involved in the cult. The one I’m writing now will be the last in the series, and a fitting end to the trilogy. It’s had comparisons to Se7en, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Silence of the Lambs, so if readers like police procedural thrillers that are dark and gory, then they’re worth checking out. I can offer an exclusive - the last book in the Tom Nolan series will be titled Kill Room. And it’s going to get bloody. Very bloody. 


Which of your characters was your favorite to write and why?

The one that sticks out the most is Daniel Crabtree from my debut novel, The Sound of Loneliness. Crabtree was the cynical, bitter, misanthropic person I push down deep inside myself so I’m able to function in society. Though the story is loosely semi-biographical, Crabtree was also a pastiche of author John Fante’s character Bandini from the novels Ask the Dust and The Road to Los Angeles - a struggling author embittered by the hand life dealt him. Taking Bandini as the blueprint, and amalgamating him with my cockeyed view of the world, I found writing that character very liberating. Crabtree was the protagonist, and the antagonist, rolled into one. He was funny and annoying, and a tonic to the stuffy middle-class characters often found in British literature. Many hated him. Some found him hilarious and endearing. But above all else, he wasn’t boring to read. That I’ve not revisited that book in over ten years is probably a good thing. I was a different writer then, trying to find my groove, and just how nostalgia has that ability to paint over the cracks of our past, I will always remember him fondly. 


In your opinion what makes a good story?

Solid writing, rich characters and a half decent plot. To be honest, I’d compromise on plot if the writing is sublime and the characters are engaging. I found that most of the books I loved as a younger man were character driven, literary novels. I fell in love with words, metaphor, and syntax. This is what I look for now. I struggle to read airport fiction - the mass market paperbacks where the writing is compromised for plot. For a long time, the thriller genre never interested me. It was only until I read books by Thomas Harris, or Laird Barron’s crime series, that I jumped into writing in that genre. Those two authors, and many others that fall outside the usual Lee Childs, Baldacci, Grisham and Pattersons of this world, taught me you can have a literary edge when writing thrillers. It also helps that I work alongside detectives for my day job, so I had a wealth of knowledge at my disposal. 


Do you read your book reviews? What do you consider "good" /"bad"?

Yes. But I only remember the bad ones. And I'll tell you now, that's the same for all writers. 


What led you to start writing?

I’m a failed film director. Writing is the nearest I can get to directing a movie without having to find funding, spend months in the cold at all hours, and go begging to a distributor. What I do is transcribe the little movies in my head to page, which is probably why I spend a long time on things like sensory perception. It’s important to me that the reader sees the world I’ve created, that they feel the emotions passing through the characters. If I could, I would recommend reading my novels in a dark room while eating a box of popcorn. 

What attracted you to the genre(s) you write in?

I grew up in the Video Nasty era of cinema, and my father was an alcoholic. Those two combined meant that my father’s friends passed various pirated copies of banned movies around in the local pubs, which inevitably ended up in our home. From an early age, I was privy to some gory scenes, albeit all were tempered by my father’s counsel that the blood was really corn syrup, and the decapitated head was from a mannequin. So you could say it exposed me to the darker side of storytelling from an early age. This could have unbalanced my mental state, but I grew to understand that horror is fun, and later, as my understanding of the genre grew, it was used to help translate bigger issues without being so direct. It’s in the realisation that the shark in Jaws is not only a Great White terrorising the small town of Amity but also a metaphor for the recession; or that The Brood was really the director’s way of coping with the horror of his divorce; or that Carpenter’s The Thing could be viewed as a story about aliens coming to earth, but it may well also be about the AIDS epidemic and the paranoia surrounding that era, that I fell in love with horror. It became the blanket we throw over the atrocities that some find hard to articulate. And because I lack a backbone when talking about personal issues, I naturally gravitated to the genre so I can hide behind the metaphor. 


A lot of authors have a soundtrack while writing. Are there are songs you had on repeat?

Ólafur Arnalds and the works  of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. 


If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

What you write is indelible, so be careful what you commit to paper. And for the love of God, take your time.

What are a couple of your favorite movies to kick back with to relax?

The Exorcist. And maybe something like Harold and Maude or Cinema Paradiso. 


Would you rather live in a haunted mansion or a cottage surrounded by fairytale creatures?

I actually live in a cottage, though I have seen no fairies in the back fields or garden, so I’m going to opt for the haunted house. That said, I’m sceptical of supernatural phenomena or anything seated outside of reality. I work in a reputed haunted building, and one of the horror stories in Human Tenderloin, my new horror collection, tells of true-life incidents and accounts from staff members who have seen ghosts or experienced paranormal activity. Listening to all those accounts should have helped convinced me ghosts exist, but it’s left me leaning more towards science and pragmatism. In that story, titled The Ballad of Windsong House, I don’t discount or bolster the existence of ghosts. I play, no pun intended, Devil’s advocate, presenting the stories as they were told me, all wrapped around a fictional narrative about a group of work colleagues staying in the haunted building. It’s not my intention to discount or convince, but if the reader goes away believing there’s life after this world, I’ll be happy. All a writer can do is provide a story, and if that story resonates, or changes a person, then there is no better reward. And that’s my hope for The Ballad of Windsong House, and all the stories in Human Tenderloin - that at least one story changes the reader, however small that may be. 


Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you? What are your links?

You can find me mostly on Instagram: @craig_wallwork. Even though I have a Twitter and Facebook account, I prefer the sanity of Instagram. I also have a website where you can subscribe to my newsletter and receive a free book, or just read my jibber jabber on the blog section. www.craigwallwork.com 


What advice would you like to pass on to aspiring writers that is unconventional but true?

You're going to get hurt. You're going to doubt everything you write. You'll resent your peers when they get published and you don't. So write like you're the only person left on the planet. Write for you, and if you do that, you'll realise you're not alone. 

Thanks so much for participating in the Author Spotlight! Anything you'd like to add?

Thank you for having me. And I don't know about you, but I could really do with a coffee. 


Craig Wallwork is the author of the novels, Bad People, and The Sound of Loneliness, as well as the short story collections, Quintessence of Dust, and Gory Hole. His stories have been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize, many of which feature in various anthologies and magazines both in the U.K. and U.S. He currently lives in England.


Craig, thank you so much for taking the time to be my guest on Cats Luv Coffee! Be sure to check out Human Tenderloin when it releases on the 15th!