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Today's Author Spotlight is author Margot de Klerk! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: July 21st, 2021 Amazon |  Goodrea...


Today's Author Spotlight is author Margot de Klerk!

Read on for the full interview.



Publication date: July 21st, 2021

Nathan is a vampire hunter on the cusp of graduation. He’s been training for this his entire life: the moment he qualifies and joins the rest of his family in their noble calling.

If only it were that simple.

His grades are a mess, his social life is a disaster, and what’s worse, his best friend is a witch! Add to that, his vampire uncle is back in town and his crush might just be supernatural too, and you have one big melting pot of potential parental disapproval. Nathan doesn’t think he can take much more, and then the dark mages come to town.

As bodies begin piling up in the streets, Nathan finds himself pulled deeper into political intrigue and a deadly plot that will pit him against his own family. When the girl he likes comes under threat, Nathan races against time to solve the mystery... well aware that with every step he takes, he comes closer to his father exposing all his secrets.



What's your latest release? 

Wicked Magic, the first book in the Vampires of Oxford series, was released on 21 July 2021. Vampires of Oxford is a series of standalone novels, exploring the lives and adventures of different characters in an alternate universe where vampires and witches live amongst us. Wicked Magic is all about Nathan, a vampire hunter who finds himself siding with the vampires he’s supposed to hate.

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

My debut novel is Wicked Magic. It’s a story about a vampire hunter-in-training, Nathan, who’s about to graduate. He finds himself doubting the values he’s been raised with. It’s very much a story about that awkward time in life, where you’re struggling with more and more responsibilities, trying to figure out who you are independent of your parents, and learning to stand on your own two feet. It also has a little bit of romance and a supernatural mystery.

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?

This world has existed in my head for a long time, at least since 2013. I went to university in Oxford, and it’s a place which has always been very inspirational for me. I’ve also always loved vampire stories, and I knew my first novel would be a vampire novel.

Truth be told, I was actually working on a different novel in this series, and Nathan was a side character. One day, whilst I was working, I thought, “Hey, Nathan would be a really interesting character to explore some more.” The opening line popped into my head, and I started writing. One sleepless night later, I had fifteen thousand words written. I guess Nathan wanted his story to be told that badly.

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

I start from a static point, knowing exactly how the character is at the beginning of the story. But I don’t plot out the character development. That grows organically. I like it the most when characters surprise me.

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

I enjoy writing every character, but I think I love side characters the most. It’s so fun to think about who they really are, and then to filter that through the main character’s perspective. I especially love morally grey characters. They’re not the bad guys, but they’re going to do bad things. Through the main character’s perspective, I can make the reader think a certain thing about them. In Wicked Magic, I loved Adrian and Jeremiah the most. In my next novel, there’s one character… I can’t wait to see what people think of him.

Truth be told, though, I eventually fall in love with all my characters. If I don’t love them, it’s a sure sign that I need to cut them.

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

A bit of both, I’d say. My novels are very character-driven. I like exploring who a person is and figuring out what they would or wouldn’t do. I’ll start with an overarching plot idea, but how it plays out will be decided by the characters. Who are they, where are they going? For me, they’re like real people with opinions, hopes, dreams. They don’t always do what I tell them to do! But I also love dropping hints about the main plot, and trying to trick the readers. My favourite thing is to write a character you think is good/bad… but they turn out to be the opposite.

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

I’ve been misusing the word “mercurial” my entire life! Also, I’m not as good as social media as I thought I was. My dad (who’s in his sixties) had to teach me how to use Twitter and Instagram. Ouch!

In your opinion what makes a good story?

It’s easy to say this is about world-building and characters, but for me it boils down to slightly more subtle things. The first is emotion. Do I, as the reader, feel the same things the character is feeling? I love a book that makes me excited when the characters are under stress, sad when they’re sad, etc. Writing style: I don’t like overly descriptive writing. A book that tells me how to feel is a no-no. I also don’t care where the doors and windows are. Dialogue: good dialogue will hook me in seconds. I’ll ignore a lot of flaws if the dialogue is great. Superb plot. I was reading a book recently, and I was literally a chapter away from DNFing it, and then the author killed off the love interest! Needless to say, I finished the book the same day. A story should be well thought out. I hate plot holes, and I really like to understand how the magic works from the start. I’ve read a few books that are about a character learning magic, and that’s fine, but that’s not an excuse to not explain what your magic is capable of from the start. Excellent worldbuilding: I’ll look at characters and plot first. To me the worldbuilding is the support staff. You might have great characters, but if the world has more holes in it than Swiss cheese, those characters are going to fall flat.

What can I say? I’m a fussy reader!

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

Having only just published my debut novel, I’m not quite sure I’m qualified to answer this question yet, but I’ll give it a shot!

I used to be a very unstructured writer, working in fits and bursts. Publishing has forced me to get organised. I have lists and spreadsheets, and I work on the book and marketing for a few hours every day. I’ve had to be very disciplined, or else I’d have overshot my deadline.

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

I read every review, and will continue to do so until I have too many reviews for it to be practical (and here’s to hoping that happens). I consider all feedback to be good feedback. That isn’t to say that negative feedback is fun! It hurts like an open wound. Generally, I have to take a day or two before I can consider objectively whether I want to address the negative feedback. I’m always glad when I can, because that’s when you learn, but sometimes it’s not possible/practical. Then I take it on board for the next book.

A bad review for me would be just trashing the book. I get nothing out of that, and I wonder why the reviewer bothered reading it? They didn’t get anything out of the reading, either. Those, I will ignore. Thankfully, there haven’t been any yet.

What led you to start writing?

I honestly don’t remember. Writing is just something I’ve always done, and I’ve known for years that I wanted to be an author. I remember being about eight years old. We were on the train back home from visiting my aunt, about a four-hour journey, and my brother and I wrote “mystery novels” on scrap paper with golf pencils. It was just something we always did.

Do you have any writing superstitions?

I don’t like sharing my manuscripts with anyone before I’ve finished the first draft. They’re always littered with mistakes and plot holes and random notes to myself. It also feels unlucky. I don’t know why, but I prefer for the first external feedback to be on a completed draft.

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

I like young adult as an age group because I really enjoy exploring the tensions and conflicts that arise at that age. You’re not quite an adult, but very definitely not a child anymore. It was also a time of my life when books really helped me, so I want to honour that. As for fantasy, it’s a genre I’ve always loved. I love creating new worlds, drawing on mythology, and trying to find little bits of magic in everything.

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

“Actually” and “really”. Grammarly and I had a bit of a disagreement on the necessity of those words.

What are you currently reading?

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg. No opinions yet, but I really do love the cover.

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

I usually listen to lofi music or coffeeshop jazz. It helps me concentrate. I’m one of those people who gets distracted very easily by any changes in environment.

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

Perseverance and plotting are the most important things, not inspiration. If you’ve plotted out your novel, and you can follow that plot and just push through the bad moments, inspiration will come back.

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

Definitely a cat. I love cats. I look after all the community cats in the area I live.

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

I’ll take the cottage. I love writing scary stuff, but in real life I’m a massive scaredy cat.

What is something about the genre that annoys you?

Ooh, that’s a hard one! I will read any trope/perspective/writing style so long as it’s well written. That makes me sound like a very flexible reader, and I’m actually not. I have high standards for what counts as “well-written”. So I’d say there’s no one trope that annoys me, but poor editing, poor grammar, unnatural dialogue, or an annoying MC are likely to make me DNF. I don’t like obvious plots, nor do I like plot holes or unexplained magic of deus ex machinas. Lately I’m also a bit tired of the masquerade, where a teenager discovers a new world and then turns out to have world-saving superpowers. I prefer books about ordinary people managing to save the day with the limited abilities they have.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I only drink coffee when I’m writing. The rest of the time I’ll only drink tea.

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

I’m MargotDKwrites on both Twitter and Instagram, and I love chatting to people. I will reply on both, though I prefer Instagram.

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

The people who are close to you might not care as much about your writing as you want them to, and that’s going to be really tough. For example, I sent a family member my final draft, and he replied that he “might have time to read it before it’s published”. That hurt! Remember you’re completely immersed in your work, and so you’re obviously going to be really passionate about it. They’ll probably get a little sick of you talking about it all the time. They’ll take ages to read manuscripts, or they might not want to read your book at all. That’s okay. Keep annoying them! One day, you’ll publish a book that will touch someone’s heart. That’s what it’s all about.

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

Yes! I’m working on the second book in my series. It’s about Cynthia (the love interest from book one). She’s just graduated school, and is heading to Berlin for a few weeks. I love writing about Berlin. I used to live there. It’s a brilliant city, with so much history and culture. It’s magical all on its own. I hope I can do it justice.

The summary will be up on my website soon, so people can head over there and find out a bit more about the trouble that Cynthia’s going to get herself into. Hint: a lot of trouble. Really, she’s totally unprepared.





Margot de Klerk is a British-born young adult fantasy writer in her late twenties. Born to South African parents, she has lived in six different countries and speaks several languages. She read German at the University of Oxford, and has a passion for old languages and linguistics. Her debut novel, Wicked Magic, was inspired by her time living in Oxford. When not writing, she enjoys photography, travelling, sewing, and various sports. She currently resides in Dubai.

Margot, thank you so much for taking the time to be my guest on Cats Luv Coffee!

Today's Author Spotlight is author Peter W. Blaisdell! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: November 1st, 2020 Amazon |  G...


Today's Author Spotlight is author Peter W. Blaisdell!

Read on for the full interview.




Publication date: November 1st, 2020


What's your latest release? 

My latest release is THE LORDS OF THE SUMMER SEASON. It’s a modern/urban/dark fantasy set during San Francisco’s ‘Summer of Love’ in 1967. This was a time of real-life fantasy when the creative and musical scene was exploding and everything seemed limitless. Until it wasn’t.

(Content warning: I tried to capture some of the 'edginess' of this time and place, so there is vulgarity in certain scenes and dialogue. Also, even the supernatural and animal characters aren't the usual cuddly fantasy tropes; they can be a bit unhinged at times!)

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


In THE LORDS OF THE SUMMER SEASON, the main character, Bradan, is an almost immortal magician who grew up in Camelot and grew famous during San Francisco's 'Summer of Love' in 1967. Though he’s 1500 years old, he only looks about 30 years of age and intends to enjoy this period to its fullest, fronting an acid rock band and romancing a witch who’s also nearly immortal.

However, this era had a darker side, so there are scenes where creative forces run amok. The villains represent this – I’ve included some really vile villains. Even Bradan sometimes gets carried away and unleashes powers he really can’t control.
I was after contrasts, so some of the novel is painted in shades of psychedelic pastels while other scenes are done in dark grey.

As in all of my novels, I’ve included (I hope) cool supporting characters, including the aforementioned 6th century witch, tons of ghosts (including the one haunting his motorcycle), and Bradan’s eccentric band-mates. Bradan also has a pet wolf, Tintagel. ‘Pet’ is probably the wrong word. Tintagel represents atavistic, implacable nature and has a sardonic sense of humor often directed at Bradan.

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


Great question. The main character, Bradan, was in my previous fantasies and so was the wolf, Tintagel. The magician, Merlin, also shows up briefly in a flashback to Bradan’s youth in chapter 2. So I had a pretty good idea of who they were – though Bradan’s complicated to write since he’s lived so long. The challenge with him is trying to give him the wisdom of great age, but still let him do crazy, risky stuff. 

There are also two other main characters who I’d never written about before, the witch Morgana and a college professor, Taryn. I thought I knew who they were before I began writing, but they both took on a life of their own as the story progressed. They were a study in contrasts. Taryn is idealistic, rational, and sensible while Morgana is magical, age-old, but looks young and is always up for a good time. However, part of her definition of a ‘good time’ is hunting souls. It was great fun having these two collide with Bradan and each other. 

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


I write fantasy because it’s a genre that encourages – demands – that the author use their imagination. And also because you can mix interesting themes in with the magic, spell-craft and witches. My main goal is to entertain readers, but if I can also include cool ideas and motifs, that’s where the real magic happens.

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


I use 'ironic' way too often.

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


I guess it would depend on just how sociable whatever haunts the mansion is and whether the fairytale creatures outside the cottage are friendly. This is a fun question to think about because my latest book, THE LORDS OF THE SUMMER SEASON, has both ghosts and fae folk, as well as a half-mad Welsh god. The main ghost in my story has friendly intentions towards Bradan, but she also haunts him by reminding him that he was partly responsible for her death. The fae folk are a different story. Bradan never knows where he stands with them and they can be lethal when provoked. However, he needs to become allies with them to defeat the story’s villains, so he serenades them with an impromptu set of songs in a park (hey, it’s the Summer of Love after all). 

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


I definitely like interacting with readers. I have a website (link: https://blaisdellliteraryenterprises.com/ ). The books are on Amazon (link for THE LORDS OF THE SUMMER SEASON: https://amzn.to/3zqKJNE )

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

“Radiance touches her face while she translates the Greek into Arabic, the most elegant of scripts. The kneeling woman’s features are partly in shadow, partly illuminated thanks to the muted light from outside filtering through the scrim. It is hot, but not maddeningly so as the palace’s big blocks of stone ward off the sun and preserve just a smidgeon of the previous night’s chill to leaven today’s furnace-like temperatures.

Bradan needs Lubna’s acquiescence to study in the Caliph’s libraries. He may need her help to survive.”

The lines above are from a flash-back scene in another of my fantasies, THE LORDS OF POWDER. I like them because they try to capture a setting and a mood. They also introduce the two characters and then show that one of the characters, Bradan, is in mortal danger.




Peter Blaisdell lives in the LA area. He has a PhD in Biochemistry and has conducted postdoctoral research in molecular biology as well as publishing peer-reviewed research papers in these fields. He has also published business articles on managing research in technology companies. None of this has much to do with the literary side of his life, where he is an active reviewer of fantasy, science fiction and magical realism as well as general literature. The Lords of Powder and The Lords of Oblivion are novels in a fantasy/thriller series. Each book can be read as stand-alone novels or together as part of a series.

Part of the fun of having a 1500 year old protagonist in this series is that the author can plunder history for exiting times and places to deploy in the story. To that end, most of The Lords of Powder and The Lords of Oblivion take place in modern times, respectively, Miami circa 1978 and San Francisco today. However, some chapters were set in tenth-century Spain, eight-century Lindisfarne, and fifth-century Tintagel. Future books in the series will use other cool settings.



Peter, thank you so much for being a guest on Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews!

Today's Author Spotlight is author April A. Taylor! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: August 3rd, 2021 Amazon |  Goodre...


Today's Author Spotlight is author April A. Taylor!

Read on for the full interview.





Publication date: August 3rd, 2021


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


Evil Eye is a classic slasher with a modern twist. 


Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?


Evil Eye was inspired by three things: I Call Upon Thee by Ania Ahlborn and the movies Halloween (1978) and Crawl (2019). 

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


For the most part, I knew who the characters were and would be. There were a few surprises, though.

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



My first published novel went through so many rewrites that I almost ruined it. Now, as long as the story works, I go with it. 

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


I read professional reviews and the first 10 or so fan reviews. After that, I let it be whatever it's going to be. As far as good and bad reviews, I don't tend to look at them like that. As long as the person actually read the book, their feedback is valid, at least for them. 

What led you to start writing?


I've been writing since grade school. I don't remember there being any one thing that led me to writing. It simply felt natural, like breathing air. 

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


I've been a fan of the horror genre ever since I saw Michael Jackson's Thriller video at the age of six. I write in other genres sometimes, but I always end up putting in at least a hint of horror. 

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


My favorite word is blustery. Unfortunately, it hasn't fit into most of my books.
 

What are you currently reading?


Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth 

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


I love watching horror movies. Everything from Midsommar to Halloween (
1978) is fair game!

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


Haunted mansion! 

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



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


You don't have to write every single day to be a good author. In fact, taking time off is a critical part of the writing process. 

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


I do! Isnashi is a creature feature set in the Brazilian rainforest. 




April A. Taylor is an award-winning, multi-genre author. Her latest novel, Evil Eye: A Slasher Story, introduces readers to characters they'll love to root for, along with two they can hate. Her previous horror books include Sinkhole and The Haunting of Cabin Green. April has also written the Alexa Bentley Paranormal Mysteries Series, the thriller Corvo Hollows, and the Midnight Myths and Fairy Tales Series. She's a proud member of the Horror Writers Association. Visit her online at aprilataylor.net.  



April, thank you so much for being a guest on Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews!

Today's Author Spotlight is author Jon O'Bergh! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: June 14th, 2021 Amazon |  Goodrea...


Today's Author Spotlight is author Jon O'Bergh!

Read on for the full interview.


Publication date: June 14th, 2021


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


Weaving together supernatural legends from Ireland, Nigeria, and China, Shockadelica follows two friends who must confront their own fears while fighting an evil, existential threat. With a dash of humor and horror, the story explores prejudice, conspiracy theories, and things that aren't what they appear to be. Two horror podcasters—drag artist Kendall Akande and best friend Jenna Chen—share a passion for art, fashion, and horror. When they learn their Victorian-era apartment building might be haunted, they see an opportunity for an entertaining podcast episode. But as they investigate further with the help of their quirky neighbors, they uncover something far more sinister.
 

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?


All manner of things in the horror universe inspired the story. The title is borrowed from Prince's song "Shockadelica." Gemma Files' novel "Experimental Film" gave me the idea for the Toronto setting and inclusion of folk horror. The way Grady Hendrix opened each chapter of "We Sold Our Souls" with a media excerpt influenced my structure. Books in the Freezer gave me the concept of two horror podcasters. Rue Morgue magazine gave me the idea for a character whose arms are covered with tattoos of serial killers.
 

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


It's a combination of both, and some start out more concrete than others. Take the characters in Shockadelica, for example. I knew Rooney would be the type of person who is enmeshed in a world of lies. She adopts different personas as easily as she changes outfits and makes a living with fake testimonials. That was clearly laid out when I started, and little changed as I wrote. Jenna, on the other hand, started with less detailed traits. I just knew she would be unconventional and fearless. The details then developed organically through the process of writing out the scenes, especially her anxiety about her grandmother's dementia and her jealousy when Kendall begins hanging out more with Lilith.

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


I strongly identified with Kendall. He has a lot of empathy toward others. Even though he doesn't tolerate BS and is self-assured, he still suffers moments of self-doubt. His past hangs over him. Society's judgmental prejudices hang over him. Panic attacks and nightmares bedevil him. You think you've escaped those things, but they periodically emerge like the monster under the bed and try to drag you down. I really identify with that.

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


How can you choose? Character is what motivates a reader to be interested in a story, but plot is what gives the story meaning.

In your opinion what makes a good story?


Complex characters--because people are complex. A certain amount of ambiguity--because that corresponds to our experience of the world. That's why writers like Paul Tremblay appeal to me so much. I like to imagine what a character would do in real life, without falling back on cliches or implausible actions.

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


I do, because sometimes I learn useful things from what reviewers write, even if my story didn't strongly appeal to them. Tweeting and linking to reviews also helps promote the work. I've never come across someone who is a "bad" reviewer. Often it boils down to a matter of taste, because not everything is going to appeal to everybody. I have encountered a couple of instances where a reviewer misjudged or misrepresented something. I don't worry about that if it's one item in passing, but an entire review filled with misrepresentations would constitute a bad review.

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


I've always been interested in horror. Fear is such a primal emotion, and it can motivate you to make positive changes or to lash out at the world. I'm interested in how people process fear differently, and I infuse that into my characters. I also appreciate how horror often reflects cultural anxieties, or anxieties about death and the body.

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


Perhaps because I'm also a musician, I find music distracting while I'm trying to write. But I love to link music with my stories. Shockadelica includes a musician named the Bone Man who writes dark songs. His album of horror-themed songs is available at Spotify, iTunes, and the usual places. In between writing bouts, I would listen to these songs. The lyrics often amplify themes from the novel, in songs like "The Beast Within," "Frankenstein Monster," and "Box of Bones."

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


My husband and I like to watch things over and over, and we quote lines to each other all the time. I never tire of watching "The Muse." Albert Brooks, who also wrote and directed the movie, plays a beleaguered screenwriter who has lost his edge and engages the services of a mythic Greek muse played by Sharon Stone. The film's sense of humor is so perfect, mildly skewering Hollywood gullibility and pretensions. For something with a touch of horror, I like the filmed stage version of "Sweeney Todd." It manages to blend humor, horror, and pathos. The closing song makes the hairs stand up on my arm.

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


A black cat. I grew up with black cats. They're often misunderstood and maligned, which I can appreciate as a gay man!
 

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


A cottage surrounded by fairytale creatures. I would be too scared to live in a haunted house. It would be fun to visit, maybe spend one night, but my state of mind would be much better in a cottage. Ghosts and supernatural creatures both make an appearance in Shockadelica, and after experiencing both, I think Kendall would agree with me.

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


I'm on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jon_obergh.

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

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Jon O’Bergh is an author and musician who appreciates a good scare. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of California at Irvine. A fan of ghost stories and horror movies, O’Bergh came up with the idea for his first novel, The Shatter Point, after watching a documentary about extreme haunts. He has published five books and released over a dozen albums in a variety of styles. His supernatural short stories have appeared in anthologies and magazines. After many years living in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., he now resides with his husband in Toronto.



Jon, thank you so much for being a guest on Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews!

Today's Author Spotlight is author Payne Schanski! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: March 16th, 2021 Amazon |  Goodre...


Today's Author Spotlight is author Payne Schanski!

Read on for the full interview.


Publication date: March 16th, 2021


For fifteen-year-old JB, life couldn't get much worse.

He's been grounded for six months after making a huge mistake that's ruined his reputation, and now his life consists of going to school and coming straight home: no more basketball games or adventures with his friends. The word "fun" seems to have been erased from his life, and he's lost all hope-that is, until he hears about a legendary abandoned house in a secluded area called Five Mile Creek, buried deep within the forests of Northern Michigan. The house is known by the locals to be haunted. Curious and fearless, JB rallies an unpredictable group of misfits to make a journey to the house one cold February night-even though he knows he's on the brink of making the same life-altering mistake again. However, what the amateur ghost hunters encounter is far from anything they could have imagined, and all of them are there for reasons of their own, and with a lot at stake. For JB, solving this mystery means facing the decisions that continue to haunt his soul.

Containing echoes of classic '80s films such as Stand by Me and The Breakfast Club, The Ghost of Five Mile Creek is, at its heart, an unflinching and authentic take on growing up. While wrestling with the always brewing inner storm of adolescence, the characters-all on the edge of adulthood, with childhood's idealism slipping from their respective grasps-crave greater answers about the mysteries of life and death, and about who they are as they form their own identities and images. At the heart of this funny, insightful, and profound book are several core questions: Should we allow our pasts to haunt us? Can the harsh reality of death bring any clarity on how we wish to live our lives? And lastly, are all mistakes truly "mistakes," or do they hold something deeper than shame?...


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

'Ghost' is my first YA novel, and at its heart, I consider it just a true and authentic take on a fifteen-year-old boy trying to navigate high school--figuring out who he is and who he wants to be. JB has been punished for an entire school year for some mistakes he made over the summer, but when he hears some of his classmates talking about this legendary 'haunted' house and planning an excursion to it, he can't help himself from wanting to go.

Along the way, I wanted JB to face a bit of a reckoning with the decisions he made to put him in his current predicament. I made sure to put him in position to face people from his past one-on-one and see whether he's grown at all (along with one from his future--though he doesn't know that yet).

The odd crew is out trying to unravel the mysteries behind the abandoned house, but at a certain point in the night, their interactions with each other become more important, and the 'ghost' takes a bit of a backseat. In many ways, I consider it something of a cross between "The Breakfast Club" and "Stand By Me" for that reason.

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?

Part of it is from my own experiences growing up in Northern Michigan; another large part is from my years working with middle school and high school students in a youth enrichment program.

Observing adolescence when you're not the one going through it is endlessly interesting--for instance, the fragile social dynamics, the constant swirl of rumors and how hard it can be to sort out the truth. One thing that I think is universal at that age is making countless mistakes, but ultimately just wanting to do well, find your place, and make someone proud of you.

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

Jennie, because she starts off as such a side character, but becomes more and more influential as the night goes on. She is little bit older than the boys and in a different social orbit than them. She's able to get away with certain things too, which puts them in awe of her to an extent early on. Jennie turns out to be a far different person than the main character expects, and I think readers will enjoy building both respect and sympathy for her as the story progresses.

Do you have any writing superstitions?

Most of my best ideas come while I'm shooting hoops by myself. The quiet repetition and peace of just playing a game that I love for no reason besides enjoyment turns that act into a creative space for me. You'll even see that aspect hit the page as basketball is a happy place that the character JB adopts as well and where he feels most calm and at home.

What are you currently reading?

I'm currently rereading 'Down and Out In Paris and London' by George Orwell, whle waiting on a fresh Amazon book order to arrive. Haven't been able to start any of these yet, but here is the upcoming list:
The Great Santini, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, The Adventures of Pinocchio, Burmese Days

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

Not with this book necessarily, but definitely for the next two that I've been working on. I would go for a week or two at a time, just playing the same five or six songs while I wrote, to the point where those artists even have an influence on how the story itself develops.

Artists I had on repeat at various times: Suede, Ariana Grande, The Weeknd, J. Cole, M83, Oasis, Mariah Carey, The Stone Roses, probably others that I'm not thinking of at the moment.

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

Despite the contents of 'The Ghost of Five Mile Creek', I'd still probably go with the fairytale creatures--not the evil ones though.

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

Yes, I have an Instagram account that's still very much in its infancy. I'll post about books that I'm currently reading, things that I'm writing, share (brag about...?) little victories along the way, show things that inspire me or my work. Readers are definitely encouraged to interact with me; I'm always excited to give book recommendations to people based on their personalities and interests.

Follow me @payneschanski_writer and introduce yourself!

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

I have two more books in the JB series that are on their way. 'Ghost' has a strange position in that I wrote it first, but it's actually the middle book of a three part series. I wasn't necessarily trying to be 'experimental' or doing some sort of Star Wars style chronology... it was just the first plot that I was able to fully form so I ran with it!


Payne Schanski has worked as an educator, coach, and mentor for middle school and high school students over the past decade. Working closely with these students has meant revisiting the fears, insecurities, and mistakes that make adolescence the turbulent learning experience that it is. These observations, as well as the author’s own experiences growing up in Northern Michigan, inspired him to write The Ghost of Five Mile Creek, his debut novel. The Ghost of Five Mile Creek is the middle book of a three-part series, along with the soon-to-be released Blue Houses on the Peninsula and Redemption Summer. His other writing includes humor pieces featured at 'The Toast' and 'Slackjaw' and as a Detroit Lions blogger for 'SideLion Report'. After eight years living in Boston, Schanski recently moved back to Northern Michigan with his wife, Cathy AuGuste Schanski. He enjoys playing tennis and basketball in his free time. 


Payne, thank you so much for being a guest on Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews!

Today's Author Spotlight is author Kelsey Sather ! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: March 8th, 2021 Amazon |  Goodrea...


Today's Author Spotlight is author Kelsey Sather !

Read on for the full interview.


Publication date: March 8th, 2021

Over millennia, across the seven seterras of Aligaea, twelve women—the Anima—develop powers akin to apex predators. Along with their bestial strength and speed, they inherit the Task to restore ecological Order to the world. Yet fulfilling the Task seems improbable as the Imperium spreads a plague of ecocide and despotism across the land, ushering in the apocalypse with its infectious Disorder.

Stout and smart Freda Johansson leaves behind a promising career, love, and community to seek the red-capped mushroom capable of turning her into the final Anima. Whether it's plant magic or free will guiding her from emerald forests to austere peaks, she doesn't care. She only needs to find the mushroom before the Imperial Forces can seal the catastrophic fate of the planet.

The sacred balance of Life depends on the birth of the Anima—but even then, she must choose to own her powers as both woman and wild beast.


Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?


The idea for the Ancient Language of the Earth trilogy began as a question. I was pursuing a Master’s in Environmental Humanities, and my course work involved a lot of depressing research about the ecological crisis we find ourselves in. I often wondered how, and why, humans became disconnected from the natural world that sustains us. One night, I wrote in my journal, what would it feel like to live fully, truly, as a human animal? The concept of the Anima grew from there.

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


As many fiction authors will attest to, the process of creating characters is mysterious and organic. My characters reveal themselves to me at their leisure, and I’ll spend hours free-writing in an effort to get to know them better. It’s not unlike a relationship with a new friend: it takes time to understand a person, and even then, the person will continue to surprise us decades later. I connect most with Elle and Freda, as I’ve spent the most time with them. .

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


I connect most with Elle and Freda, as I’ve spent the most time with them. Elle is like a beloved little 
sister to me, while I consider Freda an inner mentor.

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


Such a great question! I studied nonfiction (environmental writing) in school, and while I’ve always loved reading fiction, especially fantasy, Birth of the Anima is my first project as a fiction writer. I was surprised to learn how mysterious and organic the fiction writing process proves to be. Characters become real people, and they constantly surprise me in making their own decisions, despite my efforts to “control” the story.

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


I love nouns that lend themselves to verbs and adjectives through the qualities that noun exhibits. My favorite example of such a word is squirrel.


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


Woofta. So many things, but mainly: practice patience and faith. Show up consistently, hone your craft with intention, and let go of the need for external validation. Or as Deepak Chopra said, “If you focus on success, you’ll have stress. But if you pursue excellence, success will be guaranteed.”

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


My website and newsletter are the best way to stay up to date on my upcoming releases: https://kelseyksather.com/

I also love interacting with readers on my Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kelseyksather/

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


I don’t have a favorite, but there is a line from the first version of Birth of the Anima that survived eight years of ruthless editing. It reads, “Elle took the long way to work.” It’s a simple sentence, nothing special on a surface-level, but its meaning runs deep in Elle’s story. Elle resists her inner power, and in so doing, she prolongs engaging with her life’s true work.

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


Yes! I'm currently writing Book Two in the Ancient Language of the Earth trilogy.

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


My hope is that readers discover, or rather rediscover, their kinship with ‘other,’ both human and non, and feel deeply compelled to help create a just and ecologically sound world. Thank you for featuring me and helping me spread that message!


KELSEY K. SATHER lives in Montana. Her stories explore the complexities of human-nature interconnections. While an author of nonfiction essays for over a decade, fantasy remains her first and true love. She received an MA in Environmental Humanities from the University of Utah. At the University of Montana, she received the Davidson Honors College Scholar Distinction in Creative Writing and Environmental Studies. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found in the mountains.

Connect with Kelsey K. Sather on her website and Instagram.

Birth of the Anima is available at independent bookstores, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

Kelsey, thank you so much for being a guest on Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews!

Today's Author Spotlight is author Brett Salter! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: July 19th, 2020 Amazon |  Goodreads...


Today's Author Spotlight is author Brett Salter!

Read on for the full interview.

Publication date: July 19th, 2020

What’s REALLY hiding in the forests of the Pacific Northwest? Could it be The Tyrant King’s army of Darkbrands? Could it be more of Mr. Jones’s liaisons? Or could it be the solution to the problem vexing our favorite heroes? Whatever mystery it is, you can guarantee the boys from Georgia are sure to find themselves deep in the thick of it.


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

I would say “The Battle For Verdana” is my best work so far. By this time in the series, we’ve collected all the main characters and gotten to know their quirks and abilities pretty well. Also, the secrets and powers of the Talismans are really beginning to unravel for the reader. Plus, there is a massive battle scene (duh, it’s in the name of the book), and the end leaves the reader on the biggest cliffhanger yet.

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?

My mother actually dared me to write the first book as it was an idea I had a few years before the publication regarding the two main characters and the plot of the first book. From there, I liked writing so much that I just kept going. Now, I have 11 of the 12 proposed books "done" (Large air quotes there)

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

Yeah, so in the beginning, I based my characters off me. Just me. I’ve known myself for a long time, and it was a small cast, so it was easy. That was therapeutic, for sure. But as the books continued and my characters grew in number, I found inspiration in outside sources such as close family and friends. I would not call it therapeutic, but I WOULD call it amusing to paint these extremely caricatured heroes with touches of the people I love. Most of my characters are just too dang goofy to be based on real people though.

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

I would say my favorite character to write is Julian Rider. He’s a blast because he is totally snarky and sarcastic, but at the same time, he’s very loyal to his cause. Much like me…smiley face. Plus, his favorite word is “dude”. Also, much like me. There might be a pattern there…

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

That's a great question. Unfortunately, they both kinda go hand in hand, don't they? You must have an engrossing plot to develop your characters. And what is a highly developed character with no plot or adventure to embark on? But, I would say I tend to lean more towards plot since I am better at world building than character development.

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

I learned that when I have unlimited free time, I can knock out the barebones version of a book in my series in about 1 week.  The editing process is much slower though.  Man, is it tedious??!!


In your opinion what makes a good story?


I like action in my stories. My series is full of that in spades; and suspense. I find that action keeps a reader's attention better than any other writing device. At least, it does for me.

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


>
It hasn't. LOL. I still write just as frantically and bizarrely as ever. Basically, I try to make each book better than the previous by adding characters, lore, and bigger scenes to the plot. I HAVE found that most of the sarcasm of my youth has lessened over the years. Having kids helped that change as well.


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


Of course I do! It's great to see what others think of your work. I think constructive criticism is the best kind of help there is. I hope you like it too!

What led you to start writing?


I write for a couple reasons. 1. I feel like there is something in me that needs to “create”. I try EVERY day to “create” something which scratches that itch. In my past, I’ve been a musician and a poet. Those were great outlets for allowing that creativity bug to escape, but unfortunately, I found those to be more like fleeting diversions. Writing a book is a project that keeps the creativity pouring out for months at a time. Not that writing music and poetry is easy. It most definitely isn’t! I believe musicians and poets follow the same creative yens that authors do. I just feel like writing a series of books, creating palpable characters, and keeping all the details juggled properly is a larger-scale project with more channels for creative output.

2. I write to inspire others. I remember being a kid and reading things like The Chronicles of Narnia or The Xanth Series and being awestruck and engaged to no end. I want that! I want to inspire others to embrace that creativity gene and nurture it. I tell my kids all the time to practice being creative. Take some time to draw a battle scene of dragons or a kaleidoscope of butterflies! Construct a folded-up, 8-page comic book about a superhero you invented. Make up a dance and share it with you friends so you don’t look like the only weirdo doing it. Use the rainy days to read about new places and explore that part of your brain that dies a little each time you stare at your screens. Egon Spengler famously said, “print is dead”, but it’s not. It’s just evolved. We have more ways to share our stories now than ever. And I just want to be part of that amazing assembly.

Do you have any writing superstitions?


Nope. Not any I can think of (rubs lucky rabbit's foot aggressively). Yeah! None.


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


I am a huge anime fan. And when I was younger, I read every fantasy novel I could find. So, I put the two together for my writing. This genre fits what I am trying to do perfectly.

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


As I mentioned before....."Dude".  I can't help it.  It's just falls out of my mouth on the regular.  
In writing, I love using words to describe a vocal intonation when a person talks instead of just saying "said" or "declared".  I like to use synesthetic words like "sang" or "harmonized" to touch multiple sense of the reader.  It's for engagement, I think.  

>What are you currently reading?


"The Sirens of Titan" by Kurt Vonnegut.  (I know!)

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


I made a Spotify playlist a while back of all the best Punk Rock I grew up with.  There's about 28 hours worth of tunes on that playlist, so, it keeps me entertained.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Start promoting waaaaaaaaaaaaaay earlier!  And hire an editor if you can't get picked up by a publisher.

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


The entire MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe).  I cannot get enough of it!  And if I want to "use my brain", anything by David Lynch.

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


Rhino.  They're fat and lazy, but when they need to get something done, they do it with alacrity and a thundering shake of the plains!

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


Cottage with fairytale creatures for sure.  As long as there are no Nocturns (bad guys from my series).  Those things are living nightmares, dude!

What is something about the genre that annoys you?

There's not enough words in the English language that are synonyms for "attack"....or "dark"......or "magical".  Or "thesaurus".

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?


I LOVE to give my characters interesting quirks.  It's definitely a huge spotlight of my writing style.  For instance, I have a character that always talks in threes.  And a character that quotes lyrics most of the time when talking.  Or my favorite, a character that speaks in haikus. (He doesn't talk much.  It's tough to write in haikus, dude!)

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


Ask me anything.  I'm an open book....get it?

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

I love EVERY time my character Mr. Jones makes some crazy, wild exclamation using mythological name drops like, "By the rancid stench of the Bonncon!"  Or something just as looney tunes as that.

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


Use your influences.  That way what you love will come out in your writing.  If you like stories about ghosts, write stories about ghosts.  If you watch TV shows about unsolved crimes, make your series about unsolved mysteries.  If the coolest thing you can imagine is a boy that can secretly transform into a dragon and go on quests with a knight-in-training.....um.  Read my books!!!  And THEN go write about them.

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


Yes.  I can!  In fact, I plan on releasing the 5th book of my proposed 12 by winter of this year!  It needs and edit or two….or three or four.  And it needs some cover art, but it should be out this year.  I can give you a little hint.  Remember when I mentioned the cliffhanger at the end of the 4th book?  Well, that DOES get resolved, but the 5th book opens so much more trouble for our heroes in the form Darkbrand threats.  Plus, we get a ton of reveals regarding the “big bad’s” plans, more Talismans, and we maybe, possibly, definitely get to visit a new dragon den???

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


I just want to add that I am genuinely appreciative of anyone who reads/has read my books.  You guys inspire me to keep at it.  You are what makes me feel cool for being kind of a big dork.  I hope that if you like my book or ANY book you read, you share it with someone else.  Opening doors for others will never get old, and it will ALWAYS be chivalrous.  Just remember to hold your Talisman tight and keep a wary eye out for portals.  Peace out!
My background in writing stems mostly from the inspiration I found as a kid when I read Fantasy and Sci-Fi books. These include The Chronicles of Narnia, The Xanth Novels, The Time Quintet, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and everything from Shakespeare to Dr. Seuss. In my formative years, I joined several punk rock bands and wrote songs, poetry, and short stories aplenty. As an adult (?) I took on a dare and wrote the first book in my Talisman Series. I loved the feeling it gave me and the idea of inspiring others so much that I kept writing until I had an entire series.

Brett, thank you so much for being a guest on Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews!