Several words to describe this #novella by @_iris_b ’emotional’ ‘quick read’ and ‘captivating’. #romance #newbeginnings #fiction #heartwarming #books

Several words to describe this #novella by @_iris_b ’emotional’ ‘quick read’ and ‘captivating’. #romance #newbeginnings #fiction #heartwarming #books Continue reading

A heart-rendering read: The Beauty of the Fall tackles #grief @Marcello #poetry #literary

The Beauty of the Fall by Rich Marcello Ten-year-old Zackery Underlight is dead. His father Dan, however, is just learning to live again.  Dan Underlight, a divorced, workaholic technology executive, suffers lingering grief over the death of his ten-year-old son, Zack. … Continue reading

Enjoy books like Dallas or Dynasty? Then check out @KFJohnsonbooks #AfricanAmerican

They say good girls finish last…but when they’re bad, they’re better! K. F Johnson presents   Rome wasn’t built in a day, and in this present-day drama, neither was the façade four cousins spent a lifespan constructing: Valerie’s just recovered from … Continue reading

New book Alert! Exiled to Eden #saga @OutskirtsPress

by John Strassel When fate tosses together beautiful heiress Miranda McClellan and missionary pilot Zane Wylde on a remote jungle airstrip, neither one could have imagined just how much their meeting would not only alter the destiny of three families … Continue reading

Celestial Summoner – #paranormal #fiction from @PIMIebooks

by Kyle Robertson Death has gripped the throat of middle America. People are being heinously murdered, with the bodies displayed in the most horrific way. Bring on Celestial Summoner! Detective John Chandless is a thick-skinned officer from New York who … Continue reading

When rehabilition is required for the ‘victims’ of #BDSM by @Lance_Lly

The Home of Wayward Girls: Beginnings Book One of a BDSM tale of love, sex and power by Lance Llyn Lance Lyn isn’t just your average stuffy businessman, he’s a billionaire corporate investor who finds investments in alternative sources of … Continue reading

Check out this forbidden romance in a book from @wajdymustafa

Between Two Banks

by

Wajdy Mustafa

Selim falls in love with Julia, an older, married woman with children, who has moved from Aleppo to his village in Tartus, Syria.  He is due to leave the village to start his University studies but instead, they run away from their disapproving families to begin a life together in 70’s Beirut, Lebanon.
Julia teaches French and Selim works in an office, dreaming of marriage and children with Julia.  For her part Julia is more than she at first appears.  She has a past that she keeps hidden from Selim, one that involves Roger from Toulon in France. Gradually, this past becomes the present and eats away at their dreams.
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This is a beautifully crafted, deeply moving and fascinating story, set mainly in Beirut, during the 1960s and 70s.
Between Two Banks, refers to the river of life which connects us all but can also separate us on opposite shores. This tale explores the historical, cultural and social connections and differences between France, Lebanon and Syria through the thoughts, experiences and interconnecting life stories of its three main characters, whilst set against the backdrop of emerging unrest in Lebanon.
It is a tale of love, passion and tragedy, which poignantly highlights the eternal human condition, as love pulls them together to explore its deeper, timeless magic and how crushing reality cruelly tears everything apart.
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Wajdy Mustafa is a long-time Syrian political activist and writer. He was imprisoned without trial for 14 years.
He has written and published texts in many magazines and newspapers, written two published books and many screenplays.
In addition, he has managed a Publishing house.
In 2009 he was forced to seek Political Asylum in Austria, before relocating to the United States. He lives now in Northern California.

Ghost of Atlanta is an 80s novel covering black Americans…

 moving back to the new south and the consequences of going home again to face old demons.
All told in a tight, fast-paced novel by Julius Thompson

In The Ghost of Atlanta, Andy Michael Pilgrim faces demons from his youth that haunted his life. These are the ghosts in the crawl spaces of his life; some are real and some supernatural.

After landing a job with The Atlanta Defender, Andy returns home and visits the place where he finally faces remembrances of his deceased abusive father. While walking around the grounds, he meets his mysterious cousin, Joe Boy, and finds out that the property is going to be sold by unscrupulous cousins.

While Andy fights this battle, he must confront the personal demon of a possible drug addiction, breaking the color barrier at the south’s largest newspaper, The Atlanta Defender, meeting his old girl friend and fighting the lingering effects of segregation in small-town Georgia life.

As the story unwinds, all these forces push Andy toward the breaking point, where he almost quits on life. Malevolent mortal deeds are committed and Andy could be next in line.

“The Ghost of Atlanta” is, overall, a superbly written book. 5 stars!~Readers Favorite
Scroll down to read the review in full

Julius Thompson grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York and attended Bushwick High School. The sixties in Brooklyn was an era that had a personality, a feel, and a life-force that changed a generation. Mr. Thompson felt this energy and experienced these fires of social change.

After high school, Mr. Thompson spent the next four years riding the “A” train to Harlem, in upper Manhattan, to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree from the City College of New York. At CCNY, which was located just a few blocks from the famous Apollo Theater, Wednesday afternoons was hard on the undergraduates. The matinee performances of the major R and B groups of the times were more tempting than attending a boring college lecture. Most of the time Mr. Thompson succumbed to the temptation, but still earned a college degree from one of the best universities in the country.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1592321054&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr
At CCNY, literature instructors like Prof. Thomas Tashiro, fuelled the fire in him to become a writer! 

Mr. Thompson’s journey to compose a trilogy began in 1995. The fourteen year fictional journey of character Andy Michael Pilgrim from Brooklyn, to Philadelphia and finally Atlanta is now complete. In this pilgrimage, readers experience places that are filled with hopes, dreams, challenges and fears that make us human.

The novels that make up the trilogy are A Brownstone in Brooklyn which was published in 2001, Philly Style and Philly Profile in 2007 and Ghost of Atlanta which will be published the first week of January 2011.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1592864279&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrMr. Thompson received the Georgia Author of the Year nomination for Philly Style and Philly Profile, from the Georgia Writers Association, in 2007.

Mr. Thompson is writing his fourth novel, Purple Phantoms, which is a story about the haunting of a mythical high school basketball team. He is currently a Creative Writing/Publishing Instructor at Atlanta’s Evening at Emory’s Writers Studio. For more information please visit him at www.ghostofatlanta.com

Read his interview here.

Review of Ghost of Atlanta:

Rating: 5 Stars – Readers Favorite Book Reviews and Award Contest.
 

Julius Thompson is a superb writer. “The Ghost of Atlanta” is, overall, a superbly written book. This novel is the third in a series. The book is a very fast read that builds up slowly and has a fantastic ending. Mr. Thompson has included all the ingredients that make for a well-written novel: great character descriptions, an exciting well-thought-out plot, edge-of-your-seat adventure with all the proper descriptives (old love and love rekindled, friendships-new and old, hate-the kind that festers, murder-brutal and heartless, drugs-of the worst kind, family ties-both good and bad, etc.).

The story takes place in Atlanta, Georgia, present day, the main character, Andy Pilgrim, is a newspaper reporter. His life is full of ups and downs with a past that haunts him daily, hence, ‘Ghost in Atlanta’.

Only Andy can, and must, have the courage to face his ghosts, one-on-one. He has many friends and family that help him along the way, and those that would like to see him fail miserably. Can he defeat his ghosts and continue on with his life?

I will not spoil the book for you but I will say that the story is full of excitement and is really very ethereal. The reason I say that is because the characters themselves present the reader with many questions, such as, How can Andy`s friend, Philip, always be there for him just at the right time? How is it that certain characters are praying for Andy just at the right moment? How can a family cousin appear to Andy in the blink of an eye and then disappear just as quickly? How can friends and family in Philadelphia, Brooklyn, and Atlanta be so in tune with each other, helping Andy when he needs it the most?

All these ingredients make this novel taste like your favorite pie flavor. All these ingredients make you want to continue reading this novel in just one sitting.

I now have a very strong desire to read Julius` first two novels in the series. I can hardly wait for the next one. Julius, please keep writing. To the reader, don’t hesitate to read this; you will not be disappointed. I, for one, am very glad that I read this book and I rate this book 5 stars, wholeheartedly.”

Julius Thompson Websites
http://www.jtwrites.com/
http://www.ghostofatlanta.com/


Purchase Links
Amazon.Com
Barnes & Nobles.Com
Passionate Writer Publishers

Child abuse is a despicable crime, and Marian L. Thomas is hitting back!

Marian L. Thomas is back with another bestseller
My Father’s Colors.



Best-selling author Marion L. Thomas appeared on my blog back last year in May with
Color Me Jazzmyne. She is an active supporter of victims of child abuse, and her books aim to educate as well as entertain. 


                                              What’s New?

Marian welcomes the release of her second book, My Father’s Colors-The Drama-Filled Journey of Naya Monà Continues on March 1, 2011. It is sure to be another Best-Seller for the author as it takes you on the journey of four individuals that lead to one destination filled with betrayal, lies and shocking secrets.

Naya Monà is back on another emotional and drama-filled roller coaster as she finds herself fighting to find her voice, discover her father’s past and search for her daughter. How do you find a daughter you never knew you gave birth to?

Then there’s Chris—her husband. How far would one go for love? That is the question that Chris wastes no time answering. He will do whatever it takes to remove his wife’s pain, even if it means being the one to cause her the most.

Let’s not forget Misty. Fame and Fortune have been the determining factor for Misty ever sense her father passed away. How far will she go, this time, to achieve it?

Introducing, Carl Thompson. Carl has found the love of his life, only she doesn’t know it. Green eyes and hazel brown hair fill his dreams for the future. Does he have enough love for the both of them?

Join best-selling author Marian L. Thomas as she takes you through the captivating pages of My Father’s Colors. This book is guaranteed to make you laugh, cry and get caught in the drama-filled story of a woman’s journey!

What type of book is it?

My Father’s Colors-The Drama-Filled Journey of Naya Monà Continues is both contemporary fiction and literary entertainment that focusing on character and plot development. Poetic and filled with melodious tones, it derives its inspiration from the real life experiences that many woman and children of abuse face. It is emotional, captivating and sparked with the elements of reality to make a true reader connection.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0615409415&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrReady to win a free signed copy? How?
Marian will be a guest blogger for some of the most amazing blogs. Visit each blog, leave a comment and your name will be entered into a drawing for one signed copy of my book. The person who has left the most comments (one per blog) will win. Ready to win? Start with leaving a comment on this blog.
Ready to Purchase Your Copy?
My Father’s Colors-The Drama-Filled Journey of Naya Monà Continues is available in Paperback and Hardcover through the following online retailers:
eReader? Start reading within minutes on:
Visit Author’s Website:
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0615270670&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrMarian was reared in Chicago but lives with her biggest-supporter—her husband and their spoiled but playful dog, Winston in Atlanta, Georgia. Received her Bachelor’s degree in Business Communication, graduating Magna Cum Laude. Marian writes with a box full of colors in her head. Using the analogy of a crayon box to describe the struggles and journeys of women, has become her literary trademark. Readers have been captivated by her emotional appeal and her flare for reality that continues to be weaved within the pages of her books. Her debut title, Color Me Jazzmyne, went on to become an Amazon Best-seller. Reaching #1 in the Rhythm & Blues category, #2 in Inner-Child and #7 in Performance/Voice for the amazing melodious tones developed through the voice of her main character, Naya Monà. Color Me Jazzmyne was also ranked as one of the” Top 100 Books”-1st Qtr 2010 by the Sankofa Literary Society Review.

Editor Sean Hayden talks to us about ORIGINS

A Demonkin Novel
Ashlyn Thorn was born different. She was born with all the characteristics of a vampire, but in a world where vampires, elves, and werewolves work, play, and die side by side with normal humans, everyone knows vampires aren’t born, they’re made. The only thing she ever wanted is to know her true Origins. Ashlyn’s tale takes her on a quest to find out what makes her different and to find out the truth, but with every question she gets answered, she uncovers more uncertainties.
 To make things worse she makes enemies of the most powerful vampires of the city who consider her powers to dangerous to let go unchecked. She is saved by the government only to be trained and used to serve their purposes, and Ashlyn finds herself torn between two worlds. She can either be a monster, or help fight the monsters.

 
 
 
Not only did Sean Hayden bag a contract to have the Demonkin Series published with Echelon press he was offered a job too, which eventually became a senior editor within the company. Now that’s what I call a book deal! See

post about Echelon Press where he shares his knowledge of “life as an editor”.
He says, “After an extensive search for an agent and publisher, debating self publishing, and massive amounts of hair loss, I finally found Echelon Press, a small Indie publisher out of Maryland.”
 
Sean started writing about a year and a half ago. His debut novel, Origins is an urban fantasy about vampires, how they came to be, why there are different breeds, and the main character Ashlyn. If you want to look at what the book is about, Sean has a website devoted to the series as well as an author website.
He received the contract for Origins, which is out this month. He has finished the sequel, Deceptions and has received a contract for that, as well. He has also penned a steampunk short called Lady Dorn.
 

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=B004MYFS5M&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrWhat inspired you to write your book?
I’ve been an avid reader for almost my whole life. Growing up it wasn’t TV that fascinated me, it was the written word. I remember reading a book one day. I had gone to B&N and bought the whole series without reading the first one. Needless to say, I got about halfway through the first book before setting it down and never picking it up again. “I could do better than that,” I said. I finally gave it a shot. Origins is my result.

What is it about? Genre etc.
Origins is pure Urban Fantasy. Within its pages you will find that vampires, werewolves, elves, and every other fantasy creature is alive and well and working, playing, and dying right beside everyday humans. Some are good, some aren’t. I have taken all the legends surrounding vampires and explained the differences as them being different subspecies. Origins focuses around the central character, Ashlyn. She is the newest subspecies. She’s quite a bit different and that makes her a target with the rest of the vampire community.

Was there a character you struggled with?
Struggles? Oh, yes. Struggles aplenty. The one thing that stands out the most to me was with Ashlyn, the MC. She was hidden for the first few years of her life and had very limited contact with the outside world. That made things very difficult in writing her. Every time she did something in the story, I had to stop and think, “Would she know how to do this?” The other issue came with setting her above the other kinds of vampires. I had to make her more powerful, but not perfect. That was difficult at times.

How many unpublished books do you have lurking under your bed?
Actually, NONE. I wrote Origins and submitted. It’s due out Feb 15th. The sequel Deceptions is written and contracted. I wrote a steampunk short called Lady Dorn and it is also under contract. I’m currently working on a steampunk short series for YA readers as well as a YA urban fantasy called Soul Seeker.

How did you find your publisher? How do they treat you? Would you recommend them?
Writing a book was easy. Getting it into the hands of the reader was like scaling Mt Kilamanjaro with two broken legs. My book was written and I started querying agents. That was a complete waste of time. Know how many agents are even willing to read your work if you’re previously unpublished? Ya, not many. I didn’t even find one in fact. So after wasting six months of my life on that, I decided to go for the gold and look for a publisher. I figured I would spend some time on the slushpile, but that’s the price to pay for glory. I queried all the big publishing houses. The results were the same as looking for an agent. They won’t even look at your work if your previously unpublished. Then I found a website called duotrope.com. If you’re looking for smaller publishing houses, I highly recommend starting there. I queried two publishers, and they said, “We’d love to look at your work but we are afraid your genre is over written at this time.” Okay. Then I found Echelon Press. They’re a small Indi Pub out of Maryland. The owner of the company is named Karen Syed. I could go on for hours about how wonderful they are. I am completely happy there and the owner treats her authors with respect, dignity, and like they were family.

What’s the best/worst part of being a writer?
The best part of being a writer is getting to tell my stories. I love that people are going to hold my book in their hand and read something I WROTE. It’s kind of heady. The worst part of being a writer is the frustration of finding time to do it. I work as a fiber-optic engineer during the day, and that leaves little time to write, especially with two kids and a wife at home.

What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?
Believe it or not, my lunch break. I seem to get more written in that hour than the other 23 hours in the day.

Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer
I’m a digital kid. Paper just wastes trees. I don’t even make notes, jot down ideas, or outline. I sit at the computer, open my file, and start writing. I have no idea what the characters are doing next, or even where the story is going.

What/who do you draw inspiration from?
What if’s. I make it a game and did a blog stop for a friend explaining where i draw my inspiration. It’s all around, but you have to play the “what if” game. For example, you’re walking down the street and you see a squirrel run up a tree. “What if” that squirrel wasn’t really a squirrel, but an alien scout sent with squirrel cloaking, sent to earth to subjugate us before its imperial overlords land? See, inspiration can come from anywhere.

Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as word count?
Absolutely not. With as hectic as my life is, I write when I can. To set goals would be a self induced lesson in disappointment.

What are you working on now that you can talk about?
World domination…oh, wait I’m NOT supposed to talk about that. Actually I mentioned before about the steampunk YA short series I’m writing. I’m going to have to leave it at that. Details I’m not allowed to share, but I’m writing it with my 11yo son and he is super excited about it. The other item I have in the works is a YA urban fantasy about making bad choices and getting exactly what you wish for.

How do/did you deal with rejection letters?
With a shot of bourbon. Just kidding. Kind of. I don’t usually deal well with rejection. I pout for a while and then realize that everything happens for a reason and that you cant please everybody at the same time. Some people will love what you’ve written and others won’t. It’s the nature of the human persona.

Do you have a critique partner?
Actually, I do. She’s another author/editor with Echelon Press. I never submit or revise anything without sending to her first. I owe a great deal to her for catching mistakes AFTER something’s been edited. I do the same for her when she needs it.

About Demonkin Series:
What age group is the Demonkin series geared towards and what genre?
 Its geared towards adults. The main character is young, but she is thrust into the world of adulthood at an early age. It would seem that all the vampire series out there are meant for YA readers. Adults are infatuated by vampires, too. I wrote this book for them. It’s fun, it’s edgy, it’s sometimes dark, but never gloomy or full of angst.


Tell us a little about the series? Do I have to read book one, before I reach for book two etc? How many books are there to be?
The series is centered around the main character Ashlyn Thorn. She was born with all the traits of a vampire, but everybody knows vampires are made, not born. She knows she is something different, but she hasn’t got a clue about her true origins. The series follows her life as she is picked up by the FBI to help police the supernatural world and learns a little more about herself every day. The second book is complete and under contract and is entitled Deceptions. It’s not necessary to read the first one before picking up the second one, but I would recommend it. As for how long the series is, I never plan ahead. Demonkin is my favorite project, and I plan on keeping it going as long as there’s somebody who wants to hear what happens next.

What is your favourite scene in your book? Can we have a snippet?
We pulled up to another vampire club a few miles away after an uneventful ride in a nondescript cargo van. Didn’t these people believe in offices? They could have spiffy names like the vampire offices of Dewey, Bitem, and Howe. The van pulled into an employee parking lot in the rear of the building and my escorts ushered me to the back door. Demitri knocked three times, and the door opened. I gasped at the more impressive muscle standing before me; they stood taller than the bouncers I had seen at Fangloria’s. The vampire wore what looked like a 1920’s gangster approved pinstripe suit and hat. I thought it might be a personal attire choice until I saw the two behind him wearing similar outfits. Either I had entered a themed club, or I really stood before prohibition era vampires.

Have your characters or writing been inspired by friends/family or by real-life experiences?
 My family has always been my inspiration for writing, but my characters are pure fiction. I try to throw a little of me into each of them, but as they progress, they become more unique on their own.

Can you sum the series in one sentence?
Demonkin is a fast paced thrill ride centered around a new breed of vampire.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
Mine is Ashlyn’s partner, Thompson. He is grumpy and cool, and just fun to write.

Which comes first for you – characters or plot?
Characters definitely. You could have the most exciting story in the world, but if your characters are weak, unlikeable, or unbelievable, everything will fall apart.

Prior to being contracted to Echelon Press, had you submitted to traditional publishers?
When I finished writing Origins, I did some research. Everybody told me that in order to get published with a traditional publisher, you had to have an agent. I spent the first five months of my writing career querying agents. Vampires were in such popularity at the time, I couldn’t even get an agent to read my manuscript, so I gave up on the traditional publishing route. I did query Penguin Books and Tor, but I didn’t expect anything to come from them and I wasn’t disappointed when they didn’t even ask for a submission. That’s when I decided to look for a really good independent publisher.

Do you have an agent?
No, I do not. I spent a good portion of my life just trying to get one to read my manuscript, and now I’m a little thankful none did. I’ve seen too many authors who do have agents, that are getting absolutely nowhere. Now they are stuck in a contract with an agent and counting the days until their contract expires so they can find an independent publisher. It’s kind of scary how the publishing world is changing.

Will Origins be available only as an ebook?
It comes out Feb 15th as an eBook, but will be available in paperback shortly thereafter. I don’t know the exact release date of the paperback as of yet.

Are there any upcoming signings or appearances you’d like to mention?
 I’m planning on attending Readercon in July and the South Carolina Book Festival later this year. In April, I’m planning on doing a virtual signing at Calico Books via webcam. As for local signings, etc, I’m waiting til the paperback comes out and plan on touring most of my home state, Florida as I can schedule.

What marketing have you been doing to help sales?
Blog tours, marketing materials, social media, I plan on being on the radio for an interview, press releases, forums, you name it. If it’s out there, I have tried it or will try it. Marketing is without a doubt the most quintessential key to success. I could not stress this more. You can not rely on word of mouth to get your book out there to the masses.

You have written a steampunk short called Lady Dorn, what is steampunk exactly? How does it differ from fantasy or science fiction?
I’ve been asked this question a lot as of late. When you hear the term steampunk, think of Jules Verne. It can be set in any time period, but everyone should have technology that is anachronistic. Steam powered cell phones. Brass computers with typewriter keys. Flying dirigibles attached to wooden naval ships. The possibilities are endless. I’ve actually started writing a series of steampunk shorts with my 11yo son geared toward younger readers. The Magnificent Steam Carnival of Professor Pelusian Minus. The whole genre is growing in popularity every day. I can see why. It’s fun to read, but absolutely fantastic to write. Think of it as rewriting history as it would have been if you could travel back in time and give key players technological advancements.

Contacts:

Author Jane Rusbridge, who is nominated for the IMPAC award, talks to us about…

Devil’s Music
It is 1958 and the Sputnik satellite has taken a dog up into space; back on earth, five-year-old Andy has a new sister, Elaine – a baby who, his father insists, is ‘not quite all there’. While his parents argue over whether or not to send Elaine away, Andy sleeps beside her cot each night, keeping guard and watching as his mother – once an ambitious, energetic nurse – twists away into her private, suffocating sadness.
Knots keep treasures safe, Andy’s rope-maker grandfather tells him, and, as he listens to stories of the great Harry Houdini, Andy learns the Carrick Bend, the Midshipman’s Hitch and the Monkey’s Fist. Then a young painter, hired to decorate the family’s house, seems to call Andy’s mother back from the grief in which she is lost. But one day, at The Siding – the old railway carriage that serves as the family’s seaside retreat – Andy is left in charge of his baby sister on a wind-chopped beach, where he discovers that not all treasures can be kept safe for ever.
Three decades later Andrew returns from self-imposed exile to The Siding, the place where his life first unravelled. Looking back on the broken strands of his childhood, he tries, at last, to weave them together, aided by his grandfather’s copy of The Ashley Book of Knots and the arrival of a wild-haired, tango-dancing sculptor – a woman with her own ideas about making peace with the past.

‘A novel of such calibre whets the appetite for more’ – The Irish Examiner

‘A highly original, fresh, new talent of rare quality’ – The Lady

‘Beautifully written and a real page turner’ – Essentials
‘One of the most interesting and beautiful novels I’ve read this year’ – Brighton Argus
‘Vividly and intensely written’ – Jane Rogers
Jane Rusbridge lives in a tiny South Downs village in West Sussex. She is married to a farmer and they have five children between them.
She has an MA in Creative Writing  from the University of Chichester, where she teaches at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Jane has had short stories and poems published in anthologies, and won or been placed in several national and international competitions including the Writersinc ‘Writer of the Year’ award (2005), the Ilkley literature Festival competition (2005), the Bluechrome Short Story competition (2005), the Bridport (2003, 2005) the Fish Prize (2006) and the Writersinc award (2008).

The Devil’s Music, her first novel and published by Bloomsbury in July 2009, is described as ‘a beautifully told story of family secrets and betrayal, involving knots, Harry Houdini and the shifting landscape of memory.’

Jane is represented by Hannah Westland of Rogers, Coleridge and White.

At the end of the interview there is an extract of Devil’s Music to whet your appetite.

Contacts:

Click below for the interview

What inspired you to write The Devil’s Music?
The Devil’s Music was inspired by a child case study written in the 50s by the psychologist D.W.Winnicott about a child who tied things together with string. After reading it, I kept seeing, in my mind’s eye, an image of a boy with blonde hair, head bent to a ball of string. The case study made me angry: I wanted the boy to tell his own story, give his own reasons for his fascination with knots. In the case study, tying things together is a ‘perversion’: in TDM, knots are what ‘save’ him.

So, what’s it about? What is the genre?
The Devil’s Music is about a mother who ‘leaves’. An agent described it as commercial/literary fiction. The novel explores family secrets, the effects of both what’s said and what’s unsaid on a child growing up. It’s also about the fallibility of memory.

It seems like a very deep, tear-jerking read. Did you find the research harrowing to do?
The most heartbreaking research was reading the case histories of women who for one reason or another live, or have lived apart from their children. It is still a taboo and such pain is caused by the stigma attached to being a ‘mother apart’. A furious sense of injustice drove me. My aim with TDM was to give both the mother and her little boy who is obsessed with knots an ending which may not be exactly ‘happy’, but is at least hopeful. Several readers have commented that they found the novel ‘cathartic’. I think that’s a good thing!

Was there a character you struggled with?
The novel is narrated by a mother and her son, Andrew, as a child and as an adult man. I struggled with writing Andrew as an adult, not because he is a man – I have written male characters before without struggling – but because he is withdrawn and uncommunicative. His head is filled with knots! He doesn’t like talking much, so finding his voice in first person was tricky. Andrew evaded me for a long time. Nevertheless, I felt a strong empathy with him, which helped me to persevere.

How many unpublished books do you have lurking under your bed?
There are no novels under the bed! Writing The Devil’s Music took about 6 years and the process was a slow and steep learning curve. In terms of the number of discarded and reworked full drafts of TDM, you could say there are about half a dozen under my bed, but all of them trying to find a way to tell this same story.

How did you find your publisher?
My agent sent the novel out to three publishers, one of whom was Bloomsbury. I am very happy with the way the novel and I have been looked after, and I have recommended Bloomsbury to other writers. My editor, Helen Garnons Williams, is completely brilliant and seems to have understood both my novels better than me. My publicist, Katie Bond is tireless and enthusiastic, and thanks to her, plus the efforts of the sales and marketing team I have had lots of opportunities to get out and about to promote the novel around the country.

How long did it take to find your agent? How did that “phone call of acceptance” really feel like?
I was lucky. Of the first three agents I sent to, two wanted the novel – so I had to choose! It all seemed to happen very quickly, a couple of weeks after I sent the novel out. That whole time was surreal, hearing total strangers saying wonderful things about TDM and talking as if the characters were as real to them as they are to me. After the first phone call, I wandered in a daze out to the garden where my daughter was sunbathing and burst into tears. She thought someone had just died!

What’s the best/worst part of being a writer?
I love most stages of writing, but for me the most exciting times are when connections between various bits of research, ideas, accidental discoveries – all these things coincide and the story begins to fall into place. Is that serendipity, or synchronicity? I love the sense that the story isn’t mine at all, but already exists somewhere in the ether; my job is to try to get it down on paper without any damage. The worst part of being a writer is when I’m not doing it well enough, when self doubt interferes.

I can identify with that only too well! How “finished” was the book when your agent took you on? Did you need to change it much?
It wasn’t finished when Hannah took me on. The last 5,000 words were sketched out in note form only and the beginning chapters were all over the place. Hannah, my agent, worked with me to finish it over the summer and we sent it out in the autumn. The most significant changes were made once I was with Bloomsbury. Helen, my editor, never says ‘cut this’ or ‘add that’; she asks probing questions and makes suggestions. The imaginative detail is up to me, which is just how I like it. Her passion for the novel gave me the confidence to cut thousands of words from the beginning. I also spent weeks fiddling away, line by line, at the opening and the final pages.

What is the process like? From receiving The Call to holding the book in your hands, how long did it take?
Between The Call and publication was quite a slow process. In April 2007 I had an agent. We knew Bloomsbury were interested quite early on but because the novel still needed work, it wasn’t until April 2008 that I signed a contract with them, for two books. Then in July 2009 TDM came out in hardback. Two years from agent to publication!

What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?
At the moment I write best in the morning and then, after a break, in the late afternoon/early evening, but I can write anytime if necessary. My OH and I have 5 children between us and when I was writing TDM they were all teenagers. I wrote whenever I could find any space and time.

And Devil’s Music is nominated for an award, isn’t it? Tell us about that?
It’s the 2011 International IMPAC Literary Award. Nominations are made on the basis of ‘high literary merit’ and come from selected libraries in capital and major cities around the world. The first prize, at 100,000 euros, is bigger than the Booker. It’s quite a quirky prize and I bet it’s the only time I’ll be on the same list for anything as Margaret Attwood!
(Click on the link to be taken to the nominations).

Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?
I write straight onto the computer, but scribble a lot in notebooks throughout the whole process – little plot details, or spider diagrams of scenes I’m trying to reorder. I do always use several notebooks.

What/who do you draw inspiration from?
This is a hard question because the sources of inspiration are different for different stories. In general terms, a love of reading inspires me, other authors. I consume books with a kind of greed. With individual stories, often several things come together to spark inspiration. With TDM, the specific trigger for writing was Winnicott’s case study, but I’ve been interested in memory for a long time – especially childhood memories, the painful ones we suppress, and others which we imagine are the ‘truth’ , only to find our siblings have an entirely different memory of the same event. I also have a bit of a ‘thing’ about rope, and an old book of my father’s about knots.

Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as word count?
I was on a course once with Toby Litt who announced in no uncertain terms we should turn off our word count facility! That was a relief. I don’t like word count goals. People’s minds work in different ways but for me, numbers are too sterile and work against creativity, which is a much messier and chaotic thing than numbers of neat words on a page. I need to play around and make a mess. If I have word counts as targets I do endless sums which involve time and numbers of words and whether or not the right total will be reached before my deadline – how can that help a story grow? I am a slow writer and that is a bit of a worry, so I’m disciplined about setting aside clear blocks of time for writing/thinking/working on the novel in whatever way.

I love your book cover. Did you have any input into the design?

Yes – which is unusual. My daughter (Natalie Miller – link above leads you to Natalie’s website) read the climax chapter of the novel and then took some photographs on West Wittering beach, near where we live. We sent them into Bloomsbury and they loved them. The art department have put the design together beautifully, especially for the hardback. We are both delighted. The hardback cover is my favourite.

What are you working on now that you can talk about?
My current WIP is Rook, a novel that I’m very excited about. It involves rooks (of course), mud, Anglo Saxons, 1066, stars, burial illegitimacy and stillbirth. Rook digs around in history to find the stories told as myths and traditions.

Is this a similar genre to Devil’s Music?
Yes, a similar genre, and involving family dynamics, but it’s also about stories and the interconnectedness of things, of past and present and of landscape and people.

How do/did you deal with rejection letters?
Rejection letters hurt. Ten years ago I started sending short stories and poems out to competitions. It was a rejection to hear nothing, but you deal with it. Tell yourself it just has to land on the right desk at the right time. Sometimes it’s down to luck: with TDM I was very lucky, because two agents of the three I sent to were interested. Even so, when the third sent a note saying: ‘we just didn’t like it enough’, the pain was physical. That told me I still need to toughen up some more!

Do you have a critique partner?
I have been in the same writing workshop for years. The four of us did our MAs together and formed a bond. One is a poet. I think all prose writers need a poet every now and then to help keep an eye on the words, the right words in the right places. I also swap novel drafts with other novelists, such as Karen Stevens, who is a colleague, Kathy Page, a Canadian writer to name just two. With Rook, Helen, my editor at Bloomsbury, has made the most difference. She has helped me see the novel as a whole much more clearly.

Extract – Devil’s Music

I’m alone under a high sky. Clouds race across the blue, skim in reflected shoals over puddles and hollows in the wet sand. I’m holding Susie’s rubber bucket. Far away, made small by distance, a man digs for lugworms.

You’re in charge, Andy, my mother said. She picked Susie up and put her on one hip. They went to get ice-creams.

My shorts are wet and clinging. I have tipped out Susie’s morning collection of slipper shells, bits of razor shell, the joined pairs of purplish shells she calls butterflies, and now the bucket is filled to the brim with water. Tiny cracks appear in the stretched rubber handle. The water’s surface glints, tilting like a flipped coin; the slanting O almost reaches the lip. It will spill.

I put the bucket down. At my back the sea heaves and drags.

The rubber bucket is old. Once, it was mine.

I look up towards Jelly’s carrycot, a long way away on the pebbles. Then down to the edge of the wet sand where Jelly lies on my towel by the pool I’ve dug for her. She was lumpy as a bag of coal in my arms and nearly as heavy; my chin knocked on her head and my bare feet burned on the pebbles. But she was too hot and squashed in her carrycot. She couldn’t stop crying. Further up the shingle bank my mother’s empty deckchair billows red and white stripes.

Honey is circling, nose down. Round and round Jelly and our pool. I see Jelly has rolled onto her stomach. Honey sits down. She barks once; twice. The man digging for lugworms pauses and looks up, a foot on his spade. Goose bumps rise on my arms.

And now my mother is racing, skidding down the steep shingle slope, a clutch of ice cream cornets held high. Pebbles bounce and slide. Far behind, by the row of beach huts with their shuttered doors Susie holds her arms high, hands like starfish, stiff in the air.

My mother reaches the pool. She stands rigid. The ice creams topple and fall. She bends to scoop Jelly from the sand and wraps her arms around her. My mother lifts her face to the pale sky, her mouth wrenched open.

And that’s when I hear the high pitched sound, a keening that goes on and on and doesn’t stop. It doesn’t stop when the lugworm man throws his spade to the ground and begins to run, doesn’t stop when the bucket drops at my feet, doesn’t stop when I’m crouched low, hands covering my ears.

Children’s writer – Lynne North with Gertie Gets it Right (eventually).

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1849232318&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

Gertie Grimthorpe comes from a long line of witches. Unfortunately, she hasn’t really got the hang of it. Being blonde haired, blue eyed and free of warts isn’t much of an advantage. Try as she might, Gertie’s spells fall flat. She manages to give her bat-headed umbrella the ability to talk, but then wishes she hadn’t when all he does is complain and insult people. Even finding an owl to be her Familiar doesn’t help. Then again, he is extremely shortsighted…
Gertie is sent to The Academy to improve her spell casting skills. She soon has a best friend in the form of Bertha Bobbit, a big girl, with a matching appetite. Add to that a Moat Monster with a flatulence problem, the weirdest array of witch’s Familiars possible, and a warlock determined to ruin Gertie’s chances of success, and the story unfolds. Not to mention the demon…

A children’s sword and sorcery fantasy novel aimed at the nine years of age to mid teen market. Zac is a fifteen year old stable boy whose life is turned upside down when he finds himself in the midst of demons, magic and a perilous quest. The land around Albemerle castle is under attack, and the only hope of survival for Zac and the people he loves is to find the great wizard, Aldric. Men have already died trying. Strange dreams mark the beginning of Zac’s life changing events. Armed with a magic sword, ring and crystal, he sets out with a group of soldiers to find Aldric. Demon attack almost ends Zac’s quest as soon as it begins. Zac refuses to give up, and soon finds himself accompanied by unusual travelling companions. Many dangers bar their way. Only Zac’s determination and the unexpected help he receives can make it possible to find and free Aldric, and return for the final battle to save the land…

Lynne North lives in the north west of England and works as a data analyst for one of the local Health Authorities. She has been a prolific reader all through her life, and for many years has spent the majority of her free time writing. As well as being educated up to degree level, she has completed courses and received diplomas from ‘The Writing School Ltd’ and ‘The Academy of Children’s Writers.

Her aim in life has always been to write, and she’s had a sideline of freelance writing for many years. This has mainly involved published articles in such magazines as ‘Prediction’. She has also completed two children’s novels published in December’08 and is currently working on a fantasy novel for adults, and another very different children’s humorous fantasy.
What is ‘Gertie Gets it Right (eventually)’ all about? Can you tell us a little more about its genre?
Gertie Gets it Right (eventually) is a children’s humorous fantasy novel aimed at the eight years of age to young teen market.

Gertie Grimthorpe comes from a long line of witches. Unfortunately, she hasn’t really got the hang of it. Being blonde haired, blue eyed and free of warts isn’t much of an advantage. Try as she might, Gertie’s spells fall flat. She manages to give her bat-headed umbrella the ability to talk, but then wishes she hadn’t when all he does is complain and insult people. Even finding an owl to be her Familiar doesn’t help. Then again, he is extremely shortsighted… Gertie is sent to The Academy to improve her spell casting skills. She soon has a best friend in the form of Bertha Bobbit, a big girl, with a matching appetite. Add to that a Moat Monster with a flatulence problem, the weirdest array of witch’s Familiars possible, and a warlock determined to ruin Gertie’s chances of success, and the story unfolds. Not to mention the demon…

What gave you the incentive to write this book?
I love humorous fantasy, and have read a lot of it. The master of this genre is of course, Terry Pratchett, and I would like to think that Terry has inspired my writing in many ways. Gertie began many years ago simply with an idea, and though the theme of a witch going to a witching school has been likened to Harry Potter, my book was in the process of being penned long before JK became famous. Once I began the book, the characters took over and worked their way through the rest of it. I love Gertie as a character, and I hope others feel the same about her! I would like her to return one day…

Can you sum the book up in one sentence?
A light hearted and very funny excursion into children’s fantasy

Have your characters or writing been inspired by friends/ family or by real-life experiences?
I doubt if there are any writers out there who do not rely on at least some of their life’s experiences in their writing. Characters with Lancashire accents have a habit of creeping into my novels, especially when writing humour. I believe I have that off to a fine art…Then of course there’s the animated umbrella in ‘Gertie Gets it Right (eventually)’ inspired by a true incident that happened to my Mother with her wooden-headed umbrella, but that’s another story.

What is your favourite scene in your book? Can we have a snippet?
It’s very difficult to pick out one favourite scene because there are so many I enjoyed writing. Since I mentioned this in an earlier question, I will choose one from the early chapters when Gertie learns how to animate her umbrella. It is an impressive black one with the head of a bat as the handle…

Gertie concentrated even harder, and tried again. She had no reason to wonder why it shouldn’t work, so she believed with all her heart.

This time, she felt sure she saw the bat’s little nose quiver. Encouraged by this, Gertie tried again. She wasn’t one to give up easily.

“A…a…Atishooooooooo!” sneezed the bat’s head. “Gor Blimey,” he continued, “I’ve got a blinking cold. No wonder mind, being out in all weathers. How would you like it? Being upside down with cold water pouring down your ears? Never think of me do you? Oh no, you don’t take me out on nice sunny days do you?”

Gertie tried to reply, but didn’t get a chance.
“No,” the umbrella continued. “I only see light of day when it’s pouring rain. What a life. Don’t interrupt,” he added, seeing Gertie about to speak. “At last, I can have my say, and no one is going to stop me. I HATE rain, do you hear me? I hate it. Why I was put on this Earth to be an umbrella I don’t know. I must have done something really evil in a past life to deserve this, that’s all I can say.”

Unfortunately, it wasn’t all he could say. Because he continued.

“Not only rain either, mind. You take me out when it’s snowing too, and blowing a gale. My ears get blooming freezing. And what do I get when we arrive home for all my hard work? Cocoa? Hot chocolate? Kind words and a nice warm fire? No, a blooming good shake. That’s what I get.”

Do you have an agent, or have you gone alone?
No, I don’t have an agent, but if there are any out there reading this with interest, please get in touch! I was simply lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time (which had to be a first for me) when the writers site ‘You Write On’ gave the opportunity for publication. I thought about it carefully for at least five seconds before I snatched their hands off!

I would perhaps use them again, because my only disappointment was a very plain cover for both my books. You can’t judge a book by its cover, and all that, but Gertie and Zac deserve much more interesting and colourful ones! I would initially try to gain the interest of an established publisher who would give me the necessary backing to promote my next book more. It is an arduous task!

What marketing have you been doing to help sales?
I will try almost anything to promote my books! I am always happy to do interviews like this, I have my own website and blog, an Author page on Amazon UK, and copies of my books are available in my local library. If anyone has any more promotion ideas, I will be pleased to hear them!

How long does it take you to write a book? Have your written other books (give titles)?
My first two published books were long in the writing, because my writing skills have improved considerably over time. The first draft of Gertie was written many years ago when I naively believed that if you write a good story, someone will want to publish it. I didn’t, at the time, know all the ‘rules’ involved in writing a good book, and that has come over many years. The published version of Gertie is many drafts away from that first completed story…

My other published book is a children’s sword and sorcery fantasy,‘Zac’s Destiny’, and I am currently writing a very different humorous children’s fantasy, ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’, and a fantasy for adults, ‘Dimensions’.

Which comes first for you – characters or plot?
I think I would have to say plot, though characters come a very close second. For me, the initial ideas for the book have to come first, but it doesn’t take long before the characters take over a lot of the writing. I get to the point where I will think, no, Gertie wouldn’t do or say that. At that point the characters determine what comes next in a way, but they still follow a meandering version of my original plot.

How did you get into writing? Did you always want to become a writer?
I began to write while I was temporarily out of work after completing a psychology degree. I have wanted to write for as long as I can remember, but a lot of the problem is making enough time to do it while holding down a full-time job. Writing is my life, and ultimately is all I want to do as a career. I just need to pen that best seller!

You mentioned other books that you are working on. Tell us a little more about them.
Yes, I am working on two books. Strangely, that is how I seem to write best. One is humorous, the other serious. If I am not feeling particularly humorous, I write the serious fantasy. If I feel inspired to humour, then I write that one. They are such very different books, fortunately I never get mixed up!

The humorous book is another children’s fantasy, ‘Be Careful What You Wish For.’ Here is a brief synopsis:

Finn is a bored young leprechaun. He wants something exciting to happen, but never having been blessed by the Good Luck Fairy, he soon gets far more than he bargained for. This is no fairy tale…

And here is an amusing anecdote from the opening chapters:

Neither was poor Finn the most fortunate leprechaun ever to grace the Dell. Contrary to popular belief, leprechauns are not born lucky. Fortune is a blessing bestowed by the Good Luck Fairy, providing she is in an agreeable mood, and more to the point, as long as she is there.

Many people wish on the name of the Good Luck Fairy, or even leave little offerings for her under their pillows as they sleep in the hope she will grant them some good fortune. Leprechauns go one better, they encourage her to visit in person to bless their newborns. Magical types have a habit of sticking together, so she was happy to visit Duntappin once every twelve months. The main reason being she enjoyed the donations of the grateful parents, if truth be told.

Finn’s parents hated queues, so when they knew the fairy was due to visit the village to bless all the children born in the vicinity since her last visit, they waited a while to give the crush time to dwindle.

“It’ll be much better,” decided Lorcan, Finn’s father. “Let all the others queue in the heat with their screaming bundles. When they’ve gone, we can just walk right up and have our boy blessed in peace.”

Riona smiled. Lorcan always had the best ideas.

They arrived late in the beautiful dell just outside the village. The sun still shone, the bees buzzed through the cloudless sky, but something was wrong. The fact was they were so late the long queue had built, been blessed, then decreased, and gone away. The Good Luck fairy had also clumped off back to wherever she hailed from with her grateful donations of cakes and sweets.

Lorcan didn’t want his good idea to be blamed, so he said “Never mind, my love. Place the lad on the ground there. It will work just as well.”

Ma O’Shea looked where her husband was pointing, then lay Finn on the spot where the fairy had trampled the grass down when she carried out her blessings. It was obvious where she had stood as she was quite a heavy fairy due to her sweet tooth, and she had a habit of stomping around while she chanted. They hoped some of the luck may have dropped off her while she blessed and stomped. The O’Shea’s couldn’t be sure how well it would work. Maybe Finn would at least have a lucky backside; it was the best they could hope for.

A brief synopsis for Dimensions follows:

When Leah first sees the old necklace in the window of an antique shop, little does she know what life has in store for her. Increasingly drawn to the pentacle on a silver chain, Leah finally buys it and soon finds herself having strange dreams about Stonehenge. Trying to put the dreams to rest, she visits the ancient site; only to be transported into another dimension.

Leah arrives in a besieged land of wizardry, magic and demon might. The land needs the help of an Outlander, and to Leah’s disbelief and shock, she has been called.

And a snippet from the early chapters:

It was then she heard the wet, snuffling sound. As she looked around herself, the approaching riders all but forgotten, Leah strained to hear the sound again. She caught movement from the corner of her eye. By the time she turned her head in its general direction, all she saw was a vague sense of something disappearing behind one of the huge stones. In a panic now, frozen to the monolith against which she clung, all Leah could do was wait for it to reappear.

When it did, Leah felt her heart stop. The creature looked vaguely human, but the similarity ended there. Even stooped, it stood taller than Leah’s five foot four. Sickly white skin hung from its bony frame in long, pendulous flaps. It gave the impression of its skeleton having shrunk, leaving nothing for the excess skin to hold on to. The head was bald, apart from a few tufts of hair here and there on the scabrous scalp. Pus oozed from sores all over its body. The creature’s bloodshot eyes stared about wildly, the holes in its face dilating to sniff the air, searching. Couldn’t it see her? Was it blind? Leah didn’t move, or make a sound. Her very soul wanted to scream out and run, but she knew her life could depend on her actions right now.

The creature came nearer, and the smell of rotting flesh was overwhelming. Leah gagged, trying to hold her breath. The monstrosity turned its head, quizzically, and let out a deep sigh of annoyance. Even where she stood, Leah was sickened by the stench that came from the creature’s cracked and bloodless mouth. Something must have crawled in there and died, she thought. It turned, listening again. The holes on the side of its head dilated, as did the nostrils again. The glazed eyes turned, and stared straight at her.

What mistakes do you see new writers make?
I think, like myself, it is easy to believe that a good book will be snatched up and published. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Writing does not just involve an inventive mind. If the tale, no matter how good, isn’t written to the agreed publishing format and standard, then publishers will not consider it. New writer’s need to face this and address it. The fantastic idea for a story is just the beginning.

What advice would you give aspiring authors.
Don’t give up. You are very unlikely to have your life’s work snatched up by the first publisher or agent you send it to. Be prepared for the long haul, but believe in yourself, and don’t lose hope. There could be someone out there just waiting for your book to drop on their desk. The hard part is finding them…

Contacts: Website: http://www.lynnenorth.co.uk/

Ford Street Publishing

Wardragon (The Jelindel Chronicles, Book 4)Paul Collins is the author of over 100 books for children from picture books through to young adults. He’s probably best known for The Jelindel Chronicles and The Quentaris Chronicles.


He’s both publisher and author.  He’s been self-published, turned his hand to POD, and is now an indie publisher with his own company Ford Street Publishing: http://www.fordstreetpublishing.com/ 


Ford Street is a successful small independent Australian http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0734404700&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrpublisher of children’s books. They aim to publish picture books through to young adult fiction. Ford has a strong presence in the market place through INT Books and Macmillan. Authors and illustrators submitting their work are strongly advised to study the types of books Ford publishes.

http://www.paulcollins.com.au/
http://www.quentaris.com/

What is your role within Ford Street?
Everything rolled into one! Commissioning editor, publisher, proofreader, publicist, warehouseman, printer liaison, administrative/reception person. You name it. I do freelance out some editing and all the design work, though!

What is your typical day like?
I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time promoting Ford Street’s books. Mostly via social media, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, contacting online booksellers, etc. In order, though, take the dogs out for a run, shower, read the paper, breakfast, by which time’s it’s 9:30am and then it’s on the computer and the day really starts as per the “most job” description.

Do you get many unsolicited enquires?
I get one or two a day. Everyone gets replied to. Some of our best titles came through the unsolicited pile.

Would you consider a children’s book from further afield such as America?
I only publish Australian authors. The reason for this is that they’re here to promote their books. Authors and illustrators can go on tour here and promote their books in municipal and school libraries, and this is where a lot of our sales come from. Take this market away and it really is a struggle to make ends meet. 

Are you a self-publisher? Do you charge any fees?

I’d certainly make a lot more money being a vanity press! But no, I don’t charge. I generally pay a $2000 advance against 10% royalties. 

What’s the difference between Ford Street Publishing and a vanity press?
There’s no comparison. Ford Street pays its authors and illustrators, vanity press charges them.

Do you advise/or edit authors novels prior to publishing?
That’s a must. There’s always room for improvement. I think most level-headed authors know that, and some even expect it.

How many do you turn away?
Put it this way, I receive 350+ manuscripts a year, and I can only publish eight of them.

Do you have busier months than others?
The beginning of the year is usually the busiest, because that’s when I have to get serious about publishing schedules. And some people, as we know, don’t adhere to deadlines. Think of any friend who is never on time, and you’ll know what I’m saying here!

How close do you work with writers?
Pretty close. I know most of them personally now.

How many authors do you have?

I’ve published about twenty authors and illustrators. About half of them are first timers, the other half have published before.

How many books have you written personally?
Must be over 130 books and more than 140 short stories. You’re still a novice if you can count them lol.

Are they all the same genre?
I’ve written both non-fiction and fiction. The latter across all genres, but mostly fantasy and science fiction. Non-fiction includes eight books on martial arts, extreme sports, Egypt, etc.

Any favourites?
The Jelindel Chronicles and The Quentaris Chronicles. I liked The Earthborn Wars, but they were published in the US, so most Australian readers wouldn’t know them.

Are they available on places like Amazon?

Quite a few are, although unless books are warehoused in the US, it’s hard to get them listed, unless of course it’s via POD or e-book on Kindle. On this note I have started uploading Ford Street’s books to Kindle. So far I have about seven titles. It’s a slow process because books have to be converted. Although amazon reports huge sales in their e-books, I suspect many of those are the best-sellers, not unknown authors. Interesting times ahead!

Any tips for aspiring writers?
Persistence is the key.

Explain a little about your latest book?

A question people often ask authors is “Are your characters based on people you know?” In this case, yes, Clara is based on a friend of mine. She’s one of those people who lives a charmed life. Everything comes easily to her.

She exists in her own perfect bubble where everything is beautiful and easy. Perhaps because of this, she misses out on some of the more interesting aspects of life. If you don’t take risks, your life will be easy, sure, but flat, with no ups and downs.

So I invented the character of Clara, and made her a gardener in a glasshouse – a perfect bubble where everything is perfectly controlled.

I find picture books hard to write. I’m more likely to be writing fantasy novels than picture books. And in all fantasy novels or movies (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, etc,) there’s a structure. Hero is reluctant to leave their cosy home, a mentor comes along and gives them a kick up the butt to get out there and get a life! So using the fantasy structure, I decided I needed a mentor to help out Clara on her own personal quest to a more interesting life, and to help her break free from her paranoia.



And so this is where the boy comes into The Glasshouse – to help guide our reluctant hero, Clara, or “free” her and help show her that life on the outside can be just as good, if not better, if you’re prepared to take a risk. Then I had to think of something for her to be growing in her glasshouse. Tomatoes were the obvious choice – it’s about the only thing I can grow at home! But last year two pumpins, a Kent and Queensland Blue, suddenly appeared. And I thought they’d be perfect for Clara to grow in her glasshouse. They’re bigger and rounder and just generally more interesting – think Cinderella and Halloween for kids.

Paul Collins
Ford Street Publishing Pty Ltd
2 Ford Street
Clifton Hill, Vic 3068
Australia

Meet Allan Mayer and his book Tasting the Wind

Andrew saw what happened. Eddie saw what happened. But their severe learning disabilities prevent them from communicating what they have seen.
Ten years later, the hospital is destined for closure and Andrew and Eddie move to a bungalow in the community.
Enter Martin Peach, who has come into care work for all the wrong reasons. As if the challenge of helping six severely disabled people settle into a sometimes hostile community is not enough, his new manager, ex-nurse Della Belk, has a deadly secret which links her to the new residents…

Can Martin and his colleagues put together the fragmented clues about Andrew and Eddie’s pasts before one of them becomes the next victim?
Trailer Allan Mayer- Tasting the Wind Chapter 1

This is an amazing offer by Allan. He is prepared to giveaway an ebook of Tasting the Wind for FREE. Tell us Allan, why would you want to do that?

The novel took me ten years to write and I want to give it to you, free of charge…

Attached is a FREE e-book, Tasting the Wind.The paperback would cost you £8.99 on Amazon. Click HERE to see it and to read some excellent reviews.

So why am I giving it away?
There are 3 reasons:

1) We are living in difficult economic times. I want to give you a free read. If you want to check out what it’s about and if it’s any good, click on the link above.

2) Because we live in difficult economic times the powers that be will be looking to cut essential services. ‘Tasting the Wind’ is partly set in a 1980s institution for people with learning disabilities. I want to raise awareness of what life could be like for people with learning disabilities if funding cuts force them to return to institutional styles of living.

3) The profits from the paperback go to Derian House children’s Hospice. If you keep your copy of the e-book I would ask you to give a donation (as much or as little as you like, if you give £1/ $1 and pass this on it could make a million!) to Derian House. You are under no obligation, but if you wish to do so go to: http://www.derianhouse.co.uk/donate.html

Please forward this on to your friends and contacts.
Other links for ‘Tasting the Wind’ :
My blog- http://allanmayer.wordpress.com/
Tasting the Wind Facebook page- http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=56190762166
Do you use Kindle or another electronic reader? Download your free copy of ‘Tasting the Wind’ here:
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/5061
And finally: although I do not wish to make money from this book, I do have an ego. Please add reviews on Amazon, and join my Facebook page.
Let me know what you think, and how far round the world this has travelled.

Tasting the Wind is a tale of the lives of a group of mental patients who move out of their institution into “care in the community”. You class it as a thriller, can you tell us a little more about its genre?
With ‘Tasting the Wind’ I have perhaps committed the cardinal sin for a new author of writing in mixed genre. It certainly is a thriller, because the whole premise is what happens when two people who can’t communicate what they have seen witness a ‘murder’ and the person responsible is the manager of their care facility?

But it does cross genres. Originally I wrote a novel which aimed to show the reality of the lives of people with learning disabilities and give a realistic account of moving from a long stay hospital into the community.

I soon realised that it had been done before, for instance in the novel ‘Walter’ which was dramatised on the opening night of channel 4.

I decided that I wanted to entertain as well as inform people about a fascinating period of history. I wanted humour in there as the lives of people with learning disabilities, like the lives of everyone else, are a mixture of tragedy and comedy.

Originally the death came half way through and the nurse’s culpability was never discovered. What would happen, I thought, if I moved the death to the prologue?

Life is mixed genre. I believe that fiction should represent that and feel that publishers’ preference for single genre, although it is understandable because that is what the customer wants, is inhibiting.

What gave you the incentive to write this book?
Two reasons. Firstly, I felt that in working in long stay Mental Handicap hospitals in the 1980s I had had a unique experience. I had witnessed things that the majority of the population would never see. If you want to know what I’m talking about have a look at a documentary called ‘The Silent Minority’ which can be seen on ‘YouTube.’

Secondly, ‘Tasting the Wind’ came to me when I had been diagnosed with depression- a diagnosis which later changed to Seasonal Affective Disorder- I needed a longterm project, something to get me through the dark days.

It’s commendable that 50% of your royalties are going to Derian House Children’s Hospice. What is your connection to the hospice?
I’ve never been asked that, but when I think about it there are several. The first is that It’s local, and it gives dying children quality of life. How important is that? But there is more to my connection.

I first heard about Derian in the early 1990s, when it was being set up, at the same time that I was setting up a day service for adults with profound learning disabilities. My service was visited by some very well spoken ladies from the local council who, in a conversation with our Director of Finance, spoke disparagingly of how Derian house had been set up without government funding and would never survive.

I was brought up a socialist, and although professionallity prevented me from speaking, I seethed at their superior and glib attitude. This was about dying children, and why didn’t the government that they so obviously supported (you can fill in the gaps) fund such an essential service?

So since that day I have given to Derian House. I used to do amateur dramatics, and when I had to have my beard shaved off to play an ugly sister I had it sponsored for Derian House.

And guess what? Twenty years on Derian House is still providing an excellent service. Another connection is that Derian doesn’t only provide services for children in their last days. Sometimes children with profound disabilities stay there for respite, and some of those children now use the service I manage as adults.

You can find out more about Derian House at http://www.derianhouse.co.uk/

Have your characters or writing been inspired by friends/ family or by real-life experiences?
The whole of ‘Tasting the Wind’ is inspired by the work I did in the mid eighties in what we used to a ‘Mental Handicap Hospital.’ Most of my characters are a combination of up to four people I have known, but are unique in that the old adage is true- they take on life of their own. Once a character had formed I would put them in a situation and their reactions wrote themselves.

One character who is not a combination is Jamie, who is based on David Heffer, a superb care worker who worked with people with learning disabilities and had so much to offer to the future development of services. The IRA decided that he wouldn’t get to make this contribution when they planted a bomb in a Covent Garden pub.

One of the best outcomes of publishing ‘Tasting the Wind’ was that it led to David’s family contacting me. We spent a lovely weekend together, which I have recorded in my blog.

What is your favourite scene in your book? Can we have a snippet?
That’s a difficult one. Because of the mixture of genres one passage may give the impression that it is a miserable tragedy, another would say ‘slapstick comedy.’ So I’ve chosen the scene where the ‘patients’ finally leave the hospital which has been their home for decades.

By way of explanation: Eddie has coped with his years of institutionalisation by inventing imaginary characters and pets, such as Pansy the dog. Don Maguire is the Hospital Bully. Frankie is a patient that Eddie witnessed being murdered by a nurse ten years previously. Got that? God- here we go:

Eddie’s leave-taking was that of a celebrity: kissing the reception staff, waving to all and sundry and swinging his carrier bag as he passed through a corridor of patients, all chanting ‘nee-naw nee naw.’ Behind him came Jamie, uncharacteristically red-faced, carrying a large blue suitcase with a red balloon tied to the handle.

‘Come on, Pansy, come on boy, we’re escaping.’
‘Eddie,’ Jamie called as he approached the bus, ‘I thought you’d agreed to leave Pansy behind?’

Eddie looked down, his eyes glazing. Then with a beam and a flicker of white tipped tooth he said ‘Yes, Pansy, stay here boy, off you go,’ as he pretended to throw an invisible stick and watch the dog race back into the hospital.

‘Bye Pansy. Be a good dog.’
Eddie squeezed into his seat he held his carrier bag to his chest and, staring at the hospital, muttered, ‘mustn’t forget Frankie. Must take Frankie with us.’

‘But there isn’t a Frankie,’ said Ruth, ‘or are you thinking about Billy?’

Eddie shook his head, as if she was misunderstanding what he was saying and there was no way that he could ever explain.

As Rita and Oscar started to cheer, signifying that the bus was setting off, Eddie stepped for a moment out of his private world and joined in, waving his bag as if it were a flag. With the other hand he was patting the air and talking out of the corner of his mouth: ‘Hush boy,’ he whispered, ‘need you where I’m going, but bark like that and the screws will hear you.’

At the main gate, Don Maguire was leaning against the post. For once he was not wearing his green jacket. Instead he wore jeans and a T-shirt, and was pretending that he was too much of a man to feel the chill of the early spring breeze. Rita turned from him, rubbing her eye.

‘‘E no ma boyfren no more,’ said Rita.
Colin stopped as a tractor went past, giving Oscar a chance to slide open a small window and give the Don his parting message:

‘Bye Don. Will you miss me?’

‘Fuck off.’
‘Hey Don, when I was in the office I saw your records. They say you’ve got the biggest brain in the mental hospital…’

Don’s chest puffed out as he shrugged as if to say ‘isn’t that obvious?’
‘…And the smallest cock they’ve ever seen.’

As the bus started to pull out of the grounds, Oscar reached into the black bin bag at his feet and held up a green jacket, which he waved like a victor’s banner. A study in rage, Don Maguire shouted obscenities and waved his fists; but there may as well have been an invisible field across the entrance, because he never once stepped out of the grounds. As Don’s rage receded into silence, Colin looked in his mirror, watching the hospital grow smaller and smaller, until it disappeared.
They had left.

This is an amazing offer by Allen:

The novel attached to this e-mail took me ten years to write and I want to give it to you, free of charge…

Please forward this to everyone you know.
You should have received this e-mail from me or someone you know. If not, please delete it.
Attached is a FREE e-book, Tasting the wind.
The paperback would cost you £8.99 on Amazon. Click HERE to see it and to read some excellent reviews.
So why am I giving it away?
There are 3 reasons:

1) We are living in difficult economic times. I want to give you a free read. If you want to check out what it’s about and if it’s any good, click on the link above.

2) Because we live in difficult economic times the powers that be will be looking to cut essential services. ‘Tasting the Wind’ is partly set in a 1980s institution for people with learning disabilities. I want to raise awareness of what life could be like for people with learning disabilities if funding cuts force them to return to institutional styles of living.

3) The profits from the paperback go to Derian House children’s Hospice. If you keep your copy of the e-book I would ask you to give a donation (as much or as little as you like, if you give £1/ $1 and pass this on it could make a million!) to Derian House. You are under no obligation, but if you wish to do so go to: http://www.derianhouse.co.uk/donate.html

Please forward this on to your friends and contacts.
Other links for ‘Tasting the Wind’ :
My blog- http://allanmayer.wordpress.com/
Tasting the Wind Facebook page- http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=56190762166
Do you use Kindle or another electronic reader? Download your free copy of ‘Tasting the Wind’ here:
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/5061
And finally: although I do not wish to make money from this book, I do have an ego. Please add reviews on Amazon, and join my Facebook page.

Let me know what you think, and how far round the world this has travelled,
Thanks,
Allan Mayer

Do you have an agent, or have you gone alone?

I went alone- sort of. I spent ages getting rejection letters, as you do. I wrote to my hero, Dean Koontz, and got a reply which recommended that the new writer should write in a single genre. He acknowledged that he got away from the single genre thing because of who he was, but that the new writer should do that to get a mainstream publisher.

Now I had a problem. I was a new writer, but didn’t believe that Tasting the Wind could be properly presented in a single genre. So I decided to do it myself. I talked to friends who had self-published, but that seemed to be too expensive and too involved. Then someone informed me that YouWriteOn were offering a cheap Print on Demand service.

Did you send Koontz a copy of Tasting the Wind?
No, but it did cross my mind. It was just that his letter said how his brief had advised him never to comment on stuff that was sent to him- you can imagine it can’t you- ‘Why aren’t you publishing my book- Koontz said it was good.’ It is well worth writing to him- you get a really thick package back. I got his standard letter, which says that he is busy writing, but the signature is genuine (well worth having I thought.)

Then… there was a messager in ink at the bottom of the page which said: see other letter….
and there was another letter which advised me as a new writer to go for a high concept novel. Thing was, it didn’t answer any of my specific questions, so I guess his team have a stock of letters, some for fans and others for writers asking for advice. Nevertheless, I am pleased to have a couple of signatures and feel very happy with the response. He’s also got an excellent website, don’t know if you’ve seen it:
http://www.deankoontz.com/

Tasting the Wind is published with a POD company YouWriteOn. Were you happy with their service?
There was a lot of criticism of YWO in the early days of their POD service. They had claimed that they could publish 5000 novels in the three months before Christmas 2008. That was never going to happen. Critics from the publishing world claimed that the quality of their publications could not be assured and compared it to vanity press.

For my part, I could accept the shortcomings of the service, but have never had reason to call it a scam. The books are of good quality- admittedly they lack the benefit of professional proof reading- but they don’t fall apart like some of the earlier POD books apparently did. These days, anyone who asks me about the wisdom of using a POD publisher I would direct to my reviews on Amazon UK. The critics say that POD books are only bought by friends and relations. Only two of my reviews come from friends, and most of them are five star. These days we have the internet, and if you learn a few marketing skills you should be able to sell your book beyond your immediate circle.

My only criticism of YWO as a service is that books ordered direct took ages to come- I now order books exclusively from Amazon.uk and use their free delivery option.

Would you do it again?
It would depend. Tasting the Wind was a one off which wouldn’t fit into a category. If I wrote another book I would still go through the traditional route of submitting to agents and publishers. If that failed then yes I would use a POD publisher again. I would rather get my work out to an audience- however small- than leave it sitting on my hard drive.

What marketing have you been doing to help sales?
What marketing haven’t I done? Well not TV and radio yet- although I did wake up one morning to find that an American internet radio station had featured me. I’ve done local papers and magazines, and saturated the internet. (just Google Allan Mayer Tasting the Wind and you’ll see what I mean.)

I spent most of 2009 exploring every avenue of marketing. Take a look at my blog to see the whole list. Some worked, some didn’t.

The most important lesson that I could pass on about marketing of a self-published or POD book is to find your niche audience. I finally found it this year when I did some readings at the Open University. There is a group there which studies the Social History of Learning Disabilities. I so enjoyed doing the readings and afterwards people queued for me to sign copies- a small taste of fame which I will never forget.

(The reading was recorded and will soon be added to the OU website at: http://www.open.ac.uk/hsc/ldsite/conferences_v2.html )

Through the conference I also made some useful contacts in the academic world. Tasting the Wind will be being reviewed in the Briutish Journal of Learning Disabilities in December (one of the biggest journals in the field) and is on reading lists at Manchester University and at Lancashire Adult Learning.

Having said that, I would hope that Tasting the Wind is of interest not only to people in the field of Learning Disability. What I set out to do was open a window into a world that few have seen firsthand.

How long does it take you to write a book?
Tasting the Wind took ten years. Part of that was the need to get it right. It was a labour of love, and a very difficult balancing act . I wanted to present realistic characters with learning disabilities without being patronising or stereotypical. I wanted to get over a ‘message’ without preaching. I also wanted to include humour and was very conscious that handled wrongly it could have looked like I was poking fun or laughing at rather than laughing with the characters.

Which comes first for you – characters or plot?
I can’t think of a simple answer to this one. The original kernel of inspiration was my own experience, therefore at that stage characters and happenings were intertwined. Then I would combine characters and add my own original tweaks until they took on a life of their own. The plot then developed in ways I had not anticipated once these new creations started to interact. So I suppose that the characters do have some sort of primacy, although the relationship between character and plot is probably best described as symbiotic.

The best example of the book ‘writing itself’ is to do with the demise of the villain of the piece. She is based on a real person (who for obvious legal reasons cannot be named.) The real ‘Della’ abused people with learning disabilities, and when this was found out was not punished but ‘promoted out’ of the situation. This was my original ending, but when my wife complained that it was not sufficient (although sadly realistic) I looked at an alternative ending. One leaped out, based on what had gone before, and I can promise you that it is dramatic, appropriate and satisfying.

How did you get into writing? Did you always want to become a writer?
Yes. As a child I would write stories and poems. In my teens I had poetry published in local anthologies and used to contribute to readings. A bit scary when you’re fifteen, but it was good experience. I always wanted to write a novel but it was a long time until I felt that I had the right subject. My favourite reading genre was Science Fiction, and I was waiting for a Sci- Fi story to come along. It never did.

Are you working on another book? Possible to have a preview snippet or blurb of that?
I have completed the first draft of a thriller. I have degrees in theology, so have decided to put them to good use in writing a Dan Brown style thriller packed with biblical clues and cultish conspiracy.

For one reason or another I haven’t had time to do much to it recently. I’m hoping to return to it eventually, and the gap will hopefully help me to view it more critically so that I can be merciless in my editing.

I have never been able to show anything to anyone while I’m still working on it. I had been writing Tasting the Wind for many years before my wife even got a glimpse of it. It’s a personal thing.

What I can say is that it involves a theology lecturer (Jack Ellison) who gets involved in a local fundamentalist church where a young girl claims to be demon possessed. Soon he finds himself in life-threatening situations, as do others who are close to him, and each time a biblical clue is left. Are the clues related to the ‘demoniac’ or are they linked to Jack’s former life where he rescued youngsters from cults? It’s a million miles away from ‘Tasting the Wind’ but in my new novel (working title ‘Legion’s Daughter’ I am still writing about ‘what I know.’

What mistakes do you see new writers make?
To me one of the most serious mistakes is not paying enough attention to editing. Once a first draft is complete you may have to slash it by half, completely cutting scenes which you may really like but which do not take the story forward. This takes a lot of honesty, discipline, and understanding of form.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Go in with your eyes open and know why you are writing. Be your own greatest critic- why give someone else the pleasure?

As well as mastering the craft of writing, learn about the world of publishing and book marketing. Get hold of a copy of the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, and visit web resources such as the excellent ‘How Publishing Really Works’ and ‘Absolute Write.’

Another piece of advice which I got from a confidence coach, was to identify your model of excellence. Choose a writer you admire, study their style, find out their beliefs about writing, write to them- meet them if you can (without becoming a nuisance or a stalker!) They did it- so can you.

Above all, enjoy your writing and enjoy the world of writing. Few of us will make a living from it, but all of us can enjoy many of its rewards.

Contacts:

Sarah O’Donoghue’s Primortia

Sarah O’Donoghue is here to talk to us about her science-fiction novel, Primortia:

“Primortia: the holy seizure that strikes without warning, the curse that has shaped Hutosan culture and civilisation. After losing her brother to Primortia, Shonoka Lagan devotes her life to studying the phenomenon. Now she believes it can be stopped. With clues from her grandmother’s diary, Shonoka begins an adventure that reveals the secrets of her family, her planet, and the ageless stranger with his peculiar green stone…”

Author of Primortia, Sarah O’Donaghue is a UK-based writer with a background in language and science teaching and she is the co-author of Oxford Content and Language Support: Science (2010 Oxford University Press).
She has been living and breathing science fiction for over twenty years. She has been involved in many fandoms from Doctor Who to steampunk but has always wanted to create her own sandbox to play in.
The world of Primortia has been in development for four years and is growing all the time.
The first of the series: Primortia is available to buy – paperback £11.99, download £3.99 from http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/primortia/12918783
I asked Sarah a few questions abut her writing, Primorita and her experience with self-publisher Lulu:
Who, or what, is Primortia?
Primortia is a seizure that strikes some people on the world of Hutosa where most of the book is set. No Hutosan knows what causes it but as the book progresses the reader discovers that nothing about Primortia is what it appears.

Can you tell us a little about it?
A religion has developed around Primortia over the centuries to the point where it defines many of the world’s cultures. People who have the seizure are known as Primortians, and it is known to run in families. Once someone has suffered a seizure they’re on a countdown to transfer, which Hutosans believe to be death. They are fitted with a Primortian Mark by the monks in their local Primortian Temple and are released on condition that they return just before their transfer. This period of time can vary but it’s never more than a few months. The Primortian Temples control Primortians and therefore the fear the general population has of the condition and those who suffer it.
Is Shonoka the main character of the book? What is she about?
Primortia is the story of two women. Shonoka, known to her friends and family as Shony, is on a search to discover what Primortia is. She lost her brother to Primortia when they were children and she has dedicated her life to discovering its secrets. When the novel opens she’s an academic, about to enter what she knows will be a loveless marriage, who is starting to work out some of what Primortia is. We meet her at her grandmother’s funeral. She was very close to her grandmother, Piany, and Shony starts to learn more about her grandmother through the diaries she left behind. The diaries give her information about Piany’s mysterious past and the adventures she got involved with before Shony was born. Shony is inspired to break free from what society expects from her and pursue the truth of Primortia. She gets caught up in a quest she never imagined with a man from her grandmother’s past, and finds out that Primortia has consequences far beyond her world.

What era is Primortia set?
Primortia is set across multiple eras and locations but Shony’s story unfolds in her world’s modern-day which has technology loosely comparable to ours. Hutosa has regular space travel within its own system but people still like to travel by ship. Most cultures have evolved from monarchies to democracies, but religion is dictated by a central order of Primortian monasteries.

How much research did it involve?
The first ideas for Primortia were sparked about five years ago when I had the idea of a woman learning about her grandmother from diaries she’d left behind. From there I started to world-build Hutosa and the other locations and eras within the story. I have always had an interest in science and there is a very important mineral within the novel that became a character itself. I drew on courses I have taken in astronomy and geology to create a source and properties for this mineral which, whilst not exactly true to science, are at least vaguely plausible!

How does it compare with other novels?
I’ve been reading and involved with science fiction for over twenty years and whilst I love the ‘hard’ science fiction of Clarke, Verne and Asimov I’ve always been drawn to science fiction written by women like Marge Piercy and Connie Willis. I love Connie Willis’ work, particularly her novel Bellwether. Her books combine romance, science and science fiction in fascinating ways and I’ve aimed to mix up the genres as she has done.

What audience is the book intended?
Not to sound selfish but I primarily wrote what I wanted most to read! There is very little science fiction with a romantic element out there and I wanted more! Primortia contains space-faring, technologically-based societies, time travel and a brutal war; but it’s also the story of two women, one in the present and one in the past, each trying to escape what their society expects of them and to find out the truth about their families. I hope the novel will appeal to anyone who enjoys science fiction for adults.

How long did it take you to write it, and how many drafts?
The actual writing took about two years. The first half was written as my project for NaNoWriMo back in 2006 and then I wrote another story, set in the same universe in 2007/8. It was then that I discovered that the story was actually one continuous novel and spent the next eighteen months in Editing Hell, moulding and enriching the storyline to create what became the finished book. Looking at my hard drive I went through 16 drafts. I really hope I never need quite so many again!

Will you be interested in writing another genre?
Not at the moment. The science fiction and fantasy genres have been my home for over twenty years because they are so rich. I can’t remember who said it but I’ve read that the grand stories of our time can only be contained by an arena as vast as SF/fantasy. Older societies had mythologies and sagas. SF/fantasy is where our battles between heroes and villains, gods and demons are now played out.

Is it going to be part of a series?
I’ve just started writing the sequel to Primortia, using NaNoWriMo 2010 to kickstart the writing process. Primortia 2 (not the final title!) will answer all the major questions left at the end of Primortia, but there are many other stories to be told within the Primortian universe so it’s a place I plan to come back to in future books. I’m aiming for a reader to be able to pick up Primortia 2 and jump right into the story but the books are designed to be read in order.

Do you have a favourite scene in the book? Can we have a snippet?
I think it has to be the scene where Shony first explores a place called the Sundial Garden. I’ve always loved sundials and their image is woven throughout the novel. Here’s a snippet:

One dial appeared to be made of clear glass, raised looping patterns etched onto its matching base, numbers unrecognisable. She was familiar with the Dargan Firescript of another dial, mounted on a base of volcanic rock, pockmarked with chips exposing the voids within the stone. Next to a sundial carved into a large block of horostone, another base was engraved with spirals and swirls. They were ancient carvings, perhaps dating back to the Samana Dynasty. She remembered reading of their ancient priesthood who worshipped the end of the world and, stooping to look at the worn carvings, she could make out crude figures running from a large spiky shape in the sky. An explosion perhaps? Intrigued, she knelt on the grass, her finger tracing the patterns in the crumbling sandstone. From her new position she could see some of the figures were prostrate, perhaps praying, perhaps dying. Then she saw a blurred shape at the centre of the explosion. It was a large, deep rectangle. Age had barely blurred the edges of the shape.

 Are you agented?

No, I’m not agented and I haven’t tried to find an agent for Primortia for a number of reasons. Firstly, I know that very few agents will touch Science Fiction, secondly, I want to keep control of my books and finally I see internet publishing as getting more and more powerful year by year. Thanks to the internet I can get my book printed, promoted and distributed right around the world; and thanks to the internet I can interact with readers and writers on every continent.

You published with Lulu. What was your experience with them?
I’ve been really pleased with Lulu. I did a lot of research before deciding to go self-published, and I did a lot of research before deciding to go with Lulu. I read a lot of other authors’ websites to find out about their experiences and in the end Lulu seemed best for me.

Were they expensive?
I haven’t given Lulu a penny!

If you hit a problem were they there for you?
So far I haven’t hit any problems, but any queries I’ve had about formatting, distribution etc have been answered on their comprehensive user forums.

Do they help with marketing?
I’ve opted for their Extended Reach distribution package which has given me a Lulu ISBN and distribution with Amazon (that should be online within the month). Again, all this has been free. I’ve taken on marketing duties myself, setting up my website www.primortia.com and getting involved in science fiction and writing communities.

Did they typeset the novel?
The option is there but I chose to do this myself. Again, other author pages gave me great advice on formatting the manuscript correctly. I have reasonable IT skills and found typesetting fairly painless.

Did they arrange your bookcover/blurb?
I designed the cover myself and a good friend wrote my blurb.

And finally would you use them again?
Definitely.

Would you call yourself a full time writer?
I’m on a career break from teaching at the moment so, for the next few months at least, I am a full time writer.
Do you have any writing experience?
I’ve always been immersed in words. My first degree is in English Language and Literature and I taught English as a foreign language for over 10 years. I have taken a couple of short writing courses but I’ve learned far more about the craft by reading fiction and getting out there and writing my own.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0199135304&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrYou are the co-author of Oxford Content and Language Support what is this book about, and how much input did you have as a co-author?
OCLS Science came out of my background in science and English Language teaching. I saw there was a gap in the market for books to help second language teenagers get to grips with science topics, so I put a proposal together and approached a number of publishers.
Academic writing is the only area I’ve found where publishers are willing to look at unsolicited proposals and so I was able to move forward without an agent.
Oxford University Press were interested in my ideas and asked for a science workbook for second language students. I asked a science teacher friend of mine to get involved and we ended up splitting writing duties 50/50: she wrote the science material, I then unpacked the science content through a variety of exercises and sections on grammar, comprehension and vocabulary. I also compiled a chapter on study skills and a glossary to explain complex scientific terms in straightforward English. It’s been a fantastic project and it’s given me a valuable professional writing credit that I want to build on in the future.

Contacts: