Category Archives: Interviews

Character Interview: Aeon of The Between

Terry: Who are you?

Aeon: I am Aeon. Oberon calls me his mad gardener, but I don’t belong to him. He may have bound me here, but he doesn’t know everything about me. Come, walk with me a bit, but mind your step. My pets can be clingy.

Terry: Where do you live?

Aeon: Why here, in the maze. Is it not a wondrous place? Even I don’t know all its twists and turns.

Terry: Are you the hero of your own story?

Aeon: Oh, you are an amusing fellow. All stories are my story. My roots go back to the very beginning of Fairie. And I am an old tree, indeed. You could even say that Lydia’s story is just a continuation of my own, even if she does not yet realize it. If my trees could talk, they would tell you stories that would hold you spellbound, lost within Faerie. Lucky for you, they are sleepy today.

Terry: How do your friends see you?

Aeon: Until Lydia wandered into my maze, I had not understood how someone with power could offer friendship. We have so long been bound by our hatreds, our petty jealousies. I think Lydia is my friend. It is dangerous to offer such a precious gift to the Fae, and I fear for her. If that means I am her friend, then yes, it must be so.

Terry: How do your enemies see you?

Aeon: That is a much more interesting question. Oberon sees a broken, beaten little man, his power contained in a maze he thinks he created. I let him believe his lovely Faerie tale because it suits me. I wasn’t always his tame gardener. But the green and growing things here have always been my allies. Oberon would do well to remember that.

Terry: How does the author see you? Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

Aeon: She is an interesting one. I think she sees me as clearly as anyone Mortal can, though perhaps that is unfair. Just because she is ephemeral does not mean her vision is wrong, only limited. She is beginning to be troubled by dreams of my past. Perhaps once, she thought of me as benign, a rare ally for her Lydia, but now she understands that like my garden itself, I am wild and twisted. It will not be easy for her to find my story, but now that it has started to take root inside her, well, I suspect I know how this will end.

Terry: What do you regret?

Aeon: The Fae have no regrets. We are creatures of impulse and power. If there is something we desire, either we take it or will it into being. And yet, I envy Lydia. She is so refreshing in her loyalty. If I regret anything, it is that I cannot give her back that which Oberon has stolen.

Terry: Have you ever betrayed anyone?

Aeon: Have you learned nothing about the Fae? Do not place your trust in us, Mortal. All the stories you tell your littles about us and you still don’t understand. We are not bound by such relationships as you prize. We take lovers, but without the childish expectation of love that you chase all your brief lives. You speak of betrayal as if it were some terrible offense. To us, it is merely another turn in a game of power.

Terry: Do you keep your promises?

Aeon: Ah, well that is a different story. What I bind my name to, takes a payment, a tithe if you will. And if I break that oath, I will forfeit a part of myself. We take our word seriously; it is our very selves. You Mortals, who talk of the pain of betrayal, you break your word without thought, without consequence. For all the centuries I have known the ephemerals, this I will never understand. Raised among you as she was, Lydia still understands the weight of a promise, though it would be easier for her if she did not.

Terry: What is your favorite scent? Why?

Aeon: The scent of a just ripe peach. At the heart of my maze, there is a garden. At the heart of that garden, is my peach tree. It is the oldest tree in Faerie and its fruit reminds me of my life before this punishment. The only time the thorns do not torment me is when I am beneath its boughs.


Posted by on January 25, 2012 in Announcements, Authors, Characters, Interviews


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GIR 12 Days of New Year blog hop: Author Interview: Jonathan Gould

Say hi today to Jonathan Gould as part of the GIR 12 Days of New Year blog hop!  Jonathan is the author of Doodling.

Terry C. Simpson: How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

Jonathan Gould: Not really very long at all. I just happened to be in that mood where I was looking for a story to write. I’d just completed a year of studying creative writing and was really tired of doing writing for classwork assignments rather than writing for myself.

It must have been around 10-11-ish at night when my wife made a comment about how she felt the world was moving so quickly. That got me going. I’m not sure I had a lot of sleep that night. My brain just wouldn’t stop. What would happen of the world was moving so quickly that somebody actually fell off?

The next morning, early on, I was sitting at the computer, writing what at that point was little more than a short piece about a man falling off the world. I had no idea at that point that it would actually turn into something more. It felt to me like I was just doing a bit of Doodling, but of the literary kind, rather than the drawing kind. That’s why I decided, when this strange little piece actually evolved into a genuine story, I decided to retain the title Doodling.

Terry C. Simpson: How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

Jonathan Gould: I suspect there’s an awful lot of me in all of the characters that I write.

Neville Lansdowne (the main character – the one who actually falls off the world) is very much like me. A quiet sort of person who spends a lot of time wondering around, observing things, and never quite understanding what is going on. Then again, Neville seems a lot better at organising people than I am. He actually manages to get people to pay attention which is something I’ve always struggled with.

I can also see myself in most of the other characters in the story. Their irrationality is something I can definitely relate to. Like the Toaster People, I’m sure if I was marooned on an asteroid in the middle of nowhere, I’d also have a totally illogical need for some sort of appliance that I’d really have no use for. And like the Aimless Girl, I do spend a lot of time being led from here to there without any sense of where I’m going.

Terry C. Simpson: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

Jonathan Gould: Writing characters is always one of the most enjoyable parts of writing to me. Especially when my characters are usually quite simple and clear – a bit like cartoon characters – where they often have a single defining characteristic.

Once I’ve figured out what that characteristic is, I’ll think about how that can best be expressed. It could be something about their appearance, or the clothes they’re wearing. But most likely it’s going to be in their speech. I’m a very wordy writer and writing dialogue is what I enjoy the most (coming from a sketch comedy background). It’s really important to me that each character has a unique voice. That could involve some catchphrases (like the “spoilsport/party pooper” used by the Party People) which are really fun to play around with and vary so they don’t get stale. But it’s also more generally in the things they say and the way they say them. I try to hear the dialogue in my head so I can get a sense of how each character sounds.

The other important thing about the characters is that each of them must have their part to play. Over the course of writing Doodling, I came with a bunch of characters I liked a lot, but who I eventually discarded as they did not have a role to play as the story developed.

Terry C. Simpson: Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

Jonathan Gould: Apparently there is according to most of the reviews I’ve had. It’s funny because as a writer I definitely don’t try to put messages into my writing. I just think of ideas that interest or amuse me (like a man falling off the world). I think because the ideas I work with are so rich, the “messages” just seem to emerge naturally. For example, most readers suggest that Doodling is about getting away from the hustle and bustle of modern life and taking time to enjoy the little things. And they’re not wrong. I’d be lying if I claimed that I was totally ignorant of the presence of these “messages” but they’re not the primary motivator for my writing.

Ultimately, what is important to me is story. Getting readers engaged and involved through strong characters and a clever, well-constructed plot (as well as a few laughs), are what matters most. If readers want to pull more out of what I have written, then I know that I’ve managed to create something that has a bit of depth to it, which makes me feel like I’ve really achieved something as a writer.

Terry C. Simpson: Do you have any rituals that you follow before sitting down to write?

Jonathan Gould: One very powerful ritual. It’s called procrastination. I’ll spend lots of time doing other things, avoiding the actual writing. Often I’ll go back and read a bunch of other things I’ve written. I claim it’s to get me into the right frame of mind for writing. I could be lying to myself. Ultimately, writing can be a bit frightening. What if that idea that was so great in your head is crap once it’s on the page? Sometimes you don’t want to know.

Terry C. Simpson: Are you writing to reach a particular kind of reader?

Jonathan Gould: One with lots of money and an insatiable appetite for books.

Seriously, I suspect my “ideal reader” is someone a lot like me. Someone who enjoys a laugh, doesn’t take themselves too seriously and spends a lot of time being confused about how little sense the world in general makes.

My experience is that people like that can be any age and either gender. There’s a lot of them around. I just need to figure out where they’re all hiding.

Terry C. Simpson: What is the most difficult part of the whole writing process?

Jonathan Gould: As I mentioned previously, I think the hardest bit is trying to translate the ideas in your head into something that works on the page. My brother-in-law pointed me to a great Lou Reed lyric – “Between thought and expression lies a lifetime”. I think it sums it up beautifully. You can have the greatest idea in your head but if you can’t figure out how to express it on the page, whether that’s through characters, description or dialogue, then it’s just not going to work.

It’s about communication. You have to get the best bits of the idea in your head into a form that will put it into the heads of your readers.

Terry C. Simpson: Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day?

Jonathan Gould: I have so many notebooks filled with lists of thoughts and ideas, I’m pretty close to needing a separate notebook to list out all of those other notebooks. Ideas always come and go. I’ve lost some pretty good ones over the years. And some pretty bad ones won’t leave me alone. Alas for the difficulties of the creative life.

Terry C. Simpson: Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?

Jonathan Gould: This is where I get to quote my hero, Douglas Adams. It’s in a wonderful, non-fiction book he wrote called Last Chance to See where he and a zoologist went around the world searching for endangered species (and goddamn it, that’s exactly why I want to be a famous writer too).

At one point, they were traveling with some German backpackers who so fit the stereotype of what you’d expect German backpackers to be like (ruthlessly efficient and scornful of all others) that Adams became quite upset – he felt that as a writer, you should never reinforce stereotypes. So he didn’t. He decided they weren’t German, they were Latvian, and described them as such for the rest of the book.

Anyway, that’s a round-about way for getting to the actual advice. Never reinforce stereotypes. It’s a rule I try to follow – when I feel like my characters (or ideas) are veering into cliché, I’ll always try to work out a way to subvert them.

And a bit of extra advice – read Last Chance to See – you won’t regret it.

Terry C. Simpson: Have you written any other books

Jonathan Gould: Yes.

I have had two children’s stories published as school readers – titled A Right Royal Day and Madoop and the Mountain Mower. They’re both about short kings but unfortunately I don’t think they’re generally available – certainly not on Amazon.

In addition to Doodling, I have another self-published ebook titled Flidderbugs. It’s kind of a fable/satire and again, I’d by lying if I said I didn’t think there was a message there.  But mostly, it’s meant to be a funny story about a bunch of insects with some strange obsessions.

Am I also allowed to mention upcoming work? I have a novel I’m planning to publish soon (Doodling and Flidderbugs are more novella length). It’s called Magnus Opum and is a kind of epic fantasy with a twist. I like to describe it as Tolkien meets Dr Seuss.

Terry C. Simpson: Where can people learn more about your books?

Jonathan Gould: At my blog:

 And at my sell pages:



Amazon UK


Barnes and Noble



Amazon UK


Barnes and Noble

Thank you so much  for doing this interview, Jonathan. You can connect with Jonathan on facebook or twitter.


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Fantasy Author Nyki Blatchley – The Traveller

I get very attached to people.  Although I love introducing new characters, both as protagonists and as support, there are certain stalwarts I come back to time and again.  Especially the Traveller.

I’ve known the Traveller since I was at school, when I wrote a poem about a man doomed to eternal wandering.  He originally had a name, but I very soon decided that was just the local word for “traveller”, which gradually came to be his actual name, sometimes translated when he stayed in one place long enough for the origin of what he was called to be forgotten.

Originally, he was a minor character in my (still unfinished) trilogy The Winter Legend.  His role has considerably increased over the years, but he’s still a supporting character.  From the 90s, though, I started writing short stories about incidents in his backstory – or sometimes his future story.

One of the things that has changed over the years was the whole “doomed to eternal wandering” concept.  Maybe it’s the privilege of a teenager to present a romantic image of immortality’s curse, but the older I’ve got, the harder it’s been to see the downside.  Thousands of years of life and the freedom to wander all over the world – yes, I’d take a curse like that.

So now the Traveller is a restless explorer, born with an insatiable curiosity about the world and the lifespan to indulge it, together with a moral imperative that drags him, sometimes willingly, sometimes reluctantly, into helping the oppressed.  He sails on an enchanted ship, Searcher, that he can crew purely with his will.  Rather like I’d love to be, if I were less lazy.

Three characters, I think, have influenced the Traveller most, sometimes consciously, sometimes less so.  One clear parallel is Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner.  Like the Mariner, the Traveller is an immortal who sails on a magical ship; he’s atoning, to some extent, for something in his past; he has “strange powers of speech”.  And his personal emblem is an albatross in flight.

On the other hand, in some ways he’s the complete opposite.  He’s in control of his ship, rather than being a helpless passenger; the trauma he’s suffered wasn’t of his own making; and, instead of enduring a curse that forces him to wander, the Traveller loves his life.

Another strong influence was a largely forgotten S&S series from 70s by Karl Edward Wagner, featuring a character called Kane.  Supposedly the Biblical Cain wandering through the prediluvian world, Kane is sometimes the hero of his stories and sometimes the villain, but what attracted me most was the way that each story is set in different lands and a different era, although we sometimes get echoes of kingdoms seen in another story.  Kane, though, is very much a morally ambiguous anti-hero, and what I wanted to do was created a similar series with a hero – human and flawed, but an idealist.

(Incidentally, if anyone’s looking for a great S&S series, I can thoroughly recommend Kane, if you can get hold of the books.)

The third influence shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it didn’t occur to me till someone else pointed it out.  I’ve been a huge fan of Doctor Who ever since I watched the first episode as a young child, the day after Kennedy was shot, and the Traveller bears more than a passing resemblance to the Doctor.  Both are inveterate wanderers and incorrigible meddlers, travelling in miraculous craft, sometimes alone and sometimes with companions.

I’m quite happy about the similarities, but some are strangely coincidental.  Two major parallels – the gift for understanding and speaking any language, and the terrible war that haunts the hero – didn’t appear in Doctor Who until I’d already written about their equivalents for the Traveller.  I certainly wasn’t influenced by Doctor Who in those respects, and I’m assuming Russell T. Davies hadn’t read any Traveller stories.

Not counting stories where he appears as a supporting character, the Traveller features so far in sixteen short stories and a novel, At An Uncertain Hour.  So far, the novel and six of the stories have been published, though I have a collection of the Traveller’s stories contracted.

He’s also spawned two spin-off series, as well as many individual tales set in the same world.  One features Eltava, a companion and lover from early in the Traveller’s life.  She was intended simply as a cameo in the novel, but she wouldn’t lie down afterwards.  I’ve now written seven stories about her, six of which have been published and one recently accepted by Aoife’s Kiss.  Eltava is, perhaps, more of an action hero than the Traveller, who prefers to out-think his enemies if he can.

The other series is about two teenage sorcerers and troublemakers called Karaghr and Failiu, whose saga begins with an encounter with the Traveller.  These are somewhat lighter in tone, though with dark undercurrents, and so far all three have been published – most recently, The Temple of Taak-Resh was published as an ebook by Darwin’s Evolutions.

The Traveller’s world – it has no name, though I sometimes jokingly refer to it as the Travellerverse – is extensive, both geographically and historically.  So far, I’ve written stories that go back to their neolithic era, and stories from their computer age (in one case, both of those in the same story).  The City of Ferrid, a story of a Victorian-style era of steam-trains and factories, was published as a chap-book by Crystal Codices, but is sadly now out of print.

I said earlier that the Traveller lives the kind of life I somewhat envy, so is he “really” me?  No, I don’t think so.  I never deliberately base characters specifically on any real person, least of all myself – I both write and read to explore the other-than-me, not to psychoanalyse myself.  Of course, all characters are, to some extent, built out of the people I’ve known, but not in a straightforward way.  All my experience, direct and indirect, together with things I’ve read and thought, goes into a vast melting-pot, and what comes out when I write, though made of that experience, bears little resemblance to the raw materials,

No, the Traveller is, I’d say, more like a friend – someone I have plenty in common with, but who can show me things I’d never find in myself.  Still, we do have plenty of similarities, especially in outlook.  While the Traveller acknowledges many regrets in his long, strange life, he insists that “a life without regrets is a life not lived.”  Rather than dwelling on the past, on what he’s lost, his eyes are on the next opportunity, the next friend or lover, the land that might lie just over the horizon.  He keeps going forward, never losing his curiosity and his joy in life.  Though I can’t live forever, I hope I always have the will to do the same.

Links to Nyki Blatchley:


Fantasy Author Interview: M. Edward McNally

Yes, yes, today I have the pleasure of interviewing a guy who always manages to make me laugh in the facebook groups we are in. Not only that but he’s an author of epic fantasy, M. Edward McNally. As a double treat, I also got to interview his character Matilda Lanai from his Musket & Magic Fantasy, the Norothian Cycle. (The Sable City, Death of a Kingdom, The Wind from Miilark)

Terry Simpson: What is your book about?

M. Edward McNally: Muskets, Magic, and Matilda Lanai. 😉

Terry Simpson: How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

M. Edward McNally: Hard to say.  For about a ten year period I had stopped writing fiction, but during that time I had a “world-building” hobby.  Just on a lark, I sort of designed a primitive world where magic functioned as much as technology, and made my way through several centuries of cultural, political, and economic evolution.  It was kind of like a game of “Civilization” I played in my head.

While my intention was not to write a series of Musket & Magic Fantasy books, or even one book set in my world, a few years ago some of the people “living” there started talking to me. I didn’t have a choice after that, as Tilda Lanai is kind of pushy. 😉

Terry Simpson: What inspired you to write this particular story?

M. Edward McNally: This story specifically started to roil because of two different images I got in my head.  The first was of a lone young woman on a grassy steppe, under a gray sky.  She was walking slowly toward a wounded warhorse, holding out a bright red apple in one hand.  That turned out to be Tilda.

The other image was of a samurai and a Roman Legionnaire fighting shoulder-to-shoulder to hold a foot bridge against an army.  Not geographically or temporally possible in the real world, of course, but an image that stuck with me, and inspired two supporting characters.

Terry Simpson: Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

M. Edward McNally: My favorite is Tilda Lanai, as she would not let me say anything else.  The story, and series, are complex, with several diverging plotlines moving in time with the main one, but Tilda is the central figure around which the others depend.  It really is her story, I’m just writing it down.

Terry Simpson: Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

M. Edward McNally: Not sure how “likability” factors in, but for me the most unusual is a sorceress named Nesha-tari, who is half-Lamia.  On her mother’s side.  You know: Attract men, then eat them to live.  She is also however half-human, so her efforts to live with herself while doing what she must to stay alive were interesting for me to try and handle as a writer, and hopefully will be the same for readers.

Terry Simpson: How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

M. Edward McNally: I’m a “pantser” as a writer and a believer in character first.  Once I know (or think I know) who the players are, and what they want, I basically start writing just to find out for myself how they get to where they are going.  Of course that means the re-writing/editing stage is critical for me, to make sure there is a story being told.

Terry Simpson: How has your background influenced your writing?

M. Edward McNally: Though I am writing in the Fantasy genre, the motifs are probably less “Medieval European” than is typical.  There are as many Polynesian, Central American, and Asian influences to the cultures involved.  This may be the result of being a “mutt” myself: A half-Irish/half-Mexican from the US “South.”

Terry Simpson: Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character in your story because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you, his or her creator?

M. Edward McNally: Totally.  I wrote one of these series books completely convinced a particular character was going to die at the end.  They wouldn’t go down.  Bent the plot significantly in a direction I did not think it was going to go, but actually when things like that happen they are some of my greatest joys as a writer.

Terry Simpson: Have you written any other books

M. Edward McNally: In addition to the fantasy series, I have a number of short story collections (mostly of the “contemporary” genre) available for free from most retailers (though a couple are still 99 cents on Amazon.  They are all titled “Eddie’s Shorts – Volume #.”

Terry Simpson: Where can people learn more about your books?

M. Edward McNally: Easiest place is on my blog at.

That is both the homepage for the series, where additional background materials (maps, glossary, histories) can be seen, as well as the place where I mumble about writing, interview fellow authors (every Tag Line Tuesday) and the like.


Without further ado, meet Tilda Lanai

Terry Simpson: Who are you?

Tilda Lanai: Who am I?  You asked me here, right?  Sorry.  I’m Matilda Lanai, but my friends call me Tilda.  Actually, everybody calls me Tilda.

Terry Simpson: Where do you live?

Tilda Lanai: The port of Souterm, in the Empire of the Code, at the moment.  Though that’s mainly because I can’t go home to the Islands right away until some issues with my Trade House…or former Trade House, anyway…get worked out.  Also, I’m sort of moving around a bit here in town as there is this detective of the City Watch who thinks I murdered a gem merchant. Which I did not do.  I *did* try to sell him a necklace with a Devil’s Curse on it, but…it’s kind of a long story, actually.

Terry Simpson: Are you the hero of your own story?

Tilda Lanai: Everybody is the hero of their own story. (wink)

Terry Simpson: What is your problem in the story?

Tilda Lanai: Oh, to have just one!  That would be wonderful!  But really, since I arrived on the mainland about a year ago, I’ve had any number of problems.  Or at least, I’ve made friends with people who have problems, which for me is the same thing.  If you are my friend and you have a problem, it is my problem, too.

Terry Simpson: Do you embrace conflict? / Do you run from conflict?

Tilda Lanai: Neither.  I find it easier to sneak up behind conflict and whack it in the head with a club.

Terry Simpson: How do your friends see you?

Tilda Lanai: I hope they know that I mean it when I say they are my friend.  Where I am from, the Miilark Islands, we don’t give friendship away that easily.  It means something to us when we do, and it’s for life.

Terry Simpson: How do your enemies see you?

Tilda Lanai: Again, I’d prefer they didn’t see me coming.

Terry Simpson: Do you have a hero?

Tilda Lanai: I did, he…um…he didn’t make it.  It’s kind of hard to talk about, wasn’t that long ago.  Sorry.

Terry Simpson: What is your favorite item of clothing? Why?

My Guild Cloak.  I trained as a Guilder in the service of House Deskata for three years, and the cloak is sort of the sign of that, for an Islander.  It’s black, which is handy at night, and the inner lining of emerald green represents my House…or what was my House, rather.  Nice triangular cut, too, so I can get my hands inside in case I need…anything that it otherwise conceals.

Also, as I technically left the Islands a month before completing Guild training, this wasn’t a graduation gift.  I had to buy it myself, and I am *not* taking that as a loss, even when it gets…um…soiled.

Terry Simpson: Do you keep your promises?

Tilda Lanai: Always.


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Terry Persun – A few Ideas about why I write

Today, we the book has been turned over to the hands of Terry Persun. Author of several novels and winner of the Star of Washington Award and a ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year finalist.

I carry several ideas for novels around in my head, with half a dozen voices or more clamoring for my attention. This goes on year after year, and has been happening to me for as long as I can remember. Often, an idea will be rattling around up there for more than a year before I actually sit down and begin writing. Sometimes it’ll take three or four years for everything in my head to work itself out. For me, the character has to come through with a name and a back story already in place. At that time, I will know the beginning of the novel, a few important events, and the end of the novel. That’s when I begin to write.

As for research, I find that I’ve been reading certain types of material, or have an interest in delving into subjects, that eventually lead to a portion of a novel or short story. I live my life and follow my interests at the time, but will use everything I find. If specific information needs to be looked up, I do that while working on the novel. I also tear sheet articles, and print pieces from the Internet, if they feel as though they are attached to one of the ideas running loose in my head.

Writing starts when I wake up one morning, usually early, like 4:00 or so, and my main character’s voice will be in my head. That when I start. Once I get under way, the first draft of the novel comes fairly quickly. I write a minimum of 1000 words per day, so in 90 or so days, I can easily have a 90,000 to 125,000 word first draft. But first drafts need work, so I let the book sit for a month or more. During this time, I’ll either start another novel, or I’ll write short stories or poems. I can keep several items going at any one time, so that has never been a problem for me. The book itself has such a strong and powerful feel that I can’t ruin it once it’s written. Typically, though, I only do two or three rewrites, and some of those may be nothing more than touching up a scene or two.

A lot of my books have to do with personal freedom. It doesn’t matter what others want, or what they think, I want readers to make their own decisions, and know that it’s okay to do that. We live at a time where our natural instincts and reactions have been so toned down that we’re afraid to make changes in our lives “just because we want to.” It seems to me that many people need reasons to make a change, even if the reason has to be fabricated. I’m all for taking responsibility for my actions without having to explain them to the satisfaction of others. I’d like to see more people live that way.

Since my first book got published in the 90s, I’ve noticed how much more committed to the act I am. I also continue to read books about writing, and try out new techniques. The great thing about writing for a living is that you are always learning something new, whether it’s information that’s useful for the book itself, or techniques to try during the writing. I love the process, from concept to rewrite to final touch-up, so it’s always fun and interesting to me. My life is happier while I’m working on a project. Yet, the most surprising thing about being a writer is how little control you have over what the reader takes away. I’ve thought a book was about one thing, then realized that the readers found something else within the pages. It’s great to know that this sort of thing happens. It raises the writing to an art form, where interpretation belongs to the reader, not to me, the author.

As for promotion, I believe that exposing the work to as many potential readers is important, but that once that’s done there really isn’t a lot more an author can do. I mean we can, and often do, talk incessantly about our books, but the number one marketing tool in the U.S. is word of mouth. If a few people read my novel and recommend it to more people, and they recommend it, etc., etc. then the book will sell well. You just have to do your best work, have it professionally edited (which is what publishing houses do best), and get it out there.

You can get my latest novel, “Cathedral of Dreams” from Amazon or on Barnes and Noble.

You can also visit my site


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Author Interview: M. J Neary

Today’s interview features M. J. Neary. Sit back and enjoy.

Terry C. Simpson: What is your book about?

M.J Neary: “Martyrs & Traitors: a Tale of 1916” is a historical novel telling the story of the Easter Rising in Dublin through the eyes of Bulmer Hobson, a discredited patriot who had tried to prevent it, because he believed it was a waste of human life.  Because of his controversial split from his former comrades, for decades his name had remained swept under the rug and his contributions to the nationalistic movement largely downplayed. He was branded a traitor by the Republicans and spent the next fifty-some years of his life in a state of silent rage.

Terry C. Simpson:What inspired you to write this particular story?

M.J Neary: Shortly after “Brendan Malone: the Last Fenian” got accepted for publication, Bulmer Hobson came to me in my sleep and complained that I had given him so little time and space in the first book.  He suggested that I should write an entire novel about his adventures.  Of course, I woke up with heart palpitations and rushed to the computer to get a copy of his biography on Amazon.  His first comprehensive biography was written by a Canadian-born professor Marnie Hay, who has since helped me a great deal with research.  Her book is the first comprehensive biographical source on Hobson.  For the reasons described above, he had been off the radar for decades.  As I browsed through his biography, I uncovered fascinating romances and feuds that would provide perfect foundation for a historical novel.

Terry C. Simpson:What writer influenced you the most?

M.J Neary: Boring as it sounds, my literary mentors were Victor Hugo and Charles Dickens. I gravitate towards that heavy mid-19th century style. That was before the ADHD epidemic.

Terry C. Simpson:Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

M.J Neary: In my novel I have a mixture of historical and fictional characters.  You can take liberty with both.  They are all “my children”, hideously flawed, some borderline grotesque, but loved. I create them all with love, even if that love is rooted in fury. I can despise the real historical figures, but I still love them as literary characters.  Having suffered from depression, anxiety and body dysmorphic disorder, I understand Ugly very well.  I can work with Ugly.  I can create convincing, three-dimensional characters with a string of delicious ridiculous flaws that will make readers feel good about themselves.  If you read about larger-than-life heroes, it’s easy to feel inadequate next to them.  But if you see the less heroic side of popular idols, then the revelation may prove to be strangely encouraging.  There is one character that I particularly connect with – Edith Malone, a depressed, hysterical, sexually confused, self-centered English widow who joins the Irish nationalistic cause.  A girl after my own heart!

Terry C. Simpson: How long did it take you to write your book?

M.J Neary: This 450-pager took me about 4 months to write.  It wrote it at a rather trying time in my life, when I was running on caffeine, alcohol and adrenaline.

Terry C. Simpson: How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

M.J Neary: When you write about real historical events, you know how things end.  There are no surprises.  You know who is going to die on the barricades, and who is going to get executed.  The variables are not in the destination but in the journey.  It’s the ideas you get from reading between the lines of history books.

Terry C. Simpson: What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

M.J Neary: For one, I hope they learn something new about the Irish history, about the nationalistic movement in the Edwardian era. That goes without saying.  That’s the purely factual benefit of reading the book.  There is also a spiritual and philosophical benefit that I hope my readers will reap.  I also hope that they re-evaluate their own idols and villains.  I’m not saying they should reverse their loyalties 180 degrees.  Just ask yourself: “Whom do I admire/despise and why?  Do I really know the truth about this person, or do I just go by what the media tells me?”  We should have enough faith in our own judgment and put it above rumors and propaganda.

Terry C. Simpson: What was the most difficult part about writing the book?

M.J Neary: I absolutely hate writing love stories and love scenes.  I’m a very cynical, crude person in real life, and it’s hard for me not to laugh when I write about romantic infatuations.  At the same time, I do not want my own personal cynicism to spill into my fiction too much, because there are, apparently, people who become infatuated earnestly and irrevocably. Sometimes I need to separate myself, the writer, the narrator, from my characters and see the world through their eyes.

Terry C. Simpson: What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?

M.J Neary: As a working mother with plenty of “secular” responsibilities, I cannot predict how much time each day I will be able to devote to my work. So, whenever I have a free moment, I ask myself whether I should do boring domestic chores or use that time to advance my craft. Inspiration and productivity come in waves, in bursts. There are moments when the creative drive is so aggressive that I become deaf and blind to everything else around me. I have lost count of how many pots I’ve burned in the kitchen.

Terry C. Simpson: What’s been the most surprising part of being a writer?

M.J Neary: If you are asking me about the publishing industry, I must say, there have not been that many surprises.  If you do your homework, if you research the market and polish the manuscript, then you will spare yourself many, many rejection letters.  Don’t go into the battle unarmed.  I went into the market with a strong manuscript and a strong query letter.  “Martyrs & Traitors” is not my first novel.  My first novel took 16 years to write and just a few weeks to secure a publisher for.  Now I have lasting relationships with two small presses, and they are very enthusiastic to hear that I have a new manuscript.

Terry C. Simpson: What advice you would give to an aspiring author?

M.J Neary: I could give a mile-long list of tips.  Not all aspiring authors are at the same place.  Some are only toying with the idea of writing the first draft of their first novel, and others are already on the verge of submitting their first query.  I encourage writers to contact me with specific questions.  Find me on Facebook and send me a message.  I’ll be happy to provide guidance.

Terry C. Simpson:What advice would you give other novelists about book promotion?

M.J Neary: It’s very individual.  Casting a wide net does not work for everyone.  If your novel is genre-specific or topic-specific, reach out to publications that specialize in this topic.  Reach out to the communities that already have an existing interest in your topic.  Promoting a book about lip gloss vampires is different from promoting a book about Irish revolutionaries.

Terry C. Simpson: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

M.J Neary: Even though my work revolves around a specific ethnic group, it appeals to a broader audience.  You don’t have to be Irish or a history buff to enjoy my books. There is enough universal appeal – at least I try to make it so.  I have reached out to various Irish-interest publications in North America and on the other side of the Atlantic.  I have a built-in audience.

Terry C. Simpson: What words would you like to leave the world when you are gone?

M.J Neary: “The darker the past – the brighter the future”.

Terry C. Simpson: Have you written any other books

M.J Neary: Yes, I am the author of “Wynfield’s Kingdom”, “Wynfield’s War” (both via Fireship Press) and “Brendan Malone: the Last Fenian” (All Things That Matter Press)

Terry C. Simpson: Where can people learn more about your books?

M.J Neary: Please visit my author site:



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Posted by on November 25, 2011 in Announcements, Authors, Epublishing, Interviews


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Author Interview : Darlene Foster

Today’s guest is Darlene Foster who has taken on the challenge of writing books for youngsters. Something I wish I could do, but I could never find that voice.

Terry C Simpson: What is your book about?

Darlene Foster: My books are travel adventure stories for middle readers (approximately 8 – 12 year olds)  They are about an average, bored young girl who wishes for travel and adventure as she blows out the candles on her twelfth birthday. Her wish comes true when she receives airline tickets to visit her Aunt and Uncle in the United Arab Emirates, halfway around the world. Once there she meets Leah, an English girl, and before she knows it they are in the middle of an adventure that involves a runaway princess, evil bounty hunters, a loyal camel and a dangerous sand storm. She often finds herself wishing she were home enjoying her boring but safe life, but feels compelled to unravel the secrets of the perfume flask.  Leah and Amanda become BFFs and decide to meet again in Spain.   There Amanda encounters a mysterious young girl who looks like she stepped out of a famous painting and can’t resist helping her and her beloved pony escape the clutches of a mean horse-dealer as they trek across sunny Spain.  Amanda just can’t keep her nose out of other people’s problems and it always gets her in trouble.

Terry C Simpson: What inspired you to write this particular story?

Darlene Foster: I was invited to visit a good friend of mine who was working in the UAE.  It was a trip of a lifetime.  I found the country, people and culture fascinating and felt the need to share my experience in a story.  When I was able to write the experience through the eyes of a twelve year old, it was much more fun.

Terry C Simpson: What writer influenced you the most?

Darlene Foster: I read a lot and always have.  I was lucky as we didn’t have a TV on the farm I grew up on, so my entertainment was books.  My favourite authors were Lucy Maude Montgomery and Louisa May Alcott, because they wrote about strong young girls.  I am also a huge fan of Jane Austen but didn’t start reading her until I was in my early thirties.  Again, I am attracted to how she depicts her strong female characters.  (Sorry, you asked for one writer and I gave you three)

Terry C Simpson: Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

Darlene Foster: So glad you asked.  My favourite character is Amanda because she is taken so out of her comfort zone and has to rely on her resourcefulness to get her out of some tight spots.  I feel she is very real; naïve, inquisitive and feisty. Leah is much worldlier and makes a good balance.  The relationship between the two girls develops nicely in the series. In some ways they are very different but they are both from single children families so they become almost like sisters. (which includes disagreeing at times)

Terry C Simpson: How long did it take you to write your book?

Darlene Foster: The first book took me three years to write and five years to find a publisher.  I soon learned that writing the book was the easy part.

Terry C Simpson: How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

Darlene Foster: I have general idea and a very rough outline, that changes many times.  Ideas just seem to materialize as I write, or as I am driving, doing housework or walking on the beach.  I can be watching TV or a movie with my husband and jump up suddenly to jot down an idea.

Terry C Simpson: What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

Darlene Foster: My goal is for young people to learn more about a place and culture they may not be able to visit themselves, while being entertained at the same time.  I hope my books encourage children to want to know more about the world and perhaps be inspired to visit other places and to step out of their comfort zone.

Terry C Simpson: What was the most difficult part about writing the book?

Darlene Foster: Finding blocks of uninterrupted time. Once I get started the ideas flow but I don’t have much spare time to write.

Terry C Simpson: What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?

Darlene Foster: I write two hours a day, after work and after dinner with my husband.  This includes marketing and research.  I am very goal oriented so I set attainable goals like completing one chapter a month.

Terry C Simpson: What’s been the most surprising part of being a writer?

Darlene Foster: Actually being able to call myself a published writer!

Terry C Simpson: What advice you would give to an aspiring author?

Darlene Foster: Never give up.  If you have story to tell, tell it.  Get help if you need it and keep writing. Like everything else, practice makes perfect.  Enter contests, submit to magazines and anthologies. Join writer’s groups. Think outside the box when it comes to publishing and never give up.

Terry C Simpson: What advice would you give other novelists about book promotion?

Darlene Foster: It is important to network and become part of the social media. If people don’t know about you and your book, they aren’t going to buy it or tell other people about it.

Terry C Simpson: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

Darlene Foster: I do readings and signings locally, send press releases to newspapers, blog, am active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. and occasionally get interviewed by nice folks like you.  I have also joined writer’s organizations which have been a huge help as there is strength in numbers and writers are so amazingly supportive of each other.

Terry C Simpson: What words would you like to leave the world when you are gone?

Darlene Foster: Never give up on your dreams!

Terry C Simpson: Have you written any other books

Darlene Foster: Amanda in Spain-The Girl in the Painting is the second of the series and I am working on Amanda in England-The Missing Novel.  I have also had some short stories included in anthologies.

Terry C Simpson: Where can people learn more about your books?

Darlene Foster: and


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