Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Book 9 has left the building!

Well, in truth, it pinged its merry way off to Fiona, my editor, just over a week ago. I don't know whether the 'birth' of this book was easier - the characters and setting were all in place as this is the fourth book of The Realm, so the main focus was the plot - but it has all seemed more straightforward than other books have been.

Consequently, when I finished the first draft, I didn't feel a huge amount of emotion - glad to finish it and tired, mostly - and I felt even less having finished three rounds of edits on it. Then, it was more, "Well, I knew I would get this done, and now I have."

Perhaps that's it... In the past, maybe I wasn't always sure I would actually finish the book. And indeed, there is a 'finished' book that I can't bear to edit. But I can't remember feeling so nothing about getting to this stage with a book.

A good friend suggested that I'd reached the "I'm a professional writer and this is a task that's been completed, so no big deal" stage. Much as I would love that to be true, I suspect the reality is more that I didn't get a holiday after launching the first three books of The Realm series, went almost straight into writing the fourth and am just exhausted now!

Despite being tired, I'm also incapable of taking time off. I finished the edits on a Saturday. I managed to take the Sunday as a 'catch up day' but even then, I was already planning how to tackle book #10 while Fiona has book #9. It seems utterly strange to me to not be working on a book at some point during the day. I rarely take a whole day off, even at the weekends. I may not do much, and it may be less work on a novel and more on other writing-related tasks (marketing, blog posts, interviews with other authors etc.), but I don't think a day goes by without me doing something.

Hence, when I finished my edits, I was going, "What now?" Sunday is normally the day I sit down and plan my week, but what was going in my week? I had a Zoom call for a podcast and I had a couple of family commitments, but other than that... nothing.

The New Shiny Thing was waving (it's been waving at me for ages). But should I plunge straight into book #10 without having at least a bit of a break?

My brain didn't really give me an option! I had the characters fairly set in my head, and the setting, and some inkling of the plot, but nothing about the plot was concrete. I forced myself to take Monday as a 'me day' and wrote long-overdue letters to friends. On the Tuesday morning I was in a Zoom meeting for a podcast. And yes, you guessed it, by Tuesday afternoon, I was deep into thinking about book #10.

Has anyone else hit this after finishing? A huge feeling of, "Okay, done that. Now what?" Or is it just me? And how do people convince themselves to take time off??



Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Interview with author Neil Mach


This week, I'm delighted to be interviewing Neil Mach, author of "Moondog and the Reed Leopard" and host of the podcast Myth and Magic.

Tell me more about your book?
Moondog and the Reed Leopard” is crime fiction with a twist. Moondog is a member of the Roma (itinerant) community and due to a background in paranormal research, he becomes engaged by a television program to be their “go to” preternatural detective. There are multiple plot twists and elements of detective fiction in the novel, but at its core, this is a 21st century urban fantasy romp with magic, cryptids, and mysterious events. The plot revolves around a teenager who begins the story as an intermediary between officials and becomes Moondog’s vital assistant in a fight against evil.

This sounds brilliant. What prompted you to write it?
I have Romani chal ancestry, and I always think that English Gypsies are not convincingly represented in fiction (or by the media.) I wanted to synthesise a Romani character who represented the positives of the ethnicity rather than all those tired-old stereotypical negatives. But, because he's a “gypsy”  — my main character will have a difficult time relating to officialdom, which makes him an incongruous and rather unlikely detective; and it doesn’t help that he (will not) read and write. But his cultural upbringing is more than just a gimmick: his wild temperament and nomadic lifestyle is intrinsically linked to natural phenomena, pantheism, spirituality, and transcendentalism. If that all sounds rather grand, it’s not meant to be. “Moondog and the Reed Leopard” is a fun mystery-scamper with a cute teenage participant who has her own issues & tissues (an annoying ex who won’t let her go) and it’s filled with surprise and wonder!


What are you working on at the moment? Are there already plans for the next book after this one?
Yes, “Moondog and the Dark Arches” will be the next in the series, to be released as an ARC (on Booksprout) this month. Moondog is asked to investigate when a girl jumps off a bridge after escaping from a sinister pagan ritual. His “helper” in the new tale is Janney, a teenage librarian in an oddly old-fashioned village. She has a remarkable ability: she can travel outside of her own body to connect with another in a transcendent state. Book Three is in development and I'll probably write it in this year's NaNoWriMo.

When did you first start writing? And what made you start?
I started out as a school boy, writing school plays. I had a poem published at age ten! I knew from the beginning that I had a huge imagination, and writing things down helped me harness and control the wildest wanderings of my mind.

What was the first full-length novel you ever wrote? (I realise this may not be the same as the first book you have had published!)
My first full-length published (and completed) novel was “The Last Music Bearer”, set in alternative medieval Britain where music has been banned by the authorities. A group of mendicant friars bring music to the communities, but they are pursued and persecuted by a fearsome counterforce of monks (the Black Hounds) who propose the total suppression of all music and the destruction of the Music Bearers.

Which is your favourite secondary character in your book, and why is it your favourite?
Back to Moondog — he has problems of his own, and there is a question about his line of descent. His mother-in-law, a recurring character, disapproves of his “less than” pure-blooded Romani ancestry and she does not think he is of sufficient pedigree to marry her daughter, born a gypsy princess. So the answer to your question is Moondog’s mother-in-law: Assumpta. She is a crotchety and curmudgeonly, with a lot of scorn and bigotry in her bones (so fun to write.) She speaks the old Romani language and, like my grandmother, she dabbles in divination and considers herself to be a prophetess. I ought to add that my grandmother was wise and adorable, not the least curmudgeonly (though she read patterns in tea leaves.)

Where is your ideal writing space?
I require total silence and a desktop computer. I have my own office, and that's where you'll find me eight hours a day.

What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever been given? (not necessarily writing-related!)
“To Thine Own Self Be True” Hamlet, act 1 scene 3 

And now for some more random questions...

What’s your radio tuned to most often?
Smooth fm (while I'm cooking)

You’re stranded on an island. You can choose one of the following three things. Which do you choose and why?
1. Limitless supply of paper and pens.
2. A computer which will never run out of battery and which can access the internet, but you can’t post anything/get help via it, only read what others have put up.
3. An endless supply of loo roll.
I think the period of lockdown has proven you can feel “connected” with other humans even if you only read about/see what they're doing... so I'll opt for the computer

You can only wear one of the following colours for the rest of your life. Which colour do you choose? Yellow. Orange. Green. White. Pink.
I consider myself to be a “bohemian goth” so I naturally gravitate towards darker colours. Since these aren't an option, I will go for white and hope it gets begrimed

Cats or dogs?
Doglike cats

City or country?
Suburb

Real book or e-book?
I like the texture and smell of a real e-book

Fountain pen or biro?
Sharpie

Thanks very much for letting me bombard you with questions!

You can catch up with Neil at any or all of these places...

Website: https://neilmach.me/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/author.neilmach



Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Interview with Sami Valentine

Sami Valentine
This week, I'm delighted to share an interview with author Sami Valentine with you. Sami is the author of The Red Witch Chronicles.

Tell me more about your book?
A Witch Called Red is the first book in the Red Witch Chronicles. This is a supernatural thriller about a witch trained as a supernatural bounty hunter; where she came from is a mystery. Each book in the series has its own plot and conflict to solve. The overarching mystery is Red discovering exactly who she is and why she was left for dead with amnesia outside Eugene, Oregon. In the first book, Red and her mentor come to Los Angeles to solve the mysterious murder of a model left drained on the beach. Red gets in over her head as the murder investigations takes a hard turn into a conspiracy with the local vampires. It will eventually be a 9-book series and book 5 is coming out at the end of 2020.

What prompted you to write it?
I am really interested in identity and memory and how it affects someone's personality and choices. A big theme in the Red Witch Chronicles is the struggle with being yourself and it's interesting to explore those themes with a character who has no memories.

What are you working on at the moment? Are there already plans for the next book after this one?
I am working on the fifth book of my Red Witch Chronicles series. I am a detailed plotter and world-builder so I have the big plot points of the 4 books in the series outlined. This is an interesting book to write because it’s both answering and giving red herrings to the big question of the series—the amnesiac MC’s origins. The book is about coming home and facing your past so I get to explore some interesting dynamics with the characters which after so many books are nicely developed.

When did you first start writing? And what made you start?
I have no idea when I started writing or what made me. I always loved books and my grandparents were big readers who pushed all their old favorites on me. I knew that I wanted to be a writer early. My first publicly posted story was probably a terrible Harry Potter fanfiction when I was like 12-13 then I filled journals and did creative writing classes in school. I even was a creative writing major, briefly in college because I had the cliched encounter with a professor who was a snob against genre fiction. I was publishing my own zine, writing for local blogs and papers, and submitting short stories in college. Even got a novella traditionally published by a small press. Then I had writer’s block for years. It's been 2-3 years since I have gotten back into writing to carry on my childhood dream of being a writer.

What was the first full-length novel you ever wrote? (I realise this may not be the same as the first book you have had published!)
An urban fantasy book called Dig Two Graves set in Tucson, Arizona. This novel was the seed to the world-building 16-year-old with little life experience, but there are a few scene ideas that I will end up incorporating into a new story. I still enjoy that main character and the opening scene which came from a dream of a young Hispanic woman working one of those anonymous motels along the highway, knocking on a door saying housekeeping while a vampire has a kidnapped victim inside, and well, let’s just say she cleaned up even if she left a bloody mess.

Which is your favourite secondary character in your book, and why is it your favourite?
Vic Constantine. He popped into my head as my main character’s hunting partner and mentor with what I thought was an expiration date at the end of book 1. He is a complicated dude—bounty hunter, hacker, and adopted Korean redneck. Definitely worth his own standalone book. His voice is one of the easiest for me to ‘hear’ as a writer.

Where is your ideal writing space?
My ideal: an outdoor covered patio in a temperate climate while a gentle rain taps outside as my coffee steams close to hand. I am in a silky robe with pockets and an ergonomic chair. There is a black cat curled up in a nearby chair. Or specifically this small renovated castle ruin in France:


My current writing space is a small desk in the corner of my bedroom in what is most certainly not a French castle.

What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever been given? (not necessarily writing-related!)
Don’t half ass things a bunch of things, full-ass a few. Multi-tasking doesn’t actually exist. Life is more satisfying and less stressful when you just focus on what really matters to you than ‘keeping up with the Jones’ or ‘having it all.’

And now for some more random questions...

What’s your radio tuned to most often?
I am a Spotify person because I love playlists. Right now I am writing so much urban fantasy that I have a 15+ hour long playlist filled with the rock, pop, electric, and rap that reminds me of the genre.

You’re stranded on an island. You can choose one of the following three things. Which do you choose and why?
1. Limitless supply of paper and pens.
2. A computer which will never run out of battery and which can access the internet, but you can’t post anything/get help via it, only read what others have put up.
3. An endless supply of loo roll.
2. A computer which will never run out of battery and which can access the internet, but you can’t post anything/get help via it, only read what others have put up.

I assume that this has a word processor so I could still write. The trouble would be keeping sand out of it, I suppose. Then I would have all the information on how to survive, which plants to eat, how to make a shelter, weather reports, etc. That is more useful than loo paper because I can just use a leaf or something.

You can only wear one of the following colours for the rest of your life. Which colour do you choose? Yellow. Orange. Green. White. Pink.
Green. I have red hair, lightening or darkening depending on the seasons much like an Arctic Tern, and I think that would be the most complimentary. If I choose white, I would be constantly dripping things on myself because that is my luck.

Cats or dogs?
Dogs are delightful and I love them but cats are better for writers… as long as you have a decoy keyboard for them to hang out on.

City or country?
I hate choosing between the two! Its why I like cities like Medellin, Colombia and Tucson, Arizona where you can quickly go between either.

Real book or e-book?
It used to be real books all the way, but I ran out of bookshelf space and I finally embraced e-readers. In a normal year, I spend over 8 months traveling or living abroad so I had to adapt my reading habits to become more minimal.

Fountain pen or biro?
I am in the US so we don’t call them this but biro sounds fun.

Thanks very much for letting me bombard you with questions!

You can keep up with Sami at all of these places...
Website: Samivalentine.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/samivalentine/
IG: https://www.instagram.com/sami.valentine.writer/
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/sami-valentine
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19596810.Sami_Valentine

And don't forget to check out her book!




Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Final extract from Aegyir Rises

Over the last few weeks, I've shared the opening scene from Aegyir Rises, and a couple of scenes from a little further into the book. This week, Reagan finds another strange item left for her on her kitchen table.

Aegyir Rises

People are dying in Cumbria. Lots of people. It appears to be a flu outbreak. Except no one tests positive for any virus known to man. And there appears to be a serial killer on the loose too. Bodies keep appearing in secluded areas, but there’s no obvious cause of death.

Meanwhile, Reagan Bennett is being plagued by dreams of a different world. Ones where she’s a warrior called Aeron. Ones where a woman keeps urging her to come home because it’s not a plague that’s killing everyone, but the demon Aegyir. Ones where she’s sentenced to hang for being a traitor.

Aegyir is real. And he believes Reagan is his old enemy Aeron. One he’d sworn to destroy.

Reagan needs to figure out who Aegyir is, before they slaughter everyone she loves. And to do that, she needs to figure out who she really is.



If you liked that, the ebook is available for less than the cost of a cup of coffee... 😊



Tuesday, 1 September 2020

3rd extract from Aegyir Rises

Over the last couple of weeks, I've shared the opening scene from Aegyir Rises, and a scene a little further into the book. This week, Reagan has a very strange encounter, out on the motorbike.

Aegyir Rises

People are dying in Cumbria. Lots of people. It appears to be a flu outbreak. Except no one tests positive for any virus known to man. And there appears to be a serial killer on the loose too. Bodies keep appearing in secluded areas, but there’s no obvious cause of death.

Meanwhile, Reagan Bennett is being plagued by dreams of a different world. Ones where she’s a warrior called Aeron. Ones where a woman keeps urging her to come home because it’s not a plague that’s killing everyone, but the demon Aegyir. Ones where she’s sentenced to hang for being a traitor.

Aegyir is real. And he believes Reagan is his old enemy Aeron. One he’d sworn to destroy.

Reagan needs to figure out who Aegyir is, before they slaughter everyone she loves. And to do that, she needs to figure out who she really is.



If you liked that, the ebook is available for less than the cost of a cup of coffee... 😊