Getting to know the person behind the print. Every Thursday I will be interviewing an author. This is our chance as readers to find out how  authors tick , what brings their characters to life and how the creative process works.

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR AL BURKE

Author Al Burke is a fantasy author, his debut novel The King is Dead is a medieval fantasy. I have only met Al recently so I am as excited as you guys to find out more about him.  I shall let him introduce himself before we get started.

Hi,

I’m Al Burke. I’m an Irish ex-pat living in Vancouver, Canada. I have two awesome/awful kids who make life far more fun than it probably should be, and I work in my local library. I’m an author of one book – The King is Dead – but I have some more in the pipeline.

Hi Al,

It’s great to have you with us today and thank you again for taking the time out of what must be a very busy life to talk with me today. I love getting to know the person behind the story. I haven’t had the pleasure of reading your book yet, it is however on my reading list; so, watch this space for a review guys!  Can you tell me a bit about your book I am a great lover of fantasy, yours is a bit different, without giving too much away!

Much as I love fantasy, I find the stereotype of the villager becoming a great hero and slaying orcs and dragons with ease a bit trying at times. Instead, TKID revolves around two men who should be heroes, marching off on another successful quest. Instead, they are a pair of under- achievers who must try to convince their people that they face a threat to their very existence.

When did you decide to write a book?

I started planning this about five years ago. I finally sat down to write it about two years ago. So, somewhere around this time.

What authors influenced you growing up or indeed today?

I grew up loving classic Sci-Fi like Welles and Verne, but once I read The Lord of the Rings, I was sold on fantasy. I still read SF occasionally, but I read mostly fantasy, the darker the better. If I had to pick a favourite, I’d go with Steven Erickson and Ian C Esslemont (it was a team effort) – their Malazan Books of the Fallen are a masterclass in epic/dark fantasy. I’m enjoying Brandon Sanderson’s work right now, he is absolutely at the top of his game. I could go on and on though.

Lord of the Rings is just the most amazing book, I can see why that title wooed you. I know it did me. Though, War of the Worlds is one of my all-time favourites.  It’s safe to say you have excellent taste. (In my opinion anyway).

What kind of research do you do when preparing to write a book and how long would you say you spend on research before you begin the first draft?

I had most of the ideas for TKID story-boarded “on paper” (aka in my head), it was just a matter of applying words to ideas. I went with a familiar era in the Middle Ages, but I’m going deeper for my next couple.

What would you say is the most difficult part of the creative process?

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – with a job and two young kids, finding the time is the biggest issue.

I hear you, two children are like trying to hold back the ocean! Well it is in my house. 

What is the genre you find the most challenging to read/ write?

Read? I dunno. Romance? I’m not a big fan of John Grisham-style stuff. Not a criticism of him, I just don’t dig it. I’m writing some horror short stories based on Irish folklore right now. I remember my Uncle Matty telling me these stories when I was 7 or 8 and I still remember my skin prickling as I listened. Now I’m writing them with a modern slant, and I can still feel that prickle, but I wonder if it will scare others. I’m enjoying the feeling of fear though.

I know a good few people who will be excited to read those old folklore tales.

How do you find the balance between writing what you want and meeting the wants of the potential readers?

Haven’t thought about it. I’ve had a few requests for a TKID 2, but I don’t have any plans for it. I never thought of pleasing an audience before. Could that be considered selling out? (ducks)

(laughs) No, I don’t think that would be selling out. It is a great compliment however that readers want more of the story. I really can’t wait to read it now!

As a fantasy writer, how do you create your universe?

I shamelessly steal it from history and mythology. That being said, I am creating my own world for one of my novels, but it will in essence be a cross between the Cenozoic Era and the dawn of the Iron Age.

What inspires you to be the architect of your own make believe world?

Perhaps the idea of creating something unique. It’s hard to do so, as you can draw parallels between many of the fantasy tropes, despite the best efforts of those fine authors.

Of all the genres what drew you to yours?

I always loved mythology and folklore. I like the idea of overcoming the odds to achieve success. Most of all, I like the parallels between the fantasy worlds and our modern society.

How do you feel your writing has developed since you began on this journey?

It’s early days, but I’d like to think so. I definitely wrote more efficiently earlier in the year, but I was away for a month or so, which side-tracked me a little.

Being an author can be a tricky business, do you have a support network that picks you up when you have a slow period or even the dreaded writers block!

I don’t think I’ve been there yet, but if I do, I think the lunatics at Bella Tulip Publishing will set me straight.

What are your plans for the future?

More writing. Novels and some short stories. When my little guy goes to Kindergarten in September, I’ll have way more time on my hands.

What would you say is your writers Kryptonite?

Me. I am my own worst enemy. I should get some farm boy/girl to go on a quest to slay me.

If you could change one thing about the way books are published/ marketed what would it be?

I’m not so sure the problem is how they are marketed or published, although I could be wrong. I think we live in a time of transition for authors, and trying to get people to take a chance on an independent author is the battle. Our marketing is done online. If a reader isn’t interested in perusing the net for new or interesting titles, instead relying solely on their local book store or library, then it’s an uphill battle. But as I said, we live in changing times.

Lastly If you made it big, got the movie deal and became a household name how do you think it would change you?

I might buy a new computer. It’s hard to tell, I’ve always been a person of few needs. I can’t imagine making wholesale changes just because I was “famous” or “rich”.  Then again, success can do funny things to people.

Thank you, Al, for answering all those questions I really feel like I know you better and I am sure the readers of this will too. 

As always check below for buy links and keep an eye out for my review of   The king is Dead. It will be going live in the coming weeks.

Amazon –  The King is Dead

 

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR PHIL PRICE

Phil Price is an author of Horror/fantasy, we have met him before when I interviewed him for his first book Unknown which received great reviews both in the UK and USA.  Today we are getting another glimpse into imaginary world. We are talking about The Turning!

*SPOILER ALERT!*

If you have not read Unknown please be aware this interview touches on that title and I don’t want to ruin it for anyone.

Hi,

My name’s Phil. I’m a regular guy. Husband and father of two young lads. I have a love of writing that I never knew existed until a few years ago. I try and fit this into my busy life wherever possible.

Hi Phil,

First of all, Congratulations of being taken on by a publisher! That is amazing and well deserved.  The re-launch of Unknown was well received. Some amazing new cover art as well, you have been busy! Today we are going to talk about your new release The Turning!

 I know your readers can’t wait for the second installment, so could you give us an outline of The Turning please, nicely.

Thank you Gemma. Sure. Here goes. Anyone who has not read Unknown, please look away now. The Turning leads on from Unknown. Jake and Katherine settle in the sleepy village of Tintagel, Cornwall. They have a little girl, with things returning to normality. However, the peace and quiet does not last long. They are found, with dire consequences. Characters from the first book come together to carry on the story, which explores new worlds and new horrors.

How did you find the characters evolved in this second book? 

I think they grow into the series. Katherine especially, who is in love with her new found life. She loves this strange new world (Cornwall), with its coffee shops and fancy things. Jake too, has developed from the first story. He’s happy, content with his new life. He undergoes a wide range of changes in the second book, which the reader will no doubt pick up on. I can say no more…..

How did publishing your first book as an indie and then being taken on my a publishing house change your publishing experience?

Honestly, it’s been much better second time around. The first time I was not really prepared. I did it pretty much all myself, which showed in the early days. Now I have support and direction. I have a great team behind me who are working tirelessly to make this a success. A great deal of credit must go to them.

What kind of research do you do when preparing to write a book and how long would you say you spend on research before you begin the first draft?

It depends. With the first book, I read up on various things that would make the book feel authentic. Silly things like the make of watch or camera at a certain period in time. I’ve been fortunate enough to have traveled to various parts of our great planet, finding it easy enough to describe in detail places far and wide.

For The Turning, I used my knowledge of the West Country to paint a setting in which Jake and Katherine can settle. Hopefully I can do Tintagel justice. Anyone reading this from Cornwall, I hope it stacks up well.

What would you say is the most difficult part of the creative process, with this being your second book was it harder to produce the level of suspense you achieved with Unknown?

Yes, mainly because Unknown received great feedback. The pressure was on to replicate that in The Turning, which hopefully I achieved. The creative process for me is fairly simple. I know what will happen, and with whom. I just need to link all the strands together and pull it together.

What is the genre you find the most challenging to read/ write?

To read, I’d say fantasy. Mainly due to the names. Lol. I really struggled with the great Terry Pratchett at first because of this. I soldiered on though. To write, I’d have to say Sci-Fi. I’m currently in the middle of a book of this genre, writing about a distant civilisation. It’s tricky trying to make it all sound so believable. Talk of Warp Drive, Wormholes, and Interstellar travel is a long way away from Vampires and forests.

How do you find the balance between writing what you want and meeting the wants of the potential readers?

I have never really thought about that. Sure, I want to immerse the readers into my world, taking them on my journey. I think if a reader contacted me, telling me their thoughts or concerns, I’d be mindful of that in future books. One of my friends did tell me about one of my characters breaking wind though. I quickly changed that sentence. Ha ha.

As a horror / fantasy writer, how do you manage to create such frightening scenes and not scare yourself? As you know I am a baby and would find it impossible to do!

The thing is, I want to scare myself. If I can do that, then hopefully I can scare the readers too. I’ve read many a scary book over the years, loving how certain authors have the ability to send shivers down your spine

How do you feel your writing has developed since you began on this journey?

Hopefully, it has improved since the far off days of 2010. I hope that every page I write, develops my writing abilities further. I hope.

 Being an author can be a tricky business, do you have a support network that picks you up when you have a slow period or even the dreaded writers block!

I don’t think I’ve ever had Writers Block. I’ve had a few times where I’m struggling with a particular scene, or chapter. I normally leave the book for a while, letting it play out in my mind. My life is fairly full on, allowing me to be able to dip in and out of writing as required. I do have great friends, who have read my drafts. They always offer great feedback and thoughts on how things can be improved. Or if something is to their liking, they let me know, pushing me on to the next chapter.

What are your plans for the future?

Well, I’ll probably have a cup of tea when I’ve finished this. After that, who knows? I have a full time day job and a family. Writing has always been a bit of a hobby for me. A guilty pleasure that I enjoy. I never really expected to get to this stage if I’m honest. So, as of today, I have no plans. Except to write another three books at least.

What would you say is your writers Kryptonite?

Social Media. It can be a real distraction. Even while I’m typing this, my phone is beeping like crazy. It’s probably you Gemma, face-booking me. Lol.

Sorry! * blushes and puts phone down* moving on…

If you could change one thing about the way books are published/ marketed what would it be?

Ask me that in five years. At the moment I’m really happy at how things are going. As I said before, I am part of a great team. Bella Tulip/Zombie Cupcake are going places.

Finally, if you made it big, got the movie deal and became a household name how do you think it would change you?

The biggest change would be the dreaded alarm clock. It would go in the bin. I’d still be me, the same guy that I always have been. What would be different, would be how I chose to live my life. My wife would be able to retire. We could move to Cornwall, living the outdoor life that the boys would love. That would be the biggest change and the biggest thrill for me. Oh and I want a Bugatti. And a helicopter. Kidding. A Bugatti would not last five minutes on Cornish roads….

As always it has been a unique experience interviewing you. Thank you for taking the time out to chat with me (not on Facebook) and share a bit more of what is like to be an author. I for one cannot wait for the release of The Turning.

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR  S. E. ENGLAND

Sarah England is a fiction writer based in the UK. Originally, she trained as a nurse in Sheffield before spending nearly 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry, specialising in psychiatry – a theme which creeps into much of her work.  Sarah has hundreds of short stories and serials published in magazines & newspapers all over the world, but her most recent work is the ‘Father of Lies’ occult horror trilogy, which was released last year.

I have just finished reading Father of Lies which I understand is the first part of a trilogy and I really enjoyed it, even though I did have to invest in a night light! How did you come up with the idea for the story?

Well, I had been writing magazines stories for many years when I met a lady who not only inspired the story but broke my heart. She was/is a victim of satanic ritual abuse and suffers badly, horrifically really, from a condition that used to be known as multiple personality disorder (now dis-associative identity disorder).  I will never forget her reaction when we began to touch on her past: I’ve never seen anything like it and I’ve nursed some very ill people over the years. Anyway, with a psychiatric background and a strong interest in all things supernatural, I then started to research her condition, demonology and exorcism. The research was so terrifying that I couldn’t keep the books in the house afterwards. Nor could my friend – she burned them! It was very hard to write and was originally intended to be a stand-alone novel. However, it soon became clear there was much more to tell and then suddenly I was writing for 14 hours a day to bring out the other two.

Without giving too much away, as I plan to read the two remaining books, how you feel your writing changed over the course of the three titles?

Oh yes, readers noticed it changed.  I think the characters began to flesh out considerably and take on a life of their own. I felt them leaping out in my imagination and I was there in their heads. Maybe that gave me confidence because I forgot about myself as a writer and just lived and breathed  the story. I also did more and more research into the occult and black witchcraft, which spurred me on and opened up more and more doors of possibility. In the final book, it was pretty spooky because I did not know how it would transpire… I didn’t even know if I could do it…but piece by piece it came to me as if by magic. I planned very little – it really was a journey. I should add that everything in my personal life transpired to stop me writing those books. A lot of weird things happened, particularly while writing the first one… it’s all been very odd.  Some of the readers have said that too. Maybe it’s the fear within us?

What kind of research do you do when preparing to write a book and how long would you say you spend on research before you begin the first draft?

I do a lot of research. In Father of Lies I had my medical background to draw on, but I researched demonology and also exorcism in the Catholic church. For the next two it was black magic and the occult, witchcraft and the bubonic plague. For the one I am currently writing, the research has taken a month.  Actually, I have to admit it’s one of my favorite parts to writing books… I really love it.

What would you say is the most difficult part of the creative process?

Oh, plotting! I am no good at this… I have ideas and characters, atmosphere and detail but plot… meh….This is where I force myself and tear my hair out to get it in the right sequence. With book 1 I had a lot of to-and-fro in time, and I tried to reduce that in subsequent books to make it easier for the reader.

What is the genre you find the most challenging to read/ write?

Well my heart isn’t in sweet romance or vampires or the apocalypse. And I would not want to write  or read erotica…squirms….I have definite stories that come from me, somewhere within, and those are what I love to do.

How do you find the balance between writing what you want and meeting the wants of the potential readers?

Ah! Well, when I wrote for magazines I had to write romance and I had to write in the house style, so I can discipline myself – but I lost my way. I now write what I feel passionately about and hope that comes across. However, after Father of Lies was first released, I read the feedback and made some adjustments – like not so many time changes, and making sure the characters the readers had come to care about were not left hanging in jeopardy!

AS a horror writer, how do you manage to create such frightening scenes and not scare yourself? because Father of Lies is pretty scary! 

The short answer is that I do scare myself. Very badly!  I had some seriously creepy things happen – the air would freeze around me while I was doing the research; and I had a ghostly visitor one night too. By the time I was writing Magda I was getting used to it, but still everything transpired to stop me writing it, and I had night terrors with each book. Yes, if you have even the slightest doubt that there is something there other than we humans…. And you’re alone…you can be really freaked out! And I, alas, have no doubt whatsoever that there is a dark side.  Just because we can’t see it, define it, explain it – does not mean it isn’t there… Shriek!

How difficult do you feel it is for a female author to get her work noticed in this genre compared to men? 

Hmm, both myself and fellow female horror authors have noticed how much more criticism we get than our male counterparts.  Male horror writers don’t get it nearly as much. Having said that, the support I have had from 95% of the readers has been tremendous. Inspiring and encouraging…At times I did feel dispirited but there must be a steel core inside me somewhere because I just keep on going! As for getting noticed, well that’s the really tricky bit, especially in a niche genre like supernatural horror when you are not with a major publisher.

Was writing something you always wanted to do or did it happen by chance?

God yes! My mother was an English teacher and by the age of six I was reading her cast-off Victoria Holt novels (70s) lol… I was always making up stories in my head and got and A in English ‘O’ Level at the age of 14. However, life gets in the way and I was kind of engineered into nursing. Then I had a mortgage and bills to pay and so it goes on. I finally got the chance to study creative writing and began to write short stories for magazines when I was in my early forties. It took a year before anything was published, but I’ll never forget the first acceptance! I smiled all day.  It warmed my heart like no amount of sales achievements ever could. I think that’s when I knew what my long and rocky path was going to be. It’s a kind of love-hate relationship.

What are your plans for the future?

Right now I am working on my fourth book. This is a stand-alone chiller and is firmly under wraps. However, it is very close to my heart and will, of course, be dark and sinister. I am quietly excited about it: my fingers tingle and my heart leaps about as it takes form.

If you could change one thing about the way books are published/ marketed what would it be?

Oh, that the big publishers would take on more new writers and not just go with the tried and tested money-makers and those who move in the right circles. I think readers should be given new blood and lots of it.

Thank you so much for interviewing me, Gemma! It is a real pleasure.

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to share some of your genius with us. Can’t wait to finish this series and will keep my eyes peeled for your new book when it hits the market!

If you would like to read my review of Father of Lies, head over to the main page. Reviews of the two remaining books will follow soon.

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR GIDEON

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This weeks interview is with multi talented Author, Gideon.

Gideon has been writing since a very early age, primarily poetry but he progressed to novels later in life. When not enveloped in writing he has a deep interest in spirituality and mysticism. during the day, he works in the outside world while dreaming up new characters for the next book. Gideon`s love of spirituality and fantasy has been the greatest influence for his work.

Thank you Gideon for  taking time out for this interview. I  read and reviewed  Jayded your latest title and I really enjoyed it. How did you come up with the idea for the story?

I was reading a book about the path of the soul and how life can be really difficult for all of us in the lives that we lead. Events such as divorce or being homeless have a major impact on the physical and psychological self. I wanted to write about a man who loved his faith but hated the world he was brought up in. The trauma he had received in various forms throughout his life changed the way he saw and interacted within the world.

It was a very compelling book. I can imagine it will hold a lot of readers interest.You have written several titles now, how do you think this one differs from the others?

I think this one is a lot darker. It speaks of the pain of not being able to fit into modern society, when your different from everyone else. When I write poetry, or verse they are filled with my love of the divine and the greatest qualities of man

Writing novels is quite a change from poetry , I must say you have made it look effortless.In regards to your writing What would you say is your writers Kryptonite?

Stress, that’s it. Once I am stressed I can’t do a thing. So, the manuscript will just sit there.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing if at all?

The first time my book was published. I was over the moon. I didn’t realise then how much needs to go into making a good story.  I look back at them and think oh I could have done this or that different. With each book, I write, I hope the quality gets better.

Your latest book has a very interesting subject matter. What kind of research do you do when preparing to write a book and how long would you say you spend on research before you begin the first draft?

Jayded was easy to write. I have spent my life growing with people who are exactly like those in the book. From the aspiring witch who does not really know her craft to the many wonderful followers of nature and the old ways that exist in every community around us. In the story, there must be a little piece of thousands of people all rolled up into a few characters.

What would you say is the most difficult part of the creative process?

I have always found that the characters come to have a life of their own. I may have planned out how the story-line will go, but then they take over and it all goes down the pain but in truth I love how it always turns out. That’s the difficult part, adapting my vision of the story so the characters agree with it.

You have very relate-able characters in your book, are they based on anyone you have come across in life?

The characters are based a little piece of so many people, both positive and negative.

How do you find the balance between writing what you want and meeting the wants of the potential readers?

I write what I love and pray that the readers will find great joy in the story as well.

If you could change one thing about the way books are published/ marketed what would it be?

That it was simpler to get your work seen. It is so difficult for any author to get their work out there without paying vast sums on advertising.

What are your plans for the future?

I am about to release a book on poetry and verse and then I will cast my mind to writing Jayded part two.

I wish you luck in your next release and look forward to Jayded part two.My review of Jayded part one can be found on the main page of this site. If you love a good mystery mixed into an amazing story about spirituality this book is for you.

 INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR BETH HALE

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This weeks interview is with author Beth Hale. Beth Hale writes about what she knows: strong, Southern women and the men who love them. She twines believable characters, realistic circumstances, and heart-felt emotions together to create sassy, sexy contemporary romances. She draws inspiration from the everyday life problems we all face and expands them into vivid, interesting, hard-to-put-down stories.

I have just finished reading Bourbon Street Heat your latest title and I really enjoyed it. How did you come up with the idea for the story?

I imagined a woman going on vacation and finding the courage to do something she’d always wanted to do. After playing around with that idea for a while, the plot for Bourbon Street Heat came together.

 It is a great book I really enjoyed it. You have written several titles now, how do you think this one differs from the others?

Bourbon Street Heat has light themes of BDSM in it—a first for me, as my other titles are considered more straight contemporary romance.

What would you say is your writers Kryptonite?

My own self doubt. Sometimes it rears its ugly head, and I begin to think everything I write is garbage.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing if at all?

It taught me to write a little faster, just to get the first draft done. After that, I can go back and revise and edit to my heart’s content—but that first draft has to be written.

What kind of research do you do when preparing to write a book and how long would you say you spend on research before you begin the first draft?

That all depends on the subjects I’m researching. For instance, during my research phase for Bourbon Street Heat, I spent a good six weeks combing internet information sites, books, and asking people involved in the lifestyle questions. I took reams of notes and went back for more research and question asking during the writing process. I wanted to be sure I had it right.

What would you say is the most difficult part of the creative process?

Making the characters do what I want them to. Ha. Once a character is brought to life on the page, he or she takes on a personalty and it’s hard to control them. I usually let my characters guide the story.

What is the genre you find the most challenging to read/ write?

I can read any genre, and love books in all of them. The hardest for me to write is fantasy. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around a fantasy world long enough to make a story work.

How do you find the balance between writing what you want and meeting the wants of the potential readers?

For me, I write what I want to write. I love my readers and want them to love my stories, but I have to tell the story that’s inside of me at a given time. I will say that, due to reader requests, my first book (Trusting Jack) evolved into a three book series. People loved James and Norah and wanted stories for them too.

What are your plans for the future?

I plan to release another Dallas Fire & Rescue Kindle World novella in July of this year, and hopefully the final book in the Unexpected Emotion Series. I’m working on Tempting Norah now.

If you could change one thing about the way books are published/ marketed what would it be?

I wish big book store chains were more open to indie authors. There are so many talented indie authors out there, and so many people are missing out on fantastic books because the big book store chains like Barnes & Noble won’t give them a chance.

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview it was great getting to know a bit more about you and your writing. I look forward to reading your future works.

Beth’s latest release at the time of this interview Bourbon Street Heat is available from amazon. You can also read my review of the title on the main page of the site.