A Lover of Books

Archive for the month “June, 2014”

Interview with Marie Lavender

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Marie Lavender has written 19 books so far.  She expressed an interest in participating in an interview for my blog.  Below you can find out all about her latest book.

 

Tell me a bit about your latest book.

My newest release is Upon Your Honor, a Victorian romance that also has quite a bit of suspense in it.  The story covers Chloe Waverly’s journey as she stows aboard a clipper ship in an attempt to flee from the nightmare at home.  A handsome, mysterious gentleman offers to help her, but he doesn’t know the real reasons for why she escaped.  As you can probably guess, her past comes back to haunt her ​in many ways. I’ll leave it there for now, as I don’t want to give away any spoilers.

Where do you get your ideas from?

My ideas can come from anything – out of the blue or I can be inspired by current events, things that are happening to me or to other people I am close to, films or books I read.  Anything small can spur an idea.

Roughly how long does it take you to write each novel?

Well, that really depends on the book.  Some of what I have written is only stories or novellas so I would say not too long at all.  For my longer pieces, my novels, it can take months to years.  Upon Your Return, my first historical romance, which is also book one in the Heiresses in Love trilogy, came to me in 2002.  I finished writing it around 2010 or 2011.  I received a contract for it in 2012 and it was published in February of 2013.  Upon Your Honor, the second book in the series, came to me in 2012, or at least the idea did.  From the time I fully concentrated on writing it to when I was done, it took about a year.  I don’t know how long the third book will take.  I think a lot of it just depends on how much research has to be done and how much time you have to write it.

What are you working on at the moment?

At the moment, I am finishing up a paranormal romance novella titled Second Nature.  It is about a woman who stumbles into the world of vampires.  Her life drastically changes, and in the process she learns more about herself than she ever imagined.

What advice do you have for anyone wishing to pen their first book?

Read anything you can on writing, on the craft.  Take writing classes.  I definitely encourage that you do workshops or have critique partners to look at your work.  And don’t forget to read books.  As you read them, you’ll start to pick up how the authors write, what styles or elements are used.  You want to read as many books as you can, especially those in the genre you’re planning to write.  This helps familiarize you with how things are usually done, though in some cases you can break the mould if you like.  Most of all, never give up.  Be persistent with your goals.  And try to organize yourself so that you’re always making progress, whether writing, editing or researching.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I read a lot.  Of course, I do a lot of writing.  But, I also love shopping.  I like to cook as well.  Sometimes I make up recipes.  I like to go out and see movies now and then.  My idea of a fun time is to just unwind with my fiancé ​for the evening with a nice meal, a great conversation and a good cuddle later on.

Who are your favourite authors?

I love reading books by Nora Roberts, Catherine Coulter, Tessa Dare, Emma Wildes, J.R. Ward, P.C. Cast, Kerrelyn Sparks, Chloe Neill and Kris Tualla.  I read other authors as well, but these are the ones I can name off the top of my head.

 

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Book blurb

Deception is a dangerous path… New York City, August, 1891 – Orphaned after the death of her father, Chloe Waverly stows away on La Voyageur to escape the clutches of her cruel fiancé, Lamonte Beckett. Gabriel Hill, a strange and compelling gentleman, comes upon Chloe and promises to protect her without knowing the true circumstances of why she is running away. During their journey, Gabriel doesn’t bargain on being distracted by her fair beauty or succumbing to her many charms. As their attraction to each other grows, so does the danger and Gabriel suspects things are not as they should be.

Both are determined to get to New Orleans, where she can start a new life. But, once they reach their destination, events spin out of their control and Chloe is captured by the fiancé she escaped. Gabriel is left wondering if he can overlook her betrayal. Soon he finds himself in a race against time, to reach her before Beckett can exact revenge.​

 

Purchase links

http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00JTKTODG

http://www.amazon.com/Upon-Your-Honor-Marie-Lavender-ebook/dp/B00JTKTODG/

http://www.amazon.com/Upon-Your-Honor-Marie-Lavender/dp/1625260423/

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/upon-your-honor-marie-lavender/1119268362

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/430789

https://www.createspace.com/4762748

http://solsticepublishing.com/upon-your-honor/

 

Author Bio

Bestselling author of UPON YOUR RETURN and 18 other books. Finalist and Runner-up in the MARSocial’s Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader’s Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013 and 2014. Top 50 Authors on AuthorsDB.com. Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.

Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for over twenty years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands.

At the tender age of nine, she began writing stories. She majored in Creative Writing in college because that was all she ever wanted – to be a writer. While there, she published two works in a university publication, and was a copy editor on the staff of an online student journal. After graduating from college, she sought out her dream to publish a book.

Since then, Marie has published nineteen books. She has published books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry.  Lavender just released Magick & Moonlight, a paranormal romance, in March. Upon Your Honor, released in late April, is her second historical romance. Feel free to visit her website at http://marielavender.webs.com/ for further information about her books and her life. Marie is also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

A list of her books and pen names are as follows:

Marie Lavender: Upon Your Return; Magick & Moonlight; Upon Your Honor

Erica Sutherhome: Hard to Get; Memories; A Hint of Scandal; Without You; Strange Heat; Terror in the Night; Haunted; Pursuit; Perfect Game; A Touch of Dawn; Ransom; Leather and Lace

Kathryn Layne: A Misplaced Life

Heather Crouse: Express Café and Other Ramblings; Ramblings, Musings and Other Things; Soulful Ramblings and Other Worldly Things

 

Author links

Marie Lavender’s Blogs:-

http://marielavenderbooks.blogspot.com/

http://marielavender.blogspot.com/

http://iloveromanceblog.wordpress.com/

Facebook Pages:-

https://www.facebook.com/marie.lavender.58

https://www.facebook.com/MarieAnnLavender

https://www.facebook.com/UponYourHonor

Twitter – https://twitter.com/marielavender1

Google Plus – https://plus.google.com/u/0/104926404745289477307/posts

LinkedIn Page – http://www.linkedin.com/pub/marie-lavender/27/187/10a

Goodreads Page – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6938764.Marie_Lavender

Authors Directory – http://authorsdb.com/authors-directory/1578-marie-lavender

Amazon Page – http://www.amazon.com/Marie-Lavender/e/B00C10Q94I/

‘The Extra Ordinary Life of Frank Derrick, Age 81’ by J. B. Morrison

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‘The Extra Ordinary Life of Frank Derrick, Age 81’ was published by Pan Books on 5th June 2014.  I liked the sound of this book and was very kindly sent a copy to read and review.

This is the story of Frank Derrick who lives in the British town of Fullwind-on-Sea with his cat.  Frank has just been run over by a milk float, which leads to a broken arm and fractured foot.  His days normally consist of watching DVDs, buying things he doesn’t really need at his local charity shop and avoiding cold-callers who seem to keep targeting him.  It has been hard enough for Frank to fill the hours of each day as it is, so how is he going to manage the next few weeks ahead.

His daughter who lives in America arranges homecare for him.  Frank is totally against the idea.  But when his front door opens and assistance comes in the form of the lovely Kelly Christmas, Frank has a change of heart.  Kelly is like a breath of fresh air for him.  She reminds him that there is life beyond the four walls of his flat and that people of any age can have adventures.

This was a lovely book to read.  It is a story which I am sure lots of people will be able to relate to.  It takes a good look at both loneliness and friendship.  ‘The Extra Ordinary Life of Frank Derrick, Age 81’ is touching, funny but also very sad at times.  I loved Frank’s wit throughout and how he could keep himself entertained with his impressions and all the ideas he had.

Well done to J. B. Morrison for writing this story.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

Interview with Lorraine Devon Wilke

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Lorraine Devon Wilke recently published her debut novel ‘After the Sucker Punch’.  She was interested in being interviewed for my blog.

 

I see you have just published your first novel.  Can you tell me a bit about it please?

The book is titled After the Sucker Punch; it’s contemporary literary fiction about a woman finding her father’s journals on the night of his funeral and discovering he thought she was a failure. What follows is an existential crisis that takes her on a wild ride of introspection, discovery and, ultimately, reinvention and forgiveness. At its heart it’s the journey a daughter takes to understand a father when all that’s left are his inexplicable words.

For a more thorough synopsis, the book jacket blurb follows; you can find After the Sucker Punch at Amazon in both ebook and paperback at this link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K2L71V8

 

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Book Jacket Synopsis:

They buried her father at noon, at five she found his journals, and in the time it took to read one-and-a-half pages her world turned upside down… he thought she was a failure.

Every child, no matter what age, wants to know their father loves them, and Tessa Curzio – thirty-six, emerging writer, ex-rocker, lapsed Catholic, defected Scientologist, and fourth in a family of eight complicated people – is no exception. But just when she thought her twitchy life was finally coming together – solid relationship, creative job; a view of the ocean – the one-two punch of her father’s death and posthumous indictment proves an existential knockout.

She tries to “just let it go,” as her sister suggests, but life viewed through the filter of his damning words is suddenly skewed, shaking the foundation of everything from her solid relationship and winning job to the truth of her family, even her sense of self. From there, friendships strain, bad behavior ensues, new men entreat, and family drama spikes, all leading to her little-known aunt, a nun and counselor, who lovingly strong-arms Tessa onto a journey of discovery and reinvention. It’s a trip that’s not always pretty – or particularly wise – but somewhere in all the twists and turns unexpected truths are found.

Author and longtime Huffington Post contributor, Lorraine Devon Wilke, takes an irreverent look at father/daughter relationships through the unique prism of Tessa’s saga and its exploration of family, faith, cults, creativity, new love and old, and the struggle to define oneself against the inexplicable perceptions of a deceased parent. Told with both sass and sensibility, it’s a story wrapped in contemporary culture but with a very classic heart.

 

Where did you get your ideas from?

This was a story sparked by a real life incident: My father kept journals and, many years ago, one was brought to my attention that was particularly focused on me in a somewhat, shall we say, critical way. I had my understandable reaction, but it was when I shared the event at a women’s group I was in at the time, and saw the reactions of those listening, that the idea of fashioning a story around that main plot point came to be.

I was so fascinated by the varied reactions from the other women in the group, some of which were very emotional and far beyond what I felt, that it became clear this was a hot-button issue and one that deserved some exploration. So I took the question – “how would you feel if you found your father’s journal and he said you were a failure?” – to a number of others, both men and women in a spectrum of age ranges. I received so many interesting and varied responses that I incorporated most of those into the lives of the various characters in the book. And once I had that main plot point upon which to build the story, the rest just naturally followed.

 

Did you have to do any research?

The only research I did was taking the prompt – “how would you feel if you found your father’s journals and discovered he though you were a failure?” –  to other people and observing and noting their reactions. There are also some sections in the book where we read “excerpts from articles” the protagonist is writing for a father/daughter series for a magazine she works for; I used research I’d personally done for similar articles I’d written on women’s issues and, though all the excerpts in the book are all fictional, that earlier research gave me good material from which to draw for those sections. Beyond that, and as most writers do, I tapped into my own imagination and life experience, as well as my observations of the life experiences of others, to create a world and a collection of characters who would bring the story to life in the way I envisioned… all of which I thoroughly enjoyed creating!

 

How did you feel once your book was published?

It was a fabulous sensation of completion; of personal accomplishment… with a big dollop of “finally!”

See, I’d originally pursued traditional publishing, which basically meant – at least for me – an endless series of query letters, chapters sent, the occasional full manuscript requested, but, mostly, no response at all. I found this process wearying, one followed in the attempt to secure an agent to then, hopefully, get my book to a publisher, who would then do what they do before publishing it… layer upon layer of activity before any real connection was made with readers. And that was only if I got an agent interested! Ultimately, after too many years of little meaningful progress in this pursuit, I was overcome by the sense of limbo, the endless “auditioning” for agents rather than communicating to actual readers, and a tipping point was reached. I decided this was not the road I wanted to travel. I also became very clear about the fact that I’d worked too hard and believed too strongly in my book – the narrative, the title, the cover, the general sense of what the story conveyed – to cede control of those elements to others who’d have the power to decide which version would ultimately be published. I not only trusted my own voice, I wanted to put out the book I’d created, not one reconfigured to meet the demands of a publisher.

So the choice was made in late 2013 to independently publish and I’ve had no regrets about the decision since. The version of After the Sucker Punch that’s on sale at Amazon is exactly the book I wrote – for better or for worse – and that was an important creative choice for me as a writer.

As for my perspective on the overall independent publishing trend; I wrote a piece for The Huffington Post on the rapidly changing paradigms in the industry and, in the event your readers might be interested, here’s the link: Is Self-Publishing Killing Books? My Journey With After the Sucker Punch Answers the Question

 

Can we expect another book from you soon?

“Soon” may be a relative word, but I am currently working on another novel and, hopefully, I can have it ready for publication by the end of 2014. After that I’ve got two other novels plotted out, as well as a non-fiction piece on brain injury, something I’ve experienced as the spouse of a man who’s dealt with the injury. So I’ve got quite the roster of work to service – along with my journalistic writing – all of which keeps me sufficiently busy!

 

What got you into writing?

Oddly, it was both music and growing up without a TV!

Music, because I was one of those kids who just loved music; I used to lay on the floor and listen to my new albums while reading the lyrics and singing along with the vocalist. I was particularly drawn to story songs with their lyrical statements and narrative content. Even from a young age I was moved by the power of words… though certainly having a good beat didn’t hurt either! 🙂

Growing up without a TV influenced my love of writing because it brought books into my life in a big way! Our family TV broke when I was in early grade school and my father took the opportunity to make a major paradigm shift in our entertainment choices: no more TV, he announced, but he would bring home boxes and boxes of books from the Chicago library. Once we stopped whining about not being able to watch our favorite cartoons on Saturday morning, my siblings and I dived in and discovered we were in a sort of literary heaven, with enough books to keep us entertained and intrigued for the entire, long summer ahead!

From there, I read non-stop throughout my childhood and that immersion gave me a profound affinity and appreciation for the written word in all its forms and with all its magic, emotion, and narrative adventure. There was never a doubt in my mind I’d be a writer, and I have been… from my high school literary magazine (with my contribution of some very dubious poetry!) to the various mediums in which I’ve been involved as an adult: a songwriter, playwright, screenwriter, essayist and journalist, and now a novelist. In fact, I’m known to write even very literary emails (something not every recipient particularly appreciates!).

 

What advice do you have for anyone wishing to write?

First of all, read. Read everything. Reading engenders both a conscious and subconscious absorption of the elements of good writing (presuming you’re reading good writing!): rhythm, flow, pacing, dialogue, narrative, etc., and over time, and with enough reading, that absorption creates an innate sense in the reader of what works and what’s needed to tell a successful story. It also develops a great depth of vocabulary and an ease with verbal richness, both good things for writers.

Next, of course, is writing. Just doing it. In whatever form, and whatever medium, is at hand. I’ve suggested to writers I’ve worked with to even see texts and emails as opportunities to develop their writing skills: make yourself write fully-formed sentences and flesh out every thought. Learn to use words creatively; experiment with form and flow, see your correspondence, essays, articles; whatever you’re writing, as works of creative expression. Take every opportunity to work your craft. It all contributes to the greater whole… and it makes people very excited to get your greeting cards!

And lastly, be the writer you are, honestly and authentically, and know THERE ARE NO RULES. There is no one process that works for everyone, that defines what a writer is or isn’t, or even produces the desired result for every single person. It doesn’t matter if you write one book or twenty; if you write a thousand articles or five; if you write every day or once a week, even once a month. If you are honestly a writer, you’re a writer. And anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong. I’ve seen young writers (even older ones) stopped in their tracks by this kind of rule-oriented nonsense and I’ve always been compelled to counter it (maybe because I’ve always been a bit iconoclastic in my own approach!). Certainly learn the craft, be humble, take good critique to heart, but don’t let anyone talk you out of your voice or browbeat you into thinking your process – whatever it is – is wrong. Find what works for you, what gets you to the page and expressing yourself, and leave the formulas and mandates to others. (For more on “the writing process,” interested readers can access a blog hop I participated in called Blog Hop: The Writing Process…What’s Mine?)    

 

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

Music and photography are two of my other favorite muses; if you go to my site (www.lorrainedevonwilke.com) you’ll find plenty of links and information about both. I also love traveling, spending time with my family, and getting out into the natural world whenever I can. Hiking and power walking are big activities in my life and given the incredible places I get to spend my time, there’s always opportunity to do either somewhere near an ocean or mountain!

 

If you want to get in touch with Lorraine you can do so by emailing her at info@lorrainedevonwilke.com, , via Twitter (@LorraineDWilke) or at her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/lorrainedevonwilke).

Be sure to check out her site for all her other online pages: www.lorrainedevonwilke.com

‘Fatal Act’ by Leigh Russell

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Back in March I took part in Leigh Russell’s ‘Fatal Act’ first UK blog tour.  You can read my post here.

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/leighrussell/

‘Fatal Act’ was published in paperback on the 29th May 2014 by No Exit Press.  It is the sixth book in the DI Geraldine Steel series.  Before now, I had never read any of Leigh Russell’s books so this was a new experience for me.

Anna Porter, a glamorous young TV soap star is killed in a car crash.  It looks like an accident but it soon becomes evident that it is more than that.  Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel is brought in to investigate.  Somehow the driver of the second vehicle has mysteriously disappeared and no one has a clue how he or she escaped.  Then another young actress is brutally murdered and once again there is no sign of the killer.

When a third person is found dead things really start to hot up and Geraldine unknowingly risks her sergeant’s life in their struggle to track down a serial killer who leaves no clues.  Will they succeed in catching the murderer?

I didn’t know how I would get on with reading ‘Fatal Act’, but I soon got into the story.  Cleverly written, it took me a while to work out who the killer was.  I had it down to two of the characters in particular.

I also enjoyed reading about DI Geraldine Steel’s private life too.  I thought it was nice learning about the other side of her and it made the story even more interesting.  I liked Leigh Russell’s writing style and I hope to read her next book at some stage.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

Cover Reveal – ‘One Hundred Proposals’ by Holly Martin

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This is the cover of Holly Martin’s new book, ‘One Hundred Proposals’.  It is being published on the 25th June 2014.

Blurb:

‘Is there really such a thing as a perfect proposal?

Over the next hundred days I intend to find out. I will find one hundred ways to propose to our Chief Proposer Suzie McKenzie and post the results here for your enjoyment. One thing’s for sure, not one of my proposals will be on top of the Eiffel Tower with a dozen red roses.’

Best friends Suzie and Harry are partners in romance. That is, they run the.PerfectProposal.com, coming to the aid of would-be grooms to create the ultimate marriage proposal.

But when Harry decides to catapult the business into the big leagues with a PR stunt all Suzie can see is a hundred days of heartbreak stretching ahead of her. But however exotic the location, or breath-takingly romantic the setting, Suzie has to keep remembering that ‘Marry Me?’ is the one question she can’t say yes to.

This business proposal should come with one hundred broken heart warnings…One hundred proposals, one hundred chances to say yes.

 

Watch this video to find out more about ‘One Hundred Proposals’:-

 

‘One Hundred Proposals’ is available for pre-order.  Just click on the link below:-

http://amzn.to/1ouP9w0

Interview with Jason Mepham

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Jason Mepham is the author of The King Family Vampire series.  He was very interested in answering some questions for me.

 

You have just published your third novel in The King Family Vampires series. What inspired you to start writing these stories?

I started writing as a kid but only started seriously about eight or nine years ago. By this time I has read a serious amount of vampire and supernatural literature, and it is a subject that has always fascinated me. But what really inspired me or should I say who, was Anne Rice. I was a very late-comer to her set of vampire chronicles, and it was the sheer brilliance of her writing that truly inspired me to want to write too. I call Anne my “Other mum” for this reason.

How many more books are there to write?

I am currently a quarter of the way into writing book number four of The King Family Vampires. It is called Christopher. There will be one final book to close the series after this.

Who does the wonderful artwork on your covers?

So far I have had two excellent and lovely people do my front cover art.  Books one and two were original paintings by Sue Millward and book three’s cover was created by my friend Faye Davis. I am hoping Faye will do the cover art for Christopher.

If you could be a vampire for a day what would you do?

If I could be a vampire for a day I would kill as many bad and evil people as possible and make the most beautiful woman I come across into a vampire too!

Would you like to be able to give up the day job and write full time?

It would seriously become a dream come true if I could give up my factory day job and write full time. It really would.

Have you got any other writing projects planned for the future?

Do I have other writing projects planned? Yes. In fact I am working on another project right now. It’s a one-off and nothing to do with the supernatural. It is my first proper attempt at writing a serious work of fiction.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I have many interests away from writing. These include eating out, shopping, watching films, listening to music. seeing my family and spending time with my girlfriend, Sarah.

Who are your favourite authors?

There are so many great authors whom I admire and read as much of their work as possible. These include Anne Rice, of course, Richelle Mead, Rachel Caine, Karen Mahoney, Harlen Coben, Robert Goddard, S.J. Bolton, Michael Cordy and the much missed Michael Crichton.

 

You can buy the first book in the series, Lilith by clicking on this link:-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lilith-Jason-D-Mepham/dp/1471674681/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1401537657&sr=8-3&keywords=Jason+Mepham

Blog Tour – ‘The Piano Player’s Son’

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I am delighted to be taking part in this blog tour.  I chose to review ‘The Piano Player’s Son’ and you can read my thoughts about this novel below.

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‘The Piano Player’s Son’ was published by Cinnamon Press last year.  This is Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn’s second novel.

To Isabel family life is very important.  Her parents appear to have had a blissful marriage and she has tried very hard to create one for herself.  All pretence is shattered though when her husband leaves her.  On top of that her father dies, which leaves Isabel totally devastated.

Then, a few hours after her father’s death, Isabel’s mother confides in her revealing a secret kept hidden for more than thirty years.  Isabel is shocked by the revelation and feels that her sister, Grace and brothers, Rick and George should be told.  But her mother makes her promise to stay silent.

‘The Piano Player’s Son’ was a really good and worthwhile read.  It is a compelling and very sad story about families where each person is dealing with their own individual tragedies and issues.  I liked the writing style and the way this novel was set out.  I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next and I almost felt as if I was part of the characters’ lives.

Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn has portrayed her characters well.  My favourites were Isabel and Grace.  I wasn’t that keen on Rick but I understand how he must have been feeling about things.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

 

Useful Links

Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn:-

Website: www.lindsaystanberryflynn.co.uk

Blog: http://lindsaystanberryflynn.co.uk/blog/

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/LindsayStanberryFlynn.Author

The Piano Player’s Son on Amazon: www.amazon.co.uk/The-Piano-Players-Lindsay-Stanberry-Flynn/dp/1907090932/

 

Lindsay does not have a Twitter account but Silverwood Books are tweeting throughout this tour.

SilverWood Books: www.silverwoodbooks.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/silverwoodbooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SilverWoodBooks

 

Interview with Rayne Hall

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Rayne Hall is the author of many books.  She was interested in taking part in an interview for my blog.

STORM_DANCER

I see you have published more than 40 books which is amazing.  How long does it take you on average to write each one?

This varies greatly.

Storm Dancer took me about ten years to write – longer than any other book – because I rewrote it several times.  When I started to write Storm Dancer, I created Dahoud as a standard swashbuckling hero. I had almost finished the novel when he confessed that he was possessed by a demon. Of course, this changed everything, and I had to rewrite the whole book. During the rewrite, his personality changed, so I had to start yet again. It took several rewrites before I realised just how dark his past was and what a terrible secret he carries inside him, what drove him and what he needed to do to atone.

On the other hand, I once wrote a book in under a month, when a publisher offered me a contract with a tight deadline. For that project, I set myself a structured schedule and worked morning to night. At the end, I was mentally exhausted.

Usually, I have several projects under way simultaneously, which makes it difficult to measure how much time I spend on each.

 

What types of books do you write?

I write mostly fantasy and horror fiction, as well as non-fiction books. My fantasy is sometimes quirky, sometimes dark. My horror is subtle with a lot of atmosphere – more creepy and unsettling than violent and gory.

I’ve written a lot of non-fiction books, mostly reference books of the ‘how to’ type. Many of those were written under a different pen name and are out of date and out of print.

My Writer’s Craft series is popular. These are ebooks, helping writers with specialised aspects of their craft: Writing Fight Scenes, Writing Scary Scenes, Writing Dark Stories, Writing Short Stories to Promote Your Novels, The Word-Loss Diet, Writing About Magic, Writing About Villains. More are in the pipeline. Many general how-to-write-fiction books are available, but once writers have mastered the basics of the craft, they need more advanced skills and specific techniques. At this stage, my Writer’s Craft books help.

 

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Can you tell me a bit about your latest one?

The latest one published? Hmm, let me see.

The latest book in the Writer’s Craft series is Writing Short Stories to Promote Your Novels. Many authors look for ways to get exposure for their novels, and they miss the obvious – using their writing skills to attract fans. This book shows exactly what kind of short story will sell the novel.

At around the same time, I published Dragon: Ten Tales of Fiery Beasts. I’m the editor, and only one of the ten stories is by me (a quirky tale about an introvert dragon who just wants to be left in peace). The others are by different authors. I selected a mix of genres and styles, some funny, some dark, some scary.

 

What are you working on at the moment?

As always, I’m working on several projects.  I’m just putting the finishing touches to Twitter for Writers. At the same time I’m editing Cogwheels: Ten Tales of Steampunk, selecting the stories, helping the authors revise, writing the introduction.  I’m also writing and revising a dozen short stories – a steampunk horror story about a werewolf in a funicular railway, a flash fiction piece about a premonition of a disaster, a historical story about smugglers on the south coast of England, and more. Then there’s a sequel to my dark epic fantasy novel Storm Dancer, with the working title Flame Bearer, and of course more books in the Writer’s Craft series.

 

Do you have to do any research for them?

The research for these is done. Where possible, I go and experience the situation myself – or at least, something similar. For the steampunk horror story with the werewolf, I took a ride in the  funicular railway in Hastings, and for the story about smugglers I visited a historical gaol in Pevensey and spent some time in the cell, imagining how it would be for the heroine.

 

Have any authors influenced you in your writing?

In my early teens, I loved the historical novels by Rosemary Sutcliff and Hans Baumann. I also read a lot of Karl May. Although Karl May (1842 – 1912) is almost unknown in the English-speaking world, he is popular in Germany. I loved his atmospheric descriptions of exotic places where he had never been. His approach has definitely influenced my novels, especially Storm Dancer.

I was about fifteen when I discovered a book with stories of Edgar Allan Poe. They were so exciting! At once, I started writing horror stories. They didn’t have much plot and blatantly copied Poe’s style, but at the time I thought they were really good. Poe has remained an influence on my short fiction, especially my psychological horror stories.

Later, I was influenced by the gothic stories by the Victorian writer Amelia Edwards. Although her stories ooze suspense from the start, the horror builds slowly. One of Edwards’ suspense techniques is to place the protagonists into an unfamiliar environment and isolate them from their companions. For example, he narrator of The Phantom Coach has gone grouse hunting, alone, in a bleak wide moor in the North of England, got caught in a snowstorm, and must seek shelter where he can.  Above all, I love Edwards’ vivid descriptions of location, climate and weather (in this story, the approaching storm and the moor landscape covered in deep snow). Her skilful use of descriptions (e.g. the coach with its mould-crusted leather fittings)  to drive the plot and create a spooky atmosphere is the work of a horror genre master. Surprisingly, Edwards’ stories don’t feel dated to the modern reader, the way many other Victorian stories do. When I read Amelia Edward’s stories, I immediately recognised a kindred spirit. This was how I wanted to write, and here was a master I could learn from, someone I could strive to emulate.

The late David Gemmell influenced me in a more practical manner. He was a kind of mentor, although that word suggests a more formal relationship than we had. Sometimes we chatted about our writing – his fabulously successful epic fantasy novels, and my largely unpublished efforts – and he shared what he was working on, what creative decisions he had made for his work in progress and why. He also pointed out where he felt I was going wrong with my stories, and suggested techniques for me to try. At the time, I liked to create twists by letting the reader expect something, and then twisting the plot in other ways. David warned me against this. Whenever readers think they know what will happen, they lose interest in the story; and even if what happens is not what they expect, that moment of lost interest is fatal to the book’s tension. I’ve taken his advice, for my novels anyway. You may see David Gemmell’s influence in my epic fantasy novel Storm Dancer.

 

Do you take a break after you’ve published a new book or do you just carry on writing?

I always work on several projects simultaneously, so there’s never a break from writing. However, after I’ve completed a book, I treat myself to a break from that genre. So after finishing a fantasy novel, I may write a short horror story, and after completing a non-fiction book, I may write a quirky fantasy yarn.

 

Describe a day in your life.

When I don’t write, I enjoy gardening, reading, walking along the seafront, hanging out in coffee shops, teaching online classes and spending time with Sulu, a black rescue cat I’ve adopted recently. I avoid doing housework.

 

Rayne Hall’s Amazon page can be found here – http://www.amazon.co.uk/raynehall/e/B006BSJ5BK/?tag=viewbookat-21

You can follow Rayne Hall on  Twitter – @RayneHall

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