Category Archives: Interviews

Interview with Author Matthew Marullo 

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Always a reader, I wrote my first short story in third grade. At the age of eleven, I remember begging my parents to let me read Stephen King’s The Shining. They relented (though it would be some time before I was permitted to watch the movie version), and I subsequently spent several years writing short horror stories. After my grandparents donated their upright piano, music took over my life, culminating with a Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition and Theory. Though I never stopped writing–so far, four novels, and counting.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

The ideas for all of my novels began with a “what if” thought experiment. For Welcome To Opine, I asked myself: “What if somebody buries deep in the earth a digital computer holding a vast record of mankind’s history and achievements, and billions of years later, it is dug up by a second Homo Sapiens species?”  The other inspiration for this particular novel was sparked from recent disturbing world events. In particular, recent attacks on democracies, including ours. I am not a politician, so the next best thing I could do was write a novel.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

There is no such thing as a perfect society, no such thing as a utopia, simply because people will never agree on what constitutes universal values. Yet the trajectory of history teaches us that societies always strive to better themselves, strive for that unattainable utopia. It is an ongoing struggle to better ourselves as individuals and as communities. This book is just one way of thinking about that struggle, and offers, I hope, a thought-provoking perspective on how to approach that struggle.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I have always been drawn to works of literature that manage to entertain us and enlighten us at the same time. Works that teach us about the human condition with a satirical bite have always been particularly fascinating to me. Two great novels in this vein are Heller’s Catch-22 and Vonegutt’s Slaughterhouse-Five. Films such as Dr. Strangelove likewise are very effective in teaching us important lessons, while we can’t help but cringe and laugh as we learn.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I would definitely want to talk to Mr. Figgle, and ask him what he really thought about his supposed utopian society established by a controversial genetic therapy, the Self Suppressor, imposed on every citizen. It’s not obvious what his real intentions are, even at the very end of the book. I am the author and I do not know what he really thinks!

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Facebook has been helpful, buy I also run a podcast, Dr. Music, which is also effective in promoting my books (even though it is a music education podcast).

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Anybody who aspires to write should do an enormous amount of reading, and then, after that, an enormous amount of reading. Read the classics and modern books, read fiction and non-fiction, and it’s always a good idea to write about what you know. But you should also write about what you don’t know—after all, that’s how we learn, right? I didn’t know a thing about political philosophy before I wrote this book. Now I do.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Are any new books/projects on the horizon?

Yes, I will certainly be writing more novels. I try to make each one very different. My third novel, Till Times Are Done, is a world away from Welcome To Opine. I do have an idea for my next book…stay tuned!

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About the Author

Dr. Matthew Marullo holds a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from Boston University and has been writing all his life. He is the author of four novels: The Octave Displacement (2006), Gludman’s Proof (2013), Till Times Are Done (2019), and Welcome To Opine (2022). A member of ASCAP, PEN America, and the Mystery Writers of America, Dr. Marullo lives with his family in Long Island, New York. Visit his website at matthewmarullo.com.

Interview with Author Michael J. Stiehl

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Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

When I was a kid I fell in love with writing through comic books. I loved stories by Peter David, Alan Moore, Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman and so many others – the 80’s were golden years for writing in comics. Later I was drawn to George R. R. Martin’s Wildcards books, which ultimately led me to Isaac Asimov and classic Sci-Fi.

As a kid I would daydream about superheroes and science fiction, occasionally trying to put those dreams on paper but never finishing anything. In college I migrated from creative writing to journalism before becoming pragmatic and abandoning the idea of writing for a living altogether to pursue other interests.

I still thought about writing after college though, even starting a book or short story from time to time but never finishing it. Finally, a few years ago, after giving a friend of mine feedback on his third novel, he suggested I give writing another try.

I’m glad I did.

Since then I’ve been writing as much regular life allows, creating characters, stories and worlds. It’s the most fun I’ve had doing something in a long time. Recently I re-watched the movie Stand By Me – which I loved as a kid – and was struck by the scene where Chris tells Gordie he could be a real writer if he tried and that the stories he can make up are a gift he shouldn’t lose. 

It reminded me that creativity is a gift and that I should make the most of what talent I have. I’m happy to say that my novella Sanctuary is my reward for doing just that.

What inspired you to write your book?

I wrote a novella a few years ago that didn’t work but that had a character in it named Theobard that I liked. I couldn’t shake wanting to know more about him, who he was and where he came from. Sanctuary started as my attempt to answer those questions.

Once I started writing I got interested in the idea of how sometimes people we meet, and fall in love with, change our lives forever. From there Dellia came into view and I could tell right away the interactions between Dellia and Theobard were exciting. The story took off from there, driven by Theobard’s past and present but altered by his feelings for Dellia.

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I’d like readers to consider that sometimes you have to be who you are, no matter what. However, choosing that truth can come with a price but, even if it’s a huge price, being who you are is worth it. It’s like Shakespeare said “This above all: to thine own self be true…”

What drew you into this particular genre?

This particular story started out as a straight romance but quickly changed as I began writing. In the back of my head I kept thinking about old gothic mysteries like Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. I love how that book makes you think it’s going to be one thing, a Victorian drama, and then turns into a sort of ghost / horror story. I wanted a story with a compelling set of characters that lead you through an unfamiliar place to uncover a mystery. I’m not sure what genre I’ve landed on, but it certainly has bits of fantasy, romance, horror and mystery in it.

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If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I would sit down with Mansell, owner of Mansell’s Marvels in the Mantori Bazaar. As a merchant of the most unique items available, I would ask him which was his favorite object, how he found it and why it was his favorite. Mansell, being a good salesman, would no doubt have a great story to tell, one that would leave me convinced the object was of immense value and interest. I would probably by it from him at too high a price and then be left wondering if it really was his favorite object or just the one he thought he could sell me.

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I am terrible at social media. I have a Facebook page that I neglect and I’m on Reddit but that’s about it. I do have author’s pages on both Amazon and Goodreads but beyond that I don’t spend a lot of time on social media. I will say that I have found things like Submission Grinder invaluable for finding new open calls and writing opportunities.

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

  1. The following three things are true:
    1. The old quote by Hemingway, “the only kind of writing is rewriting.” 
    2. The advice Stephen King gives in his book “On Writing” that the second draft should always be ten percent shorter than the first
    3. Neil Gaiman’s advice from his Master Class to always finish your story.

What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I have a couple of submissions out there I’m waiting to hear back about, both of which are exciting. One is a short story I like a lot for a very cool music themed anthology. The other is another novella I completed earlier this year set in the same world as Sanctuary but with completely different characters. I’ve got my fingers crossed that both will see print. Other than that, I’m still fooling around with a story about Houdini in World War 1 that I hope to finish one of these days.

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About the Author

Michael J. Stiehl has had a lifelong passion for fiction, in particular horror, comics, adventure and science fiction, and is thrilled to finally be writing some of his own.  Michael lives in the Chicago suburbs with his wife, two kids and his very silly poodle Jack. When not writing fiction, Michael spends his time riding bikes, camping, reading books, obsessively listening to music and playing D&D with his friends. In short, he hasn’t changed a bit since junior high.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/michael_stiehl

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/michaelstiehl

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michael.stiehl

Interview with Author Laura Pratt

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I am a career writer. I’ve made my living as a journalist for almost thirty years. I would say, however, that I didn’t really find my voice until I started writing creative nonfiction.

What inspired you to write your book?

In 2018, I went to the University of King’s College in Halifax to start a two-year program in creative nonfiction. I earned my MFA in 2020. The graduate thesis for this program is in fact a book, which we work through with mentors over the course of two years. Ideally, you have your book finished in alignment with the program. I chose to write about heartbreak because it has been such a powerful experience in my life. My story, coupled with a range of more scholarly explorations into the phenomenon of this universal experience, seemed like juicy fodder for a creative nonfiction project.

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I think the biggest takeaway I envision for this book is that you’re OK. I’m OK. We’re all OK. If you’re reeling from heartbreak, you needn’t imagine you’re failing society or yourself or anyone at all for your failure to surface according to some perceived timetable. It’s OK to be reeling. It’s OK to hurt and yearn and struggle for a long time. I want people to stop judging themselves for not being OK, and to be kind to themselves in the face of their discomfort and despair. To realize, through my story, that it is entirely natural to hurt for a long time. They are not losers. They are only human.

What drew you into this particular genre?

Creative nonfiction is a natural fit for me. As a journalist, I am deeply concerned with the truth and feel strongly about holding my writing accountable to facts alone. But the *creative* aspect of this approach to writing was a wonderful discovery for me. Here, writers apply the tools and literary devices of creative writing (think: character development, scenes, detailed description, dialogue, etc.) to nonfiction. It elevates factual storytelling to a much more compelling and enjoyable place.

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I have launched an Instagram account around this book, and am excited to see where this path takes me. It is my first experience on that platform and I’m hopeful for its reach in terms of attracting readers.

 What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Keep going. It’s hard to write a book. It takes tremendous stick-to-it-iveness and patience. It’s a lot of work and a lot of words. But you need only to take a stroll through a bookstore, electronic or brick-built, to come away encouraged by the number of people who have been able to pull off this enormous undertaking. Have faith in yourself. If all those folks could do it, why not you?

What does the future hold in store for you? Are any new books/projects on the horizon?

I make my living now as a book editor, but feel strongly that there are more memoirs on my near horizon. I am a mother to four kids who are all young adults now, and I am kicking around ideas for another memoir that delves into this stage of maternal life. But I am so consumed right now with giving “Heartbroken” the birth it deserves, that I don’t want to muddy the waters by thinking too much ahead. I have loved every minute of writing this book and am awfully excited at the prospect of getting it out into the world. Thank you for taking the time for this conversation!

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About the Author

LAURA PRATT is a long-time journalist, writer and editor. She writes for Canadian magazines and edits books. Her first memoir, The Fleeting Years, was published in 2004. She lives in Toronto with whichever of her kids and dogs she can corral to join her. She’s a 2020 graduate of the University of King’s College’s creative nonfiction MFA. She won an honourable mention in Prairie Fire’s 2020 CNF contest and was shortlisted for The Fiddlehead’s 2019 CNF contest. She has served as a judge at the National Magazine Awards for several years.

http://www.laurapratt.ca/

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Interview with Author Kinga Szumska 

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I work and live in London, working in financial services, having a regular job but also breathing with a creative spirit and pursuing my different hobbies such as writing and painting on the side. I’ve always enjoyed keeping a journal but this was on and off. When I was at school – writing was coming my way quite easily but I had a horrible teacher of Polish literature and that definitely discouraged me to pursue my ideas. That brings me to a point of saying that English is my second language as I was born and educated in Poland. Then, moved to London at the age of 21 and my English language is still very far from perfect. But since I read a lot in English I thought let me write in English and get a pro editor to just correct my grammar. This is a great way of improving vocabulary and grammar in your second language. I have been always of creative spirit, painting, and writing stories came to me quite naturally. So let’s see how my creativity unfolds further and in what directions. 

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What inspired you to write your book?

The Sacred Mountains was my second book in fact. It follows the theme of a parable – similar to my first book about living and working with purpose – “Dreamford”. I trust stories and parables have special powers to heal us and inspire us in an unusual way. I wanted to bring a few things here together: 

  1. a story of a girl from a small village
  2. an outsider story because there is so many beautiful colorful birds who feel out of place and I want them to know that there is a world they belong to
  3. love for mountains 
  4. the metaphor of mountain climbing as a life story 

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I trust there are different things for different people to relate to in the book, but the one closest to my heart is: You have your powers. Find them. Go where your home is, where your heart and soul belong to. 

What drew you into this particular genre?

I trust storytelling has the power to change us and enrich our emotional intelligence.

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If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I did not expand much on the mother character- I wonder why did she stay in the village, and who she really was. 

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Your own blog is always a good source and I am a big fan of Instagram.

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

I’d say – just open a word document and start plotting things together, then change them a few times, leave it for some time to forget the story, go back to it, improve and just keep opening your word document and don’t wait for a full story to unfold in your mind, it comes to you more as you start typing!

What does the future hold in store for you? Are any new books/projects on the horizon?

I will definitely write another part of the Sacred Mountains and bring the themes together again, just like I brought Dreamford’s story in The Sacred Mountains together. 

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About the Author

Kinga was born in Poland and now lives in London. She writes inspirational stories on personal and professional development, work, and travel on her blog: http://www.kinga.blog. Kinga is certified by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and is a Qualified Performance Coach and talent hunter. Besides writing and creative living, Kinga is a keen traveller, speaker, painter, foodie, and social media junkie.

https://www.kinga.blog/

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Interview with Author Hal Free

1)     Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

My father’s love for the English language and the power of words. He used to repeat phrases from famous poems or speeches, caressing each word. Maybe that’s why I majored in Journalism at Rutgers and ended up as an advertising copywriter and author for many years. I still get excited when I come up with a way of expressing an idea I’ve been searching for.  In my advertising life, I ended up creating the emotional “Kodak Moment” campaign. From Kodak Moment to Good Dick, Bad Dick is quite a leap, I guess, but it’s for a good cause.

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2)     What inspired you to write your book?

Ten years ago, an art director and I worked on a comic book about the life of a cartoon penis. It was funny but mostly just a bunch of clever puns, and I stopped working on it. A year ago, as I listened to so many reports of famous men assaulting women, I suddenly thought about the book and turning it into a bigger, more important idea. I wanted to use the cartoon character to teach some bad “dicks” what they’re doing wrong to women by using the character’s own life’s story as a reformed bad dick. It could still be very funny, but do some good in the world.

3. What theme or message do you hope readers will take away?

    If you see yourself on these pages, get over yourself. If you can’t do right because it’s right, you’ll pay a price for mistreating women.

4.What drew you into this particular genre?

I grew up in a time when it was common to treat women like objects and possessions. I know the mentality. And then I thought about this idea I had which was an unusual way for guys to allow the message to sink in. It’s not as if they would be hearing the message for the first time, but using humor might be a new way to get through to them.

 5) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Facebook ads were tremendously successful at getting likes. Amazon refused to let me advertise the book.  They admitted it was helping the feminist cause, but they

couldn’t get past the title and visuals which violated their content guidelines.  Really a bad decision. I’m just starting to try blogging sites like yours.

6) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Love what you’re writing and the writing experience itself. When you’re not writing, read, so you’ll know how high the bar is and how much you need to improve.

7) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?  

I’m working on an unusual self-help book that explains how we cause a lot of our injuries and our pain ourselves by the way we move incorrectly, and how to easily prevent it. 

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Interview with Author Steve Saroff 

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I have severe dyslexia and did not do well in school. Then mother died when I was ten, and my father was mostly absent. I first started running away when I was 14. This was on the east coast, near D.C. I walked up the Potomac river to where I got on the Appalachian trail at Harpers Ferry and turned south. I was hungry and lonely most of the time. For the company in words, I started writing. My dyslexia became a superpower because I listened and looked at words as sounds and shapes, not as structured rules. Dyslexia has let me notice the world in ways most people don’t. In my early 20s, I lived off the short stories I was selling to magazines. Editors fixed my grammar and spelling. Not long after I started selling fiction, I found that I also had a knack for a different type of writing: code. So I started writing software too, which is another way to deal with loneliness. And dyslexia was also an advantage for understanding code, as it helped see connections that most people missed.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

I started writing “Paper Targets” more than 20 years ago. The software company I founded, FreeMail, had been acquired a few years earlier, and my life should have been good. But instead, it was a Herculean mess. I had just been fired by a billionaire whom I had accused in a board meeting of crimes, and now I was out of work and broke. It would still be four more years before Bernie Ebbers was arrested and sentenced to 25 years in federal prison — where he became blind and demented — for what was then the world’s largest fraud. But when I was writing the first words of “Paper Targets,” he and the other executives who had pulled me into their world of the “Lie” were freely strutting on the World Stage of Greed. But it was all corrupt, even as they were still scooping up investor money that would evaporate into headlines. I had also recently made yet another terrible relationship decision — wanting to believe that red flags were trail markers — and had bailed an artist out of jail. And that story found a place in Paper Targets.

Writing has been my way to understanding mistakes and troubles. But whenever I try to write “Just The Facts,” my words scrunch into arrogant-sounding scribbles and add depression to my burdens. So I turn to fiction, as I have been doing since I left home at 14, to figure out what happened. And inevitably, the truth does come out; there is a lot of non-fiction in “Paper Targets,” but I have never killed anyone nor hacked for money, though I have known several that have.

Then, in 2020 I became friends with Stacy Lear, a writer who was then a homicide detective and who also has a knack for solving financial crimes. I thought Stacy might appreciate what I had spent the last 20 years trying to figure out, and I read to her the first pages of what then was called “The Aether and the Lie,” some of which I had also read on my podcast Montana Voice. Stacy’s response encouraged me to finish what I had started and find a publisher for what became “Paper Targets.”

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

People who have created our technological world — the screens, wires, networks — are failable human beings, and some have done bad things because of greed. And others have been nudged into doing bad things because the border between right and wrong can be jagged and grey. But good still matters, and ethics is more than an academic concept, and living ethically is a challenge but should be a goal.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Paper Targets fits into the shelf space of “Literary Thriller,” but I like to think of my genre as “Truth Stirred With Fiction.” A bad thriller is pure plot, and a bad literary work is pure internal insight. But when plot is mixed lovingly with insight, there’s often a good story. I’m drawn to a good story; that is what I also like to tell.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I like Pascal, the Bondsman. I would buy him a drink and ask him to tell me more about his time in Missoula before the place became a Zoom Town. I would ask him about great dirt roads that aren’t on the map and go far back into places with endless stars in a dark night sky.

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6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I have a love/hate relationship with social media sites. Of course, they are all corrupt. But ignoring them is like saying you won’t have any part in book publishing because there are evil books that have been printed. I have a large following of fans because of my podcast, “Montana Voice,”  and most of those fans seem to come from my Facebook followers. Goodreads is cool too.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Writing needs to be, first and foremost, for yourself. There is great company in words, and good stories make the world a better place. Learn to tell a good story, then get the words down. Then do it again. Never stop.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I have several unpublished manuscripts that I am thinking about launching. I am also working on a new book with Pascal as the main character since I liked hanging out with him the most while writing Paper Targets.  

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About the Author

Steve Saroff is the host of the podcast Montana Voice, and the author of over 30 traditionally published short stories printed in Redbook and other national magazines. His available books include Paper Targets; The Long Line of Elk; and the forthcoming Mixed Drinks.

Montana Voice Podcast:  https://montanavoice.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/steve.saroff

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/22226034.Steve_S_Saroff

Writing: https://montanavoice.com/writing.html

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Interview with Author Anya Costello

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing? 

I grew up in a household where everyone was always reading and stopping by the library. I was quickly inspired by the books I read, and knew that I wanted to create stories of my own. I kept stacks of notebooks throughout elementary school and filled them with more short stories than I can count, but began writing The Shadow Hour as my first novel when I was ten. Since winning the Secret Kids Contest and having The Shadow Hour published, I’ve continued working on several longer projects, and can’t envision a future where I’m not writing! 

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2) What inspired you to write your book? 

I had wanted to write a longer work for several years and had attempted it many times, typically foregoing the projects halfway through. Ultimately a conversation with friends sparked the basic idea for The Shadow Hour, and with that creative inspiration, I was able to turn the concept into a fully-fleshed story. I was also inspired greatly by the dystopian adventure novels I read throughout middle school, like The Hunger Games and Divergent. I wanted to create a dystopian novel of my own, combined with more fantastical elements. 

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book? 

I hope that readers might learn from Amber, the protagonist, whose journey results in the realization that her fierce independence will not be the key to her success. Even if we may not have to face autonomous shadows or different dimensions in our lives, I hope readers can learn from Amber that the world and its challenges often aren’t meant to be faced alone. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre? 

I have always been drawn to the fantasy and dystopian genres because I like the creative elements of world building, and the ability to consider how characters might react to the new environments I create. I love the creative liberties I can take with fantasy especially, stepping away from the limitations of the real world through my writing. Fantasy and dystopian have always been my favorite genres to read as well, and the many books that I have read have constantly influenced me and my style of writing. 

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why? 

I think I would sit down with Ender, one of the more mysterious characters in my book. Ender has been trapped in the Shadow Realm – an alternate dimension in the book – for years. If he were somehow brought to life, I would want to hear all about his years in the Shadow Realm and how they’d impacted him, as well as what kind of mysterious phenomena he’d witnessed in the strange dimension. For the sake of avoiding spoilers, I’ll have to keep some of the questions I’d ask him to myself! 

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6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

During the editing process, I was able to participate in blog posts where I could share my experiences with writing and editing The Shadow Hour. With the book now published, it has been more difficult than expected to get used to the self-promotion aspect of sharing my story. After much recent encouragement, though, I have decided to start an Instagram page to promote The Shadow Hour, as I take many book recommendations from the Instagram reading community myself! 

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there? 

I would tell any aspiring author that writing requires practice – if you have an idea, try to get a first draft onto paper. Don’t be disheartened if it’s imperfect. You can rewrite the story as many times as you want, and each time holds endless room for improvement. I rewrote The Shadow Hour in its entirety three times before submitting it to the Secret Kids Contest. I then edited the manuscript over several rounds, rewriting as many as a hundred pages in some edits. Each editing round and rewrite was a chance to practice and to improve, so if you’re looking to write a book, get the first draft down and don’t worry about the details. 

My second biggest piece of advice is to be open to criticism. The more opinions you receive about your writing, the better. Bringing in new perspectives is always helpful, even if it is scary. I had to move past that fear when working with an editor and sharing my book with family and friends, and found that I improved much faster when I began taking feedback. There is always room for improvement with writing, and outside opinions make those improvements much more obtainable. 

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Are any new books/projects on the horizon? 

I have quite a few Google Docs filled with story ideas and some longer projects that are more complete. I’m not sure which I’ll end up pursuing further, but I certainly want to share more stories with the world in the future! 

I’ll be starting college next year as well, and I’m looking forward to more formally studying creative writing and honing my skills. I hope to be able to take what I learn and apply it to the projects I’ve already started. Writing is certainly not leaving my life anytime soon, and I’m eager to see where my current projects take me in the coming years.

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About the Author

Anya Costello is a teen author whose manuscript won first prize of the International Writing Contest of Stone Soup magazine and Mackenzie Press.

Anya says: I have been writing stories since the age of four and at age ten, I attempted my first full length work of fiction, The Shadow Hour. I have always been drawn to writing fantasy and fiction. Building worlds that follow different rules from our own, like the Shadow Realm, and creating the characters that live within them allows me to put aspects of my own life, experiences, and thoughts in an entirely new context.

Anya has been presented at the Frankfurt Book Fair and has received a citation from United Sates Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III.

Anya was born and raised in Massachusetts where she currently resides with her family.

Local Teen Author of ‘The Shadow Hour’ Joins Studio 10

Author Anya Costello On How To Write A Book That Sparks A Movement

‘The Shadow Hour’

https://a.co/hvXen06

Interview with Author Paul Justison 

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I had always wanted to write, but so many things got in the way – family, kids, work, career. I did try though, but never found a project that excited me that gave me an incentive to keep going. After I retired, two of my kids asked me to put together a timeline of my youth. They just meant dates for – starting different schools, dropping out, moving to Haight-Ashbury, meeting their mother, etc. But it finally hit me – the project I could sink my teeth in was right in front of me. The sixties were a crucible for me. They were also one of the most intense periods in American History. Lenin said, “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen.” Well, in the 60s we had lots of weeks where decades happened. So, between my own crucible and the events happening all around me back then I had plenty or material to draw on for the book.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

After I had the idea of a book about the 60s, I looked at many of the books already out there about the sixties, and I thought two elements were missing. Most of the books were by or about famous people from those days, they didn’t give a picture of what it was like for 95% of the people, the non-celebrities. Last and most important, the sixties were a time of incredible energy and movement. And I didn’t read a single book that had pace, that conveyed the velocity of the times. So, I was inspired to make my contribution to sixties literature by creating a work with pace and where the characters were not celebrities, but regular denizens of the times.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book? 

The message of the book is simple – Here is a vivid portrait of the sixties and the counterculture.

4) What drew you into this particular genre? 

Coming-of-age was a natural fit for a story that drew heavily on my experience as a youth.

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5) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership? 

I’ll have to defer on that question for a few months until my experience gives me an answer.

6) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

The best answer I can give is a quote by James Baldwin: “Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but, most of all, endurance.” I would just stress endurance. I started my novel in 2013 and it’s coming out late in 2022.

7) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon? 

I’m continuing to write, and I have a project that motivates me. It’s a novel about a family dealing with the dementia of a loved one. It’s personal.

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About the Author

Paul Justison dropped out of high school in 1966 and fled to Haight-Ashbury, spending most of the next two years there and in Marin County engaging in all the pleasures and follies that magical time had to offer. After the sixties ended, he went to college, started a career, and raised a family. He has been published in The Rumpus, The Gambler Mag, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Fiction on the Web. Lost and Found in the 60s is his first novel.

https://www.pauljustison.com/

Interview with Author Ian Allan

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I never imagined I would write a book. I grew up on a farm where if you “had enough time to read a book, you had enough time to do chores”. No one in my family, or community, read books, or had an education beyond year 11. I was the first.

I read nonfiction for my education, but I never read for pleasure. Then I started reading bedtime stories to my now 10 year old daughter. I wanted her to see me reading. I bought a kindle and the rest is history.

I have worked as an borderline academic and independent consultant for many years. Before I started writing THE JOB HUNTING BOOK my writing style reflected that. Yawn. It needed to change.

I wanted to instill a voice into my writing. I studied books on craft like William Zinsser’s classic “on writing well”, books on book marketing, and books on writing fast. I listened to writing podcasts. I had always learnt new skills through studying nonfiction books, and so I thought I could learn storytelling that way too. I discovered narrative nonfiction and creative nonfiction styles, but reading books about those only took me so far. I realized that I had to read fiction if I was to understand storytelling.

These days I read widely. Nonfiction business, marketing and career books. Podcasts have introduced me to whole new genres. Monster, billionaire, sweet, erotic, enemies to lovers, and a bunch of other romance styles. Also, time travel and fantasy genres, and historical fiction, especially WWII historical fiction. Oh my, I do read a lot these days.

But, the books that most helped me find my writing voice were Richard Wake’s Alex Kovacs historical thriller espionage series. I found myself forgetting that I was reading. It was like I was there. I’d not been in that headspace before. Richard nailed the banter I witnessed from WWII veterans when I was a teenager. I had found the “voice” I had been searching for. Its unlikely you’ll see the connection in my book, but that lightbulb moment was pivotal in turning my book from a dry consultant’s report into something that, I hope you agree, is an easy to read nonfiction book.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

I was good at winning work for my small consultancy and the word had got out. In my circle, I became the go-to person to help apply for jobs. The draft job applications and cold pitches people presented me with were usually terrible. Consistently my (mostly) young friends undersold themselves and failed to address a job’s description.

In my consulting life I had learned that if you want to have your best chance at winning a tender, you need to make it easy for your client to hire you. That’s means, addressing the tender selection criteria and having a “profile” that’s big enough to give project officers the ability to confidently go to their superiors and recommend a contract be awarded to you.

I saw the link between me winning tenders and job seekers winning a job. Job seekers need a profile that’s “just big enough” to make it easy for a hiring manager to hire them. These days there’s any number of possible home bases for that, but for most people it will be LinkedIn. The trick is to use your home base to demonstrate to an employer that you’re the perfect hire. By doing your research, you can align yourself with a business, and even a hiring manager. Magically, you’re the candidate who meets their needs. You’ve made their life easy. Yay. Of course, you’ve done the hard work, so it’s not magic.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Once you have a career in mind, you need to play the long game and make yourself just famous enough to get onto a hiring manager’s radar. When you do this right, you’re more likely to have success with the jobs you apply for, but employers are also likely to approach you. Imagine that… being approached by an employer and so not having to compete for a job!

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’m a teacher at heart. I always enjoyed the feeling of making a difference to people’s lives when I was teaching geography at my local university. Knowing that I had helped inspire someone into a career that they obviously loved, I was proud when former students sat next to me at conferences. I wanted more of that feeling.

I could have written another geography book, or a sustainability book. But to be honest, I wanted a change. Being a first generation graduate, I had always felt that my career would have been a lot easier had I had a career mentor. I needed more than the generous skills-mentors I had always had. I wanted to offer to young people what had not been offered to me.

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5) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

LinkedIn

6) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

READ. READ. READ. Read widely and read often. Listen to podcasts about writing, and about book marketing. Start working on your social media presence early.

Pay attention to book metadata like keywords and categories and incorporate them into your book title and book description if you can. Don’t skimp on your book cover and get your blurb professionally written.

PODCASTS TO LISTEN TO:

Book marketing

·        Smith publicity (best for non fiction) https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/all-things-book-marketing/id1148778363

·        The Creative Penn podcast  https://www.thecreativepenn.com/podcasts/

·        The Self Publishing Show  https://selfpublishingformula.com/spf-podcast/

·        The Book Marketing Action podcast   https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-book-marketing-action-podcast/id1498673693

Author interviews

·        The Book Show (ABC Australia’s Radio National)  https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/the-book-show

7) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’ll continue marketing THE JOB HUNTING BOOK until early 2023. I’m already planning my next two books – probably a workbook to accompany THE JOB HUNTING BOOK, and a LinkedIn for Job Seekers book. Once again, they’ll be aimed at early career job seekers.

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About the Author

Life has a way of throwing up challenges. Mine happened in my late teens. In the final year of my apprenticeship a nasty workplace accident forced me to rethink my career.

Fast forward to my early 30s, I’d been a furniture restorer, a furniture removalist, a bingo caller, a pedestrian accident researcher, a condom tycoon (for some reason that failed to impress my girlfriend’s mother), a software engineer, and a lecturer and researcher in spatial science. I won jobs, sometimes due to my tenacity, but looking back, mostly through word of mouth.

In the 90s I started a consultancy and did spatial modelling for universities, the water industry, all levels of the Australian government and the UN. Magically, consulting work and now my employees came via word of mouth.

So, after 40 years as an employee and as a consultant, I’ve learnt that the secret sauce for getting work is relationships, especially professional relationships. These need not be insincere or manipulative. Opportunities naturally arise for those who make the effort. The trick to giving relationships their best chance of yielding work is to put yourself in the other person’s boots and empathize with their problems, their hopes and their dreams. Getting work becomes a simpler exercise when you’ve customized your offering to meet someone’s needs. And that idea is essentially what I’m on about.

I’m a teacher at heart. Now, in my 50’s, I can look back on my career as an employee looking for work, as a consultant winning work, and as an employer hiring and firing. The guidance I write was not around for me when I was starting out. In the absence of a mentor, I had to work it out for myself. And so here are some of my thoughts for you.

https://www.ianallanauthor.com/

https://www.facebook.com/IanAllanAuthor/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/i-allan/