Category Archives: Interviews

Interview with Author Neil McKee for Kid on the Go! 

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

I started my career as a volunteer teacher in Sabah, Malaysia (North Borneo) during 1968-70. There, I became an international filmmaker and later a multimedia producer, working for development agencies and living in or traveling to countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Russia until 2013. I had written three technical books and many journal articles during my career, for example on the role of communication in defeating the HIV/AIDS epidemic. But I never had time to write creatively until I retired. I started by taking an evening course and drafting stories at St. John’s College, Annapolis, Maryland. After my wife and I moved to Albuquerque in 2015, I attended Master’s-level workshops in creative nonfiction and poetry at the University of New Mexico. That’s when I started writing my Borneo travel memoir, Finding Myself in Borneo, and another travel memoir on my ancestors, Guns and Gods in My Genes. These have both won awards. Simultaneously, I also began drafting short pieces of what became Kid on the Go! for review by my professor and fellow students in those workshops, and revised them after feedback. So, it’s my third book from to be released from the time I became a creative writer. 

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I spent the first 19 years of my life in Elmira, Ontario, Canada—a formative place for me. It’s where I learned life skills which helped me as I went farther and farther away from my hometown. As I recall in my memoir, I had to work for monetary rewards from a very young age. My father’s father was killed in a farm accident in 1933 and my dad and most of his brothers had to quit school and take over the farm. In spite of this, they all became successful businessmen. Only one of them stayed on the farm. So, my role models included men who overcame obstacles and succeeded in life by using their brains. But I also had a lot of fun and great freedom in Elmira and that sometimes got me into trouble with authority figures of all kinds—especially in my rebellious teenage years. Such experiences are life skills building too. I have dedicated the book “To my late parents. Russell and Alma McKee, who gave me the time and space to wonder, and wander far from home.”  

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

I hope that readers conclude that it is possible to write an interesting childhood and/or youth memoir even if you had loving parents, supportive siblings, and haven’t suffered from abuse, neglect, discrimination, war, terror, etc. So many top-selling memoirs are written by people who have beaten such odds and risen to a successful life, accomplishing great things. But many more of us have stories worth telling if we dig into our memories and let our creative juices flow. It does help to have an antagonist to fight against. In my case, it was my hometown’s polluted environment in which I lived from 1945 to 1965—a chemical factory that produced insecticides and herbicides, the latter employed in the making Agent Orange for the American Army’s use in Vietnam. Although few people in town knew about that ugly fact at the time, we all knew the place often stank from by-products of that factory, as well as a fertilizer plant, a foundry, and more—all proud signs of the post-war boom. The pollution provided conflict in my stories, allowing me to use the theme of “escape” by just about any means possible—finding various routes out of town, fishing, hunting, building or renovating “escape vehicles,” working on my dad’s farm in the summer, dreaming about girls instead of paying attention in school, confronting authority in my teenage “rock n’ roll” years, being introduced to philosophy and Zen Buddhism in senior high school, taking “existential leaps” out of airplanes, going out West to Calgary, Alberta for clear air, big blue skies, and mountains to complete my B.A., and finally leaving Canada in 1968 for the verdant Island of Borneo in Southeast Asia.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

By genre, I believe you mean creative nonfiction memoir. I was drawn to it because I have had such a rich and varied experience in life, both in my formative years and my 45-year career traveling and working all around the globe. In my mid-70s, I am lucky to have the health and good memory to write about experiences in a creative, nonlinear way. During my career, I wrote technical books and articles in my field and wanted to do something different in my final decades. Creative nonfiction seemed to be a natural thing for me. I was never much interested in fiction, except for watching movies for relaxation. 

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

Quite frankly, I am not sure. I do post on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, linking people to my website, hopefully. But I haven’t seen evidence that this drives up sales. I have a large email list which I use to send out updates when I have something significant to announce. Social media might increase your visibility in google searches. But I’m of the opinion that most people only spend a few seconds on each post in this age of minimum attention span. I love to present and discuss issues in person or on zoom and connect with potential readers that way. I also take my books on blog and review tours, like WOW! Women in Writing; enter contests and try different innovative ways such as Shepherd.com: https://shepherd.com/best-books/exotic-asian-travel

https://shepherd.com/best-books/to-understand-the-true-founding-of-america

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

a) Be prepared for very hard work. I put in about seven hours of research, writing, corresponding, and promotion each day. b) Get reviews from readers and other writers before you publish, and make revisions accordingly, if you feel they are helpful. After all, readers should know. In my former communication work we call it “pretesting.” c) If you have five or more years to wait, you can try to get a publisher. I had a couple of late offers for my Borneo memoir but the companies involved wanted to start over on the editing and didn’t want to put any money into promotion. So I set up my own company and employ a good literary editor, copy editor/proofreader, and designer. I print and distribute through IngramSpark. This company sends out your book and e-book files to many distributors: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, a chain bookstore in Canada called Indigo.com, to many other ebook distributors, and my books are available through most independent bookstores and libraries. It is one way to begin no matter what age you are. You have to be prepared to put a lot of time into promotion, however. I think that is the case for any author because every day about 1,000 new titles are released in all genres in North American. 

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

I have completed over half of the first draft of my next manuscript on my career as an international filmmaker and multimedia producer, working for two Canadian development agencies, UNICEF, Johns Hopkins University, and my last job in an agency called FHI360 in Washington, D.C., where I was director of a communication project with 150 staff and a large budget. 

During my career, I lived for four years in Malaysia, four years in Bangladesh, seven years in Kenya and Uganda (East Africa), and my last overseas posting was in Moscow, Russia during 2004-2007. Besides that, I traveled to about 80 countries on short-term assignments. All this has given me significant experience in learning about the issues within so many fields of endeavor that aim to improve human life in the developing world: volunteering during your youth; the role of science and technology in agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture; finding solutions for delivering health care, clean water, sanitation and hygiene; empowering girls, women, and young people to take charge of the their lives, while attempting to change the behaviors and social norms that restrict them from reaching their full potential. I think there’s a good story here. I’ve set up a website on my main projects, including most of the videos, comic books, and other media products that I have been able to retrieve, so far. 

My challenge is to write about my career creatively and coherently in a way that will entertain and educate—that is, make readers smile, wonder, and think about the present state of our planet. I am also including thoughts on what was achieved or wasn’t achieved in the projects I documented or created, my advancement in skills, personal development, marriage and family life, and memories of many of the people I met in my travels and those who influenced me and propelled my way forward. 

I hope to complete this book by the end of 2022. In the meantime, I also want to begin a new writing project, probably involving travel through New Mexico and America’s Southwest. That project is gradually taking shape through reading and thinking about the history, ethnicities, and cultures I have encountered here.

Book Summary

In this new book, McKee takes readers on a journey through his childhood, adolescence, and teenage years from the mid-40s to the mid-60s, in the small, then industrially-polluted town of Elmira, Ontario, Canada—one of the centers of production for Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. 

McKee’s vivid descriptions, dialog, and self-drawn illustrations are a study of how a young boy learned to play and work, fish and hunt, avoid dangers, cope with death, deal with bullies, and to build or restore “escape” vehicles. You may laugh out loud as the author recalls his exploding hormones, attraction to girls, rebellion against authority, and survival of 1960s’ “rock & roll” culture—emerging on the other side as a youth leader. 

After leaving Elmira, McKee describes his intensely searching university years, trying to decide which career path to follow. Except for a revealing postscript, the story ends when he accepts a volunteer teaching position on the island of Borneo, in Southeast Asia.

Purchase your copy now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Bookshop.org. Make sure to add it to your GoodReads reading list too.

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About the Author

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Neill McKee is a creative nonfiction writer based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He has written and published three books in this genre since 2015. His latest work is Kid on the Go! Memoir of My Childhood and Youth, a humorous and poignant account of his growing up in an industrially-polluted town in Ontario, Canada, and his university years. This memoir is a stand-alone prequel to his first travel memoir Finding Myself in Borneo: Sojourns in Sabah (2019) on his first overseas adventures in Sabah, Malaysia (North Borneo), where he served as a Canadian volunteer teacher and program administrator during 1968-70 and 1973-74. This book won the 2019 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award for Biography–(other than a New Mexico/Arizona subject) and a Bronze Medal in the 2020 Independent Publisher Book Awards (Ippy Awards). 

In late 2020, McKee also released Guns and Gods in my Genes: A 15,000-mile North American search through four centuries of history, to the Mayflower—an entertaining account of how he searched for his roots in Canada and the US, in which he employs vivid descriptions, dialog, poetic prose, analytical opinion, photos and illustrations. In this work, McKee slowly uncovers his American grandmother’s lineage—ancestors who were involved in almost every major war on North American soil and others, including a passenger on the Mayflower, as well as heroes, villains, rascals, and ordinary godly folk. Through his search, McKee exposes myths and uncovers facts about the true founding of America.

McKee, who holds a B.A. Degree from the University of Calgary and a Masters in Communication from Florida State University, lived and worked in Asia, Africa, Russia and traveled to over 80 countries on assignments during his 45-year international career. He became an expert in communication and directed/produced a number of award-winning documentary films/videos, and wrote a many articles and books in the field. McKee is now busy writing another travel memoir on his career. He does readings/book signings and presentations with or without photos. He prefers lively interactive sessions.

Follow the author online at:

Author’s website: www.neillmckeeauthor.com

Kid on the Go! book page: www.neillmckeeauthor.com/kid-on-the-go

Kid on the go! buy page: www.neillmckeeauthor.com/buy-3

Author’s digital library: www.neillmckeevideos.com/

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/neill-mckee-b9971b65/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/McKeeNeill/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MckeeNeill

NBFS: www.northborneofrodotolkien.org

— Blog Tour Calendar

November 8th @ The Muffin

Join us as we celebrate the launch of Neill McKee’s newest memoir, Kid on the Go. Come by and read an interview with the author, find out more about his newest book, and enter to win a copy for yourself.

https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

November 10th @ Quiet Fury Books

Visit Darcia’s blog today where she features an excerpt from Neill McKee’s memoir Kid on the Go!.

http://quietfurybooks.com/

November 12th @ Choices

Visit Madeline’s blog and read Neill McKee’s guest post on surviving the 1960’s Rock n’ Roll culture.

https://madelinesharples.com/

November 15th @ Bring on Lemons

Visit Crystal’s blog today and read her insights into Neill McKee’s memoir Kid on the Go!.

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

November 15th @ Katherine Itacy’s Blog

Stop by Katherine and read her review of Neill McKee’s memoir Kid on the Go!. You can also enter to win a copy of the book for yourself too!

https://katherineitacy.com/

November 17th @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog

Join Beverley as she features a guest post by author Neill McKee on issues on writing about your hometown. 

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

November 20th @ Sweet Silly Sara

Visit Sara’s blog and read her review of Neill McKee’s memoir Kid on the Go!.

https://www.sweetsillysara.com/

November 24th @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog

Visit Beverley’s blog again and read her review of Neill McKee’s memoir Kid on the Go!.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

November 24th @ C. Lee McKenzie

Join C. Lee McKenzie today as she interviews author Neill McKee, author of the memoir Kid on the Go!.

https://www.cleemckenziebooks.com/blog/

November 26th @ StoreyBook Reviews

Visit Leslie’s blog where she shares an excerpt of Neill McKee’s memoir Kid on the Go!.

http://storeybookreviews.com/

November 30th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Join Anthony as he interviews Neill McKee, author of the memoir Kid on the Go!.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/category/interviews/

December 2nd @ The Mommies Reviews

Visit Glenda’s blog today where she reviews Neill McKee’s memoir Kid on the Go!.

https://www.themommiesreviews.com/

December 4th @ Mother Daughter Bookclub

Join Cindy today when she reviews Neill McKee’s memoir Kid on the Go!.

https://motherdaughterbookclub.com/

December 5th @ Fiona Ingram’s Blog

Join Fiona today when she shares Neill McKee’s guest post on writing a memoir in a youth’s voice but with present-day adult reflections.

http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

December 7th @ CK Sorens’ Blog

Make sure to stop by CK Sorens’ blog today and check out a feature of Neill McKee’s memoir and enter to win a copy of the book too.

https://www.cksorens.com/blog

December 8th @ World of My Imagination

Join Nicole as she shares her thoughts about Neill McKee’s memoir Kid on the Go!. You’ll also have the chance to win a copy for yourself too.

https://worldofmyimagination.com/

December 10th @ Bookshine and Readbows

Join Steph as she shares Neill McKee’s guest post about how mentors changed his life.

December 10th @ Jill Sheets’ Blog

Join Jill as she interviews Neill McKee and features his memoir Kid on the Go!.

http://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

December 12th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit Anthony’s blog again as he shares his thoughts on Neill McKee’s newest memoir Kid on the Go!.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/category/reviews/

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Interview with Dick Woodgate

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

I’m 56-years-old and I’m British. I live in rural Kent, the garden of England, with my partner and six-year-old son. As well as being a father and a writer, I’m also a furniture maker. One day in a beautiful garden on a long, languorous summer holiday in Normandy I was relaxing in a sun lounger, looking up at a line of silver birch trees, watching their leaves catching the wind. That was the moment when I decided to start writing something. The story I began in my notebook that day would, several years later, grow to become Cold Star, my first published novel. I’ve also written a short story, Treasure Hunter, a spin-off from Cold Star which is available to members of my mailing list.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

The skies are dark down here in Kent. I bought a telescope soon after we moved here from London and watching the skies with it inspired the idea behind my first novel, Cold Star.

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

With Cold Star, there are a few themes and ideas expressed within the story. Firstly, there is the idea of things not always being what they seem and there is no better time in history than during the cold war for this idea to be presented. The obsfercation which was endemic within the soviet’s state-controlled media at that time in Russia is unparalleled. And beyond this, I feel the story explores failure – a subject that is not so often examined in literature. Cold Star is the first book in the Agent series, charting the race to the moon in the sixties and so there is also a sense of that pioneering decade of space exploration expressed in parallel with both the plot and the theme of each book in the planned series.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I just love espionage stories and most especially, Fleming’s James Bond. With Fleming, I think it’s the escapism that Bond represents which I love, not just in place but also in time. Reading Fleming is a nostalgic experience, a link to childhood and to simpler times. And I love the plot-driven nature of the spy story genre, the intrigue that’s always present. I believe Fleming to be hugely underrated and, once you get past the anachronisms of the period in which he wrote his Bond books, you find a highly accomplished writer able to draw perfect pictures with beautifully descriptive passages throughout his stories.

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

Valentina Primakova. ‘Will you have dinner with me?’ Do I need to say why?

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

It’s early days for me as an author but I will say that I’ve enjoyed posting on Facebook. I never thought I would ever say that!

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

Write the book you want to write, the way you want to write it, and enjoy your writing. Concentrate on getting your story down, all the rest of the process of becoming an author and publishing your book can be dealt with later, just don’t think about it for now. Don’t start re-writing until you get your content down, you’ll never get to the end if you do.

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

I’m nearing completion of my follow up to Cold Star, provisionally called Silverbird. It features the Agent again but alongside him this time there’s also a strong female lead. Silverbird is set a little later on in the sixties in Europe, Russia and California.It will be the second book in the Agent series. And besides this, I shall be continuing to promote Cold Star.

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About the Author

As well as being a writer, I’m also a furniture maker. I moved from London to rural Kent seven years ago to start a family. The skies are dark down here. I bought a telescope soon after we moved and it was this – and a love of espionage fiction, Fleming in particular – which led me to start writing my first novel, Cold Star.

Cold Star is the first book featuring the Agent in a planned series charting the race to the moon in the sixties. A sense of that pioneering decade of space exploration is expressed in parallel with the plot and theme of each book – I’m nearing completion of the second book, set later on in the decade in Europe, Russia & California. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I have writing it for you. 

Website: https://www.dickwoodgate.com/

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dickwoodgate/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WoodgateDick

Amazon Author Profile page: https://www.amazon.com/Dick-Woodgate/e/B095C7G189?ref_=dbs_p_ebk_r00_abau_000000

View Cold Star on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B094YJX65Q

Interview with J Michael Chamberlain

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

I began my writing career by penning skits and sketches for my stand-up comedy act and SNL. Eventually, my writing evolved into postcards, grocery lists, and post-its. 

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

My inspiration to write “Tiny Yellow Hat” was my ongoing support from my beautiful spouse. We also needed a new refrigerator. 

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

Message-wise: I want folks to pack up all their cares and woe, swing it high, swing it low, and walk on the sunny side of the street, laughing.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I was drawn into the comedy genre by the burning question: If a stand-up comic tells a joke in the forest and there aren’t any hecklers, is the joke still mildly amusing?

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

With regard to enhancing my readership: I’m currently working on a “Word Of Mouth,” application. I have no idea what that means.

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

My advice to aspiring writers: Write between eleven and sixteen hours a day, or until you have to renew your Costco membership.

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

What’s on the horizon? I’m going to complete the final edit on my new book, “Life Doing Its Thing,” then, I’m going to start a podcast, and write a prequel to “Gone With The Wind,” or “Thelma and Louise.” 

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About the Author

Originally hailing from Brooklyn, New York, J. Michael Chamberlain, the doctor of comedy, began his career as the class clown with cohort Larry David, co-creator of Seinfeld and resident neurotic on Curb Your Enthusiasm. After a brief stint with a brokerage firm on Wall Street, the bestselling author signed up as a horse-and-carriage driver in Central Park. Comical tours through the park steered the way to stage doors, television studios, and major motion pictures. Soon, the gifted performer was working alongside Gene Wilder in The Woman in Red and Ed Harris in the timeless Irwin Winkler production, The Right Stuff. As a young actor and writer in Hollywood, he performed in over thirty motion pictures and countless television productions. When he isn’t penning bestsellers and appearing on The Late Show with David Letterman, he can be found playing the blues across America and enjoying the good life with his spouse and their rescued hounds, Charles Beresford Tipton and Gracie Poochinella Pants.

http://peopleneedtolaugh.com

Interview with Tamel Wino

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

– I stumbled into writing in elementary school. Everyone in class had to write a poem, in celebration of Independence Day. I was shocked and thrilled that my poem was one of the very few that got picked to be submitted to a local newspaper agency. It was never published but ever since then, I started writing and experimenting more. 

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2) What inspired you to write your book

-I’m a big fan of ‘the Moth’ podcast. One of the episodes is about a female African writer who had to move heaven and earth just to publish her book. That truly inspired me to publish my own book.

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

-I want the readers of my book to walk away with gnawing uneasiness. Realizing the vileness that lurks within certain people. And wondering what if.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

-I’ve been reading horror for as long as I can remember. Growing up with and devouring the works of the lords of terror (King, Koontz, Barker, Poe, etc.) immensely influence my own writing.

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

-It’d be really intriguing to probe more into their motives, intentions and turning points.

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

-I’m never been very active in social media. Just really started using it recently. Instagram is my preferred platform.

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

-Perfect first drafts don’t exist. Everybody has great stories to tell, more often than not, it’s down to timing, luck and perseverance to fish them out.

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

I see myself exclusively writing short-form fiction. Currently working on my third collection in the same vein as the first two.

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About the Author

Tamel Wino is a Canadian fiction writer from the resplendent British Columbia whose works focus largely on degeneration of sanity and morality. He studied Health Sciences and Psychology, which only furthered his interest in human nature.

With inspirations including Alice Munro, Chuck Palahniuk, Cormac McCarthy, Stephen King, Margaret Atwood and Edgar Allan Poe; Tamel’s expositions are strongly grounded in traditions of dark fiction. Yet, with his bold narrative voice and incisive plot construction, Wino is paving a new movement within the space.

When he’s not reading or scribbling away on his laptop, Tamel loves listening to jazz, rewatching good ol’ classic shows and traveling.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ekleipsis29/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ekleipsis29/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ekleipsis29

Website: https://ekleipsis.ca/

https://books2read.com/links/ubl/38dQwZ

https://a.co/2Y7ZMep

Interview and Spotlight Of Author Natasha Jeneen Thomas and her Novel, “Family Medicine”

Family Medicine: A Psychological Suspense Thriller

Synopsis

Therese Hughes-Baldwin arrives in Boca Raton with hopes of joining the most prestigious dance company in south Florida. But instead of finding ballet success, she suffers an embarrassing heartbreak and takes a boring barista job. She also inadvertently gains the attention of the woman who stalks her on every train ride she takes. So, when Therese’s favorite café customer, Dr. Dara Clemens, offers an escape to her beachside mansion, Therese can hardly say “yes” quickly enough. With her suitcase in hand and best friend Phoebe by her side, she heads to the Clemens’ oceanfront getaway. The home is gorgeous. The beach is, too. So is the stranger Therese gives her number to at the bar. But there are voices in the vents. And there are people who stare. And Therese faces a sinking feeling that something is hauntingly off about Phoebe’s behavior. As Therese questions the motivations of those around her, she opens the door to a reality she never thought she’d find. CONNECT WWW.NATASHAJENEENTHOMAS.COM

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Interview with Author Natasha Jeneen Thomas

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

I was born and raised as an only child in Daytona Beach, Florida and now live in the Metro Atlanta area. I work as a psychiatrist who specializes in caring for pregnant and postpartum women, and in treating posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

My parents tell me I was a very quiet child. I think that’s partially because I am introverted. I think my constant daydreaming contributed to my quietness, too. Solo activities like reading and playing piano filled my childhood.  I was fortunate to have several strong English teachers who taught me grammar and writing construction, spurred on my love of literature, and entered me in writing contests. In high school, I won a National Council of Teachers of English “superior performance in writing” award after my teacher submitted an extemporaneous piece I had written. Winning that accolade made me think, “Hmm, maybe I’m good at this writing thing.” 

I’ve been writing in some form ever since. I began with poetry but have also written short stories, newsletters, and mental health blogs. Now, I’m presenting my first novel! 

2) What inspired you to write your book?

My work as a psychiatrist has been a major inspiration in both my blog writing and in the writing of my book, Family Medicine. As I mentioned earlier, I specialize in women’s mental health work. Many of the themes throughout the book were selected based on areas where I see women struggle. 

However, this book was also inspired by a recurring dream I’ve had for over twenty years. I started writing the story a decade ago and couldn’t pull all the pieces together. It was always scratching at my brain. I finally took the opportunity to write it once my work travel time was eliminated as I converted my psychiatric practice to an exclusively telemedicine practice in 2020.

It was fun to make the story a fictional account and to put a psychological suspense thriller twist on it. That part of my writing is heavily influenced by my father and all the horrors and thriller films we watched together when I was young.

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

Well, since this book is a thriller, I’d love to save the surprise of discovering the theme for my readers. It would be really cool to hear after people read it what themes they picked up—and what they think is the major message. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I write psychological suspense because I am infinitely interested in the human mind. In medical school, I very strongly considered becoming an OB/GYN and planned to live out my career delivering babies. But in the end, I selected psychiatry as a specialty because I realized I’d never fully understand or master the human mind. That idea intrigued me. 

My fictional writing, at this point, is a reflection of the awe, respect, and sometimes outright terror I discover when delving into human psychology.

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

I love this question! In the story, the main character runs into a woman on the train who begins to stalk her. I think it would be really interesting to know what this woman is doing when she’s not stalking our main character. 

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

So far, it seems like Facebook has been the most helpful in that respect. I have the most followers on that platform and some people are beginning to really interact with the page. They’re entering contests, have subscribed to my website, and respond in some way to most posts. It’s cool to see. 

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

I’d say don’t talk yourself out of your dream to write. You don’t have to be super experienced to do great writing but you do need to be open to learning. You also have to set aside time to write, even when you don’t feel inspired. Don’t give a ton of credence to the idea of writer’s block. Get advice from other writers and keep what resonates with you. Don’t be afraid to share your work with people who can make it stronger. If you’re too sensitive to critique, your work will suffer. Have fun with it! You get to create your very own world!

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

Now that I’ve gotten over the hump of writing my first novel, I definitely expect to continue writing and hope to have another project out in 2022. Who knows, Family Medicine may even have a sequel!

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About the Author

Natasha Jeneen Thomas is a Florida-born psychiatrist and psychological suspense writer. She has spent the past eleven years in psychiatric private practice exploring individual and collective story and the power of perception. Witnessing life from the vantage point of the human psyche’s inner workings, Natasha sees the state of the world as a reflection of the stories we tell ourselves – and allow ourselves to believe.

Natasha earned a Bachelor of Science from Spelman College, studied medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and completed residency training in psychiatry at University of Maryland and Sheppard & Enoch Pratt hospitals. When she is not doctoring or writing, she is enjoying her family, her home, or her corner of the couch.

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Interview with Jeff Costello

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

I’m a long-time sales executive in the technology space. That’s how I’ve made a living for the past 30-plus years. But, deep down inside, I’m really a storyteller. Whether it’s a presentation to a large group, a barstool conversation with a customer, or just hanging out with friends, I like to tell stories. Usually, they’re humorous. Occasionally, they’re insightful. Sometimes, they’re both. I hope that book falls into the “both” category.

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2)    What inspired you to write your book?

There’s a famous quote from Toni Morrison that goes like this, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” I’ve always wanted to read a book that accurately captured what I’ve experienced in my career. I felt that readers would enjoy the people, passion, camaraderie, customer interactions, and overall craziness associated with hitting a revenue goal, chasing the big deal, or being for sale, especially if I did it in a humorous way.

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

I hope that readers gain a better understanding of the salesperson-buyer relationship and, hopefully, a better appreciation of it. Business people are almost always portrayed negatively in books, movies, and TV shows, especially salespeople. It’s a common trope to show salespeople as either smart but devious or affable morons. This has not been my experience. I’ve interacted with thousands of buyers and salespeople over my career and have found the great majority of them to be intelligent, honest people.

One other theme that I’d like for readers to see is to always find the humor in things. The characters in my book deal with a lot of turmoil in a short period of time but are always laughing together every step of the way. That should feel authentic to every salesperson I’ve ever met.

4)    What drew you into this particular genre?

I find what I do for a living to be fascinating. I love it and really thought readers who were unfamiliar with my world would love it as well. I confided to friends that I wanted to write a book that described the process of running a sales organization with the same level of passion and detail that Tom Clancy uses in describing the inner workings of a submarine because I think it is every bit as intriguing.

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

I want to sit down with Joseph Whitehorn. Every other character in the book is very familiar to me from my years of experience running technology sales teams, so I’ve already had the pleasure of spending time with many similar people.  I find the backstory of Joseph Whitehorn to be fascinating, especially since this year marks the 100th anniversary of the first casualty from the Osage Indian Murders. I love his blend of purpose, focus, and his hidden humor that emerges as the story progresses. 

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

As a business person, I have the most extensive following on Linked-in, so that has been the best outlet for me. I also use Facebook and Twitter and would expect those two platforms to grow in importance to me in the future.

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

The two obvious answers are to read more and write every day. That’s the recommendation from every reputable source, and I agree with that wisdom. The best way to get better at something is to do it, so writing daily helps. I would suggest that when you read other author’s work, read with a purpose. Notice the things you like, such as descriptions, dialog tags, POV choices, story structure, etc. Take notes and use them as inspiration for your own work.

Those are the two things that everyone will tell you. Now, I’ll give you some advice that few people will give to you. My book is filled with humor, and I found this advice from Neal Simon quite helpful. I saw him on 60 Minutes, where the interviewer asked him, “Do you laugh at your own work.” He answered that he does the first or second time he reads it, but after that, he doesn’t because he already knows the joke. He remembers it was funny, though, and that is the key. As you proof a chapter for the 50th time, the funny lines are no longer funny to you. You’ll be tempted to pull them or change them. Don’t do that! If it was funny when you wrote it, it will be funny for your readers the first time they read it. That advice may seem blindingly obvious, but when you are deep into the editing process and questioning everything you’ve written, it isn’t.

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

I just released Surfing with the Bishop and will focus on promoting the next few months. After that, I’ll see what inspires me. I’ve already got some thoughts on future projects but want to get more reader feedback before I lock in on anything.  I do publish a weekly blog called Trifling Amusements on Business and Life that readers might enjoy. To view, check out my website, jeffreybcostello.com.

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About the Author

Jeff Costello served as a senior sales executive for 30-plus years, driving billions of dollars of revenue from emerging technology markets. He’s led worldwide sales teams that supported partners in over 100 different countries and participated in numerous company acquisitions. Having entertained customers for decades, he’s often boasted that he has, “fed more people than Mother Teresa, or at the very least, served better wine.” Jeff lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth area with his wife, Trina, and their dogs, Bentley and Bo. 

Author website

https://jeffreybcostello.com/

Social Links

https://www.facebook.com/jeff.costello.7

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jecostello/

Amazon Buy Links

Hardcover https://www.amazon.com/dp/1737501902

Kindle https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09BT7C9YP

Interview with Amanda Blackwood

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

I always wanted to be a writer. I remember writing stories in elementary school to go along with the drawings I would create. One particular teacher in the 6th grade really encouraged me when I wrote five pages in twenty minutes on a two paragraph creative writing project. I was upset that I had to turn it in because I wasn’t done yet. He took it anyway to grade it with everyone else’s. Then he asked me to turn it in again for extra credit when I was done with the story because he wanted to know what would happen to the characters I’d created. He told me I’d be a published author someday. Sadly he passed before I could make that happen, but I think he’d be proud. 

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

Too many people talk about human trafficking as they know without a shadow of a doubt what it means or why it looks like. Even when I stand on stage and tell my story of survival, I still can’t fully show or explain to someone the levels of fear involved, nor the torture I lived though to make it to the other side. I knew that if I was ever going to really move forward in my own life, I needed to get it all out in the open. Ironically, less than two months after my book was published I got engaged to the man of my dreams and I have finally, fully, totally moved on. 

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

Human trafficking can happen to anyone, regardless of upbringing, age, gender, race, religion, personal beliefs or relationship status. Nobody is immune, and it will NEVER look how you think it will or should. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’ve lived a strange and amazing life. I also wrote science fiction post apocalyptic takes (who better to predict the end of the world than someone who already lived through it?) but this venture of nom-fiction autobiography seems to be what I get asked the most about. Truth is stranger than fiction. The fact I’m still alive is a miracle to be celebrated, and if it can help even one other person to do the same then my story deserves to be in the open. 

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

Lately I seem to have more following on Facebook, though my social media skills haven’t been focused heavily on other platforms to really expand the following in other ways. I hope to do more of that in following months. 

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

It’s impossible to edit nothing. Getting started can be so intimidating for everyone, including the seasoned writers. Don’t let that hold you back. Get stuff written down to start, even if it’s just ideas. You can edit and add later. 

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

I actually have my next book in a series being published on October 1st. My first book was published in January of 2018 and this next book will be book eight for me. I’m averaging two books per year right now while also balancing a personal life and full time job. I don’t plan to slow down anytime soon. I’ve had people tell me that I’m too ambitious and that this is an impossible pace. I just want to remind those people that it’s not impossible, and if they want to write a book the only thing holding them back is themselves. They just have to decide how much they really want it. Apparently I want it badly enough twice a year that somehow make it happen. 

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About the Author

Amanda Blackwood is a survivor of human trafficking and an avid writer. A portion of every book sale goes to local organizations in the state of Colorado to help rescue other victims of human trafficking and offer them a better chance at life.

Check out more books by Amanda Blackwood on Amazon.

– Detailed Pieces of a Shattered Dream

– The Miller Miles

– Twisted Fate – poetry from a survivor

– Thirty Synchronized Woodpeckers

– The Shack in the Woods

– The Unlikely

– Custom Justice

– New Hope

…More coming soon!

Interview with Author Matteo Sedazzari

1) How did you get into writing Matteo ? 

I enjoyed creative writing; when I was at school, that was my first taste. Then many years later, my then-girlfriend was studying journalism, which rekindled my interest in writing. This led me to do my fanzine, Positive Energy of Madness, inspired by counterculture and the Acid House scene that was sweeping the UK. I got the name from the tagline in Ken Kesey’s book Demon Box, ‘Ken Kesey challenges public and private demons with a wrestler’s brave and deceptive embrace, making it clear that the energy of madness must live on.’ I just added the word positive.  Back then I was into Kesey, Hunter S Thompson, Tom Wolfe. Their raw, pacey style depicts everyday life in an engaging yet brutal narrative.  I suppose this is the template I have been using ever since. The fanzine frizzled out in 1997, then I got back into writing in 2003, and more seriously in 2009 when I launched my website ZANI. I wrote my first novel, A Crafty Cigarette – Tales of a Teenage Mod, in 2015.  Since 2009, it has been a natural and enjoyable vibe. When I was younger, it was stop, start, as I put a lot of my creative effort into being in a band by playing rhythm guitar and song writing. Being in a band is fun, yet so is writing. I love books and music in the same breath. 

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2) What inspired you to write Tales from The Foxes of Foxham? 

As a child, I spent many Easter and Summer holidays in Norfolk with my English grandparents. They had moved from the outskirts of East London to the countryside. I fell in love with the ambience, the woodlands, the folklore, and the wildlife, especially foxes, as my grandmother had knitted me a toy fox which I called Foxy. My brother and I were huge fans of horror films, the classic Hammer and Universal movies during this period. Furthermore, any book, fictional or factual, be it fantasy, folklore, thriller, or horror, I would beg my grandparents or parents to buy it for me as an early ‘birthday’ or ‘Christmas’ present; like most children, I would use emotion to manipulate the older generation! Those loves, whether Norfolk or Christopher Lee as Dracula, never left me. 

My first two books, A Crafty Cigarette – Tales of a Teenage Mod and The Magnificent Six in Tales of Aggro, are homages to my passions, Mod, The Jam, London-based situation comedies, and London theme crime films and books. So, for my next book It felt right to pay tribute to the enthusiasms of my childhood, like Foxes and Witches. The three books are interlinked, called the ZANI Tales Trilogy. A policeman from The Magnificent Six in Tales of Aggro makes a cameo in Tales from The Foxes of Foxham. 

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

First and foremost, it’s a magical adventure story of good vs. evil.  I want readers to be excited and entertained with a smile on their faces. Scootering magazine says, ‘it’s a book for the young and young at heart.’ In Foxes, war, racism, prejudice, and animal cruelty are woven into the story without preaching.  I have had friends and readers, say that they have read the novel with their children or grandchildren and how they have all adored the story as a family. That is fantastic feedback. 

4) What drew you into the fantasy genre?  

The loves of my childhood, which I mentioned earlier. The books I read as a kid; Wind in The Willows, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree series, Midnight Folk.  There are illustrations in those  books that add magic to the story. Therefore, I wanted pictures for my first fantasy-themed book, and Andy Catling (the illustrator) has brought Tales from The Foxes of Foxham to life. 

5) If you could sit down with any character from Foxes of Foxham, what would you ask them and why?

Charles Renard, he’s the leader of Foxes across Europe. Charles lives in a mansion called Fox Hill Hall in Foxham. He is a dapper dresser and likes the finer things of life. Not only that he is also a fair yet firm fox who negotiated with the then prime minister, Winston Churchill, for animal equality, after which Churchill had approached Charles to get the foxes and other animals to help with the war effort.  I would ask Charles about his life, how he went from working on a farm to becoming a chief, while making a killing at the Bank of England in the process. After that, I would ask Charles for a guided tour of Foxham to meet all the other residents and see the landmarks. Then finish the day with a pint with him at the local pub in Foxham, The Six Bells.

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

Facebook and Instagram, not so much Twitter, but I wouldn’t rule it out. LinkedIn for contacts, that’s how I met the illustrator, Andy Catling, who I now regard as a good friend.  

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

Forget the doubters, have fun, but keep to a timetable. Please don’t wait for inspiration; you can create it. As you write the book, absorb yourself with similar books, TV shows, or films of that particular genre.  Maybe read a chapter just before you start writing. I find this an excellent practice to get the creative juices flowing. 

Remember writing the book is just one part of the process. Find someone who can help or advise with the marketing, either as a favour, or that won’t dip into your savings.  But at first, learn to do it yourself; it’s a good learning curve. Put the book in front of as many people as you can in a respectful manner. Don’t worry if you get a negative response; keep knocking on doors. 

Shop around for typesetters, proof-readers, and graphic designers, as you would when buying a house, a car, laptop, etc. 

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

ZANI, my website, which I use as a banner to publish my books, is growing. Irvine Welsh has already brought out a book on ZANI, Performers, which is terrific. ZANI is bringing out a fashion book with unique illustrations, The Desired Article: A Concise Look At Style. Written by my friend, Jason Disley, an author and poet. The fashion articles originally appeared in ZANI in the summer of 2020.  Jason and I believe they will work well as a book.

I want to take Foxes of Foxham to the top, so I will keep pushing and believing. I will bring out more novels, no question, as I enjoy writing. The future looks promising. 

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About the Author

Matteo Sedazzari developed the zest for writing when he produced a fanzine entitled Positive Energy of Madness during the height of Acid House, in 1989.

Positive Energy of Madness dissolved as a fanzine in 1994 and resurfaced as an ezine in 2003, which became ZANI, the ezine for counter and pop culture in 2009, promoting online optimism, along with articles, reviews, and interviews with the likes of crime author Martina Cole, former pop star and actor Luke Goss, soul legend Bobby Womack, Clem Burke of Blondie, Chas Smash of Madness, Shaun Ryder of Black Grape/ Happy Mondays and many more.

After producing and writing for his own publication, Matteo’s next step was to pen a novel, A Crafty Cigarette – Tales of a Teenage Mod. Matteo is influenced by Hunter S Thompson, Harlan Ellison, Kenneth Grahame, Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain, Irvine Welsh, DH Lawrence, Alan Sillitoe, Frank Norman, Joyce Carol Oates, Mario Puzo, Iceberg Slim, Patricia Highsmith, Joe R. Lansdale, Daphne du Maurier, Robert Bloch, George Orwell, Harry Grey and many more. American comics like Batman, Superman, and Spiderman, along with Herge’s Tintin, also provide Matteo with inspiration.

Matteo also finds stimulus from many films like Twelve Angry Men, A Kind of Loving, Blackboard Jungle, Z, Babylon, This Sporting Life, Kes, Midnight Cowboy, Scum, Wild Tales, The Boys, Midnight Express, La Commare Secca, Dr Terror’s House of Horrors, so on and so forth. As for music, anything that is passionate, vibrant, and with heart is always on Matteo’s playlist.

Matteo Sedazzari resides in Surrey, which he explores fanatically on his mountain bike. Matteo supports Juventus, travels to Italy and Spain, eats and dress well, as he enjoys life in the process.

https://www.zani.co.uk/

Interview with Author Sverrir Sigurdsson

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

I was born in Iceland and lived there until graduating from high school at 19. Since Iceland is a small country, it’s common for Icelanders to go overseas to study. I went to Finland to study architecture. Afterwards, I launched a three-year plan to see the world. Three years turned into 50 some years and travels to 60 some countries. My international career as an architect took me to the Middle East to build a ruler’s palace and harem, and to poor countries in Africa to construct schools. My last job was with the World Bank, a UN affiliate and the world’s largest agency in international development. I now live in the U.S. with my wife and coauthor, Veronica Li.

In my retirement, I became the newsletter editor of the World Bank retiree group. The quarterly featured news about members. I soon got interested in the lives of several founding members of the retiree association. They’d worked at the Bank since its inception, when the organization was established to reconstruct the war-torn countries of the Second World War. One of them was a hundred years old! Realizing this was the last chance to capture their stories, I interviewed them and wrote a short bio about each. These stories were collated and published as a book by the association. Then I decided I had an interesting story to tell too.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

I love telling stories of my international adventures. My friends encouraged me to write them down. So I did and saved them as “episodes” on my computer, kind of like dumping photos in a shoebox. Then I showed some pages to my wife Veronica, who’s a published author. She read them and said, “Wow, Sverrir, you’ve had a fascinating life!” From then on, she helped me put my episodes into a memoir called Viking Voyager: An Icelandic Memoir.

We wanted to make it a human-interest story that appeals to a wide audience. At the time of our writing, Iceland was a tourist hot spot. (The country, which has a population of only 360,000, hosted 2 million tourists in 2019!)  The literature on Iceland, however, was mostly travel guides. We decided I could tell tourists about my country by introducing them to my family, our way of life, and the road we’ve traveled to be where we are today.

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

There’s a saying: travel broadens the mind. After reminiscing about my own travel adventures, I must add to the adage: travel has also expanded my soul, strengthened my character and enriched my life. My Viking forefathers traveled the world to loot and plunder and bring home riches. Modern-day Vikings don’t do that anymore, thank goodness. We travel to learn, study, and to contribute on the world stage. At the end of my life, I can say I’ve found my fortune in an exciting career that required me to work with people of diverse cultures. Those experiences are worth more than any treasure.

My message to people of any age but especially to the young is: travel, spend some time in a foreign country. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll discover about other people but most importantly, about yourself.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’m drawn to memoirs/biographies because I grew up with the Sagas, which started out as biographies of real people. The first Saga, called The Book of Settlements, tells us about the first settlers in the country more than a thousand years ago—where they put down roots in the uninhabited island, whom they married, and who their descendants were. It’s a dry, and some would say boring, account of who’s who in Iceland in the 9th century. As time went by, various writers embellished the stories and turned them into what’s comparable to today´s historical novels. The stories became increasingly fantastical and the realistic historical novels gave way to tales of superheroes performing magical feats. The writing finally ceased during the Little Ice Age in the 14th century, when the country descended into poverty and misery. But itinerant story tellers told and retold the stories as they traveled from farm to farm to entertain the inhabitants.

I’m an eclectic reader of many genres, including thrillers, mystery, and historical novels. After a lifetime of reading, my conclusion is that every fictional story, no matter how fantastic, has a real-life element to it.

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

I find Facebook and Twitter most useful. Being an old geezer who had no time for social media, I had to start almost from scratch. On Facebook, finding friends turned out to be very easy. Without much effort, I added to my friends list my connections from all over the world. I posted news of my publication, and soon I was hearing back from relatives, childhood friends, former colleagues, and even friends of friends.

The covid lockdown also forced me to look into virtual book tours. I did so reluctantly and was pleasantly surprised at the result. For two weeks, the tour host tweeted several times a day about my book and interviews at various blog sites. From zero followers on Twitter, I quickly gained a respectable following. 

The posts on Facebook and Twitter created a snowball effect. Contact with one book blogger led to another, and their reviews added to my credentials on Amazon and Goodreads. This network of friends in the book world is invaluable to any author. For example, I never knew there was such a thing as contests for indie authors. I entered one, The Wishing Shelf Award run by a group of UK authors, and was most happy to receive a prize. 

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

If you’re interested in writing your memoir, I’d say, start writing now. Even if you don’t know what you want to say, you can always begin by putting down your most salient memories. After a while, you may be able to connect the dots and see the big picture. This was what I did—the “pantser” style of writing.

Fortunately, my wife and coauthor is a “plotter.” She taught me the importance of the theme. Once the theme is established, the episodes fall into place and become the building blocks of a plot. In the absence of a theme, a memoir can end up a mishmash of anecdotes, with no meaningful message for readers to take away.

During the writing process, I learned a lot about creative writing from Veronica, who insisted on painting vivid pictures of places and people in order to transport readers to a different world. When I said I couldn’t remember the specifics, she threatened to exercise a coauthor’s right to creative license. Of course, I couldn’t let her turn my life into fiction. So, I dug into my memory, did some research, and found the details to flesh out the scenes. From its birth as a factual and dry account, the story evolved into a visual canvas for the reader. 

One suggestion to aspiring memoirists is to put their experiences in the context of their environment. Their stories will resonate with readers who share their culture and history, while those who come from a different place will learn something new. Since my memoir starts in Iceland, a little-known country, readers appreciate the Viking heritage and the country’s development described in my book.

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

I’m working on publishing the Icelandic edition of Viking Voyager. I’ve translated the book myself, with the help of an editor, and an Icelandic publisher is aiming to release the book before the end of the year, in time for the “Christmas book flood.” The Icelandic tradition is to give each other books as Christmas presents. Iceland is known to be one of the most literate nations in the world. Given our long, dark winters, there’s nothing better than curling up with a good book.

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About the Author

Sverrir Sigurdsson grew up in Iceland and graduated as an architect from Finland in 1966. He pursued an international career that took him to the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the U.S. His assignments focused on school construction and improving education in developing countries. He has worked for private companies as well as UNESCO and the World Bank. He is now retired and lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and coauthor, Veronica.

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