Category Archives: Interviews

Interview with Author Gary Westphalen

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

I have been a journalist all of my life, so writing is just part of my DNA. I have been a news journalist for radio, TV, newspapers, and even my own regional magazine that I wrote and published for 4 years before selling it. I have also been a documentary film maker, garnering numerous prestigious awards for my work. I worked for one of the national television news organizations for years as a White House journalist, covering every President from Ronald Reagan to the first year of Donald Trump. All of that kept me so busy that I never had time to write for pleasure. But, now that I am semi-retired from that career, the books that I have pushed into a dark, dusty comer of my mind are starting to spill out.

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What inspired you to write your book?

Murdered For Nothing was inspired by a real-life crime that I covered as a young journalist in Rochester, New York back in the late 1980’s. Over a 48 hour time span, two men killed five people in robberies that netted them less than a hundred dollars in cash and stolen items. It’s one of many chilling stories I covered over the years, and I’m finding that writing these stories is a sort of cathartic exercise for me. By putting these memories into written words, I am dealing with a head full of wild experiences I have had as a journalist.

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

I think the message to be drawn from this story is that not only does crime not pay, but it leaves behind a trail of broken hopes and dreams for every one who is touched by the crime. Another theme in Murdered For Nothing is that everyone has a dark side that taints their actions. This might be a bit of a spoiler alert, but there are no “White Hat” characters in the book. Even the characters with the best of intentions are motivated by personal agendas. That doesn’t mean they don’t do the right thing in the end, but they don’t do it without thinking about themselves, too.

What drew you into this particular genre?

My personal experience as a journalist. I think it gives me a unique perspective on crime stories that most writers don’t have. It’s one thing to sit in front of your computer and create imaginary crimes. It’s quite another to write a story based on the personal experience of having been a front-line observer to a real crime. Although the characters in my book are works of fiction, they represent the real emotions and actions that played out in this story. This fictional account is very personal to me.

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

This is a challenging question, because I have so many questions for every one of them. I think the most intriguing character is defense attorney Maxine Levine. Aggressive, driven, smart and sultry beyond reason, she’s the person everyone wants to be (or be with). Nicole Martin, the sister of one of the victims, displays a calm and insightful grasp on humanity that is beyond admirable. Homicide detective Dave Walters’ story leaves so many loose ends that the book raises more questions about him than it answers. Then, of course, there’s the television journalist caught up in the story from start to finish. Since the character is very loosely based on me (I wish I was as cool as he is), I have already been asking him questions for decades, never getting any clear answers. But in the end, I would want to (and actually did!) sit down with the two criminals to try to understand why they were willing to trade the lives of five people they knew for so little.

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

Well, Facebook is still the elephant in the room. I am also partial to Linked In because I find it draws the kind of people who read books. It may be a smaller audience, but they are more likely to respond. It’s not exactly a social media site, but Goodreads is also a good place for writers and readers to get connected. I have an authors page on Goodreads, and anyone can ask me questions there. I don’t Tweet. I used to, but the excessive vitriol on that site drove me away.

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

A writer writes. Sit down in front of the computer and write something. Every day. It doesn’t matter if, at the end of the session, you press the delete button and walk away. With every sentence you form, you improve your writing skills. Someday, that novel will pour forth from your head, and you will amaze yourself.

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

My future holds many walks on the beach in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, which is where I now call “Home”. When the mid-day sun rises high in the sky, I make the ten-minute walk back to my domicile where it is cool. I sit down in front of the computer and write until the approaching sunset draws me back to the beach. Often, when I return from bidding adieu to the sun, I’ll sit down and write some more. Sometimes, all night.

Yes, there are many books to come. I have already written a book titled “Plan A Never Happens”. It’s the true story of how my wife Carmen and I completely upended our lives to move from the Washington, DC area to Costa Rica right in the middle of a worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. I’m currently working on another crime novel based on one of the most notorious crimes in US history. I actually started writing this one several years ago. Life got in the way of finishing it, but I am returning to it now. And, of course, there will be at least one more book based on some of the charcters in Murdered For Nothing. More will come beyond that, but they are mere thoughts at the moment. I will be writing until they pry my cold, dead fingers from the keyboard.

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About the Author

I discovered my life’s mission by the time I was five years old. My parents bought me an instant print camera for my birthday, and the fact that I could freeze a moment in time and keep it forever was enthralling. It sent me on the path of journalism. In the all too numerous decades since then, I have fulfilled that calling as a television news journalist, documentary film maker, magazine publisher, web content writer, and now author.

My work has been seen on every major television network, on the silver screen, and in that little screen you carry in your pocket. I guarantee you have seen some of my work. I have won uncounted awards, including an EMMY, a Peabody, a Jules Verne International Scientific Documentary Award, and on and on. I also had the pleasure to produce two documentaries for NASA, one for the 40th Anniversary of the Apollo moon landings, and another one celebrating the 50th anniversary of the formation of NASA.

After all of those experiences…from crashing in a helicopter, being shot at, and threatened with arrest in places where I didn’t speak the language, to telling jokes with every President from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama…I have realized that my brain is full. It is time for me to blend this amazing lifetime of memories with an overactive imagination in order to sweep some of this accumulation out of my mental attic. The result is my bold foray into the world of being an author. I have written millions of words before, but they have always been based in fact. Now, I’m blending fact with fiction in a unique way. I am writing ficticious novels based on real events in such a way that you, my dear reader, will be left wondering which part was fact, and which was fiction. To be honest, sometimes I’m not even sure.

Social Media Links:

https://www.facebook.com/gary.westphalen

https://www.linkedin.com/feed/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18736977.Gary_Westphalen

https://garywestphalen.com/

Interview with Author William Hart

1) How did you get into writing?

     I’m pretty sure it was my mother who inspired me to become a writer, when I was very young. She was a public school teacher responsible for kindergarten and first grade, and by the time my brother and I came along she had developed a most arresting manner of reading stories to her classes. She mimicked the character’s voices, adding her own highly amusing facial expressions to create entertainment at least as involving as the early television shows we were watching. The stories I remember best were taken from the Pooh Bear books, Winnie the Pooh and those that followed. Mom’s performances in our living room held my brother and I mesmerized—like her students must have been. The experience of her reading to us is unforgettable, and I believe it had much to do with both John and me becoming writers.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

     When I was fourteen, I joined a roller racing team at my local rink that turned out to be one of the best speed skating clubs in the country. Many of my teammates were national champions and so it was easy for me to set my goals high as I was developing as a skate racer. I was a varsity sprinter on my ninth grade track team, and those skills translated well to my new sport. Within a year I became one of the fastest roller racers my age in the country. As I was developing my skills, I attracted the attention of a very pretty girl my age who had taken second at nationals a week or two before she asked me to join her in a couple’s skate. Both of us, having found the mate of our dreams, fell in love for the first time, and for two intense, thrilling years that girl hung the moon for me. Both my new sport and my first romantic relationship made that period the most memorable of my life. Once I became a writer it was natural for me to want to write about those heady days of my youth, though it took me decades to figure out how to do it.

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

     There were many pretty girls at our roller rink. In addition to my girlfriend, who was slow to develop physically, there was a second girl my age who developed a woman’s body a little early. When my girlfriend balked at pursuing a complete physical relationship, both because she didn’t feel ready and because she didn’t want to become a party girl like her quite irresponsible mother, I became frustrated and dropped her for the girl who was much more willing to give me what I thought I wanted. Later, I realized I’d made a terrible and costly mistake. I’ve felt guilty all my life for what I did when I was sixteen. The primary message of Roller Rink Starlight is that sex is a poor substitute for love. When confronted with a choice between the two, pick love, because it is more valuable, much rarer, and holds the promise of a relationship that is deep and long lasting. There are many other messages in my book, but that’s the main one.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

     I’m usually a writer of fiction, and so it was natural for me to try to tell the story I most wanted to tell as a novel. Over many years, as I was writing other things, I tried three or four times to write my novel about love and sex at the roller rink. But every time what I produced seemed false to me, like music that is tinny, or an argument based on lies. Finally, as a senior citizen, I tried telling the story exactly as it happened, except that I changed some names to protect privacy and to avoid hurting people. Written as a memoir, the story came pouring out of me, true to life and I believe moving and meaningful. Apparently the story meant so much to me I had to tell it like it happened, full of the ecstasies and warts of real life. 

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

     I’m not active on any social media. For example, I have a Facebook account and over 300 Facebook friends, but only rarely do I interact with them in that forum. Basically I’m reactive rather that proactive. That is, if one of my Facebook friends messages me, I answer. But I don’t often message others first or try to sell my literary works on Facebook.

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

     I don’t have much advice, because each writer is unique in talent, so that what works for me probably won’t work for many others. But I do have one tip for those beginning on the writer’s career path. Most of us, at the start, are so fired up by our calling that we dream of our creativity providing our income, allowing us to write all the time. A very few are able to accomplish this. But most of us spend a long time developing the skills needed to earn significant money. In fact, the vast majority never become self-supporting from writing alone. Therefore, I advise finding other work that doesn’t conflict with the writing, but that pays the bills. I did this and received a bonus I didn’t expect. More than half my books have come from jobs I took in order to survive financially. 

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

     I’m currently working on a lightly fictionalized memoir about one of my friends, a quadriplegic marijuana dealer operating outside the law. He was my dealer for about twenty years before California passed medical marijuana legislation and I decided to go legal as a buyer. His story is interesting to me partly because his life is interesting, especially from the time his mother’s boyfriend accidentally sent a .38 caliber slug spinning through his fifth cervical vertebra, sentencing him to a wheelchair for life. My friend, needing caregivers daily, hired two undocumented immigrants from Tijuana, one a terribly attractive 18-year-old Chicana fashion model, the other her older sister, less attractive physically but an incredible workhorse, capable of succeeding at three outside jobs in addition to her work for my buddy As luck would have it, my friend fell head over heels in love with the beautiful sister, while the less beautiful sister fell in love with him. The story takes place in a south central L.A. neighborhood with street gangs and an assortment of unusual and entertaining characters, including two other paraplegics that my friend met and bonded with in his rehab hospital. If you think the paralyzed can’t live wild, turbulent, yet productive lives, read my book to find out how they can.

8) Are you a plotter or a puntster?

     Back when I was a teacher, I planned every course meeting in detail rather than “winging it,” so it shouldn’t be surprising that when my writer’s hat goes on I plot everything except short poems. I do let my creativity flow, but when I do it’s in the context of an established plot that I can modify while writing as I see better ways to tell the story than exist in my plans. For me, mixing carefully detailed planning with creativity is the best way to go, because it draws strength from two very different methods of accomplishing the job.

9) Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

      I read every review I hear about and I try to thank every reviewer, even those who are negative. Generally speaking, reviewers provide the most effective promotion that books receive and it strikes me as wrong to bite the hands that are feeding me. I might feel differently if most of the reviews of my books hadn’t been quite positive. Overall reviewers have been kind to my literary efforts, and some of those who have been critical have helped me improve as a writer. It so happens that reviewers are writers too, and it seems silly on my part to be disrespectful to those I want to respect my work. I sometimes review books for other authors and from that I’ve learned reviewing isn’t easy, though it is usually easier than the creative act.

10) How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way they sound or the meaning?

     I believe names are important in anyone’s writing, and in fiction, which I write most of the time, I create the names of characters very carefully. That’s because I strive for realism, and nothing jars with that style more than names that sound made-up. Some writers create names with symbolic meaning, but I don’t. I rarely run across a symbolic name in real life. I do pick names that match a character’s national origins, and I pick names that suggest to me the character’s personality, though I can’t describe that process with any precision. I choose names I like for characters I like and names I don’t like for characters I dislike. It often takes a long time to get a name just right, but it’s worth the effort because it helps readers see the fictional person as real and hints at what that person is like. A character name that is on the money works not only for readers but for me as author, because it helps me buy into the fictional world I’m trying to establish.     

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About the Author

William Hart is a novelist and poet living in Los Angeles. He writes while helping produce the documentaries of PBS filmmaker Jayasri Majumdar, his wife. Hart’s work has appeared in several hundred literary journals, commercial magazines, newspapers and anthologies, and fourteen books.

Interview with Author and Poet Jonathan Koven

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

I was raised on Long Island, NY. My first writings date back to when I was a child. Art always offered me comfort even at a young age. I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Literature from American University in Washington DC, where I then lived for seven years and met my fiancée, Delana. We’ve since moved to Philadelphia into a home with our two precious cats, Peanut Butter and Keebler.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

Palm Lines is largely influenced by my own experiences and relationships, with friends and family and with myself. Yet, more than anything, I hope others read and find something to latch onto themselves.

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

Be kind to the lonely child waiting in your heart.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’m drawn to poetry the way blood reaches my heart, the way wounds scab over.

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

Maybe Instagram or Twitter, but mainly I’ve found my fans through other channels — workshops, open mics, journal events etc…

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

Write more than you know what to do with, and never stop believing it is all worth the wait.

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

My debut fiction novella Below Torrential Hill is a 2020 Electric Eclectic Novella Prize winner, and releases this December. What to expect? A supernatural comet, voices from the sink, a boy’s coming-of-age, a presence calling from the woods . . . Keep an eye out! I also have a few shorter poems and fiction pieces being published before then. Follow my Twitter or Instagram for updates @jonathankoven. You can also read all my work featured so far at this link.

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About the Author

Jonathan Koven grew up on Long Island, NY, embraced by tree-speak, tide’s rush, and the love and support of his family. He holds a BA in Literature and Creative Writing from American University, works as a technical writer, and is Toho Journal’s head fiction editor and workshop coordinator. He lives in Philadelphia with his best friend and future wife Delana, and cats Peanut Butter and Keebler. Credits include Lindenwood Review, Night Picnic Press, Iris Literary, and more. His debut chapbook Palm Lines is available from Toho Publishing, and his award-winning novella Below Torrential Hill is expected winter 2021 from Electric Eclectic.

https://jonathanadamkoven.wixsite.com/portfolio

Interview with Author James Norwood

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

I’ve had quite the interesting life. I was a military brat so I was born in what was then West Germany in 1972. My family moved a lot so it wasn’t until the late 1980s that I settled down in Southern California and made a life here. My wife and I love to travel, but of course the pandemic put a pin in that for us. I have been teaching middle school English for the past eighteen years. I’ve always loved books in general and Science Fiction in particular. I also am an avid reader of historical fiction as well as anything at all to do with the British monarchy. I’ve always enjoyed writing, but writing hasn’t always been my focus. Over the years I’ve started and stopped writing numerous books. I started the initial writing of my first full-length novel “A Trio of Worlds” several years back. I wrote the first fifteen pages and, as was typical, I put it down. Every so often I’d re-read the writing and plan to work on it. It wasn’t until the pandemic hit that I wanted to find something to fill the hours with. I started writing Trio again and, this time, I finished it. It took me three weeks to write the first draft. A few months later I started on the sequel, “Heirs of the Ancients.” That book will be released on September 3, 2021.
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2) What inspired you to write your book?

Well I’ve always loved Science Fiction. I had the crazy idea of what would happen to an astronaut if he suddenly found himself floating in empty space. I loved the idea so much I built an entire fictional universe around the circumstances that led my main character, Major Cormac Gallagher, into the perilous situation. I’d have to also be honest when I say that other fictional universes like Star Trek and Star Wars inspired me, however, I took great pains to make my ideas original. I even spend a few lines of text making fun of Science Fiction writing and television. It was great fun!
3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I think the overarching theme of the book is perseverance. My main character finds himself in several challenging situations and through it all he doesn’t lose his wry sense of humor or his desire to protect his home. I hope readers see that as they read not only A Trio of Worlds but also Heirs of the Ancients. Book two is a bit darker than the first one, but the theme endures.
4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I grew up in the 70s and 80s so Star Wars was and is my mainstay. I also was an avid reader of Isaac Asimov when I was in high school. I read just about everything by him I could. The Tripods series by John Christopher was another major influence for me. I’m a bit eclectic in my reading choices, so not only do I love Science Fiction, I’ve read a ton of historical fiction as well as biographies. Pretty much anything to do with England and its past is in my library.
5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

What of the major characters in my novel is an alien by the name of Ret D’iash. I would love to sit down with her and ask why she is just so mad at the universe. Why does she believe she is destined to rule and what does she hope to gain by destroying her former home. Even though I spend a lot of time in book two covering this conflict, and of course even though I’m the author and she lives in my imagination, it would be quite interesting to talk to her. That is assuming she doesn’t put me out of an airlock for my intransigence!
6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I spend a ton of time on Twitter. I’ve found the most engagement there and there is an amazing community of other Indie writers like myself. The encouragement from that talented group keeps me going. It’s hard to gauge success with social media, however. I’m not an expert in marketing and my first book came out without any kind of book launch or pre-publicity. I’ve been working to do more on that front for the upcoming launch of Heirs of the Ancients, including making sure all formats, eBook, print, and audio, are released at roughly the same time.
7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

My advice to any would-be writer is rather simple. Just keep writing. Writing a book is hard work and can be frustrating, especially when I write myself into a corner and I have to figure out how to get out of it. Nevertheless, the satisfaction of writing that last word and knowing that, no matter how well received by others your books is, you did it. You wrote a book. You can now officially call yourself a novelist. I’d also encourage any new writer to seek out support from friends, family, or on social media. Ask a ton of questions and don’t take no for an answer. Even if you book hardly sells at all, get it out there and let the world see you. Writing is intensely personal and you put so much of your own personality into the work, so it can be a little scary. Do it anyway!
8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

While I’m in the pre-publishing phase of my second full length novel, Heirs of the Ancients, I’m not writing but I am planning book three. I foresee that my series, The Three Worlds Chronicles, will be a four-book arc. I’ve made notes and written down plot details for book three, so I generally know where the series is headed. I tend to be a “by the seat of my pants” writer, so I never fully know what is going to happen. I let my main characters drive the plot and, as it happened in the first two books, they surprised me. There is one scene in Heirs of the Ancients that absolutely shocked me, even though I wrote the whole damn thing! After I finish, or rather, IF I finish my current series, I really don’t know where I’m headed. I know one thing for sure, however, I have the writing bug and I’m never going to stop writing.
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About the Author

James Norwood is a middle school teacher. He lives in Riverside, California with his wife Kelly and their three cats.

http://twitter.com/jrnorwood

http://www.threeworlds.net

https://www.facebook.com/authorjnorwood

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21435910.James_R_Norwood

Interview with Author Noor Ashour

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

Well, I’m a 19-year-old girl majoring in Computer Science. I would say that I liked writing since I was little. English is not my first language, so back then it was hard writing stories in English. But after coming to America and reading countless books from my school’s library, I was able to improve my English well enough to write properly.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

 I actually wrote it when I was 15, titled Eorthe at the time (Old-English for Earth, don’t ask why I chose such an obscure name because I honestly don’t know). But shortly after publishing it, I felt kind of ashamed of it. Most of the reviews (no more than 10, all received review requests from me) averaged three stars, with the common critique being jarring dialogue, confusing plot-line, too many characters, etc. But during quarantine, my mother commented about how it was a shame for me to just abandon my book like that and pretend it doesn’t exist. Thus, I decided to rewrite and improve it as best as I can. I renamed it Myosotis, too, because I felt like Eorthe doesn’t fit.

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

Hmm, I wrote this book with a theme of “being forgotten” in mind, it was mainly created to explain why the world in the book was called Land of the Forgotten. As the characters described, it was made for those that were forgotten or abandoned by their society and home, and thus this Land would allow them to start a new life with others that have shared their pain in one way or another. It gives them a community when the previous had failed them. This also explains why it has such a diverse and unique population, because everyone has roots from thousands of different dimensions.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’ve always gravitated to fantasy novels. I know that Heroes of Olympus inspired me when I made the first version of this book. I also liked The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland, particularly its illustrations. I wished I could draw some for my book had it not been for my lack of drawing skills. But maybe I will be able to one day!

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

That’s a tough question. I would probably ask them questions that I was unable to answer properly when I was developing them, such as the backstory of Ellina, or the true goals/motivations of Justus. I would want to ask non-appearing or non-important characters, such as the citizens of Land of the Forgotten, about their day-to-day lives in both the current era and the previous. This would help me cultivate the world’s lore better, just generally interviewing the “average” bystander in the Land.

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

Actually, I don’t think I have any readership at the moment! I’m not interested in marketing this book, you see. I want unsuspecting people to stumble upon it instead, I think that would make it more valuable or interesting. But I am looking for honest reviews around the web and emailing book blogs if they’re interested, mostly to just get feedback and know what I did well or could improve on.

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

You’ve probably heard of this already, but the “Show, Don’t Tell” rule is pretty important. Of course, there are times where you should tell, but try to show your characters’ fears, quirks, values, etc. There’s also Chekov’s Gun, a rule where every element/event/character in the story should have some purpose or meaning, such as foreshadowing. Of course, you can have some red herrings that deceive the reader, especially with detective or mystery novels, but it’s also a good idea to foreshadow events to let the reader go “I knew it!”

Also, this is more towards fanfic writers, but please proofread your work and add spacing between paragraphs, there’s too many fanfics out there where the whole thing is just a big block of text due to no spacing between paragraphs. More importantly, do NOT describe eyes as orbs, that’s just weird! This also applies to a lot of things, don’t use weird adjectives or names too much just for the sake of sounding fancy. Make sure there is some purpose or meaning behind it, like purposely using gross adjectives to gross out the reader and show how grotesque the scene is.

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

I would say I’m pretty much done with books, it’s just torture I don’t want to bear anymore. However, another kind of torture I am bearing right now is a point-and-click game I’m working on by myself. The progress is very slow, but once I’m done with the first part of the game out of four, I will hopefully start doing devlog updates and announce it somewhere on my Itchio page. I’ve attached a little sneak peek of the main character.

Interview with Author Shaheen Chishti

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


I was born in Ajmer, Rajasthan, and saw at close quarters how women’s lives were in traditional
Hindu and Muslim cultures, having interacted with many families and seen many villages. I
came across many women’s issues, which moved me. I then moved to England at a young age
and saw the socially liberated society where they were making efforts to move up the chain, so
to speak. That being said, I noticed that both sides were suffering in different ways and came to realize that society has been unfair to our mothers, sisters, daughters and partners for
centuries. This set my mind up to write a book highlighting the issues faced by women from
various cultures and arguing for the advancement of women in all societies.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?


I wanted to help young women find their voices and power, and to make the most for
themselves – not for their society. So many young women now are the living legacies of strong
women who came before them, able to live their lives and enjoy their freedoms and identities
because of the sacrifices made by their grandmothers.


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


This book is written for anyone with daughters, granddaughters or young women in their lives,
who want the very best for them and all the daughters who follow. I have two beautiful
daughters of my own and want to make sure that they know that they are just as important as
anyone else – regardless of their gender, race, culture, religion or creed. We are all humans and
must support one another.


4) What drew you into this particular genre?


I would hope that my daughters and future granddaughters get to live in a society that fully
respects women; a society in which they would not have to face the same injustices and lead
their lives in fear of what could happen to them just because of their gender. We have certainly
made progress as a society but there is still such a long way to go to ensure that all our
granddaughters live without fear of men and are not held back to reach their full potential.
Since my childhood, I read about the Bengal famine of 1943 which no one covered – or at least
not as much as I have done in this book. The Holocaust was something that I was aware of from
an early age in India. I think that I was six when I saw a documentary about Adolf Hitler and
then, as I grew up, I read about it several times. I was also lucky to have a number of amazing
Jewish friends and noticed many similarities within our cultures. Finally, Notting Hill was on my
way to school when we moved to London, so it was also something close to my heart and I saw
first-hand the discrimination against black people, in particular.


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

One of my favourite characters is Ingrid. The strength and courage that she showed in helping
Helga’s family, when no one else would, is so inspirational. It is unimaginable to think about
what it must have taken to defy the law and society to do what is morally right. I would ask her
how she found the courage to stand up to a regime alone and why she showed such courage
and morality when so few did.
Many people talk about moral courage, but it is not always easy to do the right thing or to even
know what the right thing is. Sometimes, it is easiest to do nothing. Perhaps if more people
demonstrated such qualities, we would have more tolerance and acceptance for those around
us.


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


I have found LinkedIn to be particularly effective at sparking interesting debates around these
important issues.

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


Just start to write because it is the hardest thing to get words on paper. Keep re-reading your
work and re-working your ideas and it will work out. You must also write from the heart and let it flow naturally, making sure that historical events are duly cited if they are to be included.


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


Yes, I have another book planned and am extremely excited to share more details when the
time is right!

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About the Author

Shaheen Chishti is an Indian-British author, world peace advocate and thought leader. Shaheen is a member of the London Literary Society and Muslim-Jewish Forum in London. He is also the founder of the Jewish Islamic International Peace Society. Shaheen’s writings – fiction and non-fiction – primarily focus on the upliftment of women and the emancipation of Muslim women in particular. He believes that the “empowerment of women is at the root of Muslin teaching”. An ardent believer in the Sufi philosophy of “Love towards all, malice towards none”, Shaheen endeavours to promote the message of peace and solidarity of the Chishti Order of Sufism. Shaheen was born into the Syed Chishti family in India which traces its ancestry directly to Hazrat Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of the Holy Prophet.

http://shaheenchishti.in/

Interview with Author Rich Marcello

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

I’ve been writing now for ten years. When I started, I had a goal to write ten books before all was said and done. Cenotaphs is my fifth novel and sixth book, so I still have a ways to go before I reach the goal, but I remain committed to getting there. Before I became a professional writer, I worked for a number of technology companies.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I was interested in writing a book about platonic love between a man and  woman. In particular, I was interested in how that kind of love has the power to heal the deepest wounds, maybe even more so than other kinds of love. Not many written books are written on this topic, and I thought it was a fascinating one to explore. 

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

I hope they experience the power of redemptive love.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I tend to be interested in big topics and I think literary fiction, with its emphasis on characterization, is a great way to explore these topics. It’s given me the tools to write books on polarization in America, aging with meaning, the long term impacts of violence, and on being a good man. Plus, all my favorite writers like Walker Percy and Milan Kundera write literary fiction.

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

I would sit down with both Ben and Samantha and ask them how they felt loving each other in such a non-traditional way, and why that kind of love allowed them to move forward with their lives separately and together.

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

Facebook.  Many of my Facebook friends engage on a regular basis with me and my books.

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

Just keep going. Learn as much as you can about your craft and remember good art doesn’t always find an audience right away. If you have a need to create, as I do, there’s nothing more powerful and generative emotionally than putting a piece out into the world.

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

I’m working on two novels now, The Means of Keeping, about the climate crisis, and In the Seat of the Eddas, a follow on to The Latecomers.

About the Author

Rich is the author of five novels, The Color of Home, The Big Wide Calm, The Beauty of the Fall, The Latecomers, and Cenotaphs, and the poetry collection, The Long Body That Connects Us All. He also teaches creative writing at Seven Bridges’ Writer Collaborative. Previously, he enjoyed a successful career as a technology executive, managing several multi-billion dollar businesses for Fortune 500 companies.

As anyone who has read Rich’s work can tell you, his books deal with life’s big questions: love, loss, creativity, community, self-discovery and forgiveness. His novels are rich with characters and ideas, crafted by a natural storyteller, with the eye and the ear of a poet. For Rich, writing and art making is about connection, or as he says, about making a difference to a least one other person in the world, something he has clearly achieved many times over, both as an artist, a mentor, and a teacher.

Rich lives in Massachusetts with his wife and Newfoundland Shaman. He is currently working on his sixth and seventh novels, The Means of Keeping and In the Seat of the Eddas, a follow-on to The Latecomers.

http://www.richmarcello.com/

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Interview with Author Natalie Hanson

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

For many years I concentrated on being a screenplay writer. I had mild success optioning scripts, selling scripts and being hired to write, but never felt the joy of seeing something I wrote on the big screen. Scripts are rarely considered a ‘finished product’. There’s always another producer who wants changes.So my angst for having a completed project led me to pursue writing novels. There is something very satisfying when you are truly done.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I wanted to write a female character that can do anything a man can. Traditionally women are judged for making choices a man does every day. Who they can sleep with, how they speak, having children. I wanted to create a protagonist that was ashamed to be who she was.

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

In all things, chaos prevails. So just accept it now. The more control you try to have over life the more you will be disappointed.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

In recent years I’ve had a number of folks who have given me the feedback “Your writing is so disturbing. Everyone is so evil!” And I always think “Really, I thought that was just Tuesday!” I guess I live in the dark places where most people just visit. For me, my creative work has always been on the gritty side.

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

I’d be interested in asking Zalla about her life choices. One seemingly small choice can change your entire life. I’d love to explore how her life might have turned out differently had she zigged instead of zagged.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership? Oh, this one’s a tough one. I will fully admit I am not good at social media. It’s a real skill that requires time and dedication. I strive to improve in the future.

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

Your writing is going to suck, and it’s OK. It takes thousands of hours to start pumping out good material. So in the beginning, be open to feedback and adjust. Edit out your favorite thing from a story if it’s not working. Be prepared to do anything to make the material better.

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

The Zalla series includes five novels. They are all complete and book 4 & 5 are being edited now. I wanted to get all the heavy lifting of writing out of the way so I’d have more time to devote to promotion and the logistics of self-publishing. I am looking forward to getting them all out there into the world!

About the Author

Natalie Hanson is an author and screenplay writer born and raised in Seattle, WA.

‘The Unknown Man’ is the first of five novels chronicling the hunt for serial killers and criminals by FBI agent Zalla Bennbett. This dark series examines the worst criminals humanity has to offer through the eyes of a jaded agent, struggling to keep optimism alive and fight for the voiceless.

Book two in the series, ‘The Butcher’, is an upcoming release.

Her novel ‘Every Moment and Not a Second More’ was published on Amazon in 2018.

Currently she is collaborating on a horror genre comic series based on her screenplay “Dociles.” It tells the story of a teen runaway, kidnapped by a medical examiner who turns the dead into zombies. It’s a fight to not end up as one of the herd!

https://nataliehardy9.wixsite.com/author/books

Interview with Author Tom Kreffer

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

When I was twenty-one, I watched Dead Man’s Shoes by Shane Meadows. I thought the film was excellent, and I could tell it had been shot on a low budget. I was studying film at university at the time, and I thought that perhaps my way into the film industry could be to write a really good self-contained story that was set in only a handful of locations – low, low budget stuff, like Dead Man’s Shoes. So, I wrote my first screenplay and called it Sophisticated Gangsters. It got picked up by a couple of local producers, but we never completed shooting owing to a complete lack of experience and expertise (not to mention money). Looking back, it’s almost certainly a good thing that film never came out, as my script was terrible. But that was my first crack at writing. I wrote more screenplays in my twenties, but I’ve still yet to do anything with them. 

It wasn’t until my partner fell pregnant that I began writing my first book. Doctors told us that it was highly unlikely we would conceive naturally, and I had all but accepted that I might never become a parent. But then she fell pregnant. I started writing a journal about my experience of discovering I was about to become a father and what it was like to live with a pregnant woman. At some point, I began to wonder if other soon-to-be dads would find the story of pregnancy told from a first-time dad’s perspective to be valuable, or at the very least entertaining. So that became my first book, Dear Dory: Journal of a Soon-to-be First-time Dad.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

Becoming a father and having the journey documented in journal format.

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

I love it when readers tell me that they responded to the book’s blend of humour and honesty, and I love it even more when they tell me that my take on pregnancy is unique and not something they’ve come across before. 

But ultimately, I want readers to feel as if they are the ones who have got the better end of the deal from buying my books and taking the time to read them. When I read a book, my world view and my life experience – billions of interactions with my environment on both a conscious and a subconscious level – shape how I interpret and connect with the material. And so I find it hard to list anything specific that I want readers to take away, as every response is unique to the individual reader. But as long as they take away something positive, whatever it is, I’m happy because I feel as if I’ve done my job correctly. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

As mentioned in the earlier question, it was a fluke. If you had asked me before I became a writer what genre I would begin my career in and make money from, non-fiction parenting memoirs from a dad’s perspective would have been very far down the list.

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

I’m still at the very beginning of my career, so I’m still figuring a lot of that stuff out, but Facebook and Instagram seem to be the platforms that I benefit from most. My favourite thing to do is build up relationships with my readers and rely on good old-fashioned word of mouth. I’m now experimenting with advertising, but it’s not an overnight process. Just like writing a book, it takes time to do it well.

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

Be prepared to work harder than you’ve ever worked before. Writing is a tough gig. I’m on my third book now, and it feels the same every time – hard work. Another thing I would say is that there’s this uncertainty about what you’re doing and whether your story will work. And that doesn’t go away until you’ve reached the end of your first draft, at the very minimum. In my case, I don’t really know if I’ve got anything good until the third or fourth draft. But that’s OK; I just keep at it every day. And that’s what you need to do. Don’t worry about looking up and trying to see the end; just focus on looking down and taking the next step. Then the next day, do the same thing; take one more step. Commit to giving that one step everything you’ve got. Pour your heart and soul into it. And on the following day – do the same thing again. And then again the next day, and the next. And when you get to the end, and you look up and see how far you’ve come and what you’ve got, you never know; you might just have something beautiful to share with the world. 

Amazon Music: Six Months of Disney+

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

So many projects! First is the sequel to Dear Dory, which is called Dear Arlo: Adventures in Dadding. It tackles the first year of parenthood. The manuscript is locked, and it’s now with the formatting team. I think it’s due out in early September (2021). I’m over halfway through the first draft of book three in the Adventures in Dadding series. I also have plans for other non-fiction books that are related to parenthood.

Finally, I’m desperate to dive into fiction, and I have a ton of notes on two different ideas. Both of them are huge. I can see myself staying in those worlds for a very long time. I would love to do something with my screenplays as well. I’m never at a loss for ideas, and I’m deeply passionate about all of my writing projects, but I can only fully commit to one of them at a time.

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About the Author

Tom Kreffer has a degree in film and television and has worked in finance for over ten years. Dear Dory is his first book.

He lives in Northampton, England with his family, whom he intends to exploit for many more story opportunities in the years to come.

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https://www.bookbub.com/books/dear-dory-journal-of-a-soon-to-be-first-time-dad-adventures-in-dadding-1-by-tom-kreffer