Tag Archives: author interview

Book Spotlight & Author Q&A: Flowers Grow on Broken Walls by Farena Bajwa

Hello everyone! Welcome to a special post today, where I am lucky enough to share with you the upcoming book from author Farena Bajwa, Flowers Grow on Broken Walls, a beautiful collection of poetry about healing and finding out who we are in the world. I hope you’ll enjoy this special spotlight, including a fantastic Q&A with the author. 

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Synopsis:

Flowers Grow on Broken Walls is a unique collection of poems and prose that talks about healing and finding yourself in a world that constantly tells you that’s who you shouldn’t be.

The poems, which tell a story, go over our everyday human emotions; from being heartbroken and questioning our self-worth in a world of judgment and scrutinizing social media, to finding ourselves and appreciating those really important in our lives – especially our inner, true selves. 

The collection displays a raw and honest portrayal of an artist who cannot help but create something beautiful in the midst of the ugliness she has been put through, and who continues to hope against all odds, as she lets go of what she has been told is important and finds herself in one truly is.

The story that starts with heartache ends with healing, it starts with rejection from someone but ends with self-acceptance, which is the only way for true healing.

Author Bio:

Farena Bajwa is a talented poet, storyteller, actor, filmmaker, and voice-over artist. Even though she studied Marketing Management, her creativity comes from her heart. Whether it’s filmmaking, voice-over, or acting, she owes it to her life philosophy: ‘’learning by doing’’. ‘’Flowers Grow on Broken Walls’’ is Farena’s first written collection of poetry that speaks about the journey to self-healing after experiencing the loss of someone, but mostly, the loss of yourself. She wants to inspire her readers using her power of words to make them feel less alone and to let them know that no matter what they go through, healing is just around the corner, already cheering for you.

Website: https://farenabajwa.com

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

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Author Q&A

On writing:

Where do you get inspiration for your stories?

I am primarily inspired by my own experiences, but I love to hear and to learn about other people’s experiences too. I am also inspired by situations going on in the world.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been journaling my whole life. But I only started writing poems when I started writing Flowers Grow on Broken Walls. The interesting thing is, I’ve always had thoughts running through my head formed in a poetic way. When I didn’t understand, when something happened, I would think those thoughts in small poems. I thought art would be able to lift off the weight from unpleasant situations I was dealing with right away. And oftentimes, it turned out to be true. 

Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it?

Yes, constantly. But I don’t get intimidated by it. Whenever I have a writer’s block I just feel like: “Oh, I am probably not meant to be writing right now. So let’s see what I can do to take are of myself/have fun/get some other work done etc. And eventually the block ends and I am inspired again. The key? Letting go.

What is your next project?

All I know is that I am currently writing poems. One poem after another. I don’t have a specific theme, I guess I’ll find out when the time comes.

What genre do you write and why?

I write poetry because poems are able to give my feelings a voice. They help me understand what I am feeling and also how I can deal with these emotions.

What is the last great book you’ve read?

The invisible life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab. A magnificent piece of work dancing between different timelines, magic, and blood cold reality that we often think boring. But truthfully, it is our reality that is more enchanting than magic if you stop taking friendly gestures of strangers, or new shortcuts you discovered etc. for granted.  

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?

A reviewer wrote:

I loved reading Shakespeare and feel that this author could certainly be a modern day version of him. The disappointments, loss, love, and other happenstances of life are well within these poems.”

Just reading the name Shakespeare connected to my book gave me all the right chills- and I am so grateful for it😊

What were the biggest rewards and challenges with writing your book?

The biggest challenge was having to go back to these intense negative feelings that I was experiencing. I had to recall every emotion and I was scared I would be pulled back into the dark. The biggest reward was knowing that I had overcome these feelings. While I was writing the pages for the first few chapters that cover those lower feelings, I realized how much I had changed and how it didn’t affect me as I thought it would.

On rituals:

Where do you write?

Primarily in Cafés. The smell of coffee, the cozy ambience and the gentle, faint talking of people inspires and energizes me. 

Do you write every day?

No, only when I am inspired. I can’t write if I don’t feel the words I am writing. If a word only feels like a word to me and not like an emotion, I can’t write because it doesn’t seem truthful to me. Afterall, poetry is all about a feeling wanting to take shape, so it can be released.

What is your writing schedule?

I don’t set specific timeframes to write, nor do I schedule specific days. I write when I feel like I have something to say, when something is bothering me, when I need to put my feelings into written words. I can write for a whole week and create 3 poems a day or I won’t write for weeks. I can write and pretend but I can’t lie about how I feel. Also, readers are not stupid, they know instantly if someone is being authentic in their words or not.

In today’s tech savvy world, most writers use a computer or laptop. Have you ever written parts of your book on paper?

I almost only write my poems on paper. Flowers Grow on Broken Walls was entirely handwritten. I bought a notebook with colorful flowers on the cover when I started writing my book. I saw that notebook and it just called out to me. I didn’t know then, “Flowers” would become the main message in my book😊 

Fun stuff:

Favorite dessert?

Cake. In any shape or form. I love cake. I would die for cake.

What TV series are you currently binge watching?

Killing Eve and Peaky Blinders. My two favorite series I’ve already watched a thousand times. Both series are brilliant. Amazing writing, amazing acting, fast paced, dramatic with moments of fun and ease in between and – I just love these kinds of series!

What song is currently playing on a loop in your head?

There are actually two songs:

Love wave by The 1-800

Ebb tide by The Platters

What is your go-to breakfast item?

Coffee. Always and forever coffee. 

Who was your childhood celebrity crush?

Ash Ketchum of Pokémon…I mean come on. How can you not find that drive and that determination that boy had attractive? He wanted to become the Pokémon master and he was GOING for it. Damn.

One thing no one would expect from you.

I have a deep love for dinosaurs. I am fascinated by the thought that there’ve been huge reptiles walking on our earth once. I used to collect dinosaur figures, read books and watch documentaries (and of course Jurassic Park). I wanted to become a paleontologist when I was a child because I always hoped to find a living dinosaur one day. It is my dream to see a real-life sized skeleton of a dinosaur someday. I never had the opportunity to see one.

Really? What is your favorite dinosaur?

A Brachiosaurus. You’ve got to love this teeny tiny head on this big fat body. The fact that it weighed more than 28 tons but only eat plants, it belonged to one of the tallest dinosaurs and could easily crush another dinosaur with a slight step – but still was one of the friendliest and more peaceful reptiles is just ridiculous- and so cute. 

Interview with Author Seth Kadish 

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

I’m a working psychologist and author.  My recently published memoir, “Home Boys,” available on Amazon as an e-book or paperback,  is the product of my interest and passion for psychology and writing.  

I began writing in elementary school and later took creative writing courses in high school and college.  I’ve always loved the written word as both author and avid reader.  My writing background includes sketches, novel, nonfiction, play, and screenplay.  I’ve had screenplays optioned and plays produced in New York and Los Angeles.

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What inspired you to write your book?

I’ve been a clinician since the late 1990s, counseling a wide variety of clients ranging from maximum security inmates to celebrities, working folk, foster care kids, and anyone and everyone in between.  But it was my early career work with Probation youth that deeply shaped my thinking and approach as a clinician.  I had a tremendous affinity for these kids.  They really touched my heart.  “Home Boys” is equal parts remembrance, information, and love.

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

One of the themes of “Home Boys” is “Look below the surface.”  A supposedly bad kid may be a traumatized or misunderstood kid.  It’s always worth trying to help him.  Which is not to say that we should excuse or allow criminal behavior, but rather hold out for the possibility that a life can be turned around with structure and guidance.

What drew you into this particular genre?

I am by nature a teacher, and I believed that a memoir would be effective in reaching an audience of early career therapists who would benefit from reading about the successes and missteps of a seasoned clinician.  I thought that a non-clinical audience would be moved by the story of Probation boys struggling to make their way through a difficult world. 

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

I post excerpts of “Home Boys” reviews as well as announcements about the book on Instagram and Facebook.  I recently had fun shooting and posting a humorous video featuring my sister, playing the role of an extremely annoying fan, begging me for a printed a copy of my book.  We’ll likely shoot a few more videos featuring her character.  My hope (or fantasy?) was that the video would go viral.  You can see it at Home Boys – The Price of Fame – YouTube.  

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

It may seem a bit trite or banal, but I think it’s important to write in your own style.  Be yourself.  There is no right or wrong way to write, only your way.  Place a Kurt Vonnegut novel and a Philip Roth novel side by side and you’ll see what I’m talking about.  Two distinguished writers who could not be more stylistically and thematically different.

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

I am co-authoring a nonfiction book, “The Truth About Rehab,” with two colleagues and also plan to re-publish my middle grade novel, “Baymo” (the publishing company went under a few years ago and the rights reverted to me).  It’s the story of a dog who wants to become a man and gets his wish.  

I have several other complete or nearly complete novels and nonfiction works on the shelf.  My goal is to publish them all over the next few years.

A final word:  thanks for reading this interview and much gratitude to Anthony for hosting and posting.  Please look me up on Instagram and Facebook and feel free to write me at drsethck@aol.com.

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About the Author

Seth C. Kadish, Psy.D., Director of Group Therapy at PCH in Mar Vista and former Clinical Director of Milestones Ranch Malibu, was a Staff Psychologist at California State Prison, Los Angeles County, counseling maximum-security inmates.  Prior to that, Dr. Kadish worked with Probation youth at Penny Lane in North Hills, CA where he was named Clinician of the Year 2001.  He is the creator of Pattern Identification and Reduction Therapy™, a clinical approach based on his work in prison, group home, private practice and treatment center and is the author of Pop Your Patterns:  The No-Nonsense Way to Change Your Life.  In addition, Dr. Kadish has been featured in a variety of radio broadcasts, documentaries and television series including Ryan and Tatum:  The O’Neals (Oprah Winfrey Network) and the award-winning documentary, Iceberg Slim.

https://www.huffpost.com/author/seth-c-kadish

https://www.instagram.com/kadishseth/

https://www.facebook.com/Author-Seth-C-Kadish-1483991035216345/

Interview with Andrya Bailey

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

I write contemporary romance, and I’m passionate about traveling, history, and languages. When I write, I try to incorporate elements of all of them into the stories. I’m currently learning how to speak modern Greek, and also speak Portuguese, Spanish (and have in the past also learned German, French, and Italian, although not fluent any more since I don’t use them much!). My romance trilogy has been translated to Spanish and is being also published in Greece. I’ve been involved for several years with the Houston Writers Guild, and I’m currently a Board member of The Ocotillo Review literary journal, which is published by Kallisto Gaia Press, and have also worked as a flash fiction editor for the journal. I also write other genres, poetry, flash fiction, and short stories under another pen-name. Since I was very young, I always wanted to be a writer.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

My most recent book was the third and final book in a romance trilogy, but the idea for the trilogy was born many years ago when I was visiting the museum of fine arts. I had the idea of a character visiting the museum and falling in love with a curator or archaeologist, then started to write about it and the trilogy came to life.

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

Hope – hope to find love, even if it’s long distance and across cultures.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

It was actually a challenge. Two friends of mine who are also writers challenged me to write a romance, and so the trilogy was born.

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

It would be Nikos. I’d ask him what he felt when Sabrina left him in Athens and when he realized he was in love with her, because he didn’t go after her at the time and seemed to just have accepted that she didn’t want to be with him.

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

My newsletter (it is the best way to get the latest news about my books, and I also hold giveaways frequently. Newsletters usually go out every two months or sometimes monthly if there are news worth sharing. To sign up for the newsletter: Newsletter sign up: http://eepurl.com/dgdaqD), followed by:

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndyB0810

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

Website: www.andryabailey.com

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

Just start writing, write for yourself, write something you’d like to read.

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

A new romance novel. I have the first chapter going on but it’s still in the very preliminary stage.

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About the Author

Andrya Bailey is an award-winning contemporary romance writer. She enjoys traveling and visiting museums and historical landmarks where she can learn about art and history, which she usually incorporates into her stories. She loves to write love stories with strong alpha males and exotic scenarios – after all, what better romance fantasy is there?

Olympian Passion, the first book in the Olympian Love trilogy, has received the 5-star seal from Readers’ Favorite and is the 2016 New Apple Literary e-book Contemporary Romance – Solo Medalist winner. Olympian Heartbreak, the second book, is a 2018 New Apple Literary “official selection” in the romance category.

Follow her Facebook page to find out more at facebook.com/andryabailey and on Twitter: @andyb0810.

Sign up for her newsletter: eepurl.com/dgdaqD

Website: andryabailey.com

Interview with Authors John Mondragon and Kelly Alblinger 

*NOTE: In this interview, JM refers to author John Mondragon, and KA refers to author Kelly Alblinger*

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

JM:  I’m an American-Palestinian husband/father of 2 beautiful boys, currently living in Maui, HI. I’m the youngest of the boys and I wasn’t very social growing up, so I always kept a journal with me to doodle and write whenever I got bored or needed to keep busy. Writing was my friend growing up and stuck with me ever since.

KA:  I’ve been a writer and a storyteller all my life but I’ve only been writing professionally for about six years. I am a prolific ghostwriter with dozens of works to my (unnamed) credit, having crafted everything from blog posts to articles to DIY guides, biographies, memoirs – even a book based on an original musical score. My great-uncle was the author of the beloved novel “Where the Red Fern Grows”, so I think writing is in my DNA.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

JM:  A couple things inspired this book. My oldest brother who plays one of the characters in the story suffers from a mental disorder, so he was a big inspiration. I also went through personal life traumas that helped create the story. Lastly, hearing of so many suicides/depressions of children and young adults played a big role in wanting to find a way to reach out to the public.

KA:  Prior to TCIM, I had not ventured into the YA genre. It was challenging to write from the perspective of a twenty-something male, and even more of a test to factor in the state of the protagonist’s mental health challenges. My hope is that readers will find the voice authentic and representative of some of the challenges they face.

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

JM:  The mantra created for the book is “Speak Up and Speak Out”. My message as an advocate of mental health to readers is to help spread awareness on this subject and create a platform where people who struggle or feel embarrassed can feel safe and heard! There have been so many taboos surrounding mental health and I want to help normalize the illness.

KA:  I find the characters in TCIM to be fascinating. They are different facets of the same person characterized as individuals. I wanted to portray the anxiety and isolation that we all occasionally feel, but in a more extreme way. Dissociative Identity Disorder gave me the opportunity to delve deeply into those feelings.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

JM:  The drama genre isn’t something we planned but sort of fell upon when the story unfolded. It turned out to be great and I really enjoyed the intensity of the book.

KA:  My son is in the same age range as the characters in the book, and I wanted to write about personalities that he could relate to. 

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

JM:  Charlie is by far the most impactful character in my opinion because when he arrives there’s a drastic turn in the narrator’s life. Charlie likes to take charge and is a bully who always gets his way. I would ask Charlie, why he is the way he is? 

KA:  Instead of one character, I’d want to talk to the parents. I’d want to pick their brains to find out why they chose not to seek treatment for him when a diagnosis was made. Was it the cost of treatment, or societal pressure to conform, not to stand out? Did they fear judgment from the community? Did they feel ashamed or that DID would be a negative reflection on their parenting? 

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

JM:  I have a lot of friends on Facebook so that’s where I get most of my attention from an audience.

KA:  Currently Facebook is the primary means of engaging with our readers, but there will soon be a presence on Instagram and possibly Twitter as well. 

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

JM:  No matter how hard it gets, fulfill your dream of becoming an author. It took me over five years to finally publish my first book. Don’t give up! 

KA:  My advice to beginning authors is to believe in yourself. That might sound cliché, but it’s SO important. If you don’t believe that you have a good story or concept, no one else will believe it either. My second piece of advice is: EDIT!

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

JM:  A sequel to The Clash Inside Me is definitely something I want to do. We’ll just have to wait and see.

KA:  I have a number of book projects currently in the works – a memoir and two novels, specifically. My intention is to bring a variety of experiences to readers, so I endeavor to change up the characters and situations in each story.

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About Author John Moondragon

John Mondragon is a self-published author of his first novel “The Clash Inside Me” and a caring father and husband.

He is passionate about helping people understand the importance of mental health matters, and encourages others to speak up and speak out.

Join the newsletter for The Clash Inside Me and get a bonus PDF mental health workbook: https://www.subscribepage.com/theclashinsideme

English book links: https://books2read.com/theclashinsideme/

Spanish book links: https://books2read.com/michoqueinterior/

Buy The Clash Inside Me Merch: https://the-clash-inside-me.creator-spring.com/

Follow John Mondragon on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Mondragon.Author

Instagram: https://instagram.com/mondragon.author

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/John-Mondragon/e/B09KQT3L28/

Interview with Scott Kauffman 

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

My fiction career began with an in-class book report written in Mrs. Baer’s eighth-grade English class when, due to a conflict of priorities, I failed to read the book, necessitating an exercise of the imagination. Not only was I not found out, but I snagged a B, better than the C that I received on my last report when I actually read the book. Thus began my life-long apprenticeship as a teller of tales and, some would snidely suggest, as a lawyer as well, but they would be cynics, a race Oscar Wilde warned us knew the price of everything and the value of nothing.

I am the author of the legal-suspense novel, In Deepest Consequences (Medallion Press), loosely drawn on two murder cases from earlier in my career, and the coming-of-age novel Revenants, The Odyssey Home (Moonshine Cove Publishing). I am a recipient of the Mighty River Short Story Contest and the Hackney Literary Award. My short fiction has appeared in Big Muddy, Adelaide Magazine, and Lascaux Review. I will admit to being an attorney in Irvine, California, where my practice focuses upon white-collar crime and tax litigation with my clients providing me endless story fodder. I graduated summa cum laude from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, (where Walter Tevis, author of Queen’s Gambit, was my first fiction professor) and in the upper ten percent of my class from Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon, where I was a member of the Environmental Law Review and received the American Jurisprudence Award in Conflict of Laws. I can be found at www.scottkauffman.net.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

As I said above, my first novel In Deepest Consequences was loosely based upon two murder cases from earlier in my career. Revenants, The Odyssey Home, was drawn from the death of my late-wife’s uncle in Viet Nam, who is the only member of an MIA recovery team known to have died in combat. My inspiration for Saving Thomas was seeded in a general revulsion arising during some or another election campaign at those politicians who may have served but then try to get elected by trafficking in the dead who never came home. So I started to ask myself a series of what if questions. Such as what if someone had served and suffered but was honor bound never to reveal he had served and suffered and because of it suffered all the more? Which lead to more what if questions. The end result of all these what ifs the book you read and reviewed.

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

Saving Thomas explores the age-old themes harking back to the Old Testament and Homer of betrayal, redemption, and ultimate forgiveness. All of us have been betrayed in our lives by those we love. All of us in turn have betrayed those we love. But if we are to come to terms with our betrayals, both those suffered and inflicted, we must move beyond a shattered trust to commence anew. Hope will reveal itself when we reaffirm those bonds of commitment, and it is in our finding a way forward where forgiveness will be found. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I don’t consider myself a genre writer. When a story with legs comes to me, I write it not caring where Barnes & Noble will shelve it. Having said that, I think it was Nietzsche who said melodrama is right versus wrong whereas tragedy is right versus right with no good outcome. I am drawn to tragedies.

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

My villain, Erec Renard. This guy has to have at least a dozen stories to keep a writer employed.

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

Twitter and Instagram.

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

Learn from other writers. Revise, revise, revise, then revise some more. Master the rules of Greek rhetoric passed on down to the Romans, lost in the Dark Ages, resurrected during the Renaissance, and rediscovered in England just about the time Shakespeare was penning his plays and King James’s scribes were translating the Bible into English and give their works so much power, mimicking the power of Bach and Handel through repetition and point/counter point. Power you can hear in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream. Perhaps most importantly, remember that being published is someone else’s call. It’s impossible to know what to write to please those someones and may not be where your writing comes from. But someone’s first book changed you. Know there are others waiting for yours.

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

Next up, Finding Forest: A death-row attorney walks the murderous streets of East Oakland by night searching for the family of the executed client he betrayed twenty-four years before.

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About the Author

Scott is an attorney in Irvine, California, where his practice focuses upon white-collar crime with his clients providing him endless story fodder. His short story “Cat Dance” was short-listed for the 2018 Adelaide Literary Award. He is the author of the coming-of-age novel Revenants, The Odyssey Home (Moonshine Cove Publishing) and the legal-suspense novel, In Deepest Consequences (Medallion Press) and is the recipient of the Mighty River Short Story Contest and the Hackney Literary Award. His short fiction has appeared in Big Muddy, Adelaide Magazine, and Lascaux Review.

Website:www.scottkauffman.net 

Publisher: https://www.thewildrosepress.com/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kauffman_scott 

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

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Scott-Kauffman-Author-402186853680261/ 

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3234487.Scott_Kauffman 

Book Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59610226-saving-thomas?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=81e5CNjnYi&rank=1 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Saving-Thomas-Scott-Kauffman/dp/1509238638/ref=sr_1_2?adid=082VK13VJJCZTQYGWWCZ&campaign=211041&creative=374001&keywords=Saving+Thomas&qid=1646075976&s=books&sr=1-2 

Interview with Clarissa Pattern

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

As a kid I was in and out of hospital a fair bit, reading and writing were my escapes from the long hours of loneliness. My first stories were about dead things that came back to life; maybe one day I will have to revisit those early ideas, because I truly think what the world is missing is tales about reanimated egg shells! 

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2) What inspired you to write your book? 

Because it took me many years to write, lots of different people and events have influenced the final published novel. My initial inspiration though, was a simple scene of a young pickpocket at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre being so enchanted by the actors on stage that a yearning for a different life sparkles in his heart. 

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

Something I’m always drawn to is the power of friendship and the importance of finding the right place in life. In essence it’s such a simple message that is contained in one of the best-known childhood stories we’re told: the ugly duckling needs to find his swan family instead of trying to fit in with the ducks who bully him. But it’s so easy, especially in this brave new world of social media, to be constantly comparing and contrasting yourself to the wrong people and feeling inadequate when you should be concentrating on what makes you as a unique and wonderful person shine.  

4) What drew you into this particular genre? 

The coming-of-age genre is so powerful and relatable as everything is felt so intensely in both its freshness and its rawness. I don’t know how true it is, but I read somewhere that because of how the brain develops and the random shooting off of hormones, that the love you experience as a teenager is the strongest love you’ll feel in your life.  

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

My characters are constantly chattering away in my mind, but it’s actually really strange thinking of having an actual conversation with them, they ignore me and just talk to each other all the time!  

A sneaky little voice in my head is saying that as William Shakespeare appears in my novel, I could choose him to yank into reality and ask him any number of literary conundrums. But I think it’s more in the spirit of the question to choose one of my purely fictional characters, so I will ask Black Jack if he believes that John can truly see faerie folk? Black Jack is a very practical person surviving in the dirt of Renaissance London, but I wonder if living and loving someone who is literally away with the faeries half the time, how his view of the universe would change. 

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

I am not sure if it counts as social media, but my publisher likes Booksirens, I personally have been exploring readersfavorite.com and have found some wonderful people there. I have to mention the Historical Fiction Company too as they gave me a 5-star medal and a silver award in their book of the year competition, so I obviously love them. A couple of readers have found me on Facebook and that has made me smile a lot, people from different countries liking my book enough to reach out to me is so validating for an insecure, self-doubting, introverted blob like me. 

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

Writing can be lonely and fraught with doubt, so find yourself some great beta readers, people who can give you honest feedback that you respect.  

There are a lot of places online to share your writing and to meet other authors, so spend the time to find the place where you feel like you fit and make those connections. I’ve heard from friends that a lot of writers in writing groups can be pretty selfish, they only want to share their stuff, but aren’t willing to give the time to other people’s work. Although we’re naturally deeply involved in our own creativity, make sure you are not one of those people, always be kind and attentive to what other writers are doing and you will attract the awesome people who will nourish your books.

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

Everything being well(ish) in these crazy times, I should have a novella coming out with tRaumbooks later this year.  It is a contemporary story about the mental torment of being a teenager. Beyond that, there may be some more stories in the Airy world. Or there might be a story about robots keeping humans as pets. My imagination is a weird place of glittery rainbows and murky half emerged krakens, I am never certain what will grab and take my muse hostage next.

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About the Author

Clarissa Pattern studied English language and literature at the University of Oxford and has lived in the Oxfordshire area ever since. She has been writing ever since she could hold crayons and scribble across the wallpaper. Aside from writing, she spends as much time with her kids as they’ll put up with, ignores almost all the housework, and has an ever-increasing list of books she’s frantic to read. Her stories have been published in various anthologies over the years, and in August 2021, she released her first novel, a magical, historical YA called Airy Nothing.

Interview with John-Patrick Bayle

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

Vocationally I am a writer, first and foremost.  I am also an adjunct professor at two universities (one in the U.S. and one in Canada), teaching both history and religious studies.  I enjoys traveling, since history is one of my true passions.  I enjoys visiting famous places that hold the spirit of the past.  Each place has millions of stories, and I want to imagine them all.  

I have written extensively for magazines and newspapers throughout my career, and I have also published some non-fiction work related to my teaching.  I live in Michigan with my wife and two children.

https://www.facebook.com/JohnPatrickBayle/

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2) How did you get into writing?

When I was ten years old I was not a great student.  I was disinterested.  All I wanted to do was play sports.  Sitting in class was very difficult for me.  One day my teacher, Mr. Johnston, asked us to write a poem.  Something clicked.  I didn’t understand it at the time, but I found it easy and very natural.  While other students were complaining and struggling with the assignment (even the good students), I wrote several poems rather than the single poem that was assigned.  To my surprise, I received praise – in school.  That had never happened.  It changed the entire direction of my life.  I started writing and I couldn’t stop.  I had some poems published in the newspaper, and from there I branched out into short story writing, and eventually novels.  I write non-fiction also.  I’ve published articles in History Magazine, Encompass and others.  I’ve written some articles and one book relating to my “day job” as a professor as well.  Fiction, however, is my real passion.  I have so many stories inside me.  I just really want to share them with people.

3) What inspired you to write your book?

I get inspiration from history and from literature.  I also get inspiration from nature and from my faith.  I guess I get it from my life.  I don’t shut off any part of my experiences from offering up a story that might entertain and inspire someone.  I’m human, and my experiences are relevant to other humans.  If I can live them, and then communicate them within the context of an entertaining series of events, then I’m living my purpose by living my life.

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

I’ve had this question before, and I found it a little tough to answer because the message of The Order is going to be a bit different for each reader.  We’re not all robots acting off of the same software.  We all have different needs, and we’ll all latch on to different stories within the story.  If I had to narrow it down to one universal theme it would probably be truth.  Truth is true, even if its bigger than we able to conceive of, as Brother Jan discovers when he is forced to confront truths he neither sought, nor wanted.  Truth is true, even if our own ignorance (not stupidity – an important distinction) does not allow us to see it just yet.  Truth is true, even if it does not appear to serve our purposes – and that’s important because truth does not bend to purpose, purpose must respond to truth and then decide if it will bend or not.  Truth is not a tyrant.  It requires a response, but it does not require agreement.  Our response can be to reject it and live a constructed truth that is not real, but only our perception, or it can conform and live within the truth and thrive within the power of something that is bigger than ourselves.  Some say that perception is reality, but that’s not exactly accurate.  Perception is our narrow view of a very broad reality, but if I perceive gravity to be a myth, this can create some real challenges for me when I try and put my perception to the test. Reality – “truth” cannot be only personal or it loses its power to unite and to connect.  The Order highlights the age-old human struggle to know what is true, and then to react to the truth when we find it.  No one has to accept the truth.  The truth is often extremely uncomfortable.  The truth within us – our real fears, prejudices, insecurities; these are true whether we deal with them or not.  These are true whether we accept them or not.  We can live outside of those truths and never escape the nagging weight upon our souls, or we can confront them and live free in the knowledge of our own imperfection and vulnerability.  The choice of our reaction to truth is very personal, and truth is the overarching reality that exposes who we are personally.  So, yes, truth is what the characters in this book are in search of, and it is what they must confront and react to.  I suppose my hope would be that this story will entertain, because it is, after all, a work of fiction, and not a metaphysical treatise, but I also hope that it will generate some deep thoughts about what it means to get what we want, or to not get what we want, and to recognize that truth is above both scenarios.  I hope this because we will all fail to get what we want sometimes, and that can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be devastating.  There is truth within the disappointment that can bear fruit eventually – if we choose to react to the truth and not reject it because of our pain.

5) What drew you into this particular genre?

History.  I love history.  It is one of my greatest passions.  To know what happened, and the repercussions – that transports me to another place and I can imagine the emotions and the struggles.  History answers so many questions about why we are here, and where we might end up.  Billions of people have lived and died, and they all had real stories.  All those lives that have gone before, and many of them are directly responsible for the fact that I even exist.  There are also so many gray areas which, as a writer, are amazing.  I get to ask, “What if”, and then delve in and create a story where only murky details had once existed.  For a fiction writer, what could be better?

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

My favorite character is Sigurd.  He doesn’t play a huge role, but he’s the man I wish I could be.  I can’t say much about him, but I found myself wishing I could just sit with this man and talk to him for hours.  I find myself wanting to talk about him now, but I really don’t want to give anything away.

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

Probably Facebook, but really I haven’t been as active as I should be on any platform.  That’s a mistake, I know, but I tend to find my nose stuck in books a lot, both for work and pleasure.  I’m a writer, not a marketer, so that’s the part of the work I struggle with the most.  I know that in today’s market you have to be a self-promoter.  Publishers are doing less and less in this area, and more responsibility is being placed on the authors.  This is where people like you, Anthony, become so important.  We need reviewers who can help us do what needs to be done, but is (for me at least) pretty unnatural.  I’m very thankful that you’ve give me this opportunity to share a bit about my book with your readers.

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

If you love writing, then write.  You don’t have to be published to be a writer.  Writing is a gift, and if you love it then do it.  If, however, you want to be published, then you need to write and practice writing.  You can write for the joy of it and not practice the craft of writing, but if you want to be published you need to practice the craft.  You can have a unique style.  I’m not saying you have to become Hemingway or Steinbeck, or Austen.  You can have a unique voice, but your story still needs to have a plot.  Your characters still need to be developed.  There are certain things that a story must have, and if it doesn’t, getting it published is going to be a challenge.  If you want writing to be your profession, then you need to do the work and be professional.  You can still write for the joy of it, but you have to accept the grind of it as well.  That doesn’t mean that you cannot ever flaunt convention.  Many successful writers have.  In the beginning, however, you need to prove that you can write a good story with all of the hallmarks of a skilled author.  From there, more doors open.  Above all – writers must have perseverance and thick skins.  Your writing will not resonate with everyone.  Some will not like your work, and they will be vocal about it.  Learn from the critique.  If it’s valid, use it as an education.  If it isn’t valid, put it behind you.  Don’t lose faith in your dream because someone else doesn’t like your work.  I hate Picasso’s work.  I prefer the impressionists.  Does that mean that Picasso doesn’t have an audience?  I think he did pretty well for himself.  Find your story, let your passion for writing fuel you, accept valid criticism, reject bad criticism, and keep fighting until you’ve shared your stories with as many people as you can.  If you’re really a writer – that’s why you’re here.  Stories are how you will impact the world.  Don’t quit.

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

I have begun the prequel for The Order.  I’m really excited about it.  It details the story that is in the mysterious book found by Brother Jan.  I don’t have a release date yet, but I’m hoping early in 2023 – January or February.

Interview with J.V. Hilliard 

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

Writing has been a passion since I was a child. In elementary school I was read The Hobbit by Tolkien in one of my English classes and the story opened my eyes to the fantasy world (and genre) in general. 

That Christmas I received my own copy of The Hobbit from my uncle—and the basic box set of TSR’s Dungeons & Dragons game. My family started playing the game and from that time on, my love of all things sword and sorcery grew. 

Over the years, I started to memorialize certain characters, campaigns, and unforgettable moments from my time as a player character and as a dungeon master in small, campaign-specific diaries. This collection of adventures and stories became the basis for many of the protagonists and villains in The Last Keeper—and make up various parts of the realm of Warminster.

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What inspired you to write your book?

I started writing when I was very young. My uncle was paralyzed in the Vietnam War and when he returned home, my mother was his nurse. I practically grew up by his side and the kind of activities he could engage in were limited. But writing was something he could do, and so I started into creative writing and playing Dungeons & Dragons with him as a form of escapism from real life.

I eventually took some creative writing classes in high school and then again in college, but my focus was on government, so I ended up writing every day for a living. However, writing legislation, grants, and speeches tends to be a world away from crafting fiction. In many respects, I had to flip the switch and transition from non-fiction to fiction, so I struggled early with dialogue and story pacing.  But I think my professional career prepared me to be a descriptive writer and to make sure the plot lines were buttoned up.

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

I find several themes run deep in my work including overcoming struggle and answering a call to duty. I think most people can identify with these themes in their own Well walk of life, whether it’s a physical struggle, and mental battle or even an emotional war. 

In my book, The Last Keeper, some of the main characters face these same struggles in times of war, in a forbidden romance or two, and in the way people of mixed blood in the realm are treated.

My hope is that readers will recognize that sometimes answering a call to duty or service your community is greater than selfish needs. And of course, the characters in the Last Keeper grow to understand these virtues through their own personal struggles.

What drew you into this particular genre?

Shared experiences from my various Dungeons & Dragons campaigns have always been at the heart of my work. If you are a TTRPGer, I’m sure you get this. Playing D&D with friends and family scattered through several decades really generated a lot of ideas that I could mesh into The Last Keeper, but also allowed me to go off script and away from D&D, creating unique monsters like the Antlered Man.

The D&D modules of the Ravenloft series and The Vault of the Drow were player and DM favorites and inspired many fun nights and memories, including the creation of one of the villains in The Last Keeper, Incanus Dru’Waith.

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

I think I would sit down with Sir Ritter of Valkeneer. 

In truth, he’s based on an old Dungeons and Dragons character that I played to a high level and I modeled him after Aragorn from Lord of the Rings and mixed in more than a pinch of Salvatore’s dark elven ranger,  Drizzt Do’Urden of the Dark Elf series. 

I would want to know how he handled growing up in a society that looked at him as a “trollborn,” or aa person of mixed blood. Coupled with the fact that he’s also born a low noble, he does the unenviable task of defending a very dangerous borderland and yet he’s disrespected by both his human relatives and his relatives of elven blood.

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

Twitter. The writing community there has been tremendously supportive and helpful. Most authors follow back and help with retweets, but and the marketplace for readers and buyers is very active. I receive advice, requests for autographed copies and opinions about my characters very frequently, including helpful constructive criticism from time to time. And if you have a thick skin and an open mind, most opinions and ideas are well intended. 

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

Keep writing!

Even if it’s just an outline for a chapter or ideas that you’re memorializing in your notes. Making writing habitual by setting goals—no matter how small or large. You don’t want to fall off of pace and in this day and age of the marketplace, readers expect quicker turn-arounds and more releases than ever.

Also, remember this is supposed to be fun! People read for entertainment purposes and as a writer it shouldn’t be much different for you. Writing should be an outlet to funnel your creative spirit and ideas in the right direction, but you have to have fun with it. When you do, the product is so much better.

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

Vorodin’s Lair is the second book in the Warminster series, a continuation of the story of Daemus Alaric, the low Keeper from the Cathedral of the Watchful Eye. It is due out in July or August of 2022, with the third book in the series due out around the holidays of 2022 or quarter one of 2023. 

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About the Author

Born of steel, fire and black wind, J.V. Hilliard was raised as a highlander in the foothills of a once-great mountain chain on the confluence of the three mighty rivers that forged his realm’s wealth and power for generations.

His father, a peasant twerg, toiled away in industries of honest labor and instilled in him a work ethic that would shape his destiny. His mother, a local healer, cared for his elders and his warrior uncle, who helped to raise him during his formative years. His genius brother, whose wizardly prowess allowed him to master the art of the abacus and his own quill, trained with him for battles on fields of green and sheets of ice.

Hilliard’s earliest education took place in his warrior uncle’s tower, where he learned his first words. HIs uncle helped him to learn the basics of life—and, most importantly, creative writing.

Hilliard’s training and education readied him to lift a quill that would scribe the tale of the realm of Warminster, filled with brave knights, harrowing adventure and legendary struggles. He lives in the city of silver cups, hypocycloids and golden triangles with his wife, a ranger of the diamond. They built their castle not far into the countryside, guarded by his own two horsehounds, Thor and MacLeod, and resides there to this day.

https://www.jvhilliard.com/

Interview with Judy Croome 

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

I was born in Zimbabwe and now live in South Africa. I could never find my working niche, but the one constant in my life was my love of reading. From when I was a teenager, I’d always wanted to write but lacked confidence and discipline. In my late-30s I decided to finally write! My first novel took ten arduous years, but once I wrote The End, I knew I was doing what I wanted to do.

What inspired you to write your book?

The fear and panic that swept the world when the covid pandemic began made me consider that the modern generation has such mental, emotional and spiritual pressure in a world that is so uncertain and dangerous. I wanted to explore how the pandemic deepened these challenges.

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

To inspire the belief that, no matter how bleak or dark life seems, the human spirit can face —and overcome — anything if we hold onto hope.

What drew you into this particular genre?

Poetry became my primary genre by accident. Like most authors, with ever-increasing daily demands on my time, I constantly struggled to find long periods of unfractured time to write. Wanting to write every day to keep my creative juices flowing, I discovered that I could write a poem a day until I had enough for a whole volume. 

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

Leaving book reviews on Goodreads. Keeping active on Facebook and Twitter.

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

Write every day –once you’ve started a new writing project, never miss a day of writing even if you only write 100 words a day. 

Be authentic. Try to avoid writing what you think will sell, what people say you must write. Whether you’re writing an entertaining genre novel or a literary masterpiece, leave your soul on the page.

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

Currently working on a collection of short stories, predominantly magical realism, although some of the stories have no magical realism element. Barring any unforeseen delays (like writer’s block!) that book should hit the shelves in the South African summer 2022. After that I’m toying with the idea of another volume of poetry before tackling a long-held dream of mine – a trilogy of novels starting with the Anglo-Boer War, then the South African Border War and the final book will be set in post-1994 democratic South Africa.

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About the Author

Judy Croome lives and writes in Johannesburg, South Africa. Shortlisted in the African Writing Flash Fiction 2011 competition, Judy’s short stories, poems and articles have appeared in various magazines, anthologies and newspapers, such as The Sunday Times, The Huffington Post (USA) and the University of the Witwatersrand’s Itch Magazine. In 2021 and 2016, Judy was the poetry judge for Writers2000’s Annual Writing Competition. In 2021, Judy presented an hour long workshop to Writers 2000 called “The Gift of Poetry”

Judy loves her family, cats, exploring the meaning of life, chocolate, cats, rainy days, ancient churches with their ancient graveyards, cats, meditation and solitude. Oh, and cats. Judy loves cats (who already appear to have discovered the meaning of life.)

Her fiction and poetry books ‘the dust of hope: rune poems” (2021); “Drop by Drop: poems of loss” (2020); “a stranger in a strange land” (2015),”The Weight of a Feather & Other Stories” (2013), “a Lamp at Midday” (2012) and “Dancing in the Shadows of Love” (2011) are available from Aztar Press.

“Street Smart Taxpayers: A practical guide to your rights in South Africa” (Juta Law, 2017) was co-authored with her late husband Dr. Beric Croome (1960 – 2019). Follow her on GoodReadsFacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Blog Tour Schedule:

Jan. 27: The Book Lover’s Boudoir (review)

Feb. 3: Anthony Avina Blog (review)

Feb. 8: Wall-to-Wall Books (review)

Feb. 9: Little Miss Star (review)

Feb. 17: Necromancy Never Pays (review)

Feb. 22: Review Tales by Jeyran Main (review)

March 2: Anthony Avina Blog (Interview)

March 8: True Book Addict (review)

March 17: Pages for Sanity (review)

March 22: the bookworm (review)

Follow the blog tour with the hashtag #dustofhope and @judy_croome