Interview with Author Israfel Sivad (December 2018)

1)      For any newcomers to my blog, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Well, the truth is I’ve pretty much always written. After my parents split up when I was in fifth grade, I started writing myself to sleep at night. I did that all through middle school. I wrote lyrics based on all the song structures in the liner notes to the heavy metal tapes I owned. In high school, I turned that talent into an opportunity to write lyrics for the punk rock bands I played in. I wound up collecting many of those lyrics in my book Soundtrack for the New Millennium. Then, when I went away to college, I started keeping journals, and eventually those journals evolved into stories, novels and poems.

2)      What inspired you to write your book?

We Are the Underground initially started as a project for a writing group I joined when I left New York City in 2012 to move back down to Richmond, VA for a little while. I met a group of guys and girls at a café, and they started giving me writing prompts. Eventually, after I had already written a handful of random poems, I decided I wanted a theme running through the work as a whole. The poems so far had been very personal to me. So, I decided to incorporate my childhood spirituality into the work. Having grown up in Southern California, that wasn’t quite the same as many of my peers. It was based on the mysticism and philosophies my grandmother studied. She called herself The White Witch. Those poems eventually turned into the “Zodiac Cycle,” and that determined the structure for the rest of the book.

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

I really hope readers will be inspired by We Are the Underground to create for themselves, whether that be artistically, spiritually or simply in their day-to-day lives. In addition to that, I’d love for readers to go deep with these poems and find their own meanings in them. I believe I’ve left a lot of room open for interpretation with this book. I hope people will explore all those meanings.

4)      What drew you into this particular genre?

I started writing these poems as a break from another project I was working on (the novel you reviewed earlier, Anthony, The Adversary’s Good News). The poems were able to be jotted down quickly and then revised and modified slowly over time. That allowed me to feel like I was making progress when my novel was progressing so slowly. After finishing the novel, I kept working on the poems as breaks from a handful of other, larger projects I’d started.

5)      What major differences (other than genre) did you notice when writing this book as opposed to The Adversary’s Good News? Would you say it was more difficult or easier to write this book?

Writing The Adversary’s Good News was harder than this book. The Adversary’s Good News took me nearly ten years to complete. It was a massive undertaking. The plotting and wordsmithing was unbelievable. However, We Are the Underground surprisingly required a great deal more research, particularly for the Zodiac Cycle. The Adversary’s Good News was inspired by books I’d already read. Whereas, with We Are the Underground,I spent a lot of time researching astrology for the poems themselves as well as poetic structures so that I could vary the styles and tones of each poem while simultaneously finding forms fitting each one’s content.

6)      Since we last spoke, what social media site has grown to help you connect with readers the most?

Instagram has been garnering a lot of my social media attention. I find it to be a great medium for reaching readers and interacting with the world in general.

7)      What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors or poets out there, or to anyone looking to expand and explore the poetry genre as a whole?

First, to aspiring authors and poets: Believe in yourself, and don’t give up. Nobody else can determine if you’re a writer. Only you know that. Don’t believe in artistic “gatekeepers.” Nobody else can tell you whether you’ve succeeded in accomplishing what you want to accomplish. As far as expanding and exploring the genre of poetry, I urge everybody to read everything from yesterday’s classics to today’s big press and self-published authors. Read everything from Instagram poets to The Epic of Gilgamesh. And while you’re doing all that, keep exploring what this world makes you think and feel. Write it down. Write it all down. The structures will come. You’ll discover them. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to live.

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

I’m pretty much always working on new projects. What I’m most excited about right now, though, is the first draft of a new novel I recently completed. I hope to release this project in the next year or two. It’s currently called Pomegranate Sutra, and it’s the story of how to find love when you believe you’re too damaged to ever let that emotion take hold. I look forward to sharing it with you all when it’s finally ready for publication.

About the Author

Israfel Sivad is the founder of Ursprung Collective, which has been referred to as “fantastic brain food” on ReverbNation. His first novel, “Crossroads Blues”, has been compared to the work of Fyodor Dostoevsky (Palmetto Review). His second novel, “The Adversary’s Good News”, was a finalist for the 2016 Chanticleer Paranormal Book Award. His stories and poems have appeared in the Santa Fe Literary Review, The Stray Branch and Badlands Literary Journal. 

Website: www.IsrafelSivad.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/israfel_sivad/

Twitter: twitter.com/UrsprungCollect

Facebook: www.facebook.com/UrsprungCollective/

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/ursprung-collective

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Interview with Author T.L. Hughes

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

I have been writing most of my life. When I was in the eighth grade, I had a teacher who encouraged us to use weekly vocabulary words in a paragraph that we had to recite aloud. It became a game for a few of us where we would use as many vocabulary words as we could, even using past weeks words. I began to write my own short stories and poetry shortly after that. 

2) What inspired you to write your book?

This book, like my first novel, Searching For Paradise, was inspired by my love of travel and meeting new and interesting people. When I travel, I always keep a road journal alongside me. The Sojourners is based upon a real life road trip through Europe in the 1980’s and had its basis in one of those journals. The characters and situations are fictional, although many of the characters possess the traits of some of the real life people I met along the way.

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

That life is an incredible journey and to never give up on your dreams. Every person we meet along this journey has something to teach us. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’ve loved the genre ever since I started reading the road novels of Jack Kerouac. Growing up in New England, Kerouac’s novels opened my eyes to the American west. In high school, I dreamed of traveling the highways of America (and Mexico) like he did. When I graduated from college, I finally realized that dream, always taking along a notepad and pen along with me.

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

Good question. It would probably be Decky Brady. I would ask him about his own journey into Ireland. I’d want to know what ever happened to him? Where did he end up? A later novel of mine will take place in current times, where Luke Coppens and Michael Hogan attempt to return to Europe to ty to find Decky. 

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

I’m new to social media. At this point I would have to say Goodreads, where I am beginning to get followers. I also have a Facebook page. I’m looking forward to expanding my social media presence at some point with Instagram and Twitter, however, right now I am not on those sites.

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

If you love writing and feel your best while doing it, keep doing it. Don’t be discouraged by naysayers and negative people. With platforms out there now like Kindle Direct Publishing and other services that assist Indie authors in publishing their work, this is a great time to be a writer. 

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

My next book is a novel that will be set in a New England mill town. It will be different than my road books. It centers around Mike Hogan in his early adolescent years. As Mike and his small group of friends move through childhood and adolescence, they encounter challenges and make decisions that will dramatically alter the course of their lives. I’m hoping to have this published within the next two years.

About the Author

T.L. Hughes was born in Salem, Massachusetts, and at a young age moved to Lowell, Massachusetts where he grew up, attending the local public schools through high school. After graduating from the University of Massachusetts in 1980, he headed west to California. Today, he lives in Orange County with his wife and family.

Author Interview with Anna Levine

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

My great-grandmother came to Canada in the late 1880s. She shares a passport with my great-grandfather. Beneath his photo is written Issac Yaphe. Beside him, my great-grandmother, a stern looking woman, is frowning at the photographer. Beneath her photo the passport inspector wrote, “Wife does not write.” Some years later I ended up at a writer’s residence in Eastern Canada, a few miles from where my great-grandmother had settled and farmed a small piece of land. Though I’ve been writing since my teens, keeping journals (that crowd my office space) I have that photo of my great-grandparents on my desk to remind me that I’m the great-granddaughter of the woman who immigrated to Canada as the wife “who does not write.”

What inspired you to write your book?

Curiosity. I often think the topics I write about find me. I have a series of archaeological-themed picture books about a young girl who is fascinated by history. Archaeology is one of my passions and when I can, I join a dig. I have a book for middle-grade readers that takes place in an olive grove, and last year I spent a day raking olives off the trees onto mats and scooping them up into crates. My writing has been labeled ‘realistic fiction.’ Research is my way of discovering new experiences.

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

“Birds without borders.” I live in a country where there is a lot of conflict between people. And yet, when I visit the Hula Nature Reserve and I see all the different birds from all over the world swoop in to chat with each other (imagine a family dinner where everyone has to have their say), sharing food and finding a place to rest, I think of how we could learn from nature about living together peacefully even if the ‘peace’ can get quite noisy.

What drew you into this particular genre?

Writing a picture book is like writing poetry. I have published a few poems and when I’m stuck on a project I always reach for my poetry anthologies. I enjoy the challenge of finding just the right words to create an image. One of my favorite books growing up was Madeline. I loved Madeline’s independent spirit and the illustrations that accompany the text. The combination works for me.

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

I’d love to chat with Alexandra and ask her what it feels like to sail above looking down on us. She’s been to places I’ve always dreamed of going to see.

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

I’m really enjoying this WOW blog tour (and someone has already written me to ask how to join one). I use Facebook but the contacts I have all know me. This blog tour has allowed me to get in touch with people outside my circle. I’m on Instagram and Twitter but in truth don’t know how to use them all that well. I find that social media takes a lot of time and it’s time taken from my writing. I haven’t figured out the balance yet.

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

Perseverance! It’s less about ‘write what you know’ (the old adage) but write about what excites you and what you want to learn about. Challenge yourself and discover new experiences.

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

I’m working on a cozy mystery for adults that is set in Canada. It’s presently in submission through my agent. Lots of plotting goes into constructing a mystery and it’s a new genre for me, but I’m loving it!

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Book summary

 In All Eyes on Alexandra, young Alexandra Crane is terrible at following her family in their flying Vee. She can’t help it that the world is so full of interesting distracting sights! When it’s time for the Cranes to migrate to Israel’s Hula Valley for the winter, Alexandra is excited but her family is worried. Will Alexandra stay with the group, and what happens if a dangerous situation should arise? Might Alexandra—and the rest of the flock—discover that a bad follower can sometimes make a great leader?

Based on the true story of Israel’s annual crane migration.

Print Length: 32 Pages

Genre: Children’s Picture Book

Publisher: Kar-Ben Pub

ISBN-10: 1512444391

ISBN-13: 978-1512444391

All Eyes on Alexandra is available to purchase on AmazonBarnes and NobleTarget and Thrift Books.

About the Author, Anna Levine

Anna Levine is an award-winning children’s book author. Like Alexandra Crane, the character in her latest picture book, she loves to explore new worlds. Born in Canada, Anna has lived in the US and Europe.  She now lives in Israel, where she writes and teaches.

You can find Anna Levine online at —

Author website: http://www.annalevine.org/

Twitter: @LevineAnna 

Instagram: @booksfromanna 

About the Illustrator, Chiara Pasqualotto,

Chiara Pasqualotto was born in Padua, in northern Italy, currently teaches illustration and drawing classes to children and adults, in particular in Padua during the summer at the Scuola Internazionale di Comics and in Rome. Since 2008 she’s been living in Rome and working with illustration professionally: her first picture book, Mine, All Mine! was published in 2009 by Boxer Books (UK), since then she published with Oxford University Press, Giunti, Terranuova and some American publishers (Paraclete Press, Tyndale, LearningAZ, Kar-Ben Publisher).

You can find Chiara Pasqualotto online at –

Artist website – https://romeartweek.com/en/artists/?id=1495&ida=1004

Blog: http://chiarapasqualotto.blogspot.com/

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

Explore the Best Books of 2018 at BN.com

– Blog Tour Dates


December 3rd @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Make sure you visit WOW’s blog today and read an interview with the author and enter for a chance to win a copy of the book All Eyes on Alexandra.

muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com


December 5th @ Cassandra’s Writing World

Visit Cassandra’s blog where she shares her thoughts about Anna Levine’s picture book All Eyes on Alexandra.

https://cassandra-mywritingworld.blogspot.com/

December 5th @ Break Even Books

Visit Erik’s blog where you can read Anna Levine’s guest post about how to jog your inspiration.

https://breakevenbooks.com/

December 7th @ Coffee with Lacey

Grab some coffee and visit Lacey’s blog where you can read her review of Anna Levine’s picture book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://coffeewithlacey.wordpress.com


December 8th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit Anthony Avina’s blog today where he joins in the fun of celebrating and shares information about Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

December 8th @ Christy’s Cozy Corners

Visit Christy’s blog and cozy up while you read her review of Anna Levine’s picture book All Eyes on Alexandra.

https://christyscozycorners.com/

December 9th @ Coffee with Lacey

Visit Lacey’s blog again where you can read Anna Levine’s guest post about designing your ideal writing spot.

http://coffeewithlacey.wordpress.com

December 9th @ Christy’s Cozy Corner

Visit Christy’s blog where you can read Anna Levine’s blog post about how she decided to use crane’s in her story.

https://christyscozycorners.com/


December 10th @ Thoughts in Progress

Visit Pamela’s blog where you can read Anna Levine’s guest post about how authors use anthropomorphic animals.

http://masoncanyon.blogspot.com/

December 11th @ Read. Write. Sparkle. Coffee.

Make sure you visit Jeanie’s blog today and read her thoughts about Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://www.readwritesparklecoffee.com/


December 12th @ Author Anthony Avina Blog

Visit Anthony Avina’s blog where he interviews Anna Levine, author of All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

December 13th @ Read. Write. Sparkle. Coffee.

Make sure you visit Jeanie’s blog today and read Anna Levine’s guest post about building a theme day around a picture book.

http://www.readwritesparklecoffee.com/

December 13th @ Oh for the Hook of a Book

Visit Erin’s blog where she shares her thoughts on Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

www.hookofabook.wordpress.com

December 15th @ A Storybook World

Visit Deirdra’s blog where she features Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra in a spotlight post.

http://www.astorybookworld.com/

December 17th @ World of My Imagination

Stop by Nicole’s blog today where you can read her review of Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com

December 19th @ Cassandra’s Writing World

Visit Cassandra’s blog again where you can read Anna Levine’s blog post about naming your characters.

https://cassandra-mywritingworld.blogspot.com

December 19th @ Linda’s Blog

Make sure you visit Linda’s blog today where you can read her thoughts about Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

https://www.lindaleekane.com/blog

December 20th @ Word Magic: All About Books 

Visit Fiona’s blog where you can read her review of Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

December 21st @ Bring on Lemons

Make sure you grab some lemonade and stop by Crystal’s blog today where she reviews Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

December 27th @ Linda’s Blog

Visit Linda’s blog again where you can read her interview with author Anna Levine.

https://www.lindaleekane.com/blog


December 28th @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog

Visit Beverley’s blog today you can read her review of Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/


December 31st @ Strength 4 Spouses

Visit Wendi’s blog and read Anna Levine’s guest post on learning about families and different cultures.

https://strength4spouses.blog/


January 2nd @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit author Anthony Avina’s blog where he shares his thoughts about Anna Levine’s picture book All Eyes on Alexandra. 

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

January 3rd @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog

Visit Beverley’s blog again where you can read Anna Levine’s blog post about getting into the head of your middle-grade characters.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

January 4th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit author Anthony Avina’s blog again where you can read Anna Levine’s blog post about using fiction to write non-fiction.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

January 7th @ Strength 4 Spouses Blog

Visit Wendi’s blog again where you can read her thoughts about the book All Eyes on Alexandra by Anna Levine.

https://strength4spouses.blog/


Author Interview with Francis Moss

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

I’ve always written. I remember sitting at my parent’s Underwood and typing out stories, probably about dogs, cats or spacemen. In college, I wrote for the school paper and a couple of local papers, the Berkeley Barb and the San Francisco Express-Times. In 1979, a friend asked me what I wanted to do with my life. “I want to be a writer,” I said. She said: “Write for television. That’s where the money is.”

I took her advice and cranked out a few spec scripts for TV shows I liked. One of them got the attention of the producer of Buck Rogers, and I wound up writing two episodes, which got me into The Writers’ Guild. Then the Guild went on strike, and I, with a family to support, needed work. A local company, Filmation, was looking for writers for a new cartoon show, She-Ra, Princess of Power (cartoon writers were not in the Guild). I got on staff at the show, wrote and edited a bunch, and spent the rest of my TV career writing ‘toons, along with a few non-fiction books for kids.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

This sounds like a line from a bad movie, but it came to me in a dream. I was sitting in an office with – of all people! – Mindy Kalin, who was reading a script I’d written. In my waking life, I’d never have thought of pitching to her. She put it down and turned to me: “This is pretty good. Did you write it?” My dream self was offended, and I replied: “No. I got it from the Story Store.” (it’s a writer’s jokey answer to the question, “where do you get your ideas?”). My book, once called “The Story Store” came to me. Of course pretty much everything including the title, got changed.

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

I don’t think much about messages. I mostly write things I’d like to read. A reviewer pointed out a theme in Losing Normal  of “screen addiction.” So let’s go with that.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’ve always written for kids. I am a twelve-year old boy in an old man’s body.

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

My first thought was, I’d like to ask Sophie how she could think that adoration from mind-numbed people had anything to do with ‘perfection.’ That seems pretty tongue-in-cheeky, though. I ought to have a more serious answer.

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

None of them so far. I have some Facebook friends, a few Twitter followers. But I’m lousy at it.

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

Read a lot. Write a lot. Don’t wait for ’inspiration.’ Find other writers, either IRL on online, and share your stories. Do something for your writing life every day.

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

My current project is promoting the hell out of Losing Normal (hence this prompt reply to your questions).
Books: I’ve got more stories to tell than I have time to write. KillGirl  is my next one (currently 50K+ words in a 2nd draft): a teenage girl seeks revenge for the murders of her grandparents. After that, a middle-grade adventure (maybe a series), about a young boy in WW II England; and a science-fiction story about the multiverse.

Losing Normal is available at Amazon.com:
https://www.amazon.com/Losing-Normal-Francis-Moss/dp/1732791023/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42746625

I am available (more or less) at: https://www.francismoss.com
https://facebook.com/fcmoss
https://twitter.com/fcmoss

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About the Author

Francis Moss has written and story-edited hundreds of hours of scripts on many of the top animated shows of the 90s and 00s. Beginning his television work in live-action with Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, he soon starting writing cartoons on She-Ra, Princess of Power, Iron Man, Ducktales, and a four-year stint on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, writing and story-editing more episodes than you can swing a nuchaku at. 

One of his TMNT scripts, “The Fifth Turtle,” was the top-rated script among all the 193 episodes in a fan poll on IGN.COM. A list of his television credits is at IMDB.COM.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Losing-Normal-Francis-Moss/dp/1732791023/ 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42746625

www.francismoss.com

Interview with Author James Rosenberg

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

I am a lawyer, married and have three kids.  Those are probably the three most important areas of my life.  When my kids were small, I started telling them long, involved stories that were embellishments of my real life.  One of them, a story about a lawyer with a soccer prodigy son, will be my next book coming out.  What I found is I could tell stories that used plot as a way to develop character.  I realized I loved stories that constantly moved and disliked narrative that was bogged down with description.  My stories depict what happens when a character is faced with difficult choices, which ultimately, I believe, is incredibly revealing.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I always wonder what is stronger, friendship or the drive for personal enrichment (money).  In my novel, one of the key plot drivers is that three long-time friends are forced to take the opposite sides of an important trial.  The three met the first day in law school but later in their careers find themselves as the attorney representing a woman suing a big company, the lawyer for the company and the judge in the trial.  I thought about all of the major conflict that could arise when each wants to do their best professionally, and how that could affect their friendship.  I have dealt in my career with some lawyers who are highly professional and others who will do virtually anything to win.  What happens if there is a mix of those types in an important case?  Every trial has enough stress.  Add in some volatile personalities and the results can be explosive.

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

With every character in the book, you will some good and some not so good.  The three main characters start in the same place ethically.  They are young and impressionable when they are in law school.  Yet just a few years later, they are in completely different places.  Mike still wants to help people and make a positive impact.  Jeri wants to avenge her feelings of rage since almost being raped.  Jack now just wants to become partner at his big law firm and make even more money. 

Sometimes a person doesn’t even realize when he is going down a path that leads towards becoming a lesser person.  Ultimately, lawyers are shaped by their environment.  The people a new lawyer works with teach them how to practice law ethically or how to cut corners.  Good often has to be nurtured and in its absence evil lurks.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

That one is easy.  I’m a lawyer and have been one for too long.  I have been through many trials and think most people find the drama inherent in a courtroom compelling.  I certainly do.  I know I can describe what happens in a courtroom with realism—and I think in a way that brings out the conflict.

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

I love Jack as a character.  He so flawed, but to me so human.  His primary motivation is success/money, and he lets the ultimate rewards dictate his actions.  I would want to ask Jack if he can see himself the way others see him and whether he would like what he saw.  He has so many good traits—He’s smart, witty, and an incredibly hard worker.  People want to be around him and he’s a leader.  But does he realize what path he’s put himself on because he has only one goal—money?

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

This is my first published book and I am just learning how to market.  I am extremely unsophisticated when it comes to marketing.  I also consider myself to be one of the world’s worst self-promotors.  I am trying however.  So once I learn better how to use social medial to attract readers, I will come back and answer this question again.

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

If you like writing, keep writing.  Write about things that interest you.  Don’t worry what other people like.  If you are moved by your writing, others will be also.

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

I am still working at being a lawyer, but I am trying to write every day.  I am finishing up my next book, The Jersey, about the lawyer with a son who is a soccer prodigy.  It has a significant tragedy in it, but look at it as ultimately uplifting (as much as it can be after such a tragedy).  I have also started by next novel which has a young, rebellious student who kills the president and the effect this has on his family. 

Author Interview with Benjamin Davis

I’ve always loved stories. Eventually, I tried to write one. It was terrible. But my mother, bless her, she read it and said, “have you ever thought about being a writer?” And I laughed, and said, “psh–no. I’m still going to be an astronaut.” I was twenty-one at the time. But I have terrible vision and can’t afford lasik, so the astronaut thing still hasn’t worked out.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

My name is Benjamin Davis. I am an American writer and Journalist living in St. Petersburg. I grew up in a no-name town in Massachusetts where I was more likely to hear horse sex or a pack of wolves eating a rabbit than cars driving by or drunks fighting, as I do now. I work as a freelance editor, tech-journalist, native-speaking-content-monkey, and social media manager for English speaking markets. To cope with the sterility of corporate writing, my fiction sometimes gets a little out of hand. From 2016-2017, I wrote one story every day for a year for the project Flash-365, creating a community of people who appreciate the short-winded and the weird. To me it is where I found my voice and where most of my stories found their home. May of 2018 my first book The King of FU was published.

Personal website

Facebook

Instagram

Goodreads

Patreon

The King of FU Landing Page

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Author Interview:

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

I’ve always loved stories. Eventually, I tried to write one. It was terrible. But my mother, bless her, she read it and said, “have you ever thought about being a writer?” And I laughed, and said, “psh–no. I’m still going to be an astronaut.” I was twenty-one at the time. But I have terrible vision and can’t afford lasik, so the astronaut thing still hasn’t worked out.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I couldn’t remember my childhood very well, so I just started asking family members and writing down the bits I could remember myself. It was more of a mental exercise to try and track what the hell happened along the way to turn me into such a dysfunctional adult. At first it was only thirty pages, then as the years went by, I would go back to it again and again with whatever new memory I had or new story I heard. In the end the whole process was on and off for about seven years. I didn’t set out to write a book originally, I was just hunting for some traumatic experience, some explanation–but no, just another privileged middle-class white kid with a lot of embarrassing childhood habits and an overactive imagination.

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

It depends who is reading it. A lot of the book focuses on those weird embarrassing situations and feelings that we all have as children that we desperately shove into dark corners of our mind as adults. I always felt like I had no one to talk to about these sorts of things as a kid because all adults were pretending like they never happened to them. But really, everyone still has an embarrassing dirty child inside their head, and in their past.  I just hope that readers will walk away from my book and think, “well–I guess it’s okay that I still pick my nose after my wife falls asleep.”

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I enjoy magical realism because it gives you the ability to make a statement about something without spending ten pages on exposition to do it. If the main character has horns and fur, you probably get that he feels different, there is no need for me to go all Holden Caufield on people to get my point across.

5) What authors or poets were a source of inspiration for you when writing these poems and this book overall?

To be honest, I never saw it as poetry. Or–well, I never intended it that way. I wrote it how it felt to think about it, if that makes any sense. I do have poets I’ve idolized over the years; Sylvia Plath, Charles Baudelaire, T.S. Eliot. But I was more inspired by writers who used a lot of honesty and humor to shape their real-life stories like Bill Bryson and David Sedaris.

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

Much of our audience came from our website Flash-365. I wrote a story every day for a year and Nikita drew a picture to match each story. It was an arduous process for sure, but some of that audience translated over. I live in Russia and here everyone uses Telegram. I have a channel on there where we post stories and updates and it is a direct messenger notification for readers, so it works really well for directing traffic to new stories and engaging people on a more personal level. My girlfriend is an SMM goddess, so she manages my Instagram and Facebook and all of that. Without her I am pretty hopeless.

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

Be prepared and patient. It isn’t like in the movies where the main character is a writer and by the end everyone is like, “OMG I read your story in the New Yorker!” or the long-lost lovers bump into each other as one or the other walks out of a stylish and well-publicized reading. It’s a load of crap, Hollywood is full of lies, beautiful lies–but lies none the less. I would say, if someone is serious, save money. Pay to get your work well edited, once, twice, three times. Take a few weeks off after all of that, burn the book, cry, start over and then pay for another round of edits. Then, if you want to publish traditionally, get ready. It is a damn process. This means finding, and sometimes paying for services and memberships to get access to agents, educating yourself, figuring out what the f*ck a query letter is supposed to say and then waiting, waiting, waiting, then eventually you die and hopefully your grandchildren know how to write a query letter.

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

We’ve just released a bilingual (Russian-English) novelette titled “The Babushka Society.” (http://a.co/d/h4L5unT

) It is illustrated by the same artist as The King of FU and we worked in collaboration with a podcast She’s In Russia (S.I.R.) to turn it into a radio drama which is available for free on their podcast (https://soundcloud.com/shes-in-russia/73-the-babushka-society). That was the past couple of months, I have recently created a Patreon page to showcase my projects and collaborations where each month I plan to collaborate with someone to create something new; radio dramas, short films, audiobooks, comics, tickle-porn. Who knows. (https://www.patreon.com/benjamindavis)

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AMAZON GIVEAWAYS

The Babushka Society

The King of FU

Author Interview with Jason Arias

Writing was my outlet for all the things I saw at work, all the things I had neglected in my head throughout my life, all the emotions I’d pushed down because I didn’t want (or know how) to deal with them. Writing became my therapist.

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

  1. I wrote some when I was a kid and teenager. My wife and I started a family early and married when we were twenty. For the next fifteen years I wrote very little. It was about working, putting food on the table, and spending time as a family. Once I established a job as a paramedic I was so sick of reading technical books that I developed a deep hunger for fiction. I wouldn’t call it a problem, but definitely an addiction. I read a lot trying to make up for lost time.

In my thirties I attended one of Chuck Palahniuk’s book launches. Lidia Yuknavitch was his guest reader. I read her book The Chronology of Water. That memoir blew me my face off. The way the tragic coupled with the humorous. The heart left on those pages. A year or two later I realized Lidia was teaching fiction classes at my local community college. With the kids getting to that age where dad (I) was way less than cool to hang with, I found I had a little extra time. The first class turned into a second. The end of the second class rolled into a weekly writing critique group for the next couple of years with some of my peers.

Writing was my outlet for all the things I saw at work, all the things I had neglected in my head throughout my life, all the emotions I’d pushed down because I didn’t want (or know how) to deal with them. Writing became my therapist. The cheapest and most fulfilling therapy I’ve ever had. I told Lidia that one day during my mid-terms conference and she didn’t laugh. She just nodded. I can, without question, point to that first fiction class with Lidia Yuknavitch as the catalyst for everything I’ve published since.

What inspired you to write your book?

It’s really just a product of continually upping the ante. The first goal was just to get a story published. Anywhere. Then to get five published. Then to get one hundred rejections. After creating and reworking a story every week or two for a number of years I had somewhere around thirty stories published in different places and a bunch of unpublished pieces. At that point I felt like I’d stopped moving forward and was moving in circles. That’s the story I tell myself.

The real story is that my writer-ly friends kept asking, “So when are you going to write a book?” And after some self-evaluation, I realized that I kind of already had.

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

Definitely the themes written on the back jacket are in there (life and death, identity and race, change and resistance to change). There are also themes that question presuppositions about family and masculinity and decision making. But hopefully readers get more out of it than I even realize I’ve put into it. And I hope they get a hold of me and tell me what they find.

I use writing as a way of sorting out what’s confounding about myself or the world or a specific idea. In a sense these stories are writing themselves while I’m trying to pull pieces of answers out of them to build a more comprehensive picture. I’m hungry for these pieces. Every time someone tells me what they’ve gotten from a story they’re given me another piece. It’s like we’re filling in this puzzle together. A puzzle with no box picture. No edge pieces.

I guess what I’m saying is that I know what these stories mean to me, but I’m more interested in hearing what somebody else sees in them. I’m so much more interested in my blind spots.

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What drew you into this particular genre?

Part of what’s always drawn me to short stories is their conciseness. Everybody has time for a short story. There’s an economy to them. Every word is essential. There’s this close, tight world that you can explore these big ideas through. Short stories are sneaky like that.

Also, some of my favorite authors have great works in the genre. People like Junot Diaz, Amy Hempel, Larry Brown, Joy Williams, Scott McClanahan, Elizabeth Ellen, Roxane Gay, Denis Johnson, Mary Gaitskill, Ray Donald Pollock, Lorrie Moore, and so many more. To be able to feel or invoke such emotion from so few pages is like a magic trick. BTW if you haven’t already read Friday Black and Heads of Colored People seek them out. These collections are bringing short story to the cultural foreground.   

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

I would ask Lacey from Inner Workings what she ever saw in Uncle Timmy. Because, really, she’s better than that.

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

As much as it pains me, I’d probably have to say Facebook has been the most connecting social media to my readership up to this point. I can link people to my blog, places to buy the book, and promote upcoming readings the easiest there. But to be honest I’m not a great social media user. I don’t get it like my kids do. I’m a little afraid of it. And probably for these reasons, even though I’ve gotten the best results from Facebook, vs. Instagram or Twitter, they’re still not good.

I was just talking to a fellow author and friend at Indies First and he was saying how the best way for indie authors to find their audience is still face-to-face, at readings and bookstores. The downside is that it’s on an individual basis and amounts to small handfuls at a time. It’s a grind and, unless you travel a lot, it’s largely regional. But it’s a start. Unless you’re getting major media or large publishing house help the personal gigs might get you the most loyal bang for your buck.

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

Read. A lot. Write. A lot. Read more than you write, and write a ton. While you’re doing that, have people that know more than you be honest with you about your writing. And understand that they’re not doing it to hurt you. Unless they are. Either way you’ll learn where you need improvement. Be thankful for them.

Find a way to love the editing process. Millionaires on Mtv’s Cribs always used to say, “This is where the magic happens,” and then open the door to their bedroom. For us writers the magic happens on the cutting room floor. Start butchering. Maybe leave a little fat for flavor. Foreplay for a well-honed piece is the Backspace button.

Once you’ve finished the feedback loop of cut up, dressed up and re-critique then send that baby out into the big bad world. While it’s out keep honing other pieces. Know that your words, experiences, and perspective matter but they might take a while to find a home. It’s really just about making the right match. Anybody on dating sites probably already knows that can take some time.

Finally, if you have the chance to take a workshop or class with an author you really respect, do it. It could prove to be an invaluable experience.

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

I’ll keep promoting Momentary Illuminations of Objects In Motion to try to give it the best shot possible, but I’m always writing new pieces. I’m always sending shorter stuff out. I’m also currently researching and plotting for my first novel. It takes place in the early to mid-1900s in a West Coast resort town that ended up slowly falling into the ocean.  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jason Arias’ stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Momentary Illumination of Objects In Motion is his first short story collection. 

He has worked as a hospital patient food courier, charter bus after-event cleaner, DMV records consolidator, lithography product deliveryman, one-hour photo developer, cashier, vinyl windows warehouse worker, UPS loader, EMT, paramedic, firefighter, LYFT driver, specimen collector, and sometimes a writer. 

Author’s Website: http://jasonariasauthor.com/

Author’s Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/jasonariasauthor/