Interview with Author Carol Es

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

I started writing around the age of 12. I’d been quite illiterate to begin with because I missed out on a lot of schooling. I wrote indecipherable poetry filled with angst—stream-of-consciousness diary entries about wanting to get away from my abusive situation. It wasn’t until I started reading my favorite writers before I’d make any attempt at any real writing. I never wrote full time because I also played the drums and painted. I was most serious about music at the very start.   

I fell in love with authors like JD Salinger, Tom Robbins, and Charles Bukowski and buried my nose in everything they wrote. Salinger’s Nine Stories made me want to be a short story writer. Then, I read Bukowski’s Ham on Rye and that truly changed my life forever. He gave me a lot of freedom to be myself as an artist. Then came John Fante, He’s now just about my favorite writer.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I always knew I’d write this book. I just didn’t know if I’d ever publish it. Not as nonfiction anyway. I’ve always written autobiographical fiction and wrote a lot of dark comedy stories about my family. I figured I’d put them together as a collection or something, but I didn’t think I could string them into one long book. I didn’t believe in myself enough. I’d tried to write whole novels in the past and failed. Eventually, I wanted to try again. And again. And again. It took me almost a decade to finish this book, and as the years went on, Shrapnel took several different directions.

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

I really don’t have a direct intention for what my readers should or shouldn’t take away. This is the same philosophy I have with putting any of my art out on display. The work has two lives; the one it’s lived with me during its process, then the life it lives once it’s completed. It now lives with the audience and becomes their personal, individual experience. I can only hope people can identify with it on some level.

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4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Interestingly enough, I’d mostly been inspired by fictional stories that were written in a nonfiction, first-person format, such as Alice Walker’s The Color PurplePush by Sapphire, Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Alison, and Bee Season by Myla Goldberg. Dorothy Allison’s book is based on her real life and I originally wanted to take this approach, but my partner, Michael Phillips (also a writer), got me to change it to nonfiction. He got me to see how much more powerful it could be. I didn’t think anyone would believe it, and frankly I was fearful of putting my story out there. Now I’m grateful for his encouragement because it’s made me a stronger person.

5) There were quite a few different sides to your story that were heartfelt, emotional and powerful enough to convey your struggle to the reader. In regards to your experience within Scientology, if you could sit down and ask any of the leaders of the group a question or confront them in any way, what would you want to say to them?

I do not think anything I could ask or say to the leader, David Miscavage, that would ultimately change anything. As far as I’m concerned, and as the public continues to hear evidence of the stories regarding his abuse and destruction, he is a megalomaniac with blinders on. He has no conscious when making his ends meet, whatever they may be. Challenging his motives would only make things worse for his enemies and Scientologists alike.

Having once been a devout Scientologist, I’d rather address Scientologists in general and ask that they try to consult their gut. I would tell them that people that speak out against religions that abuse their members are not evil. Cutting off a dialogue with them doesn’t fix the situation. Disconnecting from people labeled “suppressive” only further isolates your mind to stick with like-minded Scientology kin. How will you find understanding with the rest of the world that way? And are you really the one who controls your communication?

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

Keeping a blog is key, as well as slowly adding to my mailing list. I put out a newsletter a few times a year and am careful not to “spam” my list with too many superfluous email blasts. I make sure I announce my blog posts on all my social media outlets. Facebook and ello are my most successful.

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

You can always get better at writing by reading. Read a lot and a wide range of genre. Don’t give up, but don’t try too hard either. Try not to listen to other people’s opinions—that may possibly kill the best thing about your style and voice. Just be mindful of it anyway, because not everyone knows what they’re talking about. Strunk & White’s Elements of Style is almost the only thing you’ll ever need. But if you like spending $100K on college, do what you like.

The most important piece of advice I have is: despite rejection at seemingly every turn, you can do this. We are all stronger than we think.

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On a separate note, if you were to be able to speak to anyone who has questioned the practices of Scientology or has been approached to possibly join the group, what would you want to say to them or what advice would you want to give them based on your own experiences? 

I feel I’ve pretty much answered this and choose not to dig a deeper hole. But I would refer current members of Scientologists to Dr. Robert J. Lifton’s Eight Criteria to reevaluate their situation.

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

Right now I am finishing up new artwork for my big book launch and solo exhibit at the gallery that represents me in Los Angeles, Craig Krull Gallery. The show opens Saturday April 13th, 2019 at 4pm with a reading and a short Q&A. I will then sign books until the artist’s reception that goes from 5-8pm. The show runs until May 25.

I’m also putting the finishing touches on the special lettered edition of Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley, which is limited to 30 copies only. It is hard-bound in linen and comes with original artwork inside.

I plan to take a short hiatus over the summer and begin working on a book of short stories in the fall. I’d like to publish them with watercolor illustrations by 2020. 

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Author Bio

Carol Es

Carol Es is a self-taught artist, writer, and musician born in Los Angeles. Using a wide variety of media, she is known for creating personal narratives that transform a broken history into a positive resolution. Her paintings, drawings, installations, videos, and books have been exhibited nationwide in venues such as Riverside Art Museum, Torrance Art Museum, Lancaster Museum of Art and History, and Craft Contemporary in Los Angeles. Some of her works can be found in the collections at the Getty and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC. Her collaborative film was also featured in the 2015 Jerusalem Biennale. 

Awarded many honors, including several grants from the National Arts and Disability Center and California Arts Council, she is a two-time recipient of the ARC Grant from the Durfee Foundation, a Pollock-Krasner Fellowship, and the Wynn Newhouse Award. She has written articles of art critique for the Huffington Post and Coagula Art Journal, as well as having poetry published with small presses. She also received a writing grant from Asylum-Arts—a Global Network for Jewish Culture.

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Interview with Author Rebecca Henry

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

I’m currently living abroad in England with my husband and kids. We absolutely love living in England and have been traveling the world for the past twelve years. I have always been a writer and before I could write words I was pretending to write stories with squiggle markings on paper. I took to poetry at the age of ten, and kept a writing journal in my backpack, which I took everywhere with me. By the time I was nineteen, my poems were published in various school magazines, anthologies, poetry journals, ezines, and websites.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

Louisiana Latte was 100% inspired by my diva sister, Deb, and a business trip we took together to Louisiana. I’ve always been fascinated by Deb’s audacious personality and electric passion for life. It was never a question of if I would write a book inspired by her character, but when.

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

Firstly, I hope readers get a good laugh from the book. I want to make people laugh and feel good while reading Louisiana Latte – that was my soul intention for writing the book. I purposely made it a quick read, so that it could be light and airy. Something you can pick up while waiting at the doctor’s office, read a chapter, and have a laugh. I feel like the main themes and message in this story is grounded in family (sisters in particular) the bonds we create that last a life time, and the lasting impressions they have on us.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Having a diva for a sister! I wanted to embrace the chick-lit genre by incorporating humor, and lots of fun with being a girl! Chick-lit is a great genre and I’m truly excited to have written a book within it.

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

If I could sit down and have a conversation with one character from my book I would choose Agatha Broccoli. I would ask her why on earth would she choose to have eyelash implants made from her own human hair.

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

I actually repel technology and being tech savvy is not my thing. I’m the happiest in the garden or outside on a walk. I do not have any social media sites; however, I appreciate how valuable social media is and I could not have progressed as an author without it. Goodreads and blogs have all been instrumental and invaluable to me. Bloggers, such as yourself, really are the fiber in the thread.

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

My advice to aspiring authors is to stick with it. Just keep writing, keep carrying on and don’t stop until you have your book completed on your computer. I’ve seen aspiring authors begin strong in their book and then drop in the middle. That’s a very dangerous place to stop. You have to keep pushing and keep going. Finish the book!

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

Yes, I have another book completed, Conjure Lake, which is a fantasy-thriller and I’m working on another novel in the making. I might even like to do a Louisiana Latte 2! The many adventures of Deb continue. Ha-ha.

About the Author

I am a newly published author with one novel released and another book coming out for publication, in February 2019. I am also a world traveller, living abroad. I have many interests and hobbies in life, besides my greatest passion of all, my family. I am also a vegan, gardener, crafter, and I practice yoga regularly.

Author Interview with W.R. Anderson

The Case Files of Doctor Arthur Lyons Medical Examiner

by

W. R. Anderson

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

As a forensic pathologist I’ve been involved in thousands of cases involving deaths wherein there is some suspicious circumstance, the death is related to trauma and the cause and mechanism of injury may become important, the cause of death is unknown, or is the result of the action of another—particularly instances of homicide, medical negligence or when the victim is under the control of a State agency, such as in police custody.

While there is an increased interest in forensic science on the part of the citizenry, often as in any field, some of the intricacies involved in the actual practice of those sciences may not be particularly apparent to them. And sometimes this obscuring may be other than inadvertent.

One of the objectives of this series of case studies by our fictional medical sleuth is to uncover some of the problems that are often ‘under the radar’ of the people not directly associated with the field, as is the case with all of us when dealing with areas that we don’t encounter every day.

Hopefully, this will be at least a little informative.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I think the general public, including when those folks serve on juries, have the impression that forensic science is an exact process, and very black-and-white, basically immune from the outside influences that might tend to prejudice a case. The reality is quite different with often considerable political pressures being exerted to come up with a result that will help the prosecution (the State) which most often is the employer of the very scientists who are trying to be ‘independent’.

In the late 1800’s the birth of forensic science was fostered to some extent at least, by a number of writers who featured protagonists who utilized investigative techniques and critical thinking in their approach to solving crimes—and some real ways enlightened people as to how science might vastly improve law enforcement investigations.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes would obviously stand out as a prime example of what I am referencing. Holmes not only used deductive reasoning in his approach to investigative problems, but also suggested many avenues wherein science, including chemistry and forensic analysis, could help solve crimes.

It really is these types of methodologies seemingly pure ‘science fiction’ at the time, that led to the development of many of the disciplines we now have in the field of forensic science and pathology.

Now that the science has been established, it is necessary to critically address the potential problems that might arise when actual people perform these ‘scientific’ exams, and the human errors that would possibly compromise the integrity and accuracy of those determinations.

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

Despite the precision and objectivity that science brings to the field of forensic analysis, we must remember that although the methods and techniques are accurate and free from bias, the humans that perform those techniques and utilize those methods are a different story, and subject to the potential for errors in the performance of the analysis, as well as potential bias in the equally important interpretation of the results that they generate.

We see in all of the cases that Dr. Arthur Lyons investigates that while the facts may be relatively clear and straight forward, the issues can be rapidly clouded and complicated when the politics of human nature becomes involved.

There is consistently the most frequent problem that is encountered by our hero, and in reality reflects situations encountered almost daily by forensic sciences in dealing with a legal system that places a priority on winning, and scientists that are trying to bring objective analyses of medicolegal situations to the court—with the goal of educating the jury to the truths they are trying to explain.

It is important that potential biases be recognized in order that the public doesn’t automatically equate ‘forensic science’ with absolute fact when confronted with information that might be presented to them as irrefutable ‘scientific fact’ most critically when they deal with some aspect of the criminal justice system. In this case, it is good to be skeptical!

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

As a practicing physician and forensic pathologist and having experienced many of the issues in common with our protagonist Dr. Lyons, this seemed to be an area that I knew at least a little about, and since these are fictional accounts, they are constructed in a manner to address some of the real-life issues encountered in the practice of forensic pathology in the real world.

5) Of all the cases in your novel, is there one in particular that you found compelling or captivating more so than the other cases mentioned in the book? For instance the Boy in the Mat case really held my attention as it mirrored a real life case that has captivated and made me eager to see justice done for quite some time, and reading the story here only served to heighten my interest in that case. 

As I indicated earlier, although the case studies are fictional and not necessarily base upon actual case situations, the issues addressed were based upon a composite of experiences and problems encountered in the real-world medical practices of many forensic pathologists.

There are a number of concerns addressed in each of the case studies in Volume One, that include the political intrigue and cover-up in the ‘Rough Ride’ case, the failure to acknowledge the clear evidence of a non-accidental death in the ‘Gym Mat’ case, and the conviction of a young Black teenager, fleeing a law enforcement officer firing indiscriminately into a darkened vehicle—claiming that he ‘ran over’ that officer despite the absence of impact injuries and a dashcam video that clearly refuted the facts upon which he was convicted.

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

Well we’re still in the early stages of getting this project off the ground, but we’re using FaceBook primarily as well as email to various contacts. The plan is to continue as e-book on Amazon and within a few months expand to at least a paperback format.

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

Everybody has areas of expertise, and it is usually in those areas that the person is most knowledgeable and consequently most comfortable.

Personally, I think there is great potential in utilizing real life experiences as the basis for fictionalization and in doing so can extract certain factual situations and expand them thru ‘poetic license’ to address larger issues—utilizing this as a potential vehicle to both enhance awareness of a problem and provide impetus for action to correct it.

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

There is, either happily or unfortunately, (depending your perspective) a plethora of cases both from recent events and from my professional experience that continue to address the issues and raise the controversies that fueled the first volume of case studies.

Clearly we title the first book as ‘Volume 1” indicating that there were more to come and consequently plan to have a second installment in the series ready for publication by late summer of this year (2019), which will include several more case studies addressing the problems and the successes of our hero in the pursuit of justice in the practice of forensic medicine.

You can read the review of W.R. Anderson’s book here!

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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

Christmas Eve Dinner Cruise

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.

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