Tag Archives: blog interview

Interview with Author Opëshum

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

 Thank you for this question. Actually, when I ponder this I would say it was writing that got into me. I focused early on around being a filmmaker and fashioned myself standing somewhere between the Director and the lead camera person, cooking up visual recipes for words that were trapped on paper. Although I still have a penchant for writing screenplays, I have found myself so focused on creating written content that writing now feels like home.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

 People often ask this question, and they are often uncomfortable with my answer. But I am wedded to the truth. This entire series is my interpretation of a conversation I am honored to be having with extraterrestrial beings.

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

 Book 1, Beyond the Father, is meant to be a key. I am hoping it will not only unlock the door through which readers can enter into the world of Xżyber, but I truly hope it gives readers a chance to dive into areas in which they may otherwise be uncomfortable: pondering the imperfections of a god, examining the face of death, creating alternative meanings for what it may in fact mean to exist. I hope readers of Beyond the Father will come away with the confidence that they were born with the right to question…everything.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

 The endless possibilities within both SciFi and Fantasy writing is a very rewarding space for a writer, and before I starting working in this space I was a huge fan of what SciFi and fantasy offers both writers and readers. It allows one to meander out past the guardrails of what we believe reality is. It’s is on the outskirts of “reality” where writers in this genre are given the chance to create their most interesting work.

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

 I would have to pose one question to Flexix, who has been jealous ever since I was selected by the Xżyberians to tell their story. He has not agreed with my treatment of the Book, and his envy has caused him to be mildly disruptive. If he would agree to sit down with me, I would ask him what it will take to calm him down!

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

 The strong reading community on Goodreads, and it’s variety of platforms is a world all of its own. My publisher, 1iR3 Publishers LLC, has really appreciated that and they introduced me to the platform.

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

 Definitely connect with readers on a personal basis whenever possible. When a reader reaches out and tells you that your book broke through and reached them, take the time to thank them and let that reader know how very much their thoughts and opinions mean to you. At the end of the day, the writing that matters most is not about the number of books we sell. It’s more about the quality of our work and our ability to connect with humanity.

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

 I will be releasing Book 2 of this series at the end of next year, and I am currently refining Episode 4 of that volume. Readers who follow me on Goodreads will have the benefit of seeing an iterative cover reveal ceremony that will span over several months leading up to the launch of Book 2. I hope they enjoy this upcoming journey with me!

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About the Author

Opëshum has been writing since she was a child, and believes that authors are selected by their characters to bring their stories to the world. Incredibly shy and introverted, Opëshum does not make public appearances. She prefers to remain behind the scenes as the characters in her books take center stage. Her current work, the 8-Book SciFi Epic gods on Trial: The Series™ kicks off with Book 1, BEYOND THE FATHER.  

Opëshum calls Sheridan, Wyoming her home, where she is currently writing Book 2 of this series. She lives in a modest Cape Cod dwelling on 3 acres of land where she lets a robust variety of sunflowers grow wild and untamed, while Aloe Vera and other succulents decorate almost every ledge within her house. An avid writer in the early morning and late at night, Opëshum often works on her manuscripts in rooms lit only by homemade candles.

She enjoys nature walks, full moons, and open spaces where she can stare up at the stars. 

“I live my life in the shadows, and I am shy. For I know that my appearance is not pleasing to the eye.” – Opëshum Patroz

Interview with Author Deborah Kaminski 

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

About ten years ago, I came down with a strange malady. I was exhausted and had to spend most of the time in bed. No doctor could help. While I was slowly recovering, I thought “Wouldn’t it be interesting if you could see the past through the eyes of an ancestor.” I played around with story ideas and settled on a satisfying ending, which I will not reveal for obvious reasons. Once I knew the ending, I crafted the plot to get there. Sometimes, all a writer needs is time to think. 

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

I love stories with adventure where characters travel to exotic places and make great discoveries. My lead character, Brooke, is a young scientist who has to battle not only at her present-day university, but also in the rather uncomfortable middle ages. I love history, and I researched diligently before writing. Don’t worry, though, I only used the most interesting bits of what I learned.

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

Brooke faces many obstacles on her long quest, but she persists. Perseverance even against established authority (maybe especially against them) is a major theme. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’ve been reading science fiction and doing research since the age of eight. Science is my first love and my lifelong passion. By profession, I am a professor of mechanical engineering. Write what you know is the old adage for writers. I’m following that.

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

I would like to know more about Prof. Hunter, Brooke’s thesis adviser. Hunter reveals nothing personal about herself, yet she is a key person in Brooke’s life. College students do sometimes wonder who that “sage on the stage” is who has been assigned to teach them. Hunter is also the most unpredictable character during the novel. Who is she, anyway? Does she have a family, a dog, a secret life??

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

I’ve gotten some traction on Facebook, that lumbering giant. I started with family and friends and then used their advertising platform. Goodreads has been helpful as well. I just did an interview on Narrated, a podcast about audio books. I listen to podcasts every day, and I’m not alone.

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

I’ve spent time (before COVID) at writer’s conventions getting the lay of the land. Other writers are very helpful in sharing their stories and giving you hints. I liked some advice and not others, but I was always enriched by it. When I was just starting, I was reluctant to share my ideas with anyone before I had everything written out. That was a mistake. Feedback is key. I am now brave enough to share first drafts with my writer’s group.

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

I’m working on the second draft of my fourth novel, a tale about colonizing Mars. As usual, the story has a twist. While the astronauts are heading on the first trip to Mars, a blockbuster asteroid strikes Earth. Who’s in more trouble – the astronauts or the ones left behind? Well… I’m still writing!

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About the Author

I am a traveler, an explorer, and a dreamer. My fiction takes you to exotic places that I love and treats you to new ideas to chew on. Before my writing career, I was immersed in scientific research, working at General Electric, RPI, and the National Science Foundation, so it may not surprise you that my science fiction is of the hard variety – striving for internal consistency and (more or less) realistic possibilities. You can count on me for an adventure with a satisfying ending.

Interview with Author S.L. Lucas

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

Firstly, I want to thank Anthony for this interview opportunity and for his review of Driveway Detailing Warrior click here to see Anthony’s review.

I was born and raised in the South East of England and became a voracious reader from an early age. I devoured Kipling, Blyton, and Charles Hamilton as a young child. I clearly remember my grandma thrusting in my lap at age ten a hardback copy of Alex Haley’s Roots and telling me it was time for me to graduate to ‘proper literature’!

A degree in English Literature inevitably followed, though strangely enough, much later, my clearest path into writing was as a policy drafter in the UK civil service. Sure, that kind of writing was as dry as dust, but it sewed in me the creative writing seed. Then, late in 2021, my wife casually remarked that I should write a book. The idea for Driveway Detailing Warrior was born, and I was off and running as a fledgling writer… 

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What inspired you to write your book?

As a car enthusiast and owner of a pristine 2010 Porsche Cayman 987.2, I was keen to keep my ride always looking her best. However, something was bugging me about the soaring cost of hiring professional detailers to bring out the full beauty in my Porsche’s sensual, flowing lines. Though my car was in excellent condition, I was quoted £1,231 ($1,650) by pro detailers for an exterior paint correction and ceramic sealant, £291 ($404) to have my alloys, brake calipers and exhaust tip ceramic coated, and £525 ($704) for undercarriage detailing and protection. Those three projects were quoted at a whopping £2,047 ($2,745) (the average of three separate quotes) from UK pro detailers in 2022 – far too much, methinks, and off-limits to the ‘on a budget’ sports car owner! 

So, I drew on my experience of owning, detailing, and driving three different Porsches since 2002: a 964 model 911, a 996 model 911, and my current 987.2 Cayman. There had to be a foolproof way to do these projects at home and achieve the desired, breath-taking results, and there definitely is! When my wife suggested that other car enthusiasts would love to know how to detail their ride, I was inspired to bring together in this book for the reader’s benefit, in an engaging and inspiring way, all the pro hacks and detailing techniques I have learned along the way. 

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

I hope readers will understand why they need not pay sky-high pro detailers prices to bring out their motor’s beauty. I hope they will learn how to keep their ride in stunning tip-top condition at a fraction of the pro detailer’s cost. Particularly amid this cost-of-living crisis.

I hope readers will understand why they should embrace the Driveway Warrior spirit as a petrolhead ideology and how to use the power of home detailing on a budget to thrive in their endeavour to create the ultimate DIY detailed street weapon…

Okay, I’m going to ask you to keep an open mind here. I can hand on heart tell you that detailing your own cherished motor is not only good for your pocket, but it’s also good for the mind, body and soul! Yes, plotting your detailing projects, being out in the fresh air, keeping busy and active, looking after your pride and joy, and enjoying the results is pretty darn rewarding for both the well-being and the wallet! Let’s face it; there’s plenty of time for vegetating on the sofa in front of the TV when it’s dark outside or while your ride is safely stored away over winter!

Most importantly, I hope readers will be empowered to seize the moment of medicine for the soul by cruising around in their immaculately presented, gleaming ride. While observing (and secretly relishing and delighting in) the admiring, envious glances of pedestrians and fellow motorists alike.

What drew you into this particular genre?

I wasn’t really thinking about any particular genre. I simply wanted to empower other petrolheads with the means to harness the power of home detailing on a budget. I hope I have been able to do so in an entertaining, engaging way.

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

This is yet to be determined. I have never been active on social media (too busy having a life). In fact, my initial attempts to engage Driveway Detailing Warrior on social media have been less than successful. Facebook – a deeply unsatisfying experience, Instagram – they closed my account after one day, goodness knows why (what the actual @$*!%#!). Detailing forums in the USA closed my accounts within one week – (again, what the actual…)

That said, I’m an optimist at heart, and I’m sure I’ll engage social media in a useful way eventually!

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

Keep a writing journal with you all the time. You never know when an idea will explode in your head. Sometimes I awake at 4am with a choice idea to start the next chapter, and I jot the premise down in my journal straight away before the idea spins and fades. Don’t be afraid to utilize writing aids like Grammarly Premium – if you don’t like the Grammarly suggestion, ignore it – simples!

Above all, go for it – why wait? 

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

The plan is to serialize the Driveway Warrior adventures, and book 2 is well underway for release in 2023. Don’t miss it…

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About the Author

S. L. Lucas is the owner and creator of the popular ‘Driveway Detailing Warrior’ home detailing blog and is a blogging mentor in the home detailing community. A published writer for the local press and a Porsche monthly magazine, he has bought, sold, detailed, cherished, and spiritedly driven three different Porsche models since 2002. He lives with his wife in Brighton in the UK and continues to detail and enjoy his current cherished Porsche Cayman 987.2 around the B roads of leafy Sussex.

Home Detailing your Car on a Budget – Driveway Detailing Warrior (driveway-detailing-warrior.com)

Interview with Author Jason Goss

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


I’ve always been creative. I have an over active imagination.  And often times I’ll read a story and think the ending could have been better, or something else would have made more sense.  So I eventually decided to write my own stories.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?


Specifically with this book, I was sick of most vampire stories featuring vampires falling in love with a whiney neurotic teenager.  Vampires see us as food, not lovers.  I’ve never lusted after a big mac. So why would a vampire lust after his food.  So I decided to write a dark vampire story with an actual monster who has a complete disregard for human life.

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


That’s a tough on.  The theme itself is about revenge.  But at its heart…the story explores the vampires broken heart.  He loved someone who turned on him.  It drove him mad. And most of the book focuses on his madness.    I guess that’s the take away…women drive men mad 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Honestly…a facebook vote lol.  I wanted to write several different genres.  And I asked my followers which of several ideas they liked most based off 3 line pitches…and this one got most likes lol.

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


This is a hard one.  I get into the head of all my characters as I write them.  Good or bad, I try to write from his or her point of view.  So in essence…I’m already a part of all of them.

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


Id say facebook has been most influential.  I have a decent following from my days as a former youtuber.  My old YouTube channel still has 25k subs…and I haven’t yet released a video on the channel to get sales for my book.  But im debating advertising on my old channel.  So if I do…YouTube will likely be most helpful lol but as of now…its facebook.

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


Just do it.  Don’t do it for fame or money.  Just write what you enjoy.  Tell a story you would want to read. And get it done.  If people like it great.  If not…who cares.  You did it.  The most satisfying part so far…is being able to say I wrote a book.  The fact so many people who’ve read it….like it…is just a bonus.

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


This book is a planned trilogy.  So I’m really excited for people to find out what happens to Alaric after the cliffhanger ending. After that I want to do a autobiography. I’ve lived a crazy life and want to document it in case I die one day lol

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About the Author

I’m Jason M Goss, and I’m a huge nerd 

Love anything sci fi or fantasy. I have a million ideas in my head and finally decided to start putting some down on paper.

I hope you like them, and I’m always open to feedback!

Life is about growing and become better than we were previously, and that’s what my goal is!

Interview with Author Cathy Burnham Martin

1) Tell about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I am a person who loves people and helping others be their personal best. My husband and I enjoy art, music, traveling, and great food.

As a child in elementary school, I loved Show & Tell, and I often found myself making up stories to tell the class. I was also among a little group of classmates honored when our poems were published in the newspaper. I ended up writing a lot of poetry straight through college. As a marketing major, poetry took a backseat to business writing through most of my jobs. Eventually, I became a broadcast journalist, news anchor, and documentary host/producer at an ABC affiliate in New Hampshire. As I looked toward retirement, I embraced writing as my next career.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

This historical fiction trilogy tells the story of the Armenian side of my family. Initially, I was inspired to write it to capture the heritage for future generations. Once the first book “Destiny of Dreams: Time Is Dear” came out, I quickly learned that the story brought a great deal of information and inspiration to a far wider audience.

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

Themes in the trilogy focus on family, faith, love, and perseverance. With so much divisiveness and war and seemingly ceaseless examples of man’s inhumanity to man, bigotry, and intolerance continuing all around the world, I hope readers will appreciate the message that we can and must do better. We need to forgive our human weaknesses, but we also live far better lives, when we make calm decisions and learn to respond, rather than react to the bitter challenges that may be thrown in our paths.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’ve written several non-fiction works in a sort of “life lessons” genre, as well as 9 cookbooks, because I am a dedicated foodie. I have also written a couple of light comedy books, told from a dog’s perspective. Well, I guess I should say that the dogs wrote their stories. I merely held the pen because they don’t have thumbs. So, I should not classify them as fiction, as the dogs swore every word was true.

Writing facts… nothing but the facts… is what journalism taught me. On the other hand, living life and performing in musical theatre taught me the importance of celebrating creativity, drama, and comedy. Historical fiction shines as a happy combination for me. I love researching to be sure the facts, settings, and historic reflections are accurate. I learned that I truly enjoy fictionalizing, which lets me use characters to bring slices of history to life.

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

Facebook is definitely my social media site of preference. While I write articles for my GoodLiving123.com website, I can repost them on sites like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. However, I found a particular hunger… a need… for positive thoughts and comments on Facebook. Friends and Followers… whether they hail from childhood or various stages in my career or from reading my books… have been most generous in their comments and support of my endeavors. I have also started reaching out on Facebook to encourage readership of my books and audiobooks, particularly when someone has expressed a specific need that I believe a particular publication can help meet.

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

I am very enthusiastic about encouraging aspiring authors to follow their hearts, even when they must be their own cheerleaders. Naysayers often come in the form of those closest to us. It’s the old put-downs, like, “You’ll never make money as an author.” So, what?!!? I like to remind writers to keep on sharing… keep on writing. When people ask why I write, I love honestly saying that I write because the words and stories simply must come out!

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

While none of us truly knows what our futures hold, I continually add to my “To Do” lists as if I had a million tomorrows to get all the projects done. I have absolutely no idea how to be bored, as I am regularly working on 2-3 books at a time. The next book will be the Destiny trilogy’s conclusion, which will be released in 2023. I also have a few more food-oriented projects in the works as well as a couple of mysteries. I keep hoping for that elusive 48-hour day!

About the Author

Born in Goffstown, New Hampshire, Cathy Burnham Martin’s eclectic career path wove through recruiting, communications, television broadcasting, management, and bank organizing. An active board member and community volunteer, she received Easter Seals’ David P. Goodwin Lifetime Commitment Award. This professional voiceover artist, journalist, corporate communications geek, and dedicated foodie earned numerous broadcasting awards as a television news anchor. She wrote, produced, and hosted dozens of groundbreaking documentaries, TV specials, and news reports, ranging from the Moscow Superpower Summit and the opening of the Berlin Wall to extensive coverage of New Hampshire’s First-in-the-Nation Presidential Primaries.

Some of her most challenging work includes news stories behind the Iron Curtain under the scrutiny of foreign military personnel touting loaded AK-47s. While she met and interviewed Presidents and candidates, other interviews ranged from inventor Dean Kamen, best-selling authors Og Mandino and Richard Lederer, and Star Trek originator Gene Roddenberry to Popcorn icon Orville Redenbacher, Boston Pops conductor Arthur Fiedler, superstar New Orleans chef Paul Prudhomme, and filmmaker Ken Burns.

Among little-known facts about Cathy? She once sang with The Beach Boys and with the marvelous Marvelettes, shared a dressing room with Ella Fitzgerald, and emceed for Tony Bennett. She also performed on stage with comedian Adam Sandler, actor Dan Lauria, and director Alek Keshishian.

Dubbed The Morale Booster, this 20-year professional member of the National Speakers Association remains a business speaker, media coach, and member of the Actors Equity Association. Proud of her Eurasian heritage, Cathy Burnham Martin narrates her own books and those of other authors. Audiobooks appear on such sites as Audible.com as well as Amazon and iTunes. Author of 20+ fiction, nonfiction, and cookbooks, Cathy writes articles for her  http://www.GoodLiving123.com website. When not writing or in full production mode, Cathy and her husband enjoy traveling, boating, music and visual arts, and great food.

Interview with Author Sharifullah Dorani

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

Before I start, I would like to thank you for the interview and your review of The Lone Leopard

I was born and brought up in Kabul, Afghanistan, and claimed asylum alongside my parents in the UK in 1999. I finished all my higher education in the UK. I am married and live with my wife and three children in a quiet town in England. 

How did I get into writing? I love writing, especially about my country Afghanistan. Therefore, I did my PhD on Afghanistan and subsequently published some two dozen articles and a book (more below) on my native land. 

The idea for writing The Lone Leopard, however, was actually conceived in 1992 when the ‘pro-Communist’ Najibullah regime collapsed and the mujahideen took over Kabul. Turning Shia against Sunni and vice versa, setting Afghanistan’s main ethnic groups of Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara and Uzbek against each other, and accusing each other of uniting with the remnants of pro-Communist members and thus not being Islamic enough, the 15 or so mujahideen groups fought each other in the streets of Kabul, killing tens of thousands of innocent Kabulis, displacing hundreds of thousands, and turning half of Kabul into mudbrick rubble with bombs, rockets and cannon fire.

Taking refuge in the basements of our blocks while the gunfire, shelling and fighting continued, I decided (if I made it alive) to write about what we ordinary Afghans went through. Unlike thousands of Kabulis, I was fortunate enough to live, and 18 years later, in 2010, I started writing about the experience: after 12 years of writing/rewriting (and extensive research, including consulting nearly a thousand sources), The Lone Leopard is the result.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

I’ve partly answered this question above. I’d also like to add that my only inspiration is my people and country. I wanted to tell the contemporary Afghan and Afghanistan story from an Afghan perspective. Ahmad, the protagonist of my novel, therefore, gives a first-hand account of what I (and most Afghans) have experienced over the past four decades in Afghanistan (and in exile). My previous book, America in Afghanistan, published in 2019 by IB Tauris/Bloomsbury, was praised by reviewers for its Afghan perspectives, and is found at, among other institutions, Oxford and Harvard.

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

The reader will get to know a great deal about the principles of Afghan culture, particularly independence, courage, loyalty, justice, revenge, righteousness, pride, honour, chastity, hospitality, love, forgiveness, faith (Islam) and respect of elders (parents in particular), among others, and some of these themes, in addition to jealousy, prejudice, betrayal, guilt and atonement, the book explores.

The Lone Leopard is a historical war drama. Once the reader reads it, I hope they will see how things have been in Afghanistan; they will understand the history and politics of the past four decades in Afghanistan; and they will see the real Afghan and Afghanistan. 

The Lone Leopard is a work of contemporary literary fiction, too, as it is solely based on human relations. The focus of the novel is primarily on the lives of Ahmad (15, a conservatively traditional Pashtun, dutiful child, gifted student, thoughtful but faint-hearted) and Frishta (16, progressive, Tajik, women’s rights activist, compassionate, outspoken and brave): will the faint-hearted Ahmad learn from Frishta to fight his cowardly side and stand up for himself and for what is right, even if his stance opposes traditions/his controlling mother; will the fearless Frishta journey from a middle-class girl to ‘the president of Afghanistan’; will Ahmad and Frishta with conflicting personalities/backgrounds fall in love; will the middle-class Wazir (15, Ahmad’s best friend/classmate: Pashtun, fearless, the school gangster, pro-mujahideen) ever fulfil his dreams of killing a Communist and joining jihad; and will the loveable Baktash (15, Ahmad’s best friend/classmate: Tajik/Hazara, timid but lovable, pro-Communism) live a normal life without getting bullied for being different. So, the reader will get drawn into a time (the 1980s-2010s) when historical events – several invasions of Afghanistan over the past four decades in particular – give rise to nationalistic and religious conflicts and impact the lives of the four characters and their families. 

 Moreover, The Lone Leopard is a mother-son relationship story, as familial aspects constitute a significant part of the narrative, especially (the importance of) parental respect, which you have highlighted (and liked) in your review. 

Incidentally, in addition to the Western reader, when writing the novel, I had the future Afghan generations in mind, especially for them to see what mistakes their ancestors committed and how they should avoid repeating them. One of them is how discrimination, alienation and division can destroy a country; and how unity, inclusion and empowerment of people – regardless of their sex, tribe, ethnic origin, religion, etc. – can help build a better country and, by extension, a better world.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

The Lone Leopard can fit into several genres: literary fiction, women’s fiction, young adult fiction, coming-of-age, family drama, war drama, and romance. For me, however, it will always remain historical fiction drama, the story of contemporary Afghanistan. I chose the historical genre because I have a PhD in IR/history, have taught the history of Afghanistan and have lived through the historical periods The Lone Leopard covers. As a creative writing teacher may say, ‘write what you know’. 

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

I am not very good at social media and only use Twitter. I also have a LinkedIn account, but I have not made much use of it. 

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

Read more, research a lot, and get a good command of creative writing techniques before starting your book. And keep it consistent: make sure you write/research/read every day, even if it is for half an hour. Oh, one more thing: start today; don’t wait for tomorrow. 

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

My next book will focus on why the Doha Peace Agreement between the Taliban and America failed and the possible consequences of the failure for Afghanistan, the region and the international community.

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About the Author

SHARIFULLAH DORANI was born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan, and claimed asylum in the UK in 1999. He has undergraduate and master’s degrees in Law from The University of Northampton and UCL, respectively. He completed his PhD on the US War in Afghanistan at Durham University and authored the acclaimed America in Afghanistan. Sharifullah frequently returns to Afghanistan to carry out research. He is currently South Asia and the Middle Eastern Editor at The Centre for Strategic Research and Analysis (CESRAN International) and has written nearly two dozen articles on Afghanistan (and the broader region), international relations and law. He lives with his family in Bedford, England.

Interview with Author Kari Loya

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

I have spent nearly three decades in education, starting my career in a bilingual 1st and 2nd grade classroom in Los Angeles as part of Teach For America, and most recently running a private school in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I have managed to have a parallel career in entertainment – recording voiceovers in both English and Spanish for everything from commercials and corporate videos to network promos and video games.

I have kept a journal since college – I have found that helpful to clarify how I think and feel. My first major writing project was a unique way to celebrate my upcoming 40th birthday. I spent that year writing down my favorite stories I’d shared over the years with friends and family, and most of that writing I did on my daily train commute into and out of New York City. It helped turn the worst part of my day into my favorite part of the day! The result was my first book: My Top 40 at 40: Making the First Half Count (A Modern Man’s Story Collection).

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

My dad and I biked across the country along the TransAmerica Bike Trail in 2015, something we’d dreamed about for several decades. He was 75-years-old at the time and had early-stage Alzheimer’s. Since I had done other shorter bike adventures in the past, I knew that the most interesting thing for me about bike travel was the people that came up to us along the route. With that in mind, I made a point of transcribing all the conversations we had with people along the way and asked if I could take their photo. I figured it would make a really cool coffee table book. It was only after the trip that I realized there was a much bigger story to tell – the father and son story, the story of facing Alzheimer’s, and the story of adventure – could we even pull this off?

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

I hope readers reflect on their own relationship with their father and their children – and on what really matters to them.

I hope readers gain a better sense of the Alzheimer’s journey – more than six million Americans have Alzheimer’s – and develop helpful perspectives for navigating through the difficult terrain.

I hope readers appreciate the diversity and generosity of the American people, especially across Rural America. We have a lot more in common than social media and media would make us think.

Most importantly, I hope readers will feel inspired to seize the day with someone they love – whatever that means to them.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I wasn’t thinking about genre. I simply wanted to share what happened in the hopes that this might be helpful to others.

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

This is still to be determined. I haven’t historically been active on social media. To be blunt, I’d rather be outside exploring, creating, and connecting deeply with others than posting, swiping, and counting “Likes.” That said, I am beginning to use in a limited fashion LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. I’m treating them like my car. I love my car, especially for road trips. But in a perfect world, I’d probably walk and bike most places and rarely be in the car!

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

Keep a journal regularly and write about anything that captures your fancy. I find the most interesting things to write about are often the extremes – whatever has you really excited, and whatever has you really pissed. At least that’s a great starting point! The let your curiosity guide you.

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

As part of a creative sabbatical, I have also undertaken a musical journey, systematically building my skills and releasing 40 songs since 2020. It’s a really fun way to synthesize life experiences, observations, and ideas in a three-minute story. As for genres, I’m all over the map – unabashedly eclectic – but most of my music falls into what you might hear if Keith Haring, Dr. Seuss, and Ricky Martin formed a band 😊

I am also building an executive coaching practice, helping people get from Point A to Point B, whatever that means to them. And if the right opportunity to lead another school or educational organization comes along, I’ll seize it – I love being part of learning communities.

About the Author

Kari Loya is an educational leader, storyteller, and adventurer. He has worked nearly three decades at a range of innovative educational institutions, beginning with Teach For America in 1993 and serving most recently as headmaster at the Good Hope Country Day School in the U.S. Virgin Islands, when he received a Klingenstein Fellowship from Columbia University. He is also an Emmy-winning bilingual voice talent, musical artist, and author. He spoke at TEDx UC Davis in April 2022 on the theme of “Metamorphosis.” He holds a BA from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Columbia University. He currently lives with his wife and daughter in Sugar Land, Texas.

Interview with Author Holly Rhiannon 

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

Well, when I say I’m a lifelong writer, I really am. I can’t remember a time I was not writing! My parents are both artists and writers so I grew up around art and literature. We all read aloud to one another long past the point most kids would read with their parents, and I still pick up that tradition again sometimes when I’m with one or the other. I have fond memories of my Mom making up fairy stories on the spot for me while we were running errands, and the excitement of seeing creators at the comic conventions I’d attend with my Dad whenever he was a guest. It was a very creative and inspiring upbringing so it’s really no surprise I wanted to tell my own stories quite early on.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

It’s kind of funny. As someone who has been writing for so long, I have quite a few projects that have been in the works for years and years… decades even. But, when it came to getting my first full indie novel out there, A Time When Demons was a very new idea. I came up with it during Preptober of 2020 as my first NaNoWriMo novel, completed the first draft in November 2020 then spent the next year editing it, querying for a bit, then self publishing. 

Because of this, the “inspiration” process was a bit formulaic because I was working quickly, and experimentally and didn’t even expect to finish it. First, I picked witches. Then the big idea that pushed the story further was the concept of The Dreaming. I think I just thought that one up lying in bed one night fretting about mortality. Like with many of my stories, they’re inspired by classic teen horror and fantasy. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a huge influence on me during my formative years so I think I’m always trying to attain some level of storytelling that can be on that level. The Dreaming is one of the things in this novel that I’d like to hold on to for future works and experiment with more.

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

If you put the work in and stay true to yourself, you can find redemption. When I write, I rarely have a message I want to convey from the start, but rather let it come out as I write. A Time When Demons is very much a coming of age story, and redemption is a major theme of it.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

It’s all I know, really. Ever since I sat down in my Dad’s studio and he played through the entirety of Alice Cooper’s “Welcome to my Nightmare” when I was about twelve, my life has revolved around horror and theatrics. As I mentioned before, Buffy only added to this. I’ve always been a spooky weirdo. That’s what I know best, so that’s what I write. That being said, I do have goals to explore other genres and challenge myself more in the future! 

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

Good question! As the author, I know all the inner workings of my characters. So, I’m going to pretend I’m in the novel myself, as a friend of my characters and take the chance to grab coffee with Kami. Dearest Kami, how on earth do you put up with having a best friend who’s a witch when you are a mere mortal? I think I’d lose my mind from jealousy! Or at least push a lot harder to find out more about the Wicca world and what other paranormal stuff might be out there. Vampires? Are they real? Can we find one to bite me?

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

Twitter has been a really fun and welcoming community. I know, kind of the opposite of what most people say about it but I’ve never had a bad experience. The writing community is really supportive and friendly and the algorithm hasn’t been completely obliterated so it is still possible to get interactions and bring in new followers, readers, and friends. Aside from that, I have had a lot of fun building my Discord community. It’s a bit more of an intimate/concentrated space with deeper conversation as there are about 50 of us at the moment which is quite different from the large buzzing hive of Twitter.

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

First of all – there is no such thing as an aspiring author. Aspiring *published* author? Sure. But if you’re a writer, you’re a writer. Establish that first. If you’re a writer, you aren’t going to have any other choice but to do it, and, if that’s you, that is exactly what you have to do. 

Sit down every day and write something, even if it’s one sentence. Don’t wait around for inspiration to hit – creativity is very much driven by that magical feeling, but it is also a lot of work. Find your community. Watch interviews and educational videos on YouTube. There’s a massive amount of support out there for authors these days and we want to help you tell your story!

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

Right now I am working on launching a small publishing company. I’m not going to say much on that yet, but definitely keep an eye on my social media and YouTube channel as there will be announcements coming out before the new year. In addition to that, I’m always writing! It’s NaNoWriMo season at the moment, and I’m a Municipal Liaison so there’s a lot going on there with prep, helping new writers, and getting my own novel finished. This year I’m doing “Rebel WriMo” so will be finishing an old project called “Eternity” which is very exciting.

As for my next published work… it’s likely going to be the first novel in my fantasy epic “Synterra”. Again – watch my social media for updates on that! 

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About the Author

Holly Rhiannon is a life-long writer who has previously self published one novella and two graphic novels. After becoming certified in photography, attending a few years of Fine Arts at the University of Manitoba and running a successful alternative art event in her hometown of Winnipeg, she moved to Montreal to pursue the field which has always been closest to her heart: literature. A Time When Demons is her debut full-length novel for young adults.

https://www.hollyrhiannon.com/

https://www.instagram.com/stygianpen/

https://www.facebook.com/hrhiannon

https://www.youtube.com/c/HollyRhiannonWrites

Interview with Author William Hart

Tell us a little about yourself.

     I wanted to be a writer from childhood, but didn’t think of myself that way until after college, when I decided to become one. Tired of school and knowing poets don’t earn much, I began supporting myself, my wife and our daughter as a commercial sheet metal worker on grain elevators in Wichita, Kansas, my hometown. In my thirties I did grad school in English, finishing at the University of Southern California, where I met my current wife, a filmmaker from Calcutta, India.

     My wife and I taught college writing for twenty years, then retired early to pursue our creative careers. I write novels, memoirs, stories, and poetry collections. I also help Jayasri make her documentary films, two of which have played nationally on PBS. My writing has appeared in several hundred literary journals, commercial magazines, newspapers and anthologies, and fifteen books.

What was your first experience with the paranormal

     I had one ESP experience over fifty years ago, which I discuss under question 8. The book I just published, My Friend Richard, is a narrative memoir describing in detail my second experience with the paranormal, which has been transpiring off-and-on for over a decade now, ever since a close high school buddy came in his spirit form to live with my wife and me. When Richard arrived, I had an open mind on the subject of ghosts, partly because my wife tells a vivid story about her grandfather, who in the days after his death came to see both her and her cousin, his favorites among his female grandchildren. My wife is an unusually rational person, truthful to a fault. If she says her grandfather’s presence came to say good-bye accompanied by the heavy rose scent of his funeral ceremony, then it happened. 

What is one misconception people have about the paranormal that you want readers to know?

     Most of us watch Hollywood movies, and the most powerful of them help shape our thinking. One problem with that is we can end up with many unfounded notions about, for instance, the paranormal. I believe films vastly exaggerate the drama of paranormal, usually to scare us out of our pants. The truth is calmer and more mundane. To me the paranormal is as normal as regular existence. Richard, once my living friend, and now my spirit friend, I’m convinced is as real as me. He’s just in a different state. I’m a living being, composed of both body and spirit. He’s a spirit without a body, having lost it to death. Both of us are natural, and real, and neither of us is more real or more natural than the other. In other words, the “paranormal” is a generally unacknowledged part of the normal.

     Richard has shown me that our laws of physics are woefully inadequate, because they omit entirely the spiritual components of our universe, which are as genuine as the material components, though less substantial. There is a whole other world of spirit alongside (or within) our world of the living. It was my luck to be contacted by a being from that other place, who had a favor to ask. He has become my guide in the zone where his world and mine intersect. Our continuing friendship has made me an explorer of the other side.

Are there any haunted locations that have fueled your interest in the paranormal field?

     Definitely. In 2013, my wife and I visited the good ship Queen Mary, permanently docked in Long Beach Harbor and functioning as a hotel. We attended a ghost presentation by one of the ship’s officers, a true believer in the ghosts aboard his vessel. His lecture on those ghosts, which he and other ship employees have witnessed, along with film and stills taken of them, convinced my wife and me that the Mary is haunted by a number of spirits—men, women, and some children. I suspect not all ghost houses are real. But I think a ghost house running overnight on the Queen Mary would give you a decent shot at experiencing the real thing. And, if ghosts congregate on the Mary, they likely gather in other similar places.

What is the biggest takeaway you have from your experiences with the paranormal as expressed in your book? 

     My friend has proved to me I will have an afterlife, as we all will. There can be no doubt in my mind, because I’ve seen and interacted with someone whose afterlife is now over fifty years old. I doubt all ghosts continue in their spirit state as long as Richard has. Most of us I think, after a time in our ghost manifestation, move on, though I don’t know to where or to what. Perhaps our spirit moves into the body of another being, like many Hindus believe. All I know for sure is that we all have afterlives, whether brief or long or forever. Richard leads me to believe we may to some degree get to choose for ourselves what that afterlife will be.

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If you could travel to one haunted location and investigate it, where would it be and why?

     I don’t have to travel. The ghost I know best has lived with us for twelve or thirteen years at least, and apparently has no intention of changing residence. He seems to have settled into our master bedroom closet. However, he hasn’t been active since the first of this year, when he threw a temper tantrum, breaking a ceiling panel in our kitchen and stealing our new 2022 kitchen calendar. We haven’t found the calendar. 

How much influence and power do you think people give to spirits or ghosts?

     Hollywood gives ghosts a lot more power than I believe they actually have, simply to up their terror factor. Lacking a body limits an actual ghost in what it can do physically. I also believe ghosts are bound by rules, imposed by whom or what I don’t know. For example, I think spirits aren’t allowed to harm humans to any significant degree. When I asked Richard not to bother me for a while, he obeyed. He obeyed so well I thought he’d left us. Then I offended him with something I wrote (and he read) and he retaliated on New Year’s Day in our kitchen.  

Besides ghosts, what other paranormal fields interest you?

     I’ve experienced ESP and am curious about it. My daughter was 150 miles away when she was seriously assaulted. I was busy at work when it happened, but I felt the attack powerfully in my gut and knew it was my kid afraid and hurting. I didn’t learn what happened until later. This experience convinced me humans have psychic powers. I’ve seen that Richard has psychic powers too. It’s made me want to find out more about ESP. How many psychic powers are there and how can they be explained? I’d like to know more. 

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About the Author

William Hart is a novelist and poet living in Los Angeles. After earning a doctorate in English from the University of Southern California, he taught college writing courses in LA and wrote. Now he writes–fiction mostly–while helping produce the documentaries of filmmaker Jayasri Majumdar, his wife. Hart’s work has appeared in several hundred literary journals, commercial magazines, newspapers, and anthologies, and fourteen books. A pair of one-hour documentaries from Hartfilms aired nationally on PBS, the latest receiving Emmy nominations.