Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Kathy Martone

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

I am a Jungian psychologist, mostly retired.  As such, my specialties have included dream interpretation, shamanic journeys, and women’s spirituality.  I never saw myself as an author and only accidentally found my way into writing.  (However, as a young child, I used to love writing stories especially ones with fantastical themes.)  Once I picked up my author’s pen again, so to speak, I felt compelled to continue and Victorian Songlight was born.

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2.  What inspired you to write your book?

As it says on the cover of my book, Victorian Songlight is based on a true story – my story.  The story of Kate and her love affair with Grandfather, the ghost with the large golden eyes, is loosely based on my own relationship with a disembodied spirit who goes by the same name. It was a relationship that changed my entire life – just as it changed Kate’s life in the book.

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

I think the most important message would be to know that we are all capable of re-imagining ourselves, of stepping into lives that are much bigger and more profound than we could ever imagine, that magic is real.  No matter what our human failings or humble beginnings, we are all spirit beings at our core and thus, we all carry within ourselves Divine Light.

4.  What drew you into this particular genre?

Having a relationship with a spirit or ghost just automatically sets the stage for fantasy.  Beyond that, I have always enjoyed an active imagination and have loved pushing the boundaries of what we call reality.  I have studied shamanism extensively as well, and this spiritual practice easily lends itself to visionary fiction.

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

Well, first of all, most of the characters in my book are based on people I know personally, even though I have changed details and descriptions to hide their identity.  Having said that, I think I would want to ask Grandfather how he feels about the way I portrayed him.  Because he has been, and always will be, the singularly most significant relationship in my life, I would never want to misrepresent him, even in a work of fiction.

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

Gosh, I am not sure how to answer this one.  I am not very savvy with social media and I don’t really know how to determine the extent of social media’s influence on my work.  I do post a lot on Facebook and just a little on Twitter.

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

I think I would tell aspiring authors that the most important thing is to enjoy what you do.  So if you enjoy writing, you should write, regardless of whether you publish anything.  I would also say that publishing should be an act of joy, not a task. 

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

About the time I published Victorian Songlight, I began another fantasy novel but had to put it down in order to complete the publication process.  And when the pandemic hit, I lost most of my motivation and interest in finishing it.  However, just lately I have picked it up again and I’m looking forward to re-engaging with the process of writing.  I continue to work on art projects as well – pictures of my velvet tapestries whose images are based on my own dreams can be seen on my artist/author Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/Kathy-Martone-EdD-2166828393535523/The best way to view my art work on my FB page is to scroll down to “Photos” and then click “See All” in the top righthand corner.

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AUTHOR BIO

Dr. Kathy Martone is currently an author and artist living in a small Victorian town in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas.  She and her husband also manage two small BnB’s in their charming turn of the century village.

Before retiring in 2015, Dr. Martone was a Jungian psychologist in private practice specializing in dream work, women’s spirituality and shamanic journeys.  Prior to this, she was the director of a small mental health clinic and then she served as company psychologist for Southwestern Bell Telephone.  She taught classes at Colorado Free University, The Jungian Ministries International, Naropa University, and Iliff School of Theology.  For the past 35 years she has studied with Richmond K. Greene, past chair of the New York Jungian Institute.

The magical world of dreams has fascinated and intrigued Kathy for as long as she can remember. Inspired by a dream in 2005, she began making velvet tapestries imprinted with the image of one of her own dream figures and embellished with ribbons, rhinestones, feathers, glass beads, Swarovski crystals, antique jewelry and semi-precious stones.  As a Jungian psychologist and shamanic practitioner, energy and depth of meaning are very important to her.  So frequently she will accent the tapestries with symbolic objects, such as old pieces of jewelry, the lining from a purse that belonged to her grandmother, or a piece of ribbon she wore as a little girl.  Layering these materials into a meaningful image evokes for her the multi-layered realms of dreams, myth and metaphor.  Like the magical nets of ancient shamans, these colorful tapestries ensnare the features of her dream spirits as they stare back at her from their watery dimensions.  Her work has been displayed in galleries in Denver, Colorado  as well as in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

In 2006 Dr. Martone self published her first book titled, Sacred Wounds: A Love Story.  The book chronicles the author’s relentless quest for self understanding and provides a blueprint for other seekers who are looking for spiritual enlightenment while grappling with painful life experiences.  Written in easy to understand language, the book explains how various spiritual and psychological practices were brought together in an alchemical blend to produce a potion of timeless healing.  Weaving its way through such healing practices as psychotherapy, shamanism, Buddhism, Jungian thought and dream work, the reader is given a clear map for psychological and spiritual change.

http://www.dreamagik.com/

https://a.co/2JRuJI2

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/victorian-songlight-kathy-martone-phd/1134222514;jsessionid=55ACE2AF79811832054FE012FFDB1A27.prodny_store01-atgap14?ean=9781947381162

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51054900-victorian-songlight

Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Shane Wilson

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

I’m not so sure there is an easy answer to that question. I honestly feel like I’ve always been writing. When I was a kid, my parents bought me a typewriter, and I would use it to practice spelling—asking my mother how to spell the biggest and most complex words my young mind could muster. As she recited the letters, I would peck them out on the clacking keys. I remember writing stories and putting them in those folders with the three tabs down the spine. I would even draw covers and glue them to the front. In short, writing and stories have always been a part of my life, and I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t doing something at least adjacent to writing. 

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

This second novel, The Smoke in His Eyes, grew out of a thought-experiment inspired by my first novel, A Year Since the Rain. When that first novel was published, I had a real serious bout with imposter syndrome. I became fascinated with the creative impulse. I was asking myself what it is that drives some of us to make art and a smaller group of us to find ways to share that art with as many people as possible. This line of questioning led me to this book and these characters. I explored the different reasons why we create through the different artists in the book. Some of us want financial gain, some of us are in it for the pursuit of craft, some of us just want to make art with no desire to share it with the world. These different worldviews are explored in the novel. 

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

I think I want people to come away from the book with a curiosity about their own creativity. I think we all possess some kind of creative spirit, and as much as the book explores creativity through the lens of visual art and music, I think the exploration of creativity can be applied to any creative process.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I studied magical realism extensively in college. I wrote my master’s thesis on Salman Rushdie’s fiction, and I just spent a large chunk of my life reading those works. I think we tend to absorb the things we consume into our own styles, so when I started writing long-form fiction, it just drifted into the realm of magical realism/ contemporary fantasy. I’m drawn to the unique ways the genre can explore human experience by contrasting realistic characters and settings against the unexplainable. 

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

I would probably sit with TJ and ask for guitar lessons. I learned to play the guitar while I was writing the book so I could approach something of a genuine description of that experience, but he’s still a better player than me. I could learn a few things from him, for sure.

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

I think I’ve probably poured more time into Facebook than it’s worth, but it’s so good for promoting events, and live events is really where I’ve been able to develop readership. In terms of straight-up readership growth, though, I’ve probably done the best with Twitter (@thatshanewilson).

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

Your book or story or poem or song will never be done until you finish it. If you toy with the idea of writing, and you are no absolutely compelled to do it, you probably shouldn’t. I think of how Rainer Maria Rilke addressed the young poet who wrote him for advice. Essentially, he told the young man that if he could imagine a life wherein he was not writing, then he should not write. In short, artists cannot imagine a life without their art, and if you can, then you should find something else to do with your time. Writing or any other kind of creative work is hard work. It has to be a passion that you pursue in a serious way. So, park your ass in the chair and get to work.

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

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my new album of original music, Of All the Things I’ve Ever Said, I Mean This the Most. It’s from my little acoustic bad, Sequoia Rising, and it’s all singer-songwritery/ folk/ Americana goodness. The songs are personal and thoughtful and reflective, and it’s streaming wherever music streams. I hope people check that out. I’m pretty proud of it. 

Otherwise, it looks like a new novel might be out in 2022, so I’m not saying much about that right now. If anybody wants to keep up with what’s going on with my, I’m all over the socials at @thatshanewilson and my website is http://www.shanewilsonauthor.com.

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About the Author

Born in Alabama and raised in Georgia, Shane is a child of the southeastern United States where he feels simultaneously at-home and out-of-place. He graduated from Valdosta State University in south Georgia with a Masters in English. He taught college English in Georgia for four years before moving to North Carolina in 2013.

No matter the temperature outside, there is always an iced coffee in his hand when he walks into class in the mornings. He tends to chase the day with a whiskey and a re-run of The Office.

Shane has published poetry in Tethered by Letters and the Stonepile Writers’ Anthology, Volume III. He is currently at work on a new novel as well as a collection of short stories based on the mythos of and set in the same town as A Year Since the Rain.

https://www.shanewilsonauthor.com/

Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author V.S. Holmes

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

I’ve always been a storyteller and a story-finder. Growing up in the woods without other kids drove me to constantly search for other’s stories, other’s lives, specifically through fiction and imagination. This progressed naturally into writing and my day job as an archaeologist. It was in university that, after years of research, I first decided to take the plunge and write professionally. 

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

Travelers, the first in my Stars Edge: Nel Bently Books, began as a dual POV between an archaeologist and one of the people whose life she was studying from 13,000 years before. I realized pretty quickly that the latter was not my story to tell, so I flipped it forward and explored what would happen if some of those people were abducted and returned thousands of years later. I also wanted to debunk the racist ideas behind “ancient aliens” theories while still combining science fiction and archaeology. On a larger scale, all of Nel’s stories explore the ideas about how where we come from impacts where we’re going, and decolonizing archaeology and science. 

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

Heretics is the fourth in Nel’s series of adventures, and with this one Nel returns to Earth in an attempt to save her planet from killer sound waves. She’s suddenly straddling the line between coming home and being a fish out of water. It’s the place that made her, but now she no longer fits in the space she left. A lot of my work focuses on how we differ from others’ expectations–and often our own. This is a theme that’s very dear to me as a queer person. On a more intimate level, I hope readers can learn with Nel as she finds the root of her anger, and navigates her complicated relationship with Lin. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Sci-fi and fantasy were the first places I saw characters like me, so I naturally gravitated toward that when I started writing my own work. Speculative fiction for me has always been a place of solace and hope. When we’re creating worlds from the ground up, we’re able to envision a world we want, or a world we’re afraid of ours becoming. Because of this, I can create worlds where I see more people like myself, and fight the battles I can’t fight in our own world.

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

Oh this is tough! I’d imagine most of them would have some pretty damning comments to make about what I put them through. Ultimately, though, I’d love to have a nice long chat with Phil–Philos, one of the sentient computers rooted in a man’s head held in stasis. I think it would be fascinating to discuss the science and ethics behind becoming a computer. As a trans and disabled person, conversations around body modification, cyborgization, and transhumanism are really fascinating.

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

Twitter has, hands-down, been the best site for me. Though it does suffer from some of the same algorithmic issues as other social sites, it’s still easier to curate than many others. Through Twitter I’ve found not just an incredible community of fellow SFF authors, but one of the most welcoming places for queer and disabled people, especially since I don’t have access to those communities, or the freedom of being fully out, where we live.

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

There’s a lot of writing advice out there, but the process is going to be different for every author, and honestly every project. I think it’s important to try a lot of different things and find what works best for you and what you’re currently working on. One of the pieces I wish I’d realized earlier is finding out who you are as a writer, as a creator, and then doing it on purpose. And not being afraid of that changing. 

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

So many projects! I’m currently drafting Fugitives, the fifth of Nel’s books (there will be a total of six) and outlining/drafting my next fantasy series. It takes place within my Blood of Titans world, but follows some new and side characters. 

I’m also working on a complicated, queer, gothic fantasy that might just be the darkest, sexiest, most raw thing I’ve written to date. Regardless, it’s a bit different from most of my other work and I’m enjoying stretching my creative muscles!

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About V. S. HOLMES

V. S. Holmes is an international bestselling author. They created the BLOOD OF TITANS series and the NEL BENTLY BOOKS. Smoke and Rain, the first book in their fantasy quartet, won New Apple Literary’s Excellence in Independent Publishing Award in 2015 and a Literary Titan Gold in 2020. Travelers is also included in the Peregrine Moon Lander mission as part of the Writers on the Moon Time Capsule. In addition, they have published short fiction in several anthologies.

As a disabled and non-binary human, they work as an advocate and educator for representation in SFF worlds. When not writing, they work as a contract archaeologist throughout the northeastern U.S. They live in a Tiny House with their spouse, a fellow archaeologist, their not-so-tiny dog, and own too many books for such a small abode.

LINKS:

Site: www.vsholmes.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VS_Holmes

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

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/vs-holmes

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/v-s-holmes

Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Jennifer Anne Gordon

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

Hello! Thanks for having me for the interview. My name is Jennifer Anne Gordon, and up until the pandemic started, I was a professional Ballroom dancer and performer. I live in New Hampshire with my amazing husband and our silly dog. I love travelling and photography, specifically photography of abandoned and haunted places. 

I have always in some way, or another been a writer, even when I was small. I would write short stories and little plays that I would force my mother to act out with me. As I got older, I focused more on poetry as well as publishing an indie comic and I did some freelance journalism as well. 

I always wanted to write a novel, but somewhere along the way I lost confidence. A few years ago, I decided to reclaim that confidence and just try writing a novel, I had no idea how it would go, if it would work but it did. The novel I wrote was called Beautiful, Frightening, and Silent and that went on to win the Kindle Award for Best Horror novel for 2020, as well as became a finalist for several other awards.

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What inspired you to write your book?

There are always stories in my head, they play there like a movie. The real inspiration comes when I can’t hold them in any longer. My latest book “When the Sleeping Dead Still Talk” is the second part to my Victorian Horror series “The Hotel”. It follows the story of Francis who was a supporting character in “From Daylight to Madness”. He, Francis was my inspiration, I felt so strongly about him and knew that there was so much more to him that I could not explore in the first book that I knew I had to tell his story. The character is very much a mystery. He is very enigmatic in the first novel, and “Sleeping Dead” gives the readers a chance to take a very deep dive into his psyche. It reads like 200 pages of poetic nightmare.

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

I think as a horror writer I want people to see beyond the genre to the emotions that cause “the horror”. In this novel it concentrates on childhood trauma, and grief. I am not sure if it is a message, but I do like to explore grief in my horror. There are people who may not think they like horror, I don’t think that there is anyone who has never experienced grief. So, in many ways, the books are a pleasurable terror as they can act as a love letter to loss. “When the Sleeping Dead Still Talk” is also in many ways a love story, so there is an element f transcendence to the story, and the question of what it means to love someone, what if that person is dead? What if that person you love is a hallucination? Do these things discount it as real love? 

What drew you into this particular genre?

I like to blame it on the fact that I ‘accidentally read” Pet Sematary by Stephen King when I was 10, but I think my fascination with all things “dark” must have started before that. I lived pretty close to a cemetery and the neighborhood kids would play there (there and the power lines). I also think that living in New England must have played a part in it as well. New England is very proud of their ghost stories. There is also the fact that the Salem Witch Trials took place near by and when we were little, we were taken to places like the Witch Museum, or the House of Seven Gables on School trips. There was always something intoxicating about the “what if” behind all of these stories that sent chills down my spine. I always go back to the same words. Pleasurable Terror.

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

This is a great question. I think I would have to say I would want to sit down with my character Agnes, who was a supporting character in From Daylight to Madness, as well as When the Sleeping Dead Still Talk (she has a larger role in that book) and ask her specifically about what was going through her mind the “first” time she shot her father. I would love to know what she thought of as she pulled the trigger, and then find out what went through her mind when he lived. (I am referencing a specific thing in the novel From Daylight to Madness, a comment that a character makes about her.) Then after that I guess I would ask her if she has enough story for me to write a book about her … because I keep coming back to her in my head.

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

For me it has been Facebook. I know some authors swear by Twitter or Instagram, but for me it’s Facebook. I think it helps that my podcast also streams live on Facebook so it is where I centralize my focus. I do love Instagram though, as a photographer it’s a great place to promote in a visual way.

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

Don’t let the insecurities in your head convince you that you can’t do something. I would also suggest to people starting out (and even not starting out) to never stop pushing yourself, write in other genres, take classes, experiment with style, write the story you want to write!

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

Yes! I have a new novel being released this summer. I believe at the end of June or early July, I will know more soon. It is Literary Fiction with elements of ghost fiction, body horror, and some medical suspense, while still remaining very much a literary novel. It is called Pretty/Ugly.

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About the Author

Jennifer Anne Gordon is a Gothic horror novelist. Her work includes Beautiful, Frightening and Silent (2020) which won the Kindle Award for Best Horror/Suspense for 2020, and From Daylight to Madness (The Hotel book 1), and When the Sleeping Dead Still Talk (The Hotel book 2).

She had a collection of her mixed media artwork published during spring of 2020, entitled Victoriana: mixed media art of Jennifer Gordon

Jennifer is one of the hosts as well as the creator of Vox Vomitus, a video podcast on the Global Authors on the Air Network, as well as the Co-Host of the You Tube Channel “Talk Horror to Me”. She had been a contributor to Ladies of Horror Fiction, as well as Horror Tree.

Jennifer is a pale curly haired ginger, obsessed with horror, ghosts, abandoned buildings, and her dog “Lord Tubby”.

She graduated from the New Hampshire Institute of Art, where she studied Acting. She also studied at the University of New Hampshire with a concentration in Art History and English.

She has made her living as an actress, a magician’s assistant, a “gallerina”, a comic book dealer, a painter, and burlesque performer and for the past 10 years as an award-winning professional ballroom dancer, performer, instructor, and choreographer.

When not scribbling away (ok, typing frantically) she enjoys traveling with her fiancé and dance partner, teaching her dog ridiculous tricks (like ‘give me a kiss’ and ‘what hand is the treat in?’ ok these are not great tricks.) as well as taking photos of abandoned buildings and haunted locations.

She is a leo, so at the end of the day she just thinks about her hair.

https://www.jenniferannegordon.com/

Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Jenna Greene

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

I think I was a writer right from the start. My parents have described me as a talker and wild story teller from the very beginning. Once second or third grade hit, I was able to really write and develop the little tales I came up with. I remember penning a story for my fourth grade class on my mom’s old typewriter. I kind of miss the bings and clicks it made. Anyway, I’ve been writing ever since.

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What inspired you to write your book?

The inspiration for REBORN came from my annoyance with my freckles, a thought gathered at a writer’s conference, and my mother’s illness. All three elements combined beautifully to create a unique tale.

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

I hope readers learn to not judge others based on superficial qualities. I hope they learn to listen more and judge less, and to seek similarities rather than differences between themselves and others.

What drew you into this particular genre?

The first book I ever penned was a YA … and I was YA. I was seventeen at the time ideas for my IMAGINE series entered my brain. Add to that the fact that I eventually became a teacher and worked with teenagers… ta da!

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

I would want to talk to Ceera, as she is the youngest. Youth have different perspectives on what is occurring, and they are very pure in their thoughts and emotions.

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

Well, I’m a bit old-school, so Facebook is my main avenue for communication. But I’ve been branching out to Twitter and Instagram. I guess my nieces will eventually convince me to embrace Tik Tok.

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

Just write. Yes, some of it will not be good, but the only way to get better is to practice. And the best thing is to keep going, and not constantly re-read what you just wrote over and over again. You need a bit of distance from your writing. It’s better to let the words have a moment to themselves before you analyze them. And keep in mind, all rough drafts look quite, well, rough.

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

The sequel to REBORN is edited and right now my publisher is working on formatting and cover design. I’m super excited to see how fans react to this continued journey for Lexil, Finn, and other characters. As well, I have a picture book in development, and I am thrilled to see a story for a younger readership reach the shelves.

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About the Author

Jenna Greene is a writer, podcaster, teacher, clumsy dancer, dragonboat coach, and semi-professional napper. She’s also the co-host of “Quill and Ink: A Podcast for Book Lovers” with Miranda Oh.

www.facebook.com/jennabutrenchukgreene

www.jennagreene.ca

Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Peter C. Mitchell

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

Ink is in my blood. Both my parents were journalists; and my father’s parents were journalists. My grandfather, Frank Mitchell, received an OBE for his services to England; first as Head of the News Division for the British Foreign Office in the U.S., then as Chief of the Press and Information Office for the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.

I have yet to attain such lofty heights myself, and likely never will; but I initially followed my father’s footsteps into Business Journalism in Ontario, Canada where I served as Managing Editor for two regional business magazines in Hamilton and Niagara. It wasn’t quite my cup of tea, but I soldiered on and developed a growing interest in Corporate Social Responsibility and the role businesses were playing in helping alleviate society’s woes. I started moving away from providing context to the facts and figures that constitute most business stories; and focusing on the people who were using their business success to tackle the issues that affect us as individuals and as a society.

At the same time I started poking into my family’s history, notably my great, great grandfather, Sir John Kirk. He received a knighthood for his philanthropic work as the Director of the Ragged School Union in London, England. This organization was founded in 1844 to provide free education to those who could not afford it. When the Education Act was passed in England in 1870, the Ragged School Union was suddenly superfluous to requirements and frantically started expanding their philanthropic efforts –basically throwing every strand of charitable spaghetti at the wall to see what would stick. They managed to survive as they moved into other areas of charity; and their influence stretched around the world –even to Hamilton, Ontario where I had spent my childhood. John Kirk was a natural media manipulator and proved instrumental in that growth, achieving almost celebrity status amongst Christian and charity groups around the world.

There had been two previous biographies written about him, but they were little more than feel-good public relations pap, almost nausea inducing –and as I quickly discovered, not entirely honest in their portrayal of his work. A lot was brushed under the carpet. The internet opened up research possibilities that were virtually impossible before and enabled me to lift the carpet just enough to see what was hidden underneath. It proved wonderfully messy, both in terms of John Kirk’s personal life and his work. My father and I bonded, not as father and son, but as professional journalists with each salacious revelation. As an award-winning journalist himself, he too knew a good story when he saw one. With my father’s practical, financial and emotional support I dedicated myself full-time to writing “A Knight in the Slums,” a new biography of Sir John Kirk and his work.

But that is not the book I have written –yet. Life, as it does, took an interesting turn.

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What inspired you to write your book?

“Rude Awakenings From Sleeping Rough” is my first-person account of that interesting turn.

I returned to England in 2017 to complete the research on Sir John, and within a year found myself homeless on the streets of London with nothing more than a broken suitcase and a scant few possessions. With an ironic nod to literary coincidence, I spent most of that first month in Paddington Station, much like the famous bear that took its name. Sadly, there was no Brown family to pass by and take me in; but the staff of the Station and the businesses within were tremendously helpful and supportive –as many people in the business and service sectors have proven to be. They see and deal with homelessness every day –more than people realize– and despite regularly experiencing the theft, vandalism and abuse that often results, they often take a personal interest and have a genuine desire to help in whatever limited capacity they can.

I don’t refer to Paddington Station directly in the book, but I want to take this opportunity to draw attention to them, and the other unsung heroes –from road-sweepers to store managers– who get no credit for the small acts of kindness and support they quietly provide. They should be empowered and supported to do more: the desire is there. I hope any journalists reading this interview will be inspired to seek out those stories that occur on an almost daily basis. The general public is not as apathetic as we might think; and are capable of providing more practical support than they may realize, free of charity influences and agendas. I own a plush Paddington Bear toy as one of the few fond mementoes of this ordeal and will treasure it to my dying day. I loved that bear as a child and I love him even more as an adult. I would not have survived that first month without the kindness and support I received at Paddington Station.

Eventually I found myself directed to one of the homeless charities in the Westminster area of London, and that is when the real nightmare began. My experiences within the charity system proved more horrific than homelessness itself, and I find myself still trapped in the nightmare three years later. Right from the start they were dishonest about the options that were available, to the point of blatant lies, and refusing to answer questions phrased to elicit a simple “yes” or no”. answer. While completing the paperwork relating to my case, they applied their own filters, often leaving out critical information I was sharing; digging into my family history although it had no relevance to my situation, and insisting they could only help me if I applied for benefits through them. I was frequently encouraged to “play the game” if I wanted to be helped.

I refused. The relationship quickly deteriorated, and I was subjected to severe mental and emotional abuse at the hands of multiple charities. I was eventually forced into housing that was unhygienic and unsafe. The risk of drunken assault by other tenants is so great I frequently find myself sleeping outside more than in. It is in no way the “solution” the charities promote it as being.

During this time I discovered homeless women were being sexually assaulted in London by a man volunteering for many street level charities. The response of every single charity was to decline his volunteer services, and take no further action hoping the problem would simply go away. I disagreed, and informed the police, who also took no action. Word reached the ears of the wrong people and my life was repeatedly threatened. Again, the London Metropolitan Police refused to take any action, at one point threatening to arrest me. I was eventually forced to flee London for fear of my life. Sadly Covid-19 struck, and I was eventually forced to return. This man is still volunteering for charities. And I still live in fear for my safety, from the other tenants within this house, and from the thugs associated with this serial offender -particularly when word of this book’s publication reaches street level.

I was sharing this entire ordeal online with friends back in Canada who were horrified. One close friend, Mark Leslie Lefebvre, owns his own publishing imprint, Stark Publishing. He reached out asking if I would be interested in writing a book about my experiences –partly to help earn the money required to escape this nightmare once and for all, and also to bring attention to these abuses within the charity system. Sadly, none of my experiences are unique. Stories even worse than mine are far too common, and not limited to England. It needs to end.

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

It is time for governments to put the charity system under the microscope; to investigate the actions that occur behind closed charity doors; and to bring legislative reform and strict regulation to prevent these abuses, not only of the people who turn to these charities in times of desperate need, but of the benefits system itself. There needs to be greater honesty, greater transparency, greater accountability, and increased monitoring in all areas of charity work. And it should be easier for victims of physical, mental, and sexual abuse within the charity system to seek justice.

What drew you into this particular genre?

“Rude Awakenings From Sleeping Rough” is a straight-forward first person account of my experiences within the charity sector. It is not the story of my “journey” per se, but an honest, often uncomfortably graphic account of systematic abuse. Those hoping for any sort of inspiration are going to be sadly disappointed. It was painful to live through; it was painful to write; and it will be painful to read. But it is necessary. My experiences pale in comparison to those of others, but their stories rarely reach the public eye. As a third-generation journalist I was fortunate to inherit and develop the necessary skills to draw attention to these issues.

What is one major misconception that many people have about those forced to live on the streets that you’d want readers to really know and understand?

Don’t allow sympathy to cloud your judgment. It is always wise to avoid letting emotions cloud any decisions you make whether personal or professional. That holds true for any cause you may be inclined to support. It is easy to feel great pity for those who have found themselves living on the streets, but you shouldn’t allow that pity to influence the decisions that are required to bring permanent, sustainable solutions to their plights.

Imagine if your parent, sibling, or child has found themselves on the streets because of alcoholism or drug use. Would you appreciate strangers handing them money that is subsequently used to feed their addiction? Sadly, this is the reality more often than not. 

And blindly donating money to charities without doing any research to see how that money is spent often perpetuates, rather than provides any permanent, long-lasting solutions to people’s homelessness. As I know from bitter experience, that money is not always well spent. Far too often people with addictions and serious mental health issues are irresponsibly thrown into living conditions where they simply fuel each other’s addictions, or antagonize each other’s mental conditions. All too often this results in violence both inside and outside the accommodation. As I detail in the book, these housing “solutions” the charities promote are dangerous, violent, and unsafe. Even in the bitter cold of winter I still find myself escaping to the streets in the middle of the night to avoid the violence that suddenly erupts without warning. And that is ignoring the fact the housing itself is often unhygienic and unsafe.

Both the homeless and the charities play on people’s sympathies to get them to open their wallets. Don’t allow that to happen. The homeless are not cuddly helpless waifs. It is a violent, crime-riddled life where physical and sexual assaults are common occurrences; where theft, vandalism, and drug related crimes spread out into the surrounding community, affecting people’s businesses, homes, and their children. And again, as I know from horrific experience, even when homeless women are being raped – by a charity volunteer in this case- the charities and the local authorities take little to no action to put an end to those sexual assaults; and go to great lengths to prevent that information from becoming public knowledge. It isn’t good for the benevolent “image.” My life is still in danger from trying to obtain justice for a woman I know who was sexually assaulted; and the responses from the charities and the London Metropolitan Police have been abominable. It’s as disgusting as the rapes themselves.

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

Social media has been a lifesaver throughout this ordeal. It was my only connection with the world, particularly friends back in Canada. When I found myself homeless, I immediately made my Facebook account private and used it to maintain those valuable connections. I shared the specifics of my experiences with complete honesty and the rawest of emotions. I ranted; I raved; I cried; I begged for help; I reached out for emotional support on a regular basis –and there was always someone available to provide it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And though we were separated by the Atlantic, they provided their strength and support just as effectively as if we were able to connect in person. I have more than my fair share of close, personal friends –in many cases better friends than I deserve. There are simply too many to list. They saved my sanity, and for that I will always be grateful. And it was on their recommendation that I used those posts to write the book, capturing the pain, the helplessness, and the fear in its unfiltered immediacy.

In terms of developing a readership, I’m not expert enough to offer a valuable opinion. Mark, my publisher, would be able to provide a more informed answer. I simply post on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to bring attention to the book with varied levels of success. However, I’m only reaching established connections –preaching to the choir so to speak. In terms of breaking out of that limited audience –beyond trying to establish a ‘word of mouth’ campaign by asking those connections to share the posts and recommend the book– I’m not having any success at all. Again, Mark has the knowledge and experience to provide any recommendations in that regard.

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

I’m going to pigeonhole myself as a grumpy old man; but I’m going to state categorically to stop looking for advice and just write. Anything else is just procrastination. And I speak with the authority of a Master Procrastinator.

I’m reminded of the first “Kung Fu Panda” movie where the secret ingredient of Mr. Ping’s Noodle Soup and the secret behind the power of the legendary Dragon Scroll both prove to be nothing. There is no secret or hidden ingredient to writing. You simply commit to doing it. It requires discipline, and a love for the process itself. If either are lacking, the odds are you are not going to succeed.

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

In all honesty my future still looks quite bleak. One of my aims in writing “Rude Awakenings From Sleeping Rough” is to use the money from the sales to finally escape this horrific living situation I was forced into against my will and establish myself in proper -and safe- living accommodations long enough to obtain proper employment.

But the sales simply aren’t there –particularly here in England. People don’t want to know. I understand the trepidation: it’s reading that’s ‘good for you,’ and that’s never an easy sale. It is a brutally honest and uncomfortably graphic account of abuse and neglect within the charity sector. And there is no “happy ending.”

But that’s the point. The happy endings are few and far between when people become ensnared in the world of homelessness. The “solutions” the charities waste money on promoting are not working –and aggravated by the abuse and neglect within many of the charities themselves. Governments need to step in and put an end to these abuses; not only of the homeless, but of their respective benefits systems. The charity sector needs radical reforms and strict regulation. And the public needs to stop placing their blind faith in these “caring” organizations.

Those aren’t comfortable truths. The general public understandably doesn’t feel comfortable facing them. And if the public doesn’t have the motivation or desire to learn the truth you are trying to impart, it doesn’t matter how well you write; or how strong your intentions to shine a light on that truth, and bring change that is sorely needed –you are simply wasting time, ink, and paper. It is soul-destroying enough to put an end to any future writing endeavours.

To be blunt, without the charity sector being scrutinized and heavily regulated, the homeless will continue to fall victim to their own personal demons; and live at constant risk of abuse, assault or rape with no recourse to justice. I am still trapped in this cycle of homelessness more than three years later despite all my efforts to escape it. And I still live in fear for my personal safety in the housing “solution” the charities forced me into accepting. Quite frankly, the future is a false-hope luxury I, and many others, can’t afford. All we can do is survive day to day and pray this existence doesn’t break us. Without proper charity reform, there is no future for any of us.

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About the Author

London born, Canadian raised Peter Mitchell was bumbling his way through a moderately successful career in business journalism when an investigation into a story on Corporate Social Responsibility inspired him to look beyond profit margins and PR into the very real problems faced by society. This inspiration prompted him to dip his toes into a self-confessed Sanity/Vanity project of a biography of his great, great grandfather, Sir John Kirk. 

As Secretary of The Ragged School Union, John championed the causes of children, the disabled, and the working poor in Victorian-era London. His influence extended beyond the city limits, and his life proved more interesting than previous biographies revealed. Dust-buried references have surfaced in the most obscure locales, showing the consequences—both good and bad—to the ragged and crippled children John Kirk devoted his life to help. 

In 2017, Peter returned to London to complete his research and begin the writing of “A Knight in the Slums.” The past was ready to be mined, and the future was assured. The present, however, took an unpredictable -and darkly ironic—turn. https://c0.pubmine.com/sf/0.0.3/html/safeframe.htmlREPORT THIS AD

A series of unfortunate events transpired, creating a perfect storm of calamities leaving Peter penniless and sleeping rough. He had unwittingly fallen victim to the same societal ailments John Kirk fought. That nightmare inadvertently provided him with an inside look into the current workings of these same systems put in place by his great, great grandfather, and others like him, put in place over a century ago. That experience frightened him more than the horrors of homelessness itself. 

Armed with the scars of this unexpected, but disturbingly relevant, knowledge Peter continues to work on “A Knight in the Slums” with renewed insight. John Kirk created solutions over 100 years ago that are still in play today. Times have changed; yet the solutions have stagnated, and proven to not be solutions, but mechanisms that perpetuate the cycle of poverty: a Hell’s Carousel funded by well-meant individuals and institutions blinded by the brand of “charity.” New systems need to be developed; new solutions need to be found.

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Peter C. Mitchell

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A Knight in the Slums
In Someone Else’s Shoes

How It Feels to be Homeless (Huffington Post)

Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Marie Powell

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

Well, I wrote my first story for a neighbour when I was six years old — self-published with crayon and staples! But seriously, I had a lot of encouragement from my high school English teachers, especially Gary Hyland, a Moose Jaw poet I was fortunate to have as my English teacher twice (Grades 10 and 12). He got me interested in the Sage Hill Writing Experience and the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild (SWG). I started writing poetry initially. In university I switched to Theatre Studies, as a dramaturge working on new play development, and then I began writing plays and filmscripts. Then I morphed to journalism, then freelance magazine writing, and eventually short stories and children’s writing. About 15 years ago, I went to the Sage Hill Writing Experience for a 10-day fiction workshop, followed up with the incredible opportunity of doing an MFA degree in Creative Writing at UBC. That started me writing novels. So it’s been a long and winding path.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

This series is the result of my trips to Wales. I went to visit the big English castles like Conwy and Caernarfon and Beaumaris, but they were actually built by Edward I to subjugate the Welsh. So I also went to the smaller castles of the Welsh princes, like Dolwyddelan and Castell-y-Bere. These are very different. There’s no gate, no ticket taker, no little shop selling souvenirs, no tour guide, and really, no people around when we visited. Just signs with pictures that showed people falling off rocks: enter at your own risk. But there were placards at Dolwyddelan with the history of the Welsh princes and all that was lost in the 1282-3 invasion. And I felt that history in some strange way, walking through that ruined castle. It’s my ancestry. I didn’t know much about it then, but I just got hooked. I had just done a story about a man who trained hawks, and one day I tried free-writing about what it would be like to have a connection with a hawk. That — after a lot of rewriting — is still the opening scene of Spirit Sight, the first book in the series. This been my heart-project, and I’ve been working away at it ever since.

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

This is really a book about friendship and working together to overcome extreme odds. Friendship is like magic: only limited by our imagination. Magic evolves and grows, just like we do, and it can connect unlikely people in unusual ways. But we can survive anything if we pull together — young and old, Gifted and not — and stretch our natural abilities to help each other.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’m naturally drawn to speculative fiction and fantasy. We carry so much with us, the people we’ve known and the places we’ve been and the things we’ve seen, sometimes without really being aware of it. Things seen and half-seen and unseen influence us, and our personal past has an effect on our present just as history affects the future. As a kid, I read about a Welsh bard who saw an animal transform from one shape to another and another. I still have that image in my head, the subtle connections between things that might not seem connected. That’s the kind of magic I want to capture in my stories. Go on a walk and there are birds flying overhead or calling from the trees, insects that pass in and out of our field of vision, and even the wind pushing the leaves around. We don’t consciously notice much of it, but it might be enough to make us walk one direction instead of another, or have a dream or a nightmare two weeks later. I once had a colleague who felt that buildings hold the impressions of people who pass through them, and if you listen you can still hear their voices crying in the walls. That could either make you crazy or make you pick up a pen.

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

The characters in my books tend to answer questions before I ask them. It’s difficult to slow them down long enough for me to catch up. Right now, I’m working on short stories to provide some of the backstory that I couldn’t put in the novel, like the main characters’ backstories and adventures of the secondary characters between the scenes. I’d love to hear what questions readers would like to ask!

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

I use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media, but I would have to say my website is the most helpful (https://mariepowell.ca/young-adult/last-of-the-gifted/). That’s where people can find my books, series videos, and information. I try to keep it up to date on my workshops, conference panels, and other activities. It’s the best way to contact me because it links to my email. I’m also starting a mailing list and the link is available on my website.

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

Read everything, especially the genres you would like to write, and write a lot. Challenge yourself. Almost anyone can write, but we owe it to our readers to write well. Take classes and courses, join feedback groups, and learn as much about writing as you can. Seriously. And be persistent. Writers evolve, so make it a long-term commitment.

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

I’m working on quite a few projects. As well as short stories, Book 3 in the Last of the Gifted series is high on my list. Also, I have some published short stories that are more contemporary speculative fiction, and I’d like to compile them into a book. And I’m working on a more contemporary SF novel that’s totally unrelated. I could use a few extra hours a day!

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About the Author

Marie Powell’s castle-hopping across North Wales to explore her family roots resulted in her YA historical fantasy Spirit Sight (Last of the Gifted Book 1). Book 2, Water sight, will be released in fall 2020. Among other degrees, she holds a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing from the University of BC. Marie lives on Treaty 4 land in Regina, Saskatchewan, and her writing workshops are popular across the region.

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Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Daniel James

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

I didn’t get into writing until quite late, mid-twenties. I’ve always had a busy imagination, and I’m far better at getting lost in my own thoughts than living in the moment, but for most of my life I’d been quite content to let reading, watching movies, and playing video games be my outlet, fuelling the creative process I suppose. And then in my teens I started playing in rock bands which was a major distraction for me, but when I knocked that on the head for good, I suppose I needed a new creative outlet to fixate on, I just didn’t expect it to be taking a crack at being a novelist. 

I think I must have spent too many years thinking about What If… scenarios, and fantasising about monsters and survival and grand good versus evil conflicts that it forced me to give it a shot; that and the fact that I was getting supremely disinterested in my final year at university. So what better way to shrug off some dull dissertation than diving head-first into your own creator-owned world?

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

Whilst I have written several other books, Hourglass was inevitable. The first story I ever wrote was a total unfocused scattershot of things I love: world-conquering demons, plucky and colourful heroes, super hero-sized punch-ups in urban-city demolishing combat scenes, gangsters, and so forth. 

Being my training wheel days I just went with it, not looking back, and loving every second of it. Now whilst I shudder to imagine the quality of that story’s plot, there are still lots of things from that world which I love, and Clyde and Kev, the protagonists from Hourglass, are just two of them. So Hourglass was my chance to wipe that old slate clean, take these two characters and build a new world around them.

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

Besides a rollicking good time (ha-ha, I hope!) I’d like the readers to try and stay positive with their attitude towards death. I know how grandiose and bleak that sounds, but I mean it in an uplifting way. Clyde and Kev are two characters on either side of the mortal spectrum, each carrying their own weight and existential woes, but on their journey they begin to understand just how little they know about life and death, and the greater universal mysteries behind it all. So I’d like readers, regardless of their faith (or lack of) to accept that no mortal in this world knows what comes next. As a species, the majority of our oceans remain a mystery to us. 

The vastness of outer space is also a mystery, as is the human brain, and a great many other things, so who can say what truly happens in death? Could be there’s nothing. Could be we get forced into an egg and spoon race against leprechauns. Who can say? And to me, that brings a kind of peace. But personally, if I had a choice I’d like to kick supernatural arse with Hourglass.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

As I mentioned, returning to the urban fantasy genre was unavoidable for me. Although I love horror, as it was Robert McCammon, Stephen King, Clive Barker etc. who opened the door for me into the joys of reading, my imagination tends to lean just as heavily into the explosive and the fantastical as it does the macabre and the spooky. 

I love big theatrical conflict and throw-down fights, which doesn’t always mix well with pure horror because of the genre’s need for their protagonists to be physically outmatched by the evil threat; although there are exceptions, of course. But basically, the one overarching goal for me as a writer has always been to create my own big, bustling world of characters. One where I can take them on an epic episodic adventure, building them, breaking them down, testing them, and just generally indulging in my god complex… all writers have one.

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

This is a tough question! I’d either ask Ace if he thinks listening to ‘80’s metal and hard rock is conducive to pounding monsters heads-in?, or I’d ask Clyde if living a comic-book-esque lifestyle is actually any fun or is just plain stressful?

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

I’m very lean when it comes to social media. All I use is Twitter (@DJauthor85). But the BookBub Partner site has been very useful to me in the past by attracting readers with my ad campaigns.

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

To any aspiring or newbie authors I’d say that you need to write for yourself first and foremost. If you strike oil and become a huge success, that’s awesome, but if that’s the only reason you’re doing this then I’d say stick to scratching off lottery tickets instead. Success is the dream, the fantasy, but the joy of creating and sharing with readers is what sustains the soul.

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

As for upcoming works, I have just completed the third draft of a horror novel called Heathens, set in my hometown of Liverpool, which I’ll be shopping around soon. And I’m waiting to hear the fate of a pretty bizarre high-school horror novel called Fable, which I actually wrote just prior to my first published novel in 2018, but it’s been stuck in backlog hell with the small horror print. One way or another, even if I stay on the indie route I’ll get one or both of them out in 2021. And of course I’ll be continuing the adventures of Clyde and Kev in New York City from February 2021. I can’t wait for that!

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About the Author

Daniel James is the recipient of a Kirkus Reviews (starred review) for his action-packed urban fantasy novel, Hourglass, and the Literary Titan Gold Book award for his vengeance-fueled crime novel, Pigs.

An author of horror, fantasy, and fast-paced thrillers, he first began writing as a hobby to distract himself from the mundanity of completing his dissertation at Liverpool Hope University. When not writing, he loves reading genre fiction novels and comic books, watching movies, and listening to music (he also used to play bass in a few local rock bands).

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19334785.Daniel_James

Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Dieter Ryckewaert

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

I started writing when I was about fourteen years old. At school we had to write poems about love. I thought it was corny as hell, but strangely enough I liked it. More poems followed, and soon I wrote my first SF short story. It was as bad as anything, but set the tone to get better and to grow. In my early twenties I read ‘Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn’ by Tad Williams. Those books changed my view of books forever, and because of him I started my first real novel.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

I love books with a serious romantic theme in them. That and conflict between people or civilizations. ‘Journey of hope and tears’ was written while a conflict was going on between the Ukraine and Russia, and the war in Syria. Those wars, and especially what ordinary people have to endure, I wanted to get into my story. When you see the news about those wars, it’s a far away story for most people, and a lot of people don’t think about it anymore the next minute. I wanted to make my readers feel what it’s like to be a refugee. What it’s like to lose everything and have to fight for what’s left. That way I also wanted to show how lucky we are in the western world.

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

Two things.
What real love between two people means, because in recent years, real love only seems like something from times long gone, if we may believe TV. Which is a great pity, because is there anything more beautiful than love?
The second thing I wanted to give is to show that we need each other as humanity, and that we don’t have to be divided. Having a friend is much more pleasant than having an enemy, and yet we fail to live in peace.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Simple: my love for fantasy, SF, dystopian and romance stories. That and the inner warrior in me.

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

Well, in the book, Sabrielle is the goddess of everything in this universe. I think it would be very interesting to have tea with her. What would I ask her? I have some good questions, but if I write them down now, I’ll tell what happens in my next book, so I don’t think that’s wise. Maybe I would ask her to come with me to our world. There is still a lot of work to be done here. And to Jill I would just say: ‘it’s gonna be all right.’

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

Goodreads.com and Hebban.nl

Always honest reviews, whether it’s bad or good, you can learn from it.

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

Do it in the first place because you love to do it, and because you love to tell stories, and are fascinated by the writing itself. If you do it to get famous or to make a lot of money, do something else, because you will be disappointed.

That’s the truth, a bit harsh, but it’s true. I write during my free time, and I still have a fulltime dayjob (which I love too offcourse).

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

I am currently promoting the English version of ‘Journey of hope and tears’. Together with my partner Leen Lefebre (Soraia, child of the sea) I am forming a writers duo. All income of ‘Journey of hope and tears’ and ‘Soraia, child of the sea’ goes to ‘SameYou’, a charity dedicated to brain injury recovery awareness (sameyou.org).
And I’m also working on a story that takes place after Jill & Sam’s story.

Many of my Dutch-speaking readers were extremely curious about what will come after the story, and this year I started working on it.
It took a while due to lack of time and changes in my personal life, but I found what I was looking for to make the new story an emotional tearjerker again. If you like Jill, you’re going to love Lauren. And that’s all I’m saying 😉

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About the Author

When an author writes about his characters, or about the magical worlds in which they live, his or her pen never gets empty. Ask an author about the background of his or her latest protagonist, and the next hour you’re guaranteed not to get a letter in between.

What could be difficult about writing your own biography, you might think?

The answer to that question is already written in the question itself: the ‘own’ biography. Most authors write about everything and everyone, but mostly not… about themselves.

But anyway, let me introduce myself.

My name is Dieter Ryckewaert (1984) and I was born in Poperinge, a small town in West Flanders, a stone’s throw from the Belgian coast. When I was about three years old, we moved with our family to Zonnebeke, where me and my sister had a carefree childhood. The house in which we lived bordered a field and a forest, the dream playground for every child of my generation.

Together with the children of the neighbors, we played outside, and risked our lives several times in the branches of the trees. The garden of the neighbors was separated from our garden by a nine-foot high hedge. In the middle of that hedge was a hole big enough to give passage to an adult person. On day one of our time in Zonnebeke, my parents wanted to close the hedge, so we had a little more privacy in our garden. Of course, that didn’t match our idea about the hole (us as in: me, my sister, and the three children of the neighbors). The hole functioned as a passage from and especially to the new playmates. So close it? No way!

Eight years later, when we moved back to Poperinge, the hole was still there.

Back in Poperinge I was first confronted with my ‘writing itch’ when we got the chance at school to work on a collection of poems about love. As a fourteen year old adolescent I found the idea as corny as it could be. Really, shouldn’t we be tough like men? Well, I gave it a chance… and it turned out that ‘writing’ was much more fun than I first thought. When the words flowed out of my pen (we didn’t have a computer yet), ‘poetry and rhyming’ became quite fun.

From poetry, it logically turned into short stories. And I remember my first short story very well. I was so proud of my little Sci-Fi work! In hindsight, the quality was way below par, but one has to begin somewhere, right?

Many short stories followed, and as the writing itch continued to rise, I ventured into my first ‘real’ novel.

Once I graduated, I wanted my writing to blossom further. Bringing new worlds and characters to life and sharing them with readers gives me enormous satisfaction. Not only that, but also the fact that stories with a positive note inspire people and give them a chance to escape from the – hectic or not – life.