Author Interview: Ben Peek

Hi Readers,

It’s November and it’s NaNoWriMo time. As you, me and everyone starts penning their 50,000 words, let’s encourage all the authors who have put in a lot of hardwork in their novels.

On this note, we have with us Ben Peek.


Ben Peek is the author of The Godless, Leviathan’s Blood, Black Sheep, Twenty-Six Lies/One Truth, and the short story collection, Dead Americans and Other Stories. He lives in Sydney, Australia, with his partner the photographer, Nikilyn Nevins, and two cats, who contribute very little. He can be found at or on twitter @nosubstance

  1. Hi Ben! Tell us something about yourself and about your journey as an author.

I’m an Australian author who lives in Sydney. I’ve been publishing speculative fiction of one kind or another for about two decades now, beginning with short fiction in old paper fanzines that paid me nothing, to independent publishers, and big mainstream publishers. I suspect I’ve seen just about every story of success and failure that you can imagine in publishing.

  1. Your new book Leviathan’s Blood is a sequel to the Godless. And it is the second book in the Children’s Trilogy. Please tell the readers about it and what they can expect from the triology?


The Children Trilogy is my big, crazy fantasy series, where the gods are dead, their bodies leak their power into the world, and people awake with strange powers. It’s set in a world where the sun is broken, the ocean is black, and the body of a god is hidden beneath a mountain range. It’s my homage to my childhood of reading big fantasy books, really. It’s all the things I loved as a teenager – big sword fights, big crazy cities – and all the things that I love as an adult – quantum entanglement theory, discussions on the nature of godhood, life after death – mashed into a big thing. I finished the last book earlier this year and all three books come in at around half a million words. It’s like I’ve lived my childhood dream.

  1. Is this your first work of fiction? Or have you written any other books? (Write about your other works)

Nah. Leviathan’s Blood is my sixth book.

My first was a science fiction novel, Black Sheep, that I wrote when I was twenty one. It’s a pretty rough book, but if you can find a copy of it round, it sort of pins the start of my interests down. Things like equality, fighting against racism, that sort of thing. You can see that running through all my work, to one degree or another. In the fantasy books, for example, the equality is just part of the world building. So there’s no discrimination based on gender, the cast is diverse, things like that. It’s the 21st Century, after all, and we ought to have fiction that represents the diverse, multicultural world we live in.

My other books include an autobiography about autobiographies, a flip science fiction novel with Stephanie Campisi, and a collection of short stories entitled Dead Americans and Other Stories. It’s full of my short pieces, and you should totally read it.

  1. Which of the characters in your recently released book is your favourite and why?

I like them all – otherwise, why write them?

  1. Who or what inspires you to write?

Mostly, it’s just the thoughts in my head. Left to my own devices – in a shower, walking, just passing time – I tend to make up stories in my head. I might read an article, or see someone, and more and more it all creeps in. So, in many ways, I write just to push out what’s in there.

Now, why do I publish, that’s a different question.

The answer is simple: I don’t like other jobs. I’d like to do this solo, if I could. So I write it to clean out my thoughts, and I sell it because it might mean I don’t have to do the other things I do for money.

  1. What do you think are the biggest strength and weaknesses of a writer?

I am sure another person can tell you all about my weaknesses. As for my strength, I don’t know. It’s all a bit too much to say you’re good at this but bad at that, I think. I try to be good at everything in my work. I know I’m not, but you have to strive forward.

  1. Have you ever faced the ‘Writer’s Block’? How do you deal with it?

No, not really. I mean, some days you don’t want to write, but if you keep a regular schedule, it pretty much takes care of itself. Which I guess is how I deal with it, really. I write between five to seven days a week, depending on how the work is going. I keep ritualised work hours, even. Those physical acts are a great help, I think, but naturally, your mileage may vary. 

  1. Being a published author, what do you think are the best ways to approach a publisher? Also, what do budding authors need to keep in mind while writing their first ever book?

Probably the best way to approach a publisher is through an agent. I mean, if we’re talking about a big publishers. Even some of the higher up independent publishers. You want to go in with an agent, there. S/he will know how to navigate the workplace there, in a way you never will, until you’ve been in the mix for a long time. After that, the only advice I can offer you is to be polite.

You’d be surprised how many authors are not polite.

As for new authors, I think it’s important that you keep in mind that you have to be writing for yourself, to a degree. Write because it means something to you. Not because of money, or fame, or something else. Write because it means something to you. Because it speaks to you.

And read. Read everything you can.

  1. Apart from your work, which other books would you recommend and why?

I recently read Roberto Bolano’s 2666, which I loved, and I think everyone should read. It’s about violence.

You can watch the trailer of the book here.


Author Interview: KSR Menon


Hello Mr. Menon. Please tell us a bit about yourself and your journey as a writer?

I have been a news agency journalist for most of my life.I was posted as the correspondent of the leading Indian news agency, the Press Trust of India in Dubai. That experience gave me an opportunity to base my novel in Dubai. As a wire service journalist,I have been schooled to write with brevity, clarity and accuracy which feature, I believe, is reflected in my style of writing and also in my thriller,Desert Hunt.

You’ve been a journalist and a writer. Could you tell us the difference between the two? How were your experiences as both?

As a journalist you are not at liberty to take a purely subjective view of events. A journalist at best is only an interpreter of events.  A writer is not bound by such rules. However, after being a journalist for so long, I cannot exercise that writer’s freedom to see things only in any one perspective. When I write about a people or a region, I am conscious of the fact that it is my responsibility to see situations from a wide angle.

What is your book about? How did you come up with the plot and the characters?


Desert Hunt” has terrorism as the theme which is very topical today. When I conceived the idea of a Dubai-based novel, I wanted to write something unique. As far as I know, no novel has been published by an Indian expatriate author based on this kind of a terror plot unfolding in the Middle East region, particularly Dubai. This emirate is at the crossroads of East and West and also of opposing ideologies. What is foreseen in the novel is something that is waiting to happen. Once the theme was decided, the characters fell into place. It was as if I knew them in real life.

Who or what inspires you to write?

That is a difficult question. I had done creative writing a couple of decades ago. But in the interregnum, try as I may, I could not produce any fiction, not even a short story. But then one day, I decided to write again. It was part destiny that I succeeded.

What are the qualities, which you think is needed to become a successful writer?

First and foremost one should have the felicity of expression. Language is your tool, and proficiency in language does not come about in a day. One has to be observant of people and places that one has been associated with, as all that will find a place in what one writes. Then there is this endless churning in the mind, which ultimately leads to creative writing combining all other elements and a lot of imagination.

Give our budding writers some tips on how to write well and get published.

Read, read and read. Write, write and write. Earlier, one had to be in an exclusive club, or very luckyto get a book published. Now, thanks to Amazon plus other self-publishing platforms, and social media, anyone can write, and quality and effort can sell.

As a writer, what are your pet peeves?

I have none. But I always wonder why I had a writer’s block for a long time and how why the synapses opened suddenly.

What are the books, apart from your latest release, that you would like to recommend all the bookworms out there?

I now read books of many of my fellow authors who are on, say, goodreads or other similar sites. I must say many of them write very well and are waiting to be discovered. Selection may be decided by the genre one likes. Of course, step into other genres and see what is happening there once in a while. You may enjoy that too and get motivated to be an author.

Given a choice, what would your ideal writing space look like?

I will be alone, all by myself. Plus my laptop, books mostly of the same genreas the one I am trying to write, reference works, and dictionary. I read dictionaries by the way. Keep your cell phone; but switch it off.

Desert Hunt is for all your thriller lovers out there! Do read the book and share your thoughts with us!

Author Interview: Erin Ritch

Hi people, this is yet another Author Interview this week and I have more lined up for you! 🙂 This time is it Erin, who has an absolutely pleasant demeanor. Say hello to her and read the interview. You can also show some love to her latest release The Myth, which by the looks of it, seems to be a delightful read!

Just by the way, Erin is also hosting a giveaway for her wonderful book for book lovers like you and me.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Myth by Erin Ritch


by Erin Ritch

Giveaway ends October 12, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

1. Hi Erin! Could you please tell us a bit about yourself and how did you become a writer?

Hi Sucheta – thank you so much for having me on your site! I’m an author/blogger from rural Oregon where I live on my little farm with my family. I’ve been writing since I was twelve years old and it started because I had fun traveling to different times and worlds vicariously through my characters – and that has continued to this day!

2. Your new release is “Myth”. Why did you choose the title and what is it all about?

“Myth” is my Fantasy novel about a young woodsman and a girl with powers from the sea who join to save their home from an evil spreading across the world. The two main characters, Shogun and Madigan, have to solve an old myth in order to stop the darkness. That’s where the idea for the title came from since this myth is the key to everything.


3. Getting rejected by a publisher is probably the worst nightmare for any upcoming author. How would you tell them to deal with rejections?

Read the rejection, thank the publisher for their time, and move on. Whatever you do, don’t dwell on it. File the rejection away or move it out of your inbox. Rejection is certainly part of the job and it will sting at first, but the most important part is to rise above it and keep writing.

4. Who do you consider your biggest critic and why?

I actually think my spouse is my biggest critic – and I’m happy about that! I value his opinion and we’ve built a trust that I won’t get offended by his honest critique. In fact, I depend on it! He’s always the first to read my next story.

5. From where/whom do you get inspiration from?

Many of my stories start with a random image or thought that I keep exploring until I build a story from. Sometimes the story will be a piece of flash fiction and sometimes it will be a full-length novel. Another source of inspiration for me is that I love to write to music, specifically Celtic music!


6. What would your ideal writing space look like?

Great question! If I could design my ideal writing space, it would have a huge desk and a big comfy chair with one window that overlooks the ocean and one that looks right into the forest. Oh yes, and an espresso machine. Maybe one day I’ll get it!

7. If you were to read only one book for a lifetime, which one would it be and why?

I think it would have to be “A Red Heart of Memories” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman. I was very influenced by this story when I first read the novel in my late teens, just when I was starting to experiment with my own style of writing. One of the characters in the book has the ability to communicate with inanimate objects. That was an idea I was trying out myself and it was very exciting to see it work so well for an established author. That book really gave me the confidence to try out the ideas that I was afraid were too obscure or different.

8.  The epic question. How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

I’ve found when I suffer from Writer’s Block, it’s usually because I’m taking the story in the wrong direction. Going back through the last chapter in the story and trying out different options will usually solve the problem. I keep the deleted material in a separate document just in case I need it later in the book.

9. What are the books you grew up reading and how did they shape up your writing career?

When I was growing up I read everything I could get my hands on but found that I was really drawn to Fantasy and Sci-fi books such as Star Wars. As a teenager, I read a book on writing by Brenda Ueland called “If You Want To Write.” That book truly gave me the confidence to trust my voice and embrace my own style of writing.

10. Give our budding authors some tips that they can use.

Remember that your voice is unique and there is no one else like you! Embrace your own style and explore the stories that interest you. When you finish a story, wait a few weeks before you go back and revisit it, editing will be much easier when you’ve had a chance to step away. Lastly, if you’re interested in publishing your work, remember there are so many options available to writers nowadays – whether it’s traditional publishing, self-publishing, small presses, e-zines, blogs, etc. Connect with or follow authors who write books similar to your’s and see what they are doing to achieve success.

11. What other work(s) do you have in the pipeline?

Right now I’m working on a book called “The Reanimation of Robert” that I’m calling a Paranormal Literary Fiction! It’s about a man that cheats death and gains supernatural powers. I am very happy with how it is turning out and plan on releasing it before the end of the year!

You can contact the author via these links:


Myth is available to purchase internationally in print or e-book on Amazon. Link to Amazon US:

Author Interview: Eva Snowden

Eva Snowden is an extremely warm and jovial person and I am glad to have interviewed her. Instead of me yapping endlessly about her, why not read what she has to say! 🙂


Hi Eva! It is nice to have you on the blog. Please tell us about yourself and how did writing happen to you?

Hello, My name is Eva A. Snowden and I am the author of NamuH, a science fiction novel released this past August.  I have always loved story telling. When I was in elementary, secondary and later college I was always telling stories.  To me it was the best hobby.  I could take any picture, look at any group of people or any object and develop a story around them.  It came in handy in later years when raising my daughter.  I made up stories and told them to her every night and encouraged her to be creative and explore.  It was only after I retired from work that I was able to devote full time to my writing and this novel, which had been roaming around in my mind for years, came to life.

What according to you are the qualities needed to become a writer?

To be a writer you need to unleash your imagination.  Allow your thoughts to wander and to wonder.  A writer needs a sense of discover to create the uncreated to unearth new ways of communication and tell a story.  I want my stories to evoke emotion and perhaps a new perception of ourselves and others.

What or whom do you take inspiration from?

I am inspired by nature.  The absolute marvel of  creation and knowing I am cared for by a loving God encourages me daily.  I also find great inspiration from reading other writers.

How easy or difficult was it for you to get published?

After I wrote my novel, I spent a few months sending query letters to both agents and publishers with no success.  There are so many authors seeking to be published and unfortunately very few that are picked up commercially. That doesn’t mean publication is impossible.  Because of the internet self-publication is very affordable and practical.  I decided to use Create Space and they were very helpful in getting my book in print and on-line.

What would your ideal writing space look like?

Everyone has a different learning style.  I think that is also true for writing.  Some people write better in a quiet office, but that’s not me. I like to write in the middle of my kitchen on a kitchen chair with my laptop on the kitchen Island.  I like the smell of coffee and hearing the sounds of nature outside and the bustle of my house.  I take long walks nearly every day; and while I’m walking I work out plots and dialogue.

Give us an idea about your new book, the plot and the characters.


My novel is dystopian fiction.   In 1968 a third grade teacher named Jane Elliott conducted a phycological exercise with her third grade class.  This happened  shortly after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.  She wanted the children to experience the irrational nature of prejudice and discrimination.  She told the children that the blue eyed children were smarter and better than the brown eyed children and separated the children based on their eye color.  By the end of the school day the blue eyed children had done better on all their tests and were  better behavior while the opposite was true of the brown eyed children.  They acted that way not because of fact but because of what they had been told. That is the insidious evil of discrimination.  My novel takes that idea and expands it to a civilization based on prejudice and discrimination.

The main character is a girl named, Dara.  She is born into privilege as the daughter of circle elder, the supreme commanders of the civilization.  The life of the Circle people is  fraught with peril.  There is a disease, the Luza plague which is first detected in newly born babies.  Infants infected with the virus must be euthanized to prevent the deadly plague spreading.  The circle elders are also responsible for the Namuh, a humanoid species that were once savage and preyed on the circle people.  The circle elders have over time domesticated them and they are used as farm laborers and domestic servants.  In the mountains surrounding the circle complexes are bands of marauders composed of circle deserters and their luza infected children as well as escaped Namuh.  They terrorize the circle villagers and are a bane  to the eldership.

While on an archaeological dig with her father, Dara encounters a ferocious reptile and is saved from sure death by a young soldier of the band.  Severely injured she is nursed back to health by the band.  It is with the band, Dara discovers the truth of who she really is and the evil of the circle elders.  She then must decide what to do with what she knows.  There are many twists and turns as the novel unfolds and the mystery of the Namuh is revealed.

What are the books you grew up reading? What is the earliest memory that you have on reading?

I have always loved science fiction especially dystopian fiction.  I loved George Orwell and Mary Shelley and also enjoy Stephen King and Carrie Ryan.  I am also a fan of books about space fiction especially the works of Michael R. Hicks.

 Give our budding writers some tips that you picked up while writing your book.

If you wish to be a writer you have to have patience with your imagination   Some days the words just flow out and other days you have to let the book talk to you .  To me it is important to edit often.  It helps me get a feel for the flow of the book.  I also find that enlisting the help of several beta readers gives me a better perspective and forces me to stay on track.

The book has a Facebook page, http://www.facebook/Book of Namuh.  I welcome your reviews and comments there.  NamuH is also listed on Goodreads.

NamuH is available on line at  Amazon, both in print and in e-book formats.  It is also available on line at  Barnes and Noble.


Author Interview: Brian Trenchard-Smith


Hello all you wonderful people! Today, we have a very special guest here – Brian Trenchard-Smith.  And he needs no introduction, if you are a movie-addict as well! Brian has given us some of the lovely movies and is one of the favorite directors of the very famous Quentin Tarantino! He has also presented over 50 trailers from hell.

Am I lucky or am I lucky to have him on the blog? Here’s his interview for his latest release “The Headsmans Daughter“.

  1. Tell me a bit about yourself and how did you foray into writing?

I’ve directed 42 movies for Cinema, direct to video, and cable television. 12 of them were either written or co-written by myself. The script is the architect’s blueprint, so I try to exert as much influence as possible. I have also made trailers for over 100 movies in a parallel career, which gave me good research into what movie audiences respond to. The Headsman’s Daughter is my first novel. Here’s how it came about.

  1. How easy or how difficult was it for you to find a publisher for your book?

The Headsman’s Daughter started as fragments of a dream I woke up from in 2004. The fragments represent the basic premise outlined in the first two chapters of the novel. I had no idea what would happen next but thought it was the basis of an intriguing off beat movie. I do a certain amount of creative thinking when I swim, and back then I had access to the pool at UCLA where my wife had a scholarship in the doctoral program. So most days, I would lap for 45 minutes, more elements or a plot twist would come to me, I would jot them down in the changing room, and add them to my noodlings when I got home. Coincidentally water, and water rights, became a key element in the politics underpinning the story. Eventually a screenplay was born that was optioned twice for good money but never made. Financiers required a major twenty year old female star like Scarlett or Keira, etc. They all passed. We could not make firm offers, only offers contingent on financing, and financing was contingent on a letter of intent from the star. And the star rarely reads without a firm offer. Catch 22. I wonder if their agents ever sent them the script.

But to be fair, it may have seemed too wacky a premise for a new young star. After a few years the rights returned to me. I put it aside to concentrate on other work, but it kept gnawing at my liver. So I re-wrote it quite substantially as a novel and sent it to publishers. Those that responded (few) told me 2008/9 was a very bad time for first time authors, and they could not take the risk. Again I put it aside, but Alice kept reminding me of her presence. So late last year I rewrote the novel again, updating the politics and deepening the characterization.  I  have referred to the book in a number of ways – a genre mash-up/ movie homage in novel form., as if Game Of Thrones met The Bourne Identity on Freaky Friday – A ripping yarn for progressives –  A sardonic take on agitprop fiction exploring themes of political corruption, justice, destiny, and timeless love, with a bit of metaphysics thrown in for good measure.


I realize fiction in today’s market is very niche-reader specific, particularly in self publishing, and I am swimming against the tide by combining genres. But I could not keep Alice locked up in my head. She had to come out.  I hope  she will attract young adult readers of The Hunger Games, Twilight, etc. and people will love Alice as much as I do.  However I have tried to make the book a page turner for older readers of multiple genres.

I don’t want to give away too much of the story but in essence Alice, 16th Century girl, becomes entangled in a 21st Century spy drama while a 21st Century girl faces an equivalent conspiracy via a past life transfer to the reign of Bloody Mary. Has there been a glitch in the multiverse, or is Alice insane? Why will intelligence agencies kill to possess her? Are cosmic forces in play to change both past and future? There a some bizarre twists and turns, as the politics and culture of two societies are contrasted.

  1. Who inspires you or what inspires you to write?

From childhood onwards I have been driven towards creative expression, initially films. Also the “what if’s” of history and the evolution of social customs have been a lifelong fascination of mine. But the kind of movies I am known for (and therefore am sort of pigeonholed in) and the limited budgets of such films preclude the epic sweep of my imagination. A novel has no such restrictions, so I thought I would give it a shot.

  1. What according to you is the biggest challenge for any writer?

I’m sure it’s the same for every writer in all media – summoning the courage to stare at the empty page till something bubbles to the surface that feels right. Finding the way in to the story or the next scene is key.


  1. What would be your ideal writing space?

Where I am right now, sitting on my porch looking out at the trees, the bird bath and feeders, watching squirrels and birds compete for seeds, is a good place to start. Then when the juices flow, I move indoors to fewer distractions.

  1. What advice/tips would you like to give our budding authors?

As a first timer, I would not presume to advise others at my level. But persistence wins in any endeavor.

  1. Are you working on any other book now? Tell us a bit about it. 

I have ideas for the sequel which would follow straight on from the current ending. But I am waiting to see if the volume of readership justifies the time needed. I noodle at my memoirs. But I am not done with film production yet. I do write for Cinema websites occasionally:


  1. What keeps you busy when you are not writing?

Trying to get the next film project up. I may do an action picture in Thailand next year.

  1. What are the books you grew up reading and how did they shape up your writing career?

Shakespeare, Dickens – grand themes and social nuances, Raphael Sabatini – Boy’s Own adventure, Catch 22. – irony.

  1. How do you deal with writer’s block? 

Vape some herbal remedies, scribble furiously, then see if it makes any sense in the cold light of dawn. It generally shows me the way in or the path through in principle.

Buy the book on Amazon

Get in touch with Brian on Facebook

See the trailer of the book


Author Interview: Amanda Bucan

Hello people!
Today we have Amanda with us. She is here with a new book “From Stardust To Babylon” , a few tips for budding writers and much more. Here’s her interview for the blog.

1. Tell me a bit about yourself and how did you foray into writing?

I was born in 1964 in Northamptonshire England, where I still live with my current partner.

I was married for 20 years and I have two grown-up daughters as well as one granddaughter. Other than writing my hobbies include Gardening, Numerology, Past-life regression and Spiritual self-development. From a young age I had an inner knowing that I was a writer, but aside from dabbling with a few poems and school plays I never really gave any thought to making a career out of it. I always considered myself to be more of a home and family person.

2. How easy or how difficult was it for you to find a publisher for your book?

The book was first published in 2004. Back then I didn’t have a clue about the different types of publishing available and I received an offer quite quickly to publish for a substantial cost. Although I spent a great deal of money that I couldn’t afford, I basically got nowhere fast. To be honest I suspect it was largely my own fault because I had stupidly requested no publicity; not the smartest move to make when releasing a book, but at the time I felt that the most important factor was to get the story out rather than to make money from it. As the story was centred round a relationship I`d had with someone other than my husband, (albeit before we met), I wanted to protect my family, particularly my children who were still at school at the time, from any potential malicious comments. My second and equally disastrous attempt was in 2012 when I found a publisher who agreed to print in e-book format only. This time they didn’t take any money upfront but they were pretty useless. They didn’t do half the things they were supposed to do and they didn’t adhere to the contract, so that sort of died it’s death. After that I decided to let it lie for a while before a further re-write. I decided to self-publish this time around.

At the time of the first publication I did receive a rather amusing review, I think it was from some Christian magazine. They said that the book had obviously been written to be a bestseller, but in their opinion it was probably clever fiction disguised as autobiography. I remember feeling quite honoured at the time that someone should think me a good enough writer to have made the whole thing up. I only wish I had such an imagination!

3. Your new book From Stardust to Babylon sounds every bit interesting. Could you share a gist of the story with our readers?


From Stardust to Babylon is a book of two halves: The first is a love story set in the early 1980`s between myself and someone who I worked with at the time. We had a very intense and unusual relationship, yet despite knowing that we were meant to be together, our relationship was doomed and we went our separate ways for 19 years.

In 2001 I learned via telepathic messages that he had died and that sparked a bizarre series of supernatural events which led me on a journey of self-awareness and subsequently through some high-profile past lives and a monumental biblical conspiracy.

4. Who inspires you or what inspires you to write?
I was inspired to write to help others remember the truth; a truth that we all have inside us. I think that helping others would always be my main inspiration for writing.This particular book is for anyone who want to advance their own spiritual journey.

5. What according to you is the biggest challenge for any writer?
I think the biggest challenge for any writer is getting people to know that your book exists in the first place. You could effectively write the best book in the world but if nobody knows it exists then it`s going nowhere. It`s also much harder for the ordinary person who doesn’t have connections, money or a university education because any publisher will look at how marketable YOU are before your book. It’s a business after all, and businesses are all about making money at the end of the day. If you do decide to self-publish then you need to develop other skill sets as well like marketing for example.

6. What would be your ideal writing space?
My ideal writing space would be a beautiful secluded garden free from distractions such as barking dogs, screaming kids, motorbikes and ice-cream vans, preferably on a nice warm sunny day.

7. What advice/tips would you like to give our budding authors?
The main tips I would give to budding authors is firstly take your time, don`t rush. Read, read and read again. Where can you improve? Think of it like polishing a rough diamond until it glistens. Gather as much information as you can about the publishing industry and how you want to proceed with your book. Look closely at authors who have been successful as well as those who haven`t. Make notes on each and compare. And secondly NEVER give up!Learn to accept rejections gracefully and not take them too personally. A rejection doesn’t necessarily mean that your book is no good, it might just mean it doesn’t fit into a nice neat little box for marketing purposes.

8. Are you working on any other book now? Tell us a bit about it. 
I`m not working on another book at the moment although I do have one or two ideas floating around, so we`ll just have to wait and see what happens. Promoting`From Stardust to Babylon` is the priority just now.

9. What keeps you busy when you are not writing?
When I`m not writing I`m usually gardening. I like to try and maintain a healthy balance between the physical and the spiritual, and it helps to get outside in the fresh air and soak up the sun. It`s a great stress reliever. I also love to spend a full day shopping, followed by a nice meal when I can afford it which to be honest isn’t too often these days.

Here’s a link to her website:

You can also get in touch with her on:



Links to her work:

Amazon: :



Author Interview: Mark Binmore


You have published short stories, prose collections and novels. Which of these was most difficult for you to write and why?

 With short stories you are giving yourself such a brief window and in that condensed outlet you want to engage the reader as much as you can.  A few years ago I wrote a collection called Jig Of Life (it was published in the USA as The J) and I used a unique formula of writing a longer story and then cutting it down, editing out what I felt wasn’t needed for a shorter version.  It was like expanding a 7” single in reverse.

 Your fictional biography “Now Is Not The Time For Trumpets” seems very interesting. How did you conceptualize it? How different was it from the usual biographies?

 I have actually just found the original first draft which was so different and was a kind-of whodunit Agatha Christie type yarn.  The idea was to write a fictional biography of someone that never existed, but could have against a backdrop which did exist.  It is different from the perspective that it alternates between modern day and the past, questions, answers and a glimpse into the past.  You discover what people made this person, the love, the heartaches, the success and failures.  When I was writing I could actually visualize the main character.  I could see him as he was in his youth, golden hair, flamboyant, beautiful but also how he was in old age which in retrospective was quite haunting and sad.  The book worked well and from that I picked one character to write a further book – A Life Of Parties – and both books are now being workshoped in America for a stage adaptation.  They are taking the characters and some dialogue and recreating something visual.

Tell us something about the books you are penning this year. Are you working on them simultaneously? 

 Two books are ready to be launched this winter as well as a book written by fellow writer Chris Henson which is about me.  Nemesis is what I believe is my goodbye to prose collection.  It’s a journey of arrangements, a chance to say goodbye to the past and move forward.  With every piece I have written briefly what it means but like anything they are open to interpretation.  Take Down The Flags has been a labour of love over the last two years.  It’s a set of stories all based on the ending of World War 11.  I spent time with many people who were around at that time listening to their stories and then re-interpreting them into mini stories with their permission.

Versus America is the book by Chris and is a kind of sequel to his book Tour De Europa.  Chris follows me on my 2016 American book tour and witnesses the parade, the parties, behind the scenes, the hotels, glamour and ultimate tedium of it all in a documented writing style. I am already working on books for next year and beyond.  One is called Beautiful Construction, a collection of diaries and the other HappySad, Stories From The City, focuses on love and consequences from the late 1970s in San Francisco. 

What does your writing schedule looks like, on an average? How would you describe your average day, which you spend writing?

I am quite disciplined when I write.  Usually coffee for breakfast then I will re-look at what I wrote the previous day, either edit that or start writing more.  I will usually write for a few hours uninterrupted and like to flit between two or maybe three pieces of work.  To break the day up I do go to the gym for a few hours, time out, music, just to be me really then a few more hours writing afterwards.  It can all change.  Last year I wrote a whole book in three whole days, it felt like I was never sleeping but I had this idea and out it came.

When and how did you first start writing?

I have always loved the idea of writing but as a child I loved the idea of writing utensils, the pens, pencils, paper, any form of stationary.  I am still the same.  I have always kept diaries which are useful when searching for names, situations and ideas.

How did you find your first publisher? Was it easy, difficult, did you face lots of rejections?

I guess I was very lucky.  I was introduced to my former editor via a friend.  We had lunch, we had drinks, we talked and she read a few pieces, a few weeks later contracts were signed.   Five years later we re-negotiated terms and I now have representation on both sides of the Atlantic as well as PR management who handle the bigger stuff.  But it hasn’t all been glamour and success.  I very nearly signed to another American agent but their contract wasn’t workable and I felt I was getting no assistance from their editing team so on the strength of my lawyers pulled out and various manuscripts were returned to me.  Two of these have since been published under a nom-de-plue and are doing really well.

Share some writing tips with our budding writers. 

If you are starting to write then simply a page a day, because after a year you will have written 365 pages, a book.

Keep a notebook with you all the time.  Write down ideas, overheard conversations, and names you hear, if on a bus or train write down titles, ideas, characters, anything.  These little notes may come in handy later on.

Forget about agents, PR, publicity, sales etc.  Just focus on your own writing rather than worrying how many copies they will shift.

Excerpt: This piece from Take Down The Flags is called Observations. (2)

Anton is here, talking for the hundredth time about what he did during the war, about “how life’s an endless pit of chaos, but every now and then it all makes sense, and that’s what makes life worth living, you know?” and Simone is telling him, “It’s already been done.”


It’s Wednesday so Jo and Sarah are here – playing the same songs– he’s playing the piano and she’s drunk on her voice and soon their composition will be careless and sloppy and they’ll leave as lovers and whoever is scheduled next, probably me, will be too drunk to perform, so someone will get up and sing the anthem of France. And there’s Alice, sitting by the piano again, that instrument she pretends to know how to play, wearing red high heels and matching lipstick, disguising her writer’s block and making herself available enough for another cheap story that will probably be published the same day she writes it. She thinks we don’t know what she did, but we do, we’re just biding our time, her day will come.


Michael’s stood at the bar, rolling his own cigarettes, wearing that goddamn hat again like he’s some kind of Hemingway in a Parisian café. And Esmeralda’s pouring my drinks and I must say she’s damn good at her “transient position” and my disowned intemperance will miss her if she ever does make it back home.  Here comes Olivia, being the ridiculously beautiful woman she is, dressed for a Gatsby party, ignoring Michael, asking Charlie how his story is coming along, speaking Spanish to Esmeralda.


She’s pretending that she’s got somewhere better to go next. Pierre and Allen stumbled in behind her, drunk and obscene as usual. They’ve read so much propaganda lately that now they’re convinced nothing matters, not even the fact that they are wanted men. Take a moment, look at all these people, all these beautiful fools with their talents and critiques and theories and philosophies and hang-ups and memories. It’s like the past few years never happened; they have forgotten what really happened, what real life was like.  And I have to witness all of it. But really, who am I to judge? I’m just some two faced liar, thief, and drunk, sitting at the bar and scribbling about their lives on damp used napkins. I’m swaying on my bar stool, feeling all warm inside, and in such a state to choose my own reality, we’re no different from one another.


We’re just a bunch of worried, hopeless, starving artists and writers and musicians that come to this wine bar for the exact same goddamn reason.


Because now we can.



Author Interview: Melinda

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It is lovely having you with us Melinda. Tell us something about yourself. And because this is such a boring question, why not spruce it up with some random facts ? J

Hi Sucheta! Thank you for having me on your blog today. It’s actually rare that people want to know more about the author behind the books, and you’ve obviously done your research about me, which is admirable. I’m a more or less ordinary person, with an extraordinary love of books. Ever since my mom taught me to read at age four, I’m having a passionate love affair with literature of all kinds. I also love classical movies, music and walks. And even though I’m a tidy little housewife, I hate ironing, cooking and cleaning. My husband and I don’t have children yet, but our house is pretty much off limits to guests, because often I hide myself behind my fictional characters and avoid doing housework. Hubby sighs and orders pizza. He is a wonderful man, who’s been supporting me for ten years and puts up with each of my oddities. We’re pretty much solitary people, who prefer sitting at home instead of going out with friends. Think of us like Morticia and Gomez Addams. It’s a perfect comparison.

What made you a writer? Tell us about your writing journey so far.

It was actually a sad fact that started my writing career, but as it turns out, I’m grateful for it now. I was a professional target shooter for more than a decade, but a few years ago I started having health issues and was forced to give up this sport. Naturally, I fell into a state of depression and was at a loss on what to do next. Then my father gave me the idea to start writing. I’ve been a journalist since I was eighteen, but it never occurred to me to write fiction until the age of twenty-three. So that’s how Rendezvous, my first novella, was born. From that moment, writing became my purpose in life. Writing is who I am and who I’ll always be.

Since it is the beginning of your writing career and you are mostly into romances, could you tell us what makes you love this genre and in the future, what other genre of writing can we expect from you?

Currently I write in two main genres: Suspense Romance and Romantic Comedy, also known as Chicklit. I love Romance because it’s optimistic, it’s fun and it’s what every person dreams of, deep inside. I will always write stories with a happy ending, maybe because life isn’t always like that, and readers – especially me – need to escape from reality in a better world. That’s what Romance is to me. No matter what genre an author writes in, there always has to be a love story. Love is what makes the world go round, and the most beautiful thing in life.

Which is your native place and what do you like about it? Does it have any influence on your writing/writing style?

I was born in Romania and currently reside in this same country. I adore its history, for which every Romanian is proud, its gorgeous and picturesque landscapes, and our magnificent food. I mention the Romanian food often in my books, and people always tell me or write in reviews that reading my books gives them an appetite for rich European food. I even put up some traditional Romanian recipes on my blog now and again.

What is your inspiration for your books and the characters in them?

I get my inspiration everywhere, but mostly I think I have so many ideas because I read a lot. I have thousands of books in my library, books I like to read and re-read, and I think that broadens my horizon. As for my characters, I usually get inspiration from real people, people I know, or even from myself. I try to put myself in the place of each character, to imagine how I would react in a certain situation, and how I should develop the plot, so it would be plausible.  

What is the USP of your books according to you?

I think one of the things I have going for me is the surprise element. Readers never know what to expect for me next. I always like to experiment, and unlike most authors, I don’t want to limit myself to a single genre. I just wrote a book with a dark, psychological plot, whose heroine was a victim of human trafficking and whose hero was a thief. In total contrast to the story of these two misfits, now I’m working on a Romantic Comedy that makes even me laugh out loud when I write or read it. I guess the secret is to be original and always offer variety to readers. Something for each taste.

How difficult or easy was it for you to get your works published? Any tips for budding writers on getting published?

Actually, it wasn’t so hard to get published. I wrote my first novella, Rendezvous, in Romanian, but oddly enough, I had no chance of publishing it here in my own country. So I decided to translate it in English and submit it to a few dozen American publishers. About fifty rejection letters later, I received a contract offer from a small, new publisher. That’s how I entered the international literary world. I’ve learned a lot in the two years since I’ve been a published author, and I’m always improving my writing style. As I said before, the first thing an aspiring author needs to do is read. A lot. After that, learn the basics of the genre you want to approach, and write. And submit. And no matter how many rejections you’ll get – because you will – never let it discourage you. Write, read, then write some more. I believe this is a quote from one of my favorite authors, Sandra Brown. 

Where do you want to see yourself as a writer in the near future?

Well, at twenty-nine I’m pretty much proud of what I’ve accomplished so far, but I still have a long way to go to reach my goal. For the moment, I have my books published internationally in English, and I’m happy to say that in September my books will begin to be published in Romania as well, and be distributed as paperbacks in bookstores and book shops. So for now, I plan to become a local celebrity (LOL), and then an international one. After that, the sky is the limit. My biggest dream at the moment is to see my books turned into movies. Watch my blog to see when that happens:

This was Melinda for you 🙂 I thank her for appearing on my blog. If you are an author and wish to get featured, drop me an email and I will get back to you.

Author Interview: Jenny Harper

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Hello Jenny! It is nice to have you here with us. Now I know you are a retired journalist and a businesswoman. How did writing happen to you?

Hi Sucheta, thank you for hosting me today. Like many authors, I have been writing all my life. My mother must have noticed some kind of gift when I was a child, because she bought me a correspondence course, How To Be A Writer. But my love of creative writing was unexpectedly stifled when I chose to do a degree in English Literature – I could never be a Tolstoy or a George Eliot, so why even try? It took me a very long time to understand that not everyone wants to read such novels, and that I might find a ‘voice’ that today’s readers would enjoy.

You live in Scotland. Could you give us some insights on life in Scotland and the reading habits of the Scottish people?

Scotland is part of the United Kingdom, that also includes England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The population is around 5 million (compared to 60 million in England), and the land mass is almost as big as England, so the country is much less densely populated. There are reasons for this, mainly terrain and climate.

There are two large cities in Scotland, Edinburgh (the capital, where I live) and Glasgow (bigger, lively, but less historic), and six smaller ones. All are rich in history, with some fabulous buildings. The central belt is highly populated, but the rural areas can be quite desolate, especially as you travel further north (away from England!). Here, the sceneryis rugged and life can be difficult. Tourism and fishing are important, especially in the north west, while agriculture is easier in the east and further south. The scenery is amazing, particularly in the west Highlands and the islands (there are almost 800 islands off the coast). The climate is temperate, particularly in the south. In reality, this means that summers are mild (seldom hot) and winters also much milder than, say central Europe or Canada or America, where the land masses are huge – the sea that surrounds us has a mitigating effect. However, the wind can be very strong! In general, it’s a pleasant climate, with fresh and clean air.

I imagine that reading habits must be as varied as anywhere in the world. There is a proud tradition of Scottish writing – one that probably found its earliest popular voice in Sir Walter Scott’s tales of derring do. I’ve visited his house, a fabulous baronial mansion in the Scottish Borders called Abbotsford. It’s impossible not to admire his work ethic, and the amount of historical research he put in to his novels. You couldn’t just Google facts back then! He had to send off for books or borrow them, often from distant friends, then wait for days or months while they made their slow journey to his remote home. Nowadays a genre called Tartan Noir– crime fiction set in Scotland – is extremely popular. Ian Rankin is probably the best-selling novelist in this genre, though there are other notables such as Denise Mina and Val McDermid. Alexander McCall Smith’s gentle novels are hugely popular all over the world too. He has been kind enough to offer me a cover quote for my latest novel, People We Love!

You have written 15 books so far. Which one was your toughest job and which was a breeze? And why?

I started my working life as a non-fiction editor, for William Collins in Glasgow. When I turned freelance, they offered me the chance to research and write a book based on old postcards they had once published. This led to further offers, and before I knew it I had written three books on Scotland and Scottish life. Back then, I used to write longhand while a neighbour typed my work up for me! (I was working at Collins, however, when the very first computer-typeset book was published, amid huge excitement!).

The most challenging book was a history of childbirth called With Child: Birth Through the Ages. I co-wrote it with a friend, Therese Duriez, and we were so naïve we didn’t realize that we’d have to research the whole of the history of medicine before we could even start! Thankfully, it was very well received, and you can still find the odd copy on Amazon.

The easiest was a short children’s novel I wrote one evening, called The Sleeping Train. I found an agent and a publisher at once. Sadly, I didn’t make enough money back then to live on, which is why I began to turn more to journalism and the business world.

You write contemporary women’s fiction. What made you choose for this genre?

When I left business, I decided I wanted another go at writing fiction. It took me some time to ‘discover’ my voice – but I suppose, in reality, I write what I like to read. That is, well-written books (at least, I hope they are!), with vivid characters, strong plots that drive you forward, and compelling issues. Books that reflect the world about us and not some idealized version of it, and that show women as they battle the odds at home, at work and in their relationships.

If given a chance, which fictional world would you love to live in and why?

Difficult question! My favourite author is Dorothy Dunnett, a Scottish writer who, I believe, is the best historical novelist ever. Her books are set in the 15th and 16th centuries and span Scotland, England and much of Europe. Everything is there – politics, intrigue, scandal, life from court to cottage and, of course, romance. I’d love to be a fly on the wall in some of her scenes – but whether I’d want to live there is another matter. Too dangerous, too much disease, and far too smelly!

Could you elaborate about the Heartlands series? What is it all about and why should the readers add it to their shelves?

I decided to set my first novel, Face the Wind and Fly, in a fictional town, so that no-one would be able to say, ‘But that shop isn’t there,’ or tell me you have to turn third left, not fourth … The town is called Hailesbank, and it’s set just east of Edinburgh, but in a geographical context that’s recognizable. When my book finally found a publisher, they thought The Hailesbank Series didn’t sound right and asked me to come up with another. I liked the sound of The Heartlands, and post-rationalised it! Here’s a little of the explanation that appears in each book:

“The small market town of Hailesbank is born of my imagination, as are the surrounding villages of Forgie and Stoneyford and the Council housing estate known as Summerfield, which together form The Heartlands. I have placed the area, in my mind, to the east of Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh.

“The first mention of The Heartlands was made by AgrippusCentorius in AD77, not long after the Romans began their surge north in the hopes of conquering this savage land. ‘This is a place of great beauty,’ wrote Agrippus, ‘and its wildness has clutched my heart.’ He makes several mentions thereafter of The Heartlands. There are still signs of Roman occupation in Hailesbank, which has great transport links to the south (and England) and the north, especially to Edinburgh, and its proximity to the sea and the (real) coastal town of Musselburgh made it a great place to settle. The Georgians and Victorians began to develop the small village, its clean air and glorious views, rich farming hinterland and great transport proving highly attractive.”

I should say that the first four books in the series can be read as standalones. The next one (Mistakes We Make, due for publication next year) follows on from the current one, People We Love.

Why should readers add it to their shelves? If you like a great read, with strong storylines, characters you can engage with, set in Scotland, hopefully my books are for you!

As a seasoned writer, what are some tips that you would like to share with budding writers?

Believe in yourself. This is very hard if you are being knocked back by big publishers all the time, but have faith.

Keep writing. The more you write, the better you get.

Listen to criticism. But only from writers or readers whose views you trust. Don’t be seduced by praise from family or friends!

Push yourself. Dig deeper into your characters, cut unnecessary words or scenes ruthlessly, ensure every line pushes your plot forwards – and make sure your work is professionally edited before it goes public.


This was all about Jenny. You can take a look at an excerpt from her latest release – People We Love – an entire chapter by clicking on this link.

Book Excerpt: People We Love by Jenny Harper

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This is an excerpt from Jenny Harper’s latest release – People We Love. If you like it, please feel free to share your feedback here and with Jenny. You can also read her interview here.



Amazon           Buy the book

Chapter One

Catalogue number 15: Child’s shoe. 16th-century? ‘Concealment shoe’. Found in rafters of agricultural worker’s cottage outside Hailesbank. Donors: Eric and Sheila Flint, Forgie. ‘Concealment shoes’ have been found concealed in wall cavities or among roof rafters of many old houses. They were thought to ward off evil.

When Jamie was alive, AlexaGordon wore hippy dresses in luminous colours and danced barefoot on the lawn at midnight.

When Jamie was alive, they ate drizzle cake and made scones heaped high with cream and jam.

When Jamie was alive, she had a future.

And then it all changed.

I don’t know what you thought you were doing,she saidsilently to her brother for the hundredth time, getting into that car that night. You might have accepted the risk for yourself. But you had no right at all to ruin everyone else’s lives.

She looked down at the bowl in front of her. Breakfast cereal stared back, sodden and limp. She pushed the dish away.

‘You must eat, Alexa dear,’ her mother Martha said, capturing a stray grey lock that was hanging in front of her face and twisting it round her fingers.

‘Don’t fuss, Mum,’ Lexie answered without thinking.

Martha bit her lip and hunched into herself as she pulled her tired-looking peach candlewick dressing gown closer round her thin frame.

Idiot, Lexie chided herself. It’s the anniversary of Jamie’s death. Think before speaking, today of all days.

The problem was that her mother’s tendency to fuss had become an obsession with her wellbeing. It was understandable, but sometimes hard to bear. Lexie looked down at her plate. She had barely touched the cereal.

‘It’s gone soggy,’ she said, trying to be conciliatory. ‘If I make toast, will you have some?’

Concern could run both ways.

She saw Martha’s mouth twitch at the corners. Whatever else she might be, her mother wasn’t stupid.

‘A little,’ Martha touched her hand lightly. ‘If you have time.’

Lexie stood up and cleared her plate from the table. Living at Fernhill again was both strange and stiflingly familiar. She was thirty years old and once believed she could build a career as an artist. Now all she had to remember this by was a tattoo round her thumb and hair the colour of a flamingo’s wings, plus a tendency to see everything in terms of how it might be captured on canvas.

Thanks for nothing, Jamie— 

‘Brown bread okay?’

‘Fine. Thank you.’

She cut two slices and pushed them into the toaster. Outside the tall sash window, the garden was blanketed in an early morning mist. In the far corner, by the pergola, she could just see the blossom on the cherry tree, delicate and wraithlike.

‘I do appreciate this, Alexa. Your being here, I mean.’

A blackbird took off from one of the branches and a small flurry of petals swirled softly towards the grass. Lexie pursed her lips. How could she fail to know this? Martha’s thanks were expressed ten times a day, their utterance a delicate trap. She was all her parents had left and she had to be there for them. This meant, she told herself, that she didnot regret marching into Patrick Mulgrew’s gallery in Edinburgh a year ago and telling him she was withdrawing her exhibition.

Even though it meant the end of their relationship as well.

Her throat swelled with unshed tears and she had to summon all her willpower to push away the hurt she still felt at their separation. Thinking about Patrick wouldn’t do any good. Instead, she retrieved the toast and rearranged her face into her customary jaunty smile before she turned round.

‘I know you do. Come on, Mum. Let’s eat. Then I must get to work. I take it Dad left early?’

She didn’t really need to ask. Where her mother was all dependence, Tom Gordon had turned into The Great Provider – strong, uncompromising and utterly resistant to any kind of conversation about his son.

Martha’s eyes glazed over.

Some family we’ve become, Lexie thought. Surely we weren’t always like this?

‘I’d better go, Mum. Dad’s called a special meeting.’

‘Please be tolerant, darling. I know he’s obsessive about the store, but it’s because he wants to show he loves us.’

‘I am tolerant. Most of the time, anyway.’

She and her father were two of a kind in many ways. They certainly both threw themselves into work as a diversion.

‘Will you be all right? What are you going to do today?’

Martha stood up. Her dressing gown hung off her body in loose, sad folds. Once she’d been a legal secretary – smart, efficient and very organised. Grief was eating her up.

‘I’m going,’ she said, ‘to do some gardening. I think.’

Lexie found the shifts in her mother’s character profoundly unsettling. And now she had to prepare to be unsettled all over again, because her walk to work would take her past Patrick Mulgrew’s house.

Ten minutes later, Lexie stepped through the front door of Fernhill and pulled it closed. It was eight thirty in the morning and she tried to leave the ache of loss behind her in the gloomy spaces that had once been filled with laughter. She tugged her old tweed jacket closer, glad of its warmth. There was no point in being bitter. It was a waste of time to think about the things that might have been.

Despite the obvious truth of this, there was no way of avoiding Patrick’s house. It took seven minutes to cover the distance between Fernhill and The Gables. Seven minutes of separation. For a brief time she and Patrick had both found it amusing that he lived in Hailesbank near her parents while she lived in Edinburgh, near his gallery. They hadn’t been together long enough to change that.

Three minutes. She reached the end of James Street and crossed onto Darnley Place. Patrick’s continued proximity was a fleabite that itched, she reminded herself, nothing more. She didn’t care about him now: she could never have sustained a relationship with Patrick because they were too different. The way she saw it, she put family first and Patrick thought only about profit. Better to find that out sooner rather than at some point in the future, when they might have become knotted together, like roots round a boulder, so that separating would tear at the fabric of life.

Six minutes. Patrick owned a smart art gallery – or, to be more precise two, one in London and one in Edinburgh. People saw him as either discriminating and astute or snobbish and arrogant. Lexie lengthened her stride. She found it impossible to forget Patrick because everything that mattered to her was so tightly entwined with him: ambition, career, and passion. Was that why she’d loved him so much? In the short time they’d been together, he’d taken her heart, her body and her brain – the complete package – and made them all his.

Seven minutes. There it was now, a million pounds’ worth of sandstone and lawn, the epitome of everything the man stood for – style, statement and substance. Crow-stepped gables, baronial turrets and an old Scots pine standing sentinel by the gate.

Lexieglanced down at the tattoo round her thumb. ‘Artbollocks’ it read – an indelible statement of belief about art and honesty.

‘Why disfigure your beautiful hands like that?’ Patrick had once asked, tracing the letters with his long fingers as they’d lain limb to limb, half drugged by ardour.

‘So that I never forget,’ she’d answered fiercely, ‘about pretentiousness.’

He’d lifted her thumb to his lips and kissed each letter, one at a time. Eleven feathery kisses.

‘You’re very different,’ he’d said, ‘but I think I might just be in love with you.’

His car wasn’t there, she noted, which was a relief. They’d learned politeness this last year, but kept their distance. Too many words had been spoken that couldnever be unsaid. Still – he didn’t know it – but  fending off the hurt she felt about their break-up was like rolling back the tide:­ impossible.

By the time she arrived at the Thomson Memorial Park, the mist was beginning to lift and the park was already alive with its quota of elderly dog-walkers and mums with buggies. She glanced right – a habit she had developed – to catch a glimpse of the river as it flowed past the foot of Fisher’s Wynd. She found the water soothing and it worked its magic again this morning because at last she was able to put Patrick firmly out of her mind and focus on Jamie. This was his day, after all, and despite her anger about his death, he’d always be a part of her.

Stay with me, bro.

When she reachedKittle’s Lane she turned right, so that she’d pass Cobbles. If Pavelwas in the shop already, she’d wave to him.

Lexie adored Cobbles. She loved the jumble of antiques Pavel seemed able to conjure up from nowhere. Each object, however humble, had a story to tell. A stone hot water bottle shivered out a tale of freezing nights in icy beds; a moustache cup in fine porcelain whispered of male vanity; a carpet beater, twisted from rattan into a Celtic knot, hinted at the hard labour that housework once was. Most of all, Lexie loved the vintage clothes that peeked tantalisingly from cubbyholes or begged for attention from serried ranks of hangers on rails at the back of the shop. She was addicted to vintage.

Half way down the lane, she spottedPavelSkonieczna sashaying out of the shop. He placed his sandwich board on the pavement and stepped back to admire it, his hands wafting up to his mouth with characteristic grace. Cobbles, read the elegant copperplate script, Antiques and Collectibles. Lexie smiled. Pavel(always dressed in vintage, always colourful) was the perfect advertisement for his own shop. Today he was smart in green tweed – his favourite suit – teamed with a mustard moleskin waistcoat and brown brogues.

She speeded up. ‘Pavel! Hi!’

Shoulders straightened and tweed turned. ‘Lexie. Darling. You’re early today.’

Lexie grimaced. ‘I know. Dad’s called a staff meeting before we open.’

Pavel shook his head. ‘You shouldn’t be working in that place. It’s not right for you.’

Spot on, Pavel. Like trying to shove a jelly through a sieve and expecting it to come out whole on the other side.

‘I know. But what can I do?’

‘Stand up for yourself. You always used to. They use you.’

‘It’s not that simple.’

She let her parents use her, because she had to. It was the only way she could think of to make things better. It was her way of helping herself as well.

‘You’re a good daughter.’

Lexie hesitated. Pavel confided recently that his partner Guy had died some years ago and he’d moved to Hailesbank to escape the sad memories. His only family now was a snake of a sister who had disowned him and, because he never talked about it, Lexie guessed how much it hurt him.

Pavel spared her the embarrassment of having to think about what to say.

‘Is it about that marketing plan?’

‘I expect so.’

She’d spent the last month working with Neil Taylor, the assistant manager at her father’s furniture store, on a plan designed to drag the old family business protesting and spluttering into the twenty-first century. Or rather, Neil had been working on it, in his careful, business-like way, and she had been attempting tomodernise the store by selecting more stylish stock and updating the layout. At least, that’s how she sawher role.Her father was proving resistant to change.

‘I’m a bit nervous, Pavel, to tell you the truth.’

‘Do you think he’ll veto it?’

Lexie shrugged and pulled her jacket across her chest. The sun might be dappling the river already, but it hadn’t dropped in on Kittle’s Lane yet.

‘You know Dad.’

Compassion glowed in Pavel’s eyes and Lexie looked away. Sympathy was always the hardest part of friendship to accept.

‘I must dash,’ she said. ‘Sorry.’

‘Good luck, darling.’


The store where Lexie was heading was at the east end of the high street. It was part of a run of shops built in the mid-nineteenth century when Hailesbankhad been at its most prosperous. Her great-grandfather had taken up the first lease, and the sign he’d proudly commissioned to run above the entire shopfrontwas still there.

Gordon’s Furniture Emporium (Est. 1892)

The elaborate letters were painted in pure gold leaf on a forest green background and the whole sign was covered in protective glass so that, a century and a half later, it still announced its presence with undimmed glory.

‘The trouble is,’ Neil had observed when they’d studied the frontage as part of their research, ‘that sign is probably the last smart thing left in the whole place.’

He’d put his finger on the problem. Was there really any need to look further to discover why Gordon’s was struggling for survival?

Lexie pushed open the heavy oak door and marched in. A man was standing by the overstuffed chesterfield, the tartan one she particularly disliked. He was around six feet tall and strongly built, with wide shoulders and narrow hips, and he was casually dressed in a rugby shirt and jeans. One of the new guys from the removal firm, probably. She hadn’t seen him before.

Or had she? Although he was facing away from her, towards the back of the store, there was something disturbingly familiar about the figure.

‘Can I help you?’ she said, the nagging in the recesses of her brain making her voice sharper than usual. ‘We’re not actually open yet.’

He whipped round.

‘Christ! Where’d you materialise from? I didn’t hear you come in.’

Lexiewasn’t breathing. Why wasn’t she breathing? It should be simple, shouldn’t it? She did it all the time. She’d done it all her life, for heaven’s sake.


The man stepped forward.

‘You haven’t changed a bit. Not even the hair, I ssee.’

Six years was a long time, yet it disappeared in an instant. Lexie’s lungs inflated with sweet oxygen before a sense of devastation caught the back of her knees. She was drowning in desire again, just as she always used to be. Shocked by her reaction, she forced herself to look amused – one humiliation by Cameron Forrester was enough for a lifetime.

‘Well, well, the wanderer returns. Have your folks killed the fatted calf?’

‘Nah. Mum won’t buy meat at the supermarket and the butcher’s closed since I was last here. She made apple crumble for me. I’ve missed crumble.’

His grin was just as Alexa remembered it: irrepressible. The smile faded as he scanned her face. He’d changed. Once, he would just have flashed a wink and cracked a joke; now there was something more observant – or was it more calculating? – in the way he was studying her.

‘Crumble, huh?’

The words emerged as a croak and she cleared her throat.

Cameron Forrester had been a member of the Hailesbank Hawks until injury had put him out of rugby for good. He still bore the scars: a broken nose that gave his face a lived-in look, and a scar under his chin from where a studded boot sliced it open in a hard-fought league game. ‘Badges of honour’, he used to say, when Lexie teased him about the nose or ran her fingers along the white seam of the scar.

‘You’re looking terrific.’

He took another step closer. Instinct made her edge away. How was it possible that he looked so like the Cameron she’d fallen in love with all those years ago?

‘Am I?’

Her reserve seemed to fluster him.

‘I’ve been away,’ he said needlessly. ‘Running activities for children on a cruise ship. Children! Me! Can you imagine?’

‘Not really, no.’

Questions scratched at her mind like horsehair. Does he know about Jamie? Does he know I’m back living in Hailesbank? Is that why he’s come?

‘So how are you, Lexie?’

He edged towards her for the third time. She clutched at a high-backed recliner, upholstered in gunmetal and steel blue chenille. The cloth felt coarse and unfriendly under her fingers, but this time she managed to stand her ground.

‘Why did you leave, Cameron?’

Why didn’t you write?

‘I heard about Jamie,’ he said. ‘I’m so sorry.’

‘Thank you.’

The stock response slipped out before she could stop it. It was what she always said whenever anyone offered condolences. Damn him! Using Jamie as a personal shield was unforgivable.

‘What a bloody waste,’ he blurted out.

People didn’t usually say things like that. They tiptoed round the subject, they never trampled right through the heart of it.

‘Oops,’ he said, seeing her expression, ‘Sorry. Me and my mouth. But honestly, it’s true, isn’t it? Jamie had so much going for him.’

‘Can we leave this?’

‘Shit. I’m not good at—’

Lexieswung away. She spotted a sagging cushion on a nearby sofa and grabbed it, bashing the middle to plump it up. What are you good at, Cameron? Apart from breaking hearts.

‘Did you want something? I’ve got work to do.’

‘Just to say hi. And see if you’d meet me for a drink after you’re finished here.’


‘Well,’ he muttered, dropping his head in a semblance of repentance so that all she could see was a mass of thick, sandy hair. She didn’t need to stroke it to remember how it felt.

‘I owe you an explanation.’

‘I really don’t want to hear it.’

Liar! She really didwant to hear it, but six years of hurt got in the way of admitting this.

‘No. Fair enough.’

The grin was back, but wry – another new trait. Cameron had never been one for navel-gazing. He was a physical contact man. A cheerful, generous, blunder-in-feet-first-but-in-a-well-meaning-kind-of-way man. The absolute antithesis, now that she thought about it, of Patrick Mulgrew.

‘Take your point.’

He ran his hand through his thatch so that it stood momentarily on end before tumbling, in the old way, down across his eyes again. When he turned to go, she was conscious of disappointment. At the door the grin reappeared, spiced this time with mischief.

‘It’s okay, I can see you need time to get used to me being back. It doesn’t have to be today, we can meet up tomorrow. I’ll call you.’

Infuriated by his presumption, her spirit returned and she hurled the cushion at him.

‘Don’t bother! I won’t change my—’

But it fell, softly, a yard short and the heavy oak door swung on empty air.

Six years of silence and now he was back. Where did this leave her, for heaven’s sake?

Author Interview: Susan Tarr

Author Pic Susan Tarr

Hello Susan. Thank you for appearing for the interview. Could you tell us something about yourself and how did writing happen to you?

~~ I lived in Kenya for 10 years, and wrote many letters home to family in New Zealand. Mum was convinced I was living in an uncivilized environment. Yes, I was, if that’s what you would call a hotel room overlooking the East African beaches. From there we moved into a house that was furnished with Jomo Kenyatta’s furniture, were married and started our little family. So not as uncivilized as Mum might have been imagining. But my letters were very descriptive to put her mind at ease.

If not writing, what is the second best thing you would have taken up with equal passion?

~~ Art and piano. Loved them both equally but traded them for my writing once I got hold of a word processor.

What influences you to take up the pen and write? Are your novels inspired by real life? If yes, then how?

~~ Very much inspired by real life characters and situations. My daughter is my main character. She leads such a varied and funny life. Always up to something. But then she is a large part of my life too, and together we make for some realistic characters.

You have written a number of books. It is understandable that each book is an author’s baby but then, you must have at least one favourite! Which one is it and why is it your favourite?

~~ “PHENOMENA the Lost and Forgotten Children” was my baby. It took me 25 years to research New Zealand historic mental health. Most of my family worked in mental health at some point. The main character, Malcolm, was a visitor to our home when I was a child. It seemed natural and logical to write his story.

But now I find I have shifted my favour to “When the ROLLER COASTER Stops” That’s now my favourite book.

Contemporaries whose work you admire? Anyone with whom you would like to trade places?

~~ Not really. I am happy with my place in the world.

How much time do you devote to research? Are there any tips you want to offer aspiring writers on researching methods?

~~ I immerse myself in my characters for several years. And also the subject behind that particular book. Read, read, read. I write notes all over the show, then type them into a word doc with the title followed by ENDS. My job/passion is then to fill in the space between the two. Oddly enough, the title is often the first thing that comes to me.

What are your top pet peeves as a writer?

~~ Just not enough hours or energy in a day.

What is the best compliment that you ever got from a fan/reader?

~~ That my writing of PHENOMENA is familiar to Steinbeck. I list John Steinbeck as one of my favourite authors. Perhaps some of him has rubbed off onto me. One could always hope…

Your working space looks like…?

~~ A tiny plastic collapsible table with 2 inches to spare around my PC. And a stack of Post-it notes.

Last one, please share an excerpt from any of your books.

~~ Malcolm from PHENOMENA the Lost and Forgotten Children

‘He waited to feel the need to talk. He felt nothing. There was little he could remember and nothing to encourage him to take an interest in his life. If he used to be different, like they said – and sometimes he knew they were right – they must have taken his thoughts captive and left him with only fringes and tatters, not enough to live with. He wondered where they stored his stolen thoughts. Maybe they stored them in the morgue with the little high-up window. Hah! As if memories would try to escape.’

It was lovely interacting with Susan for the interview. Do get in touch with her if you have any queries 🙂

Want to get featured on my blog and promote yourself/your work? Just give me a ping 🙂


Author Interview: Chhimi Tenduf-La


Tell us something about yourself and your writing journey so far.

Writing for me is just a hobby. I’d love it to be more but I have a few things to learn first, a few hard yards to cover. I work at a school, which is an incredibly rewarding thing to do because I’m working with ambitious young people with great futures ahead of them. As far as my writing goes, I started properly when I stopped teaching economics as it freed up more time. I wrote a couple of novels that I trashed and then started Panther and the Amazing Racist within months of each other. I sent them off to super agent, Kanishka Gupta, who found offers for them both from a number of leading publishers.

I have not read Panther. But the response is just overwhelming. What was the inspiration behind Panther and how different is it from The Amazing Racist?

Because I work at a school I feel like I have a good grasp of what goes on in the minds of young people. So I wanted to write a high school story, with funny elements, love, betrayal, gangs, jocks and geeks. That’s how it started off, and my first draft was called The Papadam King. Then I added in the war thread, because the psychology of recovering from being a child soldier fascinated me. The two threads combined, I think, created a layered story that has much more complexity than The Amazing Racist. It is a more challenging read, but also a more rewarding one, I think.

A genre that you would like to try in the future and a genre that is just not your cup of tea?

 I love thrillers and whodunits. In fact my first attempts at writing were in this genre but I felt I was not coming up with tight enough plots and also that I was denying myself the chance to work to my strength, which I think is humour. Having said that, Panther does have some crime based twists in the story which I hope work.

I have never been a fan of fantasy as a reader, but in some ways I think I would like to write it as there is great freedom when things are made up from scratch. South Asia is crying out for an Indian Harry Potter!

You are based in Sri Lanka, you have British roots and you have also lived in India. What would you say your major cultural takeaways? 

I think it is the greatest education. Being brought up knowing how to treat people from other countries with respect, without being too stiff, is a great gift. It also greatly helps my writing as I am able to seem original, when I am, in fact, stealing things from various different countries and cultures. I am half English, half Tibetan, my wife is Australian Sri Lankan and my daughter is all of these things. I think that is such a blessing for her.

What according to your personal experiences is the best thing about being a writer and the worst?

 I love editing; the chance to go over your work to try to make it better. You don’t always get that chance in life. It is also very exciting to get published and also to receive such glowing feedback. The reviews, thus far, for Panther have been out of this world and people have even discussed making it into a movie. The downside is that having your work judged in public can be quite scary. For example, as a teacher, I never read reviews of my classes in the newspapers, thankfully. Also, having to sell myself does not sit too easy for me, but it is part of the job. I cringe when I think of how much I am promoting myself, but what to do?


Let’s talk about book covers. To be honest, I judged your first book from its cover. It was simply brilliant. I also like the cover of your next release. Is there any anecdote behind the cover design? Please share.

 Hachette came up with a cover I liked, but that they felt was too literary for the book I had written. I suggested the empty wheelchair and the ashtray to hint at the story, but not to give it away. The background, I found out so much later, was painted by an 8 year old, which is astonishing. The colours make the book stand out in bookshops.

For Panther, HarperCollins wanted something which represented the story, and also showed some warmth – Prabu, the main character, exudes warmth.

Recently, Twitter gave us a trend #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter. What is your take on the same? What should one not say to a writer? 

‘Can I be honest?’ If someone says that you know you’re in trouble.

‘At least you had fun writing it.’

I think the problem is everyone thinks they can write a book and always think they can write better than the author they are reading. Until you try it, you don’t know how complex it is to string together a story which is interesting and believable.

What is your daily schedule like and how do you manage to write and release two different novels and that too from two different publishers in such a short period of time?

When I am writing, which I am not at the moment, I try to write about 2000 words a day, which I find quite easy. I read back what I have written at night and see if it is good enough to keep. I edit first thing the next day and then start writing again. It is never a great challenge for me because I enjoy it and time flies when I am doing it. I wrote these two books at the same time. I would go back and forth between them – i.e. I finished a first draft of Panther, then started the Amazing Racist, then came back to edit the first one and so on. That made it more enjoyable and kept me fresher. I sold both books at the same time, so it is not like I wrote one and then quickly wrote the other.

Chhimi Panther Galle

Who are your favourite contemporary writers?

I find this the most difficult question to answer as so many of my favourite books are written by authors whose other books I don’t like as much. An easier way to phrase this for me would be, who are the authors whose next books I am most excited about. I would say Gillian Flynn, Mohsin Hamid, and ShehanKarunatilaka.

What is the best compliment that you got till date from a fan or a reader?

 I think it would be a bit far-fetched to say I have fans, but one reader blasted me (in a friendly way) for making her think about Panther all the time. She said she was so affected by the story that she kept wondering what happened to the characters – as if they were real people she cared about deeply. That to me was a massive compliment.

Did you have any weird experience on your blog tours? 

 At one book festival, a group of school boys came running up to me for my autograph. I was flattered until they asked who I was. When I told them, they looked disappointed and snuck away.

What would be your advice for aspiring writers?

If you’re serious about it, to never give up because you just get better and better the more you read and write. Having said that, you have to be realistic about what people want to read. There has to be an audience for what you write. Listen to advice, read some books about writing, don’t be scared of chucking what you have written away. More than anything, you need to love writing or I just don’t see how it is sustainable.

Please share an excerpt from your latest release – Panther.

PANTHER full cover

Mr Carter glided over the sandy outfield, more like beach than lawn. His hair, the colour of a Buddhist monk’s robes, pasted down with sweat. ‘What’s eating you, little man?’ He strode past Prabu. Extended his hand out to Coach Silva. ‘I wonder if you remember me.’

Coach Silva squeezed out of his chair. Grabbed Mr Carter’s hand in both of his. ‘Yes. Yes. Mr Carter, the Brit.’

‘Australian, mate.’

‘Ah.’ Coach Silva adopted an accent more Chinese than Australian. ‘Put another Sheila on the barbie.’

‘Shrimp,’ Mr Carter said. ‘Never mind. Look, we have to make a change to the playing eleven.’

‘Too late, boss.’ Coach Silva caught the breath he appeared to have lost when lifting his jumbo ass off the chair. ‘Team sheet in the hands of the umpire already.’

‘Look, simply no option.’ Mr Carter shook his head, sprinkling sweat on Prabu. ‘The team changes. This champ’s a new player sent to us by the defence ministry. Freed from an IDP camp yesterday.Signed up by our school this morning.’

Coach Silva’s nose pinched towards Prabu. ‘This Tamil boy?’

‘Hang on there, chief.’ Mr Carter raised his palm. ‘Have some respect. He’s a flag bearer for internally displaced people being integrated back into society. Principal Uncle signed up for this.’

‘Team sheet’s in, tactics down,’ Coach Silva said. ‘Not a bugger’s going to tell me to change the team.’

‘BBC’s on its way to film him for the news, shown around Asia. Around the world. The boy plays. Simple as.’

Placing the back of his hand against his forehead, Coach Silva rolled his neck. ‘Once you give the team sheet to the umpire, that’s it. They’re not allowed to return it.’

‘I’ve been in this country long enough to know that money talks many languages.’ Mr Carter took out a thousand-rupee note. ‘One of them is Sinhalese.’

‘Normal times, I can make an umpire dance for a thousand. Not this one. Bugger’s so honest, even turned down a bribe from the Minister of Bribery.’

‘Ah Jeez.’ Mr Carter took his phone out. ‘Hell can we do then?’

‘Give him two thousand.’

It is always a delight to talk to Chhimi. I thank him for taking time out from his schedule. I am currently reading Panther and will share the review as soon as I am done 🙂

Get featured as an author on my blog by leaving me a message. I will be happy to host you 🙂

Author Interview: Erika

Interview Sucheta

Hello Erika, thankyou for appearing on my blog. Please tell us something about yourself and your background as an author.

Hi Sucheta, first of all my heartfelt thank you for offering me this interview. It was an unexpected surprise and I appreciate it a lot. You want to know something about me? Actually there is not a lot to tell. I am a bored housewife started writing in order to bring some meaning into her life…hahaha… just kidding! I am a mother of three wonderful kids (13, 16, 20). I worked as chief-secretary until my first child was born and then part time. Meanwhile I am running a Practice for Aromatherapy and Self-Development. I am certified in Aromatherapy, Emmett-Technique, Matrix-Transformation, Tarot Card-Reading, Spiritual Healing, and the 2nd grad of Reiki. I was born in Austria (Vienna) but I am living in the Principality of Liechtenstein for 36 years.

I am a trained professional singer. Besides concerts, weddings, and church events I participated in 2 contests and won both. Meanwhile I am producing my own songs which you can listen to on my blog –

How did I come to writing? My best friend often told me to write a book. I was laughing and said: “Yes, sure, chocolate has no calories and Erika is going to write a book.” Who would ever want to read what I, the unimportant and uninformed Erika, says. I was too scared to ever say something about what I feel or think. People might laugh about me, question me, and criticize me. But when I had my breakthrough experience I realized that this all was a big lieI told myself all lifelong. I am free at every moment. Free, to be who I am and to go for who I am. That was the moment I thought about writing about this huge insight.

Every writer has some inspiration. Who or what is your inspiration?

That answer is easy: Life! From the age of 9 on I started to develop fears and self-doubts due to humiliation, being bullied, being expected to develop into someone I was not. I was given the feeling that I am only worthwhile when I achieve something. And of course that something was defined by others. My fears grew and never being enough made my self-doubts growing as well. I tried to be a person the meets the expectations of others in order to receive respect, acceptance, and love. But of course that never works. Therefore I forgot more and more who I really was. But the voice within me was never silenced completely and the flame of my being never went out. I started to discover myself again. I went through the jungle of misunderstandings and distortion until I saw that first glimpse of my own light again. That was the moment when things started falling into place, when people, signposts, books appeared and made me see clearer and clearer. I changed my way of thinking and my life changed. And one day – standing at a beach in Southern California – it hit me like thunder: “No one can ever harm me, no one is able to know what’s best for me, and no one can make me think or feel anything I don’t want. It were never the others – it was always me.I don’t need to fear anything or anyone. I am me – the only me in this universe – and that makes me special.” That was the moment when I decided to write I’m Free – Awareness Of Who You Are by Discovering Who You Are Not!”.But the German edition. That was in 2009 – 30 years later.

How difficult/easy was it for you to get published?

 The German version was my second book after a little poem book. I did not want to spend money again and tried to find a publisher which wants my book for what it is. I asked a publisher of spiritual books in my country and they wanted excerpts. My heart was beating so heavily that I was sure they heard it over the phone. After I sent the excerpts I was waiting for about 5 months. When I came back from my summer vacation and opened my inbox I found a very excited acceptance. I was dancing and screaming for 10 minutes. The English edition of I’m Freewas published by Balboa Press (a division of Hay House). Therefore I had to spend money. But due to the distance and me wanting to reach out as far as possible it was worth it. I experienced a great and most professional support. The social media campaign led me to my blog which opened another new universe for me I had never expected in its unfolding

You are based in Germany? Which are some of your favourite books written in German/ based in Germany?

Just in order to clarify a misunderstanding. I am neither based in Germany nor am I German. I am Austrian and I live in the Principality of Liechtenstein which is a small country between Austria and Switzerland. As in those two countries also over here we speak German.


My favorite book of a German Author is The Power of Now– by Eckhart Tolle. It was one of the life changing books next to The Secret, The Law of Attraction and most of all Wayne Dyer’s Your Sacred Self (next to many others of his books). They were life changing because I started to understand on one hand. But most of all because I developed the courage to apply what I understood into my life which only made it change.

How do you select the names for your characters? How close are they to real life?

Since my book is not fiction all characters are real. I take examples most of all from my own life but also what I experienced through my clients, friends, and any other encounters. I’m Free is a book drawn from life itself.

If there is one genre of writing that you would like to stick to for the rest of your life, which one would it be and why?

The one I started with and which I also plan or not leaving: Self-development / Spirituality

What is the craziest incidence that you have had while writing your books?

That is a wonderful question. When I started writing on a chapter I basically knew what to write about. I had my experiences and insights. But while I was writing on that chapter things happened in my life which made that chapter come alive. I went through situations or witnessed others which were exactly what I was writing about. Therefore I was writing live from life. And this happened with each and every chapter every time I worked through it. That was amazing – not always comfortable… haha – but it helped making the book most authentic.

What are your pet peeves as a writer?

When I am in the flow of writing and someone drops in asking me something…. Yes, that definitely is a huge pet peeve.

If given a chance to choose a pen name, what would you call yourself?

Honestly, I would never ever write under a pen name. The books I write are making me myself an open book. Authenticity is most important. I have no fear anymore to show who I am. And I want to do it in order to inspire others to let go of their fears and accepting and loving themselves the way they are, no matter what the rest of the world thinks about it.

Btw. Kind is my real sure name. When I married I had never thought how much of a blessing that name once might become. At that time I was far away from any thinking of writing books and even publishing one in English. I’ve come a long way.

On a side note: In German the word “Kind” means “child”.

A typical day in your life would be?

 I am a mother of three big kids and therefore have a lot of time back to myself. The morning starts like everywhere with preparing breakfast. When everybody is gone I am doing the household, working on my blog, having clients in my practice, getting family stuff organized, working in my garden, and working on my songs… I am never bored. My youngest son still comes home for lunch so there is a break between. In the evening I am doing my daily workout unless I am giving a meditation or having a late client. After dinner and getting some things done I basically go back to my blog sphere again where I remain mostly the rest of the evening since then there is the most “traffic”… haha.

Any tips from your experiences that you would want to share with our readers?

Feel your heart. Listen to its voice and don’t be scared what it might tell you. It never hurts you, it never lies at you, it never tricks you, and it never ever harms you. The voice of you heart is the voice of your truth – of YOUR truth. It is your life and your path. You are the only you in this world. Everybody has a unique history, unique experiences, certain skills, things they like and don’t like, certain dreams and goals. This all defines the way they look at the world, at life, and at themselves. This all makes this individual. Therefore no one is ever able to know what is best for you. The only person who knows what is best for you is you yourself – even when you are in doubts. Because it is your personal way out of those doubts.

Whatever decision you make don’t do it because others told you. Do it because it feels right. Sometimes it can even feel right to take the difficult way. Walk your way, walk it with your chin up high and have faith that whatever path you choose will lead you to a better place. The road can be bumpy but it may be necessary in order to get the necessary balance. It is your life, your dreams and whatever you do or don’t do, in the end the consequences are yours to deal with. Live your dream in order to never look back and regret that you didn’t. You don’t need to know the path to your goals, you just need to make the first step in their direction. Make a step today and see what follows…

It was a real delight interviewing Erika. She is the most amazing person and anyway, aren’t all the people related to books and reading, amazing? 🙂

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Author Interview: Sumeetha

What inspired you to take up a pen and write your first book?

My first book was called ‘The Perfect Groom’. I was on my maternity break with a lot of time in hand and I wrote half a story about a real-life incident that had happened to a friend’s friend. I have written many such stories but I happened to see an ad from Indireads asking for manuscripts and I sent mine to them on a lark fully expecting a polite rejection. But the Publisher Naheed Hassan called me back with a book contract!

Since when have you been writing?

Ever since college (1999).

How long did it take for you to wrap up your book and what were the major hurdles that you came across?

It took me around six months to complete my first book. My second book Love, Again took a year to complete. I am a slow writer and very temperamental. I write whenever the mood strikes me. I had to juggle writing both the books amidst many writing projects that I take on as a freelance writer.

If not writing, then what would be your other calling?

If not writing I would have probably become an archeologist. I have been a history buff for very long.

Give young writers some tips on getting published.

Keep writing. Write because you are compelled to tell a story and not for any other reason. If your writing is good accolades and success will find its way to you.

Do you intend to write in future? If yes, then what would be the next book based on?

Yes. I am right now working on a period novel. I am also translating a tamil historical novel into english which I am planning to self publish.

Do you prefer writing on a computer or the old school way?

On the computer of course. If I write the old school way I wouldn’t understand half of what I write 🙂

I would like to thank Sumeetha for taking time out of her schedule and doing the interview. Want to get featured on my blog as an author? Contact me and I will get back to you at the earliest 🙂

Author Interview: Jen

Jen with her book - Sound of Sirens

Jen with her book – Sound of Sirens

Hi Jen, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

Hi! Well, I’m from Holland and I have always loved books. I was always busy scribbling away in notebooks and on typewriters, and later on in life, on computers and laptops! I love writing stories that are a bit ‘out there’ – stories that make you wonder ‘what if’. Most of the books I’ve written aren’t set in my native country, but Sound of Sirens is… although I transformed the Frisian island of Skylge into a mysterious island haunted by Sirens and ruled by an upper class with exclusive access to electricity. This is, of course, not truly what the real island is like.

Besides writing, I also teach English at a local high school three days a week.

Did you become a writer by chance or by choice? How did you decide to write?

I became a writer by chance (or destiny!), but I became a PUBLISHED writer by choice. In Holland, I’m represented by Storm Publishers, and abroad, I am a self-published author. I didn’t have a choice in the matter of writing stories, though. The stories wouldn’t leave me alone until I’d written them, haha!

How long have you been writing and what has your writing journey been so far?

I wrote my first book when I was ten. I still have it! It was a sci-fi story about five girls finding a UFO in the woods. My writing journey has been just like that: for a long time, it was about the journey, not about the destination. Nowadays, it is also about the destination, because being an authorpreneur means you have to stick to deadlines and make a plan as to what to write when. I’m slowly relaxing a bit now, because I had quite a stressful year in 2014. Too much going on… but I’m now back on track with regards to ‘enjoying the journey’ most of all!

What does your writing process look like?

Once I sit down to write, I don’t want to be disturbed. I can write for a couple of hours in one go, but I also do stuff on the side at the same time: research, mostly. Whenever I’m writing something and I start thinking: is this realistic? What does this place look like? If I’m writing about a place I don’t know a lot about, that’ll prompt me to go online and look it up.

Publishing a book is not easy. So is finding a literary agent, at least in my country. Did you face any particular ordeal in this direction?

No, because in Holland we don’t work with literary agents. You just submit your manuscript to publishers. Which isn’t to say THAT’s easy – I was rejected quite a few times before I was accepted by my first publisher (I no longer write for them now, though).

What according to you are the easiest and the hardest things about writing?

The easiest – coming up with good ideas. The hardest – making or having the time to actually write down everything in my head. There’s too much I want to do at the same time.

What is the time that you usually spend in writing a book? 

It depends. Sometimes I can do it in two months, but that only holds true for stories I don’t need to do research for. I think a good estimate would be three to six months: three for a novella like Sound of Sirens, and six for a longer novel.

Writer’s block – have you ever been in that zone? If yes, how did you manage to come out of it?

No, not really. I just get a sort of ‘writer’s block’ when I don’t know what to work on first (so many ideas!) and I end up doing nothing at all because I can’t focus.

Do you draw inspiration from real life? Who are/ what is your inspiration?

I do, all the time. Everything is my inspiration! Landscapes, cities, people, the way people deal with adversity or happiness… But traveling to foreign countries is usually my biggest inspiration. I just love exploring new places that are so different from my own native country!

You are based in Netherlands, home to the very famous Anne Frank. Did she have any influence on you as a writer or inspired you? Which writers inspire you? 

Having grown up in Holland, the Second World War was an integral part of history education. It’s always quite near – we remember the dead on May 4th and we celebrate liberation from the Germans on May 5th. We have many monuments dedicated to war victims. I can’t say Anne Frank has inspired me as a writer, but the whole ordeal of WWII and my knowledge about that dark period in history does help whenever I write dystopian fiction. People tend to make the same mistakes over and over again, sadly. Even in my books (because I try making them true to life!).

Writers that have inspired me greatly are Tonke Dragt (Dutch author of children’s books), Thea Beckman (ditto), Tolkien (he’s so awesome!), and Ray Bradbury (best sci-fi writer ever).

A genre you wish to work upon in the future?

Maybe I’d like to venture out in hard sci-fi sometime, but I’m not sure yet. If so, I’ll probably use a pseudonym or else my fans will get confused 🙂

What are your pet peeves when it comes to writing?

I guess I annoy myself by always making the same typos in specific words. For example, the word inspiration – I KNOW how to spell that, but my fingers always type ‘inspiartion’ the first time around. Every. SIngle. Time!

Are there any tips that you want to share with aspiring writers?

Go do it. Don’t sit around and wait for something to get you started. As soon as you know who your main character is and what his/her conflict will be, you have a basis and you can write the first chapter, or at least the prologue. World building and writing plans will come later. Just start writing already! 🙂

Share your favourite excerpts from your book(s) and explain why are they your favourites.

If I had to pick one from Sound of Sirens, it would be the ‘romantic bit’ because I’m a sucker for romance!

When I gingerly push the door open, he doesn’t turn around or look up. Maybe he hasn’t even heard me enter. His body is hunched over the keys of his piano and he sits spread-legged on the stool as though he’s riding a horse, holding the reins to control the melody and shape it like the songs of his soul.

Slowly, I tiptoe toward him, not uttering a single word to break the spell. A part of me wants him to acknowledge my presence, but another part wants to just eavesdrop on him unawares – and become a part of his most private emotions. His shield is down, opening the shutters so I can look in from the outside.

When I come even closer, Royce unexpectedly looks over his shoulder to shoot me a look I can’t fathom. His mouth turns up in a roguish smile before he turns back to the piano. My heart stutters. He has seen me. He knows I’m here – and yet he keeps playing. He wants me to hear this.

Of course, the melody has to run its course and dry up eventually. A meaningful silence descends in the room as Royce gets up from his piano bench and stares at me. A few long strides and he’s standing in front of me, towering over me as I look up and rack my brain for something to say.

“You let me hear your work in progress,” I finally whisper in awe.

“I did.” He nods, and the movement makes a few strands of dark hair flop over his forehead, partly obscuring his blue eyes as they search mine. His lips curl up in a smile. “Isn’t that part of the reason why you came?”

“N-no.” My tongue feels like sandpaper. “I just – wanted to…” Say goodbye, I add in my head.

“No?” Royce takes another step closer, prompting me to hold up the LP like a shield. It makes him smile a bit wider, and I turn red. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. “Then what do you want?”

He stands there, clad in those way-too-sexy, ratty jeans and a sleeveless black top. I don’t ward him off anymore when his hand reaches out to touch my cheek. The feeling of his fingers on my flustered skin stops any coherent thought I might have conjured up. He slowly leans into me, his face so close to mine that my breath falters. Meanwhile, he’s pulling me in, tugging on a strand of my long, dark hair.

“Stop toying with me,” I croak, despite the fact that I want to shut up and just wait for him to kiss me. I want this, but I don’t. I don’t know.

“I’m not,” he says, softly and seriously. “You really think I’m playing you?”

“I’m scared.” My whisper is hardly audible.

He exhales. “Me too.”

That admission makes me blink up at him in surprise. Why should he be scared? He’s got nothing to lose.

“Why?” I say, but my question remains unanswered.

Royce moves in and his lips briefly touch mine, the heat from his mouth erasing the words that lingered there. He pulls me into his arms and kisses me again, more insistently, trailing his hands down my back and resting them on my hips in a deliberate gesture. I moan softly and close my eyes when his tongue parts my lips, stirring a hunger in me that I’ve never felt before. And I know this is what I came for. I could tell myself a million other things, but this is what I want. I’ve allowed my sad, hungry heart to lead me astray and make me fall for the wrong guy.

I would like to thank Jen for investing her time for my blog. If you too are an author – newbie or renowned and up for an interview, make it known and I will feature you on my Author’s Interview section.