Interview

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INTERVIEW WITH THAT ALICE LADY

Published March 6, 2017 by rochellewisoff

This month it’s my pleasure to introduce you to fellow author and OWL (Ozarks Writers League), Alice White. She has participated a few times in Friday Fictioneers. You will have to imagine her delightful mixture of British accent, Scottish brogue and expressive face. The elusive lady says she likes to keep a little mystery. 

alices-clock

Her Bio in her own words:

I am an author from England, now living in the USA. Born to a Scottish mother and an English father in England, I began writing short stories and poetry at a very early age, progressing to novels in 2008. I did not seriously envisage publishing any of my work until migrating to the United States and marrying in 2009. On moving to Arkansas in 2011, where I now live happily with my husband, I for the first time saw the reality of publishing my work. I write Time Travel, Fantasy, Love Story, and Magical Realism. The Blue Door Trilogy and That English Lady are available for Kindle and print from Amazon. I attend a wonderful critique group, Northwest Arkansas Writers Workshop, where I have received some of the best advice and guidance I could ever have wished for, and I like to compose music, play the flute, keyboard, and violin. I love animals – especially dogs and giraffe – anything gothic, and Doctor Who. I also became a citizen of the United States, on January 17th, 2014.

I want to thank Rochelle for asking me to do this interview. I consider taking part an unparalleled honour.

the-blue-doorbeyond-the-blue-doorreturn-to-the-blue-door

that-english-lady

 

 

 

 

 

What made you decide to be a writer?

I’m not sure it was entirely MY decision. I had characters shouting at me to write about them. For my first serious encounter, they came in a vivid dream back in 2008. “This will make a nice short story,” thought I… By the time it had given me one book, it was clear this was a much larger project! This dream turned into The Blue Door Trilogy. After that, characters came as they willed, begging to be written about in some shape or form. Some had to wait to become lesser characters until a more prominent one led the way.

What is your favorite genre? Why?

dr-who-clock I love time travel. I grew up watching Doctor Who, back in England, and have been fascinated by time travel ever since. They say, “write about what you love,” and that is true in my case. I also love a nice love story, fantasy, and magical realism, and try to incorporate all of these into my book, where ever they will fit.

 Who is the author who inspires you the most?

For fantasy and world-building, I go to the master, Tolkien. For time travel, I will read and watch any and ALL books, movies, documentaries, and fictional series that remotely involve the subject. The obvious choice is, of course, Doctor Who, but I’m always open to new ideas. I’m always looking for new and unique ways to transport my people, and by surrounding myself with time travel related material, am often inspired far and beyond even my own expectations, either by combining those I see and working them into a new way of inter-time transport or by coming up with something completely different.

How often do you write?

When I am in the process of writing a book, I write every day. That includes edits, layout, formatting, making my own cover, and writing music for the book trailer—which I make myself also—as well as preparing promotional posts for before and after the book is released. Once all of this is done, and beta readers get involved, I tend to give myself a little time off while they are considering their own deliberations. Once I have the finished product, including final edits from beta readers, and the book is released, I take a sabbatical from writing and concentrate a little more on promotion—while trying NOT to overdo the latter.

Do you have any major projects in the works?

I just released my fifth book, Little Bit Out Of Time, earlier this month, so am still in the thick of promoting it. Other than that, I’m waiting for the next group of characters to jump up and give me the beginnings of their story. I always like to wait for them and then allow them to drive the story forward, since I am what is known as a “Pantser,” which is to say, I fly by the seat of my pants, as opposed to planning and laying out a story before it is written. I prefer to let the stories/characters write themselves.little-bit-out-of-time

What are your writing goals for the future?

I would like to continue to grow as a writer. I don’t think we as writers ever stop growing, in truth. There is always something new to learn. I don’t know how many more books I have in me, that is all dependent upon those characters keeping in touch or even contacting me in the first place, but I hope there are a few more.

What advice would you give other writers?

Write what you love and also what you don’t. While sticking with what you know is comfortable and much easier, writing about those things you know little to nothing about will give you a great opportunity for research and learning about something new. Combining the two gives a great variety, and a sense of accomplishment. Read other authors.

Hone and polish your craft.

Join a critique group. There are all different kinds out there, and most everyone is able to find the one or even two that are wholly suitable for them.

Find beta readers who will provide varied, open, and honest feedback.

Attend writers’ conferences and rub elbows with fellow authors in all kinds of different stages in their writing and in their publishing process—whether self-published or traditionally.

Finally, and most importantly, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER give up!

Little Bit Out Of Time

That English Lady

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Beyond The Blue Door

Return To The Blue Door

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INSIDE THE QUIRKY MIND OF SARAH POTTER

Published January 9, 2017 by rochellewisoff

 

sarah-potter

It’s my great pleasure to start the year off by interviewing Friday Fictioneers regular, Sarah Potter who lives in a house on a hill, with panoramic views over the English Channel in SE England. Sharing the house are her husband, son and chocolate Labrador, all three of whom are great supporters of her literary endeavours. When not writing novels, she pens haiku and tanka poems, takes nature photographs, grapples with bindweed and snails in the garden, invents recipes, and sings mezzo-soprano.

What made you decide to be a writer?

My love affair with writing fiction and poetry blossomed at the age of eight. I could read before I went to school, which gave me a head-start with vocabulary. My mother read me lots of books as well; ones that were too advanced for me to read myself, such as The Sword in the Stone by T. H. White. Also, she made up stories off the top of her head. I remember in particular her tales about The Eccentric Man who liked to do things such as having operations without anesthetic (wince). At senior school, I wrote exercise-book length novellas: popstar or sci-fi romances mostly. These proved a great hit with my classmates, as well as my piano teacher, who showed one of my literary creations to her English teacher boyfriend. He responded with the words “That girl will be famous one day”. …Still waiting, although I do have the line of fame on my palm, so maybe there’s still time for his prophecy to come true. In my 20s, I was too busy making ends meet to have time to write much, apart from poems that moved almost imperceptibly between depressed rambles and black comedies. At the age of 36, I decided to go to evening class and study for an AS Level in English, which I passed with a straight A, with full marks for the creative writing module. The same year, I watched Kevin Costner’s movie, A Field of Dreams, in which he said something along the lines of “I’m 36 and if I don’t fulfill my dreams now, I never will”. That’s when I decided to write my first novel, a time travel romance set in a psychiatric hospital.       

What is your favorite genre? Why?

This is a difficult question, as I read quite widely. My choice of fiction at any one time depends upon my mood. I’m not good with high literary, as it’s too exhausting. On the other hand, I can’t deal with pulp fiction that has two-dimensional characters and unadventurous vocabulary. There’s nothing that’s more of a delight to me than discovering a brilliant trilogy and reading all the volumes back-to-back. In particular, I love apocalyptic science fiction, with Justin Cronin’s “The Passage trilogy” at the top of my list. This genre fascinates me, not out of a sense of morbidity, but because of its epic scale. Throughout history people have demonstrated an amazing spirit of survival against a backcloth of good and evil, and the apocalyptic scenario takes them right to the point of extinction, yet there’s a core group with the vision and determination to fight back, using a combination of practical skills and a profound sense of community.

I enjoy Nordic Noir, too, especially Karin Fossum, and Scandinavian authors in general, my favourite being the quirky Danish author, Peter Hoeg, who writes in an accessible literary style. The novel for which he’s the most famous is Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow, but my personal favourite is his less well known satirical anthropological novel The Woman and the Ape.

“Desiccation” is mesmerizing. How did you come up with the idea? How long did it take you to write it?

desiccationDesiccation is number three out of five novels, and was originally titled “Spaced-out”. They say write about what you know, so I based the setting for the story on the boarding school I attended in the latter part of the 1960s. The school never came under attack by body-snatching interdimensional aliens, although I seem to remember daydreaming about such things when I should have been concentrating on lessons. I did three months of research, which included reading a fascinating natural history book all about woodlice/pillbugs, followed by three months of writing the first draft. I sent the second draft out to a literary agent who said “I applaud your imagination and your writing skills, but it would be very hard to convince a publisher to take on a mix of science fiction, fantasy, and humour written by a first-time author”.  After this, I cast Desiccation aside and left it to marinade for ages, then rewrote it, then left it to marinade again, until in 2015 my family persuaded me to have a go at indie publishing one of my novels. My son voted for Desiccation, on the grounds that he’d found the first draft so exciting that he’d stayed up all night reading it and spent all the following day falling asleep at school.

I’m reading “Noah Padgett and the Dog-People” which, so far, is a rare treat. What can you tell us about it?

This is my fourth novel. I’m marketing it as a middle-grade children’s novel, although I suspect that most of my readers are aged 40 plus (much the noah-padgett-and-the-dog-peoplesame as with Desiccation). I like to think of Noah Padgett and the Dog-People as a multi-layered crossover novel that children and adults can enjoy at different levels. For instance, there’s Sergeant Salt and his Mercenary Lurcher Band, which is my joke on The Beatles’ album, Sergeant Pepper and his Lonely Hearts Club Band. Children possibly won’t pick up on this, but they will still find the characters entertaining. The book is available as an audiobook, as well on kindle and in paperback. For me, hearing my book read by talented actress Mil Nicholson, who’s brilliant with the characters’ voices and accents, is almost as exciting as having it made into a movie.

The inspiration behind the story is my chocolate Labrador, who was a puppy at the time of writing. I kept having anxiety dreams in which I turned around for a moment and she disappeared, and the more I thought about it, the more the kidnapping of a beloved dog seemed like a disturbing central theme to a novel. Added to this, my mother used to breed and show dogs and my first job after leaving school was as a kennel maid, so again, it was writing about what I knew.  Here’s my novel’s three sentence hook…

When Noah Padgett and his chocolate Labrador puppy disappear through a computer screen, they find themselves in the Zyx-dimension, where the main species is Canis sapiens. Bluebell soon falls into the paw-hands of deranged entrepreneur Monsieur Percival Poodle, who likes to collect alien specimens and believes himself above the law. Meanwhile, Noah ends up in a high security hospital for criminally insane Canis sapiens, with no apparent means of escape and terrified for his beloved puppy’s safety.

Bluebell in the furry flesh. © Sarah Potter

Bluebell in the furry flesh. © Sarah Potter

Who is the author who inspires you the most?

Apart from Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, you mean? ( 😉 ) This is a hard question to answer, as different authors have inspired me at different times in my life. These days I’m looking for five things in a book.

  • I find it so engaging that it compels me to sneak read it at breakfast time.
  • I care passionately about the fate of its characters.
  • The writing is crafted so beautifully that it gives me profound “wow” moments.
  • It teaches me something new, including techniques to improve my own writing.
  • When I’ve finished reading it, I suffer withdrawal symptoms and can’t settle to read anything else for a week or two.

I’ve already mentioned some of the authors who fit this bill, but who to choose above all others?  Here are the three authors who’ve taught me the most about writing as a craft: Donna Tartt, Rose Tremain, and Stephen King, and of those three, I would say that Donna Tartt triumphs over all.

How often do you write?

When I’m writing the first draft of a novel, I write for about five hours a day from Monday to Friday. For rewriting or editing, it’s around about three hours a day. Most weeks I write a haiku poem for the regular “Monday Morning Haiku” feature on my blog. Time permitting, I also participate in Friday Fictioneers, which I love. Any other writing is done at random times and scribbled on scraps of paper, which I scatter about the house or stuff in my coat pockets. Then I have to go on a hunt for them, having forgotten where I’ve put them, rather like a squirrel with its winter food hoard.  

Do you have any other major projects in the works?

I’ve an idea for a new work, which I’m researching at the moment. This is for a “genre bending” novel, better known as mashup fiction. This involves taking a literary classic that’s in the public domain and melding it with a genre. An example of this is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. At the moment, I’m reading the original Pride and Prejudice, and then I’m going to compare it to the mashup version and its sequel, Pride and Prejudice: Dreadfully Ever After. If I decide this type of novel is for me, I will go ahead writing it, with a view to submitting it to a traditional publisher or two. I’m keeping it close to my chest about which public domain work I intend to slaughter or enhance!

What are your writing goals for the future?

Ultimately, I would like to write a novel that literary agents and traditional publishers are willing to take a punt on. On the other hand, I don’t want to end up stuck with churning out novel after novel of the same ilk, unless I adore that ilk; otherwise, it will give me literary indigestion and a writer’s ulcer. If I can achieve recognition for my brand, namely “quirky fiction”, rather than for a particular genre, I will die happy.

Meanwhile, in the latter part of 2017, I might indie publish a third novel, most likely my medieval-style sword and sorcery fantasy adventure. This will be my experiment into whether it’s easier to market a novel that fits into a recognised subgenre, while still allowing for quirkiness. So far, my experience of marketing sucks.          

What advice would you give other writers?

  • Read widely.
  • Learn techniques and pick up skills from other authors, but develop your own voice.
  • Put your work under the microscopes of trusted beta readers who write well themselves and/or have editing experience. Don’t make changes immediately, but put the critiques aside for a week or two, especially if they annoy you! When you’ve calmed down and left your manuscript to marinade, compare the reader reports. If all of the readers pick up on a particular problem, then this problem needs addressing.
  • Don’t rely solely on your computer’s spellchecker.
  • Keep your writing muscles exercised, but don’t push it on days when you’re not in the mood. Go out for a walk or to the gym, meditate, have a sleep, clean the house, brush the dog, sing, dance, whatever. Anything other than writing total rubbish and beating yourself up about it.
  • Observe life closely, through all of your senses.
  • Give yourself plenty of thinking time.
  • Eat regular meals and don’t prop yourself up on strong coffee and donuts.
  • Don’t give up your day job and end up starving in your garret.

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Connect with Sarah: 

Blog
Facebook
Goodreads
Twitter
Linkedin
Independent Author Network 

Sarah’s Books on Amazon:
Desiccation
Noah Padgett & the Dog-People

 

Every Village Has One – An Interview with Russell Gayer

Published December 2, 2016 by rochellewisoff

russell-in-plaid

Like Benjamin Franklin, Russell Gayer spent most of his adult life in the printing industry, except for three years in which he was a framing carpenter. During that time he’s been honing skills that his wife, Connie, has made sure come in handy ever since. 

His collection humorous short stories, THE PERILS OF HEAVY THINKING, is available at Pen-L.com, Barns & Noble.com and Amazon.com.

Russell is the resident humorist of Friday Fictioneers who, every week, manages to pull laughter from the most somber photo prompt.

You may ask (or not ask) what makes Mr. Gayer tick? I did ask. Here are the answers:

 

What made you decide to be a writer?

I’m not sure it was a conscious choice. I began writing songs and poetry at an early age. I have written over 200 poems. The majority of them were pretty somber or serious stuff. I gave our neighbor, Linda Apple, a book containing some of my poems and short stories about ten years ago, and she invited me to attend a local critique group with her. Several people in that group were published authors who were willing to give of their time to help us “rookies” grow and improve. It was a very nurturing environment and I’m extremely grateful for their guidance and support.

What is your favorite genre? Why?

My favorite genre to write is humor. We live in a very fast-paced world filled with pressure, tension, and stress. People need an escape from that. Sometimes a little silliness is just what the doctor ordered. When people tell me they laughed out loud or snorted coffee out their nose while reading my work, I feel like I’ve touched them in a positive way and perhaps replaced some of that stress with joy, if only briefly.

I’m fascinated by near-death experience books. I find these stories encouraging and supportive of my spiritual beliefs—sort of an affirmation of faith—if you will.

Who is the author who inspires you the most?

My “go to guys” in the humor field are Patrick McManus, Dave Barry, and David Sedaris. Sedaris is more subtle in his approach to humor, but still very funny. I’m also a huge fan of Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder.

In addition to enjoying the story, I study the structure of their work. Their characters, how they set up a scene, use of dialogue and narration, any little thing that can help me become a better story teller. russell-in-coveralls

How often do you write?

I write something every day. Weekdays, I get up at 5 am and write for an hour. It could be on a story, or reading and commenting on blogs. When I go hunting, I take a pad and pen and write in the woods. Some of my most productive periods have occurred in the woods.

I am also what people in my writing group call a “Pantser,” meaning someone who doesn’t diagram out a story before they write, but simply flies by the seat of their pants.

Do you have any major projects in the works?

I’ve been working on ONE VILLAGE SHORT OF AN IDIOT for over a year now. This title was originally used in a Friday Flash Fiction post in October 2015. When I decided to turn the concept into a longer piece, I envisioned something in the neighborhood of 5,000 words. As of today, we’re at 29,000+ and counting. The characters have taken over the story on numerous occasions and created scenes that I never anticipated or would have thought of on my own. It’s been a real blast to write, as I never know what’s going to happen next.

What are your writing goals for the future?

I have a dozen other short stories lying around impatiently waiting for me to finish the Idiot saga. Hopefully, I’ll wrap that one up and hand them all off to Pen-L Publishing shortly after New Year’s. I was hoping for an April Fools book release, but that doesn’t seem too realistic at the moment.

What advice would you give other writers?

Write what you love. Be observant and study the work of others. Hone and polish your craft. Join a critique group and find a beta reader who will provide open and honest feedback. Attend writers’ conferences and rub elbows with published authors.

russell-and-mark-twainI’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes.

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is… the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” — Mark Twain

(This quote copied from fellow OWL member Lori Ericson’s blog) https://loriericson.com/2016/09/18/every-word-is-a-choice-and-opportunity/

 

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