The 2018 Author Interview Series Featuring W.L. Hawkin

This week’s author interview features Canadian author, W.L. Hawkin.

On a side note, though the initial response was gratifying, I find myself running out of interview subjects by the end of August. If you haven’t been interviewed, or even if you have and you have a new release coming out, please feel free to contact me to be interviewed at don@donmassenzio.com. I will send you the information and get you scheduled.

You can check out the 210 author interviews I’ve conducted thus far on my Author Directory page HERE.

Now, let’s meet W.L. Hawkin.


author shot

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I can’t say that I try to be original. I write what intrigues and feeds me. When you spend years researching, writing, editing, and promoting a book, it better be a life buoy; otherwise you’ll both sink. Myths, magic, and different forms of spirituality have always fascinated me, so when I began to write novels, they naturally impacted my work. I am a pagan who believes in the tenets that my Hollystone witches practice so, this too, informs my writing. Perhaps, this is original. I don’t know. It’s just who I am, and I write what intrigues me—what I love to read.

Also, I write about landscapes that I love, where I have travelled, and made connections. For example, the last half of To Charm a Killer is set on the west coast of Ireland—a magical place of great beauty. The sequel, To Sleep with Stones, is set in Kilmartin Glen (on the west coast of Scotland) and explores the idea that the land is alive and retains memories. The third book in this series (Hollystone Mysteries) involves a boat trip up the British Columbia coast. Joseph Campbell (The Power of Myth) is my mentor so it’s no surprise that my heroes always go on a quest that involves a journey. As Leo Tolstoy said: “All great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.”

Having said that, I do love to hear from readers and I listen to their feedback. Just recently I was asking readers if I should tone down one of my leads (Estrada) who is a polyamorous bi-sexual magician and high priest of Hollystone Coven. The answer was “no!” Estrada’s flaws propel the plot and impact the inner lives of the characters. Some readers can’t fathom Estrada’s moral boundaries—he believes in freedom and doesn’t discriminate. Even, my editor wanted Estrada to commit. I just shook my head. Estrada does what he wants to do. I just listen.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

I started writing poetry as a teenager and then wrote songs. I came to novels later when I was going through a traumatic life change. Writing my first novel helped me through that. I would tell younger Wendy to learn and practice the craft, to join writer’s groups, make writer friends, and sink into the creative zone, but also learn the business. I think I would also tell her to go live “deliberately” in a cabin like Thoreau and read and read and read. I suppose I can still do that!

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

shipping newsThe Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx. I just love this book and reread it from time to time to remind myself what great writing sounds like. Proulx won a Pulitzer Prize for this novel in 1994, but I don’t think many people appreciate the lure of this book.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Yes, I read my reviews. Good reviews are inspiring. So far, I haven’t read many bad reviews, but I know they happen. A writer can’t please everyone all the time. People have as many tastes as an ice cream store—sometimes you find a flavour you love and sometimes it’s a disappointment. I am always looking for people to write reviews of my books as they are quite important. Everyone seems to go to Amazon and Goodreads to check out your work before they buy.

I also write reviews. For the past year or so, I’ve been submitting to the Ottawa Review of Books. I love being able to promote fellow Canadian writers. If I don’t like a book, I don’t finish it and I don’t review it. That’s my policy. I know what it takes to write a book. I believe in karma, and I’ve seen how devastating a bad review can be to an author. I don’t want to destroy someone because something is not to my taste.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Oh yes. People who know me will see all kinds of things because I write from personal experience (for the most part) especially with regard to travel and the land.    

Do you Google yourself?

Sure. Why not?

What is your favorite childhood book?

golden pine coneThe Golden Pine Cone by Catherine Anthony Clark. I grew up in rural Ontario and our elementary school library was a broom closet. However, one day I found this book, and it blew me away. Years later, when I bought it online and reread it, I just laughed. I knew I’d loved it, but didn’t remember why. The book is set in British Columbia, where I now live. It’s mythic fiction that features a quest. It involves Indigenous spirits, adventure, and secret magical landscapes. As Wordsworth once wrote: “the child is father of the man.”

If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

I quit school in grade eleven and didn’t graduate high school until I was thirty-three. I gained invaluable life experience, but came to literature later in life. I’d written poetry, read some, and was blessed with two fantastic English teachers. But how wonderful it would have been to have a mentor to suggest books I should read or coach me in writing. Much later, when I taught English literature and creative writing, I tried to do this for my students.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

It depends on the book. A few years ago, I drafted a novel in about a month while staying at a B&B on Vancouver Island. It just flowed. But it needs workshopping, revisions, and editing. To Charm a Killer was the first in the Hollystone Mystery series and I was developing characters and finding my way, so it took many years. I self-published it under a penname in 2010, and then revised it and put out a second edition in late 2016 using my own name. The sequel, To Sleep with Stones, also took a few years. Mind you, I was teaching full-time and writing summers and weekends. The third book, To Render a Raven, I wrote this past year. It’s been to the editor and I’m working through revisions and edits. Last summer, I did the research in Ireland for a fourth book featuring the Hollystone characters. And I’m currently researching a brand new book set in B.C. Writing and self-publishing is a juggling act.

About W.L. Hawkin:

My journey has led me from Toronto, Canada, the place of my birth, to towns east of Toronto, and then across the country to the West Coast. I graduated from high school at age thirty-three and then completed a BA in Indigenous Studies at Trent University in Ontario, Canada. I found my voice there, and published poetry and Native rights articles in Canadian newsmagazines. After moving west, I completed Post-Baccalaureate Diplomas in the Arts and Humanities at SFU in British Columbia, where I was published in iamb, the SFU Journal of Creative Writing. I also completed a Teaching Certificate at SFU and taught for several years; my favourite subjects being English Literature and Creative Writing. I also spent a year as a relief lighthouse keeper, enjoying the rugged isolation of the coast, and blogged my adventures at Life on the BC Lights.

I am fascinated by mythology and consider Joseph Campbell a mentor. I continue to explore my Celtic and Tuscarora ancestry, often in my writing. I am a spiritual seeker but my heart lies in nature. I used to think that I was born in the wrong century. Now, I think I’m carrying the threads of past lives—some are stronger and pull me back while others break and splinter. I love prehistory, archaeology, myths, and magic. If I could, I would travel back in time to experience cultures long since changed or vanished.

I started Indie Publishing in 2016 when I created Blue Haven Press. Since then, I’ve published two books in the Hollystone Mysteries series and a third is on its way.

Connect with W.L. Hawkin:

Please visit my blog at Blue Haven Press and check me out on Goodreads. Follow me on Twitter @ladyhawke1003 or find me on Facebook @wlhawkin.

W.L. Hawkin’s books:

My books are available through your favourite retailer or on Amazon.

 

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The 2018 Author Interview Series Featuring Ashley Moss

This week’s author interview features Tennessee author, Ashley Moss.

On a side note, though the initial response was gratifying, I find myself running out of interview subjects by the end of August. If you haven’t been interviewed, or even if you have and you have a new release coming out, please feel free to contact me to be interviewed at don@donmassenzio.com. I will send you the information and get you scheduled.

You can check out the 210 author interviews I’ve conducted thus far on my Author Directory page HERE.

Now, let’s meet Ashley Moss.


21192041_10214715805197416_6132293859687303552_n

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I try to be more original than anything. Sometimes I’ll give readers the endings they want, but for the most part I like to keep them guessing or leave them surprised.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

To learn how to take constructive criticism, and to learn to continuously revise and edit your writing. Constructive criticism doesn’t mean that you’re a bad writer, it just means that your writing needs improvement. A story also needs a great deal of editing, revising, and redrafting to make it as good as it can be.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

The btbThe Blacker the Berry by Wallace Thurman

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Yes, I do read reviews of my book. I appreciate the good reviews because I use them to positively describe the book on my website. I use the bad reviews to improve my writing skills or areas that the reviewer suggests I need improvement in.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Personally, I don’t have any secrets. I’m like an open book. Similarly, all my feelings, thoughts, and opinions spill out onto the pages of the story or poem as I write. Thus, every reader should be able to find clear truths about me in my book.

Do you Google yourself?

Occasionally, I do. I find a few links to my social media accounts and author website when I do. Most of the time, information about a famous football player’s wife pops up when I Google myself though.

What is your favorite childhood book?

Matilda

My favorite childhood book is Matilda by Roald Dahl or any other childhood books written by him. I also like childhood books written by Judy Blume and Ann M. Martin.

If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

If I had to do something differently as a teenager to become a better writer as an adult, I would try my hand at writing sooner. I wrote my first poem at the age of twelve, and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I started writing short stories.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Typically, it takes me about a year or a year and a half to write a book. It takes me the same amount of time to write it, whether it’s a book of poetry, a book of short stories, or a novel.

About Ashley:

Ashley Moss was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. She is the middle child of three children born to her mother, and she dearly loves her family. Ashley’s love of reading began when she learned to read at the age of four. From that point on, books and words were her friends. Her passion for writing developed when she wrote her very first poem at the age of twelve. Writing is her solace and comfort in life. Today, her love of reading and writing continues to uplift her in life.

Find Ashley’s Books:

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http://ashleymossauthor.weebly.com

The 2018 Author Interview Series Featuring Ronel Janse van Vuuren

This week’s author interview features Ronel Janse van Vuuren , author of New Adult, Young Adult and children’s fiction filled with mythology and folklore.

On a side note, though the initial response was gratifying, I find myself running out of interview subjects by the end of August. If you haven’t been interviewed, or even if you have and you have a new release coming out, please feel free to contact me to be interviewed at don@donmassenzio.com. I will send you the information and get you scheduled.

You can check out the 210 author interviews I’ve conducted thus far on my Author Directory page HERE.

Now, let’s meet Ronel Janse van Vuuren .


author photo ronel

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

Honestly, I write whatever the muse inspires me to. I have a specific reader in mind with each story, though I’m sure there are others who enjoy my original take on Faerie (‘cause they told me so).

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Patience is a virtue, persistence is divine.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

The Iron King“The Iron King” by Julie Kagawa. I think the entire series should be a lot more popular than it is: intrigue, Faeries, romance, excellent worldbuilding and characterisation – what’s not to love?

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Yes. It’s good to know what readers like and dislike about my work. I do take all reviews with a grain of salt, though. Tastes and views differ, colouring reviews.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Not intentionally. But I do surprise myself from time-to-time.

Do you Google yourself?

Of course! You never know when something odd might pop up or when SEO changes and your blog gets lost to obscurity. In the digital age, writers need to be Google-able and the first page of results needs to be relevant to your writing career.

What is your favorite childhood book?

b2“Klein Grootvoël, Die Getoorde Boeing” by Nico Venter. (It loosely translates from Afrikaans to: tiny big bird, the spelled Boeing.) I won it in a debating competition in primary school – it has various ghosts, including an African medicine man matching wits with an Indian medicine man while two boys take part in the adventures by travelling in a spelled toy airplane every full moon. It came out in 1997 – and taking into account the tensions in South Africa at that time regarding race and religion, it’s probably understandable that I can’t find it on the internet even with an ISBN number (magic, being friends with someone outside your culture and race, and a few other themes in the book weren’t popular back then).

If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

One thing I would change if I could: entering the stories I wrote in competitions instead of hiding them away. I think each time we get feedback on our writing, we grow as writers. I could’ve fast-tracked my career if I had had the courage to do in my teens what I did in my twenties.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Including edits and rewrites? Six to eighteen months, depending on the length of the book (and other projects demanding attention).

About Ronel:

Ronel Janse van Vuuren is the author of New Adult, Young Adult and children’s fiction filled with mythology and folklore. Her dark fantasy stories can be read for free on Wattpad (https://www.wattpad.com/user/miladyronel) and on her blog Ronel the Mythmaker (https://ronelthemythmaker.wordpress.com/).  She won Fiction Writer of the Year 2016 for her Afrikaans stories on INK: Skryf in Afrikaans (http://www.ink.org.za/lede/roneljansevanvuuren/). Her published works can be viewed on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17528826.Ronel_Janse_van_Vuuren).

Ronel can be found tweeting (https://twitter.com/miladyronel) about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.

In 2017 she won a publishing competition hosted by Groep 7 Printers and INK: Skryf in Afrikaans. The winning short story collection is available in English (Once…) and Afrikaans (Eens…) as ebook, print on demand and audiobook (only the Afrikaans edition thus far).

Ronel’s Books:

All of her books are available for purchase on Amazon. (https://amazon.com/author/roneljansevanvuurenmythmaker)

 

The 2018 Interview Series Featuring Balroop Singh

This week’s author interview features Balroop Singh, a poet, non-fiction writer and  blogger. She lives and writes in California

On a side note, though the initial response was gratifying, I find myself running out of interview subjects by mid August. If you haven’t been interviewed, or even if you have and you have a new release coming out, please feel free to contact me to be interviewed at don@donmassenzio.com. I will send you the information and get you scheduled.

You can check out the 210 author interviews I’ve conducted thus far on my Author Directory page HERE.

Now, let’s meet Balroop Singh.


7I5ms6njDo you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

Poetry is always original as it emanates from the deepest crevices of a poet’s heart and I write from my observation of people. My pen bleeds the most precious emotions and who is connected with them is difficult to fathom, as most of my themes are universal.

When I write non-fiction, I try to delve into the psyche of human beings and my intuition and astute observation assists me to study why some people are insensitive, arrogant, prone to anger or are emotionally absent. I have written about all these topics, which are the most popular post at my blog.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Write more, read more. Take care of all those pieces of paper that you stuff in the drawers and organize them. Mothers who are too ambitious and self-sacrificing forget their own self and I was one of those who devoted all her time to her children. I never had any time for my writing.

I am only telling this to my younger writing self. I know if I were given another opportunity, my priorities again would be the same.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

wwbRecently I have read Where We Belong by Emily Giffin and really liked it. But some reviewers have called it “the most appalling book”. This book has such varied reviews…from one star to five stars! I am astounded by the uncivilized language some of the readers have used while reviewing this book, which deals with emotions and relationships brilliantly.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Reviews need to be read as they acquaint us with our imperfections, if they are honest and provide a learning opportunity. I like a bad review too if it is constructive and offers an in-depth analysis of a poem. Good review is like a fragrant breeze that wafts around me for many days, boosting my creative juices.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

There are many secrets hidden in my books, some of them so astutely that no one can find them. Some of my poems describe the people around me, they might get a message if they read and introspect. One of my friends remarked that I could have written about her life too and I showed her the poem that I had written about her many years ago.

Do you Google yourself?

Sometimes, when I am too tired and want a kick. It is nice to know that readers have picked up my quotes from Goodreads and shared them in so many different ways.

What is your favorite childhood book?

As a child, I didn’t have any storybooks and rediscovered my childhood as a mother. Gulliver’s Travels really fascinated me. The Canterville Ghost was our favorite ghost story, which we would read everyday.

If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

A child would never understand that something different has to be done to be a writer. My grand daughter believes that all grown ups can read and write well and she would be able to do so when she grows up and therefore doesn’t like to be pushed when we tell her to write a few letters.

As a teenager I would have scoffed at the advice of becoming a writer or a poet! So I would have never done much.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

I write a book within six to eight months.

About Balroop:

Balroop Singh, a former teacher and an educationalist always had a passion for writing.  She is a poet, a creative non-fiction writer and a relaxed blogger. She writes about people, emotions and relationships. A self-published author, she has written five books. She always had a passion for poetry which evoked images before her eyes and carried her far beyond the horizon. She could see the visions of her own poetry while teaching the poems. Her dreams saw the light of the day when she published her first poetry book ‘Sublime Shadows Of Life.’

Balroop Singh has always lived through her heart. She is a great nature lover; she loves to watch birds flying home. The sunsets allure her with their varied hues that they lend to the sky. She can spend endless hours listening to the rustling leaves and the sound of waterfalls. The moonlight streaming through her garden, the flowers, the meadows, the butterflies cast a spell on her. She lives in San Ramon, California.

Balroop’s Books:

My BooksYou can purchase her books at: goo.gl/X1NEFf

Poetry:  Sublime Shadows Of Life

Sublime Shadows Of Life is a book, which comments on life, its turbulent curves and relationships. It envisions people through the prism of poetry.

Click on the link to buy

 Poetry: Emerging From Shadows

From darkness into light, from despair onto the wider ways of hope…life oscillates between sunshine and shadows. Emerging from shadows is a choice, which lies dormant, which can be gently inspired by self-talk.

Link to buy: goo.gl/T5yM45

 When Success Eludes Us…

Success!! The magic word that defines our dreams! The potion that intoxicates! The path that seems so tempting, so inspiring, yet so challenging! The chase that is ceaseless, exasperating at times, enlivens our lives…

Buy from:

 

Emotional Truths Of Relationships

This book will guide you how you can keep pace with embellishing your thoughts and channelize your emotions, which can be trained to veer into a positive direction.

Link to buy: goo.gl/1t3u2B

Allow Yourself To Be A Better Person

Do you think you are a good person? Would you like to meet your better self? Welcome to the vast vistas that this book unravels before you by highlighting the shaded areas that could never get your attention.

Buy from Amazon.com

Connect with Balroop:

You can visit her blog at: http://balroop2013.wordpress.com

You can connect with her: https://twitter.com/BalroopShado

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Emotional-Shadows/151387075057971

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+BalroopSinghsrao/posts

https://www.pinterest.com/balroops/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7340810.Balroop_Singh

https://www.amazon.com/Balroop-Singh/e/B00N5QLW8U/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

 

 

 

 

 

The 2018 Author Interview Series Featuring Dr. Rich Meyrick

This week’s author interview features Dr. Rich Meyrick. Rich is from the UK but now lives in Canada where he spends his days writing books and posting on his blog.

On a side note, though the initial response was gratifying, I find myself running out of interview subjects by mid August. If you haven’t been interviewed, or even if you have and you have a new release coming out, please feel free to contact me to be interviewed at don@donmassenzio.com. I will send you the information and get you scheduled.

You can check out the 210 author interviews I’ve conducted thus far on my Author Directory page HERE.

Now, let’s meet Dr. Rich Meyrick.


Rich Meyrick Photo

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I’m sure most authors want their work to be original, in one way or another. Having said that, there’s not much point producing stories nobody wants to read. As far as Jaspa’s Journey is concerned, I certainly aim to provide something original. Yet I also hope that one day, when asked what they want, readers will reply, “Something like Jaspa’s Journey!”

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

“Before you begin approaching potential publishers for the first time, make sure your manuscript is as polished as possible.”

I made the mistake of thinking publishers would see the potential in my first book, Jaspa’s Journey: The Great Migration, and their editors would then help me refine it. By the time I found out that this is not the way the World works for unknown authors, I’d already blown my chance to make a good first impression with quite a few publishers.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

TerryPratchettAnything by Terry Pratchett.

Now to anyone living in the UK, where I originally come from, this will sound absurd, as Sir Terry was (is) a household name and his books are widely loved. But here in Canada, where I now live, most people have never even heard of him or his books. It’s a great shame, because they’re marvellous!

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

The short answer is no. You need thick skin to be a writer (or at least to have readers), yet mine is way too thin.

My wife, Sue, on the other hand, does read reviews of my books, and tries to bolster my confidence by sharing the good ones with me. She generally keeps any unkind reviews to herself. (Although it just occurred to me that perhaps her silence on this front because no one has made any negative comments about my books! I can live in hope!)

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Absolutely! For example, in the second Jaspa novel, The Pride of London, (and also the fifth, The Ses Collector of Venice, which I’m currently writing) there’s a character called Elwood Carn. His appearance and style is loosely based on Noel Coward (someone most of the target audience won’t have even heard of). The character’s name is even an anagram of  his muse.

The books also contain hints and references to characters and places that feature in past, and even future, instalments in the series. On a more personal level, many of the characters are named after, or even based on, friends and family. Very occasionally I take this a step further and someone will appear as themselves.

Do you Google yourself?

No. (See Question 4.)

But I understand Sue  Googles Jaspa and Jaspa’s Journey quite regularly.

What is your favorite childhood book?

I suppose it depends which part of my childhood I’m considering. One that particularly sticks out is the English translation of Emil and the Detectives. I especially loved The Hobbit. And Br’er Rabbit. And Dragonfall 5. I could go on and on!

There was also a series of books about an international team of four astronauts, including a Russian called Serge, which I frustratingly can’t put a name to, but which will now bug me for months. Thanks for that, Don!

If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

This is a tough one, since I never even considered being a writer in my youth, or indeed until my 30s. That being said, it would probably be something as simple as start taking (even) more pictures when travelling at an earlier age. I often find I wish I had (more) images of mundane things while writing: they’re so useful for bringing descriptions to life.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Roughly 18 months, give or take.

The forth Jaspa book, The Hermit of Kennecott, has been a bit different. When I first began the outline, back in 2007, it was going to be book three. But roughly a third of the way through writing it, I changed my mind and pushed it to book four.

Once Jaspa’s Journey 3: Jaspa’s Waterloo was finished, I eventually got back to The Hermit of Kennecott. Yet there always seemed to be something more pressing: book signings, building Jaspa’s website, arranging more book signings, editing the first three books for publication, yet more book signings, and so on.

Then, a few months after getting back to seriously focusing on The Hermit of Kennecott, I got the opportunity to revisit Venice, the location for book five. So The Hermit was once again shelved, while I wrote the story outline for The Ses Collector Of Venice, in advance of our trip.

As you can imagine, finishing the first draft of The Hermit of Kennecott last December, a full decade after its inception, felt like quite an achievement!

Rich’s Books:

Three book bannerThe first three books in the Jaspa’s Journey series are available from Amazon (search for Jaspa’s Journey in your country’s version of the site). In the States you can also get them from Barnes and Noble and in Canada through Chapters Indigo. You can also get them direct from the publisher, Speaking Volumes, or signed copies from Rich!

About Rich:

Rich is the fingertips behind everything associated with Jaspa’s Journey. Born in Wales, he developed a fascination in geography, history and the environment at an early age, interests which culminated in a PhD from the University of Cambridge (UK) and a post-doc at the University of Waterloo (Canada).

After subsequently working four years as an environmental scientist in Weimar, Germany, Rich married Sue and returned to Waterloo, this time permanently. Since then, when he and Sue aren’t actually travelling with Jaspa, Rich spends his days writing books and blogs about Jaspa’s adventures. It’s a Journey he hopes will continue for many years to come.

Connect with Rich:

You can follow Jaspa’s ongoing escapades through a variety of social media, including a website, blog, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, all of which are written from Jaspa’s unique perspective.

 

 

The 2018 Author Interview Series Featuring Debra Purdy Kong

This week’s author interview features Debra Purdy Kong. She brings her practical experience on the periphery of law enforcement and her degree in criminology to her writing. Her interview is enjoyable and revealing. I hope you enjoy this latest interview in the series.

On a side note, though the initial response was gratifying, I find myself running out of interview subjects by mid August. If you haven’t been interviewed, or even if you have and you have a new release coming out, please feel free to contact me to be interviewed at don@donmassenzio.com. I will send you the information and get you scheduled.

You can check out the 210 author interviews I’ve conducted thus far on my Author Directory page.

Now, let’s meet Debra Purdy Kong.


Debra Purdy Kong, 2016

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

It’s a combination of both for me. I try to be original in my plots and character development, but I implement a basic three-act story structure that is familiar to fans of the mystery genre. I incorporate Canadian settings that few people have ever heard of, such as my home in Port Moody, British Columbia. But my publisher decided to use American spelling because she thought it would be more appealing for American readers. I’m still not sure about that one, as American readers tell me that it wouldn’t have made any difference to them.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

I’d tell myself to be confident. There will be more setbacks than successes, but you define what those mean, and don’t let anyone else do it for you. The only failure in writing is giving up because insecurity and negative self-talk took over.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

fgtWell, author Fannie Flagg isn’t up there with John Updike, or Philip Roth, or others, but her novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Café is one of the most entertaining and memorable novels I’ve ever read. It’s an exquisite blend of humor, drama and superb storytelling set in the tumultuous background of the American south in the first half of the 20th century. Even though the book was made into a movie (which I also really liked) it’s not likely to be considered an American classic. It should be, for what it says about family, culture, social values, racism, feminism, and many other things.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I used to read reviews, good and bad, but reading about my work always makes me uncomfortable. The good ones make me blush, and the bad ones means that I have to work on developing a thicker skin.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

They’re not secrets, really, but I sometimes incorporate references to events and places that only local readers would appreciate. For example, we have an NHL hockey team in Vancouver, the Canucks. They’ve not been doing great in recent years, so if I write a scene showing Casey’s boyfriend watching the Canucks’ game on TV and Casey snickers and rolls her eyes, local folks will understand why.

Do you Google yourself?

I used to, but after publishing nine books over a twenty-five year period, it’s not that important to me anymore. I think one can become a little obsessed or paranoid about stuff like that. Sort of like the people who methodically check their Amazon rankings every hour. I could be wrong, but checking up on myself or my rankings isn’t the best way to squander the small amount of writing time I have.

What is your favorite childhood book?

old clockNancy Drew’s The Secret of the Old Clock. It was the first in the series and got me hooked on mysteries. Nearly 50 years later, reading mysteries is till one of my favorite things to do.

If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

I would have started networking with other writers and going to conferences much earlier than I had. For a long time, I wrote completely on my own, without feedback or even personally knowing anyone else who was writing. It was an exciting and enlightening experience as I took my first course and joined a writers’ group.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

The first book took me ten years, but I was also writing short fiction at that time and starting a second book. Given that I’ve rarely had an opportunity write full-time, it still takes me 2 or 3 years from start to finish. I’m not prolific, just tenacious.

About Debra:

Debra Purdy Kong’s volunteer experiences, criminology diploma, and various jobs, inspired her to write mysteries set in and around Vancouver, British Columbia. Her employment as a campus security patrol and communications officer provide the background for her Evan Dunstan mysteries, as well as her Casey Holland transit security novels. More information about Debra and her books can be found at www.debrapurdykong.com

Debra’s Books

Knock Knock, front coverLinks to Knock Knock (Casey Holland Mystery #5):

Amazon: myBook.to/KnockKnock

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/knock-knock-15

Apple (itunes): https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1296703895

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Links to A Toxic Craft (Evan Dunstan Novella #2)

Amazon: http://getbook.at/AToxicCraft

Kobo Books : https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/a-toxic-craft

Connect with Debra:

WordPress blog: https://debrapurdykong.wordpress.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DebraPurdyKong

Facebook: www.facebook.com/debra.purdykong

 

 

The 2018 Author Interview Series Featuring Cynthia Kirkwood

It’s time for the next subject for my 2018 author interview series. Author interviews are posted every Friday throughout the year.

I am honored to continue this series with author Cynthia Kirkwood

You can catch up with all of my past author interviews (nearly 200) on my Author Directory page.

If you’re an author interested in being interviewed in this series, I still have limited spots available for 2018. You can email me at don@donmassenzio.com

Now, please enjoy this interview with Cynthia Kirkwood:


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Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I am myself.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

You can’t plan publication dates. Turn On, Tune Out, in which a British composer turns outlaw in Los Angeles, is my first published novel, and my third written one. When I started my first one, Journey to Honor, I was a reporter at the Rochester, New York, Democrat and Chronicle. I figured I’d finish it, publish it and then start researching the next book. It didn’t work out that way. Gary Fisketjon, then an editor at Random House, had advised me that the most important thing was to keep writing. I now have a body of work, including a play, a screenplay and several children’s books.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

huckleberry finnAdventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain seems to have become an under-appreciated novel. A few years ago, I read about school districts in the United States that were banning the book or removing it from reading lists because of the “n-word,” which appears 219 times. There is now a 2011 edition which uses “slave” in its place and “Indian” for “injun.” What would Mark Twain say? He did say: “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter – it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

Peter Messent, author of the Cambridge Introduction to Mark Twain wrote in the Guardian newspaper in January 2011: “His repeated use of that derogatory term in Huckleberry Finn is absolutely deliberate, ringing with irony. When Huck’s father, poor and drunken white trash by any standard, learns that ‘a free nigger … from Ohio; a mulatter, most as white as a white man … a p’fessor in a college’ is allowed to vote, he reports: ‘Well, that let me out … I says I’ll never vote agin … [A]nd the country may rot for all me.’ It is very clear here whose racial side Twain is on. Similarly when Aunt Sally asks if anyone was hurt in a reported riverboat explosion, and Huck himself answers ‘No’m. Killed a nigger,’ she replies, ‘Well, it’s lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt.’ The whole force of the passage lies in casual acceptance of the African American’s dehumanised status, even by Huck, whose socially-inherited language and way of thinking stands firm despite all he has learnt in his journey down-river of the humanity, warmth and affection of the escaped slave Jim – the person who truly acts as a father to him.

“It’s exactly that vitriol and its unacceptable nature that Twain intended to capture in the book as it stands. Perhaps this is not a book for younger readers. Perhaps it is a book that needs careful handling by teachers at high school and even university level as they put it in its larger discursive context, explain how the irony works, and the enormous harm that racist language can do. But to tamper with the author’s words because of the sensibilities of present-day readers is unacceptable. The minute you do this, the minute this stops being the book that Twain wrote.”

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Yes, I do read my book reviews. When written well, they are thought- provoking and teach me something about my novel, Turn On, Tune Out. I haven’t gotten any bad ones.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

There are characters inspired by people I’ve met or know. But people rarely recognize themselves.

Do you Google yourself?

Yes, I Google myself. As an independent publisher, I am also marketing Turn On, Tune Out. A Google search indicates how well I’m publicizing my work.

What is your favorite childhood book?

When I was a child not old enough to go to school, my favorite books were Little Golden Books, which were first published in 1942. It wasn’t until you asked me this question that I realized that they are still published today. These books were sold in drugstores for only twenty-five cents. I bought them for myself or, at least, pointed out titles to my mother. They were my very own books, and that meant a lot to me. And they were beautiful with wide cardboard covers and spines of gold and black. I had one about a kitten. I remember it having one page torn in half. I also remember A Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowery, illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren.

As a grade school student, I walked through the closet door in Narnia and fell in love with the magic of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

As a mother, my favorite children’s books are Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne and The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

The poet, Larry Neal, who taught me at Williams College, advised that writers should read myths and learn languages. A Religion major at Williams, I studied philosophy, anthropology and political science courses that tried to answer the question of existence: Who are we? I believe that we are our stories, our mythologies.

As a first-generation American, I grew up with the mythology of Belize, which both my parents left for New York City, where they met at a Belize dance. One of my children’s books features Tata Dohende, a hairy dwarf with backwards feet. When I was 4 years’ old, my family spent months in Belize, where I spoke only Creole. In kindergarten, I unlearned it, which is a loss. “Talk like your teachers,” my parents, understandably, instructed me. At least, I still understand Creole.

As a junior in college, I studied at the American University in Cairo. I learned to speak Arabic, and I immersed myself in Arab culture, which is awash in a rich mythology.

Later, I spent one year in Sicily, where I spoke Italian (not Sicilian for which there were no language books or CDs). I lived in the village of Aci Trezza, 6 miles north of Catania. Off the coast of Aci Trezza are three massive rocks. According to local legend, these great stones are the ones thrown at Odysseus in The Odyssey. Locals call the stones the “isole dei ciclopi,” or islands of the Cyclops, and I lived on the Riviera dei Ciclopi. Legend says that the Cyclops once had a smithy below the volcanic Mount Etna, which looms over the village to the northwest. During my time in Sicily, I was living inside a mythology.

In Sweden, I studied and tried to speak Swedish, which was difficult because most Swedes would answer my Swedish question in English. I read Scandinavian mythology. I was re-introduced to the thunder-god Thor and read Edda, a source of medieval Norse mythology. My local library, which was in the suburb of Solna outside of Stockholm, contained excellent language courses and books in more than 40 languages, many of them eastern European. The only requirement for a library card was a passport from any country. Sweden impressed me with its openness to other cultures and its attention to languages. The Swedes I met spoke more than one language.

In Britain, I lived 15 years in various places. Like other countries, each area has its own culture, way of talking, and stories. Cornwall, in the southwest, was especially rich in folklore and active in reviving the Cornish language.

Also, I have lived in western New York, southern and northern California, and Tidewater, Virginia. I’ve not been able to shake off my New ‘Yawk’ accent – I haven’t tried – but I’ve always learned about the stories and history of the places I’ve called home.

So, in answer to your question, I would not do anything differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

It takes me years to research and write a book.

My career as a newspaper journalist taught me the importance of accuracy. One wrong detail makes the reader question the authenticity of the writer and, worse, pulls the reader out from under the spell of the story.

As for the writing, I agree with John Gardner in On Becoming a Novelist:

“Fiction does not spring into the world full grown, like Athena. It is the process of writing and rewriting that makes a fiction original and profound. One cannot judge in advance whether or not the idea of a story is worthwhile because until one has finished writing the story one does not know for sure what the idea is; and one cannot judge the style of a story on the basis of a first draft, because in a first draft the style of the finished story does not yet exist.”

Cynthia’s Books:

TURN ON, TUNE OUT                                                                        ***

Amazon: Turn On, Tune Out

About Cynthia:

Cynthia Adina Kirkwood’s characters – a 21st-century composer in Los Angeles, a 19th-century black mountain man in America, 17th-century buccaneers in the Caribbean, and others seem disparate. Nevertheless, in whatever time or place, they have one thing in common:

Their journey toward freedom.

All Cynthia’s characters seek freedom – physical, mental and spiritual. Therefore, she calls herself a freedom writer.

Cynthia and her son live in central Portugal, where she makes wine and olive oil. Turn On, Tune Out’s protagonist, Angelica Morgan, is inspired by her mythical daughter.

Connect with Cynthia:

Website: www.cynthiaadinakirkwood.com

Facebook page: Facebook

Goodreads: Goodreads.com