In Conversation with author Ben Gartner!

It is my pleasure to host author Ben Gartner on the blog.

His middle grade fiction books have been doing the rounds and I have had the privilege to read and review them on the blog! They are quirky, fun and full of historical adventures that speak to imaginative minds!

Read on to know more about Ben and to connect further with him!

What prompted you to start writing?

Like many writers out there, I’ve been living in the world of my imagination since I was a kid. I’ve always loved to read—anything I can get my hands on, pretty much. I’ve often said the day I stop learning is the day I die, and I think we can learn a lot from both fiction and nonfiction. I think that is why, in my writing, I tend to meld the two. Fantasy, science fiction, but with some historical trivia that makes it interesting to learn.

How did the book “The Eye of Ra” happen?

This is a fun story. J I had been working on an adult thriller at the time. Around the dinner table, my kids kept asking me about it and, well, it wasn’t exactly suitable for them. I mean, I could discuss the overall process and such, but not the nitty gritty plot details and the more fun stuff like that. So we decided to work on a new story together! They helped outline and brainstorm and sketch out the characters, their motivations and quirks, and the overall storyline. Then I went and wrote out a draft, all while discussing challenges over dinner. They were great sounding boards. I could run an idea by them and tell immediately if it hit or not. They do NOT pull the punches! Which is exactly what I need, their absolute candor. So it started as a fun “side” project, but then in writing it, I realized… well, I think that dovetails into your next question. 😉

Why did you choose to write middle grade fiction?

How it started: As a fun bonding activity with my sons.

How it’s going: The more I got into the middle grade niche, I realized I really have a passion for this age group and this time in our lives. Not only for my own personal reasons, but also for scientific ones. I love neuroscience and to think about thinking, and the middle grade time period is one of immense growth in the brain. In fact, I wrote another blog post about that here: https://mgbookvillage.org/2020/03/25/why-mg-books-and-the-authors-that-write-them-are-so-important-by-ben-gartner/

But mostly, because it’s FUN (more on that later).

Why did you choose to base the books on historical events/settings?

I really enjoy the nooks and crannies of any subject. The ones that make you go “huh!” And our own human story (history) is full of those, so there is plenty of material that spurs ideas. In looking at the archaeological record left by those who came before us, we can find a lot of commonalities, a lot of intriguing differences, and—most importantly for a writer—a lot of mystery. Holes. Gaps in our understanding where we can only make speculative, educated guesses. Those gaps give birth to story.

What inspired the book titles?

Well, as you read them you will see there is a running theme around the sun. Not only because it is a source of reverence throughout different cultures and eras, but also because it is a powerful force! Ra was the ancient Egyptian sun god (book 1 title being The Eye of Ra). And Sol Invictus translates to the “Unconquered Sun,” which was the Roman god of the sun (John and Sarah travel to an ancient Roman frontier town in modern-day Switzerland called Aventicum). Book 3 will carry on this tradition when John and Sarah travel back to the time of the ancient Mexica people (now commonly referred to as the Aztec). I have a working title for book 3 too, but I’m going to save that for now. 😉

How much research went into the writing of the two books?

The setting for both is quite different and in different time frames.

Lots! Fortunately, I love research rabbit holes. I am a proud researcher, Word Nerd, and lover of etymology. The research often gives rise to the core story itself, but also fleshes out the time and place and characters with idiosyncratic details of that era. So, while I do take artistic liberties, I also try to make the details realistic. The clothes, the culture, the games, the daily life—I try to make those as authentic as possible and even enlist experts in the field to verify my writing. (There is one tiny inaccuracy in The Eye of Ra. Email me if you find it and I’ll give you a bonus prize!)

How much does your day-to-day life inspire your characters?

It is important to note that I have two boys, who are now thirteen and ten. They were eleven and nine when I started this process. In some important ways, I wrote these characters so that they would be relatable to them (they did help create them, after all!). In other equally important ways, I did NOT want these characters to be mirror copies of my own children. I’d say that both John and Sarah share some attributes from both of my children, but myself as well, and others I’ve met. They are definitely fabrications of their own. But the more I write and think about them, the more realistic they become to me. I can easily imagine having them over to sit at a dinner with us.

What do you like best about writing a story?

The immersion of imagination. Time skips by faster when I’m writing than any other thing because I become so engrossed in the world and the plot. I am the creator and it is a powerful feeling. Mwahahahaha! Plus, I love a good turn of phrase. Words are powerful.

What kind of impact do your stories have on you?

This is a great blog question, and one I’ve never been asked before. Nice one. I’ve done a lot of therapeutic writing over the years. Journals, stories that I knew would never be shown to another person, that sort of thing. For me, I love to think (often, over-think, but that’s a different topic), and writing is a very helpful way for me to process my own feelings and thoughts, whether they be emotional or more concrete. So, I’d say that my stories and I have a symbiotic relationship. We both need and feed from the other.

Finally, what message do you want to share with us readers?

I hope that reading is FUN for you. That doesn’t mean it can’t cover difficult topics. That doesn’t mean escapism is bad. But if you are enjoying a book, that is the best. And if you’re not having fun with it, then you should probably pick something else. My sincere wish is that you have FUN with John and Sarah on their adventures through time.

And I love to hear from my readers, so don’t be shy about contacting me at ben@bengartner.com!

My website is https://BenGartner.com.

I’m active on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BGartnerWriting.

I post occasionally on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/BGartnerWriting and even less so on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BenGartnerAuthor.

Don’t forget that book two, SOL INVICTUS comes out on Groundhog Day, 2.2.21!

Or you can pre-order now from your local bookseller here: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781734155235 or from everywhere else like Amazon and Barnes & Noble here: https://books2read.com/sol-invictus-ben-gartner

And thank you so much for having me, Namrata! Always fun to talk shop. Happy reading!

In Conversation with Ronald Crouch

I have the pleasure of hosting author Ronald Crouch on the blog. I recently read his first book, a middle grade adventure book titled Beyond Belief: The Adventure Begins.

The book truly is the beginning of an adventure for people of all ages and has an educational aspect to it.

Read on to know more about Ron and his experiences with writing this book.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a child psychologist, married 22 years, and I am the father of a little critical thinker who constantly fact-checks me and asks for evidence. That’s both wonderful and a lot of work. He keeps me on my toes. We are Americans but we live in Germany, where I work at a hospital. We live in a tiny little village on the edge of the black forest, which can be pretty spooky. We bought an old church and we are rehabbing it into a house, which can also be pretty spooky. It is a good thing that we like spooky.

What prompted you to start writing?

For my son’s tenth birthday I looked for a fun adventure story that had the themes he loved and which we often talked about in our family. Themes like critical thinking, cognitive biases, psychology, and being skeptical. It is something we have really emphasized for our son because the world seems to have transitioned from an information age into a misinformation age, and as parents we felt we have to prepare our kid for that. But when I looked for middle reader books with these themes there wasn’t anything that I could find that really dug into these topics and talked about them directly in the context of a fun story. I had a good idea of what an age-appropriate adventure story with those themes would be like. So I thought it would be fun to write one. I always wanted to write for kids, and so this was the perfect excuse to pursue that dream while meeting what I think is an important need.

How did the book “Beyond Belief: The Adventure Begins” happen?

Because the book was originally a birthday gift for my son, I thought about what would be fun for him to read; what would make him excited. I remembered that before moving to Germany, when we lived in Washington, one of our favorite things to do was take what we called “critical thinking field trips.” We had this book, Weird Washington, and he would look up places where strange things were happening, choose a place, and then we would go on a road trip to investigate it. He absolutely loved it. For example, we visited a place called “gravity hill” just outside Prosser, Washington. It is one of those hills where cars are supposed to run uphill. And you know what? It worked! It really seemed like the car was rolling up the hill. But he figured out that the hill was very slight and that the wind was blowing strongly up the hill. We tested his idea by opening the car doors and using them like sails. If it was the wind, we thought, then the car would roll faster with the doors open. And it turned out it did. Afterward, we had lunch in Prosser and he told the story of that adventure to folks at the pizza parlor with so much excitement and pride. I kept thinking of that excitement and pride when I was coming up with the scenes and places in the book. I wanted the main character to feel that, and hopefully, the reader might catch a little of that too. 

Why did you choose to write middle-grade fiction?

I primarily work with children ages 6 to 13. I really enjoy the way their imaginations work and the things that fascinate that age group. Thanks to my work I also have a good sense of what they wish for and what developmental conflicts they have. So writing for that age group felt like a natural choice for me.

What is the ideal target age group for this book?

I think that most children from 8 to 12 will enjoy this book. But it isn’t too scary, so precocious young readers can enjoy it too. But to be totally honest, my ideal target group is actually adults! That is because I really want parents to read this book to their children so that they can have conversations about critical thinking, cognitive biases, and deeper things like how we know what is true. So sprinkled throughout the book are scenes and characters that I hope adults will love and find funny.

Why choose to write about paranormal investigation?

A paranormal investigation is a perfect thing for middle-grade readers because they have one foot in the world of a child and one foot in the world of an adolescent. For them, ghosts and scary things might still be real, but reality is coming into focus with each passing day. Part of the developmental task for this age group is to make that transition from the spooky world of magical thinking into a world that is grounded in reality. It is a hard transition to make. A big part of it is investigating, asking questions, testing assumptions, and finding how the world really works. So a paranormal investigation team seemed like a natural choice. Plus, I thought it was a lot of fun to write about.

How important do you think it is for children to start to relate to and understand psychology?

It is so much more important than most people understand. Psychology is all about knowing why we feel, think, and act the way that we do. If you listen to the kinds of questions that kids ask their parents and teachers, many of them are about exactly these things. The nice thing about psychology is that it actually has some answers to these questions that make sense and are rooted in science. If you give those to your kids then they can better understand themselves and others. 

How old would you say the main character is?

I purposely left that vague in the book so that kids could make the character the age that want him to be. I know that most young readers like to follow the adventures of a kid who is slightly older than themselves. But in my mind, he is ten because that is the age of my son and that is who that character really is to me.

How much research went into the writing of this book?

Most of the research went into studying the places and scenes where the book takes place. For example, there is a scene that takes place at the McMinnville UFO festival in Oregon. This is a festival that takes place once a year. Even though I have been to McMinnville, I have not been to the festival. So for my research, I got to watch hours of hijinks from the festival online. It was actually a lot of fun.

How easy or difficult was it to write this book and create the characters for it?

I found that it was surprisingly easy, and I think that is because these characters are all people that I know already, and they are either close family or famous people who inspire me. For instance, I based the character of Uncle Freeman on James “The Amazing” Randi, who sadly just passed away. I have read so much about him, watched hours of his magic acts and TED talks, and so when I wrote that character it was simple to do. Uncle Freeman was already a character in my life, so to speak. 

How much does your day to day life inspire your characters?

It has a big effect on my characters. The things that I hear my son say, the kinds of questions children ask in my work, the research I read on psychology for my job each day, all these things come together to make my characters come to life. 

How much time do you spend on your writing on average per day?

It varies considerably. I find that if I don’t write for at least half an hour a day then I begin to lose momentum in my writing and it starts to get hard to get back into the story when I return to it. But when I’m in the thick of writing I can spend five or six hours at a time really digging in. As a parent that is hard to do, and it means a lot of negotiating with my wife. Luckily, after 22 years of marriage, I have a lot of support from her.

What do you like best about writing a story?

This is the first book I’ve written, and what I have discovered is that, although writing is work and you have to discipline yourself to do it, I actually have a lot of fun coming up with the twists and turns in the story. That sense of fun is the thing I enjoyed the most and it is one of the things I look for now when I’m writing. I’m almost finished with the next book in the series and I used that emotional sense of whether I’m having fun writing it as a kind of north star guiding my process.

What kind of impact do your stories have on you?

This story brought me a lot of joy because it connected me to a lot of new people. Since publishing it I have heard from children that have read it that they love the book and can’t wait for the next one. One parent reached out and said that her son couldn’t stop talking about the book. Another said that her teenage son had “his mind blown” by how fun psychology could be. I laughed a lot at that one. I had a teacher in the states contact me because she wanted the children in her class to read the book and talk about its themes. We are trying to set up an online book reading for them, which I’m really excited about. I didn’t know how much those connections would mean to me, but I have really cherished them. For the next book in the series, I’ve reached out to these young fans and offered them a look at the next book. I’ve even had some of them become early readers, giving me their feedback. I think the value of that connection, and that chance it gives me to foster confidence and a love of reading in children, has been the most important thing for me. 

What do you do when you aren’t writing?

I am working on turning a former church into a proper home. That is a big job. When I’m not writing I’m often fixing old doors, building bookshelves, installing plumbing, or trying to get fifty-year-old lights to work. I also do a lot of hiking around the black forest, and I have a feeling that at least one book in this series is going to happen there.

Finally, what message do you want to share with us readers?

My message to readers, especially parents reading to their children, is don’t stop the conversation when you reach the end of the book. Use it as a springboard to learn more about critical thinking, psychology, and science. I know that children are naturally hungry to learn more about these things if they learn them through a story or with a parent. Keep the discussion going. That is really important because there is no sign that the misinformation out there is going to let up anytime soon. This book can be a chance to start the process of protecting your kids from it by teaching them to stay skeptical and think critically. And that is my final message: stay skeptical and think critically!

In Conversation with E.B. Roshan

I have the pleasure of introducing E.B. Roshan on the blog. Her latest book Last Chance was released on the 4th of July.

Read on to know more about her and her book.

1.  Tell us a little about yourself.

Hello, I’m E.B. Roshan and I’m delighted to be able to share a little bit about me and my books with you all today. In addition to being an author, I’m wife to an exceptional man and mother to two sons. After spending several years living in the Middle East and Asia, our family has settled in Missouri. I’m a Goodreads Author, so please do check out my profile there and leave me a note, or ask me a question: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20265632.E_B_Roshan As a new author, I’d love to connect with more readers. I want to to hear from the people who loved my stories, and the ones who didn’t, since obviously I can’t learn and improve without feedback.

2. What prompted you to start writing?

I’ve been writing nearly all my life. When I was very young, I would write letters that were really just wobbly scribbles to my great-grandmother telling her about what I was doing. Writing runs in my family, I think. Nearly everyone seems to enjoy doing it on some level. However, it wasn’t until relatively recently I decided to take the plunge and write a series for publication. Two books in, three to go…

3. Tell us about your latest book?

          My latest book, Final Chance, is suspense with some romantic elements. It’s about a young woman’s search for her estranged and missing husband, and the trouble she gets into because she’s convinced she’s the only one who can           save him. I like to give as many people as possible the opportunity to read my books, so Final Chance is available on Kobo, Barnes&Noble, and Apple Books as well as Amazon.

4. How much research went into the writing of this book?

To be honest, I haven’t done any research for my current series. The settings and characters are based on imagination and personal experience rather than research. Though I’ve spent time in some of this world’s most troubled places, for the Shards of Sevia series, I’ve chosen to create my own setting, inspired, but not based on, any place I’ve actually lived. This is partly because I loved the challenge of creating a whole world from scratch, but mainly because some of the major themes in this story, like war and racial hatred, are very sensitive topics. I did not wish to entangle my fiction with real-world conflicts or political issues. I would like any reader, regardless of background, to be able to enjoy these stories.

5. How easy/difficult was it to write this book and create the characters for it?

My latest book, Final Chance, was actually not as easy or enjoyable to write as some of the others, because it’s the story of a difficult person going through an incredibly difficult situation. I really wanted to write the story, and I felt it had to be told the way I chose to tell it, but when I sat down with my computer and a cup of tea I didn’t say, “Ahhh, now I get to write!” The protagonist of Final Chance is a young girl named Preen.  Everyone (including her) believes her husband, Rama, is dead, but when Preen realizes he isn’t she goes against her family’s wishes, leaves her young daughter behind, and returns back to the city where he’d been living to find him. An early reader of the story summed up Preen very well: “She’s not mean-spirited, but she’s too self-focused in a way, even though she’s doing it for someone else. She also lets her common sense be blinded innumerable times in pursuit of her goal. She could be a really strong character, if she could just get over herself…”

6. How much does your day to day life inspire your characters?

Certainly I’ve gained inspiration for plots and characters from my daily life, but since I am writing fiction I take care not to use details in a way that would be offensive, making someone I know who reads the story wonder, “Yikes, is she writing about me?”

7. What do you do when you aren’t writing?

Actually, the majority of my life comes under the heading of “Not Writing,” though I really enjoy the times I have a quiet hour or two to capture the next scene in a story. As a housewife and mother, I’m usually busy with cooking, cleaning, and taking care of my boys. We have a small house and sometimes things get a little wild, but I can always settle them down by reading a good story.

8. How much time do you spend on your writing on average per day?

That really depends—some days I have time to write a lot, other days hardly at all. Since I’m not trying to make a living off my books, that takes away a great deal of pressure, I think. Writing stories is a relaxing, creative activity.

9. What do you like best about writing a story?

I love the satisfaction that comes from creating anything new, and I really love it when other people read my stories and for a short time find themselves living in the world I created.

10. What kind of impact do your stories have on you?

Writing keeps my brain fresh and active in a way that washing muddy shoes or picking grains of rice out of the rug just doesn’t. You other moms/authors out there know what I’m talking about, I’m sure.

11. Finally, what message do you want to share with us readers?

          Thanks for reading! Writing wouldn’t be much fun for me if I didn’t know there were people out there who really enjoy my stories. And thank you, Namrata, for giving me the opportunity to share this interview.

Check out what Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of bestselling novel turned motion picture, Pay It Forward, has to say about her upcoming novel!

Allie and Bea have both lost everything.
Now they have nothing to lose.

Allie and Bea
by Catherine Ryan Hyde

On Sale: 23rd May 2017

About the Author:

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of 32 published books. Her bestselling 1999 novel, Pay It Forward, was adapted into a major Warner Bros. motion picture starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt, made the American Library Association’s Best Books for Young Adults list, and has been translated into more than two dozen languages in 30 countries. More than 50 of her short stories have been published in journals, and her short fiction received honorable mention in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest, a second-place win for the Tobias Wolff Award, and nominations for Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have also been cited in Best American Short Stories. Hyde is the founder and former president of the Pay It Forward Foundation. As a professional public speaker, she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with
AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with Bill Clinton.

A Conversation with the Author: (taken from the official press release).

Q: When readers are first introduced to Bea and Allie, both characters are at a point where they
have lost everything. Bea has fallen prey to a telephone scam and has nothing left but her cat and
her van, while Allie has been forced to live in a juvenile group home after her wealthy parents
are arrested for tax fraud. There is a quote in the book about this that is particularly striking:
“All her life Bea had felt fear, especially fear of the lack that seemed to hide around every
corner, and all her life she’d been ruled by it. But now she had a new secret weapon: nothing to
lose. And that was a freedom the likes of which Bea had never known.” In a way, it isn’t until
they hit their respective rock bottoms that Bea and Allie are truly free. What do they each gain
by losing seemingly everything?
A: It’s an interesting phenomenon, the freedom that comes from losing everything. It remains largely
theoretical because no one wants to test it out if they can possibly avoid it. But I’ve had little glimpses
into the feeling. I think most of us have. Our fear seems to stem from the idea that we have something
that could be lost, and that we are nothing without it. But once we are in that “lack situation,” the one
we once thought was nearly akin to death, we realize we’re still alive and our life goes on. And in
some very basic way we continue to be “okay,” though the definition of that word might shift. I do
think it changes us. Having faced our worst fears, the timidity we carried with us through the world
tends to fall away. It’s one of those odd aspects of the human condition that are a novelist’s life blood.

Q: As the income gap between America’s rich and poor continues to widen, many experts
suggest that we now live in an era of drastic economic inequality. Your novel brings together two
individuals who come from either end of the economic spectrum: Bea, who was already living
from Social Security check to Social Security check, is now penniless, while Allie is a teenager
who is accustomed to a life of affluence and luxury until her parents are arrested. What made
you want to pair these two characters together, and what were you hoping they could learn from
each other?
A: Some of these themes were not as premeditated as people might think. I made Bea economically
strained because the plot needed her to be. I knew I wanted a—well, I hate to say “dishonest” because
I’m not sure that’s true in Bea’s heart of hearts—but let’s say an “honesty challenged” character. Then
I wanted to throw that character together with a scrupulously honest one. Allie I chose to be more
affluent, probably because that helped create the contrasts that make good stories—both between her
experience and Bea’s and between her old life and the one in which she suddenly finds herself. And
the things they (and I) learned from the pairing involved a few interesting surprises.

Q: So many senior citizens are targeted in scams these days. In fact, New York City currently
has an ad campaign running in taxi cabs warning people about phone scams just like the one
that Bea is a victim of. Did you have any real life inspiration for her situation or her character?
A: Well, I live in the world, which I think is my real-life inspiration for everything I write. And while
Bea is not based on anyone I know, I have certainly seen a reflection of her struggles in the real people
all around me. My mother lived with me for the 25 years of her retirement, and I watched her struggle
to understand the technological world in which we now live. I watched her collect her Social Security,
wondering exactly how she would manage to live on such a small monthly payment if she didn’t have
family. I think I’m most aghast at the “scam culture” that seems to have no heart—the catfishers who
prey on the lonely and the financial scams that disproportionately affect the elderly. I don’t understand
how anyone could rob another human being of the one thing they can least afford to lose. And
anything I can’t understand is likely to come up in my novels.

Q: In addition to the differences in their economic backgrounds, Allie and Bea must also contend
with the generational divides that separate them. You yourself are closer in age to Bea, although
you write about both characters with a great deal of empathy, nuance, and believability. Was one
character harder to write for than the other, and what are some of the unexpected benefits of
spending time with people who are younger or older than us?
A: Both characters were easy to write for me, probably for the same reason that I am equally
comfortable writing from the point of view of a male or female character. I try to get underneath the
thin veneer of our differences and write from that deeper place in which we are all human. We all want
the same basic things—love, safety, acceptance—and we all have the same basic fears (whether we
admit them or not). Once you find that place, differences such as age or gender begin to seem quite
trivial. Plus, when writing young characters, my own arrested development helps a lot!
As to the benefits of spending time with people of different generations, the more we get over—or
under, or around—what we think of as our differences, the more we see how much we all have in
common. Life can only get better from there.

Q: At certain points in the novel, Bea and Allie are forced to resort to theft and deceit in order
to pay for things like gas and food. Stealing and dishonesty don’t necessarily come naturally to
either Allie or Bea, but the ways in which they wrestle with and justify these seemingly immoral
acts is quite interesting. In what ways do you think fighting for survival can change the nature of
“right” and “wrong”? How did you negotiate that tension as an author?
A: Some of this was unplanned when I began writing the novel. The original idea was that Bea had
turned into a scammer and Allie was honest, and Allie would help Bea see the light. Seems almost
laughably simplistic, looking back. This is not to say honesty is not good. Of course it is. But we have
these seniors (and others) living in poverty. They were promised security if they played by the rules
and paid into their government funds. The rich are getting so much richer, and so many people like Bea
have next to nothing. Many don’t even have what they need to survive. Everybody has the right to
assure his or her own survival, so to say to someone like Bea, “Now, now. No taking what isn’t
yours…” well, it seems downright immoral. Why do we live in a system where the very stuff of
survival is not within her reach? And Allie, she has to learn that it was naïve to be as staunchly pro-honesty as she has been, because until now she has never wanted for anything in her life. As a novelist, these are the situations I thrive on. They refuse to be black and white, no matter how badly we want them to be. So this was a process of discovery for me, a series of happy surprises that sprang up as I
went along.

Q: Allie and Bea’s journey together becomes something of an unconventional road trip. Were
you inspired by any of the classic road narratives from literature while you were writing this
book?
A: The road trip has always been a passion of mine, as long as I’ve been writing. My first novel,
Funerals for Horses, is a road trip. As is Becoming Chloe, Take Me with You, to a smaller extent
Chasing Windmills… and I may even be forgetting one or two. I’m sure I have enjoyed reading classic
road trip novels in the past, but none spring to mind now. What comes up strongly is my own love of
travel. I have driven and camped and hiked through so many of these places, and they have changed
me and become part of me. I guess it was inevitable that they would spill out into the work.

Q: Can you tell readers a little bit about the setting for this novel and what this area of
California means to you?
A: Part of it is my beloved home. I live in Cambria. San Luis Obispo, the place where Allie and Bea
were thrown together, Morro Bay where they first had breakfast, that overnight in Cambria… the
zebras on the Hearst property and the elephant seals just north of town… it’s all my backyard. And
I’ve done quite a bit of traveling along the coast, once with my mother starting at the top of Oregon,
once with just my dog Ella all the way home from the Canadian border. It’s a deeply familiar place for
me, with such striking scenery that it was crying out to be the backdrop for a story.

Q: When they first meet, Allie and Bea are both technically homeless and have no real family to
rely on. In what ways does their time together change their notions of what “home” and “family”
can mean?
A: Family is a concept with a practical necessity. And it’s a concept that comes up again and again in
my novels. We need community, we need the support of others. So what do we do when all of our
“others” fall away, or can’t meet our needs? The answer seems to be that we find what we need in
unexpected places. Allie and Bea are not exactly “made for each other.” Their relationship is a scratchy
one. Then again, isn’t that true with most of our blood family? I think, more than anything else, they
learn that if two people have the other’s best interest at heart, they can fill each other’s needs against
almost any odds.

In Conversation with Dane Cobain

Here at redpillows, I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with author and poet, Dane Cobain.

Dane Cobain

His work is quite diverse and spans fiction, non-fiction and poetry. His first work No Rest for the Wicked was released in the summer of 2015.

Read on to know what Dane would like to share!

  1. Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi, I’m Dane! I’m a British writer who works across all sorts of genres, from horror and literary fiction to non-fiction and poetry. You can check out my work over here: www.danecobain.com/amazon

  1. How did you get into writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I suppose it all started when I was six or seven years old, singing parodies of popular songs with my own lyrics. When I was a teenager, I started to take it a lot more seriously, and the rest if history (and sweat, a lot of that too).

  1. You write such diverse things, novels and poetry, how do you manage that?

Honestly, I just don’t stop. I constantly work on finding ways to optimise my time and to cram as much productivity in as possible. I write a poem a day during the week, and I work on them while on cigarette breaks. Because my poems aren’t too long, I usually also get to spend a little time outlining stories, novels, marketing plans and other things that are stuck in my head. I write longer form things at the computer, while switching between other activities in a ridiculously specific routine I call ‘The Schedule’.

  1. Where do you find inspiration for your poetry?

Life, mainly. But my poetry is unique in that I only include maybe 5% of the poems that I write in the published collections. Sometimes, there isn’t much inspiration, but I still write poems – I just don’t share them.

  1. What are your favourite genres and your favourite books?

I like to read modern classics and ‘alternative’ books, as well as plenty of indie books and new releases thanks to my book blog (SocialBookshelves.com). Some of my favourite writers include Graham Greene, Charles Bukowski, Phillip Pullman, Terry Pratchett and, lately, Stephen King.

  1. Which kind of writing (genre) do you prefer?

They all have their pros and cons and, to be honest, when I’m writing, I don’t usually have a genre in mind. That comes when I get to the marketing stage. I don’t think I can answer this – sorry!

  1. Tell us a little about your research process while working on a novel.

It totally depends upon the novel, but I’m trying to carry out quite a lot for a current project. Unfortunately, the project itself is a bit of a secret, but it involves interviewing subject matter specialists from charities, reading books and documentaries and spending a hell of a lot of time looking at photos and videos that I’d much rather not look at.

  1. Who is your favourite character among those you have created and why?

Hmmm. It’s a tough one to call, but it’s probably Maile O’Hara from my upcoming series of detective novels. She’s basically me, if I was a woman and had specialised in computer stuff instead of writing.

  1. Describe a perfect writing day for you.

I wake up whenever I wake up and stay at home, working until I go to sleep while watching Netflix and chillin’ with my girlfriend. She’s only able to put up with me because she’ll quite happily play Skyrim while I’m working and we both have good taste in documentaries.

  1. What do you find most difficult while writing a novel?

Getting started during the planning stage. The more you plan, the more it all starts to come together, but the early days can be overwhelming. Once you’ve got a plan in place, it just becomes a case of endurance. You just need to stick with it.

  1. What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

There are no rules. It’s just you and a blank piece of paper. It’s liberating, but it’s also terrifying – especially if you’re like me and you hate rhyming poetry

  1. Do you have any advice to share about writing a novel/poetry?

You just need to be prepared for heartbreak, do your best and stick at it. And you’d better make sure that you work with a decent editor if you want your book to be at its best.

Connect with the author:

Goodreads, Twitter

Author Website

Interview : Bootie and the Beast by Falguni Kothari

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Book Blurb:

Fairytales don’t end with True Love’s Kiss, they begin with one…

Diya Mathur (aka Beauty), celebrated supermodel and Party Princess of India, is adored by everyone. She works hard, plays hard, and has the biggest shoe fetish on the planet. But after she purchases one baby bootie, Diya’s reputation is in ruins. There’s only one place to escape the rumours – Texas, under the protection of her lifelong friend, and secret love, Krish Menon (aka the Beast).

Financial whizz-kid, CFO and entrepreneur, Krish is a brooding workaholic with a charisma that still brings Beauty Mathur to her knees. He has no idea, of course! They’ve shared a bond since childhood – a special friendship that thrives on sparring, teasing and goading – but with Diya back in his life and under his roof, Krish’s latent desire for her explodes. And when he finally admits to the secret that has never allowed him to commit to any woman – especially Diya – everything changes. Krish might finally realise how much he wants his Beauty. But he won’t get her until Diya has tamed her Beast.

 

 Book links for Bootie and the Beast:

Amazon UK:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bootie-Beast-Indian-Author-Collection-ebook/dp/B00KM0ZQ4S/ref=pd_rhf_eebr_p_t_1_RZEY

Amazon India:

http://www.amazon.in/Bootie-Beast-Falguni-Kothari/dp/9351065065/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398098298&sr=1-2

Mills and Boon:

http://www.millsandboon.co.uk/bootie-and-the-beast

Harlequin India:

http://www.hqnindia.com/series/indianauthor

Flipkart:

http://www.flipkart.com/bootie-and-the-beast/p/itmdv3drqmxjgqsk?pid=9789351065067&otracker=from-search&srno=t_1&query=bootie+and+the+beast&ref=9e18052b-a541-42a8-b58e-3eff2b9a7ade

 

Interview:

1)      What/who inspired you to start writing?

My mother. It so happened that she insisted I do something worthwhile with my time, once my kids had grown to the age where they didn’t need me constantly and I was beginning to flounder with nothing to do. I looked into taking some online classes and being as fond of reading and literature as I am, the classes that appealed to me had to do with writing—a class called “Romance Writing Secrets” to be exact. I took the six week course, then another one on grammar, and voila! I was writing seriously enough to put down approximately 80,000 words on page in a year.

2)      Tell us a little about yourself.

Well, I’m crazy about Scrabble, Sid Meier’s Civilization and the Age of Empires. I am prone to nasty bouts of car and plane sickness but not seasickness. I hate massages that hurt. I love old buildings and historical artifacts. I love dogs. I am afraid of snakes and ghosts—I get freaked out by horror movies and only watch them with the sound turned off. Oh, and I loathe cooking.

3)      What is your favourite genre?

Anything and everything romance.

4)      Which is your favourite book?

As I have several that I am equally fond of, I will go with naming my favourite by its written age: the Mahabharata by Vyasa, although, I’m not sure if the epic can be called a book.

5)      Who is your favourite author?

Again, I have great respect and liking for several and will go with my latest favourite. John Green, author of The Fault In Our Stars.

6)      What are your hobbies?

Reading, dancing, Scrabble on or offline, playing computer games, namely, Civilization and Age of Empires.

7)      Perfect holiday destination?

Ancient and historical places and anywhere you see endless horizons and mountain views.

8)      Describe a perfect day.

Days when I type out 3000 or more productive words, at the end of which hubby and kids treat me to a dinner at my favourite restaurant. Total, scrumptious bliss.

9)      Which is the best part of writing a story?

The beginning, the middle and the end; I love every aspect of writing my story right now. I know it may change at some point, but so far, I’m in writer heaven.

10)   How much inspiration do you draw on from real life experiences? With respect to plot, characters etc.

A good bit of my plot/scene/character ideas come from real experiences or by observing people and situations, though most of it is pure research or common sense. For example, the “Puppy Shame” scenes from Bootie and the Beast were inspired by a friend whose husband actually teases her about…well, Puppy Shame moments.

Connect with the author:

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Website: www.falgunikothari.com

Twitter: @F2tweet https://twitter.com/F2tweet

FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/falgunikothari.author

Blog: http://falgunikothari.blogspot.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/falgunikothari

Google+ : https://plus.google.com/+FalguniKothari

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/falgunikothari/