In conversation with Roland Colton, author of Forever Gentleman

Forever Gentleman by Roland Colton

ISBN: 978-1681142296

Publisher: Anaphora Literary Press

Release Date: July 11, 2016

$29.99

http://www.amazon.com

http://www.rolandcolton.com

http://www.anaphoraliterary.com

In Conversation with Roland Colton

  1. At the beginning of Forever Gentleman, struggling architect and pianist, Nathan Sinclair, encounters the glamourous and beautiful heiress, Jocelyn Charlesworth. What draws Nathan to Jocelyn, and how does she respond to him when they first meet?

Although he has no expectation of an introduction, Nathan is intrigued enough to see if Ms. Charlesworth’s beauty is as extraordinary as the Sunday Times portrays it. Despite his protestations, the mistress of the estate insists on introducing Nathan to Jocelyn.  Once he observes her beauty firsthand, an intoxication of senses sweeps over him—never before has he seen a woman of such unimaginable beauty. Jocelyn’s reaction to Nathan is one of boredom, having endured countless stares from past star-struck suitors. She toys with him, looking for any opportunity to end the interview. Once she believes him to be a common servant, she rebukes him publicly, appalled that a servant would have the audacity to seek her acquaintance.

  1. Nathan also meets the simple and plain social worker, Regina Lancaster. What’s special about Regina, and why does Nathan feel such a deep connection to her?

Though her outward appearance is ordinary, Nathan initially feels a strong attraction to Regina’s eyes and senses a kindred spirit.  Her dark brown eyes convey a journey through unspeakable tragedy, resulting in a deep appreciation for life and depth of character. Nathan is also attracted to Regina’s modesty, simplicity and inner beauty, qualities he admired in his mother. Once he learns of Regina’s selfless service to London orphans, he wonders if any man could possibly be worthy of her.

  1. Music plays an important role in the story and in Nathan’s life. How do the musical elements in the novel tie together the themes in Forever Gentleman?

Nathan’s life has been steeped in music since his operatic mother gave birth to him. His pianistic bravado opens the door of London Society, and he becomes comfortable in a world far different than his humble abode. The music in Forever Gentleman accompanies the story as a soundtrack does a movie, enhancing both drama and mood. Women are attracted to Nathan’s musical genius, fostering love and romance in the story.

  1. The Victorian Era was a time of contradictory wealth and poverty, along with great change, in England. What drew you to write a story set in this time period in history?

I’ve always been intrigued by a world where great beauty and brilliance could exist in the midst of poverty and misery.  While writing the story, I imagined what it would have been like to have lived in both worlds, as does Nathan in the story.  Also interesting is the sanitation miracle that occurred in the 1860’s, pulling London literally out of the squalor and stench of rotting pipes and sewer overflow into a world free of cholera and other dread diseases. And I wanted the timing of my story to coincide with the advent of the modern piano and creation of some of my favorite compositions.

5. How would you describe your writing process? And can you tell us about some of the research you did when you were writing Forever Gentleman?

My writing recipe involves equal amounts of struggle and ease. Sometimes the words flow in abundance; other times, I labor over every word in a sentence. I try not to let my writing get in the way of the story, and my goal was to have the reader lose himself or herself in Victorian London.  Many hundreds of hours were spent in research in my attempt to evoke the sights, sounds and smells of that bygone time. I strove for authenticity in events and venues, including authentic references to concerts, plays, performers and other events depicted in the book. I wanted to capture the times as they were, which is no small task when we live in a world far removed from that melancholy era.

  1. Are you working on another novel? If so, what can you tell us about it?

Yes, I’m writing a new novel that highlights another passion of mine—my love for the sport of baseball. The book begins in 1911, highlighting the exploits of the wonder of the baseball world, Ty Cobb. Using newspaper reports from the time, the reader experiences some of the most incredible sports feats ever accomplished, usually thanks to the genius and skill of Mr. Cobb. After the opening chapters, a hit-and-run accident victim is discovered in modern times (with a face damaged beyond recognition), who purports to be Ty Cobb, mysteriously transported into the future. As the plot continues, this mystery man eventually shows exceptional baseball talent and ultimately plays a brand of baseball unlike anything in modern times, turning the sports world on its head. Is it possible that this baseball ace is truly Ty Cobb, or is it some imposter who has taken upon his attributes?  Only time will tell.

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.

Conversations Among Ruins by Matthew Peters

About the Book:

Conversations Among Ruins

CONVERSATIONS AMONG RUINS is a portrait of a descent into madness, and the potential of finding salvation there.

While in detox, Daniel Stavros, a young, dual diagnosed* professor meets and falls in love with the cryptic Mimi Dexter. But Mimi has secrets and, strangely, a tattoo identical to a pendant Daniel’s mother gave him right before she died.

Drawn together by broken pasts, they pursue a twisted, tempestuous romance. When it ends, a deteriorating Stavros seeks refuge at a mountain cabin where a series of surreal experiences brings him face to face with something he’s avoided all his life: himself.

Though miles away, Mimi’s actions run oddly parallel to Daniel’s. Will either be redeemed, or will both careen toward self-destruction?

*The term dual diagnosed refers to someone suffering from a mood disorder (e.g., depression) and chemical dependency.

My thoughts:

A raw, deep, emotional book, this will give the reader an insight into a troubled soul and the mind of a person dual diagnosed. The author seeks to bring out the troubles of a young professor who wants to avoid confronting his inner demons. When he meets Mimi while in rehab, he falls in love and we are drawn into a world of love, secrets and some amount of mystic is thrown in. Mimi has her own share of secrets and they are forced to decide how to proceed with their lives.

Written beautifully, the author pulls us into Daniel’s world of confusion and inebriation. Between the two, we are as confused as Daniel and ultimately imagination and reality seem to merge and the line between them disappears. As with the author’s style of writing, all the plot lines in this book are important and come together very well by the end of the story.

We are shown the importance of life along with the necessity and ways of dealing with alcoholism and mental illness. The descriptions are vivid and conversations are thought provoking and the question of whether our characters attain salvation will encourage the reader to finish the book. There is a message to this book and I am sure many can relate to some of the topics raised in this story. For the style of writing and the concept, I strongly recommend this book which I enjoyed immensely.

In Conversation with Dan Malakin

We have had the pleasure of talking to Dan Malakin about his writing and his life. Read on to know what he had to say:

  1. Tell us a little about yourself.
    Hi Namrata, thanks for having me on your website. My name’s Dan
    Malakin, as you know, and I’m a writer living in London with my wife,
    daughter and Boddington the dog. I’m also one of the fiction editors
    at The Forge literary magazine.

2.       What prompted you to start writing?

I guess I’ve always been drawn to writing. Even as a kid I’d scribble
stories down and hand them up to my confused mum, who wouldn’t be able
to read my illegible handwriting. In my teens I wrote lots of terrible
poems, and ran this photocopied magazine called Fluffy Dice, which had
a readership of about ten people, most of whom probably never opened
the first page. It didn’t matter; I enjoyed the process.

3.       How did the book “SMILING EXERCISES, AND OTHER STORIES” happen?

I’m fortunate to have been pretty widely published – over a hundred
stories and counting. I’ve also got a little soft spot for flash
fiction; both of my Bridport prize shortlists were in the flash
fiction category. So when putting together a collection, that seemed
to obvious way to go.

4.       Where did the ideas for each story come from?

All the stories in the collection originated from prompts, and all
were written – the first draft anyway – in under an hour. I find
putting myself under that kind of pressure helps me to come up with
something original.

5.       How much does your day to day life inspire you?

Quite a lot in fact. I’m a new father, so my daughter has started
appearing in my stories (under various guises), plus my own parents
are getting old – and that has started to appear in new stuff.
Everything’s bubbling away inside. I guess writing is a way for me to
work through some of it.

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

Thinking about writing. Really, I’m a bit obsessed. My wife tells me I
get this glazed look when I’m thinking about a story I’m working on.
She worries that I’m having a stroke.

7.       If you had to write a short story, in one paragraph now, what
would it be about?

It would probably be a fairly meta story about a writer writing about
writing. Kind of like a funhouse of mirrors, but with words, and me
screaming in the middle.

8.       How much time do you spend to write each short story?

That depends. For flashes, an hour for the first draft, then however
long it takes for subsequent drafts. A long story, say 5k words, I’ll
try and get the first draft down in two days (again, keeping myself
under pressure). The final draft will probably take a couple of
months. I’ve just finished the final draft of a novel though – and
I’ve been working on that for 2 years!

9.       If you had to pick a career that was not writing, what would
you choose and why?

I would love to work with dogs. They’re such wonderful affectionate
creatures. So much better than humans in so many ways.

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

Always read what you want to read, not what you think you should.
That, I believe, is the biggest reason why people don’t read more.
There’s such a range of books out there – especially now that people
can self-publish what they themselves would want to read – so don’t
settle for what others tell you.

Check out Dan’s website: www.danmalakin.com
Twitter handle: @danmalakin

In conversation with Roy M. Griffis

We have had the pleasure of talking to Roy Griffis, author of the series ‘By the Hand of Men’ among others. We would like to take this opportunity to thank him for taking time out for the same. Read on to know what he has to say.

Griff Biking Author Photo

So, please tell us a little about yourself.

I’m an American writer, currently living in California.   Born in Texas City, TX, the son of a career Air Force meteorologist. Attended a variety of schools at all of the hot spots of the nation, such as Abilene, Texas and Bellevue, Nebraska.  I was the new kid at something like ten different schools while I was growing up.

I’ve written poems, short stories (twice runner-up in the Playboy college fiction contest), plays (winning some regional awards back East and a collegiate Historical Play-writing Award), and screenplays. I’m a member of the Writer’s Guild of America, West, with one unproduced screenplay sold to Fox Television. Along the way, I’ve done the usual starving artist jobs. Been a janitor, a waiter, a clerk in a bookstore. I was the 61st Aviation Rescue Swimmer in the Coast Guard (all that Tarzan reading wasn’t wasted). I’m also not a bad cook, come to think of it. Currently, I’m a husband, father, and cat-owner. I’m an avid bicyclist and former EMT.

I live in Southern California with my lovely wife. My friends call me “Griff,” my parents call me “Roy,” and my college-age son calls me “Dadman.” It’s a good life.   By the Hands of Men, Book Three: “The Wrath of a Righteous Man” will be released in May, 2016.

What prompted you to start writing?

When I was ten, I was sent to my grandparent’s house in Tucson, Arizona when things were tough at home. I was pretty damn lost, as my grandparents were largely strangers to me. My older brother, a more taciturn type, refused to discuss what was going on. Fortunately, like so many kids before me, I was rescued by literature. Or, at least, by fiction.

In a tiny used bookstore that was just one block up from a dirt road, I discovered that some good soul had unloaded his entire collection of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “John Carter of Mars” series in Ballantine Paperback. Moved by some impulse, I spent my RC Cola money on the first book, “A Princess of Mars.”

           I think what struck me was how these books were possessed of magic: they were able to transport me far from this dusty land of relatives who I didn’t know and relatives pretended not to know me to another dusty land of adventure, heroism, nobility, and even love. It was the first magic I’d encountered that wasn’t a patent fraud, and when I closed the stiff paperback with the lurid images on the cover, I decided it was the kind of magic I wanted to dedicate the rest of my life to mastering. And, thus, I was saved.

Since then, I’ve never looked back.

Tell us about the books you have written so far.

First professionally published novel: “The Big Bang, Volume One of The Lonesome George Chronicles

In this page-turning post-apocalyptic thriller, Roy M. Griffis explores an alternate timeline in which America falls victim to a coordinated attack by Islamic jihadists and Chinese Communists. It’s 2008 and George W. Bush is still president. Three years later, the man called “Lonesome George” is in hiding, leading the resistance from a secret location. Multiple plot lines skillfully braid the tales of resistance fighters in various parts of the country. Whistler is the hard-bitten commander of a military unit in Texas. Karen, a former congressional aide, stumbles through the radioactive rubble of Washington DC. Griffis also entertainingly works in real-life liberal celebrities and pundits whose eyes are finally opened to threats they once discounted as obsessions of the right. “Molly,” a left-wing columnist in San Francisco, finally puts her talents to good use on the underground radio as the voice of the resistance. “Alec,” a famous actor and liberal gadfly, loses his wife and daughter in the nuclear attack on Los Angeles and becomes a legendary fighter, inventing the gun that bears his name. A vivid imagining of an America gone horribly wrong, written in gripping detail.

Self-published:

The first two books in a four-volume Historical Fiction series (Book Three coming out in May), called “By the Hands of Men.”  The series begins in the trenches of France during The Great War, and will conclude in California in the mid-thirties.

 Book One: The Old World

Lieutenant Robert Fitzgerald has managed to retain his sanity, his humanity, and his honor during the hell of WWI’s trench warfare. Charlotte Braninov fled the shifting storm of the impending Russian Revolution for the less-threatening world of field camp medicine, serving as a nurse in the most hopeless of fronts. Their friendship creates a sanctuary both could cling to in the most desperate of times. Historical fiction about life, loss, and love, By the Hands of Men explores the power that lies within each of us to harm – or to heal – all those we touch.

 Book Two:  Into the Flames

Charlotte Braninov, traumatized by loss and her service as a frontline nurse, returns to war-torn Russia to find her family. Captured by the Red Army, she exchanges one hell for another. Her still-loyal Lieutenant, Robert Fitzgerald, believing the woman he loves is dead, struggles to recover from the ravages of combat and typhus. In a desperate bid to rediscover himself, he commits to serve his country as a pawn in distant Shanghai. Forging their destinies in a world reeling after The Great War, Charlotte and Robert will learn anew the horror and the beauty the hands of men can create when they descend into the flames.

How much does your day to day life contribute to the stories you write? How much of what you write is inspired by people you have encountered along the way?

Day to day events form part of what one creates, even if it’s only an interesting clay that contributes to the final qualities of the fired pot. Since I’m writing historical fiction, or “a history of events that have not yet taken place,” there is a little one-to-one cause/effect to what appears on the page. However, larger parallels can make themselves known, and those will appear in in what I write.

            People who know me and my history well might be able to pick out one or two characters clearly inspired by individuals known to me, but for the most part, very little of the characters are consciously designed.

            This is going to sound fatuous – or moderately deranged – but once a story makes itself known to me (almost like a religious vision, typically I can both see and hear some important moment of the story), at a certain point, I’m merely recording the story I hear and see in my head. Characters are not planned, they show up. “Orlando Pyle,” in By the Hands of Men, is a prime example of this…in fact, most of the characters in that book are. So I am often as surprised by what they do and say as I hope the reader is. It very often feels as if I am writing a true story that no one has ever heard before.

Would you describe a perfect writing day for your readers?

Up early (4am – 6am or so), quick check of email while the coffee is brewing. Then get started on original creative work, picking up where I left off the day before.   Write for about two hours, get breakfast. Refill the coffee work until about lunch time. That leaves a good portion of the day left for chores (like editing or marketing), housework, play with the cats, bike ride. I like it because it balances the writing/creative life with the ordinary “stuff that’s got to be done” parts of life.

If you had to pick a career that was not writing, what would you choose and why?

Probably something helping animals. I find cruelty to children and animals abhorrent, as they are innocents who cannot make other choices for themselves. The individual who abuses either is the worst kind of scum.

Which author (other than yourself of course) is your favourite? Who would you say inspires you?

Wow, that almost depends on genre or the work itself. In fiction, either Richard Adams or Harper Lee. Both took us to fictional worlds, made them rich and full and enveloping (which is one of my goals), but since much of Ms. Lee’s work was based on her own young life, I’d have to give the hat tip to Richards Adams. Anyone who suggested it was possible to write a thrilling, timeless, and ultimately moving novel about rabbits would have sounded insane. But he pulled it off in a tremendous act of imagination. I hope someday to write something as good.

How much field work do you do as research, since your novels are historically inclined and set?

Most of my research has been book-based, although I did visit London, France, and Brussels before beginning By the Hands of Men. Some of my contemporary novels used bits of my own hands-on experience. I will be doing some on-scene research for BTHOM4, as it is set in Central California in the 1930s.

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

Personally, I am weary of books with the theme “Life is awful and people are horrible.”  I might write books about people going through trials, but I, and the novels, am ultimately hopeful because of the actions of individuals.

We can always make a choice, if we are willing to pay what it will cost us. Everything has a cost (even Salvation: Somebody had to pay for that). As in my books, I believe it is up to each of us to make God real. We are His hands and feet. Our actions every day are how God manifests in the world. And every day, we can make a choice for good or evil.

Thanks for taking the time to interview me. As I note above, By the Hands of Men, Book Three: The Wrath of a Righteous Man will be out in November, with a Lonesome George sequel shortly after that.

In Conversation with Lola Smirnova

We had the pleasure of speaking with Lola Smirnova, author of the books titled Twisted and Craved. Twisted is reviewed on our blog already. The review for Craved will be up soon. In the meantime, here is what Lola has to share:

  • What inspired you to start writing?

I had a story to tell that maybe could help to change peoples’ often ignorant attitude towards problems of the sex industry, victims of which usually are young inexperienced women. I wanted the reader to realize that those working girls are humans… They dream, love or suffer the same way as anyone’s girlfriend, sister or daughter.

  • Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and bred in Ukraine. By the end of 90’s, due to the difficult economical situation there, I started travelling around the world in the search of a better life. For the last decade I’ve been living in South Africa, where four years ago I started writing full time.

  • Tell us about your books.

Twisted series is about three sisters from the post-Soviet Ukraine, who together with their family as well as the rest of the country, struggle in its corrupt and faulty economy and decide to go to Europe to work in the sex trade. In the second book the girls end up working in South Africa.

It took me 3 years to write and self-publish my debut novel Twisted, which was released in January 2014. A year and a half later in July 2015 I released the sequel to Twisted – Craved – which is the second book in the trilogy. Currently I’m working on the third book.

  • How easy/difficult was it to pen down your thoughts in your books?

       Most of the times not easy at all, considering that English is not my native language.

  • Which is the best part of writing a story?

The writing process is some kind of escape for me. I create a world where I can be anyone or experience anything… You know, my job is actually to dream or fantasize. For example, on Monday I can live a life of a modern day’s woman that can perfectly manage her kids, career and a twenty years old marriage, when by Thursday, I dive into a life of a vulnerable teenager who discovers all thrills and downs of her first love.

  • Describe a perfect writing day for you.

I wake up in the morning, make myself a cup of coffee and start writing. Words, thoughts, ideas are pouring out of me like there is no tomorrow.

There is no distraction, nothing around me – just my imagination and a laptop.

I have a quick bite in the noon time and carry on writing in the same flowing and effortless way…

Then late afternoon comes and I go for a run with my dog, come back, have a dinner and make myself comfortable on the couch with some riveting read for the evening.

  • What message would you like to share with your readers?

       As Richard Bach once said: “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”

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In Conversation with Norma Jennings

Passenger from Greece is Jamaican author Norma Jennings latest romantic mystery novel.

About the Book:

Passenger From Greece - Cover

A cross-genre work of fiction that combines exotic locations and international romance, Passenger from Greece touches on drug trafficking in the Caribbean islands and the serious economic issues in Greece that fuel this trade. The novel’s main character, Olivia Reid, is a feisty yet innocent international flight attendant from the islands, who embarks on a dangerous adventure and a seductive affair that spans the Caribbean, New York City, and Crete. Eventually, as the flames of desire that consume Olivia are fanned by deception, lust, and greed, she painfully finds her way back to her ancestral home.

About the Author:

Norma Jennings - Author Photo

Norma Jennings is an ex-international flight attendant and current corporate executive with a passion for writing. Now residing in Florida, she was born and raised in the Caribbean and has traveled and explored many countries, including those featured in Passenger from Greece. From an exotic multi-ethnic background of black, white, and East Indian descent, Jennings credits her strong and dynamic mother and grandmother, and a remarkably intelligent and adventurous father, as her main influences. Jennings earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Angelo State University and graduated from the Management Development Program at Harvard Graduate School. She has authored a previous novel, Daughter of the Caribbean, and is currently working on a historical romance set in Jamaica. Jennings has three grown children, and enjoys dual citizenship in both Jamaica and the United States. She visits her grandmother’s Caribbean home, Twickenham, as often as she can.

We have had the pleasure of talking to her and the following are some of the common questions that she has been asked. Read on to see what she has to say.

  1. Can you tell us a little bit about the storyline for Passenger from Greece?

A classic tale of love, lust, and criminal behavior, Passenger from Greece tells the story of Olivia Reid, a feisty, resourceful international flight attendant who falls in love with a handsome Greek olive oil tycoon. Olivia gets caught up in a seductive affair that spans the Caribbean, New York City, Crete, and ocean voyages on a yacht called The Adonis.

  1. The book opens with a movie-worthy crash. What did you base these opening scenes on?

I was a flight attendant, and some of my dear colleagues were involved in a plane crash (a mere scheduling conflict kept me off that flight). I went back to them and asked them for descriptions of feelings, thoughts, and misery of crashing into a swamp, which really happened. They described the terror of first experiencing an aircraft crash, followed by the horror of being trapped in a swamp until rescue. So, when I set up a story about international romance and mystery, I thought, what would be more captivating than to introduce the characters to each other in such an intense and terrifying situation?

  1. The book addresses family relationships, infidelity, and mother/father influences. Why did you weave in these themes?

Motivations. I wanted to create flawed characters whose motives and desires were rooted in their familial relationships: a daughter’s desire to please her mother, a son’s desire to please his mother, and a grandmother betrayed by her spouse. I asked myself: What lessons could be learned? What understandings reached? How could I write relatable situations that would draw in readers? Based on the core foundation of any person’s experience, one always comes back to his/her family beliefs, morals, and values.

  1. How are drug trafficking and cultural issues central to the plotlines and themes in your novels?

The illicit drug trade is affecting my native homeland, Jamaica. I wanted to also dispel prejudice and ideas about Jamaicans and other Caribbean islanders. My books always deal with cultural differences though depictions of my own childhood experiences growing up at Twickenham with my grandmother, Sedith, who’s featured in both of my books. She was our family’s matriarch and had a tremendous influence on her children and grandchildren. I brought the stories she told and the lessons I learned in my own life to the pages of Passenger from Greece.

  1. Are you working on a new novel and, if so, what can you tell us about it?

I’ve made good progress on a third book, which is an action-packed historical fiction novel about the brutal colonization of Jamaica by the British, and the barbaric guerilla warfare staged by the Maroons (runaway slaves) against the planters. Raw sexual moments between planter and mulatto slave mistresses, and a sizzling romance between a rescued concubine and a young guerilla chief are weaved into the novel, as it chronicles how ferocious and unrelenting resistance by Maroon men and women led to the abolition of slavery on the island, and ultimately to the country’s independence.

Note: Please do not hesitate to let us know what you think! 🙂

In Conversation with Christopher Reardon

I would liek to welcome Chris Reardon, author of Obstacles to the blog and I thank him for taking time out to have a chat with us. My review of the book will be posted soon.

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Q. What is OBSTACLES about and what message are you trying to convey to the readers?

OBSTACLES is mainly about death, and how people deal with it. It’s obviously the scariest and most universal thing everybody has to face. I wanted a first person view at someone petrified of dying, and even living itself. I wanted to see what this person would do when a little kid is facing the thing that scares him so much. Character development was extremely important to me. I wanted to show that people CAN completely change.

Q. Who among the characters you created can you relate to the most and why?

Alcott, the protagonist, would be the most relatable to me, and hopefully most readers. That’s why it’s from his perspective. Everybody has nightmares and gets down on themselves sometimes. He’s absolutely afraid of everything. I didn’t want a protagonist that had no problems and nobody could relate to.

Q. Which character did you find difficult to write about?

Gari was definitely the most difficult to write. He’s supposed to be the opposite of Alcott, at least on the outside anyway. He takes on death with a smile and doesn’t hide in fear, despite being so young. That’s a very hard concept to grasp, but some people must have that bravery.

Q.  Which are your favourite books/authors?

I love the A Series of Unfortunate of Events books! They are by far my favorite. It’s a nice break from the ‘all happy, no problems’ type of stories. Those kids go through some horrible experiences! The characters were very relatable and interesting since they were so different from each other. I also liked how they helped each other. When one wanted to give up, the other two got them right back up.

Q. What are your hobbies?

I really like playing tennis, video games, reading books, running, writing, playing flute, and listening to music.

Q. Name a place you would like to visit most.

I really want to visit China. I’ve heard so many cool things about it from the cities to the scenery.

Q. What according to you is the best thing about writing a story?

The best part of writing a story is knowing you’re in control. You can do whatever pops into your head. I really liked having that freedom to be able to change/create anything at the drop of a hat. There were no rules, and no limits