Sunday, February 28, 2016

Author Spotlight: Christopher Stires



In this weeks author spotlight, I meet up with the amazing Christopher Stires. We chat about his epic fantasy-adventure novel, Paladin’s Journey.

What is your book about?

The gentle Lenore has sacrificed her life and soul to Satan to save her beloved husband, and has been imprisoned in Hell’s flaming palace on the River Styx. Patrick Novarro has vowed to never forsake his loving bride. He’ll fight demon and mortal until the archangels have cloaked her in their embracing wings. In a world of demons and angels, witches and warriors, kings and brigands, in an age of flintlock and sword, one mortal man battles to save the woman he loves from Satan and his legion. It is a quest of love and honor … a journey of horror and death.

What inspired you to write this book?
Over the years, I’d never felt the inspiration or desire to write a second story, or novel, to follow up any of my work. The lone exception was Novarro and his quest. I’d written and sold six short stories about him. I completed a seventh tale but wasn’t satisfied with it at all. I lost track of how many times I rewrote the ending. None were right. Then one day I wrote three words, and stared at them for the longest time. I broke out the thesaurus and changed, and changed again, the last word. Finally I had the best word. And I started over again. I knew then that Novarro’s story would be a novel.

Who is your favourite, and least favourite, character in the book?
When I decided that I needed to tell Novarro’s quest in a novel, the characters of Novarro, Lenore, and Satan were firmly established in my mind’s eye. The first part of the story line is Novarro’s call to adventure and his road of trials (yeah, there’s a plain Joseph Campbell Hero with a Thousand Faces influence working here).

In one section I introduced what I thought would be a minor character to complicate the storyline. Sometimes you have to work hard to create a believable character; other times they jump to center stage and won’t leave. That was Rebecca Nines. She was a whirlwind in dialogue and deed. She was fun. She complicated that particular story section and she complicated even more for Novarro.

Patrick Novarro has always been, and always will be, steadfast in his vows to Lenore (Campbell’s Snow Maiden influence here). She is the love of his life. He will never forsake her. That was established in the very beginning. Now, after years on his quest, he finds himself attracted to another woman and the moral issues he deals with added a new element and dimension to his character. I liked it and it made the story stronger.

But for the writer, Rebecca Nines (definitely Campbell’s Dark Lady) was trickier. All the Novarro tales would be rated PG with an occasional violent turn into PG-13 territory. Sex and nudity are very low-key if mentioned at all. From first appearance Rebecca is an R-rated character. Within a few sentences her character was crystal clear to me. Every time I toned her words and actions down, it rang false. I finally found the right balance and I believe it made the story better. So much so that I rewrote the opening section. Why? Because the pickpocket-and-thief Rebecca Nines had become the fourth major character in the novel’s storyline.

Least Favourite: None. A writer may not like or admire the villains in their story but they have to understand what drives and motivates the character(s). Even for a psycho character, there needs to be a reason for their villainy. In my novel, Satan is the personification of evil but he was once Heaven’s most devoted angel. That allowed me to bring some, I hope, interesting and intriguing aspects to the character. Footnote: I found a Shakespeare quote that helped me many times with the Satan character: The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.”   

Do you write in any other genre?
I’ve written alternative history, fantasy, suspense-thriller, horror, sci-fi, a little mainstream, and long ago I penned and sold a couple graphic erotic tales (these were all under a pseudonym). Besides novels and short stories, I’ve written with a partner several movie screenplays. We were paid actual option-money for one screenplay but the movie was never made. Sigh.

Is this a standalone book, or can we expect more?
I thought Paladin’s Journey would be a stand-alone novel but I’m three-quarters of the way into a sequel. I believe Novarro’s story will be a trilogy. Also some of the supporting characters seem to calling for me to tell their stories. Ready or not, more are coming.

Tell me about you.
I’m divorced, living in Riverside CA with my cat, Sabrina. (I grew up a dog person and how I ended up with, and very attached to, a cat I hold my ex accountable for. And I thank her for it among many other things. Wishing you the best always, Annie.) I grew up in Orange County CA (with a couple of short stays in El Paso and Richardson TX) but never became a surfer. I went to Santa Ana College and Cal State Fullerton. My jobs have included working the personnel office at the Disneyland Hotel and managing sport bars and a coffee house. Currently I am handling auto-accident claims for a major insurance company.

What drew you to writing?
Mom gets the credit – or blame? – for this. She instilled the love of reading in me at a very young age. At some point I decided I wanted to be the one telling the stories that others read. I wrote my first story – in pencil on blue-lined notebook paper – while in elementary school. I’m pretty sure it was a western.

Are there any authors who inspired you to become a writer yourself?
So many. While in elementary school and junior high, I read all 50 of the Hardy Boys novels. Then I moved on to Louis L’Amour and Jack Schaefer. Off the top of my head, the authors who have inspired me most with their writing are Stephen King, Elmore Leonard, and William Goldman. Currently I’m reading the third novel in D.B. Jackson’s Thieftaker series. (Okay, this confession is just between you and me. I have a reputation and image to maintain you understand. I’ve been reading a genre I normally don’t – historical romance and I’m hooked on Monica McCarty’s Highland Guard series and Pamela Clare’s MacKinnon’s Rangers novels. Shhh.)

Other than your own book, what is your favourite novel?
Only one? Oh, geez. Uh … Goldman’s Marathon Man. No, King’s The Dead Zone. Wait … need a sec here: Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson, Anne Tyler’s The Accidental Tourist, Watchers by Dean Koontz.

Okay, I have my final answer. I ain’t gonna answer this question.

Have you written other books we should know about?
REBEL NATION (alternate history thriller)
DARK LEGEND (horror)
THE INHERITANCE (horror): Reissue available soon from Zumaya Publications.
TO THE MOUNTAIN OF THE BEAST (sci fi-horror-western): No longer available.

If you could advise aspiring writers on only one aspect of authordom, what would your advice be?
Write every day. Yes, life will intrude on this rule at times but you can’t write only every few days or weeks or when you’re in the mood. And yes, there are a very few writers who are an exception to this but most, like me, aren’t. Also don’t spend a major amount of time writing an extensive detailed outline from beginning to end. Know the beginning and the possible end but only outline a couple chapters ahead at a time. While you’re writing, other story possibilities will occur and some will be well worth exploring, as the entrance of Rebecca Nines was for me in Paladin’s Journey. If you’ve spent a lot of time and hard effort in an outline, you’ll be less willing to deviate from your plan. Don’t limit your writing and your story’s potential.

To all the writers and readers out there, wishing you the best always. Chris Stires

Where can we find your book?

Omni Lit

Where can we find out more about you?







Author Spotlight: Susan Keefe





In this weeks author spotlight, I meet up with the amazing Susan Keefe, author of, Toby’s Tails – The Christmas Kittens, a beautiful children’s book that donates a percentage of sales to a local animal rescue centre. 

What is your book about?
 It is about three kittens who were rescued. The story is of their first six months leading up to, and including their first Christmas.

What inspired you to write this book?  
My husband and I did rescue the three kittens a year ago, they were such characters. We took hundreds of photos of them. We knew of a local animal rescue centre, Helianthus, and decided it would be nice to give a percentage of the profit of each book sold to them. The rescue centre were delighted and I had the book translated into French and Spanish as well to help sales. The Toby’s Tails series of books are written to educate children about pet ownership, how to treat animals, and how to look after them. All the stories are told through the eyes of our Border Collie, Toby, and he has a father like role in caring for the kittens in this story.

Who is your favourite, and least favourite, character in the book?  
The three kittens are equally the stars and there are many adorable pictures of them, including one of the three up in the decorated Christmas tree. There are not really any unfriendly characters in the book.

What draws you to this genre? Do you write in any other genre? 
I was lucky enough to have an idyllic childhood in the Essex, UK, countryside with parents and grandparents who encouraged my love of all animals both wild and tame. In 2006 my husband and I moved to a smallholding in France. When one of our Golden Retrievers died, we went to a farm to get a goat mated, as you do, and ended up in buying Toby our Border Collie, who was peering through the fence when we arrived. He was a very cute puppy only six weeks old. Lucky the old retriever, who features as Toby’s mentor in the first book Toby’s Tails was too old to go for walks but as soon as Toby was big enough we formed a tight bond, and he is a delightful companion, always at my side. One day I sat down and wrote Toby’s Tails (Book 1 in the series) about his first year and since then the books have just flowed. I do not write in any other genre.

Is this a standalone book, or can we expect more?  
This is the fifth book in the series. Book 6 is just released and can be found on Amazon. It's titled Toby's Tails - Saying Goodbye to Lucky. I have plenty of others waiting patiently to be published in my mind. Toby, and the animals here at Fantasy Farm are such an inspiration.

Tell me about you and what drew you to writing? Are there any authors who inspired you to become a writer yourself? 
Just living here in the peaceful French countryside and having Toby, and the other animals both wild and tame around us is an inspiration. Every day there is something new to write about. The expat writer Susie Kelly has been a great support and inspiration to me.

Other than your own book, what is your favourite novel? 
It has to be Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. I have loved this story since I was a teenager and still have my very tatty original book. I have seen versions of it on film, and at various theatres. I don’t normally go for romances but this book will be my favourite forever.

Have you written other books we should know about? 
Yes there are four other books already published in the series, they are available in paperback and Kindle format from all Amazon sites worldwide:
Toby’s Tails (volume1 ) - Free on Kindle unlimited
Toby’s Tails –Still Wagging - Free on Kindle unlimited
Toby’s Tails –The Chicken Patrol - Free on Kindle Unlimited

If you could advise aspiring writers on only one aspect of authordom, what would your advice be?
It would have to be write about what you know. It is so easy to write if you are happy in your subject, the words just flow.



Where can we find your book?


Where can we find out more about you?
 
Twitter @SusanKeefe4






Sunday, February 7, 2016

Author Spotlight: Al Halsey



Author Spotlight
In this weeks author spotlight, we delve into the works of Al Halsey, author of, Hellgate, Montana, a western paranormal thriller

What is your book about?

There are more than just demons and witches that haunt the daylight and the dark.
The Roman Catholic Church found men willing to take on the powers of darkness and called them The Retributors–men with a pure soul, no regrets, and no designs on a long life.
Retributor Jeremiah Brandt headed for the most supernaturally and unnaturally infected place on the frontier–the bright blue Montana Territory sky of the Hellgate Valley. The longer he stays the more he thinks of it more of than just a place to collect bounties–it’s home. He wasn’t looking to lose his heart or his life, he just wanted to do his job in relative peace. 

Yeah, right.
You mess with Jeremiah Brandt you are asking for a whole heap of trouble. If you are an unnatural messing with Jeremiah Brandt, you’re aiming for more trouble than you can handle in your entire immortal life.

What inspired you to write this book? 

I love Montana, and the Missoula area inspires me. The people, the land, the beauty of the countryside. It is a wonderful place filled with history from recent memory. The book is meant to be a tribute to the Hellgate Valley.

Who is your favourite, and least favourite, character in the book? 

The book revolves around Jeremiah Brandt, a hard drinking Baptist who was trained by the Catholic Church to hunt unnatural creatures and collect bounties on them. The idea that he is the intersection of so many different religions, mythology, and forbidden knowledge and that he functions on the edge attracts me to him.
I put a lot of thought and research into every character: even if a character is in the story for one paragraph, I may have spent a good deal of time thinking and researching them. Every character has a reason and purpose, although 1st Sergeant Sid Buford Lowther of the Illinois 157nth Cavalry, grates on my nerves. He’s supposed to.

What draws you to this genre? Do you write in any other genre? 

I have always been in love with horror, suspense, and the paranormal. H.P. Lovecraft is my favourite horror writer. I have several more books available: Mists of the Miskatonic is my tribute to Lovecraft. Kinemortophobia: Zombie Dreams for Sleepless Nights is a collection of short stories written with my long-time friend John Reed. Grave Conversations is a book of dark poetry. I have short stories in several anthologies, available on Amazon.

My first fantasy novel Empires of the Dead: Son of the Sea will be out in the next month, and Gorillas with Scissors Press will be publishing the first in my series The Chronicles of Dorian Christianson: Nephilim soon.

Is this a standalone book, or can we expect more?

This is the first of three, and all are written. The second is Retributor: Hellgate, Montana Book 2 and is out, also published by Permuted Press. The third is Salt Lake City: Hellgate, Montana Book 3 and will be out soon.

Tell me about you and what drew you to writing? Are there any authors who inspired you to become a writer yourself?

Working with children with emotional and behavioural problems for almost thirty years has been very stressful, and writing is one of my releases. Peter J. Wacks inspired me as a role model of a writer. When I first started writing, Peter would always answer my questions, no matter how silly. I respect the selflessness he showed. I doubt he would remember me, but I remember his kindness every time I sit at the keyboard.  I try to help every starting author I can and share my thimbleful of knowledge with them, partly because of him.

Other than your own book, what is your favourite novel? 

All of the works of H.P. Lovecraft, but The Call of Cthulhu is my personal favourite.

Have you written other books we should know about?

If you could advise aspiring writers on only one aspect of authordom, what would your advice be?

Never quit, keep working hard, and learn from your mistakes. Never give up.

Where can we find your book?
Amazon
Nook





Where can we find out more about you?


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