Foster an Author 3: Get to know KA Duggsy and Lexi C. Foss

FA3 2017

Happy Monday! Welcome to the start of Foster an Author Week! I thought it would be fun to get to know K.A. Duggsy and Lexi C. Foss so I asked them both to answer a few questions. Let’s see what answers they came up with!

Name three things you never leave home without.

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Neither author would leave the house without their cellphone. (Photo credit: Thom Weerd/unsplash)

K.A. Duggsy: My children, keys and my phone. Super boring answer, I know but very practical.

Lexi C. Foss: My cellphone, passport and money.

Who would you include in your list of your top 3 favourite authors and your favourite books by them?

K.A. Duggsy: One would have to be Tillie Cole – she’s so versatile with her genres and yet I’m still to read a book of hers I haven’t loved, my fave of hers would be a toss up between her Hades Hangmen series or her Sweet Home series. Next is Dean Koontz, I love reading the twisted worlds he creates and the quirky characters. I read The Funhouse years ago and it played on my mind for weeks. And I can’t pick a third, I have too many top authors, so I’m going to cheat… Lauren Rowe, Samantha Towle, Jodi Ellen Malpas, Martina Cole and probably a million more I can’t think of off the top of my head.
Lexi C. Foss: Definitely Lindsay J. Pryor and Blood Shadows (note from Kim: also a fave of mine!), Keri Arthur and Full Moon Rising, and Nalani Singh’s Angels’ Blood.

Who is your celebrity crush?

K.A. Duggsy: This is quite new to me, I’ve never really had a celeb crush since I got old lol but… My daughter recently forced me to watch The Vampire Diaries with her and I got hooked. Ian Somerhalder was a huge reason why – those eyes, need I say more… yum! 
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Ian Somerhalder – K.A. Duggsy’s celebrity crush

If money were no object, where would you go for a month to write?

Lexi C. Foss: Iceland – It’s quiet, gorgeous and peaceful; the prefect place to write!
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Iceland – where Lexi C. Foss would love to go and write if money were no object. (Source: Taylor Leopold, unsplash.com)

When and why did you first start writing and what is your favourite of the books you’ve written?

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K.A. Duggsy: I started properly a few years ago. I’d always wanted to before then but just couldn’t seem to do it. Poems were all I was ever capable of.
I have an anxiety disorder and at times it’s awful. After a particularly bad attack, I decided I wanted to write down exactly what it felt like when in the grip of it and somehow a story ended up wrapped around it which became my first novella. From then on the ideas just kept coming.
My favourite of my books has to be my time travel romance – Advance (Advance Industries #1) it’s a genre I never thought about writing but the idea happened and it clicked – it’s also my first full-length novel. The reviews it received blew my mind.
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Lexi C. Foss: I started writing in 2009, but I didn’t publish until 2017. I’ve always loved paranormal romance and urban fantasy, but wanted something a little edgier and decided to let the voices in my head come out to play. Before I knew it, I had over 500,000 words of world building for my Immortal Curse series. It came so naturally, and I loved it.

Of all the books I’ve written, I would say Blood Laws is my favorite because it was the first story I allowed others to read. Stas and Issac will always hold a special place in my heart.

What does your writing room look like (or where do you like to write)?

K.A. Duggsy:  I’d love a writing room but no such luck. Usually I’m at the kitchen table where it’s easier to re-fill my cuppa and grab snacks. A lot of times it’s whilst I’m in bed with my laptop propped on my lap and my partner begging me to stop tapping.

Lexi C. Foss: My writing room changes depending on my mood, but I usually work in my office. It gives me easy access to my bookshelves, and it’s comfortable. Sometimes I prefer to work downstairs in the living room so I can cuddle one of my dogs while I write.

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Getting to know… Carol Cooper

Welcome back! It’s NaNoWriMo month and I’ve been busy the last few days trying to meet my daily word count goal. Hope it’s going well for all you fellow Wrimers! Let’s take a little NaNoWriMO break and get to know another writer. This time we’re sitting down with Carol Cooper. Carol is a British author, journalist, and doctor. She practices medicine in London and writes on health for The Sun, Britain’s best-selling newspaper. After a string of parenting books and an award-winning medical textbook, she turned to writing fiction. Her novels are all about 30-somethings looking for love, and they’re laced with inside medical knowledge. Carol’s latest novel, Hampstead Fever, follows the intertwined lives of six Londoners as emotions boil over one hot summer. You can find it at Amazon and other retailers, and in bookstores in Europe. So get comfortable, grab a cup of java or a glass of wine and let’s get to know Carol Cooper!

 

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Today’s guest, Carol Cooper

Carol, thanks for taking time to hang out with us. Let’s start off by talking about where you’re from. Now I’m a born and bred Philadelphia girl, but I think you mentioned that you’re from a little of everywhere. 

My background is international as my mother had Lebanese and Syrian origins, and my father was British. I was born in London and lived in Egypt until I was eight years old, when my mother and I went to live in the USA. I was in Washington, DC, for more or less 10 years, though there were periods of time in Europe during my high school years. I then studied medicine at Cambridge University, and now live and work in London and Cambridge. The London apartment is in Hampstead, in the heart of the area where my novel Hampstead Fever is set. I don’t always find much time for leisure pursuits, but the riverbank always beckons.

I love London. It’s got to be one of my favorite places in the world–and Hampstead is such a beautiful area. And I love it that you set your novel in Hampstead. I haven’t had a chance to read Hampstead Fever yet.  For readers who are new to Carol, I’m going to share the blurb now: 

hampstead-fever-final-ebook-coverA heatwave in London and trouble is brewing…

Chef Dan should be blissfully happy. He has the woman of his dreams and a job in a trendy Hampstead bistro. But his over-anxious partner, engrossed in their baby, has no time for him now.

Stressed doctor Geoff finds solace in the arms of a moody actress. Journalist Harriet’s long-term relationship with Sanjay hits the buffers, leaving each of them with serious questions to answer. Meanwhile single mother of four Karen misses the intimacy of marriage, but lacks the appetite for a proper relationship.

Passion and panic rise in the heat, but who can spot the danger signs?

Okay, you’ve got me hooked–I’ve one-clicked it on Amazon, so it should be in my Kindle now.  Let’s talk a little about writing. I think I always knew I wanted to be a writer–what about you? When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

I was 100% sure by the time I was in my first year at university. As a child, I had wanted to own a button shop, and as a teenager my heart was set on becoming a nuclear physicist. Of course, when I first embarked on a novel at college, it never got off the ground because I knew nothing of life at the time, except how to pass exams.

I know what you mean about trying to write a novel in college and not having enough life experience. I never finished any of the novels I started in college. They just weren’t very good and it was mostly due to not having enough experience that the story or the characters even mattered. 

That’s exactly what I mean. A writer needs life experience in order to write something that’s interesting.

Was there a particular author or book that inspired you to become a novelist?

I’ve read a lot of inspiring books, and have been lucky enough to meet some great authors, but it was the queen of British crime fiction, the late Ruth Rendell, who convinced me to stick at novel-writing. She was the tutor on a writing course that I attended in the mid-1990s. By then, I was doing a lot of health journalism and already had some non-fiction books in the pipeline, but I had a hankering to write novels. It was Ruth Rendell who pointed out my strong points as well as my weaknesses, and persuaded me to keep going.

I am in awe. I love Ruth Rendell’s novels. I would have  loved to take a writing course with her. Her novel, A Dark Adapted Eye, is on my list of all-time favourite novels. Speaking of Ruth Rendell, she often tackled some very serious and controversial topics in her novels. Are there any subjects that are taboo for you when it comes to reading or writing? 

I’m an animal lover, so I would say cruelty to animals. It’s not something I’m very interested in reading or writing about.

I totally agree with you. I have a hard time even reading newspaper articles about cruelty to animals. And I doubt I’ll ever feature it in any of my novels. So do you think fiction address topical social issues? Some readers say they only read to escape and don’t want to be reminded of racism, social inequality, etc when they open a book. What’s your take on this?

I believe it should. Books that ignore racism and other forms of injustice aren’t doing their thing, and they’re not realistic either. Even romantic novels need a toe-hold in the real world.

Yes! That’s how I feel too. Even when I read to escape, I want to feel that the world I am reading about it realistic. What about social media? Do you think today’s authors need it to survive?

Social media can take up a lot of time without necessarily selling any books. But today’s readers really do want to know more about authors and about the world around the books they read, so I think it’s almost essential for a writer to be busy on at least one social media platform, and to interact. I’m most active on Twitter and Facebook, and I dabble with Pinterest and Instagram.

Me too. I am a Pinterest junkie. I use it for inspiration. I have to rein myself in sometimes. It’s the same with Facebook. I have to make sure I focus and don’t get too sucked into it. Let’s talk writing spaces. Do you have a favourite place to write? 

It’s not exactly a writing space, but I love to write beside the river Cam in Cambridge (the one in England). It’s a place with a rich literary heritage, and it’s also where I was a student. I find it uplifting to be by the banks of the river with a notebook and pencil, perhaps under a weeping willow. These days Cambridge plays host to hordes of tourists, but you can still find spots where there are just swans, geese, grazing cattle, and the occasional boat going by.

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A slice of paradise in Cambridge

I don’t blame you. That is one stunning view. I could sit there and dream and plot… Now, I know most authors have a favourite character. Which of your characters is your favourite?

I love almost all my characters, though Laure and Geoff really stand out: Laure and Geoff. Laure, being half Lebanese, is insecure despite her career as a hot-shot lawyer, and she has a lot of uncertainty about her cultural identity. Geoff is special because, as a doctor, he finds it challenging to deal with the minutiae of present day medical practice that take up so much time when all he really wants to do is made people better. But there’s also Sanjay, who’s impulsive, inquisitive, loyal, and funny, and loves music…. Can I have three favourites?

Of course you can! 🙂 I think I have two or three who my favourites. It depends on my mood.

I’m always curious which authors other authors read. Who would you recommend to people looking for someone new to read?

Three British authors really stand out for me: JJ Marsh, Clare Flynn, and Jane Davis. These indie authors have an international flavor, especially Marsh and Flynn, and I think their stories will all resonate with a very wide readership. I’d especially recommend Human Rites which is a detective novel by JJ Marsh, The Green Ribbons by Clare Flynn, and Jane Davis’s I Stopped Time, or her latest title My Counterfeit Self.

 

 

I’m going to add those to my TBR List. Carol, it’s been so nice chatting with you. Before we finish off our session, what advice would you give to novice writers?

Keep writing, even when you don’t feel like it. Whatever shape your thoughts are in, get them down. You can refine a rough draft later, but it’s mighty hard to edit a blank page.

Thanks again for joining us today, Carol! Peeps, make sure you follow Carol so you can find out what she’s up to and stay up to date on when her next book is coming out.

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Getting to know… Catherine Hokin

Hi everyone! I’ve finally recovered from a nasty bout of bronchitis and also back from Dublin, Ireland (more about that later). I fell behind on a few things while I was ill, but I am trying to catch up now. Today’s the day for another edition of Getting  to Know… our spotlight author is Catherine Hokin, whose debut novel Blood and Roses was published in 2015. Catherine is a Glasgow-based author whose fascination with the medieval period began during a History degree which included studies into witchcraft, women and the role of political propaganda. And this sparked an interest in hidden female voices, which plays a big role in Blood and Roses. So let’s get comfortable and get to know Catherine!

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Thanks for joining us today, Catherine! Let’s start off by getting to know you a little better. 

I’m from the Lake District although I’m a complete city-dweller now and too much countryside brings me out in a rash. I live in Glasgow, which I love, in the West End which is over-run by hipsters (of which I am not one), like a mini – McHoxton. I did a history degree at Manchester University and then set out on a very varied career which took me through the fashion industry, politics, teaching and the green industry – my CV looks mad but, like many women, it was often dictated by needs other than mine. Outside writing I go to concerts of the loud, guitar-driven type (Biffy Clyro was the latest), I love to travel (Sicily next) and I am helping with the organization of the Havana Glasgow Film Festival – I’m not sure how that happened.

I’ve always wanted to visit the Lake District. It’s on my bucket list of places to visit in the UK. I haven’t been in Glasgow in a while. Maybe next time I’m there we can meet for writing and chatting. Now tell me, when did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Since I was in my early twenties – before that I wanted to be a ballerina, a fashion designer and a forensic detective, none of which worked out! I’ve had a couple of near misses years ago: one was a children’s book but then a certain wizard appeared and I didn’t have any wizards; the other was a novel about Anne Boleyn but Ms Gregory beat me to it. Like a lot of women I got buried under children and the demands of full-time work and I simply couldn’t snatch enough time to string verbal sentences together never mind written ones. I finally started getting serious (ie. carved out thinking space) a couple of years ago when the youngest one went to university and then, this year, I got a mentorship through the Scottish Book Trust and decided to take the plunge and write full-time. That decision’s paying off in everything except money…

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Blood and Roses, is the story of Margaret of Anjou and her pivotal role in the War of the Roses. 

I know what you mean. But it’s fantastic with having the mentorship. So happy for you! And I can see your interest in history started early. 🙂 Was there any particular author or book that inspired you to become a novelist? 

If I had to pick one author I think it would be Margaret George. Her novel The Autobiography of Henry VIII was published in 1986 and I loved it, also her novel about Mary Queen of Scots: Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles. Until I discovered those I’d only seen historical fiction either of the type written by Jean Plaidy and Anya Seton which was far too romance-driven or Robert Graves, which was brilliant but way more literary than I wanted to/could ever imagine writing. Once I found George and also Sharon Penman’s The Sunne in Splendour, which again takes historical characters and breathes real plausible life into them, I realized historical fiction was a genre I could not only love but write in.

Speaking of writing, are you one of those people who is a plotter? Or are you a pantster?

I’m a plotter with a little bit of panster thrown in. I start with an idea, which is a bit of an itch, and then do preliminary research to see if it is an idea with legs or a non-starter. Then I spend about 5 months in solid research, taking notes, using Pinterest, building a story arc. The next stage is a long synopsis (a very rough skeleton draft) of about 40,000 words were I put the notes to one side and write the story – this is when I let it flow and start feeling my way round the characters. If that works it’s time for storyboarding and a proper first draft – and lots more research. That never stops!

Are you working on a new book now?

My second novel is set in the fourteenth century and is an exploration of the relationship between Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt with a bit of help from Chaucer. Plague, political machinations, a crazed king and a very frightening monk plus one of the most powerful love stories you’ll find in any historical period. That is with my agent and you can find out more here. While that is being dealt with, I am busy on book three which is set in the twelfth and sixth centuries and has a cast of interesting women.

I love the premise. I will definitely be adding this to my TBR list. What about your favorite books of 2016–which titles are on your must-read list ?

Far too many! High on it was Summertime by Vanessa LaFaye which I’ve just finished. It is a wonderful book set in 1930s Florida which weaves together the worst hurricane to hit that area with racism and the treatment of WWI veterans. It is a visceral book and I devoured it. The next pile contains The Muse by Jessie Barton, The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola and The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. I’m also keen to read The Girls by Emma Cline – I’ve just been watching the tv show Aquarius about Charlie Manson and am a bit obsessed with the case.

I’ve got the Girls on my TBR list. I’ve always been fascinated by Charlie Manson and his influence over the people in his gang. I read Helter Skelter a few years ago and remember being terrified of the sway he held over people. I need to add Summertime to my list as well–that one’s especially relevant for me considering the current tensions in the US. Now, I’m one of those people who usually end up writing in cafés. Where do you usually write? Do you have a favorite writing space? 

I have a study and I love it. My desk is in the front of a window looking out onto the River Kelvin, although admittedly I’m usually squinting through rain as this is Glasgow. I have an internet radio permanently on, my favourite movie posters on the walls, a sofa for when I’m ‘thinking’ (that’s my excuse) and a reading corner. It’s the first time I have ever had a proper workspace that wasn’t fighting family needs – the children are no longer allowed home.

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Catherine’s writing space. Cozy, isn’t it? 

I know what you mean. It’s important to have writing space of one’s own. I have a little home office, but I need to make it feel more mine. Now, I still work every day and have to fit my writing around my 9-to-5 job. What’s your typical writing day like? Q

I keep office hours – it’s a hangover from ‘proper jobs’ I can’t shake. Like many writers, I have 3 books in different stages: Blood and Roses is out and there’s still a lot of publicity to do including 3 bookstore events in October; book 2 is with my agent; book 3 is in research/draft/fear stage. I start the day with admin, emails and social media – then research/reading moving to writing in the afternoon when I’ve been for a head-clearing walk. It’s quite ordered but I like it that way!

I think I need structure like that. Once I can actually write full-time  I will need to follow a similar schedule. When you write, do you imagine any particular actors/actresses as your leads? Or do you find inspiration elsewhere?

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Julianna Margulies, who plays Alicia Florrick on The Good Wife, could make a good Margaret of Anjou.

I love the whole movie casting thing although I sometimes think it’s just an excuse to look at pictures of attractive men! I’m very visual and use Pinterest boards a lot. When I was first starting to imagine Margaret of Anjou I had pictures of tv characters like Claire Underwood from House of Cards, Alicia Florrick from The Good Wife and Marvel’s Jessica Jones. All feisty, challenging women who fight convention. As to the casting of Blood and Roses, I’ve always wanted Oona Chaplin for Margaret and Richard Armitage for Warwick – actually Armitage would make a great John of Gaunt and I’m sure I can write him into book three…

 

I think most writers have a favorite character. Which of your characters is your favorite? 

It’s a funny question to answer as I think each character becomes my favourite as I write about them: they have to be challenging and strong, and flawed, to interest me or I wouldn’t be able to bring them alive. I found Margaret of Anjou, who was a very complex woman, fascinating partly because the myths around her are nothing like the accounts written at the time – she has really fallen foul of propaganda – and also because of the relationship with her son. Katherine Swynford in my second novel is another woman who has come to us in one-dimension (romantic heroine) when she was multi-layered and at the centre of one of the most turbulent centuries in English history. She was also my ancestor so perhaps I should choose her!

 

A lot of people say that writers need to be active on Twitter, Facebook, Periscope, etc if they want to make it these days in the literary world. What’s your take on social media? Do you think it’s an absolute necessity for us? 

I do think it is vital – when I was taken on by my agent she asked for a writing CV which needed to include my internet presence and how confident I was using social media. Her advice was that publishers expect authors to market their work and every writer I know has borne this out: my first novel was with a small publisher who had no marketing budget so I expected to do a lot but writers at large houses do no less. It’s a competitive world and there’s no point pretending it isn’t. My advice is to pick a couple of platforms you are happy with, make relationships, learn every wrinkle and stick to just them so you don’t get overwhelmed – I do Author Facebook and Twitter, that’s plenty!

Since I am an indie writer, I end up spend a lot of time on social media, but it’s a necessity. It’s just trying to find a good balance. What about taboo topics? I know a lot of people have lists of what they refuse to read or write about. 

I am an adult so nothing is taboo when it comes to what I read and I will challenge myself to read things that might be out of my comfort zone, whether I ultimately enjoy them or not – the recent A Little Life is a good example of that. When it comes to writing we all draw on our personal experiences – with historical fiction there are ways that you can explore difficult emotions and people in your own life without it being seen as autobiographical and I take a lot of comfort in that!

So true! People are always giving writers advice. I know I’ve had my share of it. 🙂 What about you? What was the best piece of writing advice you ever received?

Treat it like a job, ie. give it serious time, set deadlines and expectations and finish things. Also draft and edit, then redraft and edit, then redraft… Nothing is ready when you think it is and everything can be re-edited. The other thing that has worked for me is writing short stories and entering competitions which give critiquing feedback – it is a great way to learn your craft particularly in terms of story structure.

Catherine, it’s been so great getting this chance to get to know you and your writing. Have you got any final words of advice you’d like to share with aspiring authors?

Respect your readers: do your research but don’t show off your knowledge; care about the characters you are writing about so they will care to; edit your writing even when you think it has been edited enough. Be brave and send your work out but don’t let the first person other than you who reads it be the agent or publisher you send it to. Take criticism positively and never respond to bad reviews, ever – once the work is out there, it’s out there. Enjoy very success, no matter how small – it’s all steps on the way to being published and that’s the big celebration!

Many thanks to Catherine for doing us today! Make sure you follow her:

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Getting to know…Cat Hogan

We’re back with another instalment of Getting to Know… Today, we have Irish author Cat Hogan with us. Her novel They All Fall Down came out in July, and I’ve just added it to my TBR/1Click list. If you like novels about love and obsession, then you should do the same. Cat lives in County Wexford in Ireland with her partner Dave and her two sons Joey and Arthur, loves storytelling, and has a cat with the cool name of Jim Hawkins (I’m guessing this cat is a bit of an adventurer like his namesake in Treasure Island). So pour yourself a cup or glass of your favourite beverage, make yourself comfortable and let’s get to know Cat Hogan! 

13124599_10153655434767549_3085583176196253113_nCat, I have to tell you that I love the cover of They All Fall Down. It’s on my TBR list and I’ll probably dive into it this weekend. It sounds like my cuppa tea. So tell me, which titles are on your must-read list this year?

The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney. I can’t wait to get my hands on this. Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent. This was one of the most anticipated releases in Ireland this year. Published by Penguin in July, it didn’t disappoint. It was number one best seller for quite some time. The book certainly lived up to the promo and the hype. Liz is an exquisite writer.

There are so many amazing titles out there.

Now I am intrigued! I will have to add these titles to my TBR list as well. They All Fall Down is out and it’s getting great reviews.  Are you taking a writing vacation to recharge your creative batteries, or have you already begun working on a new book? 

At the moment, I am working on two!

Two? I’m impressed! I have a hard time concentrating on writing one book. Can you give us a sneak peek? 🙂

One of the two is a standalone and the other is a sequel (of sorts) to They All Fall Down. The plot is evolving as I go on these two- particularly the follow up, but what I can tell you is I am wandering around souks and alleyways in Marrakesh, drinking mint tea and getting up to no good.

The standalone, at the moment, revolves around a not so tough guy who’s past is about to catch up with him in a very strange sequence of events.

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Cat Hogan

Ooh! Now you’ve got me hooked. I’ll probably start bugging you about your writing progress so I know when they’ll be launching! Now, I think every writer has a favourite place to write. Where is yours? Do you write at home or do you go to a local café or someplace like that?

My current hide away for writing is in my local library. I don’t have the luxury of an office space and trying to write at the kitchen table with my two boys running around, is not always conducive to creativity. I usually end up running around with them- an avoidance technique. The library in my home county of Wexford is a beautiful space and the staff are all fantastic. It’s a community.

So what’s your typical writing day like?

A routine for me is hard to achieve. My older boy, Joey (11), returned to school last week and Baby Arthur(3), has just started in Montessori. This frees me up and I go straight to the library until about 2pm. After that, I come home and do the Mammy thing for the afternoon. I pick up the writing again when my boys are asleep. It doesn’t always pan out like this but I tend not to stress over it either.

I know what you mean. I’ve been trying to fit my writing time around my work schedule and it’s not always easy. If I’m having a hard time writing, I end up working on an inspiration board to help me visualise the characters and settings. What about you? Do you look for images of actors or actresses as inspiration for your lead characters, or do you find inspiration elsewhere?

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Aidan Gillen

When I wrote They All Fall Down, I pictured Aidan Gillen’s face for Scott. It’s funny, the initial inspiration for me comes from location and sometimes a lyric in a song but when you hit a certain point in the story, the characters take over and tell the story for you.

I think a lot of people have this idea that being a writing is easy, and we both know it’s not. What do you think is the most difficult part of being a writer? How do you deal with it?

The most difficult part for me is trying to establish a writing routine around my boys and home life. The process happened very quickly for me. I finished the first draft in June 2015 and by November,I had a two book publishing deal. They All Fall Down was released in July- meaning lots of promo and events. Book 2 is due back with the publishers this month!! It’s a real juggling act.

What is your favorite part of being a writer? 

The freedom. The idea that you can be anything or go anywhere in the world while sitting at your desk. I always loved reading and writing, from the time I was a small child, but the reality was, I never really knew what I wanted to do with my life. Two degrees and my own business later, the penny finally dropped.

Last question: what was the best piece of writing advice you ever received?

Just keep writing. Write the book you want to write, and believe in yourself.

Thanks so much to Cat Hogan for joining us today! Make sure you add They All Fall Down to your TBR or 1click it today. Don’t forget to connect with Cat on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads

Getting to know…Danielle Allen

I’m a little behind schedule this week. Some things going on at work ended up crowding out everything else. But I am trying to get back on track again, and this time we get to meet author Danielle Allen! Danielle loves football, fashion, film and fiction. She spends her days teaching and event planning and her nights writing. She’s the author of the Back to Life Series (Back to Life, Back to Reality, and not yet released spinoff Back to December), Love Discovered in New York, Autumn & Summer, the Heartache Series (Heartache, Heartfelt, and the not yet released Heartless*), Work Song, and The One.

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Danielle, thanks for joining us today. I’m sure our readers want to get to know you better, so why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m from Virginia and I still live here. I am looking to move to another state to just experience something new. I am a professor at a college and when I’m not teaching, I enjoy creating female empowerment opportunities. As much as I love to get lost in a book, I also watch a ridiculous amount of TV and movies. I’m a huge fan of Shonda Rhimes!! I love karaoke with my friends and enjoying time with friends and family.

Ooh! I love karaoke and Shona Rhimes too. One of these days I have to tell you about the time my friends and I won a karaoke contest at a country-western bar in Richmond. But that’s for another time. 🙂 OK, so spill the beans, Danielle. When did you first know you wanted to be an author? 

I wrote a short story in elementary school and I always thought it would be cool to write. I didn’t actually make a point of doing it until I created my 30 by 30 list in 2011. And as I approached my 30th birthday in 2013, I told myself that I needed to do it. So I did and I haven’t looked back!

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What inspired you to become a novelist? Were you inspired by another writer or was it something else? 

Before the big Indie Author boom, I wasn’t finding too many books about African American women in their 20s that weren’t focused on stereotypical depictions. So I decided to write a book that I would want to read and that book ended up being Back to Life.

It was the same for me when I first began writing. I decided I had to write the books I wanted to read. So are you a plotter or pantster?

I’m a total pantser. I just like to see where the characters take me.

Speaking of plotting and pantsing, are you working on a new book now? Can you give us a sneak peek of the plot?

I am working on two different novels. One is a surprise sequel — it started off as an extended epilogue and then it just grew into a novel.

 

Screen Shot 2016-05-21 at 22.32.17What are you reading now? 

I’m not reading anything. It’s difficult for me to read and write at the same time. I know plenty of authors who do it, but for me, I just need to focus on one or the other.

 

I know what you mean. As much as I love reading,  reading other books while I am working on something new can be distracting.  So tell me–what is your favorite part of being a writer? 

My favorite part of being a writer is being able to connect with people from all over the world. Having one of my stories or one of my characters touch someone by entertaining them, inspiring them, uplifting them, etc. I remember when I was looking for contemporary romance novels to read and not seeing myself reflected in the heroines. So being able to create that opportunity for someone else gives me joy.

 

 

I love it! I know exactly what you mean. Now tell me–what’s your take on writers being active on Twitter, Facebook, Periscope? Do you think being on social media is an absolute must for today’s authors? 

I don’t have a large following or a huge fan, base so being active on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram is important to me. With the reach on these platforms dwindling, trying to find new, creative, unique ways to interact with readers.

 

So Danielle, do you think fiction should take on topical social issues? Some readers say they only read to escape and don’t want to be reminded of racism, social inequality, etc when they open a book. What’s your take on this?

Depends on the story. I believe a work of fiction should encapture whatever message the writer is trying to convey. Some stories don’t need the addition of social issues to tell the story. Some stories need do need it to tell the story. I think it’s most important to tell a believable story. In my novel, Work Song, the heroine deals with dating in the workplace, working in a male dominated field, and body shaming. My novel, The One, deals with the media’s treatment of minorities and women (specifically on TV). Although, both novels are primarily romance novels and focus heavily on the love story, they address those social issues.

If you could work on a collaborative project with any writer, who would be your dream writing partner?

My dream writing partner would be Shonda Rhimes!

Me too! I would love it if she read my books and developed them into a movie or limited run series. Now tell me–what was the best piece of writing advice you ever received?

You can’t please everyone, so write for yourself.

So true! And what advice would you give to novice writers?

Write the story that you want to tell! Your novel is a reflection of you so make sure you put out your best possible product.

Many thanks to Danielle for joining us today! Don’t forget to check out Danielle’s novels and make sure you follow her on

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Getting to know Michele Kimbrough

Time for another edition of Getting to know… Today, we meet fellow indie author Michele Kimbrough. Michele and I came into contact last year when both of us were going through a bout of writing malaise.  We’ve been cheering each other on every since. I had the chance to read Michele’s latest release, Dangerously in Love, a great film noir-esque story. (Make sure you add it to your TBR List or 1-click it ASAP!) I thought it would be fun to to get know Michele a little better. Let’s see what she has in store for us. 🙂 

 

Do you have a favorite place to write?

I started out writing at Starbucks and Panera Bread (very comfy seating). But one day, I was lying in bed ill but had an idea for a plot twist. So I grabbed my laptop, propped myself up on my bed and wrote. That was the most comfortable writing I’d ever done. So, now, I am often found sitting on my bed writing.

Book Cover - DILTell us about your latest release, Dangerously in Love. What inspired this book?

I’m in love with this story. Two things inspired this story. The first thing was an FBI case I read about. I thought it was so outlandish that it might make a great fictional story. That same day, I watched an old favorite movie of mine. Then I was struck by inspiration. 

I think my faithful readers tell what Dangerously in Love is about best. So I’m going to let them tell it: 

Bookclub Reader said, “The main characters are Hill and Caitlin. After a case Hill was working on went south, he decided to change his profession as a lawyer and became a landscaper. Also during this life change he became disengaged in his relationship with long-time love Samantha. Caitlin was on a journey of lust, deception, and revenge to make those responsible pay for the tragedy brought upon her family.” 

Journalist Reader said, “When we open up the book, we meet Ms. Caitlin stumbling into the gruesome scene of a triple homicide. One which almost found her caught up in it as well. Skip ahead a few years, and now Caitlin is the beautiful and desirable wife of a “Suge Knight” type husband named Adam. Adam hires an attractive landscaper named Hill. Hill flirts, from a distance, with Catlin and catches the swiftest, quickest, most thorough asskicking ever. That still didn’t stop the two from having some of the steamiest, hottest and riskiest sex ever.”

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Could you describe your writing process for us?

I’m most certainly a pantser but I never start a story until I know who the characters are and what the major plot points will be. Then I fly by the seat of my pants, allowing the characters to drive, until midway through the story. At that point, I outline the remainder of the story. 

By the halfway point, the characters are fleshed out, their antics have roots and I need a roadmap to direct them to the conclusion. 🙂 I usually have seven drafts by the time the manuscript is ready for the editor.

Which three authors would you love to meet for a good gab session? Why those three writers? What do you think you’d talk about and where would you want the gab session to take place?

I’d love to chat it up with Stephen King, Harlan Coben and Walter Mosley at a bar and grill over shots of tequila and burgers. These writers are masters at what they do and I’d love to just sit with them and have a casual meal to hear how their creative mind works.

Author Michele Kimbrough

Author Michele Kimbrough

What’s the hardest part about being a writer?

I think the hardest part for me is managing my expectations. When I’m promoting, I have great expectations that people will flock to Amazon and one-click my books, ascending them to the bestseller lists. On the flip side, when my books go live on Amazon, my stomach tightens and my heart races. Why? Because I’m often petrified of what people are going to think of my stories – fearing I’d get a bunch of hate mail telling me to keep my day job, which, by the way, is writing news articles.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, could you share your playlist with us?

I will listen to music before I write for inspiration or to set the mood/emotion for me. However, I cannot write with music playing. It’s too distracting. I get lost in the lyrics and my mind shifts from writing to listening. My playlist is quite varied, from classical to country to R&B.

What are three things you’ve learned since you first began publishing? Is there anything you’d do differently if you could do it all over again?

(1) Ego has no place in writing — it only serves to stifle you. (2) Lose the expectations (as I explained earlier). (3) Have fun. If you aren’t having fun, then you aren’t enjoying it. And if you aren’t enjoying it, that energy will transfer to the page and your readers will feel it. Not a good look. 

If I could do it over, I’d make sure I understood for certain what genre I wanted to focus on (not necessarily exclusively but if my readers were to describe me, they’d know what genre to associate me with). I’d also write under a pen name.

Which of your books would you recommend to someone who is new to your writing? Do you have a particular favourite? If so, why is it your favorite?

So far, each of my books are quite different and fall in different subgenres. If you like a really fast paced book, I recommend Dangerously in Love. If you like high drama, I recommend Prudence. If you love a good unexpected twist, you’ll enjoy Wildflower. My favorite is Wildflower because of the subject matter and family dynamics. I love the characters and how they interact with each other.

What’s next for you? Are there any new publications in the pipeline? If so, could you tell us about them?

Currently, I’m writing a story that was originally intended for readers between 9 and 12 years old. However, as I get deeper into the story, I believe this story will resonate with readers 12 and older. I expect that it will be ready for publishing by the end of Summer.

Connect with Michele Kimbrough

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