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Author Interview – Anita Kushwaha

January 15, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

kushwaha portrait

What inspired your latest novel?

I lost a loved one to suicide and felt that there were so many misconceptions—or plain lack of knowledge—about what survivors experience, I wanted to shed light and give voice this loss like no other. The book also examines the cultural complexities that come with this kind of loss, as the characters of East Indian descent. Writing the book was also a way for me to process my grief and transmute the pain into something artful, hopeful.

How did you come up with the title?

SIDE BY SIDE refers first and foremost to the closeness of the relationship between the siblings in the novel, Kavita and Sunil. But it also refers to the themes examined in the novel, such as love and grief, loss and healing, self-destruction and self-discovery, universal experiences that often occur side by side.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

If the book is about anything, it’s empathy. The protagonist in the novel, Kavita, encounters ignorance and shame in many parts of her life after her brother’s death. But when she finally meets someone who treats her with empathy and she learns to give that empathy to herself, and later to others, her healing journey truly begins.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?

Readers can find me on:

Twitter: @MsAnitaKushwaha

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MsAnitaKushwaha

And at my blog: anitakushwaha.wordpress.com

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

My next book, CAUGHT IN A LIE, will be published by HarperCollins. It’s a mother-daughter story told in alternate timelines that delves into identity, belonging, and the cultural pressures placed upon women.

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Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?

My favourite character in SIDE BY SIDE is Hawthorn, whom Kavita befriends at a bereavement group meeting in the third part of the book. To me, he is empathy. He is definitely the most aspirational character I’ve ever written. I wish I was more like him and I wish I knew more people like him too.


Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?

A bit of both, actually. I like having a skeleton outline, so I have some idea of where I’m going with the story. How I get there, though, is always a great surprise!

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?

Depends on the day! I often find it distracting. But it’s wonderful to be able to connect with people and share what you’re going through. One of my new year’s resolutions is to be more active and engaged online. When things get busy, though, I definitely slack off. So, I’m trying to be more consistent with it. I guess social media has the potential to be both a great tool and a hindrance. Boundaries are important!

Bio:

Anita Kushwaha grew up in Aylmer, Quebec. She holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Human Geography from Carleton University and is a graduate of the Creative Writing Program at the Humber School for Writers. She is the author of a novella, The Escape Artist (Quattro Books, 2015). Her novel, CAUGHT IN A LIE, will be published by HarperCollins Canada in 2020. She lives in Ottawa.

SIDE BY SIDE Synopsis:

Kavita Gupta is a woman in transition. When her troubled older brother, Sunil, disappears, she does everything in her power to find him, convinced that she can save him. Ten days later, the police arrive at her door to inform her that Sunil’s body has been found. Her world is devastated. She finds herself in crisis mode, trying to keep the pieces of her life from falling apart even more. As she tries to cope with her loss, the support system around her begins to unravel. Her parents’ uneasy marriage seems more precarious. Her health is failing as her unprocessed trauma develops into more sinister conditions. Her marriage suffers as her husband is unable to relate to her loss. She bears her burden alone, but after hitting her lowest point, she knows she needs to find a better way of coping. Desperate for connection, she reaches out to a bereavement group, where she meets Hawthorn, a free-spirited young man with whom she discovers a deep connection through pain. After being blindsided by a devastating marital betrayal, she wonders if a fresh start is possible in the wake of tragedy. Will she escape her problems and start over? Or will she face the challenges of rebuilding the life she already has? Side by Side is a story about loss, growth and the search for meaning in the wake of tragedy, illuminated through one woman’s journey from harm to care.

Author Interview – Karina Kantas

January 12, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

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What inspired your latest novel?
It was the film Lord of The Rings that inspired me to write Illusional Reality duology. By the time the ride from the cinema was over I had the initial story and characters. The Quest is the concluding part Illusional Reality and was written after watching Two Towers.

How did you come up with the title?
If you suddenly woke up and found you were in a magical land; wouldn’t you think you were dreaming. That it was an illusion? But you see, when Becky learns who she really is, Thya, her previous life becomes the Illusion and her life in Tsinia is now her reality. The Quest was named as such, because Thya is forced to travel to locate a crystal called the Darkeye.
I’m normally pretty good with word play and don’t have a problem coming up with suitable titles.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Gosh, there are messages running all the way through the two books, but it’s been my readers that have found them. I didn’t deliberately add these messages. Each reader can take something different from it.

How much of the book is realistic?
The Quest which is the second book of the duology is fantasy. When you write fantasy everything and anything can be believable. That’s why I had so much fun writing the books.

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Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
No. Total fabrication of my warped mind.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?
http://bit.ly/PKKFB FB personal
http://bit.ly/FBFPKK FB fanpage
http://bit.ly/INSTKK INSTAGRAM
http://bit.ly/TwittKK TWITTER
http://bit.ly/BLOGKK BLOG
http://bit.ly/KKGRE Goodreads
Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
The Quest is the concluding part of Illusional Reality duology.
My next book is a collection of flash horror stories. Called A Flash of Horror. I also have a MI5 thriller, Broken Chains, to finish and an erotic horror called Predator. So, plenty to keep me going for a while.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
It would have to be the MC, Thya. I have lived in her shoes and mind for many years and we’ve been through a lot together. Thya is head strong, selfish and argumentative, proving she’s more human than a Bora.

Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?

I do. I’m a prolific author and write in most genres. I do have a passion for the MC thriller genre, because of my past and I had so much fun writing the fantasy duology, Illusional Reality.

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?

Both. I start with an initial plot and then once the story takes off, I let the characters takeover.

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What is your best marketing tip?
Market yourself as an author before you market your books.

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
Can you imagine where we authors would be without SMP(Social Media Platforms) Even if we are taken advantage of, that’s where most of our readers are and where we get our sales. Readers want to get to know you before they part with their cash, and SMPs help with that.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS

What do you enjoy most about writing?
Being creative and using my imagination and allowing my warped mind free reign.

Where is your favorite writing space?

I love sitting outside a coffee shop watching the world go by while I’m listening to rock music through some earphones. That’s where I love to write.

If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why?

S.E.Hinton, author of The Outsiders is my favourite author. Her books Rumble Fish, That Was Then This Is Now, Tex and Taming of The Star Runner, just sparked such a feeling in me that I had to pick up a pen and write my story. My first publication, In Times of Violence has been labelled as The Outsiders on motorbikes. What an honour that is. In Times of Violence was my first novel and still remains my bestseller to date. I would love to meet, thank her and let her know how much her books mean to me.

If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?
I live in Greece and I’m sure many would love to swap with me. Lol I would love to have a small cottage in the Cotswold UK. I have roots in Canada and Ireland so it would be nice to visit.

Do you see writing as a career?
It started off that way. I think we all dream of becoming best selling authors with a nice fat monthly royalty check and an agent who has just signed a deal for the book to be made into a movie for the big screen… after a while that dream fades. I’m happy to know my books are being read and people are enjoying them. That’s why I write.

I also run Author Assist, offering an Ala Carte menu of affordable author services. So, I spend most of my time helping authors with their book promotion and making sure their name and book/s are known around social media.

 

 

ASK A QUESTION THURSDAY

January 10, 2019
mandyevebarnett


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Continuing the discussion for this month’s topic. See 3rd January for main post.

Should you pick the genre before beginning your story or figure out what genre it is after you have written it?

Last week’s responses were:

Konn Lavery 

Genre tends to come second for my process. The genre of choice comes up naturally as the plot, characters and conflict unfold. Sometimes I’m not sure what the genre is, but did get a handy booklet called Genre A Short Reference Guide and Dictionary by R. L. Bennett that has descriptions for each genre.
Once the first draft is done I look up in the booklet, then research about the genre and revise the manuscript.

Karen Probert

I never consider genre at all. I’m not even sure there is a genre name for my style of writing – maybe ‘realism’ would fit as my characters act and speak as normal people and there are no situations in my stories that could not happen to real people or be a part of normal day-to-day living in our society.

Gerri Bowen

Many of my stories tend to be paranormal, but I go where the characters take me.

Lisa de Nikolas

My genre preference is noir suspense thriller murder mystery! But my writing is more literary than genre and that makes it problematic when it comes to sales and marketing because promotion departments and bookstores like to have a simple, clear-cut definition.

I’m often asked for current, similar examples in bookstores of my books, and that’s very hard to do! I’d love to reply: “I set out to write good story, something readers can sink their teeth into, it’s fiction, that’s what it is!” But booksellers want something less complicated. I’ve described my work as Little House on the Prairie meets Pulp Fiction and what genre would that be?.

I didn’t set out to write this way, in fact, I’ve tried really hard to write formulaic genre mystery but it’s just not my style. Sometimes you’ve got to go with what you’ve been given! Thanks Mandy!

Kathie Sutherland

Life writing is my genre. The forms vary: journal writing, personal essays, poems, short stories,and autobiographical narratives. These forms end up in collections. I want the pieces to be realistic. I find fiction difficult to write. I have a novel in first draft and autobiographical fiction pieces and even they are life writing. The writing comes first, and then the genre follows.

Mary Cooney-Glazer 

I write second chance love stories with the primary characters age 45 and over. I chose the main genre because I wanted to portray mid-life women as resilient, attractive, productive people still fully engaged in life and capable of enjoying romantic adventures. Their men treat them well and respect their talents. I do like to include a little goofiness on both sides when it comes to figuring out relationships. Although the main genre is romance, there are elements of women’s fiction and rom-com. So, I guess I do choose the overall genre first, but the blending elements appear as the characters and plot develops.

Mike Deregowski

I generally have some sort of idea of what genre I am writing in, I don’t pick it though, it all depends on what will fit the story that wants to be told. Same goes for style I use. I believe there are no bad writing ideas, just not the right format or style.

Mandy Eve-Barnett

I have always written free flow so never think what the genre might be as I write the narrative. That comes later once the story has completed the first draft and I read it through, making revisions and getting to know the theme of the narrative. Sometimes the characters define the genre and other times it is the story structure and theme.

 

over to you
So is this the general consensus regarding genre? Do you agree or disagree?
If we are writing without a clear genre in mind does this make the process easier or more difficult?
There are certain well known ‘formats’ for certain genre’s, complete with cheat sheets. Are these a great writer’s tool or apt to make one a ‘lazy’ writer?
Let’s see where this topic takes us shall we? Over to you and your thoughts. Please leave your comments in the section below.

Author Interview – Emily-Jane Hills Orford

January 8, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

Orford promo photo

What inspired your latest novel?

Actually, I have two recently published novels, one of the novels, “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost”, is actually the first in a series.

“Queen Mary’s Daughter” was released in March 2018. This novel is an historical fiction/fantasy novel, inspired by a shared interest with my grandmother and spurred to fruition by the ongoing debate about Scottish independence. I like to ponder the many ‘what if’ scenarios in life and there are so many that could have changed the course of Scottish history. For example, what if King James VI of Scotland didn’t succeed in amalgamating Scotland with England? What if there had been another heir to the throne of Scotland? One who would secure its independence? Would Scotland have remained free and independent and a nation of its own well into the twenty-first century? And would Scotland, this independent version, make its own decision to join the European Union when its southern neighbor was choosing to pull away?

My grandmother was my muse in so many of my writing ideas. She and I had a special relationship. When I was old enough, we traveled together. One special trip took us to Scotland where we traced her childhood memories (she was born in Scotland) as well as followed the trail of Mary Queen of Scots. We had been enjoying a number of novels and biographies about the ill-fated queen and my grandmother ignited my interest by telling me about ancestors who helped in her escape from Loch Leven Castle. I always wanted to write about Queen Mary, but it wasn’t until the Brexit debacle and the ongoing desire of the Scottish people to separate from England, that I started looking more closely at the stories around Queen Mary. I knew she had given birth, prematurely, to twins while imprisoned at Loch Leven. History records that the babies died at birth and were buried on the island where the castle sat. An interesting footnote states that the location of the burial and the babies’ remains have never been found. So, I started thinking, ‘what if?’. What if there had been another heir to the Scottish throne and Scotland never did amalgamate with England and Ireland? And my story unfolded. There is a sequel to “Queen Mary’s Daughter”, written at the request of my growing fan club. “King Henry’s Choice” continues the story started in “Queen Mary’s Daughter”. Release date yet to be determined.

My pride and joy is the first book in the 4-part “Piccadilly Street Series”. So much of these stories evolved from my childhood experiences and what my grandmother always called my vivid imagination. “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost”, like “Queen Mary’s Daughter”, also explores the ‘what if’, the fantastical possibilities of my vivid imagination and a ghost that haunted my childhood home. And, yes, there is another Scottish connection in this story, as well as another connection with my grandmother. In fact, she plays a significant role in the story – the role of Granny. My memories played a significant role in inspiring me to write “The Piccadilly Street Series”, this being the first book. Fond memories of the haunted house where I grew up: the ghost, the bats, the uniqueness of the house itself. I have been writing family stories and memoirs for years and I wanted to try something a little different, something for younger readers. I have taught many young, aspiring writers, so I decided it was time I wrote a story they would enjoy reading. And they do. In fact, I gifted a copy of the book to the 10-year-old girl who lives in the same room in the same house that I called my own when I was 10, the same room and the same house as the main character, Mary, in “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost”.

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How did you come up with the title?

As I’m writing my stories, I usually have fun playing around with ideas for titles. I usually have quite a list by the time my novel is finished and ready to send off. With “Queen Mary’s Daughter”, there really wasn’t much of a list. The story is, after all, about the daughter of Mary Queen of Scots. Or, I should say, it’s about the daughter that might have been.

For “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost”, there wasn’t a list. It was “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost” right from the first line. When I was growing up, we always called our ghost by her name. And, since this story evolved from memories of my ghost, it was only fitting to call the first book in “The Piccadilly Street Series”, “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost”.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I like to write about strong women (and girls), those who strive to be the best they can be, no matter what obstacles are placed in their path. Both novels have strong female characters, though Mary, the 10-year-old girl in “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost”, is still developing her strong female character. She grows (evolves) through the book, in fact, she becomes stronger with each book in the series. “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost” also deals with the issue of bullying. The bully who bothers Mary was modeled after the bully who bothered me throughout my early school days. I don’t think we’ll ever get rid of bullying, but it’s good that we’re starting to recognize and address the debilitating effects of bullying. Mary has her own means to stand up to her bully.

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How much of the book is realistic?

“Queen Mary’s Daughter” has been thoroughly researched for historical accuracy. However, as the timeline changes through the ‘what if’ scenarios, the historical accuracy as we know it changes significantly.

“Mrs. Murray’s Ghost” is part memories of my childhood and part fantasies I conjured in my head using my ‘vivid imagination’. The first few chapters are almost exactly as it happened when we first moved into the haunted Victorian mansion.

Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

The grandmother in both books are modeled after my grandmother. Gran (as we called her) always claimed we would soon forget her once she was dead and gone. She was too important to me to forget and I’ve proved her wrong in so much of my writing. Mary in “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost” is me as a 10-year-old.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?

Facebook book page: https://www.facebook.com/realpeoplestories

My website: http://emilyjanebooks.ca

Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1732544.Emily_Jane_Hills_Orford

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ejhomusic  

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

There is a sequel to “Queen Mary’s Daughter” – “King Henry’s Choice”.

“Mrs. Murray’s Ghost” is the first of 4 books in the “Piccadilly Street Series”.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?

The grandmother in both books. Why? Because Gran was so important in my life and I’ve made her character in my novels just as important in the lives of the main characters of each book.

Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?

I dabble in more than one. I enjoy writing memoirs and creative nonfiction: family stories and stories about people I knew. I also enjoy writing historical fiction, fantasy, and stories for young people.

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?

A bit of both. I tend to be a planner at heart, but somehow the inspiration of the moment usually pushed me down an alternate tangent.

What is your best marketing tip?

Don’t give up. Keep trying everything. I use Facebook a lot to frequently post a plug for my books. I actively seek book reviews and I encourage blog interviews (like this one) and blog tours to promote.

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?

Both. It’s time-consuming to constantly post promos about one’s books. And, after awhile, people get tired of seeing yet another plug for my books and they stop paying attention to my posts. However, one must get the word out there somehow. And social media is the best way in this era of high tech everything.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS:

What do you enjoy most about writing?

The solitude and the thrill of letting my ‘vivid imagination’ take flight.

What age did you start writing stories/poems?

As soon as I could hold a pencil in my hand (probably about 5), I was writing stories. As the youngest in a family of storytellers, I couldn’t get a word in edgewise, so I wrote my stories.

What genre are you currently reading?

Mystery.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both?

Both. I also write a lot of book reviews, mostly for readersfavorite.com

Where is your favorite writing space?

I have an antique spinet desk that is positioned to look out onto my wooded front yard. I can write, like Jane Austen (only I write on a laptop), with the view of birds and wildlife as my inspiration.

Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?

Yes. Canadian Authors Association, the Writers Union of Canada, and Ottawa Independent Writers.

Author Bio:

An avid gardener, artist, musician and writer, Emily-Jane Hills Orford has fond memories and lots of stories that evolved from a childhood growing up in a haunted Victorian mansion. Told she had a ‘vivid imagination’, the author used this talent to create stories in her head to pass tedious hours while sick, waiting in a doctor’s office, listening to a teacher drone on about something she already knew, or enduring the long, stuffy family car rides. The author lived her stories in her head, allowing her imagination to lead her into a different world, one of her own making. As the author grew up, these stories, imaginings and fantasies took to the written form and, over the years, she developed a reputation for telling a good story. Emily-Jane can now boast that she is an award-winning author of several books, including Mrs. Murray’s Ghost (Telltale Publishing 2018), Queen Mary’s Daughter (Clean Reads 2018), Gerlinda (CFA 2016) which received an Honorable Mention in the 2016 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, To Be a Duke (CFA 2014) which was named Finalist and Silver Medalist in the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and received an Honorable Mention in the 2015 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards and several other books. A retired teacher of music and creative writing, she writes about the extra-ordinary in life and the fantasies of dreams combined with memories. For more information on the author, check out her website at: http://emilyjanebooks.ca

Author Links:

Website: http://emilyjanebooks.ca
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/realpeoplestories
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ejhomusic
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1732544.Emily_Jane_Hills_Orford

 

ASK A QUESTION THURSDAY

January 3, 2019
mandyevebarnett


Hello,

Here is the first question for my new monthly blog topic for writers and authors. Please join in the discussion.

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Should you pick the genre before beginning your story or figure out what genre it is after you have written it?

We can ask, answer and give our opinions in the comments on this post or subsequent Thursdays in January. Let’s make it as interactive as possible.

What is your genre preference?

How do you decide on the genre?

Would picking the genre first make it more difficult to write the story or not?

Do you merge genres to match your story?

Now-a-days there are many merged genres so it is easy to combined a couple (or more) to make your narrative ‘fit’ but is that okay or not?

More discussion on Thursday 10th, 17th, 24th and 31st January. We may go off topic slightly, reveal writing styles, publishing house experiences, agent advice or …

Let each other know about you!

Experience

My experience:

I have always written free flow so never think what the genre might be as I write the narrative. That comes later once the story has completed the first draft and I read it through, making revisions and getting to know the theme of the narrative. Sometimes the characters define the genre and other times it is the story structure and theme.

I have children’s books, YA novellas and several adult novels, so am a multi-genre author. I am led by the story initially, which can be sparked from an overheard conversation, a life event, a prompt/photo or an experience on a road trip.

What about you?

 

 

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