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Author Interview – Kathie Sutherland

April 9, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

Author for Fairy Tales Dec 2018.JPG

What inspired your latest novel? A few years ago, I worked with a personal growth mentor on a workbook for telling life story as a myth. I gathered the stories I wrote and from them created The Storyteller: Tales of Enchantment which was recently published by Dream Write Publishing. My weary Gypsy traveller is an elder who shares tales of magic and wonder while passing on wisdom in these short, fanciful pieces. I am currently at work on an autobiographical novel.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? Maturity and aging are ripe with gifts. Elder tales are to be respected as much as traditional fairy tales, which focus on the courage to venture out into the world and seek their fortunes. Instead, my Gypsy Storyteller elder tales touch on the archetypes common to all of us as we age. I hope readers will grasp the deeper message of the stories, seeing in them the courage to confront the challenges of growing old. Our culture is youth-oriented and so I want the reader to appreciate that elders are heroes too.

How much of the book is realistic? These tales are symbolic of the lessons I’ve learned in life. In that respect, they are realistic. The themes are my own observations of loss, self-confrontation, masks, transcendence and seeing wonder in the world, all timeless insights learned by growing old.

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Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Each story is a fanciful description of values and strengths I’ve come to accept in myself, and a way to reflect using active imagination and reflection.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog? I have an author page and a story page on Facebook, and a website with a blog at www.kathiesutherland.com. My blogs are few and far between lately as other writing projects have taken up space in my mind.

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone? Most of my writing is “life writing” in one form or another. My work is Self-centered, soulful and focused on wholeness although some think it is self-centered and ego driven.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why? I believe each of us has a story in which we are the protagonist. My Gypsy Storyteller has created these tales to affirm my favorite voices. The Blind Gardener, The Good Wife, Grandmother Spider are all wise characters from my inner world.

Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one? I’ve tried many writing genres, all of them focused on life story. Even as a child, my favourite books were fables, songs, fairy tales and classic stories, such as Heidi and Little Women. As an adult, I’ve embraced journaling for personal growth, become a certified journaling facilitator, written poetry and published it in chapbooks and bound books, gathered personal essays into a memoir collection, submitted articles to magazines, had my short stories published in anthologies; all of these works based on life events and family history. I’m currently working on an autobiographic narrative and two novels. I have recently been assisting elders and others at the end of life to identify the values of a lifetime and leave these insightful stories as a “Letter of the Heart” legacy for family and friends.

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer? Definitely seat of the pants but the stories are usually based on true events. Having a structure into which the story falls helps me plan.

What is your best marketing tip? This is not a question I feel comfortable with because I quickly lose interest after completing books and hurry off into new projects without marketing the published ones. Its the writing I love. I could use the help of a marketing assistant!

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance? I like social media as a way to reach out to others but I have to limit my time with it. My favourite self-expression methods are stories and poems in book form. I love using the computer to write and edit.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS

What do you enjoy most about writing? Writing is “the way to me.” Every time I write, I learn something about my values, beliefs and strengths. This lifelong learning is very important to me.

What age did you start writing stories/poems? My mother brought our faraway relatives to life with family stories. As a child, I took on the role of correspondent and wrote letters to friends and family. I surprised myself when I wrote a good short story in 10th grade and later, found poetry could express my feelings as an adult in my early 30s. I became serious about life story writing in 2000 after attending a seminar focused on the lives of girls and women. Once I realized I had a story to tell, I embraced life writing.

What genre are you currently reading? Memoir and autobiography mostly. I love a good novel and love to encourage other writers in their efforts to create with words and enjoy acting as first reader for them.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both? Both. I love to learn more about my current interests, and this strength serves me well in my research. For example, I am reading books about building on my innate strengths, accepting my dark side, aging with wisdom and dying with dignity.

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager? Other writers and writing groups. My mother is my biggest fan and has read all my books. I have worked with personal coaches and other “balcony” people, including my psychologist.

Where is your favorite writing space? In my office/sanctuary. One of my favourite activities is taking a writers’ retreat whether with others or alone. Solitary time is essential to my writing.

Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one? Two, one in Sherwood Park and one in Fort Saskatchewan. I like to feel I belong, and writers groups are definitely the place I find community.

If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why? I am in awe of all writing efforts, because as I said earlier, we all have a story of some sort within us and I’m interested in how we express them.

Do you see writing as a career? I believe my life purpose is to grow into myself. Writing is a way to give my life meaning. Success in a career is simply loving what I do.

Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food? When I write, my tea gets cold, and the ice in my drink melts. I’m not a snacker at any time!

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline? I am working on giving myself credit for completing projects and enjoying the fruits of my labour because I don’t do that often enough. I’m usually off on the next bit of writing. My greatest reward is hearing someone say, “I can relate to this character and your writing.”

Other books by Kathie:

 

Bio:

Kathie Sutherland has recently published a collection of Elder Tales “The Storyteller: True Tales of Enchantment.” She is also the author of Things We Keep: A Memoir, and poetry books balancing Act; Shadow Girls in the Spotlight; Wind in the Trees; and Seeking Asylum. She has several large writing projects in the works including three novels.

Kathie is a well-travelled and observant student of life with 30 years of writing experience. In the past, she has facilitated journal writing workshops and is active in her local writing group. Currently, she encourages others as a story listener and writing companion to elders and those at the end of life as they articulate their values stories to share as a legacy in “Letters of the Heart.”

The Storyteller book icon

Author Interview – Christa Conklin

March 26, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

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What inspired your latest novel?

In my youth, my father filled my bookshelves with Tolkien, Lewis, L’Engle, Alexander, and Eddings. As I entered adulthood, he bought me Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time books as they released.

My dad’s health declined. I began writing my own fantasy novel, transforming my useless anxiety into imaginative scribbling.

During this time, Robert Jordan was diagnosed with a disease similar to my father’s. They endured identical treatments, even taking part in a study for the same drug.

Jordan passed away before completing the series which was finished by Brandon Sanderson. My husband gave me those last three books because my father was gone too.

The sole connection between my dad and Jordan may appear tragic, but out of despair came Tranquility.

How did you come up with the title?

Tranquility is the name of a book within my novel. I wanted the title of that book to clearly represent peace, which was the intended purpose of the rules in that book.

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

When I buy a fantasy book, I’m looking for a good story to curl up with and enjoy. I wrote a book I would want to read. Great books stick with me, and make me want to discuss them with other readers. A fictional story becomes the reader’s once the book is in their hands, and any message received is personal. I hope my book provides what good fiction should be: enjoyment; a story that remains in hearts and minds; and a reason for thoughtful discussion. That’s a tall order, I know.

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How much of the book is realistic?

My hope is that the emotions, characters, and general circumstances connect to the real world enough for readers to identify with them. Some of the setting and characters were inspired by the Adirondacks, one of my favorite places. The messengers in the last chapter were inspired by a pair of Southern Ground Hornbills, who still reside at the Philadelphia Zoo. However, this is an absolute work of fiction.

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

There are pieces of me, people I know, and experiences I have sprinkled throughout the story. Close family and friends tease me about certain characters, who remind them of me. The best fun is when people project themselves on characters, who are not at all inspired by them.

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

My website is the best place to connect with me. I do not have a blog.

http://www.christaconklin.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/christaconklin

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/christaconklinauthor/?hl=en

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17528828.Christa_Conklin

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Christa-Conklin/e/B0788392DJ/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christa-conklin-72002669/

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

I have the first few chapters of a stand alone WIP written and sitting on the back burner. The sequel to Tranquility is taking precedence.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
I think Taelmai is high on my list of favorite characters. She struggles with hypochondria, but her nurturing personality drives her to care deeply for others, allowing an underlying bravery to well up. She’s a complicated, anxious, loving person, and I wonder about her reliability. She feels very human to me as I care for, worry about, and doubt her.

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

Fantasy is my favorite genre. I do like to dabble. My short story Kat, The Jailer, and Jack is a retelling of an Indian folk tale The Tiger, The Brahmin, and the Jackal. This was fun to write because it was backwards for me. I took this old story filled with personification and reworked it into a modern all human cast of characters.

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

Seat of my pants, definitely! Reading an interview with Madeleine L’Engle was a huge inspiration to me. Until I read it, I knew I had a basic idea for a story, but I didn’t know where it would go or how it would end. I thought I needed to have this outline to be a REAL writer. Then I read “The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy” by Leonard S. Marcus. He asked L’Engle, “Did you know from the start how the story would end?” she responded, “No. I’ve never done that! It is more fun not to know. If you know exactly what is going to happen, it doesn’t work. But if you start to write the story and listen to it, see where it wants to go … well, I think that’s how God creates.”

Reading this from one of my most-admired authors freed me from self-imposed constraints. I began to write, and the story unfolded.

What is your best marketing tip?

I value personal, grass roots effort as a strong starting place. I have a small teen/young adult tribe who have agreed to help me promote my book. They will be involved in everything from sharing and creating social media posts to live-streaming my author events and overseeing craft tables to talking to group leaders at their schools. Their peers are my readers. There is no better way to reach a population than to have some enthusiastic members encouraging their peers to enjoy what they have enjoyed. Also, talk to people and listen well. I discovered three friends, who have connections to newspaper/magazine publications. All three of them have helped me secure feature articles about my book. Talking to my town’s librarian and comic book store owner have secured me two author events. When I was on vacation in the Adirondacks, I talked to bookstore owners and loon conservationists about my book and its being inspired by their part of the world and the creatures residing there. I’ve made some great connections. Get yourself out there!

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

I have mixed feelings about social media. Tending to it takes a lot of time away from my writing and the personal engagement I prefer. However, it is a convenient way to reach a lot of people.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I enjoy losing myself in the story as it develops. This feels very similar to why I love to read.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both?

I usually read for pleasure, but now that I am a writer, I find myself reading differently, noticing technical writing choices. I try hard to put that away, and just enjoy, but sometimes I am struck by a point of view or how dialogue is handled and I become thoughtful about the craft instead of the story.

Where is your favorite writing space?

I dream of writing in a cafe, using WiFi, and sipping a cafe mocha. However, I am a homeschooling mom, who is thankful for the times that my kids are learning independently, taking a class, volunteering, at practice, or playing outside so that I can write by daylight. For me, it’s more about a favorite time to write. That would be by daylight, but out of necessity, most of my writing happens in the wee hours. As for where this happens, I mix it up between my kitchen table, dining room table, and sometimes, when the sun is still up, the desk in my bedroom. That makes me feel fancy!

Bio:

CHRISTA CONKLIN is the author of several articles, and two short stories: Moontail and Kat, the Jailer, and Jack. Tranquility is her debut novel for which she received the 2016 Cascade Award for Unpublished Speculative Fiction. She teaches piano and
woodwinds at a music school in her small New Jersey town. Her family hikes mountains, paddles lakes, strolls city streets, and picks their own everything at local farms and from their own gardens. She and her meteorologist husband home school
their children and don’t train their Miniature Goldendoodle.
Visit her at christaconklin.com.

Review:

Tranquility  by Christa Conklin
“Tranquility is a refreshing take on the fantasy genre. Filled with magic, prophecies,
and plenty of mythical beings, Conklin weaves an intriguing, imaginative
tale that grabs you and doesn’t let you go until the last page. With a rich cast of
characters, vivid world building, and a story you’ll be talking about long after you
finish reading, Tranquility leaves readers both satisfied and yearning for the next
adventure in the series.” —Kathryn Lee Martin, author, the Snow Spark Saga
Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.
March 20, 2019

Blurb:
She must prove there’s more to life than peace and more to death than dying.
The One People find guidance to peace and unity in the pages of TRANQUILITY. Drethene views the methods prescribed in the book as hurtful attempts to escape their diverse ancestry. Such pain is personal, as her parents aim to conceal how different she looks from the rest of their people. Even her job keeps Drethene quiet and secluded. While working in the Academy library, she secretly reads histories used only to teach future leaders to loathe the past. Drethene is inspired by these books filled with cultural variety. When she discovers another world as part of her people’s heritage, a well established enemy is revealed, and she rises to meet the truth and save both worlds.
Now Drethene must convince the One People that their lives are not as tranquil as they seem. They are being hunted and must reunite with a sisterworld that has been erased from their past. If they choose to remain in the comfort of their rewritten history and false sense of peace. they will be dragged into a maelstrom they have forgotten to fear.

 

Author Interview – Janet Wees

March 5, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

janet

What inspired your latest novel?

I visited The Hidden Village in 2005, 2007 and decided, after reading the history at the site, that children in North America had to know the story. The man I interviewed was the boy in the Village and he inspired me as well. 

How did you come up with the title?

My publisher chose the title and I liked it.     

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

I want them to proclaim “Never Again” – that inhumanity and evil will not be repeated against anyone anymore, especially children!

How much of the book is realistic?

It is all realistic; most of it really happened, and the few fictionalized parts could have happened. It is not fantasy.

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

The characters are based on the boy and his family upon whose stories the novel is based. I met “Walter” when I interviewed him about his life in the Hidden Village.

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

Readers can and have found me on Facebook. I am also on Twitter and I have a blog.

Blog – http://whenwewereshadowsbyjanetwees.wordpress.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pg/WhenWeWereShadows/posts/

Twitter – @JanetRWees

Email – powertutor1@hotmail.com

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

This novel is a stand alone book. I have no present plans for another novel, but I have written two children’s books that could be picture books, but I have to “finesse” them before I submit to publishers.

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

My favourite is Walter of course. I met him as an adult and after listening to his stories, I could see the little boy he may have been – intelligent, precocious, sensitive and devoted to family. I heard his voice in my head as I wrote the book.

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

This is my first book, so this genre is presently my favourite. But if I were to pick a genre, it would be books for children – historical or historical fiction.

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

Sometimes I sit down and just write and forget to eat and pretty soon it’s dark. The next day I have to review what I wrote. I plan in my head, but I am more a seat of the pants author I would think. During this process, in my revisions, I would go back to previous chapters and add something I thought about. I was constantly re-reading and changing. But with this book, I did have a plan and it was somewhat sequential because it was based on real life. I don’t know what I would do if I had to write fiction. Not sure I could do fiction; I need some facts.

What is your best marketing tip? 

The best marketing items were the bookmarks from the publisher. I have handed out/mailed/presented over 1000 bookmarks since April. They have the title, author and contacts for ordering. For a “tip”, I would say to be consistent and approach bookstores in person to offer your time to do signings/readings. If this is your first book, lead with something that your publisher might have published in the past that would be known to a bookseller. They seem to worry about risking their time on a first-time, unknown author.

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

My publisher wanted me to have Facebook and Twitter (both public) and a blog. What I find hindering is keeping up, and not overwhelming or underwhelming readers. I am not a fan of social media and I’ve resisted Instagram mainly because it involves photos and most of the exciting photos from the launches are old now. Not getting feedback from any social media posts is disconcerting; I get likes etc from friends, but nobody new has really seemed to read or respond. I did get messages from students in Belgium and The Netherlands. They were doing book reports on the book and wanted information about the author. They communicated through Facebook.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS

What do you enjoy most about writing?  

Being an abstract random thinker, writing forces me to focus and let the ideas flow, blocking out any other distractions.
What age did you start writing stories/poems?

I was probably 9 years old. Poems came later – in university when I was in love; it just promoted poetry all over the place!

Has your genre changed or stayed the same? 

The first stories I wrote were based on pictures from magazines. It was fiction back then.

What genre are you currently reading?

Currently I am reading biography – In My Own Words (Ruth Bader Ginsburg)

Do you read for pleasure or research or both? 

Pleasure and escapism

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager? 

Rona Altrows

Where is your favorite writing space? 

I only have one writing space – my den.

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

Geraldine Brooks, because she wrote a book about penpals and I’d love to swap stories with her.

If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?

Terschelling, an island in the North Sea, in Holland…or… Vancouver (if I could afford it).

Do you see writing as a career?

I am retired so no career for me.

Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food? 

I actually forget to eat when I am in the throes of writing.

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?

I don’t set deadlines; being retired there are no deadlines. It took me from September 2008 until April 2018 to get the book written, edited, revised and published, in between substitute teaching part-time, traveling, volunteering, reading and daily living.

 Bio:

Born in Winnipeg, raised in a Saskatchewan village, with no running water or TV until she was 12, Janet Wees was a voracious reader. She borrowed books through the mail from the lending library in Regina to quench her curiosity about the world. Radio and Eaton’s Xmas catalogue were sources of entertainment. Being a precocious child, her mother sent her, at age 5, to grade 1 every Friday afternoon. In Grade 8 the principal would ask Janet to “sub” for a Grade 1 teacher who was late for school, occasionally. Thus began a passion for teaching and learning.

Janet attended the Universities of Saskatchewan, Calgary, and Oregon gaining her B.Ed in Special Education, and an M.Ed in Gifted and Talented Education. During her tenure she was involved in professional committees, was a volunteer for the Calgary Youth Science Fair and set up pen pal, environmental, Young Olympians, running, and debate clubs where she was a debate coach and a judge at local and international levels. In her off-times, Janet was a semi-professional photographer for the Calgary Sun, taking photos of Sunshine Boys. It was the 80’s!

In 1959 Janet began writing a pen pal in Holland. It was while on vacation in Holland, with the family, that she discovered The Hidden Villlage and the seed for her book took root.

Now retired, Janet lives in Calgary where her daughter also resides. She is a volunteer greeter at the Calgary Airport, and enjoys reading (favourites are Jhumpa Lahiri, Rona Altrows and Geraldine Brooks) writing letters (400 a year!), travel, snowshoeing, old movies, writing stories, and photography.

Book link:https://www.amazon.ca/When-Were-Shadows-Janet-Wees/dp/177260061X/ 

Author Interview – Pauline Holyoak

February 26, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

pauline

What inspired your latest novel? – I have written a trilogy and two children’s books. My trilogy, Merryweather Lodge, was inspired by my own experiences in a remote and mysterious little cottage near Stonehenge. This cottage was called Scotland Lodge and belonged to my aunt and uncle. We would spend our summer holidays there when I was a child. It was my fairy tale kingdom but it had a sinister twist. The memories of my summers at Scotland Lodge stayed with me, as a sort of nagging unsolved mystery all my life. A few years ago I revisited my childhood wonderland and was led to concocting this story and writing this trilogy. This wonderland and my childhood fantasies were the catalyst for my writing career and the inspiration for my trilogy. My published children’s book, Melanie Gets A Nanny, comes from my experiences as a professional Nanny. My soon-to-be published, children’s book, Carly’s Incredible Dream, comes from my childhood fantasies.                                                                        

How did you come up with the title? The real name of the cottage in my trilogy was Scotland Lodge. I didn’t want to use that name so I changed it to Merryweather Lodge. I thought it sounded cozy and quaint and a tad mysterious.   

lodge    2011_silver                                         

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? My protagonist, Emily Fletcher, has a message. She is an attractive, strong-willed young woman, who struggles with her self-image, volatile temper and bad habits. She’s a vegetarian and a progressive thinker. Like me, she likes her own space and often wanders into the country to ponder and seek solace from Mother Nature. She has always dreamt of living a simple life, in her aunts enchanting little cottage, with her gorgeous prince charming. Slowly, she learns how to conquer her fears, get in touch with her intuition, overcome her struggles, tame her temper and enhance her self-esteem.

How much of the book is realistic? My books are fiction, with an element of truth.

Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life? My characters are bits and pieces of the personalities and characteristics of myself, friends, relatives, acquaintances, the woman behind the counter, etc. And yes, they are based on events in my own life.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog? I do not have a blog anymore. Here is my website paulineholyoak.com You will find links to my social media sites on there.

merry

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a standalone? I am working on a standalone, paranormal, suspense novel. And, I have a middle grade book, Carly’s Incredible Dream, due to be released this spring.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why? My reader’s favorite Merryweather Lodge character was my protagonist’s aunt, Auntie Em. She was, not only in her appearance but in her personality and idiosyncrasies, a mixture of my mother and grandmother. All their good parts blended into one.

Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one? Actually, I write in a lot of different genres. My short stories range from, political lit to romance. My trilogy is paranormal suspense. I am now in the process of writing a paranormal romance. My children’s books cover a wide range of genres.

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

sacrfice

What is your best marketing tip? Keep a consistent online presence. And, hand out as many bookmarks, promo cards etc. as you can afford.

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance? I think the internet, is the most powerful tool an author has. There are literally hundreds of sites that will promote ones book, some are free and some are very costly.  I blog, tweet, do online interviews, reviews, facebook and try to keep a consistent online presence. It can be extremely time consuming but I know it’s an important element in establishing my writing career.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS 

What age did you start writing stories/poems? As far back as I can remember the pen and paper have been my faithful companions and story telling my forte. As a child I was shy and reclusive. I lived in my inner world of fantasy and make-believe, preferring the company of Mother Nature and my imaginary friend, than that of other children. Often, I would sneak away from the mundane adult world, find a private retreat (usually behind the garden shed) and imagine. There in my own little sanctuary with tools in hand, I’d conjure up all kinds of intriguing tales and colorful characters, then I’d read them to my imaginary friend. She was always ‘so’ attentive. LOL

Has your genre changed or stayed the same? I have always like to cover a wide range of genres.

What genre are you currently reading? Suspense.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both? Pleasure.

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager? My muse.

Where is your favorite writing space? My office. It is my private domain, my retreat, with my favorite quotes, family pics and art work, created by my granddaughters, on the walls. No one is allowed in there but me! LOL

melanie

Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one? No, but I’m thinking of starting one.

If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why? Probably Steven King. I love his books and he always has such great advice. There are so many…

If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be? I would love to live part of the year in England. I was born and grew up there. I adore the English countryside. It is a smorgasbord for the artistically inclined.. I would have moved back there years ago, if it weren’t for my children and now, grandchildren.

Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food? Oh yes. Dark chocolate and red wine. Yummy!!!

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline? Dark chocolate and red wine..LOL

Bio: 

About me – I grew in Southeast England, in a coal mining village lovingly nicknamed, “The place that time forgot.” Go to my website, click on ‘Articles’ and find out why.  I immigrated to Canada when I was 21 in search of adventure and a new life.  I currently live in Alberta with my adorable sheltie dog. I am the proud mother of two grown children and three adorable granddaughters’.

As far back as I can remember the pen and paper have been my faithful companions and story telling my forte. As a child I was shy and reclusive. I lived in my inner world of fantasy and make-believe, preferring the company of Mother Nature and my imaginary friend, than that of other children. Often, I would sneak away from the mundane adult world, find a private retreat (usually behind the garden shed) and imagine. There in my own little sanctuary with tools in hand, I’d conjure up all kinds of intriguing tales and colorful characters, then I’d read them to my imaginary friend. She was always ‘so’ attentive.  I remember writing a story in school; I must have been about 8 years old, at the time. It was about a rabbit and a hare, cousins I think, running away from home and getting into all kinds of mischief. I still remember my teacher’s reaction after she read it. She looked at me with a stern faced and asked, “Did you copy this?” “No, Miss Finn, I pleaded, “It just, came right out of my head.” “Hmmmm” she scoffed suspiciously. I was devastated but it never stopped me, I kept writing whatever, just, came out of my head. In my teen years my journal became my confident, revealing all my hidden secrets, private fantasies and wild, wild, notions within its pages. Later I started to write poems, articles and short stories, and pondered the thought of becoming a writer.

After I settled in Canada, I buried my dreams under layers of real life clutter. I chose a safe and practical career in child care, married and raised a family. But my creative spirit kept trying to dig its way out. I was asked to write articles and editorials for our local church. I taught a story time class at our local school, which lead me to writing a children’s book. I wrote an article about my husbands’ prestigious grandfather and sent it to our local newspaper. They printed it. I kept sending them articles, they kept printing them. I was surprised at the compliments I received from the editor and readers. It was evident to me then, that I had excavated my creative spirit.

I decided to take a comprehensive writing course to improve my technique. With help from a proficient and supportive tutor, who told me I had a gift, I began to cultivate my skill. My articles started to sell and I received an assignment from a major Canadian magazine. I have spent the past 25 years writing, articles, short stories and books. 

About my trilogy – Merryweather Lodge, was inspired by my own experiences in a remote and mysterious little cottage near Stonehenge. This cottage was called Scotland Lodge and belonged to my aunt and uncle. We would spend our summer holidays there when I was a child. It was my fairytale kingdom but it had a sinister twist. The memories of my summers at Scotland Lodge stayed with me, as a sort of nagging unsolved mystery all my life. A few years ago I revisited my childhood wonderland and was led to concocting this story and writing this trilogy. This wonderland and my childhood fantasies were the catalyst for my writing career and the inspiration for my trilogy.

The first book in my Merryweather Lodge trilogy Merryweather Lodge – Ancient Revenge, was the Readers Favorite 2011 Silver Award Winner for paranormal fiction. Book two, Merryweather Lodge – Malevolent Spirit, was a Readers Favorite finalist. My first children’s book, Melanie Gets A Nanny, is about a strong willed young girl with a wild and wacky imagination. It is published by, Wee Creek Press.  I have just sighed a publishing contract for my second children’s book, Carly’s Incredible Dream.. Yay! Twenty five of my articles have been published.

Come visit me at my website. Check out my articles, bio, videos and links. www.paulineholyoak.com

 

 

Author Interview – Ellen Notbohm

February 19, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

Ellen Notbohm 12 2017

What inspired your latest novel?

Through many years of genealogy work, I’ve learned that every family has that one person—the one nobody will talk about, the one with the aura of taboo around him or her. Three generations back, Analiese Rushton (not her real name) was that person in our family tree.

It took a lot of digging and a grain of luck to find out why—she faced recurring perinatal and postpartum psychosis at a time when neither medicine or society understood it. Given the intense social stigma of mental illness in Annie’s day, aggravated by stark gender bias in both courts of law and courts of public opinion, what we now know to be a bona fide and treatable medical condition threatened to cost Annie nearly everything that matters to most of us—family, home, health, safety, the right to self-determination. I also learned that maternal mental health was the rarest of subjects in historical fiction; it almost felt like publishing too was infected with that zipped-lips taboo. I wanted to tell Annie’s story in a way that would heal ills and injustices, and topple that taboo.

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How did you come up with the title?

That’s a fun chicken-egg question I can’t fully answer. When I started writing, I had a working title that I knew wouldn’t be the final title. One of the things I love about novels is that Aha! moment when you’re reading along and come upon the title of the book. To Kill a Mockingbird and The Color Purple are a couple of potent examples. So as I was writing, I had my “third ear” open, listening for possible titles. I considered several that didn’t feel quite right. Then up popped “The River by Starlight” and there it was. Readers will know from the first page of the book that it’s from a journal entry by Henry David Thoreau. But they have to read some chapters in to find out how it impacts the story and why it’s a thread that carries throughout the book.                                                                         

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

Although The River by Starlight confronts loss and grief in many shape-shifting forms, it’s not a tale of depth-less terror and tragedy. I would not and could not have written a book like that. Edmonton historian Tony Cashman is a dear friend of mine, and in his testimonial, he described the book as “a story told with deep understanding of the human heart, which won’t abandon hope.” That refusal to abandon hope—Annie’s astonishing resilience and tenacity in the face of devastating events, is a tribute to the luminescence of the human spirit that lives in all of us. That’s why I wrote the book. I didn’t think she should be the one nobody talks about. I wanted her to be the one everybody talks about. 

How much of the book is realistic?

100%. I put in over a decade of research, including six trips to Montana, Edmonton, and North Dakota. Much of the book describes events that did take place, and most of what I made up was also based on that research. I consulted more than 40 libraries and archives, read more than 1,000 homestead accounts, close to 100 books, and several miles of microfilmed newspapers.

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

You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram. I have two blogs on my website, for fiction and nonfiction. My Facebook page is a very interactive community of readers from more than 40 countries.

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

I’m percolating an idea based on another long-ago real person, whose early life was a dramatic brew of siblings lost to an epidemic, the Civil War, and historic upheaval within her faith community. She eventually landed in Dayton, Ohio, in the same neighborhood as an interesting pair of brothers who claimed to be building a flying machine. Once I start writing a bit, I’ll know if she wants to tell me her story.

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

Like the children’s book, I Love You the Purplest, my mother impressed upon me that her children were so different from each other, it meant that each was her favorite in their own way. It’s just that way for my characters in The River by Starlight, many of whom I love, but in ways that defy comparison. Nor do I have a favorite villain, and at least one reader agreed, in what is a favorite comment: “The characters are real and pop off the page. I have empathy, sorrow, joy, and want to choke a number of them!”

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

As writers, we’re often told to write what we know, but also told to write what scares us, or write what we want to know. I’d written four nonfiction books and countless essays and advice columns when I decided to write a historical novel. I can’t say enough about how expansive it’s been, in every way, to stretch myself into uncharted territory as a writer. I’m eager to both continue on with what I’m good at, and to push my pencil into forms and genres I haven’t before considered.

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

Pantser! I’ll start with a spark of an idea and see where the research takes me. When I start writing, the story will either bloom or fall flat. If it blooms, I go on, listening with my “third ear” and following the arc of the story as my research expands. It’s almost like a game where I’m given facts or leads or provocative questions, I work them into the story, then listen for how the characters are going to respond. I’m constantly judging the messages I’m portraying, whether I’m getting it right, and also gauging when it’s necessary for me to take literary license and depart from that.

What is your best marketing tip?

Find what you’re best at and focus on that. It’s good and appropriate to stretch yourself to do things that may be a bit beyond your comfort zone but none of us can be good at everything, let alone have the time or money to do it all. If you really hate, say, a particular social media platform or blogging or podcasts or live events or whatever, be unapologetic about saying no to it. I believe readers pick up on insincerity, so connect them with your best self.

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

In all things, balance. It’s every author’s choice whether to invest time and effort in a social media presence, but to forego it entirely is to greatly limit your ability to connect with readers and potential readers. Readers expect an internet presence, and other less immediate sources may not come to mind. At the same time, neither is an author obligated to spend untold hours on social media. How much presence, how much effort an author wants to devote to her digital platform is entirely individual, and there’s no “right” amount. I know authors who are only on Facebook, or only on Twitter, and post only when they feel they have something to say. Writers have to prioritize the writing, ruminating, and revising that make us writers in the first place.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

The magic of it. Watching words flow out of a pencil tip, watching words form sentences, sentences form paragraphs, paragraphs form whole stories. Sometimes it’s almost like I’m an observer.

Has your genre changed or stayed the same?

Genre is such a fluid thing to me. Though the writing of my fiction and nonfiction were vastly different experiences, there was enough crossover for me to loosen the boundaries in my mind of what “genre” means. My novel has been recognized with awards for historical fiction, regional fiction, literary fiction. My nonfiction books and historical articles have a strong storytelling element to them. I hope to cross a few more genre thresholds before I’m done.

What genre are you currently reading?

I’m usually reading several books at any given time; right now I’m reading a historical novel, a memoir, a creative nonfiction, and a classic.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both?

They’re inseparable, because research is one of my greatest pleasures. It’s entertaining, informational, emotionally and intellectually challenging. In a way, everything I read is research. It all lodges in my conscious or subconscious and finds its way into my writing in one way or another, either by what I include or what I choose not to include.

 

Where is your favorite writing space?

In my head, of course!

Do you see writing as a career?

Sure, because the definition of “career” is as broad as a writer’s mind allows it to be. I just internet-searched the definition, and the first one that came up was, “an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress.” Notice it doesn’t mention earning money? I’ve been blessed to have been able to earn a living as a writer, but I know countless writers who’ve been writing and publishing gloriously for years without earning a living. Their work is no less worthy than mine of being called a career. If we read only “career writers” as defined in the conventional sense (money-makers), the breadth and depth of what we read would be far poorer indeed.

Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?

When I’m “in the zone,” I have to remember to breathe, let alone eat. Although for a few blissful weeks in the summer, no day is complete until I’ve eaten my weight in blueberries.

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?

Making a deadline is its own reward. I’ve high-fived the wall more than a few times in my career.

BIO

An award-winning author in both nonfiction and fiction, Ellen Notbohm’s work has informed, inspired, and guided millions of readers in more than twenty languages. In addition to her acclaimed historical novel The River by Starlight and her globally renowned books on autism and, her articles and columns on such diverse subjects as history, genealogy, baseball, writing and community affairs have appeared in major publications and captured audiences on every continent.

The River by Starlight has been recognized with awards for historical, regional, and literary fiction. Its focus on maternal mental health and gender bias in the early 20th century explores a history rarely addressed in fiction.

Explore Ellen’s work and subscribe to her blogs and newsletter at http://www.ellennotbohm.com.

Connect through social media:

Facebook – Ellen Notbohm, Author

Twitter: @EllenNotbohm

Instagram: Ellen Notbohm

 

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