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Author Interview – Anita Kushwaha

January 15, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

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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 – Emily-Jane Hills Orford

January 8, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

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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

 

A Happy New Year and a Blog Schedule for 2019

December 31, 2018
mandyevebarnett


Happy-New-year-2019s

Firstly, thank you to all my followers, who make this blog so worthwhile and fun to write. Your interactions and likes mean so much to me.

As a writing community we need to support, encourage and connect with each other. Our writing space, be it a home office, a dining table, a cozy chair or even a shed are our inspirational spaces where we create our stories. We become a vehicle for our characters to whisper in our ears and that is our happy place. It is however, a solitary place, for the most part, and knowing we can connect through blogs gives us a gift. We can ‘glimpse’ another writer’s world and connect.

Blog Schedule for 2019:

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Take your Pick Tuesday

Will be author interviews, event news, WIP progress updates, topics relating to my novel’s genre and any other random thoughts. If you would like to be interviewed please contact me.

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Blog Question and Answer Thursday.

I hope you will join me in 2019 as I am going to restructure my blog to enable all of you to ask or answer a monthly topic. The first Thursday of every month, I will start the conversation with a question. You may answer on that post or on the subsequent Thursday’s in the month. Raise more questions on that month’s topic or answer it in relation to your writing style or expertise. I welcome any writer/author to link to their blog if they have a similar topic or theme to the initial question.

Happy writing for 2019 and I look forward to our interactions during the year.

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Author Interview – Kelsey Barthel

December 21, 2018
mandyevebarnett


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  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you? Depends on more easy the ideas and writing is flowing. If everything is flowing nicely and i’m forming an idea that makes me proud, writing gives me a powerful high that makes me super bubbly. If I’m having a hard time, like when you’re trying so hard just to write ANYTHING because you’re trying to power through a block. That digs at my soul.
  2. What is your writing Kryptonite? Getting distracted by TV or movies.
  3. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? Not at the moment.
  4. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? I’ve connected with a lot of authors online but I haven’t connected to any of them outside of that. The ones I’ve met online have helped in so many ways. They have given me a like-minded community to bounce ideas off of and give feedback. Some of them were my beta readers for Beyond the Code.
  5. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? I have some book ideas that are going to develop into expansive series but for the most part they stand on their own.
  6. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? I am still very new on the writer scene so I haven’t made much of any money yet. Fingers crossed.
  7. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power? From an early age, language and writing always gave me an outlet for my crazy imagination. It was a great way to bring my thoughts into the world and helped me sort out a lot of my feelings.
  8. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel? To Kill a Mockingbird. A lot of people I talk to don’t like it but I thought it was a very thought provoking read.
  9. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? A fox. I love foxes

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10. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? I have a bunch of story ideas and a couple of them I have started writing but Beyond the Code was actually the first book I wrote fully.

11. What does literary success look like to you? Seeing my book on the shelf at a bookstore.

12. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? I am a thorough planner when it comes to my books. I plan out all the events in order for the book, do all the research necessary, and start writing. I try my best to make it as authentic as possible.

13. How many hours a day/week do you write? As much as I can but life gets in the way a bit more than I would prefer.

14. How do you select the names of your characters? Sometimes the name just comes to me when I’m making the character but most of the time I use a baby naming book.

15. What was your hardest scene to write? Emotionally, there’s a scene in the book I’m writing now that deals with a character letting go of a future that she can’t have. But there was another scene in Beyond the Code where there was a lot of characters involved in a fight scene and keeping track of all of them was pretty difficult.

16. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them? So far, I’ve just been writing urban fantasy. I chose it because I love the idea of putting extraordinary things in the mundane world.

17. How long have you been writing? I started writing short stories when I was around 10 and have been doing that off and on throughout my teen years and started seriously putting myself into it when I move out.

18. What inspires you? Anime, comic books, and movies.

19. How do you find or make time to write? Sometimes you just have to put aside things you enjoy to get the words out. It can be hard but sometimes I have to be my own hard ass boss.

20. What projects are you working on at the present? Right now, I am working on a sequel to Beyond the Code.

21. What do your plans for future projects include? Trying to make Beyond the Code successful and get the sequel published.

22. Share a link to your author website.

www.beyondthecode.ca

Bio

Kelsey Rae Barthel grew up in the quiet town of Hay Lakes in Alberta, a sleepy place of only 500 people. Living in such a calm setting gave her a lot of spare time to imagine grand adventures of magic and danger, inspired by the comic books and anime she enjoyed. Upon graduating high school, Kelsey moved to Edmonton and eventually began working in the business of airline cargo, but she never stopped imagining those adventures. Beyond the Code is her first novel.

 

 

 

 

Writing Prompt Wednesday

December 19, 2018
mandyevebarnett


Use these words in a short story or poem: icy, horse drawn carriage, heat.

I’ve shared mine below.

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Winter Treat 

An arm to steady me as I tread on the icy path

Thick warming coats help keep the cold at bay

The ground glistens in the early morning sun

I so wish I could stay beside the hearth

 

My husband’s hands raise me gently upward

Into the horse drawn carriages interior

A winter ride along country lanes

My breath visible with words uttered

 

With a tartan blanket across our knees

The driver cracks the whip high in the air

The carriage jolts forward as we snuggle

My smile shows he has successfully pleased

 

Rosy cheeks and laughter are the heralds

For our return with the noon day sun

The heat of the fire is most welcome

A clink of glasses to wintertime.

 

Please share yours in the comments.

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