Category Archives: narrative

Author Interview – C. A. Asbrey


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CA Asbrey

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

It definitely lights a fire under me when I have a tale which wants to come out. I can sometime stay up until 3-4am if I have to finish a scene. At other times I can agonize over a phrase or sentence and before I know it the day has gone and I’ve only written a paragraph. I miss it when I can’t write.  

What is your writing Kryptonite

Emotional upset for sure. My last book took me a year to write as I was distracted by my husband being injured in an accident and my mother-in-law passing away from a long illness. I was very lucky to have a lovely mother-in-law. She is sorely missed.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

I kinda do. I write under my married name and feature on social media under my maiden name for social interactions. I also write under initials. I don’t hide my gender, but it’s not immediately obvious when you look at the book cover.

The Innocents

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I’ve met many wonderful people on this journey and I’ve found them to be an incredibly generous and open community. I’d really encourage new writers to reach out and make contact. Not only will you find that they share resources, but you’ll probably make all kinds of new friends too. There are too many to mention but Kit Prate and Joanie Chevalier deserve a special mention. Both have been so supportive and inspiring to a brand new writer and have gone the extra mile in helping me cross over so many barriers. Kit introduced me to her publisher after reading my work, and helped me out of the slush pile. Joanie helped to point me towards the various groups which help a new writer with marketing and publicity. Not only that but she actually made up some advertising material and told me to ‘get my swag on.’ I was being far too Scottish—reticent and unwilling to look like I was bragging by saying my book was good. Both ladies have been incredible and I can’t thank them enough. Read their books and you’ll soon see how lucky I was to be assisted by them.

Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

‘The Innocents’ is definitely meant to be part of a larger body of work. It’s the first of a trilogy, but if people like them there’s plenty of scope to keep them going. I would still continue with each book being a self-contained mystery with the larger universe of the characters providing an over-arching connection between the books. The third book is written and at editing stage, but there are plenty of trials I can still put the characters through yet. 

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

So far it’s been on editing. I’ve learned so much from every bit of feedback given to me and I they all go towards making me better writer. That said there’s been free advice from other writers. As a newcomer to the writing community I have found great generosity of spirit and so many people have shared some of their valuable time to help me. I’ll be very happy to pay that forward. On another note I have just spent some money on publicity. I’ve yet to see how that will work. That may be my new enthusiasm if it really pays off.   

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

That would be in my work as a young police officer. I learned that talking people down from spiraling emotions is a powerful tool in keeping people safe, and more potent than violence. I also learned that listening to detail is vital too. Noting the small things helped to push cases along in gathering evidence. I also learned the complex and intricate ways people use language to put you down and grab power in a situation. Understanding that really helps you stay in control of a situation. It’s useful for a writer to grasp that and be able to shift the dynamics in a scene through clever use of words.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

That would have to be ‘The Moonstone’ by Wilkie Collins. Not only is it considered the first proper detective novel in the English language, it also shows working class females as rounded characters instead of foils for male attention. It also is the first to introduce many of the elements we take for granted in mysteries such as red herrings, false suspects, the skilled investigator, and a final twist. Collins was actually vastly more popular than Dickens in his day, but is now largely forgotten in comparison

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? 

Lol, maybe a giant sloth? Or one of those dogs or cats which go viral for bumping into glass doors or falling off things.

Innocent-As-Sin-CAAsbrey-Web

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

‘The Innocents’ has been written and re-written to death. It’s probably in about its tenth incarnation. The second book in the trilogy was launched on 26th July and the third is at the editing stage before being submitted for publication. I have numerous other mysteries plotted. It all depends on public demand on whether or not I continue the series or write them as standalone mysteries.

What does literary success look like to you?

 To have people read and enjoy my stories. I make no pretence at literary genius or at writing anything worthy. I write stories which I hope people will enjoy.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? 

Copious amounts. ‘The Innocents’ has taken years of research into the work of the early Pinkertons, especially the female agents and the kind of work they did, including their methodologies. I research everything, even the stationary which was in use and the correct codes for the telegraph stations mentioned in the books. The forensics are fascinating to dig into too. You name it I researched it. Everything which influences every aspect of the stories. Abigail’s ability to disguise herself and alter her accent is taken directly from reports on the skills of the original female Pinkerton, Kate Warne. The theatrical make up and wigs were also true to the period. Stage make up had been primitive earlier in the century, but better stage lighting revealed a need for far better make up techniques, products, and prosthetics. Greasepaint was invented in the 1860s by Ludwig Leichner, building on the work of Karl Freidrich Baudius (1796–1860) in the 1850s. Lighting also improved costumes and acting techniques. It drove a desire for more natural representations in every area, simply because people could see the stage more clearly. Crepe hair went out and quality wigs came in. Colors were mixed to mimic skin tones and classes in their application were popular in the acting profession. Latex wasn’t invented until 1920, but prior to that rubber was moulded or even applied to a light fabric backing. When it was the right shape it was expertly painted to look exactly like a nose, dewlap, bald cap, or any other body part. I even researched whether someone with as much hair as the average Victorian woman could wear a short wig. The answer came from a young woman who enjoys cosplay – and she explains online how to pleat her long thick hair and coil it flat under the cap before putting the short wig on. It absolutely IS possible. I was really surprised to find how many really strange crimes and mass murders from the past seem to have been forgotten by all but a few. The past is littered with remarkable characters; honest and dishonest. There are cross-dressers, madmen, greedy people, selfish people, arrogant people, and clever people on both sides of the law. I was also conscious of how often history repeats itself and how themes come up time and time again as history stratifies the same issues and concerns time and time again. I was also impressed by the dedication of a few clever people who worked to catch criminals and close down their attempts to cover their tracks.

How many hours a day/week do you write? 

I have no set timetable. I wish I was that organised. Some days I write into the wee small hours, other times I can be researching and go down the rabbit hole following some amazing character or story. In the end all of it is productive and results in a story though. The actual process of writing is only the end of a longer mechanism. The invention has to come first.

How do you select the names of your characters?

As I write 19th century characters I try to keep them in period and maintain a sense of place. I’ll research popular or unusual names as well as using names of people I know if they’re appropriate. I’ve also been known to add really unusual names to my note as I come across them. Some are too good not to use.

What was your hardest scene to write?

The interrogation scene. I had to inject a sense of menace into it to make it work. I know it’s not usual to make your hero do bad things, but he’s a professional criminal and he has to find out who this mysterious woman is and how much danger the heroine poses to him. It disturbed people who initially saw this as a straight romance, which it isn’t. 

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?

I only write mystery. I loved them right from the start because the reader can play along with the story. There are rules to writing a mystery, and the writer has to keep to them if the reader is to be able to play along. The story has to keep moving, all the clues need to be available and the plot needs to be convincing. The rules were set out in ‘The Detective Club’ which featured members such as Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, G. K. Chesterson, and E. C. Bentley. Not all the rules hold true today – for instance rule 5 states, “No Chinaman must figure in the story.” That I simply a ridiculous premise today. Agatha Christie broke rule 7 “The detective must not himself commit the crime” but they still provide a framework for the modern mystery writer. The method of murdering the victim must be a robust and feasible technique and not invented or spurious. The motive for murder in a whodunit should be personal, and not an act of war or part of a professional hit. That takes the killing into a different genre of writing. Many of the old rules say that a twin or a servant cannot be used as the murderer, but those rules have also been broken in modern writing and shown to be no longer relevant.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been playing with this story and universe since 2008. It looks like I’m a slow developer. I started writing seriously about two years ago and spent about a year being turned down by everyone. I acted on every bit of feedback and continually got my work reviewed and improved until it was polished enough to be accepted.

What inspires you?

Anything and everything. I can meet someone with an unusual name and I have to note it. I can read news story, read remarkable history, or find some amazing spy gadget. Somehow I piece them all together to form a mystery.  

How do you find or make time to write?

I found myself with enforced leisure after a serious accident.  Like many people I always wanted to write but life and family got in the way. I got hooked and wanted to get good enough to be taken seriously. I’m lucky to be in a position to dedicate time every day to writing. I look in awe at friends with families and job and wonder how they do it.   

What projects are you working on at the present?

I’m editing the third of ‘The Innocents’ trilogy and have outlined some more mysteries I can have my characters solve if they are a success. I also have a completely separate mystery set in 19th century Edinburgh planned which I’m quite excited about starting.

What do your plans for future projects include?

Another mystery. No surprised there. I want to continue with the universe I created in ‘The Innocents’ as I think there are still a lot I can do with the characters. I also have a Gothic 19th century medical mystery set in Edinburgh in mind which is not related to that series.

Share a link to your author website.

Blog which includes things obscure and strange in the Victorian period     http://caasbrey.com/

Twitter  https://twitter.com/CAASBREY

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

Facebook group for The Innocents Mystery Series 

 https://www.facebook.com/groups/937572179738970/?ref=br_rs

Link to book https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BMHFXSJ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_ep_dp_wTSSAb8J40Q9H

Bio:

Chris Asbrey has lived and worked all over the world in the Police Service, Civil Service, and private industry, working for the safety, legal rights, and security of the public. A life-changing injury meant a change of course into contract law and consumer protection for a department attached to the Home Office.    

In that role she produced magazine and newspaper articles based on consumer law and wrote guides for the Consumer Direct Website. She was Media Trained, by The Rank Organization, and acted as a consultant to the BBC’s One Show and Watchdog. She has also been interviewed on BBC radio answering questions on consumer law to the public.

She lives with her husband and two daft cats in Northamptonshire, England—for now. She’s moving to the beautiful medieval city of York.

 

 

Writing Prompt Wednesday


Today’s prompt is two-fold. Firstly, a theme: A Fall Walk and secondly, words to include: bird, wheel, envelope.

147cbbac82b9e19e53c118c39afddb9f--autumn-leaves-autumn-fall

Here is my response:

Gerald replaced the letter into the envelope, folded it in half and pushed into his jacket pocket. With a scarf wrapped tightly around his neck to keep the fall chill from creeping in, he pulled on gloves and his heavy hiking boots.

“I’m just popping out for some fresh air, Martha.”

“All right, dear, the soup will take about two hours, so don’t go too far.”

Gerald tutted under his breath. Martha always had a schedule and woe betide you if you didn’t keep to it. He called back as he exited the warmth of the house and entered the golden hued avenue.

“I’ll be on time, Martha.”

With determined steps, he walked along the treed avenue focused on his destination. Turning a corner a bird flew upward from its foraging in the leaf litter startling him.

“Silly bird!” he turned to follow the bird’s flight path and tripped. Stumbling with hands outstretched to save himself. One hand became entangled in the wheel of a bicycle and Gerald and the rider crumpled into a heap on the verge.

“Oh my God! I’m so sorry. I tried to stop when I saw you falling but wasn’t quick enough. Are you okay?” The young man’s voice was tense with worry.

“Just a bit shocked. Although, I think I may have hurt my hand.”

“Let me see. Can you take off the glove?”

Gerald pulled at the woollen material and winched.

“Oh, that doesn’t look good. I’m going to call an ambulance.”

“It’s just bruised, an ice pack will suffice, I’m sure.”

“Well you will have to do that quickly. I should come with you to make sure it is not more serious. I’m a doctor.”

Gerald looked at the young man- how can you be a doctor? You look as though you’re in high school. Not wanting to be rude, Gerald kept his thoughts to himself.

“I live just up here. It’s not necessary to come – really.”

“I insist.”

Gerald let the doctor accompany him home. Martha, of course, made a huge fuss. The envelope’s content would have to wait another day.

Genres of Literature – Literary Nonsense


nonsense

Literary nonsense (or nonsense literary) is a category of literature, which balances elements that make sense with some that do not by an excess of meaning, rather than the lack of it. The most well-known form is nonsense verse and is present in many forms of literature. The nonsensical nature of this genre defines its humor, rather than wit or the typical punchline of a joke.  

Certain formal elements of language and logic facilitate the meanings of the piece and are balanced by elements that negate meaning. These formal elements include semantics, syntax, phonetics, context, representation, and formal diction. For a text to be within the genre of literary nonsense, it must have an abundance of nonsense techniques woven into the fabric of the piece. This is created by the use of faulty cause and effect, portmanteau, neologism, reversals and inversions, imprecision (including gibberish), simultaneity, picture/text incongruity, arbitrariness, infinite repetition, negativity or mirroring, and misappropriation. Nonsense tautology, reduplication, and absurd precision.

The genre has been recognized since the nineteenth century derived from two broad artistic sources. Firstly, oral folk tradition, including games, rhymes and songs, such as nursery rhymes. For example, Hey Diddle Diddle and Mother Goose. Secondly, the intellectual absurdities of scholars, court poets and other intellectuals who created sophisticated nonsense forms of religious travesties, political satire and Latin parodies. They are separate from  the pure satire and parody by their exaggerated nonsensical effects.

Today the genre is a combination of both of these methods. A popular writer, Edward Lear used this genre in his limericks. Other nonsense literature examples are The Owl and the Pussycat, The Dong with a Luminous Nose, The Jumblies,  and The Story of the Four Little Children Who Went Around the World. Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman, can be considered a nonsense novel.

A favorite of mine is Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky – it is a quintessential nonsense poem.

Jabberwocky-main

Do you have a favorite nonsense story or poem?

 

Author Interview – Pol McShane


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Pol

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

      It most defiantly energizes me. Even during those times when nothing else seems to be going right, as soon as I lose myself in a story, it all falls in line.

  1. What is your writing Kryptonite?

       I would have to say the way I feel. If I have a headache or I’m tired, I just can’t bring myself to write. If I do, it usually shows up in my writing and I end up deleting and rewriting.

      3. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

      I have written an erotica series that I write under the name Rick Pearson. But that was only because it was an erotica series and I wanted that separation from my other books.

  1. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I have made many author friends on Facebook, and I find that I am always learning from them and with them.

  1. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

When I am writing a series, I am the cliff-hanger king. I love them. So usually books that follow will be leading from a cliff hanger. However, it has been said that each book in whatever series I write, can be read alone.

  1. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

        I would have to say on my current computer (knock wood). It is just one of the best ones I’ve had, and I’ve gone through quite a lot.

  1. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

It had to be during the initial release of my novel Luthor. It is one of my darkest novels that centers on a boy born with terrible deformities. I have had many people post reviews on how the novel effected them. Some have told me that they loved the book and story, but couldn’t continue because of the depth of sadness the tale touches on.

  1. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Of my own? I would say, Blue Moon. It was one of the first books I ever published (2000), and it is a story written by a werewolf on the night of a blue moon, the only night when he is able to take his own life. Before he does, he tells his story.

I’ve always loved writing werewolf tales, this book and the sequel, The Rise of the Son.

I enjoyed taking certain liberties with the lore and putting my own spin on it.

  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have only two. The final installment of my Genie series, that is in the final edit stages, and also a book called Reunion-the Children of Lauderdale Park, which is a book I wrote long ago but has never been quite finished.

  1. What does literary success look like to you?

I would consider literary success to be able to make a living off of my writing. That may seem like an obvious goal, but it’s what I strive for.

11. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I love doing research. I enjoy looking up whatever I can about a subject and putting it in my stories. The most research I’ve done on a series would be for my other YA books, Serpenteens. The books center around five teenage siblings who are demigods. They can transform into various kinds of snakes and then control different aspect of weather. They travel around battle the increasingly dangerous weather scenarios that are plaguing the planet.

        Research was started the whole series for that. I had the idea to do a story about people who could turn into snakes, and while I was researching information about snakes I discovered their connection to the weather, and that took the story in a whole new environmental direction. After that I researched weather and various locations around the United States where the Serpenteens traveled, and even had to somewhat learn how to drive an airboat. 

12. How many hours a day/week do you write? I am still working a part-time day job, so on work days I don’t have a lot of time. But on my days off, I love to start as early as I can, and I could easily sit for three-to four hours.

13. How do you select the names of your characters?

Naming characters is always fun for me. I try to find names that directly fit the character. I have a children’s series called The Adventures of Johnny and Joey, where two brothers find a magic elevator buried in their backyard and they travel to magical lands like Imagination Land, or Wooden Land, or Aqua Land.

14. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I started writing horror and suspense, and that is what I truly enjoy. But when I began writing YA series, I found I had to focus on not getting too scary.

15. How long have you been writing?  

I wrote my first story when I was ten years old.

16. What do your plans for future projects include?

I am currently working on the final installment of my Genie in a Bottle series-After the Wishes, which will be out in a few months.

17. Share a link to your author website. polmcshane.com

Writing Prompt Wednesday


mermaid

 

Inspired by the news story headline: ‘mermaid tails emerge from washing machines at a laundromat in LA’ I thought it was perfect for a word prompt.

Let’s see where it takes your imagination.