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Author Interview – Danielle Metcalfe-Chenai

August 20, 2019
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AuthorInterview

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What inspired your latest book?

Alis the Aviator was initially inspired by my son. Andre was two years old and a very wiggly, spirited kid who loved airplanes – but couldn’t sit through long books. I’d just published my second popular aviation history for adults, and had so many fun facts swirling around in my head. I sat on the back porch of my house one day when he was napping and most of the first draft poured out onto the page in the bouncy, rhyming style I love from growing up with Dr. Seuss.

How did you come up with the title?

Alis is based on the real-life Dr. Alis Kennedy, likely the first Indigenous woman in Canada to get her private and commercial pilot’s licenses. I found out about Dr. Alis after I’d completed the ABCs of the book, and then was able to layer in her inspirational story in the bio. Dr. Alis has flown planes, but also is a veteran with a doctorate in psychology, who now dedicates her life to amazing volunteer causes around the world.           

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

I hope that little kids – especially girls – read the book and feel like aviation is a dream they can pursue. The illustrator, Kalpna Patel, did such an amazing job getting the people in her cut-paper art to reflect the incredible diversity we have in Canada and the US. The number of girls and people of colour in aviation is tiny, unfortunately – and I recently learned that only about 1% of all picture books feature Indigenous characters. I hope kids of all backgrounds see themselves reflected in this book!

How much of the book is realistic?

This book is 100% fact-based. It’s a nonfiction picture book that incorporates my years of aviation history research, but presents it in a colourful and quirky way to hopefully capture the imaginations of tykes and their grownups.

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

I have a few manuscripts in the works. The one I see following on from Alis the Aviator is a picture book biography of the pioneering Gwich’in pilot, Freddie Carmichael. We’ve known each other for ten years and it was incredible spending a week with him in Inuvik this past March working on the book. I can’t wait to share his story with the world!

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Do you favor one type of genre?

I write across genres and audiences, which can be tricky from a branding perspective! So far I’ve published nonfiction for adults and kids, but I’ve got two novels in the works (a WW2 book and an upmarket contemporary novel). I’ve also been researching and writing a book about the Charles Camsell Indian Hospital that is part memoir and part history.

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

I’m a plantser – half and half. It really depends on the project. With my picture books, it’s like writing poetry or songs. I do a ton of research and thinking and then the first draft pours out of me in one or two sittings (with multiple rewrites and tweaks). With my adult popular histories it was easier to plan out ahead of time because I had most of the research done and they were chronological. But even then there were surprises! My novels and creative nonfiction are somewhere in the middle because they are largely based on research and real-life events.

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What is your best marketing tip?

It’s also my best writing and life tip! Make friends. Join communities. Be a good literary citizen. Remember that high tides raise all ships. 

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

A little of column A and a little of column B. Or a lot of each, actually. Social media has been a great way to connect with people around the world – especially as I move around so much. I learn so much through those channels as well. At the same time, it can have a toxic quality to it full of judgment, comparison and shaming. I find if I think about it too much it can have a silencing effect, because I worry too much about what other people will think of me. And, like the news, it can be devastating and overwhelming, so I have to be careful how much I take in.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

It’s hard to pick just one! While it’s true that sometimes it can make me cry with how challenging it can be, with how exposed I feel, there are those times when I’m in the flow and it’s like all is well. I’m in alignment. My words come out and I feel that maybe I will be understood and seen.

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What age did you start writing stories/poems?

My parents saved the clippings from when I was a kid – so there’s (often embarrassing) proof that I was scribbling little stories and poems from a young age. I created a little zine in my neighbourhood with friends when I was in elementary school and then was co-editor of a school newspaper in middle school. I think I published my first letter to the editor in the Ottawa Citizen in Grade 8 – then I was totally hooked on bylines!

Has your genre changed or stayed the same?

I have jumped all over the place – poetry, fiction, nonfiction, kidlit and freelance writing for magazines and newspapers. They all feed into each other in interesting ways, I’ve noticed, and taught me different lessons. Freelancing was excellent discipline for hitting deadlines and pitching ideas, and not taking edits personally.

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

I belong to several writing organizations: the Writers Union of Canada, Creative Nonfiction Collective, and the Society for Children’s Writers and Illustrators. I was a member of the Writers Guild of Alberta for five years and it was excellent – I still miss it! I’ve created two critique groups since moving to Houston. One is online-only and focuses mostly on creative nonfiction. Members span from Canada to California to Texas. The other one is in-person here in Houston. I realized it’s not natural for me to write in a cave all the time!

Do you see writing as a career?

Actually, I see it as more of a compulsion. A job you can quit. This is forever. My son (who is now 7 years old) asked me the other day, “Mama, will you ever stop writing?” And I told him, “As long as the stories and ideas keep coming, I’ll keep writing.”

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

If readers would like to connect with me, they can find me at my website (www.daniellemc.com), and on social media: @Danielle_Author on Twitter, @dmchenail on Instagram, and Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail on Facebook. I also have a blog dedicated to my Camsell Hospital research, www.ghostsofcamsell.ca.

 

Ask a Question Thursday

August 15, 2019
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This week’s question is: How do you prepare for an author reading?

I have a reading with several other authors this Saturday for Bookstore Romance Day, so have prepared a gift basket, gathered not only the book I will be reading from but also most of my other books to take with me. As there will be a table at the front of the store with our books I have packed a display shelf, summaries of each book, and have decided on the excerpt I will read. Obviously, this has to be practiced to allow me to look up at the audience but also practice my inflections to give the piece a real sense of drama.

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If you happen to be in Edmonton, Alberta come and say Hi. We will be at Audreys Books Ltd.  10702 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta T5J 3J5 at 2 pm. I will read from Life in Slake Patch, which is a speculative fiction romance set in a matriarchal society from a young man’s perspective. Yep, it is certainly an interesting and unique story.

Please comment below with your typical planning for an author reading, we may learn new tricks from each other!

Last week’s post was a 10 minute writing prompt: A bag of multiple buttons.

When I worked with K-3 writers, I always carried by button tin inherited from my mother. Each student would receive one large button. Next they would draw the person or animal wearing it and glue the button in place. It could be a nose, a toenail, a wing decoration. Anything.Then they would write a story or poem about the character. They had a lot of fun.

Author Interview – Craig DiLouie

August 13, 2019
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AuthorInterview

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What inspired your latest novel?

Published in hardcover, eBook, and audio book by Orbit and released August 20, 2019, OUR WAR is about the consequences of political tribalism as told in a story about a second American civil war. This story is about a brother and sister forced to fight as child soldiers on opposite sides, and the people whose lives they touch: a UN worker who wants to stop the use of child soldiers, a journalist seeking to expose it, and a rebel militia sergeant who begins to see the humanity in those he hates.

The novel has several influences. The first is the rise of violence and polarization in American politics. Another is the Bosnian War of the 1990s; if a second civil war occurred in America, it would far more likely be between city and country than between states. And the last is American exceptionalism, the idea America is superior to broken countries like Syria, but should war ever break out inside our borders, the country will suffer like any other, producing refugees, atrocities, and even child soldiers. This brutal world provides the backdrop for a story about love, sacrifice, and the meaning of patriotism.

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How did you come up with the title?

The title speaks to the personal nature of a war that divides communities and even families.

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

The message is simple. If Americans cannot agree on a common set of unifying ideas, then it is just another multi-ethnic empire. Aside from that, there are many minor themes.

How much of the book is realistic?

All of it—that’s the intent, anyway! As I said, I took a great deal of inspiration for what a war in America would look like from the Bosnian War of the 1990s. This was a war between conservative and liberal, between ethnicities, between urban and rural. Most of the combatants were average people motivated to fight either out of resentment and demonization of their countrymen, or out of desperate self defense. In a war like this, everybody fights, and nobody wins.

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

I’m on Facebook and Twitter, and I have a blog at www.CraigDiLouie.com. At my blog, I review a lot of interesting books, movies, and TV shows.

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

OUR WAR is a standalone novel, though of course there is potential to continue the story, if enough readers want to read it.

My next novel is about a group of people who grew up in an apocalyptic cult and survived its horrific last days, and who reunite to confront the past and the entity that appeared on the final night. This novel is about trauma, memory, belonging, and faith.

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

I grew to love all the characters in OUR WAR, but my favorite is Hannah, a girl who joins a local militia after everything has been taken from her. Forced to grow up fast, she accepts her new cause and family and fights for them. In the end, she must learn to fight for herself if she wants to survive the war’s aftermath. Her story is heart-wrenching, relatable, and hopeful.

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

For me, genre is what the story needs, not what I need. My job as the author is to tell a good story. That being said, some genres allow you to do more interesting things. OUR WAR is a straight-up literary thriller. Otherwise, I’ve written sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, which allow me to play with a fantastic element. Horror is particularly fun because you can really push boundaries and entice the reader to consider uncomfortable truths.

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

Both, in that I outline the major plot points so I always know where I’m going. During writing, there is a process of discovery between the plot points, where the story and characters tell me what they want to do.

What is your best marketing tip?

Write the absolute best book you can write. Nothing sells a book better than a good book that resonates.

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

I use social media primarily to network with other writers. It’s been invaluable for that. I also connect with fans. I think it’s very hard to get new readers on social media these days unless you dedicate a lot of time and energy to developing a certain persona and flogging it. I’d rather my books speak for themselves, while remaining accessible and responsive as an author.

Bio:

Craig DiLouie is an acclaimed American-Canadian author of literary dark fantasy and other fiction. Formerly a magazine editor and advertising executive, he also works as a journalist and educator covering the North American lighting industry. His fiction has been nominated for major awards, optioned for screen, and published in multiple languages. He is a member of the Imaginative Fiction Writers Association, International Thriller Writers, and the Horror Writers Association. He lives in Calgary, Canada with his two wonderful children.

Please check out Craig’s Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Craig-DiLouie/e/B001JS1SCQ

Author Interview – Catherine Saykaly-Stevens

August 6, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

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What inspired your latest novel?

This time around, I’m writing a screenplay. I see a new space opening up in Transformation/ Transformation thrillers. The inciting idea was watching a young man open his 23ANDme results and discovering that he was not related to either parent or his siblings.

How did you come up with the title?            

Serf, in early Christian times ignorant and powerless French peasants worked the land, handing most of their hard earned labours to the local Lord. 

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

When change happens slowly people don’t necessarily notice it until it’s happened. Politicians are corrupt, and groups of young adults attempt to publically prove the consequence of a bad political decision can be overturned. They captures the unwanted government attention, just as they are about to graduate.

  • Anyone can capture anyone’s attention.
  • Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
  • It only takes one action to start a movement.

How much of the book is realistic?

It’s based on our normal North American history, but where one political decision made 4 years earlier launched a new direction, and how one privileged young man searches for answer to a personal dilemma in this new political environment.

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

They are completely fictitious and living in my head.

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

I have a digital marketing Blog on my Website: TheNetworkingWeb.com
Connect with me: LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook1 | Facebook2 | Instagram | YouTube (launching April)

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

This one is written specifically for the Netflix 5-year Series.  No other sequel, but the books will spawn 2 more from the same Story World.
So far, I have over 200 story outlines. My biggest problem isn’t coming up with ideas; it’s finding the time to write and to STICK TO and FINISH 1 story.

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

Honestly, I don’t have favorites. Each has their uniqueness, secrets, and quirks. I just jump from brain to brain when the moment calls.

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

Mystery, missing persons, and thrillers have always been my favourites.  Today I see the transformational writing space opening up and am interested in producing transformational thrillers.
Curious? The Matrix is one.

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

I used to be a seat of the pants style writer. Now I outline EVERYTHING to develop intriguing layers first, to ensure that it works. (Fiction) In business writing, you plan everything.

What is your best marketing tip?

It takes MONTH’s to launch a book properly.
Use your book as a tool to get interviews, lots of them!

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

Good question, as a digital marketing expert, social media could very well be the most disruptive tool ever seen, or when used effective, they greatest tool to grow your audience and sell more books, attend more conferences, and to maybe get a movie deal.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS

What do you enjoy most about writing?

It’s cathartic. It’s my outlet. It lets me release the ideas in my head.

What age did you start writing stories/poems?

Maybe 6. I may have rewritten my cartoon to run stories the way I wanted them to turn out. Fan Fiction circa @1983

Has your genre changed or stayed the same?

I’ve always writing the mysteries/missing person thrillers in fiction.
For work, because social media and digital marking is ALWAYS changing, I’ve had to rewrite old books and keep putting out new ones. That’s why they are never in print.

What genre are you currently reading?

Thrillers, mystery, crime, Psychological drama’s in fiction – business and marketing books and biographies in non-fiction and biz.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both?

I use to read far more for pleasure, not I read mostly for work.

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?

My brother from another mother. We are each other’s biggest content creation supporters.

Where is your favorite writing space?

Comfortable bustling coffee shops where I don’t know anyone.

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

I used to belong to Inklings until a few years back, most crime writing, but not for a few years.
I belong to one of the many #12WeekYear now, for HIGH productivity

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

Two come to mind: For science and for decades I’ve always wanted to meet James Burke. These days, I’d love to interview Malcolm Gladwell.

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

I am partially connected to many cities. I’d like to live a winter to WRITE in Prague, Florence, or Seville, or most other locations where old cobble stone roads are the norm, little watering holes has people speaking English as a second language and the locals LOVE to share their stories, history, and folklore.

Do you see writing as a career?

Absolutely. For work, I regularly produce technical writing, copy writing, blogs, articles, even copy for explainer videos. For myself, I write Novels, Outlines and Screenplays.

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

I drink as I write all day; coffee mostly, then water, a specialty soda is a treat.

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?

Start the next project. No rest for the wicked

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TITLE:  Online Research Paths: Fake or Real?

Once the internet became available to the masses, new opportunities to collect and post data fueled new research.

However, not all information online is true. Still, there are many rich information resources to collect information, post queries to request information, and apply listening tools to seek information not yet posted. There is truly no limit.

How can you use this great online resource to your advantage yet not waste value time?

This interactive class explores online search methods, queries, and untapped resources.
Catherine invites you to bring your search queries, mobile devices, and questions.

Ask a Question Thursday

August 1, 2019
mandyevebarnett


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For those of you with school age children/grandchildren – are you celebrating having the house to yourself after the summer holiday/vacation? Do you plunge right back into your current manuscript or have some downtime to refresh?

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Last week’s question: Do you incorporate politics and/or religion into your stories? What is the reason?

Mandy Eve-Barnett

 

I have used a matriarchal society in my novel, Life in Slake Patch as the background to a young man’s life in that regime. It was interesting to write about the influences and attitudes of a different society. In contrast my novel, The Twesome Loop, which covers two time periods, shows the patriarchal suppression in the 1800’s.

 

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If you have a suggestion for a question please let me know.

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