Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Author Interview – Kathie Sutherland

December 22, 2022
mandyevebarnett


As a poet and a writer, which format do you enjoy writing the most?

Poetry has always been my favourite format. Playing with words in a creative way helps me choose words to express abstract ideas. Because words have nuances and “halos” its important to make clear connections between the words and the feelings behind them. For me, the process of writing, whether poetry or prose involves feelings. For this reason, my Roget’s Thesaurus is a very useful reference book.

If others can relate to what I’m saying or are inspired by my words, I know the meaning has come through. Its comforting to know that someone else feels as I do. Poetry reveals parts of me that might otherwise remain hidden and that gives me courage to reveal my inner self and I can then be true to my values and integrity. When I feel connected to others and to nature, poetry reveals beauty. For me, its essential to be amazed.

Why is metaphor important to you?

Some people are literal minded and think in black and white whereas others colour their worlds with metaphor. This tool of the imagination affects how I see and respond to the world and how I interact with others. Metaphor can bring clarity in communication between people with opposite viewpoints because it expresses a relationship between things and ideas. For example, when my husband and I have difficulty finding common ground, we are able to access mutual understanding in a way that we cannot otherwise. Metaphor offers a big picture perspective. Colourful language creates mental imagery that boosts insight into feelings. Because perspective is so important to me, looking through the lens of metaphor provides a powerful source of soul wisdom for sharing my world.

Was the transition from poetry to fiction writing difficult?

The transition was not difficult but was freeing. A few years ago, when I attended a life writing class to find material for poetry, I wasn’t very confident in my ability to write prose. When I began telling stories about my family history and my childhood, the switch to prose opened a new world to me. I realized I had a unique story and I could share it with others.

How do you choose which format to write in, once an idea forms?

Prose lends itself to the concrete and poetry to the nebulous. I use poetic language in my prose as it creates imagery and is often a way to express difficult situations or emotions, whether my own or someone else’s experience. For me, the two formats are intertwined. I love the threads connecting all aspects of my being: physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. One of the big differences between writing poetry on demand using a prompt and writing prose from a prompt is that poetry come from inspiration. Prose doesn’t necessarily do that and when it comes from my imagination, is becomes fiction.

What inspired you to write a memoir fiction novel?

One of the effects of the constant moving experienced by children who do not have long lasting connection to people and community influenced my access to memory. I took the events that I did remember and built stories around them to make sense of them and find meaning in my life. I had written lot of short pieces and the best format seemed to be a novel-in-short-stories in which I created individual stories based on real experience. Each of the stories could stand alone, but the reading of them in sequence enhanced the whole story as a novel would.

Where did the ideas come from for your children’s books?

My 96-year-old mother is a great storyteller and she relishes family tales about her children. “Not My Daddy” was created from one of her stories about watching for my father as soldiers in identical uniforms got off a bus. “Naughty Alice” is also a story from my childhood. The delightful child in this story is my own Inner Child who wanted to help her Grammie tailor a new coat. The third book “Grandma’s Big, Big Backyard” was created to record the experience of my own grandchildren playing in the backyard.

How important is connection with other writers for you?

Being part of a community of writers allows me to share my writing experience and ideas with others. I enjoy encouraging other writers with positive feedback and constructive criticism. Because writing is a solitary activity, having a community of others who understand the challenges of the writing life is essential. Everyone who writes has something to share with the world and we all need connection to be our best.

Do you have a writing space – describe it.

We recently purchased a ground floor condo with two bedrooms and a study and I was excited to make the study my own. My first priority was to purchase a new desk, repurposed a credenza for storage and utilized an antique china cabinet to display my books and special keepsakes. I love the light that pours in through the frosted glass French doors. I’ve put up all my favourite pictures and made the space my own.

What message do you wish to convey to your readers?

The stories we tell ourselves shape our lives and what we believe about the world. As poet Edith Sodergran once said, “…poetry is a way to me.” All of my writing has been the way to me. I’ve spent my whole writing life searching for this person who is me and I want my readers to know that writing is a wonderful way to discover who you really are.  

Where can readers find you and your work?

Please look for books by Kathie Sutherland on Amazon.ca or visit my Facebook page Kathie Sutherland Author. All of my books are available from me directly. Contact me at kathiesutherland@shaw.ca or sutherlandkatherinem@gmail.com. My publisher Dream Write Publishing from Sherwood Park, Alberta also sells my books. https://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca/ Many of my books are part of the local author library collections at Strathcona County and Fort Saskatchewan Public Libraries.

Bio:

Kathie Sutherland is a mature, observant student of life who is retired and lives in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta with her husband of 42 years. She has two fiercely independent adult daughters, and two adult grandchildren. A Canadian by birth, she celebrates differences in culture, outlook and lifestyle, and appreciates the benefits of living in other parts of Canada and beyond. Her love affair with language is lifelong, and her unique narrative voice infuses all her writing with authenticity.

Over the past 30 years Kathie Sutherland has written poetry, personal essay, fairy tale, a true events autobiographical novel and three children’s books. Her love of words and their “halos” fanned the flame of her desire to understand the profound and lasting effects of her childhood in a constantly moving Canadian military family through personal journaling, continued learning and reflection. She believes that loss and loneliness can be transformed into love and connection by writing short life stories rich in life wisdom. Recently, she has given voice to her playful side in her based-on-real-events children’s books.

Kathie Sutherland is involved in two local writing groups and fully enjoys encouraging others in their writing projects. She also leads a reminiscence group at a local seniors lodge, helps others write legacy letters at the end of life, as well as being active in a local church community. She enjoys aquafit, pastel painting and travel to interesting places.

Author Interview – Verna McKinnon

November 10, 2022
mandyevebarnett


It is my pleasure to welcome back a fellow author to my blog. Verna has been here before, but today we celebrate her newest novel, The Bastard Sorceress.

Since your last interview, how has your writing life changed?
I’ve learned to go with the flow. I’ve survived and found new publishers for my fantasy novels when my
previous publishers stopped publishing. It’s happened to me more than once too! But I’ve been lucky to
find new publishers willing to take me on. It’s a tough business, and small presses suffer the most.
Other than that, I’m still a mad writer who drinks pots of tea and keeps a package of emergency cookies
on hand when I create my tales. I’m focused in details of story, world, and characters. I put together
book bibles for each novel that are very detailed about every aspect of story, world, and people in in. I
still have plans on becoming the next princess of heroic fantasy. Just give me time.


What have you learned about your craft of writing?
I learned I have a knack for three things-creating good dialogue, great characters, and giving my
characters good names. It’s a gift I’m grateful for.


Would you ever write in another genre?
I love fantasy, but would love to dive into science fiction, especially some space opera.


What inspired you to write about Sabine Fable in your latest novel?
A new character I’ve never done before. I love my heroines, and they always lead my tales. With Sabine
Fable, I wanted to explore a character who suffered a rough home life and poverty, but was determined
to rise above what society dictated. I added real human elements in this tale of magic, and created flesh
and blood characters with more depth.


What characteristics does she have that make her a force to be reckoned with?

A tough upbringing can make a tough character. Her heart is good, but she is fierce and protective of
those she loves. She does not trust easily. She champions the underdog because she is one of them. Her
family once had magic, but mage fever took that away. She was a bastard, and judged for her low birth.
Magic is currency in her world, and mages rule. Even humble charm caste has respect. She had none.
Sabine is hungry for more than magic. She wants justice and to be treated with respect. She wants
people to see her. And yet she would never betray a friend or family member for what she desires.


Which author would you most like to meet and why?

There are so many! Many of my favorites have passed (Ray Bradbury, Tanith Lee, Robert E. Howard,
Patricia McKillip). Neil Gaiman is one of many on my list. I did have the joy of meeting Tanya Huff (so
awesome), Kevin J., Anderson, and the great Larry Niven at conventions. I would love to meet Jennifer
Roberson someday. At least she is my Facebook friend. As are you, Mandy.


With several series of books, are you planning more?
Yes, but with publishers rising and falling around me over the years, I plan to be more careful. Even if I
plan a series, I will do each novel as a stand-alone. I am working on the second novel to Bardess of
Rhulon, called War Poet. But I am writing my novels from that perspective.

Has a movie or TV show inspired any of your stories?
Some of the actors in favorite shows or movies I may be inspired by. Some of my characters are drawn
from well-known actors.


What aspect of writing do you like the most?

The power to create my own worlds and stories. Yes, I am a goddess who rules her worlds.

Where can readers find your books?
Amazon has all my novels, available in both print and Kindle. My books are also on Barnes& Noble
online. And my new publisher (for Bardess of Rhulon & The Bastard Sorceress) TANSTAAFL Press.

Bio:

Verna McKinnon is a fantasy author of adventurous heroines. She is the author of the novels, The Bastard Sorceress, The Bardess of Rhulon, Gate of Souls & Tree of Bones. Fantasy is her genre of choice, though she has some science fiction in the works. Check in with her at her website. You can also read some of her previously published short stories at her website http:// vernamckinnon.com. Stay in touch by subscribing to email list at http://vernamckinnon.com/newsletter.html for her quarterly newsletter for news & updates. Follow Verna on Instagram @ vernamckinnon.author & Facebook for the latest on her writing life as a fantasy author, animal lover, and how she stays sane despite the odds. Chocolate helps.

Creative Edge Author Interview – Shannon Felton

October 20, 2022
mandyevebarnett


  1. What drew you to horror and paranormal themes in your stories?

The main reason is that horror is so fun to write! Remember telling ghost stories at slumber parties to spook your friends, until you’re all squealing with fear and laughter and don’t want to go to the bathroom alone? It’s an adventure! Horror gets the adrenaline pumping and the nerves tingling, and I love trying to craft a story that does that for others.  

Secondly, I’m a catastrophic thinker. Probably because I’m a mom, but we can’t go anywhere without me thinking, “Okay, what’s the worst thing that could happen here? How could we all die?” I’ve tried to write other genres but that type of thinking turns a sweet romantic scene into an axe-murderer horror. 

Thirdly, I find that Horror provides us with the ability to explore and process real-life trauma whether in a monster-as-metaphor sense or just through actual real-life scenarios. I think that’s the beauty of the genre for me.

2.     Are there elements you feel are required in this genre?

Anticipation. Survival. Mystery. 

No matter what the threat is—supernatural, alien, slasher—the reader needs to feel a sense of anticipation. Suspense needs to build scene after scene. 

There also needs to be real stakes. People could die, vanish into the void, etc. Horror isn’t scary if nothing bad actually happens to people. 

We also fear what we don’t know, so there needs to be a sense of mystery about the threat and the events taking place. That’s actually one of the hardest parts of reading or writing horror. In the ending, when the monster becomes known, it can feel like a bit of a letdown. Once we know what we face, it’s not quite as scary. Michael wears a mask for a reason.

3.     Where do you find your ideas?

I spent my teen years in a small town that, like most small towns, was full of urban legends and ghosts. Probably because there wasn’t much to do there but go out into the boonies and scare ourselves. A lot of my writing is based on those stories and experiences, just in a very exaggerated way. 

I’m also a total fraidy-cat. Driving down the road at night, I can get freaked out by something on the side of the road only for it be an electrical box. Moments like that will wind up in a story, though it won’t be an electrical box in the end! 

4.     Why is Halloween so special to you?

My daughter and I were talking about this just the other day and she said it’s her favorite holiday because you never outgrow the magic of Halloween. Which is very true! We all outgrow Santa, Easter is a drag after a few years, but no matter what age you are, spooks and haunts and killers can still scare you. And there’s just something in the air at fall! A spooky, creepy feeling in the change of weather and the crackling of leaves and the days getting shorter. The world feels different, like anything could happen. It’s a good time to light some candles, watch a scary movie, and cuddle up at home. 

 5.     Can you tell us a little about The Prisoner of Stewartville – its inception and creation.

My mom started a job in HR for the Federal prisons here in Arizona when I was twelve. Soon after, we attended a Company Day picnic at the actual prison, and I’ll never forget how weird it was to be barbecuing hot dogs and playing tag while prisoners walked along the perimeter of the fence twenty yards away. Little pitchers also have big ears and over time I picked up on bits and pieces of work conversations that were horrifying. Later we moved to a much smaller town where prison did feel like a larger part of our everyday life and when I visited there again a few years ago, I just knew I had to write about it. Of course, the actual town was nowhere near as bad as Stewartville, but that’s the fun of horror! 

6.     Where is your special writing space?

I write on my phone, so anywhere and everywhere. On the couch while we watch TV, in bed, out on the patio, while I’m waiting in the school pick up line. In the middle of cooking, if a great idea for a scene comes to me. 

7.     Which authors have influenced you the most?

Oh wow, so many. The other day my husband and I actually stumbled on the movie Communion with Christopher Walken and almost simultaneously we both freaked out, like, “Omigod! I remember reading that book as a kid! It was terrifying!” And then we had a long conversation about the books we had to hide when we went to bed like Amityville Horror, It. 

Having read all my life, the list went back a long way. I mean, my writing is still influenced by the Sweet Valley Twins Halloween specials I read as a kid. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, R.L Stine’s Fear Street. Stephen King. One of my absolute favorite literary ghost stories is Toni Morrison’s Beloved and I do hope my stories have some of that literary element to where reality can feel just as impactful as the supernatural. 

That’s the great thing about good horror, though. It all influences you. 

8. Are you working on a new project? Can you reveal anything about it?

I’m currently working on a companion novel to Prisoners of Stewartville. I can reveal that the POV is that of a minor character in the last book, and that we’ll see what happened to a fan favorite whose fate wasn’t shown at the end of the original. 

9.     Do you prefer to write a stand-a-lone novel or a series? Why?

I realized recently that I like to tell stories that happen within the Stewartville universe. Devil’s Dip, a short story of mine that appeared in Midnight in the Graveyard anthology, was about a character who had grown up in Stewartville, though the story itself didn’t take place there. 

10.  How can readers find you?

I’m not as good about social media as I should be, but I do post occasionally on Twitter at @ShannonNova3 ! 

Bio:

Shannon Felton lives in Buckeye, Arizona with her husband, their four children, and three dogs. The Prisoners of Stewartville is her debut novella. Follow her on Twitter @ShannonNova3

P.S. You can find Shannon’s stories in several anthologies as well.

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Author Interview J.E. McKnight

September 22, 2022
mandyevebarnett


You have written many novels, and most are time travel or sci-fi – what drew you to this specific type of genre?

The easiest answer to this is to say that I was inspired by my love for Back to the Future that I saw at the drive-in theater with my parents in 1985. It is my all-time favourite movie and gave me my love of time travel, which also extended to science fiction in general.

Do your story ideas come easily, or do they develop over time?

Some of them come easy while others take quite a bit of time. Initial ideas come pretty easy. I’ll hear somebody say something or I’ll be listening to a song and that sparks an idea. My ideas come from many different places. It seems I always have ideas coming. I have a list for NaNoWriMo up until 2028.

What is your writing process?

I usually just sit down and write. I’ll come up with an idea and I may take a few notes, but I don’t do a lot of plotting. I prefer to just write and figure things out in editing.

Do you have future projects pending?

I have two projects in editing right now and another one ready for editing, but I’m honestly not sure what I’m doing with that one. I also have the previous year’s NaNoWriMo project that needs to be completed. I unfortunately did not meet my goal.

You are attending a book fair event on 24th September, can you tell us about it?

Yes. Words in the Park is held in Sherwood Park in the Strathcona Community Center’s Agora Room from 9 am – 4 pm on Saturday. I’m really looking forward to it. This is the first live event for Words in the Park that we’ve had for 2 years. There are going to be around 30 artisans, and authors in attendance. There is going to be lots to do for all ages.

Tell us a little about your most recent published books?

Virtual Age

What inspired your novel Virtual Age?

I’ve always liked the idea of virtual reality. I can’t think of any one thing that inspired the idea. As for the title, I came up with that at work. I work as a commercial pipe insulator and I remember being on a job and I had to wait for material as it hadn’t been delivered yet. As I was waiting, I took notes on the different ages from history – dark ages, iron age, computer age, etc. – and I ended up using that list in the book.

Do you think this format could become real?

I wouldn’t be surprised. I hope it doesn’t come to the point where it becomes a necessity for survival as the world dies but, as far as the technology is concerned, we are becoming more and more advanced as the years go on. Today VR is impressively advanced; maybe one day we’ll get to step into these computer worlds rather than just have images coming at you.

Would there be dangers to being immersed in such a ‘world’?

I could only imagine the dangers that would be involved with immersing your mind into a computer. I included some of the dangers, in my novel, I figured would be relevant in this scenario.

Does your narrative have a message for your readers?

 In most of my books I include the message of acceptance and trust – accepting people for who they are and trusting people until they give you a real reason not to. Don’t judge someone before you get to know them.

Last Stop

When did this story idea come to you?

I’ve had this idea for years. I don’t know exactly when I came up with it. All I know is I heard the Journey song Don’t Stop Believing. There’s a line in the song about a couple meeting on a midnight train. I loved that idea and it spawned from there.

Do you believe in ghosts?

I am intrigued by the idea of ghosts. I have not had any experiences with ghosts and am kind of skeptical. I think if something has happened or were to happen, I would try to explain it away logically. Though, I hope there is something out there.

Why did you base the novel in Edmonton’s LRT system?

I based the novel in Edmonton because I love where I live and, because I live here, it’s easier to write what you know. I chose the LRT system because it perfectly met with my initial inspiration of the couple meeting on a midnight train.

Hello Baby, Nice to Meet You!

Why did you write this story?

I have always wanted to write a children’s book. I have had other ideas in my head in the past but then, when my sister announced she was pregnant, I had an idea to write a book for her child. The title of the story was going to be for a very different story. In that one it was going to be about a father trying to get to the hospital in time to see his wife have his baby. I chose to change the idea as I thought a book about animals would appeal more to kids.

Did you base the characters and location on personal experience?

It’s not about anyone or any place in particular. I did grow up on a farm but, by the time I came around, my parents had gotten rid of most of the animals. We did have cats, a rabbit at one point, and a bunch of laying chickens. I wanted to expand a little bit on what I knew, and chose the animals for the book that would be different enough from each other to be interesting. I could have done more, but I needed to draw a line somewhere.

What advantages does this story have for parents as well as children?

For parents it’s easy to read and there really aren’t a lot of pages, so if their child has a short attention span it’s great for that. For kids I included bits of trivia for them to learn from. Also, the kids will enjoy the brightly coloured illustrations of the fun animals and their young.

Who was the illustrator?

I illustrated it. This is the second full-coloured illustrated kids book I illustrated, but this is the first one I had both written and illustrated.

Creative Edge Author Interview – Rachael Tamayo

September 15, 2022
mandyevebarnett


What drew you to thrillers and suspense as genres?

I have always loved thrillers, suspense, and mysteries. I remember watching shows like Cadfael with my mom when it came on Masterpiece Theater when I was growing up. I suppose I got it from her. She always had a love of mysteries. I’ve tried my hand by this point in multiple genres, and thriller is hands down my favorite. I can make it as light or as dark as I like, there is no formula, and I make my own rules when it comes to my story. I found that I thrive here and plan to stay! 

Why did you switch from romance?

I wrote romance first because quite frankly, I was afraid to try writing a thriller. They seem so much harder, more daunting, and difficult to line out when you compare them to something formulated like romance. After my first few books, I got brave and tried my hand at it, writing Crazy Love, my romantic thriller crossover novel that launched me into the darkness where I reside happily now deep in the depths of thrillerdom. I was never comfortable writing romance, it just wasn’t me. 

Would you write a standalone novel? What would your chosen genre be?

I have written a few of them, actually. Lucifer’s Game, Crazy Love, and my current work in progress is a stand-alone thriller that’s only weeks away from being put lovingly into my agent’s capable hands. My new book is a dark psychological thriller, but it is not a Deadly Sins novel. 

Do you have a favorite character in your series and, if so, who and why?

Men are my favorite characters to dig into and write. I wish I could tell you why, but I don’t know. I think to date, my favorite one to write was Cain, in the Deadly Sins novel, Break My Bones. He was so layered and complex, and his motivations were fun for me to explore. His twisted history and relationships and how things ended up for him when his real heart was revealed. He’s a bad guy, but in the end, you almost understand him. I loved writing his story. 

Did any 911 calls you received while working, give you ideas for your stories?

Absolutely! The reactions and actions of callers that I spoke to, the effects it must have had on their lives and loved ones- whatever they might have been going through that day, it all makes the gears in my mind turn. Not to mention the mental illness we dealt with on a daily basis in callers. I’ve had some chilling and strange phone calls that I use as seed when  I create the mental illnesses that I write into some of my characters. 

Is there a central message within your stories?

No one is all good- or bad. As you get deeper into the stories you see the layers of the characters and realize that the “good guy” or victim in the tale might not be so good. Did they deserve it? Are they the cause of what’s happening to them? And the bad guy, just what was it that made them bad? It’s one of my favorite things to do when I create new characters. 

Tell us a little about the relaunch of Crazy Love. What was the impetus?

Honestly, it was my publicist’s idea when I told him that we got the book a new cover for the five-year anniversary. I thought it was a great idea, the new cover is gorgeous, and the book was the one that launched me to where I am today. Crazy Love was fun to write, and it’s one of my favorite stories to date. 

What is your writing process? A daily routine or a looser schedule?

I’m all over the place. This book I’m wrapping up now took me about a year, longer than anything I’ve ever done because I can’t force myself to write when I’m not in the right frame of mind. God bless those authors that can do that, I, however, cannot. I do my best work by waiting it out, as frustrating as it is. But I don’t have a method or writing area, I can write whenever, wherever I feel the need. 

Where can readers find you?

Check out my website: www.rachaeltamayowrites.com

I’m also on facebook

Twitter–https://twitter.com/rtamayo2004

Tiktok https://www.tiktok.com/@rachaeltamayowrites

CRAZY LOVE
The relaunch of the critically acclaimed novel by award-winning novel, Rachael Tamayo

A rich and well-respected man teetering on the brink of sanity. A beautiful young woman that thinks it’s a harmless crush. An obsession for a stranger will push a man to the brink of madness and force a woman to rethink everything she took for granted as safe. By the time she realizes what has really happened, it just might be too late. Top 10 finisher in the 2018 Greenlight Screenplay Adaptation Contest.

Amazon.com: Amazon.com: Crazy Love (Audible Audio Edition): Rachael Tamayo, Erik Anders, Foster Embry Publishing, LLC: Audible Books & Originals
Amazon.ca: Crazy Love eBook : Tamayo, Rachael: Amazon.ca: Kindle Store

Other Books by Rachael Tamayo:

BIO:

Rachael Tamayo is a former 911 emergency operator and police dispatcher.  After twelve years in those dark depths, she’s gained a unique insight into mental illness, human behavior, and the general darkness of humanity that she likes to weave into her books.  A formerly exclusive romance author tried her hand at thrillers in her award-winning novel, Crazy Love, and loved it so much that she decided not to turn back. Born and raised in Texas, Rachael lives in the Houston area with her husband of sixteen years, and their two small children.   

Links:

author email: rtamayo@rachaeltamayowrites.com 

facebook page https://www.facebook.com/RachaelTamayowrites

facebook fan page https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheRTAsylum

twitter https://twitter.com/rtamayo2004

amazon https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01HC2VZ0C

goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15251093.Rachael_Tamayo

bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/profile/rachael-tamayo

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