Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Creative Edge – Author Interview – Tricia Silverman

December 31, 2020
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  1. What motivated you to write this book?

I wrote this book as a way to help people beyond what I share in a one-hour seminar or coaching session. The book takes a deeper dive into so many areas of nutrition and wellness. I have been a dietitian for over 24 years, and have a lot of nutrition tips and stories to share. Other books have motivated me to write my own. The Blue Zones books by Dan Buettner give wellness tips, along with vivid stories of his visits to some of the oldest and healthiest people in the world. I am fascinated by longevity, and when I read my first Blue Zones book, I loved that the book wasn’t just telling you what to do. The helpful wellness tips were woven into the stories that were shared. In my book, I wrote about a 102 year old man who is still driving and enjoying life. Another story is about a man I met who is now 98 and is still cooking for his daughter. When I first met him after a seminar I presented at a senior center, he appeared to be in his low 80’s, if not younger. I found out he was 95 at the time, and it was a surreal moment. I was just finishing up doing a presentation on the Mediterranean diet, and here in front of me was a living example of how this way of eating and living surely does lend itself to longevity. We have become friends. I’ve called him periodically during the Covid shutdowns to make sure he is okay, and we have exchanged fun gifts for holidays and birthdays. His friendship is the best gift of all. My mission is to learn and then share what I’ve learned in fun and meaningful ways to help others improve their lives. My book is one way to do this.

  • Is there a specific age group the book is geared towards?

I had adults in mind when I wrote the book. I have noticed that the book especially resonates for those 50 and up.

  • Do you feel nutrition should be taught in all grades of schools?

The first review of my book that came in mentioned how the information should be shared in schools. I wholeheartedly agree that nutrition should be taught in schools and for all grades. When I worked in school food service, I applied for grants that provided nutrition education in creative ways. One way was that I arranged for an entire elementary school grade to go on a hike, with healthy lunch provided, plus a nutrition talk for the kids during the day. Another way was to have a chef join the school food service staff to promote healthy meals to teenagers. I think that nutrition can be fun and taught in creative ways that appeal to all ages. I always liked show-and-tell as a kid, and my model of teaching for adults is show-and-tell model. I use lots of props and fun demonstrations. My virtual seminars have been a hit, as I have shown a lot of shocking things that make people think about their food consumption, such as all the sugar in one seasonal frozen coffee drink. It has more sugar than an entire container of ice cream!

  • Can you share a tip on how to eat a balanced diet?

I developed a plate to emphasize balance. It’s based on studying what people eat across the world to stay healthy. I call it the NuTricia’s Plate. See the graphic below. Half of the plate is vegetables. A great way to mimic this plate is to make sure that you vegetables cover half of your plate at lunch and dinner, and hopefully some vegetables during snacks, and maybe even breakfast, too. A quarter of your plate should be a small portion of healthy starchy carbohydrates such as whole grains (for example, brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat pasta), or potatoes, or corn. A quarter of the plate should be a protein rich food such as beans, fish, chicken, or turkey. People should consider having at least 3 small servings of fruit a day, and healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados, and extra virgin olive oil as parts of meals and snacks. Water should be consumed throughout the day.

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  1. How can someone with physical restrictions improve their movement?

If you have physical restrictions, then focus on what you can do. Ask your doctor for guidance, and see a physical therapist. Physical therapists can help solve or lessen many pain problems. They are such a great resource. I have gone through many rounds of physical therapy over the years for different injuries and conditions, and some of the results have been pretty miraculous! Focusing on what you can do can have huge positive mental and physical benefits. Many fantastic exercises stretching and strengthening exercises can be done from a chair.

6.     Did your parents encourage your healthy lifestyle? Somewhat. There was the good the bad, and the downright ugly. The good was that there were lots of health books and magazines around the house, and my mom made very balanced dinners. The bad was that the lunches I brought to school were often cold cut sandwiches on white rolls with no veggies or fruit. The ugly was that my family would have weekend “pig-outs” (junk food binges) that I think was at the root of my overweight status as a kid.

7.     Who are your health gurus? I have several. Deepak Chopra kicked off my love of meditation. He periodically offers free 21-day meditation programs that are a fantastic way to implement or sustain a meditation habit. Dr. Andrew Weil’s book 8 Weeks to Optimum Health was very eye-opening to me. Elian Haan is a mind/body/trauma coach who teaches yoga and tai-chi at an addiction facility. I met her at an SCW Fitness Conference and have learned so much from her about the healing effects of mindfulness and mindful movement. Dr. Walt Willet is one of my favorite nutritionists. I love what I learned in the books, Healthy at 100 by John Robbins, and the China Study by T. Colin Campbell. These books have become guiding lights for me.

8.     What part of your background do you feel had the biggest impact on your life? My dad’s work ethic and the Mediterranean way of living that my grandparents role modeled. My dad is an entrepreneur and a serial hard worker. My dad has been working long hours each day, mostly 7 days a week for over 50 years. Through his example, I learned that hard work pays off. I also learned key business skills that have helped me in my own entrepreneurial journey. My grandparents grew fruit in their yard, and went shopping almost daily for fresh vegetables. There were salads and raw veggies on the table at the beginning of the meal followed by tasty meals that included greens such as spinach and broccoli rabe sautéed in garlic and extra virgin olive oil.

9.     Is there an age limit to creating a healthy lifestyle?

Never. it’s never too late to change your habits. Life is one long learning opportunity. There’s always room for learning and change.

10.  What do you do to relax?

During the times of the Covid shutdowns, meditation has helped me tremendously. My favorite meditation app is Insight Timer. I use it a lot. It has helped me gain focus and improve my productivity, as well as helped me enhance my mood, and deal with stress. I have been working on earning my yoga certification over the last year, and learning new-to-me yoga poses has been invaluable. Two of my favorite poses are corpse pose (also known as shavasana—it’s when you are lying down at the end of a yoga session) or legs up the wall. Legs up the wall is what is sounds like. You are lying down on the floor, and your legs are resting up against a wall. I feel especially relaxed after doing this pose, and that effect lasts for hours.

11.  Are you planning on writing anther book?

Yes, I have a lot of books in me, and will be focusing on the creative process over the next few weeks to get the next book moving along. It’s important to schedule creative days in your calendar. I have a few coming up, and am looking forward to it.

12.  Is there a message you would like to send to your readers? Put the past behind you and make healthy choices going forward. Ruminating about the past can get in your way. Dream about your future, and create a vision of where you want to be, then live in the NOW. Make good choices in the NOW, to achieve your vision of the future

13.  Where can readers find your book? My book, Healthy Dividends: Investments in Nutrition, Movement, and Healthy Habits that Pay Off can be found on Amazon.

14.  Do you have a blog? Yes, my blog can be found at www.triciasilverman.com/blog

Additionally, people can find me on social media at:

www.triciasilverman.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tricia.silverman

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/triciasilverman/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TriciaSilverman?lang=en

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/tricia-silverman-rd-ldn-mba-b8757811

Bio:

Tricia has been a fitness and nutrition enthusiast, since she was a child. She is a registered and licensed dietitian, certified wellness coach, fitness instructor (certified as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor), and smoking cessation facilitator.She graduated with Summa Cum Laude honors with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Dietetics from the State University of New York and completed her dietetic internship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She graduated with honors from the Babson College MBA program.

She has extensive nutrition education experience including time spent as the director of nutrition for the prestigious Canyon Ranch Health Resort in the Berkshires. During her employment at Boston Public Schools, she taught nutrition and was responsible for the operations of over 20 school nutrition meal sites which employed over 100 people. Her vast school nutrition experience also includes three years as the director of food services at Watertown Public Schools where she was responsible for operations and developed and implemented innovative nutrition education opportunities for the students. She has been educating clients and groups through her business for many years.

Creative Edge – Author Interview – Liz Butcher

November 26, 2020
mandyevebarnett


What drew you to the paranormal genre?

            I’ve held a fascination for all things paranormal, ever since I was a little girl. So, once I knew I wanted to pursue writing it was a natural fit for me to right in the horror/dark fantasy/speculative fiction genres.

Did writing for anthologies aid your writing style?

            Absolutely! When you’re given specific word limits to adhere to, it teaches you to write concisely which I found a great skill to have once I moved forward with my novels.

Did you find the switch from short stories to novel length challenging?

            Not at all, though they are certainly different. With novels you need to make sure there’s a lot more fleshing out of the characters/places etc.

What inspired your debut novel, Fates’ Fury?

            I’m not sure when the idea first came to me. It wasn’t an ‘ah ha!’ moment, but more like an idea that simmered beneath the surface for awhile. It was in 2012, when there was a lot of talk of the Mayan Calendar, and it got me thinking about what would the ancients think if they could see us now?

Can you tell us about the story behind Fates’ Fury creation?

            Essentially, the Fates’ have decided enough is enough and mankind have to go. They start killing people off as they hunt for the Tablet of Destinies, which will allow them to eradicate us for good. Three friends, Jonah, Tristan and Ava find themselves in the middle of it all, when they each have increasingly strange encounters before they’re approached by a man in the middle of a thunderstorm claiming he’s Zeus. He tells them of an Alliance of ancient gods and goddess prepared to help fight against the Fates. Yet the Fates are more powerful than man the gods combined…

Your follow up novel Leroux Manor is set in England. Did you visit England for research?

            I wish! That would have been amazing! Just lots of research, I’m afraid. Though one day I’d love to visit for real.

Where is your favorite place to write?

            I’m boring—it’s my desk! We moved into our first home a few months ago, and it’s the first time I’ve had a space solely dedicated to writing and I’ve loved setting it up.

Do you feel your environment affects your writing?

            100% I hate feeling pent in by clutter or a stuffy room. I love fresh air (even in winter, but it gets super cold here.) and I often have oils in the diffuser to aid concentration and focus. I have drawings by my daughter on the wall, as well as a moon calendar, a framed copy of Fates’ Fury and a Dali print. I like greenery too, and have a little terrarium hubby put together for me, and a couple of potted palms. I’m also a massive procrastinator so I also have to make sure there’s nothing on hand to aid that.

Has your BA in psychology given you insights into how a character would react to a situation? Has it helped in the creative process?

            Yes, I think it has. There’s just an overall deeper understanding of human behaviour and what motivates certain personalities. I think its especially helpful when writing in the darker genres.

Where can readers find your books?

            On Amazon for both ebook and paperback, and anywhere else you can buy ebooks!

Which social media platforms can we find you on?

Website: https://lizbutcherauthor.com.au

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lunaloveliz

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lunaloveliz/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Liz-Butcher-1394868604152823/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13845425.Liz_Butcher

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com.au/lizbutcherauthor/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00X6XN5O6

With the global effects of COVID19 restricting gatherings, how have you managed to promote your books?

            By relying heavily on social media! I’ve also had some wonderful friends sharing it around, which I’m so appreciative of.

Is there any message you would like to send to your fans and readers? Thank you so much for your support!

Bio

Liz Butcher resides in Australia, with her husband, daughter, and their two cats. She’s a self-confessed nerd with a BA in psychology and an insatiable fascination for learning. Liz has published a number of short stories in anthologies and released her own collection, After Dark, in 2018. ​

Her debut novel, Fates’ Fury, released September 2019 and Leroux Manor in September 2020.

Creative Edge – Author Interview – Edward Willett

September 24, 2020
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1.      Can you tell us why you chose science fiction & fantasy as a genre?

I think it kind of chose me. I have two older brothers, both of whom read it, so those were the books that were around the house. The first one I remember is Robert Silverberg’s Revolt on Alpha C, his first novel, written when he was nineteen. I was hooked, and read everything I could get my hands on. When I was eleven, I wrote my first complete short story, “Kastra Glazz: Hypership Test Pilot.” My course was clearly set.

What has always appealed to me about science fiction and fantasy is the unlimited opportunity it provides to give your imagination free reign. Every other genre seems sadly limited once you’ve experienced that freedom.

2.      You have a series called The Worldshaper Series. Can you tell us how you got the initial idea?

I wanted a book series that could be open ended and that would allow me to tell any kind of story I wanted, in any kind of world, but with the same characters. My inspiration was Doctor Who, the greatest storytelling conceit ever: you can tell any story within that framework, anywhere in time or space.

My version: a series of worlds which are consciously Shaped by individuals who then live within those worlds, rather like authors living inside the books they’ve written. The worlds can run the gamut from fantasy-inspired to science fictional to historical to purely whimsical. So far, I’ve had a world much like ours, one inspired by Jules Verne, and one featuring werewolves and vampires!

3.      Will there be another book in the series?

I hope so. If DAW Books decides not to continue the series, I’ll likely continue it myself and publish it through my own Shadowpaw Press. Book 4 is sketched out, so I’m ready to go!

4.      Which character(s) do you like the best in this series?

Shawna Keys. She’s the first-person narrator of the bulk of the story, and she’s my opportunity to indulge in my own geeky sense of humour. She’s great fun to write.

5.      Where can we purchase these books?

Everywhere! DAW Books is distributed by Penguin Random House, so anyone who sells books will either have or can order the Worldshapers novels. For autographed copies, you can go to my online store, www.edwardwillettshop.com. (I don’t have The Moonlit World yet, though, because of distribution issues related to Covid-19.)

6.      Do you think the cover art plays a important role?

Absolutely. DAW books always have great covers, and the Worldshapers books are no exception. The artist, Juliana Kolesova, has used the same model on each cover. Since she’s based in Toronto, I wonder if the next time I’m there I might see Shawna Keys walking down the street!

8.      You also write short stories, how is the process difference from writing a novel for you?

Short stories are typically more limited in time and space—but not necessarily. Really, the difference is the length, and in the amount of worldbuilding detail you can cram in. I’ve written relatively few short stories. I think I’m much more a novelist at heart.

9.      How many books have you written?

Something over twenty novels and more than sixty in total, counting non-fiction.

10.  How many anthologies have you contributed to?

A half-dozen or so.

11.  You also write non-fiction – how is the process different from writing fiction?

I don’t get to make up stuff. Or, at least, not as much stuff. More research. Less dialogue. More footnotes.

12.  How do you chose your non-fiction topics?

I usually don’t. Publishers or clients looking for a writer approach me and ask if I’d be willing to take on a specific topic. I almost always say yes!

13.  You have also written under the name E.C. Blake and Lee Arthur Chane – can you share why?

Marketing reasons. My first books for DAW were science fiction (Lost in Translation, and the two books of what was later called The Helix War: Marseguro and Terra Insegura). They wanted me to try my hand at fantasy, which was selling better at the time, and suggested I use a new name because of the genre change and to attract new readers. So, for Magebane, a fat stand-alone fantasy, I became Lee Arthur Chane (the middle names of my two older brothers, Jimmy Lee Willett and Dwight Arthur Willett, and myself, Edward Chane Willett). Then I kind of switched genres again: the Masks of Aygrima trilogy was essentially YA fantasy, with a fifteen-year-old female protagonist. E.C. Blake wrote those. Then I returned to science fiction and to my own name with The Cityborn and the Worldshapers books. I’ve only used the pseudonyms with DAW so far—my novels with other publishers are all under my own name—but E.C. Blake may have a new one coming out soon from my own Shadowpaw Press, called Blue Fire.

14.  Where can readers find your books?

As noted earlier, my DAW Books are readily available through any bookstore. Check out my page on Amazon, as well.

You can also find the books I’ve published through Shadowpaw Press at shadowpawpress.com. You can order print books directly from there, and download ebooks directly from there, as well.

Speaking of Shadowpaw Press, it’s just released the ebook of a major new anthology that I edited, with the print version to follow in mid-November.

Shapers of Worlds features short fiction by authors who were guests during the first year of my Aurora Award-winning podcast, The Worldshapers, where I interview other science fiction and fantasy authors about the creative process.

I Kickstarted the anthology earlier this year. It features new fiction from Seanan McGuire, Tanya Huff, David Weber, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., D.J. Butler, Christopher Ruocchio, John C. Wright, Shelley Adina, and me, plus reprints from John Scalzi, David Brin, Joe Haldeman, Julie E. Czerneda, Fonda Lee, Dr. Charles E. Gannon, Gareth L. Powell, Derek Künsken, and Thoraiya Dyer. That list includes international bestsellers, plus winners of and nominees for every major award in science fiction and fantasy, so I’m very excited about it!

15.  How can readers connect with you online?

I’m on Twitter @ewillett, on Facebook @edward.willett, and on Instagram @edwardwillettauthor.

My main website is www.edwardwillett.com; I post news about my writing there, and you can also sign up to my newsletter there. As noted, my online store is www.edwardwillettshop.com.

Shadowpaw Press is at www.shadowpawpress.com (and can also be found on Twitter @ShadwpawPress and on Facebook @ShadowpawPress).

The Worldshapers podcast is at www.theworldshapers.com, and on Twitter @TheWorldshapers and on Facebook @TheWorldshapers.

Creative Edge – Author Interview – Marc Watson

August 27, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Marc

1. What inspires your short stories?

Short stories have always been a way for me to test the waters of genres and styles that I’m interested in but may not necessarily be ready to write a full novel in. I’ve used it to release things like pure science fiction or perfect prose-style writing, and I’ve had a lot of fun doing it. It really lets me stretch my legs.

2. Does writing short stories need a separate kind of skill set than full length manuscripts? What is the difference?

For sure. The biggest and most obvious difference is that you as a writer have very little time to get the entire message of the story across. Whereas a novel will let you build characters and settings, you need to be quick and to the point with what you’re telling in a short story. I started with micro-fiction, and studying things like Twitter for ideas on how to slam a story home in a small number of words. I’m still not an expert, but the experience has been invaluable.

3. Have any of your ‘shorts’ become full length novels?

No, nothing like that. I’ve actually had the opposite problem where I take a story idea I’ve had and convert it to a short story in order to tell the tale I wanted to tell as quickly and succinctly as possible.

The first story in my new book is called ‘A Conversation: Alive Again’, and it tells the origins of Nixon Ash, the imposing Scottish phoenix-man first introduced in my ‘Catching Hell’ duology. Originally I wanted Nixon’s origins to be its own book. I had it plotted out and ready to get started on. However, as I started writing the stories that went into this collection I realized that Alive Again fit so well into the style and structure I had laid out, so I converted it and came up with a way to tell that same story in significantly less pages. Nixon is interesting enough that he can carry that kind of story and tell what needs to be told without a hundred thousand words.

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Between Conversations: Tales From the World of Ryuujin is live! Coming September 25th

4. What drew you to fantasy & science fiction writing?

It was the ability to create whatever I wanted. The freedom to tell a story and the only limits were my imagination. I don’t consider myself skilled enough to write the kind of deep, intriguing stories that win Pulitzers, and I’m totally alright with that as well. It’s not who I am. But I can just jump right into an epic fantasy with magic flying around everywhere, or the endless possibilities of technology or the universe, or both combined! I’m not limited, and that is a very satisfying way to write.

cathcing

5. When writing the Catching Hell series did you plan the two books prior to writing, or did they emerge later?

It came after it was finished. When I pulled my head up from my keyboard and looked at what I had created, it was 225k words long. Impressive, but wholly impractical when it comes to marketing or trying to get picked up by a publisher or agent. Someone early on said I should consider making it a duology. I resisted the idea for a while, but realized they were right. I found a very natural split about half way through, tweaked some of the story, and added the prologue to Part 2, and that’s how it was born. One day I may rejig it again and make it one big book, but that’s the kind of thing we dream about and likely never do.

6. Do you have a favorite character – and why?

Although I think Nixon has the most potential as a character, who can shapeshift and summon fire and have a sense of humor, (not to mention the masochistic joy I get from trying to write a Scottish brogue) my favorite will always be Crystal Kokouo, who is a main character in Catching Hell but who has circulated through my ideas since I was a teenager. She’s an infinitely powerful woman who was one of the first people born into a damaged and destroyed world. Her father was a great man and hero to millions, and she has always tried to achieve the goals he never had the chance to complete and that pressure has molded her into what she is now. There’s a level of complexity with her that the casual reader misses because they only know her from the one story. There’s a depth there that I can’t wait to let the world see, but it will take time.

deathly

7. Where is your favorite place to write?

At my desk in my office at work. I write best surrounded by the low thrum of business and work going on all around me. I can’t work at home because there’s a million things I’d rather be doing if I’m there. At lunch, at my desk in my little cubicle there’s nothing to distract me, and I can spend 45 minutes to an hour just off in my own little world.

8. What is your usual writing procedure – planner or panster?

Pants! Pants pants pants, all day long.

I don’t go through the steps I know some authors do, where they lay out pages of plot details and character sheets and all of that. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I let a story grow organically. I start with an idea of who everyone is, and I always know where I’m going, but I don’t always know how I’ll get there. It’s worked to my detriment, as shown with my 225k epic that was so large it needed to be cut in half, but its work to my advantage as well. My debut novel Death Dresses Poorly was smashed out very quickly because I had that general idea in my head right away, but when the comedy and heart started popping up unexpectedly I was just as surprised as anyone else. I still like to go back and re-read parts of it just to get that feeling back that I had when I first wrote it. I see a line and I remember coming up with it and the happiness I felt at making something I personally enjoyed so much.

9. Can you tell us about your new release(s)?

I would love to! My newest book is called ‘Between Conversations: Tales From the World of Ryuujin’. It is a collection of nine short stories (though calling some of them ‘short’ is a bit of a stretch. There’s some whoppers in there I admit) that take place in the same world as Catching Hell, however those books are in no way required reading to enjoy this collection. They all stand on their own.

The stories are a wide range of genres, going back to what I was saying about trying new things. There’s a pure-horror story, a YA-style adventure, a bar scene I like to call Tarentino-esque, a historical fantasy. It’s just all over the place, held together by the collective structure of the world. The stories are told chronologically, from the 1600s up to thousands of years into the future. I really want the reader to see the amount of fun I had putting this together.

10. Do you have a message for your readers?

I sure do: this is a crazy time where we are constantly inundated with news and scenes and images that shake our collective mental health. I don’t say this to sell my books or the work of my contemporaries, but when this world has you worse for wear, pick up a book and read. Escape for 5 minutes to someplace, or learn about something that interests you. Escape, and don’t feel bad about doing it.

Or, forget the book and garden, or go for a hike, or find your zen away from the things that are getting to you. Separating ourselves from the cacophony has never been more important than it is today. My motto is “Be a hero”, and that doesn’t just mean to other people. Be a hero to yourself as well.

Links:

Blog: http://marcwatson.ca/home/

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

Bio:

Marc Watson is an author of genre fiction (primarily Fantasy and Science Fiction of all lengths). He began writing at the age of 15 with a pen and paper, and has never really stopped, even though until recently it was more of a background to him than his defining trait. He has been published on flash fiction site www.101words.org, as well as comedy site www.thecorrectness.com. Marc has been a student of the excellent writing classes at Athabasca University for a number of years.

Marc lives in Calgary, Alberta, and was spawned out of the depths of Southern Ontario. A husband, proud father of two, and can be sometimes found at an actual job. Marc is an avid outdoorsman, martial artist of some high repute, baseball player of very little repute, and lover of all Mexican foods. One day ‘World Famous Poutine Aficionado’ will be on his business cards.

You can also find Marc on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marcwroteabook, and on twitter at @writewatson. For public appearances and interviews, he is proudly represented by Creative Edge Publicity.

Creative Edge

 

Author Interview – VS Holmes – Creative Edge

July 30, 2020
mandyevebarnett


VS Holmes

  1. What attracted you to write series?

Both my series actually started as stand-alones! Most of my projects begin as single novels and then I realize the story either has much more to be told (in the case of Nel Bently) or it needs a lot more room (Blood of Titans). I love slow-burn, complex stories, both when reading and writing, so I think I naturally gravitate toward characters and tales that won’t let me go easily.

  1. You have two genres – sci-fi and fantasy. re both equally important to you? If so why.

My writing process and the pacing between the two genres vary wildly and I’m usually working on one tale in each genre at any given point. I don’t really have a favourite, though I think writing fantasy might come easier, as that’s where I started professionally writing. Science fiction, for me, is about hope and road-maps to those futures (even if they’re a bit dark too) and I need that to balance out the drama and scope of my fantasy worlds. Writing any genre, though, is about finding the truth of that particular story.

  1. Where do you get your inspiration?

For Nel, a lot of the inspiration understandably comes from my day job as an archaeologist, though Nel started on academic sites and I do contract work. So many of the unique places I end up and the wonderful and bizarre people I meet inspire my settings and characters. I’m also a huge “what if” person and enjoy lots of solitude and instrumental music to rattle around in my mental card catalogue.

 

  1. How long does it take you to write your first draft of an idea?

Since my process differs from genre to genre, it really depends on the project! With sci-fi it’s about four months and fantasy eight–the first half I spend dawdling and the second racing my deadline and speed writing. When not on deadline, though, I like to languish in my worlds. I’ll spend over a year fiddling with ideas outside of my main project. Once those ideas are promoted I usually have about 20% of what will be the final book (and many, many typos!).

  1. How much plotting do you do for each series?

A huge amount. I tend to be a very organized writer, in part to make order of my disorganized internal world. When I’m doing in depth revisions on a novel, I have the outline of the next book or series overview open and I’ll jot down key things that need to be paid off, or little cameos I want to include. Many main series events or character arcs are laid out by the time I’ve finished the first book in a series, even if I don’t know exactly how we’ll get there yet. That said, I re-outline at the mid point in my drafting and again at the end, so while I have to have it organized, the content itself is subject to change!

 

  1. Where is your favourite place to write?

While traveling! I enjoy writing on planes and trains and ferries! Movement helps me think, and a lot of my plot knots are worked out on my long commutes to project areas (don’t worry, I use voice-to-text to keep track while driving!) But honestly, nothing really beats my own desk in the early morning. It’s such a sanctuary for me.

  1. If you were one of your characters, which one would you choose and why?

This is tough–mostly because I know what they’ll have to endure! But I think I’d choose to be Firas (Blood of Titans: Restored), the fun-loving bartender from the slums and love interest for the nation’s mercurial, not-quite-human king. I love his bar and sense of community, not to mention his dancing skills are fantastic! I also adore Azimir, but honestly, I’d just like to have him as a best friend. Everyone needs an Azimir in their life.

 

  1. You are an advocate for disabled and queer representation in your work. May we ask what prefaced that decision?

Short answer is, of course, why wouldn’t I? I wanted to write characters, who are like myself–I’m gender queer, pansexual, and disabled. Growing up, especially as a teen, it was really hard to find books with characters, who loved and felt the way I do. Queer representation is something that is necessary for our communities and so much of it is tragic or stereotypes, or written for the straight, cis gaze. I wanted to actually write our stories from within. Then, five years ago I discovered that my “aches and pains” were actually a degenerative autoimmune condition that attacks my connective tissue. My way of navigating the world has changed drastically since then, but nothing sparks the imagination like being limited. I aim to write worlds and characters to show all we can do, rather than fall back on harmful tropes. Fiction, especially SFF, is a perfect medium for exploring how we want our world to look and how to make it more accessible and accepting.

blood 

  1. Tell us about your new releases.

My newest release is Blood and Mercy, the final book in Blood of Titans: Restored. It follows two main characters: Rih, a Deaf former soldier plotting rebellion and Keplan a queer, teenaged god. Both face a political marriage and the aftermath of a divine war. He hopes the world ends, she prays it doesn’t.

My next sci-fi release is this October, Covid-willing, and will be the fourth Nel Bently book, Heretics. Nel and her space-girlfriend, Lin, embark on a global mission of connect-the-dots searching for the victims of a deadly radio transmission. Without answers, Nel’s own mother–and the few communities clinging to life–will be next.

 

  1. How can readers contact you?

You can check out my website, www.vsholmes.com, and grab a free sci-fi or fantasy short to see if you like my work, read my FAQ, and send me an email. Plus, if you become an Explorer you’ll get exclusive updates, free books, and more. Of course, I’m also on various social media.

  1. What social media sites are you on?

I’m most active and candid on Twitter and Instagram @VS_Holmes (if you don’t mind the occasional picture of bugs and bones.) I’m also on Facebook, Bookbub, and Goodreads.

  1. Do you have a message for your readers?

I hope you enjoy reading my worlds and characters as much as I enjoy creating them, and I hope you’ve found someone in my work who speaks to you, or a tiny dream and the strength to hold fast.

Bio:

V.S. Holmes is an international bestselling author. They created the REFORGED series and the NEL BENTLY BOOKS. Smoke and Rain, the first book in their fantasy quartet, won New Apple Literary’s Excellence in Independent Publishing Award in 2015 and a Literary Titan Gold Award in 2020.

When not writing, they work as a contract archaeologist throughout the northeastern U.S. They live in a Tiny House with their spouse, a fellow archaeologist, their not-so-tiny dog, and own too many books for such a small abode. As a disabled and queer human, they work as an advocate and educator for representation in SFF worlds.

LINKS:

Site: http://www.vsholmes.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VS_Holmes

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vs_holmes/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/vs-holmes

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/v-s-holmes

 

 

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