What inspired your latest novel? It was the film Lord of The Rings that inspired me to write Illusional Reality duology. By the time the ride from the cinema was over I had the initial story and characters. The Quest is the concluding part Illusional Reality and was written after watching Two Towers.
How did you come up with the title? If you suddenly woke up and found you were in a magical land; wouldn’t you think you were dreaming. That it was an illusion? But you see, when Becky learns who she really is, Thya, her previous life becomes the Illusion and her life in Tsinia is now her reality. The Quest was named as such, because Thya is forced to travel to locate a crystal called the Darkeye.
I’m normally pretty good with word play and don’t have a problem coming up with suitable titles.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? Gosh, there are messages running all the way through the two books, but it’s been my readers that have found them. I didn’t deliberately add these messages. Each reader can take something different from it.
How much of the book is realistic? The Quest which is the second book of the duology is fantasy. When you write fantasy everything and anything can be believable. That’s why I had so much fun writing the books.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life? No. Total fabrication of my warped mind.
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog? http://bit.ly/PKKFB FB personal http://bit.ly/FBFPKK FB fanpage http://bit.ly/INSTKK INSTAGRAM http://bit.ly/TwittKK TWITTER http://bit.ly/BLOGKK BLOG http://bit.ly/KKGRE Goodreads Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone? The Quest is the concluding part of Illusional Reality duology. My next book is a collection of flash horror stories. Called A Flash of Horror. I also have a MI5 thriller, Broken Chains, to finish and an erotic horror called Predator. So, plenty to keep me going for a while.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why? It would have to be the MC, Thya. I have lived in her shoes and mind for many years and we’ve been through a lot together. Thya is head strong, selfish and argumentative, proving she’s more human than a Bora.
Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
I do. I’m a prolific author and write in most genres. I do have a passion for the MC thriller genre, because of my past and I had so much fun writing the fantasy duology, Illusional Reality.
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
Both. I start with an initial plot and then once the story takes off, I let the characters takeover.
What is your best marketing tip? Market yourself as an author before you market your books.
Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance? Can you imagine where we authors would be without SMP(Social Media Platforms) Even if we are taken advantage of, that’s where most of our readers are and where we get our sales. Readers want to get to know you before they part with their cash, and SMPs help with that.
What do you enjoy most about writing? Being creative and using my imagination and allowing my warped mind free reign.
Where is your favorite writing space?
I love sitting outside a coffee shop watching the world go by while I’m listening to rock music through some earphones. That’s where I love to write.
If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why?
S.E.Hinton, author of The Outsiders is my favourite author. Her books Rumble Fish, That Was Then This Is Now, Tex and Taming of The Star Runner, just sparked such a feeling in me that I had to pick up a pen and write my story. My first publication, In Times of Violence has been labelled as The Outsiders on motorbikes. What an honour that is. In Times of Violence was my first novel and still remains my bestseller to date. I would love to meet, thank her and let her know how much her books mean to me.
If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be? I live in Greece and I’m sure many would love to swap with me. Lol I would love to have a small cottage in the Cotswold UK. I have roots in Canada and Ireland so it would be nice to visit.
Do you see writing as a career? It started off that way. I think we all dream of becoming best selling authors with a nice fat monthly royalty check and an agent who has just signed a deal for the book to be made into a movie for the big screen… after a while that dream fades. I’m happy to know my books are being read and people are enjoying them. That’s why I write. I also run Author Assist, offering an Ala Carte menu of affordable author services. So, I spend most of my time helping authors with their book promotion and making sure their name and book/s are known around social media.
Traditionally, it energizes me, but not because it’s easy. Transcribing from images and feelings to the right words takes blood and sweat, no matter how well I know my story.
I’ve worked under schedules that have exhausted me, though.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Kryptonite weakens Superman, brings him to his knees, makes him unable to go on. For me, that has always been my work hours, which have not only been odd, keeping me out of writing groups and events, but also long. Determined to find a way to improve my writing skills and become part of a writing community, I connected with writing instructors and industry experts through international online courses since 2006. It was a community I could interact with by leaving messages in the middle of the night when no sane local person was awake. It has taken superhuman effort to write my first novel during many upheavals in my life and three jobs at a time, but I was determined to do it.
The second Kryptonite would be my fiction writing speed, which is much slower than my non-fiction speed. Taking part in NaNoWriMo means committing several hours a day to make the 1,667-word daily quota, plus writing about 12 hours on Sunday. I ultimately “won” NaNoWriMo in 2014 with over 50,000 words in 30 days while working six days a week.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I’ve looked into why some authors do it. Sometimes it’s because what they write conflicts with their job or image. Others simply want a name that sounds good and is more likely to sell than their real name. Still others want to cover their gender to prevent publisher or reader bias.
Using my real name just makes sense to me, even if it doesn’t have the eloquence and appeal of a best-selling author name. Or I could be Klára Dvořák.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
My first author connections were international, mostly from the US and UK. As a single mom, I was working through all the local author meetings and event times. I couldn’t be anywhere in person unless it was in the wee hours of the night. Thanks to the Internet, I had an extensive online community before I ever became involved locally. Even now, I miss all weeknight meetings, and I’m lucky if I can make a Saturday event. Fortunately, I know a small number of local authors (Edmonton, Sherwood Park, St. Albert, Morinville) with whom I meet in person several times a year. I wish I could meet with the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County (WFSC) a lot more often.
More recently, my daughter, Leslie Hodgins, has published her first book, Rebel Destiny. It has been wonderful talking “shop” with her.
Author friends and instructors have helped with feedback on my writing, with knowledge of publishing, graphics, promotion, and events. But mostly, it just feels good to be in the company of other writers and be able to talk about writing or read their work. Special mentions go to Mandy Eve-Barnett and Linda J. Pedley.
Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Right now, I have a published novel that could stand alone, although I have started writing a companion novel/sequel to expand on some of the situations mentioned in the first book.
The two other books in progress are stand-alones.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
The absolute best money I ever spent was on writing courses in 2006 to 2012, which gave me access to professional critiques, editing, and communication with instructors who had worked as acquisition editors in publishing houses, instructed Fine Arts programs at universities, wrote for well-known magazines or publishers, and/or traditionally published their own books. These courses and individuals helped me hone my craft. After that, the best money I spent was to Dream Write Publishing.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
When I was very young and said something stupid that couldn’t be taken back with an apology.
Later, in school, I couldn’t impress anyone with my writing or verbal presentations—neither teachers nor students. A few teachers gave me credit for my mechanics, though, especially in writing dialogue.
Only once ever, in the final year of high school when I answered a child development/perspective question during a discussion period, did the class, much to my amazement, clap. (I was a nobody in school, so that was kind of a big deal.) I guess that’s the one time I can actually say I had insight beyond my years and an ability to get into the developing brains of children and youth, and actually advocate for them. That ability later became the foundation to my job, my parenting, and my writing, but the credit for it goes to my mother.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I can’t even begin to say.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Interesting question. I never thought about it and can’t answer this question even after months of pondering it.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Three fiction books and a parenting/educator handbook.
What does literary success look like to you?
VJ Gage (January 2018) described it like this: “It would be that many thousands of people have read and enjoyed my books. I would want them to say they could not put my books down and that my plots are unique and clever, and that I have a great imagination. Then I would like to make lots of money.”
Writing a book is a heck of a lot of work, and prepping it for publication is a heck of a lot of work on top of that. With that in mind, it would be nice if my book had some traction, both in terms of readership, literary credibility, and sales. That’s just the reality of life. Anyone can write for the joy of it, but to make a book and keep making them needs some form of return.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
It depends on what kind of book it is. For my first book, the events, relationships, interviews, and readings from my whole life, distilled, were my research. When I needed more, there was the Internet. I researched the psychology of grief in real life as well as through literature.
For my fantasy and supernatural books, the process was different, since the decision to write each was sudden. But I did research locations, clothing, tools, mineshafts, etc.
Research can be done at different stages: before writing, at the beginning of writing when you come across something you need to know, and toward the end to verify or adjust information.
With non-fiction, though, the brunt of the research and organization comes up front.
How many hours a day/week do you write?
When I do get to write, it’s a marathon. I’ll write until it’s done (an article or short story), or until I drop. In the past, I had written for 17-20 hours a day for many days straight when writing novels. Unfortunately, this kind of time was rare and usually took long weekends and holidays.
I often can’t go near a novel (first draft or revision) unless I’m guaranteed an uninterrupted three to four hours at a stretch.
I do not get distracted by social media or anything else during these times. It’s very intense focus.
How do you select the names of your characters?
*Evil grin* I steal and collect names. I’ve had some sort of protagonist for as long as I can remember. He—yes, always he, though not the same one over my lifespan—often came with a family and a community of friends. These people needed names, so I was always writing down and saving names I liked. Nowadays, I search baby name lists as well.
It’s a little more difficult with last names. I have to be more careful.
What was your hardest scene to write?
One of the oldest yet hardest scenes to write was the first climax in my published novel. I grappled with it for over five years. It has been rewritten more times than any other scene in the book.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I’ve always written a form of reality fiction or literary fiction. My novel took on a psychological theme because I guess that’s what I know best.
As a child, I watched sci-fi, but I wrote adventures and was particularly interested in outdoor survival stories—for which I had no hands-on experience, and Internet research was still a good twenty years away. The nifty thing about living life is that you gain experience whether you want to or not. One day, I was finally in a position to write a book, but it was about a different kind of survival—more internal, more cerebral.
I wrote a fantasy adventure for NaNoWriMo 2014 because I could make that form of writing go much faster.
Each genre and book is so different that it’s hard to mix anything up because what belongs in one story doesn’t belong in another.
Random ideas for any story can be written down at any time. However, in order to complete a book properly and give it the best continuity of style, foreshadow, and character, it’s best for me to immerse myself in one book during the processes of revision and preparation for publication.
How long have you been writing?
Since before I could form letters. Then, during my childhood and right through university. I took a hiatus after marriage and while the kids were small. Writing was difficult to justify because I couldn’t produce anything worthwhile. I was alone with my passion until the age of the Internet, when I could seek help from people outside of my immediate geographical location. In 2006, online writing courses made it possible for me to connect with writing experts who taught me how to write novels (and articles) properly. Over the next decade, I began to find books and articles with valuable information for the professional writer. I educated myself as much as I could, conferred with my writing mentors, and practiced, practiced, practiced.
What inspires you?
Anything in life, real or fictional, can be an inspiration or become a part of a story. Authors see potential stories and character traits everywhere.
How do you find or make time to write?
There has only ever been one way, and it is not healthy: sleep less.
What projects are you working on at the present?
I began working on Beyond the Music (companion/sequel to Beyond the Precipice), Druyan (fantasy adventure), Ironclad (supernatural adventure), and a parenting/educator handbook. However, they are on hold indefinitely.
What do your plans for future projects include?
I would have to finish the above projects first, unless I got an incredibly hot new idea that pretty much wrote itself.
A sub-genre of the fantasy or science fiction genres, the lost world involves the discovery of an unknown world out of time, place, or both. It began as a sub-genre of late-Victorian adventure romance and gained popularity into the 21st century.
Due to the remnants of lost civilizations being discovered around the world, such as the tombs of Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, the semi-mythical stronghold of Troy, the jungle-shrouded pyramids of the Maya, and the cities and palaces of the empire of Assyria the genre rose in popularity. Between 1871 and the First World War, the number of published lost world narratives, dramatically increased. The genre also has similar themes to “mythical kingdoms”, such as El Dorado.
For example, the now famous Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne (1820), has long been hailed at the ultimate lost world novel, however, King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider haggard (1885) was considered the first-world narrative. This book was followed by The Man Who Would be King by Rudyard Kipling (1888) and The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle (1912). The name Shangri-La was first introduced by James Hilton in his novel, Lost Horizon in 1933, this meme has become synonymous with lost world narratives as the idealization of a lost world.
Topics within these narratives ranged from winged people on an isolated island surrounded by high cliffs, the hollow earth, surviving pockets of prehistoric species, and humans living alongside living dinosaurs. Today with most of the planet explored the narratives are turning to space.