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Author Interview – Emily-Jane Hills Orford

January 8, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

Orford promo photo

What inspired your latest novel?

Actually, I have two recently published novels, one of the novels, “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost”, is actually the first in a series.

“Queen Mary’s Daughter” was released in March 2018. This novel is an historical fiction/fantasy novel, inspired by a shared interest with my grandmother and spurred to fruition by the ongoing debate about Scottish independence. I like to ponder the many ‘what if’ scenarios in life and there are so many that could have changed the course of Scottish history. For example, what if King James VI of Scotland didn’t succeed in amalgamating Scotland with England? What if there had been another heir to the throne of Scotland? One who would secure its independence? Would Scotland have remained free and independent and a nation of its own well into the twenty-first century? And would Scotland, this independent version, make its own decision to join the European Union when its southern neighbor was choosing to pull away?

My grandmother was my muse in so many of my writing ideas. She and I had a special relationship. When I was old enough, we traveled together. One special trip took us to Scotland where we traced her childhood memories (she was born in Scotland) as well as followed the trail of Mary Queen of Scots. We had been enjoying a number of novels and biographies about the ill-fated queen and my grandmother ignited my interest by telling me about ancestors who helped in her escape from Loch Leven Castle. I always wanted to write about Queen Mary, but it wasn’t until the Brexit debacle and the ongoing desire of the Scottish people to separate from England, that I started looking more closely at the stories around Queen Mary. I knew she had given birth, prematurely, to twins while imprisoned at Loch Leven. History records that the babies died at birth and were buried on the island where the castle sat. An interesting footnote states that the location of the burial and the babies’ remains have never been found. So, I started thinking, ‘what if?’. What if there had been another heir to the Scottish throne and Scotland never did amalgamate with England and Ireland? And my story unfolded. There is a sequel to “Queen Mary’s Daughter”, written at the request of my growing fan club. “King Henry’s Choice” continues the story started in “Queen Mary’s Daughter”. Release date yet to be determined.

My pride and joy is the first book in the 4-part “Piccadilly Street Series”. So much of these stories evolved from my childhood experiences and what my grandmother always called my vivid imagination. “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost”, like “Queen Mary’s Daughter”, also explores the ‘what if’, the fantastical possibilities of my vivid imagination and a ghost that haunted my childhood home. And, yes, there is another Scottish connection in this story, as well as another connection with my grandmother. In fact, she plays a significant role in the story – the role of Granny. My memories played a significant role in inspiring me to write “The Piccadilly Street Series”, this being the first book. Fond memories of the haunted house where I grew up: the ghost, the bats, the uniqueness of the house itself. I have been writing family stories and memoirs for years and I wanted to try something a little different, something for younger readers. I have taught many young, aspiring writers, so I decided it was time I wrote a story they would enjoy reading. And they do. In fact, I gifted a copy of the book to the 10-year-old girl who lives in the same room in the same house that I called my own when I was 10, the same room and the same house as the main character, Mary, in “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost”.

Mrs.Murray'sGhost promo cover jpg

How did you come up with the title?

As I’m writing my stories, I usually have fun playing around with ideas for titles. I usually have quite a list by the time my novel is finished and ready to send off. With “Queen Mary’s Daughter”, there really wasn’t much of a list. The story is, after all, about the daughter of Mary Queen of Scots. Or, I should say, it’s about the daughter that might have been.

For “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost”, there wasn’t a list. It was “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost” right from the first line. When I was growing up, we always called our ghost by her name. And, since this story evolved from memories of my ghost, it was only fitting to call the first book in “The Piccadilly Street Series”, “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost”.

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

I like to write about strong women (and girls), those who strive to be the best they can be, no matter what obstacles are placed in their path. Both novels have strong female characters, though Mary, the 10-year-old girl in “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost”, is still developing her strong female character. She grows (evolves) through the book, in fact, she becomes stronger with each book in the series. “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost” also deals with the issue of bullying. The bully who bothers Mary was modeled after the bully who bothered me throughout my early school days. I don’t think we’ll ever get rid of bullying, but it’s good that we’re starting to recognize and address the debilitating effects of bullying. Mary has her own means to stand up to her bully.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford QueenMarysDaughter453X680

How much of the book is realistic?

“Queen Mary’s Daughter” has been thoroughly researched for historical accuracy. However, as the timeline changes through the ‘what if’ scenarios, the historical accuracy as we know it changes significantly.

“Mrs. Murray’s Ghost” is part memories of my childhood and part fantasies I conjured in my head using my ‘vivid imagination’. The first few chapters are almost exactly as it happened when we first moved into the haunted Victorian mansion.

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

The grandmother in both books are modeled after my grandmother. Gran (as we called her) always claimed we would soon forget her once she was dead and gone. She was too important to me to forget and I’ve proved her wrong in so much of my writing. Mary in “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost” is me as a 10-year-old.

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

Facebook book page: https://www.facebook.com/realpeoplestories

My website: http://emilyjanebooks.ca

Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1732544.Emily_Jane_Hills_Orford

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ejhomusic  

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

There is a sequel to “Queen Mary’s Daughter” – “King Henry’s Choice”.

“Mrs. Murray’s Ghost” is the first of 4 books in the “Piccadilly Street Series”.

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

The grandmother in both books. Why? Because Gran was so important in my life and I’ve made her character in my novels just as important in the lives of the main characters of each book.

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

I dabble in more than one. I enjoy writing memoirs and creative nonfiction: family stories and stories about people I knew. I also enjoy writing historical fiction, fantasy, and stories for young people.

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

A bit of both. I tend to be a planner at heart, but somehow the inspiration of the moment usually pushed me down an alternate tangent.

What is your best marketing tip?

Don’t give up. Keep trying everything. I use Facebook a lot to frequently post a plug for my books. I actively seek book reviews and I encourage blog interviews (like this one) and blog tours to promote.

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

Both. It’s time-consuming to constantly post promos about one’s books. And, after awhile, people get tired of seeing yet another plug for my books and they stop paying attention to my posts. However, one must get the word out there somehow. And social media is the best way in this era of high tech everything.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS:

What do you enjoy most about writing?

The solitude and the thrill of letting my ‘vivid imagination’ take flight.

What age did you start writing stories/poems?

As soon as I could hold a pencil in my hand (probably about 5), I was writing stories. As the youngest in a family of storytellers, I couldn’t get a word in edgewise, so I wrote my stories.

What genre are you currently reading?

Mystery.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both?

Both. I also write a lot of book reviews, mostly for readersfavorite.com

Where is your favorite writing space?

I have an antique spinet desk that is positioned to look out onto my wooded front yard. I can write, like Jane Austen (only I write on a laptop), with the view of birds and wildlife as my inspiration.

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

Yes. Canadian Authors Association, the Writers Union of Canada, and Ottawa Independent Writers.

Author Bio:

An avid gardener, artist, musician and writer, Emily-Jane Hills Orford has fond memories and lots of stories that evolved from a childhood growing up in a haunted Victorian mansion. Told she had a ‘vivid imagination’, the author used this talent to create stories in her head to pass tedious hours while sick, waiting in a doctor’s office, listening to a teacher drone on about something she already knew, or enduring the long, stuffy family car rides. The author lived her stories in her head, allowing her imagination to lead her into a different world, one of her own making. As the author grew up, these stories, imaginings and fantasies took to the written form and, over the years, she developed a reputation for telling a good story. Emily-Jane can now boast that she is an award-winning author of several books, including Mrs. Murray’s Ghost (Telltale Publishing 2018), Queen Mary’s Daughter (Clean Reads 2018), Gerlinda (CFA 2016) which received an Honorable Mention in the 2016 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, To Be a Duke (CFA 2014) which was named Finalist and Silver Medalist in the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and received an Honorable Mention in the 2015 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards and several other books. A retired teacher of music and creative writing, she writes about the extra-ordinary in life and the fantasies of dreams combined with memories. For more information on the author, check out her website at: http://emilyjanebooks.ca

Author Links:

Website: http://emilyjanebooks.ca
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/realpeoplestories
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ejhomusic
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1732544.Emily_Jane_Hills_Orford

 

Interview with Paul W Papa…

April 7, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Milieu – definition: surroundings, setting.

Welcome Paul W Papa, a non-fiction author who obviously takes particular interest in his surroundings.

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

Because of the type of writing I do, I really don’t “create” characters. I am fascinated, however, by people from the old West. I plan to write books about Wild Bill Hickok, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, and George Armstrong Custer. What lives these people must have led!

Wild Bill, Texas Jack Omohundro, and Buffalo B...

Wild Bill, Texas Jack Omohundro, and Buffalo Bill Cody in 1873 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

For the most part I prefer to stay in the area of non-fiction for two reasons. The first is that I really enjoy telling people’s stories. I truly believe everyone has a story and I genuinely enjoy bringing those tales to life. The second is it’s just too dang hard to come up with all those characters and plot twists. How do you fiction writers do it?

What do you enjoy most about writing?

Seeing my books on the bookstore shelf. Seriously though, I think it is the process I most enjoy. I remember sitting around the kitchen table hearing the stories of my relatives and neighbors as told by the grownups in the group. While all the other kids were playing in the other room, I sat captivated by the tales being spun. Now when I write one of those tales myself, I picture my readers sitting around that same kitchen table intently listening as I weave my tale.

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?

First I take a deep breath. Then I take my two dogs on a hike while I try to figure out what to write next. Non-fiction writing isn’t like fiction writing. I’m not pitching a successful character with a good track record in a great new story. I have to pitch every idea from scratch. Every new book has to stand on its own. Just because my publisher accepted a book about haunted places in Las Vegas doesn’t mean she’ll accept my proposal to write about how the University of Wyoming basketball team won the national championship in 1944 (she didn’t by the way). Someday my name will be strong enough on its own to write what I want. Until then…well you just keep pushing ahead don’t you?

Have you got a favorite place to write?

I do. I love my desk. It is big and shaped like an “L”. I have a large color printer that is decorated with stupid little toys that make me smile. I have several Batman figures, an Alfred E, Newman dressed like the Joker and Donald Duck dressed like Darth Maul. There is a large picture window in my office and it lets in the best natural light. The rest of my desk is a bit of a mess so I’d rather not discuss it.

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

That’s a good question because while it goes more to fiction writers, it still surprisingly applies to nonfiction as well. I actually do a little of both. Of course what happens in the story doesn’t have to be planned—since it has already happened—but how the story will be presented still needs to be decided. I like to take walks with my dogs and do some overall planning as I walk. However, I also like to see where the writing will take me.

What inspires your stories?

I would have to say people. I like to get into the head of the people I write about. I wonder, for example, what Custer could have possibly been thinking when he realized he was outnumbered and there was little chance of survival. Why didn’t he call off the attack? Why did he keep going? I guess it is the people more than the event that makes me want to know more.

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

Sorry, I can’t answer that; I have food in my mouth. Actually, I don’t snack as much as I drink—not that kind of drink, though I have considered it—I usually have iced tea or a Coke by my side. In fact, when I’m in writing mode I often forget to eat. That fact, sadly, hasn’t had any effect on my waistline.

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading two books: Life’s That Way and Front Page Fatality. The first is a nonfiction book that contains the emails actor Jim Beaver sent out when dealing with his wife’s cancer. It is a touching and wonderfully written book. It has made me laugh and cry. The second is a work of fiction by the wonderful new author Lyn Dee Walker. I love mysteries and this one is top notch. My favorite quote: “But that’s the thing about dead people: they can’t warn you to keep your nose out of things that are going to put your ass in danger” Great stuff!

With no financial limits where would you vacation and why?

It would be a tossup between Italy and the Caribbean. Italy because I’ve been there before and fell in love with the place and the Caribbean because I’m a displaced pirate and have a strong need for places that combine water with little latitudes.

Do you have any odd habits or childhood stories?

Odd habits…let’s see, that may be a question better asked to the people I live with. I do have a childhood story though. When I was a kid, about 5 or 6, I was hit by a car as I ran out into the street to get my ball. When the car hit me I flew into the air, coming down hard on the hood of the lady’s car who hit me. I hit the car so hard I left an indentation the size of my body in her hood. I was rushed to the hospital amidst cries of “I’m so sorry” from the lady to my mom. She later sued my mother for damages to her car.

Do you have any pets?

Two dogs, both miniature Schnauzers. One gray (Gypsy) and one black (Jet).

StandardSchnauzer

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

No writing groups, but I do belong to online chat rooms on both Facebook and Goodreads. I spend most of my time in Writer Unboxed.

What age did you start writing stories/poems?

I used to write comic books when I was a kid, maybe 11 or so. I created a totally unoriginal character named “Catman,” who had a Catmobile and a lair (hmm, I wonder who he was based off of). I didn’t start any real writing until well into my 30’s.

Do you have a book published? If so what is it called & where can readers purchase it?

I have 3 books published. It Happened in Las Vegas, Haunted Las Vegas, and It Happened in Wyoming. I am also under contract for The Crime Buff’s Guide to Outlaw Nevada. You can find them in local bookstores or online through both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you want a signed copy you can get it through my website http://paulwpapa.com/

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

Hmmm, that’s a good question. Probably Tim Dorsey. His books are great and his characters are way out there. He must be a fun guy to hang around with.

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

Key West, Florida. If you have to ask why, you’ve never been there.

What’s your favorite movie of all time?

Tombstone. I’m fascinated by the old west and by the gunfight at the O.K. Corral and Val Kilmer played a killer Doc Holiday.

Where can readers find you and your blog?

I have a presence on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/#!/PaulWPapa)

Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3172096.Paul_W_Papa),

Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Paul-W.-Papa/e/B002KXW69S/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1364943861&sr=8-2).

I can also be found on my website at http://paulwpapa.com/  where I have an active blog.

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book?

I have three proposals in right now. Two of them are in the Haunted series and another is a trail guide for biking in Southern Nevada (I’m an avid mountain biker). I’m also considering self publishing a book about Boulder City, Nevada.

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?

My fiancé, soon to be wife, Melissa. She supports all of my crazy dreams and is patient enough to wait and see what I just dream up and what I actually pursue.

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