Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Author Interview – John Mavin

June 17, 2021
mandyevebarnett


  1. You have experienced a multitude of jobs – have these experiences given you insights for the characters in your stories, within your book Rage and other writing?

Yes and no.

Yes in that I have based characters on past jobs for some of my writing. For example, two stories which appear in Rage are about archaeologists (“Deposition” and “The Edmore Snyders”) and I did work as a salvage archaeologist for about six years. Consequently, both of these stories carry elements which are very much true to life.

However, most of my stories are not based on past employment. To keep looking at the stories in Rage, I’ve never been a mountain climber, a priest, or a teenage girl (and probably never will be). To look at some of my other past jobs, I’ve never published a story about writers, software developers, or graphic designers–in fact, I find most of my past employment doesn’t excite me enough to craft share-worthy fiction from it. It’s the experiences I’ve had (which may or may not have come tangentially from those jobs) which inspire me, shock me, give me joy, disgust me, scare me, or piss me off so much I find myself mining for my fiction.

I’ll wrap this up by saying I am a strong proponent of thorough research and writers getting their facts as correct as possible. If I can use a past job to get my facts right, I’ll do it. If I need to interview people who’ve experienced the things I’m writing about, I’ll talk to them. I find story elements which don’t ring true to life (or at least my experience of it) can bring me out of a story faster than anything else–and I try very hard to never do that to my readers.

  • Your path into writing was the result of an unusual message, please tell us about it and if now you are convinced or otherwise to the validity of that message?

I’m not sure if the message you’re referring to was actually my path into writing (I’ve been making stuff up for almost as long as I can remember), but that message was most certainly the catalyst which finally got my ass in gear and helped me focus on my dream of becoming an author.

The message was this: you’re on a path for destruction and unless you change your ways, you are going to die. The deliverer of that message was a tarot reader I’d met at a party in New Orleans, and when she told me this, it scared the shit out of me. At the time I was a rather unhappy software developer and I chose to interpret her message to mean I should abandon my career in information technology and give writing a real, honest, both-feet-in effort (I also remember hoping this was not a medical thing).

As a result, I completely refocused my life. I enrolled in some continuing education classes in creative writing and for the first time in a long while felt truly happy (like I was where I was supposed to be). My instructors were encouraging, my classmates were invested, and everyone took the writing thing seriously. I learned a lot. When I got enough decent material together for a portfolio, I applied to Simon Fraser University’s year-long program, The Writer’s Studio. Coincidentally enough, that was the time I got downsized from my software development job, so I was given the luxury of being able to focus on my studies full time. At SFU, I got involved in the local literary community, met many interesting people, and learned even more. Then, I took my biggest leap and applied to the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at the University of British Columbia. I’ve got to say when I got my acceptance letter from UBC, I did the biggest happy dance of my life. UBC was a fantastic experience for me, where I met even more interesting people, got involved in teaching creative writing, and learned an awful lot more.

In the end, whether or not I’m convinced of the validity of that message doesn’t really matter–I acted on that message, destroyed my old life, and created a new one I’m very happy with.

  • In teaching creative writing is it an advantage or a disadvantage to your own creativity?

It’s both.

Advantageous in that I get to meet many people with creative ideas so very different from my own. As a writer I don’t get out much, and talking to other writers about stories and other creative things is something I both enjoy and constantly learn from.

The downside for my creativity I experience from teaching is that I let it pull me away from my writing time. When I’m teaching a class, I feel it’s only fair to give my students my full attention, so whether I’m critiquing homework assignments or preparing lesson plans, I find I’m not writing as much of my own material as I’d like (in fact, I find I don’t write at all while I’ve got a course in session).

  • What writing process is the most comfortable for you – pantser or planner?

I’d like to be able to say I’m a planner, but that’s not entirely the truth. While I outline meticulously (not only do I take comfort in an outline, I’ve also discovered outlining saves me from having to write at least a full draft or two), I almost always deviate from my outline and end up pantsing to some degree as I go along. Now that could mean I’m further refining within the scope of my outline, but it could also mean I’ve got to throw away my current outline when I come up with something better (which happens often). As I’ve discovered my own writing process, I’ve realized my first drafts don’t look very much like my second drafts, and my final drafts are very different from what I first envisioned for my story (that’s not to say I only write three drafts–my current work in progress is on draft 10.7). So, um, yeah, I’m a bit of a hybrid.

  • How do you find inspiration and time to write?

As for time, I’m very lucky in that aside from the occasional teaching gig, all I do professionally is write (I’m also very lucky to have an extremely patient and generously supportive wife). As for inspiration, that’s been a bit trickier for me these past two years (as I suspect it has for a lot of people). I usually find my inspiration (whether it’s from things which shock me, give me joy, disgust me, scare me, or piss me off) from meeting new people, going to new places, and doing new things. As those stimuli have been somewhat curtailed lately, being inspired has become a bit of a challenge. I’m currently relying on memory and my outlines to carry me through my work.

  • What determines which genre/style your write in? (Short story, play, or poetry)

I haven’t been writing for the stage lately, and I’m not doing much short fiction or poetry, either. What I’ve been focusing on is longer fiction (the word count of the latest complete draft of my current WIP is about 120,000 words).

That being said, I did take a break from my novel and publish a short story in Speculative North last year. It’s about a werewolf desperately trying to keep her shit together while contending with increasing provocations from sources which have no regard for her as a person whatsoever (by the way, there should be an adult content warning if anyone decides they want to read that story–which anyone can for free by following the Free Downloads link on my website [http://www.johnmavin.com/downloads.html]). I knew that story would be short (it’s only about 7,900 words, admittedly long for a short story) as what I wanted to say wouldn’t have filled a novel.

So I guess that’s my answer–it’s what I want to say about a given idea that determines which genre or style I’ll use. My current WIP is too big and has too much world building to be effective in short formats so I’ve gone long. For my stage plays, it was usually the effect on a live audience I was going for (for example, my one-act play Daguerreotype–also available on my Free Downloads page–is an intentionally uncomfortable experience which is different for each person in the audience, depending on when they figure out what is really going on). For my poetry, if what I’m looking for is the emotional equivalent of a quick punch, that’s the genre I’ll choose.

  • You offer writing courses – what made you decide to do this?

I like to share and I like to teach. Back when I was taking my MFA, my grad advisor looked at my proposed schedule and called me in for a meeting. She said I’d signed up for too many courses and had to limit my choices–specifically, she asked me to choose between a class on teaching creative writing and a class on journal publication. While I was disappointed I couldn’t take both, making that choice was easy (I chose the teaching class).

  • Do you have a current WIP? Can you tell us about it?

I’m currently working on (and have been for far too long) a dark fantasy trilogy. I’m not yet at the stage where I can publicly say much about it, but I will say it’s set in a secondary world and deals with belief, deceit, and what happens to the soul after death. Oh, and yeah, the cast is very much filled with morally questionable characters (as with most of my writing, no one is truly good and no one is truly evil–they’re all hybrids, which I find true to life, or at least my experience of it).

  • How important do you feel creativity is – no matter the medium?

Very, very important. I believe humans have an innate need to create in almost all situations. Whether that creativity is expressed through writing short stories, composing music, painting pictures, solving problems, completing work, or even getting dressed is immaterial–everyone is creative. I realize I’m not expressing this very well, but I do know someone who can: his name is Jim Jackson and he has a podcast called Radio Creative, in which he looks at ways to expand people’s natural creativity and tap into it when they want to in their life, work and art. Full disclosure–Jim had me on as a guest a while back–but he’s also interviewed chefs, business consultants, and lawyers besides editors and writers). I recommend giving Radio Creative a listen. [https://anchor.fm/radiocreative/]

  1. Where can readers find you?

The best place to find me online is my website, http://www.johnmavin.com, where I’ve got links to both my Facebook page [www.facebook.com/author.john.mavin] as well as my Goodreads profile [www.goodreads.com/author/show/16623050.John_Mavin].

  1.  Do you have a message for your readers?

Um, you mean beyond “hello, thanks for reading my stuff, please read more of my stuff, and I’d really appreciate it if you gave my stuff an honest review on Goodreads and/or Amazon”?

Okay, for something much less self-serving, how about this…I came across a meme on Facebook the other day which struck me as apropos. It went something like this:

List of Books to Read Before You Die

1. Any book you want.

2. Don’t read books you don’t want to read.

3. That’s it. The meme goes on, but at its core, I really liked its message

A chilling collection of stories unraveling the consequences of longing, broken trust, and deceit.

BIO:

John Mavin is the author of the dark literary collection Rage who’s taught creative writing at Capilano University, Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia, with New Shoots (through the Vancouver School Board), and at the Learning Exchange in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. He’s a graduate of SFU’s The Writer’s Studio and also holds an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC. A past nominee for both the Aurora Award and the Journey Prize, his work has been translated, studied, and published internationally. He invites you to visit him online at http://www.johnmavin.com or follow him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/author.john.mavin.

You can find John at Wine Country Writer’s Festival September 24 – 25, 2021

Wine Country Writer's Festival

This years festival will take place VIRTUALLY and be chock full of advice, fun, learning, meetings and of course a little bit of wine. https://winecountrywritersfestival.ca/the-presenters/

Author Interview – Elise Brooke

May 6, 2021
mandyevebarnett


  1. What age were you when you began writing?

I was at primary school about 7 years old.

  • Why did you make the decision to write about your life?

I decided to share my life journey so far to give hope and inspiration to others and let them know they are not alone.

  • What do you believe readers gain from your experience?

I believe by reading my story readers gain hope, inspiration, an honest birds eye view of New Zealand, a reminder never to give up, it makes one think and is informative, entertaining, a means to draw strength from and can even save lives.

  • Did you think The New Zealand Dream idea would grow into a series?

Originally I planned to release The New Zealand Dream as one book, I may still do this later. The idea of releasing the books as a series is a way for me to give my readers something to read while I am still completing the series.

  • How has your life experience impacted your writing?

Writing has been my therapist and brought me healing. My life experiences made me realize people need to hear my story, so many go through similar experiences isolated and alone, by sharing my story one can know they are not alone and you can heal and come through. I wanted to give readers the bare truth, no sugar coating, keeping it real and honest as this is what people need to hear, by doing my story is relatable.

  • Do you have a favourite place to write?

Somewhere quite, usually my lounge room or outside in amongst nature.

  • How do you juggle home life and writing?

When I was working as a nurse full time and bringing up two children, one with special needs. I would write in the evenings and early mornings. My health dictated I change careers, I know write fulltime, my books, short stories and my blog. I also help others to share and write their story and collaborate with other writers and authors. I am very blessed that I now have a loving husband who supports me in this.

  • What factors made you choose a pen name?

I chose a pen name and to use made up names for the characters and places in my book to protect myself from any law suits and respect the privacy of the characters who are real life people and some are still alive.

  • When writing fiction and non-fiction what differences in your demeanor occur?

When I write fiction my imagination really shines through and I can take the reader into another world. When I write non fiction I write simply and to the point as though I am sharing a lesson or revelation.

  1. Where can readers find you and your books?

One can find me on my website; https://www.mynzdreamblog.com

Amazon; https://www.amazon.com/dp/1543495966/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_UJfXFbCF58K6

Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/mynewzealanddream/

Facebook group; www.facebook.com/groups/263602651477787/

Goodreads; https://www.goodreads.com/thenewzealanddream

Linkedin; https://www.linkedin.com/in/elise-brooke-61682b136/

Pinterest; https://www.pinterest.nz/business/hub/?utm_source=homescreen_icon

  1. Tell us more about your mentoring services. 

I offer one on one mentoring services where I can coach you through finishing your writing project. Sessions are done by email in hourly slots.

This is for anyone struggling with a writing project fiction or nonfiction or who would like to share their story and discover how writing can help you heal.

Bio

My name is Elise Brooke, I grew up in Hawkes Bay NZ.  My parents moved to NZ from England and South Africa, to create their New Zealand Dream, this quickly turned into my New Zealand nightmare. Writing is a very powerful healing tool, sharing your story can save lives. I have written and published two autobiographies in my book series “The New Zealand Dream,” by Sheila my pen name, I wrote this book to inspire and give hope to others.  

My passion is creative writing, I’ve been writing for 24 years in fiction and poetry and content.  I have published many articles and guest post and conduct interviews on my website I built from scratch. I am a writing coach/mentor I mentor people who would like to write and share their own stories.

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Effects of Weather on Your Writing

October 29, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Weather can have quite an effect on our writing as it influences us emotionally and physically. Each season has its benefits.

Spring

Spring brings hope of warmth and plans conjured for outdoor pursuits, clearing of winter’s destruction and planting for summer blooms. It is also a time when a new project or idea may come forth. Use the short days and early evenings to plot, plan and create.

The sunshine and heat of summer tempts us outdoors to the wonderful variety of activities and abundance of the season. Looking at our writing area sends sharp pangs of guilt into our sub-conscious. I should be writing is its taunt. Remember experiences count as research so enjoy your summer. Find a quiet nook to write in the early mornings, or in a hotel lobby observing guests going back and forth or curling your toes in the sand on a beach. People watching is a trait a writer should indulge.

Fall (Autumn) with its burst of colour and chilly winds encourages warmer clothing and the last hurrah before the winter. The seasonal change turns our thoughts inward to postponed projects and the opportunity to begin them. Plotting, character development, and the first lines into a new story warms our Muse.

winter

In Alberta, my homeland now, winter is severe. We experience extreme cold, lots of snowfall and limitations on outdoor pursuits. Obviously, some people relish the opportunity to ski, snowboard, sled etc. but for others it is a time of indoor pursuits and a hibernation mentality takes over. Secluded in your writing area, your focus can dwell on your writing, ignoring the cold, harsh weather outside.

As writers, we learn to use emotional, social, and climatic insights and feelings to the benefit of our craft. It gives us an idea how weather can effect a character’s situation or show the passing of time.

How do the different seasons affect your writing?

Author Interview – Kathie Sutherland

September 20, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Kathie

  1. Why did you decide to write an autobiography? For many years, existential questions like “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” have haunted me and challenged me to go deeper into myself. My search for answers to these questions led me to journaling about life moments captured on the page; writing these short pieces called out for expression. Exploring poetry and essay, fairy tale and short life stories helped me find my “real writer” voice. Self-help books, spiritual retreats, talented mentors, friends and a personal interest in storytelling, psychology, image and myth fuelled my appetite for words. Gathering these stories together into an autobiographic novel took a long time. Now that my book is complete and ready for publication, I am more aware of the gifts and talents I can bring to the world through writing.
  2. How long did it take you to write it? I began capturing moments of my life at a women’s writing seminar in 2004. When the instructor said I had an unusual story – growing up female in the macho world of the military – I was surprised; my upbringing seemed “normal” to me. Many of the stories in my book began back then.
  3. What difficulties did you experience in writing it? Because of the transient nature of my childhood, I saw my early life as chopped into segments and filed in my memory by location. Recently when working with an editor, I began to see links and patterns in my life and finally, story connections were forged and fashioned into a smooth narrative. I had difficulty identifying the genre of these stories because they are based on authentic flashes of memory, and reimagined with fiction writing tools. My goal was to reveal my authentic emotions in short life stories and connect with other kindred souls through them.
  4. How did you come up with the title? In my childhood, our family was in constant transition, and my tools for coping with goodbyes and hellos and consequently with loss and resilience. Alternate titles I considered included “Permission to Speak, Sir!”, “Nesting Places”, “Home and Away”, and “Finding Home Without a Map.” These titles spoke to my developing comfort with being at home in my heart and belonging in my own skin. At one point, the title was “Saying Goodbye is Easy – Letting Go is Hard”. The second half of this title was dropped because it became obvious to me that letting go of the past was getting easier.
  5. As a child of a military family – what can your story teach others? The stories we tell ourselves and others influence what we believe about the world. The military has its own myths, my father’s story included World War 2 events, and my mother told stories connected me to generations of extended family and how the military influenced them and my own childhood. All the legends and myths to which I was exposed inspired my narrative of leaving the sanctuary of home and seeking independence. I believe that many women experience loneliness and isolation when they choose to leave their parents’ home and grow into their own lives. Reframing my life story allowed me to understand that it is a universal story.
  6. The book is a collection of short stories – why did you chose this format? Short stories stand alone, and a collection of short stories are sometimes linked but not always; a novel-in-short-stories has a narrative arc even though the stories stand alone. It is not a memoir because that genre covers a set period of time. Autobiography is factual but many of my stories were imagined to make a point. My research revealed that short stories are more likely to be accepted by a publisher if the author’s stories appear in literary magazines or their writing is well known. This format seemed to work for me because it suited my experience in life.
  7. Do you write in any other genre? I began writing poetry in the 1970s, and I was seeking inspiration for poems when I attended the women’s writing classes in 2004. With encouragement, I began writing prose and personal opinion essays for magazines. Poetry continues to intrigue me and I hope to add to my published books of verse but I also have a novel on the back burner (which is also told in segments!), two based-on-real-events historical fiction books and a non-fiction book. I do not write fantasy or romance and tend to lean towards literary fiction.
  8. Do you have other books? Since 2004 I’ve created several handmade poetry chapbooks, and published two books of poetry. I’ve also self-published a book of essays and a volume of personal fairy tales. All of them are inner focused, and intended for kindred spirits who are interested in myth and metaphor.
  9. Where can your readers find you on social media? On FB as Kathie Sutherland Author, on Twitter as Kathie.Sutherland aka wordpainterpoet, on LinkedIn, Instagram and on my website kathiesutherland.com where my books and writing companionship services are available. I offer Inner Child workshops, Reminiscence and Listening Services, a scuba diving-inspired workshop focused on going deeper into emotions and create “Portrait Poems” as personal gifts.
  10. Do you have a blog? Since writing “Saying Goodbye is Easy”, I have gain clarity about the purpose of my writing. I want to give back through coaching and writing companionship. I have renewed my blogging practice.
  11. What did you learn about yourself while writing this autobiography? The whole of my writing life has been about acknowledging and accepting myself. This autobiography has been narrative therapy for me. Each piece I worked on required me to come to terms with the theme of the story I was writing. One of my greatest strengths is my love of learning. That love brings me back to the greater life questions and my search for answers. I love learning through research. I love learning about words. I love inner work. I love writing to grow.

Saying Goodbye

Blog:

https//kathiesutherland.com

Social media:

https://www.facebook.com/kathiesutherlandauthor/

https://www.instagram.com/kathie.sutherland/?hl=en

@wordpainterpoet

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Book Borrowing Etiquette

July 7, 2020
mandyevebarnett


brown book page

Photo by Wendy van Zyl on Pexels.com

Does the thought of lending a book fill you with dread or are you happy to share the joy of a book?

What has your experience been with lending books? I have suffered the lost of books but also the happy return of some too. It has enlightened me to whom I should lend to and who not! So what are the ‘rules’ for borrowing?

There are a few rules to lending a book. Please add any you can think of too.

Don’t eat messy foods while reading a book – yours or anyone else’s for that matter.

Don’t fold over the pages, use a bookmark.

person holding story book

Photo by samer daboul on Pexels.com

Don’t write in, underline, or highlight anything.

Don’t put the book face-down or break the spine.

Don’t take the book in the bath or to the pool.

person reading book on white bathtub

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Keep the book in a safe zones – away from children and pets.

Ensure all surfaces are clean before setting the book down on them.

If something does happen to the book, offer to replace it.

Ask permission before passing it on to another friend.

Don’t lose the dust jacket.

book stack books classic knowledge

Photo by Anthony on Pexels.com

Don’t borrow the book until you’re ready to read it. Don’t just put it on your TBR pile.

When in doubt, treat the book like a library book and give the book back in a timely manner. Set a date on your calendar to return it.

Ask the lender when they need the book back adhere to that date. If it’s taking a long time to read the book, check in with your friend and ask if you can have an extension.

Return the book in the same condition you received it.

It is a privilege to borrow a book so don’t abuse that favour.

Tell me your book lending and borrowing tales in the comments.

 

 

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