Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Creative Edge Author Interview: Paul Bahou

March 24, 2022
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1.     Where did the idea for this novel come from?

The novel originated as a short story that I wrote in a creative writing class my senior year of college. The character of Lazer was loosely based on a friend of mine who played in a heavy metal band in the 80’s and never quite moved beyond his rock n roll heydey. Lazer isn’t just a carbon copy of him though, but rather an amalgamation of several people, a list that seemed to grow the more I worked on the book. But ultimately, at the start of the book he represents the downside of staying too firmly in your dream for rock stardom. When we meet Lazer he has hit rock bottom and is stuck in a loop of meaningless flings and surface level friendships, all while playing the same songs over and over and over again. He’s something of a prisoner of his own failed ambitions. I would meet a lot of people who suffered from this sort of stunted personal growth when I played in bands and was heavy into gigging. The folks who never said die even though they should have moved on decades ago. I’m all about living the life you want and staying true to your passions, but its always good to make sure you don’t lose yourself in the process.

2.     Did you have fun creating Lazer and Streek?

Giving dimension to Lazer and Streek was a lot of fun, because you’re not just -, but building the relationship between them. A lot of times when they are bantering back and forth it’s almost like different aspects of my personality are having a conversation with each other. Lazer, as he developed really kind of took on parts of my own history of being in a band and how I approached that lifestyle. Streek meanwhile has more in common with my wife; this sort of introverted, second-guessing nature that acts as a counter balance to Lazer’s shoot from the hip and hope for the best ethos. Having them play off each other is one of my favorite parts of writing these stories. I really want the growth of their friendship to feel organic as the story unfolds, not in just this novel, but in the rest of the books in the series to follow. Friendship dynamics shape-shift over time and it’s a really interesting topic to explore. Even though its a story set in space with all sorts of fantastical elements, at the end of the day its a story of finding out who you really are once the comfort of routine is stripped away from you, and how your friends can help you get there.

3.     Have you always had an interest in sci-fi stories?

I absolutely love science fiction. I feel like you can go anywhere or do anything with it. As long as you stay consistent within the rules you set up, its an excellent vehicle to give commentary on everything from politics to personal relationships. I grew up with things like the twilight zone, outer limits, tales from the crypt and the x files. I’ve always loved stories about aliens and monsters and the unknown. My wife is wonderful, she’ll watch the most ridiculous B movie nonsense with me just because she loves me. Though lately its mostly been kids programming. I’ve got a one year old and a four year old. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen Encanto.

4.     What or who influenced your writing?

Kurt Vonnegut is my favorite writer of all time and really kind of opened me up to new concepts of narrative, like how slaughter house 5 is both fiction and memoir, or Galapagos is told out of order from the perspective of a ghost. Absolutely brilliant. 

5.     Do you see a sequel to the novel or are you happy for it to stay a standalone?

The Sunset Distortion series will be 5 parts. Part one is “The Pyramid at the End of the World.” Part two will be titled “Live! From Valhalla” and is maybe 3/4’s finished. Though that being said, I put that one on pause while I work on a collection of short stories. I sort of follow where my creativity takes me, and right now, its horror and sci fi short stories with a few novellas thrown in the mix. I’m currently finishing up a 10k word story about a piece of recycling equipment that becomes self-aware and decides that the best way to sort non-compliant materials from recycled bottles is to murder the entirety of the human race. Fun stuff!

6.     What is your writing process? Plotter or panster?

Both. It depends on what I’m writing. I like to plot out the sandbox first if you will. The world, the characters, and the broad strokes of the plot. From there I’ll sort of freewheel it from point A to point B and see what comes out. 

7.     Are you part of a writing group? If so, how has this helped your writing?

I’m a part of several writing groups online but I don’t check in nearly as often as I should. I do have a half dozen friends who are writers themselves and we’ll share works in progress with each other and give feedback. It’s absolutely vital to have other eyes browse through what you’re doing. We all have blind spots and our work only gets better from sharing with others. You need to have people willing to tell you that your ideas are garbage.

8.     Do you have a favorite place to write?

I write short stories on my phone, usually while putting my daughter to bed. She’s doing this thing right now where she will only fall asleep if I’m in the room with her, longer form stuff is on my laptop. I will honestly write whenever I get the chance. Between running my business and having two small children, personal time is at a premium. I used to have a specific chair I would sit in, but it was so old and natty that I threw it away after book 1 was finished. Now I’m something of a nomad, moving from couch to bed to rocking chair of office desk when time permits.

9.     Are you working on another manuscript? Can you tell us a little about it?

I currently have maybe 4 short stories in the can and 10 more in development. My goal is to have at least 60k words worth of short stories assembled before I release them as an anthology. Book 2 in the Sunset Distortion series will probably follow within a year after that. The second book in the series will see Lazer and Streek get drafted by a private security company to stop a terrorist plot onboard a space station that hosts the Galaxy’s collective entertainment complex apparatus, all while helping their new friend escape the clutches of her jerk of an ex-boyfriend who also happens to be the galaxy’s biggest rock star. Like the first book, expect lots of jokes, weird aliens and music references. 

10.  Where can readers find you?

My website is paulbahouwrites.com. its currently under construction, but will be up sooner rather than later. I’ll have all sorts of good stuff up there. In the meantime you can follow me on facebook at facebook.com/paulbahouwrites 

Bio:

PAUL BAHOU is the author of Sunset Distortion: The Pyramid at the End of the World. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from Cal State University Long Beach with a minor in music. He began his career writing grants while playing in his rock band, eventually moving out of music and into the sustainability sector. He lives in Southern California with his wife Melissa, daughter Sophie and son, Harrison. He writes fiction, music and the occasional dad joke in his spare time.

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Model Making Update and Returning to a Manuscript

January 13, 2022
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I thought I would share a update on the model I am making. It is not going to be a quick project by any means! So far I have made all of the internal cabinets and shelves and a few of the tiny paper folded items. This project will probably take me more than a few months, in-between full time work, writing time and, you know – life! It is extremely fiddly and the air has been blue on occasion.

The handles for the cabinets have to be created with wire and the decorative parts. The suitcase and boxes are cut out of a template and folded and the fruit bowl was five separate pieces! This is the first model I have attempted, so it is a steep learning curve.

Apart from that, I have gotten back into my detective manuscript of book two in the trilogy, A Tainted Search. I had not visited it since the end of November, when I completed National Novel Writing Month. I let it percolate for a while. Leaving a manuscript after an intense month of writing, allows me to mull over its content and gather my thoughts on the continuing story.

Do you leave a manuscript to develop in your mind? If so for how long?

What are you working on?

Creative Edge Author Interview -Nicole Fanning

November 12, 2021
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1.       Where did the idea for Catalyst come from?

While I have admittedly never READ a mafia romance, I am obsessed with the history and lore behind several of the world’s successful crime organizations. Chicago alone has a long history with the mafia but all over the world different variations of organized crime have, while somewhat controversial, still been a vital part of society. They are always protrayed as a villian, a heartless and honorless beast that must be fed…but I never saw them that way. I always thought for these families to exist and maintain power as long as they have, they MUST have had their internal codes of honor, trust, and sense of community that knit everyone together, and so I decided to write that.

Additionally, what mafia romances I have watched on the silver screen seem to stick to the same three motifs: Either the female MC was kidnapped, or she witnessed something she wasn’t supposed to, or she was forced into an arranged marriage.

I wanted to do something different, so I had my story originate from the unintentional collision of two worlds: Jaxon’s world of the underground, and Natalie’s of what we view as “normal society.”

2.       Did you know it would be part of a series when you started writing it? 

Yes! I have plans for 16 books in this series!

3.       Which character really propelled the narrative for you?

 Jaxon. He is flawed but protective, dangerous but compassionate. I love Natalie, but she’s more who I aspire to be, less of who I identify with now. Haha!

4.       What draws you to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s writing?

The complexity and his drive to make his readers think-while still delivering a satisfying yet surprising ending!

5.       Have you formulated your narratives as homage to his style?

Absolutely. I agree with him that great and relatable stories are often pulled from human experience. As he once said:

“Life is infinitely stranger than anything the mind of man could invent.”

6.       Where do you typically write?

While I love my office at home, the world is my office and I am constantly writing all day long on my phone. I have thumb muscles of steel!

7.       Are you a member of a writing group? 

Not officially, but I do have a little community of writers that have come together as fans of “Heart of the Inferno” and we have created a Discord. They are the most incredible ladies, who support and inspire me DAILY. 

8.       What do you enjoy most about writing?

It is truly relaxing for me. It allows me to be creative without the messiness and chaos that typical creative processes take, something my type-A personality appreciates.

9.       Where can readers find you and your books? 

Amazon and Kindle

10.   Do you have more writing projects in the works? 

Oh yes! Book three, the conclusion of THIS part of the story with Jaxon and Natalie, drops at the end of May 2022. However, as I mentioned there are 13 more books planned, featuring side characters in HOTI as the main characters (and don’t worry, Jaxon and Natalie will continue as side characters too!)

Big plans indeed!

Nicole’s debut novel, Catalyst, is the first incendiary installment of the Heart of the Inferno Series, which follows the story of a dangerous mafia don and the girl who became his only exception

Catalyst (Heart of the Inferno) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B092C8TMWR/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_8S8EC1WGPSRDF5CRXQS0

Ignite: Heart of the Inferno https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09DFK5TLW/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_T32C3P8QAFZASPA8P6DM

Bio

Nicole is an author, copywriter, wife and super proud dog mom to three rambunctious rescue dogs. And is also an old school romantic, with a proclivity for a little mischief, and an obsession with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. With a background in marketing, and Human Resources, she has often found that the human element is by far the most colorful, complex and most interesting in the world. As a child, Nicole devoured every book she could get my hands on, and spent her free time writing fictional short-stories to share with her friends, probably the reason she decided to write (and publish) her first book series: Heart of the Inferno. It’s an action-romance about a dangerous mafia lord named Jaxon Pace, and Natalie Tyler, the girl who became his only exception.

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Plunging into NaNaWriMo Again!

November 4, 2021
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Once again it is that time of year when many writers immerse themselves into a frantic month of writing. National Novel Writing Month gives writers the opportunity to begin, or indeed finish a writing project. Taking part is a challenge, it certainly motivates and is a great experience in writing to a deadline. This banner says it all.

My project this year is book two of The Delphic Murders, my detective trilogy. The title is A Tainted Search. Unfortunately, I managed to delete last year’s project, book one, The Elusive Trail, when I changed the date by mistake. Although, it does show as a goal. Onward and upward as they say. That manuscript has already gone through several revisions and edits.

Personally, I have found NaNoWriMo to be useful for my writing, as stated in the illustrated banner, but also as the vehicle to meet other writers around the globe. We are all experiencing this challenge in different ways, with varying success, but in a uniquely linked way through the portal. It is also a personal challenge and one we can learn from in regard to our writing technique and commitment. Having such a shared experience and the ability to communicate while doing it makes it a fun project, although anxiety inducing as we watch the word counter.

Are you entering the challenge this year? I’m happy to be a buddy – my user name is MandyB

Please share your project so we can encourage and support each other.

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Reader Feedback Wanted on this Story Excerpt.

August 3, 2021
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Today I am sharing the first paragraph of a ‘on the back burner’ work in progress. It is the result of a National Novel Writing Month challenge, a couple of years ago. I am unsure if it will ever become a fully fledged novel, time will tell. I would welcome any feedback on this excerpt.

Do you ‘see’ Jess?

Do you get an idea of her background, her personality?

What genre do you think it is?

Would you read more?

Photo by Los Muertos Crew on Pexels.com

Coming to University – Part One

Jess                                                                                                                                        

Jess sat hugging the hot coffee mug in her hands, she may have looked relaxed and happy, but inside she was in turmoil. Her eyes scanned the many pedestrians walking back and forth on the sidewalk outside the coffee shop. Willing him – the one -to appear out of the crowd. Tall, blonde and athletic her first real crush, well as she called it – a grown up infatuation – not like the silly childish crushes, when she was at school back home. Here at university it was so different.  She had independence from a worrywart doormat of a mother, who pushed her towards any ‘suitable’ young boy. “Make the right choice now, Jessie, and you will be happy. Don’t make my mistake and go for the ‘cool guy’.  Her mother always whispered this advice least her distant and unemotional father heard. Jess tried to elicit more information from her mother on the subject, but it was always brushed aside.

The thought of the three of them eating in silence every evening meal at the dining table made her cringe. Jess once ventured to ask to eat in her room, mainly to escape the uncomfortable atmosphere; it was met with a horrified look on her mother’s face and a rage exploding from her father, which so terrified Jess she vomited there and then. This, of course, made the matter a hundred times worse. Her father stormed out of the room; slamming his study door so hard it propelled two pictures off the hallway wall. Her mother visibly shaking went into clean up mode immediately, running to the kitchen and filling a bowl of hot water and grabbing several rags to ‘save’ the carpet. Jess stood frozen in place, the vomit drying on her dress and chin as tears ran unbidden down her cheeks.  It wasn’t until her mother pushed at her leg to reach a splash of vomit that either realized the other’s presence. “Get in the bath, Jessie and put that dress in the sink.” Having an instruction gave her body permission to move. She climbed the stairs, stripped and sat in the bath as it filled with water. Deep inside a switch turned, she needed to escape this house and find real love, someplace where people loved each other and were happy. At the time, at the tender age of eleven, she could only dream and secretly plan, but as the weeks and months passed, her escape route gradually formed. Her art teacher told her she had a real gift and after several conversations between them, they managed to find a grant-funded course for Jess in a university several hundred miles away. For Jess the distance was heaven sent almost as much as her teacher’s ability to get the grant on her behalf. With no costs to pay, her parents could not refuse Jess attending.

She announced her entrance into the university over another silent dinner table the day of graduation. Her mother looked at her wide-eyed, but Jess could see relief there too. Her father paused putting a mouthful of food in his mouth, looked directly at Jess and said, “Make the most of the opportunity.” He then continued eating, no good luck, and no congratulations – nothing. Later, her mother came into her bedroom and hugged her. “You will find someone wonderful Jessie, I am so happy for you.” Even then, her mother did not divulge any information on love and life or relationships, leaving Jess with a hope nurtured in her chest that she would indeed find love, a true love. Someone who made her happy, talked to her, listened to her, and gave her a wonderful life.

Thank you for participating. Your comments will be helpful.

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