Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Creative Edge Author Interview – Caroline Giammanco

January 20, 2022
mandyevebarnett


  1. What inspired you to write this collection of paranormal and science fiction stories? (Into the Night)

    My mother was a strong influence on me growing up, and she encouraged us to consider the “what ifs” of the universe. We watched Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, and Kolchak: The Night Stalker and enjoyed talking about the possibilities of aliens, ghosts, and other things that go bump in the night. It’s a genre I’ve been drawn to my entire life. 

    After writing three hard-hitting nonfiction books, I needed a break. I still wanted to be creative, but I didn’t want to go through the emotional meat grinder of another true crime/criminal justice book. I was drained, so I decided to write science fiction and paranormal stories for fun. It has been a nice change of pace to create the monsters instead of writing about the real ones.

   Henry was another strong influence on me as a child. I enjoy stories with a twist, and I incorporate a twist into nearly every fiction piece I write whether it is science fiction, paranormal, or general fiction. I like taking readers by surprise, and I like to make them look at items we take for granted in new ways.

  1. Did you have these stories filed away for a while, or did you write them specifically for the collection?

    Since I hadn’t decided to start writing short stories until I was needing a break from my nonfiction books, these stories are new material I wrote for the collection. I hadn’t written short stories prior to writing my books, so there were none to pull out of storage. 

  1. Do you have a favorite story in the collection, and if so, why?

    Different stories appeal to me for different reasons. I incorporate a piece of myself and my life experiences into each one. Charcoal Drawings haunted me to some degree because, as a teacher, I pictured myself as the main character, Mylah Kennedy. I didn’t finish this story until 1:30 in the morning, and when I ended it and looked out at my pitch-black bedroom, it gave me the “heeby-geebies.”

4. What is your writing schedule like?

    Unlike some writers, I don’t have a set schedule, nor do I believe I have to write every day in order to be a “real” writer. I’m busy with my teaching job, a long commute, my farm, and family obligations. If I don’t feel like writing, I don’t. If a story idea needs more time to develop in my mind, I let it rest until it’s ready to come out. At other times, when I have the writing bug, so to speak, I’ll write two stories in a weekend. I need to be in the right frame of mind. I know some writers feel as though they must write “x” amount of words per day, but that sounds too much like drudgery to me. I write because I enjoy the creative process, and my creative process doesn’t work well under artificial constraints like a required word count. To answer the question: I have no writing schedule

5. How do you research for your books?

    My three nonfiction books deal with the criminal justice system. Bank Notes: The True Story of the Boonie Hat Bandit and Inside the Death Fences: Memoir of a Whistleblower are the real-life experiences of my husband and myself, so research wasn’t necessary. For Guilty Hearts: The World of Prison Romance, I interviewed other women who have incarcerated loved ones and their family members.

6. Where is your favorite place to write?

    I like to be comfortable when I write, so I prefer to write in bed, especially at night. There are few distractions and my ideas flow more easily at night when I’m relaxed. If an idea hits me, and I’m able to jot it down, however, I’ll write anywhere.

7. When did you start writing?

    I’m a high school English teacher, but I never wrote anything other than work-related items until I began my first book, Bank Notes. Over the years, people told me I should write, but I never had a purpose for writing until the story of my husband’s experiences needed to be told.

8. Do you have a blog, website, or social media links you can share?

 My WordPress blog site is carolinegiammanco writes. My Twitter account is @GiammancoBook. I’m on Facebook at Caroline Giammanco Author and at Caroline Giammanco Author Fans

9. Your other books cover some controversial and powerful subjects. Can you let us know how they came about and why you chose to write them

a) Bank Notes: The True Story of the Boonie Hat Bandit

In July 2011, I began teaching the GED program at the South Central Correctional Center in Licking, Missouri. That is a maximum-security men’s prison, and working in a prison was never on my bucket list. The Great Recession caused my school district, and many others, to cut positions, and I found myself needing a job, so I applied.

In late March 2012, I hired Donald Keith Giammanco to work as a tutor in my classroom.  Each of the ten classrooms had two tutors who assisted the teachers. I didn’t realize that Keith was The Boonie Hat Bandit for a few weeks after I’d hired him, but he had been upfront at the interview and told me he had robbed banks in the St. Louis area using notes. Keith and my other tutor were enrolled in a college business class at the time, and I would proofread their papers. Keith is intelligent, but spelling isn’t his strong suit, so I told him one day that if he ever wrote a book or screenplay, he might want to have me edit it first. We laughed, but it was an idea we stuck with. Over time, it went from me editing his story to helping him write it. Together we collaborated to let the world know what the criminal justice system looks like as experienced by a middle-class adult who went down the wrong path. It’s a world most citizens don’t see, and the corruption we witnessed each day needed to be brought to light.   

b) Guilty Hearts: The World of Prison Romance

    After I wrote Bank Notes, I took part in dozens of Barnes and Noble book signings around the country. Each time, I was met with people who were incredulous that I was involved with an inmate. “You don’t look like someone who would marry an inmate” was a common thread. After talking with me for a while, or after they read my book, they would change their mind and say something along the lines of, “Well, you and Keith are okay, but those other women…”

    By this time, I knew several families with incarcerated loved ones, and they weren’t the stereotype at all. They were hard-working, middle-class, upstanding people who happened to love someone who made mistakes. I felt it was important to share their stories in hopes some of the stigma could be taken away. I chose Guilty Hearts for the name of the book because too often anyone who is related to or loves an inmate is painted with the same guilt as the incarcerated person. We are not second-class citizens

c) Inside the Death Fences: Memoir of a Whistleblower:

    Now that I had told my husband’s story, and the stories of a dozen other families, I decided the time was right to tell my own experiences working inside the Missouri prison system, including what I saw, the death threats, and my activism to change a terribly flawed system that leaves none of us any safer.

10. As a teacher, do you encourage your students to write their stories?

    I believe it is important to help students find their voices. Every class I teach has a writing component, and I teach a course called Creative Writing.

11. Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction when you read and why?

    Ever since I was a young child, I prefer nonfiction. Real people and real places have always fascinated me. I enjoy good fiction works, but nonfiction is a mainstay for me.

12. Does your location inspire you to write and how?

    I grew up on an eighty-acre farm in the Missouri Ozark Mountains, and the love of the country has never left me. After I graduated high school, I moved to Tucson, Arizona to attend the University of Arizona. I ended up living in Arizona and New Mexico for over twenty years before returning to rural southern Missouri in 2006. 

    Each place I have lived has left an imprint on me, and I draw from those places whenever I write. In addition to science fiction, paranormal, and general fiction, I also write westerns that are heavily influenced by my time out West.

Bio:

Caroline Giammanco is an author and high school English teacher. She grew up in Douglas County, Missouri and moved to Arizona to attend the University of Arizona where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with an English minor. She lives on her sixty-acre farm in southern Missouri. Caroline is married to the love of her life, Keith Giammanco. 

Caroline’s previous published works are nonfiction and deal with the criminal justice system: Bank Notes: The True Story of the Boonie Hat Bandit; Guilty Hearts: The World of Prison Romances; and Inside the Death Fences: Memoir of a Whistleblower. 

Creative Edge Author Interview – JP McLean

March 11, 2021
mandyevebarnett


1.     What drew you to write in this genre?

Urban fantasy is my favourite genre to read and so if felt natural to write it as well.  I’m especially drawn to stories where the supernatural walk among us. I think that’s because I would love to possess those supernatural abilities—oh, to be able to fly! And when supernatural beings hide within everyday society, then maybe—just maybe—they really exist. That feeling of possibility is what I want to create in my writing. It’s escapism, and we could all use a little more of that.

2.     Do the characters come to you fully formed or do they emerge the more you write about them?

They definitely emerge as I put them through their paces. Character motivation, in particular, is often something that comes out later when a character’s past comes into play.

3.     Are your characters based on real people?

Not wholly, but pieces of real people are found in my characters. It might be unruly hair, or the way someone walks. It could be a piece of clothing or a conversation I overheard in a coffee shop.

4.     Is there something in your background that plays into your writing?

I’ve always had a vivid imagination, and the paranormal and magic have fascinated me since I was a child. Even as a young girl, I remember running into the wind with my arms widespread, hoping to lift off and fly.

5.     Where does your inspiration come from for a new story?

Books and music are a great source of inspiration. It’s not always the content, but how the material makes me feel. I enjoy recreating emotions like wonder, elation, anger, etc. Frequently, a news story will spark my imagination, like the recent discovery of a giant cave in BC, or the discovery that the Easter Island Heads have hidden bodies. An old horror story I heard around a campfire when I was a Girl Guide inspired my latest short story titled Scaredy Cat.

6.     Did you plan to write your series?

Not at all. I thought I was writing a one-off book. It was a personal challenge. But when I finished it, I missed the characters, and I missed writing. I also knew that the world I’d created had bandwidth to expand and explore. The series is now complete at seven books.

7.     Why did you choose an urban setting for the Gift Legacy?

The characters in the books can fly, and I needed the possibility they might get caught. A big city provided that tension. The city setting also lends itself to more places for the characters to interact.

8.     Where did the name Emelynn come from?

Emelynn is the name of a woman I met briefly when I lived in Vancouver. I always loved her name.

9.     Do you have a current writing project? Can you tell us a little about it?

Yes! My new project is a book titled Blood Mark. It’s the story of a young woman who bears a chain of scarlet birthmarks. She is thrilled when, one by one, the disfiguring marks begin to disappear—until she learns that the hated marks protect her from a mysterious and homicidal enemy. Now, she is in a race against time to find this dangerous enemy before her last mark vanishes.

10.    Are you a planner or a pantser?

I started off as a pantser but learned the value of outlining when I got further into my series and found it too difficult to keep track of all the story and character threads. I now outline regularly, but I’m not dogged about it—if the story doesn’t fit the outline, I’ll rewrite the outline, not the story.

11.    When did you start writing?

In my day-job work life, I wrote a lot of non-fiction in the form of procedure manuals and job descriptions. That writing wasn’t nearly as fun as the fiction writing that I started in 2010.

12.    Do you have a study or writing space?

I have two spaces. One is a corner of the dining room that has a view of the ocean. It’s there that I am at my most creative. I also have a chair in the living room where I tend to the business side of writing. Oddly enough, I rarely use the office in the back of the house. It has a “work” vibe and no view.

13.    Where can readers find you on social media/blog?

My hub is my website at jpmcleanauthor.com. I’m also on Twitter @jpmcleanauthor and on Facebook at JPMcLeanBooks.

14.    What would you like your readers to know?

How much I appreciate their support, how important their reviews are, and how much I enjoy their messages and comments.

Bio:

J.P. McleanJo-Anne holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, is a certified scuba diver, an avid gardener, and a voracious reader. She had a successful career in Human Resources before turning her attention to writing. JP lives on Denman Island, nestled between the coast of British Columbia and Vancouver Island. Raised in Toronto, Ontario, JP has lived in various parts of North America from Mexico and Arizona to Alberta and Ontario before settling on Canada’s west coast.

You can reach her through her website at jpmcleanauthor.com.

Author Interview Postponed for Thursday – Bruce Olav Solheim

March 25, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Unfortunately, tomorrow’s planned author interview has been postponed but please see Bruce Olav Solhiem’s newest release in his trilogy.

The Final Book in a Trilogy of True Paranormal Adventures

timeless

Timeless Trinity is the completion of Solheim’s paranormal trilogy of true stories. Trinity goes beyond the first two Timeless books as it details the authors continuing contact with Anzar, an ancient alien mystic, UFO sightings, alien abductions, animal spirits, ghosts, hauntings, demons, an encounter with the infamous original American mass murderer Dr. H.H. Holmes, and concludes that the spirit world, the alien world, and the quantum world are all the same. Dr. Solheim’s Timeless Trinity is a personal glimpse into a truly paranormal life. Gary Dumm again provides the illustrations and world renowned hypnotherapist Yvonne Smith provides a foreword.

Breaks through as an Amazon Bestseller!!  Released February 2020 The books are available worldwide across all platforms

Other Works In The Series

timeless 1

Timeless is the first book in the Timeless trilogy and documents 34 of the author’s paranormal experiences. Starting at age 4, Solheim has led a paranormal life and encountered angels, ghosts, demons, haunted houses, spirits of all kinds, cryptids, telekinesis, telepathy, and more. He is truly a paranormal lightning rod.

unnamed

Solheim’s first Timeless book offered readers an entertaining chronological survey of his remarkable paranormal adventures. Timeless Deja Vu goes further and deeper with 31 more stories of the paranormal and supernatural where you will experience the impact of Solheim’s mediumship and encounters with spirits of all kinds, learn about a theoretical framework for understanding these phenomena, and even discover how aliens and ghosts have something in common. You will be introduced to his Nazi aunt, take a ride in his demonic car, meet his spirit animals, contemplate the wisdom of an ancient alien, and visit Elvis and John Wayne along the way. Dr. Solheim’s new book is shocking, revealing, inspirational, frightening, humorous, and thought-provoking. Gary Dumm again provides his superb illustrations. The Paranormal Professor strikes again!

We will catch up with Bruce at a later date.

Bruce is available for interviews, media appearances, speaking engagements, and/or book review requests – please contact mickey.creativeedge@gmail.com 

Creative Edge

Author Interview – Wren Handman

December 10, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

WrenAuthor

What inspired your latest novel? I had this idea—if the legends are real, why do they change so often? I started to imagine worlds where various legends were true. Werewolves, vampires, fairies. And what that world would look like, how it would have to be made up, in order for all these disparate legends to somehow be based on the real magic that underpins it all. I started with fairies, and how the stories about them change and are shaped, over time, by human invention. So I came up with an idea that fairies themselves are actually shaped by humans. By our dreams, by our collective stories. But once every thousand years or so, a human comes along who shapes the fairy world more drastically. The Phantasmer. And that’s where the story started.

How did you come up with the title? I always joke that titles are the bane of my existence! When I first started writing the book I called it Phantasmer. And one of my friends read it, and he told me, “That’s terrible, it sounds like it’s about a ghost or something. You have to change it!” So I thought I would try to find a lyric or a bit of poetry that I liked, and name it after that. At first I wanted to use a line from the poem by Emily Dickinson about fairies, there’s a beautiful line about, “Buy here! … Even for Death, a fairy medicine.” that I really loved, so I called it Even For Death, for awhile—death and ghosts! It sounded way too maudlin, not at all what the book was about, and if you didn’t know the quote it was even worse. So I was scanning through song lyrics, trying to find something, and then this line from “Sounds of Silence” just hit me, and it was just so perfect. What is Sylvia is not a dreamer, restless and wary? And “In Restless Dreams” was born. I don’t recommend choosing a song lyrics as your book title, though. I have that song stuck in my head constantly now!

Command

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? Life is beautiful and life is messy and life is precious, and it’s never too soon and never too late to go on the biggest adventure of your life. And it gets better.

How much of the book is realistic? It’s really important to me, both in my writing and in the books I read, that novels that are fantastical are even more rooted in the real and everyday than novels that are set on the real world. I hate how much young adult literature especially dives into magic and forgets all about the real consequences of being a teenager. Your parents, your friends, keeping up with school—none of those things vanish just because there’s something huge going on in your life. I think we’ve all experience that to a lesser degree, whether it’s having a huge fight with your best friend but you still have to write a math midterm, or your parents are getting a divorce but there’s a party on Friday night and everyone is going. Magic is a bit like that. It doesn’t make room in your life for itself, it just is.

Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life? I’m inspired by the stories I read and the themes I find in the world around me, but I don’t usually base characters on specific people. My next novel that I’m working on has a character based on my best friend, though! She thinks it’s really weird to see her name in print.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog? I’m very active on Facebook, you can find me at facebook.com/wrenhandmanwriter, and I do have a blog on my personal website, www.wrenhandman.com/blog

Restless

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone? I am forever writing the next book and working on the next idea, and I have quite a few finished projects waiting in the queue. We’ll see how it goes, but I would like to return to the story of In Restless Dreams. I don’t think Sylvia is done with her journey yet.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why? Stranger is by far my favourite character. I love that he breaks that ‘mystery guy’ mold by being funny, by enjoying laughter and life and knowing his place in the world.

Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one? I dabble in a lot of different genres, but always speculative. I love the intersection of mystery and magic with the everyday, that’s where my passion is. So I write a lot of near-future science fiction, and a lot of paranormal fantasy. Things where we still recognize our lives and the world, but something has been added to it.

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer? Both! I think a combination is the key to a really great story. You need to have an idea of the shape of it, or it can get really meandery and lost. But if you stick too closely to an outline you had before you really knew your characters, they can feel stilted. So I like to write an outline that’s usually 4-5 pages for a full length novel, and then I let it grow and spread and change as it needs to over the course of writing.

Last Cut

What is your best marketing tip? I really like providing something fun for readers who follow me. So I talk a lot about my process, and I post quotes as I work on the book, things that might not even end up in the final draft.

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance? Yes! It’s so necessary and every author has to do it, but it can be a huge time suck. I recommend choosing your platform and concentrating there. I’m on Twitter and Instagram, but my real focus in Facebook, and that’s where I put the majority of my time.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS

What do you enjoy most about writing? When I’m not writing I grow restless, as if something I can’t quite define is missing. It’s that sense of building something you hope will last, those stories crawling up your throat that need to be told. It’s seeing a finished product and knowing it will mean something to someone one day, that it will take them away and erase the world, just for a little while.

What age did you start writing stories/poems? Since before I can remember I was telling stories, playing make-believe, inventing. I was always a child of great imagination. I wrote my first play when I was six years old, and got everyone in my class to star in it. I wrote my first novel in junior high, was sending it out to agents by the end of high school. It was rough, those early things I wrote. But I had a lot of support from family and friends, and that made all the difference.

Has your genre changed or stayed the same? It’s stayed pretty consistent, actually. It’s always been that sense of imagination and escape that’s appealed to me.

What genre are you currently reading? I read about 50 books a year, and most of them are either fantasy, science fiction, or paranormal, in both adult and fantasy. I like to be transported.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both? For pleasure, though there isn’t anything that isn’t research in a certain sense. If you don’t like to read it, you have no business writing it. You need to know what’s already been done. It’s like when Oryx and Crake came out, and a bunch of reviewers said how groundbreaking it was, and the entire science fiction community was like… You’ve never read sci-fi before, have you? It was a well written book, don’t get me wrong! Of course it was, she’s a literary master. But it wasn’t new. It wasn’t saying anything that hadn’t been said before.

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager? My family is a bulwark I could not live without. My mother especially loves to read works in progress, and never has a single negative thing to say. My friend Hollis I call my cheerleader. I really don’t know if I would have come so far without her. I always knew I had someone to write for, that even if I was never published at least I was creating something for someone. That really got me through the long days before my first publishing success.

Do you see writing as a career? Yes, absolutely. Of course it’s a passion, and a vocation, and a calling. But I think people who fail to become “writers” fail because they don’t see it as a job, too. You have to put the time in. You have to start at the bottom and work your way up. You have to do some boring stuff to make money while you work on your creative projects on the side. It takes discipline.

Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food? I am a terrible snacker! Thankfully writing usually keeps me more distracting than my other work, so it’s almost a dieting aid.

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline? I’m all about the champagne. Finish a novel? Champagne! Get a writing contract? Champagne! Book release day? Champagne!

Bio:

Wren Handman is a novelist, fiction writer, and screenwriter. She’s written three novels: Last Cut (Lorimer Ltd 2012) and Command the Tides (Omnific 2015), and In Restless Dreams, which was originally self-published and is now forthcoming from Parliament House Press. Check out The Switch, Wren’s TV comedy about trans life in Vancouver. Follow her blog at www.wrenhandman.com/blog, or on Twitter @wrenhandman. 

Author Interview – Bruce Olav Solheim

October 15, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

Bruce

What inspired your latest novel?
It is actually a comic book called Snarc. The character came to me in a dream in 1982. I believe it was initially inspired by an alien abduction experience from my childhood.

How did you come up with the title?
The title and the name of the character is from the dream

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

Yes, we have to work together to solve our problems because time is running out.

snarc

How much of the book is realistic?
Snarc visits various locations in the USA where real life problems are happening (i.e., the border with Mexico).

Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My wife Ginger says that I am Snarc. I pay close attention to what is going on around the country. So, yes.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?
No blog, but I am active on FaceBook (https://www.facebook.com/SnarcComic/) and my personal website (http://www.bruceolavsolheim.com) and Twitter (@BruceOSolheim)

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
Snarc is a comic book series. I have already written enough stories for three more issues.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
Snarc is my favorite. He is part human, part alien, all heart. He is learning about the troubles we face as humans from a totally objective viewpoint and with an eye toward helping all of us survive the upcoming calamities.

Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
I write non-fiction, I write theatre plays, I love writing.

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
Totally right brain seat of the pants and awaaaaay we go!

What is your best marketing tip?
I use FaceBook and direct mailers. Old and new.

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
Definitely a great tool, but don’t forget about the old ways and use those too!

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS 
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Writing is life, and I enjoy life.

What age did you start writing stories/poems?
Age 7.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both?
Both, but mostly research.

Where is your favorite writing space?
My home library, my sanctuary.

If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be?
Mark Twain.

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

Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, a second career.

Find Bruce’s books here: https://www.amazon.com/Bruce-Olav-Solheim/e/B001H6UAKG/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Bio:

Bruce Olav Solheim was born in Seattle, Washington, to Norwegian immigrant parents. Bruce was the first per­son in his family to go to college. He served for six years in the US Army as a jail guard and later as a warrant officer helicopter pilot, and is a disabled veteran. Bruce earned his Ph.D. in history from Bowling Green State University in 1993. Bruce is a distinguished professor of history at Citrus College in Glendora, California. He was a Fulbright Professor in 2003 at the University of Tromsø in northern Norway. Bruce has published eight books and has written ten plays, two of which have been produced. He is married to Ginger and has four children and a grandson. Bruce has just published his second paranormal book, Timeless Deja Vu: A Paranormal Personal History. Bruce’s mother was psychic and introduced him to the magical realm. His first paranormal experience took place in northern Norway in 1962 when he was four years old. Bruce took a parapsychology class while he was stationed in West Germany in 1979 and has wanted to write about his experiences ever since. He has continued to have paranormal experiences throughout his life and has developed advanced mediumship capabilities. It was only three years ago that Bruce had a spiritual awakening after a vision and communication with his departed close friend Gene that Bruce decided to publish his paranormal stories and overcome his fear of being rejected and ridiculed by his peers and the college administration. Bruce studies quantum theory and has developed a model that may help explain our quantum reality, ghosts, reincarnation, alien contact, and more. He is interested in all esoterica and oddities. Bruce teaches a Paranormal Personal History course at Citrus College and has his own radio program.​ He is also an associate member of the Parapsychological Association.

 

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