Author Interview: Sharleen Nelson (part 2 of 2)

Originally published 10/06/2018

SPOILER ALERT

While every effort has been made to avoid spoilers in this post, anyone who has not read The Time Tourists by Sharleen Nelson is hereby advised that this post may contain a few unavoidable spoilers.

31949641_10103880103049296_8630631606152855552_n

If there’s one thing I love, it’s a truly imaginative story. As a story about a time travelling private detective, The Time Tourists by Sharleen Nelson definitely fits that category!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Sharleen, whose debut novel The Time Tourists is available to buy on Amazon and other retail outlets. This is the second half of that interview. Click here to read the first half.


Let’s talk some more about your characters. Teddy is probably one of the most messed up characters I’ve ever come across. He’s absolutely vile in many respects and guilty of some pretty awful crimes yet there is also something pitiable about him. How do you go about developing a character like that?

He started out being just this borderline sociopathic neighbourhood bully with a kooky mother. We do feel sorry for him at times because, after all, he is this sort of confused teenage boy who wants to be good–he is envious of Imogen’s family. He would like more than anything to be their boy and have a normal life. But on the other hand, his mother has been doing unspeakably vile things to him since he was a child. He knows he will never be able to recapture that innocence and he also doesn’t feel like he deserves to be loved and he takes all that rage and pent-up anger and directs it at Tiffany. But just when he was beginning to feel better about his life, she shows up with the news that she is pregnant. He liked his job. Niles was mentoring him. He was thinking about a career. But Tiffany ruined everything. His reaction was obviously to get rid of her. In developing Teddy, I read up on sociopathic behaviours– antisocial behaviour, deceitfulness, hostility, irresponsibility, manipulativeness, risk taking behaviours, aggression, impulsivity, irritability, lack of restraint–and combined that with a narcissistic, abusive mother–and voila! Teddy.

timetouristsYou mentioned earlier that Imogen had her own opinions about things. Throughout The Time Tourists, the audience is privy to a lot of Imogen’s strongly-held beliefs about a whole range of controversial subjects from abortion to Darwinism. Do you think it’s important for authors to use their protagonists to make points on important real-life subjects?

I think every author’s approach is different. Each author has their own story to tell. I don’t know that it’s necessarily important, but for me personally, I think addressing real-world topics makes my characters more believable. I read something the other day about the movie Dirty Dancing. Everyone loves that film and it always feels like this very light, entertaining outing about dancing. However, the entire premise for Baby and Johnny getting together at all is because she is called upon to fill in for his usual dance partner after she falls victim to a botched, illegal abortion. I also think that if my characters are going back in time I have a responsibility to provide context and comparison.

If they ever make a film adaptation of The Time Tourists, who would you choose to play the lead characters? 

Haha, I actually have thought about this–what author hasn’t? I sort of envision Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss in The Hunger Games) or maybe Emma Watson (Hermoine Granger from Harry Potter)– both seem like strong, feminist-type women. For Herbert Doran– Michael Shannon. He is so intense and awesome. Simon was actually based on a sort of Robert Downey, Jr. prototype, but I think we’d need someone a bit younger for the role. Not sure about Teddy– a method actor, for sure!

The Time Tourists is, of course, the first book in the Dead Relatives Inc. series. Now I know you won’t want to give too much away but I have to ask: what’s next for Imogen? 

Imogen will have more adventures in time, of course, but there are a number of loose ends– her mother and father are still lost in time and we may never know what happened to Tiffany, or will we? I envision Mimi Pinky playing a larger role in this second book. Simon will have to also become acclimated to living 100 years in the future and as the new guy in Imogen’s life, I envision some conflict between he and her ex-boyfriend Fletcher. There will be a few other surprises that I’ll keep under wraps. I also see some danger ahead.

Final question: do you have any advice for anyone out there who might be thinking about writing their first novel? 

Forget an audience. Write for yourself and don’t censure yourself. What do you like to read about? When I was a little girl, I enjoyed it so much because I was basically telling myself a story. Enjoy the journey. Just like the reader, as the writer I keep going so I can find out what happens next. Say what you want to say and write what you yourself would like to read.

The Time Tourists by Sharleen Nelson is available to buy now on Amazon and other retail outlets.
Click here to visit Sharleen Nelson’s author page.

MISSED PART 1 OF THIS INTERVIEW? CLICK HERE TO READ IT.

 

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AUTHOR INTERVIEWS:

Unfortunately, I am unable to take on any more author interviews or solicited book reviews at this time.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Author Interview: Sharleen Nelson (part 1 of 2)

Originally published 03/06/2018

SPOILER ALERT

While every effort has been made to avoid spoilers in this post, anyone who has not read The Time Tourists by Sharleen Nelson is hereby advised that this post may contain a few unavoidable spoilers.

31949641_10103880103049296_8630631606152855552_n

If there’s one thing I love, it’s a truly imaginative story. As a story about a time travelling private detective, The Time Tourists by Sharleen Nelson definitely fits that category!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Sharleen Nelson, whose debut novel The Time Tourists is available to buy on Amazon and other retail outlets. What follows is part one of that interview. Be sure to check back next week for part two!


You’ve been a journalist and an award-winning photographer for over twenty years. What made you decide to write a novel?

I have always been a writer, ever since I was a little girl. I used to spin stories in my head, complete with an array of characters and dialogue. I started one novel and got about 40,000 words into it, but then couldn’t figure out what to do with the characters, so abandoned it. This particular story started percolating about 10 years ago. My father had died recently and I was pretty devastated. I thought that getting lost in a nice little fantasy might be good therapy.

What was the main inspiration behind The Time Tourists?timetourists

Well at the time I was working as a magazine editor/writer at this place called Marathon Coach– they build these million dollar luxury buses. Anyway, in the bathroom were framed prints of local street scenes from around the turn of the century– people walking, doing things, cars and buggies. I remember looking at those and thinking, ‘how cool would it be to just be able to walk into that picture, into that scene and be a part of it.’ I love history. I’m a photographer, and if time travel was real, I would totally do it! The combination of things just sort of meshed and I started forming the story. I didn’t want to deal with the tech part of having a time machine; I wanted it to be more of a magical thing, so that when my character arrived somewhere in time, the universe just filled in everything for her.

Did you find anything particularly difficult about writing this novel?

Yes, I wanted it to be more character-driven, less science fiction. I guess you could say it’s more of a fantasy, but it doesn’t really fit neatly into either genre. I guess you’d call it ‘speculative fiction’. The most difficult part of writing it for me was letting myself get bogged down with plot structure. I knew the story. I never have writer’s block at all, but I wasted a good deal of time organising and reorganising and moving chapters around–should I weave in the backstory? Should it be chronological? Finally, I just decided that I needed to write the damn thing and worry about that later. Once I did that, it all sort of fell into place.

When I first read the synopsis I thought I might be getting a sort of sci-fi/cozy mystery combination but there are actually a lot of different and sometimes very dark themes running through this story making it quite hard to categorise (definitely not a cozy, however!). What would you say was your central theme(s)?

That is a great question! You’re right, it isn’t the cozy tale that one might expect. Of course, as every writer does, I drew things from my own life and I wanted Imogen to be this very real, complex person with opinions about things. I didn’t want to just send her off on adventures without the audience knowing what motivates her. So much of it evolved as I was going along. It’s true what people say, that sometimes characters seem to have minds of their own. Teddy is a very dark and twisted character. He came about from an experience I had when I was 19. I was majoring in psychology and for a time, I volunteered on a crisis line. The phone calls were routed to my home phone and I had a list of resources to recommend to people who called in. One night, a 16-year-old boy called. I wasn’t supposed to counsel anyone, just refer them, but he started telling me this horrible story about how his mother was abusing him sexually and that she would let him use the car if he slept with her. Of course, that stuck with me and not only did it make the reader feel more sympathetic to the Teddy character, he wasn’t all pure evil, but also showed that abuse comes in many forms. It’s not always male perpetrators. I also wanted to explore themes like religion, misogyny, feminism, or what it’s like being a gay person in another time. So I’m not sure that there is a central theme. I just wanted to create characters that the reader could maybe identify with, who have real motivations and real flaws.

COME BACK NEXT WEEK FOR PART 2.

The Time Tourists by Sharleen Nelson is available to buy now on Amazon and other retail outlets.
Click here to visit Sharleen Nelson’s author page.

Follow Penstricken on TwitterTumblr, Pinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Looking for a gift for the author or fiction lover in your life?
Check out the Penstricken Zazzle store!

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AUTHOR INTERVIEWS:

Unfortunately, I am unable to take on any more author interviews or solicited book reviews at this time.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Author Interview: Nancet Marques

Originally published 14/06/2020

On the 8th March 2020, my good friend Nancet Marques published his debut novel, Chino & The Boy Scouts and was kind enough to give me an advance copy to review (you can read my review here!). We had also planned to meet up to film a face-to-face author interview to coincide with the review on the same week the book was released. Unfortunately, COVID-19 had well and truly dug its claws into all of our lives by that point and we were forced to put our plans for a video interview on ice…

Until now.

With a little help from everyone’s new favourite video conferencing app, I am now pleased to present this little video of Nancet and I shooting the breeze about Chino and the Boy Scouts, life in Scotland and the proper shape of sausages. Enjoy.


Follow Penstricken on TwitterTumblr, Pinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Looking for a gift for the author or fiction lover in your life?
Check out the Penstricken Zazzle store!

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Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

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AUTHOR INTERVIEWS:

Unfortunately, I am unable to take on any more author interviews or solicited book reviews at this time.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Author Interview: Jasyn T. Turley

Phil, Tim, and Dakota are three survivors taking refuge in Atlanta, Georgia. The year is 2027, ten years after a nuclear fallout decimated the known world and left it in shambles… Trying to survive and stick together, no matter the odds, they must rely on their faith, bond, and past experiences to live through their tribulations. In this world, a fool’s chance is usually their only chance.

Jasyn T. Turley is the author behind the zombie thriller series, Weeks. I caught up with Jasyn about Weeks, his writing routine and plans for the future. Click here to buy Weeks on Amazon.

How did you first get into writing?

So that’s a long story, I’ll compress that into a nutshell. WEEKS essentially was a game me, my brother and our friend Katie had played for quite a while. Eventually I was so consumed by WEEKS and even passionate enough, that I had to vent it out from my head. So I took a spiral notebook paper, and on a nine hour car ride to Colorado Springs, I wrote out book one. Then on a nine hour car ride back home to Kansas City, I wrote out book two. Things just took on a snow ball effect from there!

Wow, so was it a case of the three of you making up your own characters who eventually became the three main characters in Weeks?

Yeah, essentially as it played out, I was Phil, my brother was Tim, and Katie was Dakota. However, while mostly all of the events in the book actually took place in our game, a lot of the character and dynamics, etc. etc. was done by me, so there are stark differences

Who would you like to play Phil, Tim and Dakota in the film?

Oh man, I’ve got a loaded answer for this one too! First off, Thomas Jane for Phil, Tyrese Gibson for Tim, and Alice Braga for Dakota (I even kinda of hint at this in the book). It’s funny though, because every time I mentally picture them, for some reason I always picture those actors. So much that when doing writing the early drafts of Book One, that’s how I saw them. So even my concept art reflects that too, at least when I drew them out

What was the hardest thing about writing Weeks?

Well, I started writing Book One and Two back in the summer of 2009. I can’t put a number to all the many rewrites and edits it had gone through. I say the hardest obstacle was deciding which rewrite was going to be my last and be the published edition.

What is your writing routine like?

For the time being, it’s waking up at 8:15, get my computer loading and coffee brewing. And after my morning routine is done, I write between 9am to noon or 1pm Monday through Friday, before I go into work. The weekends are kinda of whatever happens happens. Right now I’m about halfway through Book Three’s rough draft, and the routine serves me well I think. I try to optimise my mornings the best I can.

Plotter or pantser?

So this is something of a recent struggle for me. Right now Book Three has been tumultuous for me, just the rough draft. I’ve gone through at least eight drafts, some different some similar. The common denominator? The outline. So right now on my current draft, I let the ideas come and go as they will, I didn’t write any of it down. Went back to my original idea for Book Three, which I wrote out in 2010, and implementing my new ideas with that. The same thing occurred with Book Two, I think it’s because I write better as a pantser.

Who are some of your favourite authors? Have any authors had a particular influence on your own writing?

Well, D.J. Molles is the biggest influence for me as a writer, as well as my favourite author. His Remaining series was very informative, because I have no military, weapon, combat, fighting experience or anything of the sort. Mr. Molles obviously does, if you read his bio and books it’s obvious. So I learned a lot, taking out the fact from the fiction of his books, getting an idea of how those things I know nothing about worked, and it even backed some of the research I had done prior. All of which really helped me write Phil, Tim and Dakota. Because they’re veterans essentially. I don’t know if I wrote them as believable soldiers, that’s for the reader to decide, but I think I did enough and part of that is thanks to D.J. Molles. Plus, his books are just a fun, good read all together. Other authors I like is H.L. Walsh, Kevin M. Turner and Stephen King are probably the ones I can name right off the back. Because the biggest chunk of things I read are also history books.

Any tips for new authors working on their first book?

Yes, there’s this video, one my most favourites (P.S., I don’t care that my grammar was bad there 😋), is a video from storytellers on YouTube, called ‘How to be Creative: How an Artist Turns Pro.’ It’s very informative I think, and helps me when I hit moments of despair. ‘Just write’ and ‘make it a work ethic to write’ are the biggest takeaways from that video I got. Like Stephen King said, and I paraphrase: ‘Routine is the bed of creativity, so get comfortable…’ or something like that.

What are your plans for the future?

Well I’m a dreamer and fantasise all the time. My dream of being a published author has been achieved after ten plus years. Now my next dream is to make being an author my full time gig, but that’s going to take some work. So smaller goals/dreams to work up to that. With Book Two on the horizon, the next step is to get Book Three done. I’ll keep grinding away, because full time or part time, I feel whole when I do write. But I’m making a network with other indie writers, and I feel like that does help a lot.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, why not help support Penstricken by buying me a coffee? You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterTumblr, Pinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Looking for a gift for the author or fiction lover in your life?
Check out the Penstricken Zazzle store!

A scrivener using Scrivener

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

AUTHOR INTERVIEWS:

Due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Author Interview: Nancet Marques

On the 8th March 2020, my good friend Nancet Marques published his debut novel, Chino & The Boy Scouts and was kind enough to give me an advance copy to review (you can read my review here!). We had also planned to meet up to film a face-to-face author interview to coincide with the review on the same week the book was released. Unfortunately, COVID-19 had well and truly dug its claws into all of our lives by that point and we were forced to put our plans for a video interview on ice…

Until now.

With a little help from everyone’s new favourite video conferencing app, I am now pleased to present this little video of Nancet and I shooting the breeze about Chino and the Boy Scouts, life in Scotland and the proper shape of sausages. Enjoy.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Author Interview: Megan Pighetti (Part 2 of 2)

‘I wish, I wish with all my might that I will be fairy-tailed tonight.’

It’s not just novelists I interview here on Penstricken, y’know. Young children love a good story just as much as the rest of us, and so I was delighted to be given the opportunity to read Fairy-Tailed Wish by Megan Pighetti.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Megan about her writing routine, working with illustrators and, of course, her wonderful new picture book, Fairy-Tailed Wish which is available to buy now.

This is part two of our interview. Click here if you missed part one!

Did you find anything particularly challenging about writing Fairy-Tailed Wish?

I would say the most challenging part would be cutting down the word count. I think at one point it was over a thousand words. It is said that ideally picture books should be under 600 words. That is actually quite hard to accomplish when trying to tell an engaging story! Full disclosure, I am not there yet with my next book, but I did achieve it with Fairy-Tailed Wish. Cutting words is difficult, because as a writer you feel like you put that word in there for a reason. You really have to analyse if it can be shown in the picture or not. At the same time, I am a parent too and I know at bed time… I like to pick the shorter stories and I know they hold my child’s attention better as well.

What do you get up to when you’re not writing?

Life is always busy in our home. I have two daughters, ages eleven and eight, and now my husband is currently working from home. I am also a licensed Real Estate Agent, which I love! It offers me flexibility to work from home and connect with the adults in my life as well. I enjoy being a part of our community. As a family we love to get outside and go for a hike, spend time at the lake, or just watch a movie together. Life is an adventure and there is rarely a dull moment, or a clean house.

Who are some of your favourite picture book authors?

I love your questions; these are so much fun. There are so many that I love and I discover new ones every day. I like to volunteer at the Scholastic Book Fair at my daughters’ elementary school so I get to see all the happy faces looking at books. It also gives me a chance to look at new titles and check out some new authors. I think one of my favorite authors lately has been Drew Daywalt. His work on The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors and The Day the Crayons Quit, makes me and the kids laugh every time.

Tea or coffee?

Both. I am a lover of all things warm. I am a coffee drinker in the morning and tea drinker in the afternoon. In fact, just a few months ago (pre-COVID) my family and I toured the Celestial Seasonings factory in Boulder Colorado and learned some interesting facts about tea.

Any more books in the pipeline?

Always 😊. Currently I am working on the second book in the Fairy-Tailed series so look for another adventure staring Suzie, Dax, and Lily. I also have a couple other non-fairy books I am working on as well. Those are in more of the rough draft stages.

Have you any tips for anyone out there who might be thinking about writing a picture book?

Go for it! If you have ideas start writing them down, but don’t stop there. Do your research on what makes a story great and what makes a picture book interesting. Join support groups on social media, or in your community. It is important to seek help and advice from others that have been where you are, asking for help is a sign of strength and is a great way to improve your skills. It is a lot of work but when you see your final product in your hands it is all worth it, but the work is just beginning. Once you have wrote and produced your book it is important to focus on marketing, which is a whole new job in and of itself.

MISSED PART ONE OF THIS INTERVIEW? CLICK HERE TO CATCH UP.


Click here to visit Megan Pighetti’s website


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Author Interview: Megan Pighetti (Part 1 of 2)

‘I wish, I wish with all my might that I will be fairy-tailed tonight.’

It’s not just novelists I interview here on Penstricken, y’know. Young children love a good story just as much as the rest of us, and so I was delighted to be given the opportunity to read Fairy-Tailed Wish by Megan Pighetti.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Megan about her writing routine, working with illustrators and, of course, her wonderful new picture book, Fairy-Tailed Wish which is available to buy now.

This is part one of our interview. Be sure to check back next week for part two!

How did you get into writing picture books?

It all started with an idea that I just couldn’t shake. One that I enjoyed as a child, and I felt impacted my life in a positive way, even now as an adult. Finally, I decided, I wanted to bring the joy I felt as a child, and I saw on my children’s faces, to others in the world. Once I started writing more ideas flowed, and I realised that I had an oddly organised imagination.

What’s your writing routine like?

Picture books are meant to be short. The fewer words the better, many people may think that makes them easy to write… but it actually makes it quite tricky. Deciding what words to cut, because they can be shown in the pictures (which have not been created yet), or what expression the character can have on their faces instead of being said in words, is a difficult task. My writing routine begins with my thoughts. I do a lot of my ‘writing’ in my head. Then I jot some notes down and think some more. Once I have a story, I am happy with I go back through it again and really focus on the opening lines, then go page by page and see what I would picture as the illustration. Even though I am not the illustrator, if I cannot picture something with the text, I feel like there is not enough content there to move the story along for the reader or the illustrator on that page.

As well as being very well written, of course, Fairy-Tailed Wish is also beautifully illustrated by Tamara Piper. I’m curious, what is the process like of finding and working with an illustrator?

Great questions, I think when self-publishing everyone does it a little differently. I, personally, had a very specific vision in mind for the book. Tamara did an amazing job adding her twist to everything and bringing my vision to life. I sent her the manuscript along with my illustrative notes for each page. I tried to not be too specific so that I could give her some artistic flexibility as well. There are many different ways to find an illustrator for your picture book. I am part of lots of Facebook groups where very talented artists advertise. However, I use a site called Fiverr and I have been happy with that. That is where Tamara and I connected. She was a joy to work with and I can’t wait to collaborate with her again on my next book.

Tell us a bit more about ‘Fairy-Tailing.’ What is it and how did it come about?

I was blessed with wonderful and creative parents. I have two sisters (I’m in the middle). My Dad was in the Air Force and when we were young, we moved around a lot. My parents wanted to find ways to make each home feel similar and have traditions that followed us in each assignment. The Birthday Fairy was, by far, my favourite. I have such fond memories of how I felt waking up in the morning and seeing my room covered in toilet paper. I never had to wonder if it was my birthday, I knew the moment I opened my eyes. I wanted to share that joy with the rest of the world. Basically, the child makes a wish on their birthday eve for the Birthday Fairy to come visit during the night and they hang a homemade charm on the door. I love that a small craft is involved. It can be as simple as a few beads on a string, the magic comes from within the child after all. Then in the night the Birthday Fairy comes and Fairy-Tailes the room by decorating it with toilet paper. It is affordable and something everyone has, which is fantastic! You never have to run to the store or panic that you do not have the supplies the fairies need. When the special birthday child wakes up in the morning, they feel like they are in a magical wonderland, as they have been Fairy-Tailed. It also serves a second purpose, helping children with the concept of time. Many times, the first thing kids wake up and ask is: ‘Is today my birthday?’ The concept of time is a difficult one and it takes years to master. You want your little one to feel joy the second they wake up on their special day, and not wonder if it is today. This tradition solves that problem, which is the other reason it is one of my favourites.

COME BACK NEXT WEEK FOR PART 2


Click here to visit Megan Pighetti’s website


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Author Interview: S.E. Morgan

S.E. Morgan is a Celtic history enthusiast and the author of the frankly marvellous novel, From Waterloo to Water Street, which chronicles one old Welsh soldier sharing his memories of the Napoleonic Wars with his grandson against the backdrop of the Rebecca Riots.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Morgan about her debut novel From Waterloo to Water Street which is available to buy now on Amazon.


How did you get into writing?

Retiring from a busy job that I loved was harder than I anticipated. I needed to put structure into my day and decided to fulfil a lifetime’s ambition and write a novel.

From Waterloo to Water Street is probably the best book I’ve read in months. You have expertly woven together the story of a young man living through the Rebecca Riots with an old soldier’s memories of the Napoleonic Wars into one hearty and thoroughly enjoyable novel. Where do you even begin trying to craft something so intricate?

I was naive. I had no idea how hard writing was. This was a story I need to write. After all, no one else can tell your tale, only you.

The key elements are taken from my family history. My ancestor was that Waterloo veteran, and the carpenter’s apprentice, my great-great-great grandfather. The events are factual and taken from contemporary accounts. My ancestors, like most other working people in west Wales, had to fight for social justice their livelihoods were being destroyed by tolls and taxes. I have even seen signatures on petitions.

Were there any particular themes you were keen to explore in this novel?

The fight for social justice in early Victorian Wales, but also the how people with mental illness and learning disability were treated before the asylums. My characters experience survivor guilt and PTSD, depression, and Down’s syndrome. Learning disability in particular is often written out of history and ‘madness’ is not necessarily treated as much more than an artistic device in fiction.

Who was your favourite character in this story?

Cantankerous, curmudgeonly Gu, the Waterloo veteran is in many ways the hero of the tale, although he has feet of clay. He’s riddled with guilt for all sorts of reasons. His journey across the Iberian Peninsular and through the Low Countries and on to Waterloo was fascinating for me. I’d never have dreamed of reading about it as a pacifist, but of course had no choice.

What’s your writing routine like?

I’m a morning person. Unless the sun is shining when I may take a walk instead, I try to write one thousand words each day. I think you have to write at a time and in a way that works for you but be disciplined. Whenever works do it regularly.

In reality though it’s the editing that takes the time and more often I plough on revising polishing and correcting.

You’re obviously a very skilled author. Where did you learn to write?

I realised it was a craft I’d need to relearn almost from scratch. I considered studying for an expensive OU degree but was worried I might have nothing to write about at the end of it. How do you know you’ve even got a novel in you until you try? I use books, websites and blogs like Penstricken for motivation and encouragement.

I also joined my local writers’ circle. They are a great bunch and what I love is that members range from 18-80’, there aren’t many groups that are as inclusive , whatever their age or background. Writing binds us together. We each read extracts and give supportive constructive advice to strengthen work. Identifying what people get right and wrong, what works or doesn’t, in all genres and poetry is illuminating. Emotional support and encouragement also important, writing can be lonely if you’ve no one to share the challenges with.

Any research tips for budding historical fiction authors?

Rather than the usual ones, I say join your local library. I have saved so much money and time by looking for research materials on line in my library’s search engine. A click of a button and a couple of days later I can walk down and collect them. I’ve been amazed how often Cardiff libraries have the books I need in their back catalogue. They have some old ones from the turn of the century, which are particularly useful in historical fiction, that I couldn’t possibly have bought even if I’d wanted to. Searching by key word tends to throw up books you’d not find or think of otherwise too.

What do you think is the most important element in good story?

I’d always thought it was an exciting plot, but since starting my journey have learnt unless you can inhabit your tale with people readers care about and settings they can imagine, even a brilliant plot is empty.

Can we look forward to any more books soon?

Like many doctors, I’m probably going to have to return to work during the coronavirus crisis, so I won’t have as much time for a while.

I’ve finished a second novel, The King over the Sea, set in 5th century Wales and Ireland. It’s a romp, and looks at the lives of early Welsh saints like Dwynwen, patron saint of lovers in Wales, but it is based on historical, archaeological facts with some legends thrown in. I wrote it for fun really, it’s not serious fiction.

I’m also 33,000 words into a sequel for From Waterloo to Water Street. It’s about education, the battle for the vote, and emigration in the 1860’s and 1870’s.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

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ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Author Interview: Georgia Springate

Spoiler Alert

Anyone who has not read Beyond by Georgia Springate is hereby advised that this post may contain a few unavoidable spoilers.

Writer and trainee teacher, Georgia Springate, is the exciting and promising new author behind the touching coming-of-age novel, Beyond.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Georgia about her favourite films, her writing and her debut novel, Beyond, which is available to buy now from Amazon.

Oh! And don’t forget to come back next week to catch my review of Beyond (spoiler: it’s favourable).


How did you get into writing?

I’ve always loved writing and found a passion for prose in school. When I started my Open University degree in English and creative writing, this reestablished my love and it was then I started writing properly.

What’s the best thing about being an author?

The best thing about being a writer is the impact my writing has had on others. Hearing the feedback of how my book has helped readers and inspired new writers has been amazing.

Let’s talk about Beyond (a great book, by the way). What was the initial inspiration behind Beyond?

Aw thank you! A lot of people are surprised when I say I’ve been lucky enough not to have to experience a family member or friend going through a cancer diagnosis. This idea came to me more through my own insecurities and worries about death and what happens after life. Exploring this through writing has really helped me come to terms with the realisation that there is no solid answer and that’s the beauty of it – very much like Alex.

The protagonist in Beyond is obviously very concerned to find out what happens to us after we die. Can I ask if you believe in life after death?

I’d like to think there’s something in some capacity wherein we can be with our loved ones after we die. But what will be will be – we should make the most of the time we do have on this earth every day!

As well as death and afterlife, you also touch upon some other pretty heavy themes in this book such as bullying, terminal illness, abusive relationships. What’s your approach to handling emotive or controversial themes?

If people didn’t write about these issues, awareness and support wouldn’t be half as strong. On the one hand, when writing, I was mindful that themes like that might be triggering or upset certain readers. On the other, I knew that they were integral parts to the story and needed to be explored sufficiently, not only for the narrative, but to show them for what they really are. Someone once called my book ‘trash’ because a character calls another character fat. Unfortunately, kids use these terms and speak this way. The book needed to feel real, whether it was controversial or not.

What’s your writing routine like?

Ooh okay, so when I was writing Beyond I was studying with the Open University full time, working in HR full time and, at certain points, working a part time job too. My life was hectic, no doubt, but I always found time to write. This would often be late evenings, early mornings and weekends. I live at home with four sisters and my parents so we had no room for a desk or study room. I wrote in bed, laptop on my lap, noise cascading in from every other room! In an ideal world I would love to have a little writing room with a desk, a few nice plants, a little radio. But the truth is life is messy, and situations aren’t always how we envision them. If you’re thinking about logistics that are blocking you from writing, just know that you can write anywhere at any time. All you need is an idea and pen and paper! I’m a strong believer that if you believe in yourself and your idea, that’s all the ‘luck’ you need.

Tea or coffee?

Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon. I’m also a sucker for a full fat Coke.

Plotter or pantser?

Panster. This then comes back to bite me with plot holes later in the day! But I’m just not much of a planner. Hopefully teacher training will help me with that!

Do you have any other passions besides writing?

I’m a huge film buff! Pretty gutted the cinemas are closed now. Looks like I’ll be blitzing through Netflix!

What’s your favourite film?

Can I give you top 3?! Stand By Me, The Breakfast Club, Jojo Rabbit.

What’s next for you? Can we look forward to anymore books in the near future?

I’m currently working on a screenplay (editing for the hundredth time!) so that’s my main focus right now. After that, who knows? With all this extra time at home I think another book will be on the cards!


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Author Interview: G.M. Nair

A few months ago, I featured Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire by G.M. Nair on Spotlight. Like a lot of the books I feature there, I hadn’t personally read it at that point but it had come highly recommended to me by a few other people from Twitter’s vast #WritingCommunity who had read it.

Naturally I was keen to read it myself after hearing such good things about it and, by the magic of the internet, the author was kind enough to gift me a copy. Let me tell you, it’s a scream from start to finish; funny, irreverent and with just enough substance to make it hard to put down.

I’ve since had the pleasure of interviewing the author, G.M. Nair, about his writing, and especially his novel, Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire. Read on to see our full conversation.


How did you first get into writing?

My grandfather lived with my family when I was growing up and was a big lover and writer of poetry, and always encouraged me in my own creative writing efforts, so I’m pretty sure I got the writing bug from him. But I also think my healthy consumption of novels, TV and movies gave me the desire and know-how to tell stories.

Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire is, hands down, the wackiest book I’ve read in a long time. What was the initial inspiration behind it?

The idea for Duckett & Dyer came to me back in 2007, and went through several iterations until finally winding up on bookshelves. Back then, I had a boss named Michael Dyer who was pretty quirky and his name struck me – for whatever reason – as interesting. So I affixed it to a bumbling detective and came up with the idea of a webcomic called ‘You’re A Mystery, Michael Dyer.’ I lacked any sort of follow-through on that, but the idea eventually evolved into a duo, and the subtitle ‘Dicks for Hire’ just screamed at me, because who doesn’t like a good rhyme?

It first started off as a simple mystery series with a bumbling pair of detectives, but I had brief periods where I tried to merge them into a sort of spy-fi world, or even as action heroes, or time-travelling ne’er-do-wells. Ultimately, that last one struck a chord with me and, with a slight massage into multi-verse hopping (to allow me to do whatever I really wanted), the final Duckett & Dyer: Dicks For Hire manuscript was born.

Reading Duckett and Dyer and looking through your website, it’s obvious you have a fondness for comedy. What’s the hardest thing about writing funny fiction?

The hardest thing about writing things that are funny is remembering what actually is funny. After four or five or six different drafts of looking at the same joke over and over, you might end up cutting something really good because it just doesn’t make you laugh anymore.

Any tips for authors who want to add a bit of comedy to their writing?

The first thing to remember is that no matter how funny you are, you’ll fail. Humor’s subjective, so not everybody will find your comedy funny. But once you’re okay with ‘bombing’, writing jokes becomes much easier. Just try to make ‘em feel natural and not forced.

I loved the characters in this story. Were they based on anyone from real life to any extent?

Michael and Stephanie’s characters come easily to me because they’re very much two sides of my own personality. I have been known to be a nervous overthinker who is his own worst critic, while simultaneously being and outwardly worry-free comedic jokester who tries not to take things too seriously.

It’s tough being a walking contradiction, but it makes writing Michael and Stephanie very simple, as I only need to consider what kind of dumb joke I would make, while juxtaposing it against how a Nervous Nellie would feel when completely out of their depth.

I’m lucky to have both of them in my head, because, splitting this into two characters makes for an interesting friendship dynamic that hammers home that neither sort of personality can fully function without the other.

Plotter or pantser?

Plotter for the story. Pantser for the execution.

I typically make a ‘Beat Sheet’ that cover all the individual details and story beats that I need to cover in a specific order. I’m an engineer by trade and really enjoy architecting my stories and universes as tightly as possible ahead of time. Then, the actual word-to-word writing (and the jokes) is done off the top of my head to connect the dots.

What are you doing when you’re not writing?

Well, I’ve been working on a TV Pilot with a friend of mine – wait, no that’s writing. I’m also one of the writers on a New York-based Sketch Comedy team – wait, that’s also writing. Oh, I guess you mean my day job.

I’m currently employed as an Aviation and Aerospace Consultant, and that’s what I do to pay the bills.

What authors or books have had the biggest influence on your own writing?

I think the obvious conclusion is Douglas Adams. There’s no way I can escape that comparison (not that I’d want to). But I also draw a lot of inspiration from Agatha Christie, Arthur C. Clarke, as well as comic book writers Jonathan Hickman and Chip Zdarsky.

If they ever make Duckett and Dyer into a movie, who would you want to play the main characters?

Honestly, while I’ve thought about this a lot, I’d really have to go with two unknown actors who’d have impeccable chemistry with one another. Otherwise, the jokes and timing just wouldn’t work.

What’s next for Duckett and Dyer?

Oh, I have about nine books planned. Some novels, some short story collections. But, most immediately, I’m finishing the final drafts of the sequel: The One-Hundred Percent Solution, and it should be out in a month or so if all goes to plan! So expect more nonsense soon!


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here: