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Author Interview: R. Lee Walsh

When I asked epic fantasy author R. Lee Walsh to describe herself, she said, “Author, Artist and student of the impossible.” I think that this is a good description of how most authors feel about themselves. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author R. Lee WalshAm I the only one who feels awkward when talking about themselves? As a mother of two beautiful daughters who are nearly grown now, my life is filled with the typical joys and angst of raising strong, independent, women. I’ve also been the at home caretaker for my grandfather who suffers from advanced Alzheimer’s. I always consider myself a mother first, then a writer and last an artist and poet. I’ve been writing now for thirteen years, three of those full time.

I live in scenic North Idaho and also have two dogs and a cat who I find are the perfect writing partners. They listen attentively and never criticize me for those entire days I wasted on a chapter that seemed like a good idea when I was taking a shower but may or may not have merely been a side effect of watching too much YouTube, not enough sleep or too much Splenda in my coffee.

As a full-time writer, my life sounds pretty boring on paper. I mean, I sit in front of a computer several hours a day and dream up ways to torture my imaginary friends with hopeless situations, supernatural villains and unsolved mysteries. There are wondrous days when my friends surprise me and all my plot lines mesh and many others where I bang my head against the refrigerator at the end of the day and wonder how I ever thought I could do this job. However, the truth is, I love my life and what I do. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

When and why did you begin writing?

Interestingly enough, I began writing during a very stressful time in my life. My family was dealing with a terrible tragedy and to make matters worse I’d been suffering a health crisis and underwent several painful surgeries. I started writing as an outlet during my recovery and discovered a gift I didn’t know I had. Thirteen years later I’m still writing but feel like I’m just getting started.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I think I really considered myself a writer when I finished my first book. It was a memoir about my life during the year when my whole family was falling apart and just writing it was a huge accomplishment. I also had some award winning poems that sparked a line of greeting cards. While I very much enjoy writing non-fiction and poetry, fiction is my passion.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

The Last Scribe Series is a ten part epic fantasy about the last surviving descendant of Enoch, an unusual girl who unknowingly inherits the secret of creation. Based on actual prophecies and controversial historical information hidden in the Apocrypha, supernatural forces wage war for control of this unusual girl who has no idea that the seemingly innocent things she’s writing in her diary are actually creating a new world.

While there are multiple installments in the series, in order to give your readers a better understanding, the long and short of it goes something like this:

According to a six thousand year old prophecy hidden in the Apocrypha, the last surviving descendant of Enoch will inherit the secret of creation, enabling him or her to create the future with the stroke of a pen. In order to protect that survivor, the identity of the last descendant has remained one of mankind’s longest running mysteries and is considered by most scholars to be the most dangerous person who will ever live.

Behind the scenes of the world’s largest mega-church, 18-year-old Hope Matthews can’t wait to leave for college. As far as she’s concerned, her stepfather’s meteoric rise to fame as America’s favorite televangelist has done nothing but make her life miserable.

Constantly surrounded by cameras and an embarrassment to her famous family, the only thing worse than her reputation as a troublemaker are the rumors surrounding her personal diary. When a jealous prank between siblings puts the unreadable contents of that diary into the spotlight, she’s labeled as suffering from mental illness. She soon finds herself the target of a bizarre conspiracy, accused of a brutal murder.

Wanted by the authorities and unaware of her world changing power, she flees from the sheltered life she’s known. Hiding herself in an underground world of runaways, rebels and graffiti artists, she’s secretly followed and protected by a powerful stranger named Yuri, whose mysterious origins run deeper than the scars that cover his body. A violent encounter uncovers the truth about her heritage, and she is faced with an impossible choice – if she saves herself and the people who betrayed her, it will destroy everyone she loves.

From the streets of Portland, Oregon, to the catacombs of Paris, an ordinary girl with an extraordinary destiny must find the courage to write a new world into existence as supernatural forces wage war for control, all of them determined to rewrite the future of humanity by becoming masters of The Last Scribe.

What inspired you to write this book?

One day I was in a second hand book store and saw the Apocrypha. As someone raised in a very religious environment, of course I’d never been allowed to read it. I took it home and read through the whole thing in a few days and when I was done, I knew I had my story.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I’d like to say I’m pretty simple and straight-forward with a touch of humor, but others say world-building and dialog are my strong suits. I don’t know if style is something I can decide for myself at this point.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

It started out as something else and was developed with the help of Michael Neff of Algonkian Workshops. He and I went back and forth several times and actually wrote the synopsis before finally coming to The Last Scribe.

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

Each and every person has the power to change the world.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

You know, all writers take some from their own lives and some from others. Being a writer makes you a student of human nature. There are little bits of everyone I’ve ever met in my characters–some more obvious than others. But at the end of the day, I’d have to say the characters wrote themselves. I’m always amazed at how they take on a mind of their own and tell me what they think instead of the other way around. The Last Scribe is really about Hope and her journey to uncover the truth about her heritage and ultimately the purpose of her life.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring? This is such a hard question because it depends on circumstances. I remember reading books during certain times of my life and being inspired, then reading them again and wondering why I liked them so much. However, I do have some that I will always love, like Ted Dekker and his When Heaven Weeps Trilogy. The allegorical nature of the story really moved me. I also loved Dean Koontz and the Odd Series as well as his darker, more terrifying novels like What the Night Knows and Relentless. I love the way he always threads faith and hope even in amidst the most horrifying story.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why? I’m going to say Dean Koontz. I’ve read all his books and truly love how he uses every day people to tell outrageous, horrifying yet somehow inspirational stories. I don’t know any other author who does that.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator? It was a collaboration between myself and Tim Alexander of DieAtlantic designs. He’s been my website designer for years and got what I was trying to do from the start. I’d recommend him to anybody who wants killer artwork for their books and websites.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t give up! I can’t tell you how many writers I know who have given up on their stories without ever finishing them. Join a writing group with people you don’t know (objectivity) and really invest yourself in it. Listen to advice and critiques with an eye for improving your writing, not just arguing your point. If you want to be good at any craft, connections, and commitment and ongoing education is paramount. Also, write because you want to and not for money.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you. Every last one of you, the good and bad have made what I do worthwhile.

The Last Scribe Book CoverR. Lee Walsh
Lewiston, Idaho

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Author Interview: Kasper J. Beaumont

Kasper J. Beaumont was born and raised in Australia and lives a quiet life with the family in a seaside town. Combining a love of fantasy and a penchant for travel in the Hunters of Reloria trilogy, Kasper started to write on the urging of friends and family and enjoys watching readers become immersed in the magical world of Reloria. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Kasper BeaumontG’day folks, I’m Kasper Beaumont, a fantasy author from Australia and I’m looking forward to sharing my dragon tales with you. I’m a mild-mannered healthcare worker by trade and when I’m off duty, I turn into a creative fiend, pushing the boundaries of fantasy writing. I juggle writing, work and my three young cherubs and enjoying catching up with my writing group, family and friends. Living the dream.

When and why did you begin writing?

I was really keen on writing as a youngster and teenager, then I discovered travelling and a whole new world opened for me as I backpacked my way across Europe with a bunch of friends. Needless to say there was much partying involved and apart from keeping a journal with self-drawn pictures, my writing was on an extended hiatus. When I finally returned home, I was focused on saving for a house, then marriage and rugrats took up my world. After the 3rd child I was needing some ‘me’ time and an outlet for my creativity, so a whole new career beckoned and here I am, a thrice published author. Sweet!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Probably not until I published my first book in 2013, so I still consider myself a newbie and am hanging out for a 3 movie deal with Peter Jackson. A girl can dream.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My latest release is Dragon’s Revenge, which finishes the Hunters of Reloria trilogy. As the title suggests, my badass dragon is majorly peeved when the Cyclops enemy destroys his homeland. He is hell-bent on revenge and must gain the help of the Hunters of Reloria to defeat his nefarious foe. The Hunters of Reloria are a mixed group of heroes, with halfings, dwarves, elves, a mage, a knight and of course, the dragon. They rally to fight the invading forces of Vergai lizardmen and Cyclops giants who shoot laser beams from their eyes. There is magic; battle action with lasers and dragons; romance and sweet fairies in the series – something for everyone.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve been planning the trilogy a long time and I’m glad to see the culmination. I’m a big fan of fantasy and all things dragon-related so I guess it was natural that I would write fantasy books. I draw inspiration from the fabulous fantasy artwork I see all around and Anne Stokes is my favourite dragon artist. Many of my young fans send in fantasy artwork as well and I love to hear their feedback and ideas for my new work.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I let the characters write the story and give them a gentle nudge here and there. It’s interesting when they go in a completely different direction to where I think we are headed, but the plot twists make it exciting, so I just go with it. ‘Flying by the seat of my pants’ writing is the only way to go for me.

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

Magic happens.

If you believe in something enough and work together to utilize your companions and resources to their full strength, then you can achieve anything. Sometimes it is the most unlikely person who can perform an extraordinary act of bravery to save the day.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

No. I’ve yet to have my homeland invaded by laser-wielding Cyclops, thank goodness!

What authors have most influenced your life?

Tolkein, Eddings and Clive Cussler

What about them do you find inspiring?

The way they can all make the most incredible adventures believable and realistic. You leave reality at the door and buckle up for a roller-coaster ride of excitement. If I can give my readers that experience, then I consider my job well done.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor?

No, I wouldn’t say a mentor, for I haven’t met any of my favourite authors. How cool that would be to have them pour over my first draft and make a few suggestions.

Who designed the cover of your book?

I employed a local spray paint artist to do the covers for the trilogy. His name is Scott Patterson and I really admire his work. He threw me a curve ball with the Dragon’s Revenge cover because he changed from spray paint to digital. I was a bit worried at first that the style would be different to the others, but I am really stoked with the end result. Some artists can do anything.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Just the advice that I keep telling myself: remember to write every day. Life is so busy that you really have to make time for the things that matter. Oh, and find a good editor when you’re done. That’s very important too.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I love to get feedback, so please do a review or send me a message to tell me know what you think of the Hunters of Reloria trilogy and what you would like me to write next. Always happy to oblige.

Book Cover Dragon's RevengeKasper Beaumont
near Brisbane, Australia

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Dragon’s Revenge – Book 3 in the Hunters of Reloria series

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Author Interview: Lauren Lynn

Lauren Lynne is a young adult author of action adventure, contemporary fantasy stories and an educator of children and adults. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Lauren LynneMy name is Lynne, Lauren Lynne and yep, I’m a James Bond fan. Seeing as how I’m not nearly as cool as the British secret agent, I write adventure stories. When I began writing it was intended for young adults but luckily for me my stories draw a much wider audience. I’m more than a published author. I’m also a certified teacher in Oregon and I work with students from kindergarten to adults. This last year I even started doing some technical editing but my passions will always be engaging readers in vibrant stories. I do more than just teach, write and edit. I love hanging out with my boys, our looney golden retriever and our array of cats. I’ve come to believe that “sucker” is tattooed on my forehead since we have four furry fosters at our house right now. So, when I’m not scooping cat boxes, I may be reading or taking scenic pictures.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing for fun in elementary school. As I’ve gotten older I can write a wider variety of things but as a kid growing up it was all fiction. I hated everything else.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I started a novel in college but I never did anything with it. I hope to revisit it, finish it and publish it. I was playing Dungeons and Dragons with my college buddies at the time so guess what the basis of that story is. I was definitely a writer by 2011 when I began in earnest on my journey to publication.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My current work is to finish the fifth and final book in my Secret Watchers series. I have very mixed feelings as my time with Owen comes to an end. He has been a part of my life since 2011 and it will be hard to let him go. With the exception of the first book in the series I have not worked on only one book at a time so I am also working on a dystopian young adult novel and a children’s Christmas book.

What inspired you to write this book?

To talk about what inspired me to write Destiny, the last book in the Secret Watchers series, I have to go back to Visions, the first in the series. My life was in turmoil and I had the strong desire to make some changes. In real life there are some things we cannot change, so I invented a pretend world where I could decide what would happen. If I could not be the master of my own destiny for the moment, then I would control someone else’s.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I understand that it is unusual, but I very much like to put the reader right in the protagonist’s head. This style has its difficulties in that you can only show the reader what the protagonist literally sees, hears and experiences, but I feel that readers gain a closer connection.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

The final book in this series is Destiny. All the other titles had to do with how we experience our world (Visions, Whispers, Insights, and Perceptions). Visions are Owen’s special ability and now in this final book it is his Destiny that he must face.

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

I’m a teacher. My first goal was to reach out to male reluctant readers. Through the years I have also witnessed a change in our students and so my second goal became to encourage them to be the best that they could be and to try to always do the right thing even if it’s hard.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

The experiences in the book are from all around me. I am constantly writing down the way that someone says something to asking if I can use their story to weave into my own. When Owen split open his chin; it was inspired by my neighbor who had just done the same thing. The way Owen looks at the world is a little bit me but mostly my boys and our favorite characters from literature. When I write for Owen’s mom; it is exactly how I would talk to my boys.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

For me it is less about the author and more about the work. It is the characters they build that really speak to me. I read cozy mysteries and all kinds of young adult novels. One of my favorite series is Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling but I’m also a fan of Rick Riordan, Anthony Horowitz, Suzanne Collins, Cassandra Clare and Cleo Coyle. This eclectic collection has characters that move me and I can connect with.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

I would choose Rowling. I admire how she raised herself up from humble beginnings and seems to listen to her audience. She seems to be a likable person and I believe that is just as important as creating a good product.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I am published by BookBaby. I gave the design team a brief description of book one, color ideas and told them how much I liked a clock face they had used on another book. I also sent along a picture I had taken at Heceta Head, Oregon. Their first try was amazing and all I did was suggest a color change. Since then we have kept my picture from Hecta Head and the clock face because Owen’s watch is vital to the plot line. In the last three books we added outdoor pictures I took of local high school students. So who designed them? We did.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t give up and keep writing. Whatever we choose to do regularly, we get better at. Don’t expect to be a best seller in the first week your book comes out or even in the first year; that is something that only happens to a lucky few. Stay positive; our day in the sun will come. I’ve read several places that the best way to make money is to keep producing more works, so get going, I know you have something to say!

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Big hugs friends and follow your dreams. If there is a story in you, get out there and share it!

Book Cover VisionsLauren Lynne
Milwaukie, Oregon

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Visions (The Secret Watchers book one)

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Author Interview: Barb Caffrey

One of the aspects of being a writer is that we are in tune with that inner voice inside us, what the ancients called “a muse” and we now know to be our sub-conscious. When I asked Barb why she became a writer she replied, “I write because I must; the stories won’t wait.” I think that this writer is definitely courting her muse. Please welcome author Barb Caffrey to No Wasted Ink.

Author Barb CafferyMy name is Barb Caffrey, and I’m a writer, editor, and musician from the Midwest. I’m the widow of writer/editor Michael B. Caffrey, and am continuing to do my best for his stories as well as my own — this is one of the driving purposes of my life. I believe in the values of persistence and hard work, I read voraciously in just about every subject under the sun, and I love sports.

When and why did you begin writing?

Originally I started to write because I had stories in my head that I needed to tell, much the same as other writers. I remember a story I wrote at age 11 about a young girl being a ballgirl at old Milwaukee County Stadium (this was before there were any ballgirls, the people who pick up the baseballs when they’re hit foul — only boys did that job when I was 11). My young pre-teen girl was given her own bathroom to change in and otherwise tried to make friends among the ballboys. Eventually she changed at least one boy’s mind…at any rate, I anticipated that market by about fifteen years, so I wish I still had the story today to put up at Amazon!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’ve considered myself a writer since at least age 11, if not before. But I did put it aside for a while in college due to needing to work on my music career. Eventually I found a way to bring the two together in harmony (I just couldn’t help but make that comparison), and actually have a transgender urban fantasy/romance coming in 2015 called CHANGING FACES that’s about two classical musicians (they both play the clarinet, and music is extremely important to them).

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE is the first half of the ELFY duology, and is about Bruno the Elfy, a young, short being from a parallel Earth known as the Elfy Realm. He’s sent to Knightsville, California on our Earth by the Elfy High Council and told to watch for unusual magic, but before he can start to do any of that, he’s captured by two enigmatic humans — the parents of his love interest, Sarah. Both Bruno and Sarah think they’re younger than they actually are (they’re both teens, roughly); Bruno also thinks he’s far less powerful than he is, and that he has no enemies. He’s are wrong on all counts, and must make common cause with Sarah against first her parents, then a Dark Elf who’s trying to corrupt the local humans for the Elf’s own, nefarious purposes and has started first with Bruno’s mentor, Roberto the Wise. How will these two youngsters try to rescue Roberto? Why was Bruno sent to California at all? And what will falling in love mean for them both?

So it’s a coming of age tale with some age-appropriate, sweet romance, there’s much magic and suspense, and there’s a good amount of mystery along with all of the comedy and urban fantasy going on.

Or in other words: AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE is relentlessly cross-genre. I wrote it because I had Bruno the Elfy in my head, telling me that Elfs were not like that (they don’t like to be called “Elves,” thank you, as that’s a swear word in their language), and that he, as an Elfy, was not a rhyming, blithering fool even if the rest of them wanted to be called “Elfy-welfies.” There even are ghost characters who have major roles, and a haunted house that’s almost a character in its own right.

What inspired you to write this book?

I wrote ELFY (part 1 of which being AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE) because of my late husband, Michael. When I had the idea for the story that turned into AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE (part one of the ELFY duology), he encouraged me to run with it — and he had the skills as an editor and with world-building to help me write it to my best ability.

It’s because of Michael’s faith in me and encouragement that AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE even exists, because I wouldn’t have known enough about true love before I met him to be able to write it at all, much less write it well.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I’m closer to a “pantser” than a “plotter,” though I have been known to write character sketches and I certainly have sketched rough outlines of books. But with both the ELFY duology (book 2 coming in 2015) and CHANGING FACES, I wrote the stories I heard, and edited them in situ…I’d read over what I had, add whatever else was needed, and then went right on. So all of that is consistent with being a “pantser,” even though most of the short stories I’ve written have been closer to plotted out than seat of the pants-type writing.

And with regards to my late husband’s work (which I’m trying to finish up for him), it’s much more a half/half mixture between “pantser” and “plotter.” I already know where he wants these stories to go, you see; I just have to add things that are faithful and consistent with his already established stories. This isn’t necessarily easy, as it’s a combination of retrofitting for action and adding in just enough character hints so it feels more like my work (and can thus do it at all), but I view it as vitally important.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Coming up with a title for the first half of ELFY was rather interesting, actually. I wanted ELFY to be in that title, and I wanted the title to be reflective of a comic fantasy. So a number of good friends read the first half of ELFY, and one of them said, “I think the title should be AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE. Because he’s a young guy let loose in the Human Realm (our Earth), and no one knows what he’s going to do — including himself.”

I liked it, my publisher, Lida Quillen of Twilight Times Books, also liked it, and we both ran with it.

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

I’m not sure if I’m a messaging sort of writer. I think mostly I want people to believe in themselves and keep trying, even if all seems lost — that’s my own, personal message, and of course that’s reflected in Bruno’s storyline. But I also think if there is another message in AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, it’s that the people you meet can be every bit as important as your family — perhaps even more important, as they understand you better and want to be around you because they like you for yourself.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

The only part of AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE that’s based on anything in real life is the romance between Bruno and Sarah. My late husband Michael and I were deeply in love, and we had to work through a good deal of misunderstandings before we got there. Michael was witty, and loved to make me laugh; the way Sarah behaves toward Bruno somewhat reflects how Michael was around me. Everything else is my own invention.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

The authors who’ve most influenced my life are: My late husband Michael, obviously, is the biggest influence of all. Andre Norton, because without her stories, I don’t think I’d have taken to the F&SF genre. Rosemary Edghill, Stephanie Osborn and Katharine Eliska Kimbriel have read my stories and given me excellent advice.

All of these writers tell stories that show people in difficult situations that use their wits and talents to get back out of them again, and become wiser, stronger and more skilled people in the doing, regardless of genre.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

I can’t choose only one mentor. I’ve actually had four — my husband Michael, Rosemary Edghill, Stephanie Osborn and Katharine Eliska Kimbriel. All of them have influenced me and my writing because they’ve given me cogent commentary (sometimes very blunt commentary, especially from my late husband and Rosemary Edghill), and their advice was always excellent.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

The cover of my book was designed by Lida Quillen, publisher of Twilight Times Books, and artist Malcolm McClinton. I did give them the idea of Bruno running across too-green grass while attempting to go through a World Gate in order to get back to Sarah (you can see Sarah in the blackness, very faintly), so I had some input. Ms. Quillen picked Mr. McClinton because his artwork seemed to match the style of Bruno’s story, and I agreed with her on all counts.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

My advice for other writers is very simple: Keep writing, and do not give up. If you do these two things, you will improve your craft and tell the stories you want and need to tell — and your audience will eventually find you.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

To my readers: Thank you for being willing to take a chance on a new and mostly unknown writer. (And the second half of Bruno and Sarah’s story is coming soon…promise!)

Book Cover An Elfy On The LooseBarb Caffrey
Racine, WI

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AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE (Sample Pages)

Artist: Malcolm McClinton
Publisher: Twilight Times Books

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Author Interview: Vanessa Knipe

When I asked Vanessa to describe herself as a writer, she answered: I can never settle to one genre – I’ve written stories from Space Opera to Epic Fantasy – so I hope that everyone who loves Science Fiction or Fantasy will find something I’ve written that they can enjoy. Please welcome author Vanessa Knipe to No Wasted Ink.

Author Vanessa KnipeMy name is Vanessa Knipe. I’m a widow bringing up an autistic son. I hold a BSc Hons Biochemistry, and trained as a biochemist to work in the NHS as a Scientific Officer working with blood. I’m a real vampire – all right for you purists I’m a phlebotomist. After my husband was killed in 2001, I couldn’t work the shifts with a disabled child so I had to leave work. As there was nothing which would allow me to work, I filled my time with writing stories. I took writing courses with the Open University – a Online University primarily for more mature students who cannot attend a brick building – in order to learn how to turn my scribbles into books people wanted to read. I gained a Diploma in Literature and Creative Writing and one day, when the house repairs don’t take all my spare cash, I will take a Masters degree. It is a joy to me to help other people who want to write.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing when I learned to write. After my mother’s death I found a package of stories and cartoons I’d written and never knew she kept. There was a lovely series of cartoons that I drew where a monster growled outside rich houses threatening them into giving gifts which the monster then gave to the poor people. I had no idea she was interested – she said nothing to me. I was eleven when my English teacher gave me a grade of 60/60 for an assignment – not because it had perfect spelling and grammar but because she had laughed herself silly over a story I had written. That’s when I decided I wanted to be a writer, but as I grew up I took onboard my parents’ views that writing wasn’t real work and instead I took Biochemistry.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

In 2006, when my first book, Witch-Finder, was published. Before that, I never allowed myself to hope that anyone would want to read my stories.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

I had two books out this year, Shadow and Salvation and Pill Wars, but I’ll concentrate on the Urban Fantasy, Shadow and Salvation. It’s a short story collection and the latest in my Theological College of St Van Helsing series: think Van Helsing goes on holiday in St Mary Mead and you have the tone of the books. A Secret Branch of the Church of England – nicknamed the Witch Finders – hunts demons which have been driven into the United Kingdom over the years because it’s surrounded by water and that makes it a good prison for spiritual creatures. The older Witch Finders are burning out and the pool of potential recruits is too small. This book starts by showing two regulars in the College when they were in training and ends with a hope of change for new recruits.

What inspired you to write this book?

This book needed to address the fact that in the previous books only rich, upper class men ever get to be Witch Finders and what happens when the Leader of the College, Laird Alasdair Dunkley, tries to expand the pool of recruits. The first words I had for this book were “Do you have an Archbishop’s license to experiment with basilisks?” To me there is a whole world of inspiration in those words. I often find hints of my stories in the news or in the activities of people around me. If I am stuck I will ask my friends on Twitter or Facebook to challenge me to write a story saving the world with some everyday item. This time it was frozen peas and a tin of paint.

Do you have a specific writing style?

For the St Van Helsing Books I like to have an ordinary object help defeat the demon, something like talcum powder or a butter dish – I like to keep a little humour to lighten the demon-fighting.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

It reflects the soul of the chief Witch Finder – he is one of the foremost Dark Mages in the country, yet he refuses to use his powers for evil.

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

I not sure I do messages. The closest one would be always do what you think is right, even if you have to stand alone.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

The first ever Witch Finder story has a man selling his soul to the devil to win the annual village vegetable competition. I grew up in a village in Yorkshire and know the intense competition there is to win these prizes. In Shadow and Salvation I have looked to the mythology of the UK. There are four stories about ‘Black Dogs’ – including the Barghast in York – these come from my son’s acting. He starred in a play where he had to recite the whole of The Black Dog of Newgate jail (mentioned in the first story of S&S) while around him the rest of the acting club enacted the scenes. In my head all my characters are played by well-known celebrities – it makes it easier to describe them.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Andre Norton, she had me asking at NASA how one became an astronaut. She has such a breadth of work that it encourages me when when I don’t stick to one facet of SF&F and the current really successful writers write on one theme. Alan Garner who wrote about the mythology of the British Isles, which first made me realise how deep the folk stories are in this country. John Wyndham who wrote in the 1970s with the overhang of the Cold War and the threat of nuclear war, his Trouble with Lichen is the reason I chose to be a Biochemist. More recently I admire Jim Butcher, who made me realise that magic and the modern world could co-exist.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

I learn from every book I read, what works and what chimes false, that makes every writer I ever read my mentor. At the moment I am listening to Rayne Hall and Chuck Wendig – I find their advice fits with the way I think.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

My publisher designed the cover, though I have a say in whether I like it or not and can change elements. That’s why I like working with the indie publishing houses; they allow more input from the author.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Find the best way of editing for you, so that it never becomes a chore. I learned that hating editing meant I was doing it wrong for me.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you, I appreciate that you chose my books when there are so many choices out there.

Book Cover Shadows of SalvationVanessa Knipe
York, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom

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Publisher: Rob Preece at BooksforaBuck.com

Shadow and Salvation

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BOOKS FOR A BUCK
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